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What Rubio's Vote Against Raising the Debt Ceiling Means What Rubio's Vote Against Raising the Debt Ceiling Means

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What Rubio's Vote Against Raising the Debt Ceiling Means

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will vote against raising the debt ceiling because to do otherwise would be "nothing more than putting off the tough decisions until after the next election," he writes in The Wall Street Journal. It's a risky stance to take. First, Rubio's argument:

I will vote to defeat an increase in the debt limit unless it is the last one we ever authorize and is accompanied by a plan for fundamental tax reform, an overhaul of our regulatory structure, a cut to discretionary spending, a balanced-budget amendment, and reforms to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. ...

Some say we will go into default if we don't increase the debt limit. But if we simply raise it once again, without a real plan to bring spending under control and get our economy growing, America faces the very real danger of a catastrophic economic crisis. ...

I know that by writing this, I am inviting political attack. ... But demagoguery is the last refuge of the spineless politician willing to do anything to win the next election.
 

Failing to raise the debt limit could trigger a whole bunch of problems--the Treasury would eventually run out of money and have to figure out which bills to not pay--whether it's grandma's social secruity benefits or interest on the debt. But as Rubio notes, President Obama himself voted against raising the debt ceiling when he was a senator in 2006. Why? Because he was sure it would pass without him. Then-White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told ABC's Jake Tapper in January that "based on the outcome of that [2006] vote... the full faith and credit was not in doubt." Obama only wanted "to make a point about needing to get serious about fiscal discipline….His vote was not necessarily needed on that." So is Rubio's op-ed a similar bit of empty symbolism? Maybe not, given the strength of the Tea Party crowd.

  • Tending to the Base  Rubio's stand "should ingratiate him with the Tea Party crowd," National Journal's Sean Sullivan writes. Rubio rode that activist wave to defeat the eastablishment pick, then-Gov. Charlie Crist, in the GOP Senate primary in 2010.
  • Those Against Raising Have a Point  "We’re told that if Congress doesn’t increase the debt ceiling it will be imperiling the full faith and credit of the United States," National Review's Mark Steyn muses. " But, if Congress simply approves in a routine vote an increase in the ceiling, the implications are just as profound: We’d be telling the world that we’re simply unserious when it comes to spending. If you’re planning on running trillion-dollar-plus deficits in perpetuity, you have no intention of paying it back, and eventually the rest of the planet starts to operate on that assumption."
  • Predictable But Dangerous, Rep. Peter Welch, a Vermont Democrat, writes for Roll Call. Playing "political football with the occasionally necessary vote to raise the nation’s debt ceiling is as predictable as a Twitter rant from Charlie Sheen.The predictability of this debate should not, however, detract from its seriousness. Holding the nation’s full faith and credit hostage for political gain could imperil a fragile economic recovery and sow the seeds of a global economic meltdown."
  • Tricky Calculation, George Will explained in January on ABC's This Week. Though the vote is "purely symbolic," Will says, "The trouble is it’s suicidal if you should happen to miscalculate and have all kinds of people voting against it as a symbolic vote and turn out to be a majority. Because if the United States defaults on its sovereign debt, the markets will be--well, it will be stimulating."
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