The Debt Ceiling: Obama Has One Huge Trick Up His Sleeve

Barack Obama

[credit provider=”The White House”]

The Democrats have been pre-emptively blaming the GOP for any crises that might ensue thanks to a failure to hike the debt ceiling.Now Pat Toomey — the freshmen Senator form Pennsylvania, and a big hero to fiscal conservatives — is turning it around saying: The Democrats blaming the GOP for potentially inciting a panic is what will cite the panic.

He insists that the Treasury has the power to suspend other payments (discretionary spending) to make sure that interest payments are met no matter what (though there must be some doubt on this question, since he’s also a co-sponsor of the bill that would ensure that Treasury gives priorities to debt payments over anything else).

But herein lies the big problem for the GOP. If the debt ceiling is hit, and all that means is that the government can shut down discretionary spending, it just turns the whole fight into another, garden-variety government shutdown fight. And that probably hurts the GOP, since there’s only so long people will tolerate things like not having passports renewed, not having national parks open, and every other thing the government does with private people. And if it means the military starts to lose funding, people will flip out even more.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air also acknowledges the GOP’s problem here “if Congress refuses to act on the debt ceiling, that puts the executive branch entirely in charge of making spending decisions, an outcome that should worry conservatives.”

Again, as long as a government shut down is perceived as hurting the GOP more than the Democrats — and that’s been the conventional wisdom, though that could always change — this is Obama’s trump card.

All that being said… it certainly sound like the GOP already won the debate in the sense that the Democrats have agreed to some type of “unclean” bill with spending caps of some sort attached.