Fix The Debt Applauds Hostage Tactics

A blog about business and economics.
Oct. 7 2013 3:18 PM

Fix The Debt Applauds Hostage Tactics

WASHINGTON - APRIL 27: This again?

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

I would like to see the United States of America start taxing greenhouse gas emissions, but if someone told me they were going to shut the government down or (even more so) refuse to raise the statutory debt ceiling until we did it I'd tell them to take a hike. Procedurally speaking, it's just no good for the country to have policy made that way on a routine basis.

The good people at Fix The Debt disagree and recently sent this press release around:

The Campaign to Fix the Debt urges leaders in both parties to act swiftly and use this moment to enact a “Grand Bargain” to put the country on a truly sustainable fiscal path instead of lurching from crisis to crisis. This should be the focus of lawmakers’ efforts, not political non-starters, blanket refusals to negotiate, or dangerous ultimatum tactics that we have been stuck in for the past weeks. [...]
As Members of Congress from both parties try to devise a way to reopen the government that would be politically-palatable to both sides, talk in Washington has again turned to a Grand Bargain. Such an agreement would stabilize and begin bringing down our debt relative to the economy, leading to policy certainty and economic stability for the generations to come.

This kind of thing is one of the reasons we can't actually make progress on budgetary issues in the United States. There was no grand bargain back in 2011-2012 because Republicans didn't favor one. Now they've provoked a political crisis over their desire for deficit-increasing repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Indulging this spectacle by calling on politicians to use it as an opportunity to make lemonade is appalling.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



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