Our Opinion: Republicans should end the games now

Published 10:46am Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Daily Herald editorial

The fact the U.S. is in the position to default on its debt obligations is absurd, and the warning from Fitch Ratings on Tuesday afternoon — that the country’s Treasury bonds are now on “Rating Watch Negative” — further illustrates the seriousness of the situation. Congressional Republicans need to stop playing games, and allow a vote to pay the bills Congress itself authorized, known as raising the debt ceiling.

Merely threatening not to pay the country’s bills could create another debt rating downgrade, as happened in July 2011, when Standard & Poor dropped the U.S. from a AAA to an AA+ over similarly unnecessary squabbles. Another downgrade would affect every American who has a mortgage, student loan or needs to borrow from a lending institution for practically any reason, and it will likely devalue Treasury bonds.

Someone who doesn’t pay his or her mortgage, or any other debt he or she agreed to pay, is by definition a deadbeat, and that’s exactly what this country will be if it doesn’t raise the debt ceiling.

Shutting down the government over the budget isn’t a new idea; it happened twice during the Bill Clinton administration and seven times during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, to name some recent examples. But withholding payments — for expenses already passed by Congress, mind you — would be unprecedented. And if the President and Democrats give in to demands from Republicans just to pay the country’s bills, that, too, would set an ugly precedent: It would give a minority party reason to use that tactic again, and bring our economy to a halt whenever it doesn’t get its way.

Those in Congress who are holding up a vote on raising the debt ceiling need to withdraw before it’s too late, if it’s not already, and then their constituents need to let them know they disapprove during the next election.

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