OK, this is getting scary. From the NYT:
A surprisingly broad section of the Republican Party is convinced that a threat once taken as economic fact [if the US government defaults — RD] may not exist — or at least may not be so serious. Some question the Treasury’s drop-dead deadline of Oct. 17. Some government services might have to be curtailed, they concede. “But I think the real date, candidly, the date that’s highly problematic for our nation, is Nov. 1,” said Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee.
Others say there is no deadline at all — that daily tax receipts would be more than enough to pay off Treasury bonds as they come due.
“It really is irresponsible of the president to try to scare the markets,” said Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky. “If you don’t raise your debt ceiling, all you’re saying is, ‘We’re going to be balancing our budget.’ So if you put it in those terms, all these scary terms of, ‘Oh my goodness, the world’s going to end’ — if we balance the budget, the world’s going to end? Why don’t we spend what comes in?”
“If you propose it that way,” he said of not raising the debt limit, “the American public will say that sounds like a pretty reasonable idea.”
In a news conference, Mr. Obama said repeatedly that those who doubted the repercussions of a default were making a huge mistake.
“When I hear people trying to downplay the consequences of that, I think that’s really irresponsible, and I’m happy to talk to any of them individually and walk them through exactly why it’s irresponsible,” he said. “And it’s particularly funny coming from Republicans who claim to be champions of business. There’s no business person out here who thinks this wouldn’t be a big deal, not one. You go to anywhere from Wall Street to Main Street, and you ask a C.E.O. of a company or ask a small-business person whether it’d be a big deal if the United States government isn’t paying its bills on time. They’ll tell you it’s a big deal. It would hurt.”
The turmoil created by the partial shutdown of the federal government has already sent investors fleeing from stocks to the safe harbor of Treasury bonds, long considered the safest investment on earth because the full faith and credit of the United States government has never been questioned. If that safe harbor is undermined, most economists have said loudly and repeatedly, the impact could be catastrophic.
Who are these people? Using the prospect of a sovereign default as political leverage. JPod is correct: Suicide Of The Right. These guys are strapping bombs to their chests.
Don’t miss David Frum’s excellent column about the train wreck of political strategy the GOP has shown itself. Excerpt:
The Republicans have always been the more disciplined of America’s two political parities, and today they still are. But whereas before, discipline used to flow from elected leadership down, today it flows from factional leadership up. An aide to Sen. Mike Lee told the National Review: “The minority of the minority is going to run things until our leadership gets some backbone.” The Lee aide was specifically referring to the Republican minority in the Senate, but the language has broader implication. According to Robert Costa, a well-sourced reporter at NRO: “What we’re seeing is the collapse of institutional Republican power … The outside groups don’t always move votes directly but they create an atmosphere of fear among the members [of Congress].” Large organizations are inherently vulnerable to capture by tightly organized militant tendencies. This is how a great political party was impelled to base a presidential campaign on the Ryan plan—a plan that has now replaced the 1983 manifesto of the British Labour Party as “the longest suicide note in history.” It’s the job of leadership to remember, in the words of Edmund Burke, “Because half-a-dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field.” That job is tragically going undone in today’s GOP.