Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"What's the deal with a government shutdown?"

Laura Conaway (The Maddow Blog):

  • (Chart of national debt by president by viewer Rick Seaman.)

    Republicans want to repeal the health reform law and -- so they say -- cut spending. Democrats would like the government to function. The natural strategy for Republicans, then, is to threaten a shutdown of the government if Democrats won't give them what they want.

    GOP lawmakers in the House get their first crack at it when Congress has to increase the amount the federal government is allowed to borrow, usually a routine order of business. From Talking Points Memo:

    If the debt ceiling is not raised before the federal government uses up its current borrowing authority, then sometime in February the U.S. government will no longer be able to issue more debt. What does that mean? In short all hell will break loose.

    For starters, the government would be forced either to slash all spending painfully, immediately, across the budget -- which could plunge us back into recession and cause immense personal pain -- or stop making payments on its outstanding debt, in which event the global economy would keel over. Really, it's that dire, which is why the vote to raise the debt ceiling has generally been a symbolic one. And yes, no one likes piles of government debt, but you can't get two wars, a recession and an economic recovery without it.

    Bear in mind, of course, that Republicans are still out hunting in the weeds for spending cuts to fund the $700 billion in Bush tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.

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