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GOP Plays the Debt Ceiling Game: Will We All Lose?

by Clyde Weiss  |  July 15, 2011

The August 2 deadline to raise the national debt ceiling is looming, but House GOP lawmakers are putting their own political and ideological interests ahead of the nation’s well-being. Instead of doing what’s best for the country and all Americans, they are protecting tax breaks for millionaires while insisting on cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Consider: The potential for economic chaos if the ceiling is not lifted includes the possibility the U.S. Treasury won’t be able to pay up to 45 percent of the 80 million payments that it must make every month, according to an analysis by the Bipartisan Policy Center. That’s approximately $125 billion, on average, that could be delayed. No chump change!

A recent report in ThinkProgress is even scarier. It says “the U.S. economy could face drastic budget cuts including  cuts in programs for seniors, and even cause the U.S. credit score to plummet and unemployment to rise. So why are these right-wing lawmakers doing this? Harold Meyerson, a columnist for The Washington Post, suggests an answer:

“Republicans, to be sure, have long waged a war on government, but only now has it become an apocalyptic and total war. At its root, I suspect, is the fear and loathing that rank-and-file right-wingers feel toward what their government, and their nation, is inexorably becoming: multiracial, multicultural, cosmopolitan and now headed by a president who personifies those qualities. That America is also downwardly mobile is a challenge for us all, but for the right, the anxiety our economy understandably evokes is augmented by the politics of racial resentment and the fury that the country is no longer only theirs. That’s not a country whose government they want to pay for — and if the apocalypse befalls us, they seem to have concluded, so much the better.”

There is a better course, says AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee: “The central focus of negotiators must be the need to create jobs and improve the economy. A healthy economy is the best deficit reduction strategy.” Read his full statement here.

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