Senator Who Denounced GOP Debt Limit ‘Games’ Now Flirts With Holding It Hostage
In a Wednesday MSNBC interview, Democratic Delaware Senator Chris Coons didn’t rule out using the impending debt ceiling as a bargaining chip to force Republicans to investigate the allegations against ousted Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn.
MSNBC’s Katy Tur asked Coons if Democrats were willing to go “nuclear” on the issue. “Are the Democrats willing to do things like block Neil Gorsuch‘s vote or with the debt limit expiring next month, could you threaten to default on it, essentially hold it up in order to get the Republicans to take this more seriously?” she asked.
“Yes, Katy, there’s a range of things that we could do,” Coons said. He cautioned, however, that Democrats should try to work with Republicans first to see if it could be done in a bipartisan manner.
“Let’s see if we’re able to make progress, and if not, you just laid off a number of leverage points that we might be able to use to get the attention of the White House and of Republicans in the Senate,” Coons said.
“So they’re ones you could potentially use if you need to?” asked Tur again.
“Yes,” he responded.
I’m sure you’ll be simply shocked to learn that Coons was appalled by the prospect of playing political games when the shoe was on the other foot and it was House Republicans using the debt limit to negotiate with the White House to lower the federal deficit. “Debt-ceiling debate is not a game,” he wrote for The Hill in 2011.
“Some call it a game of chicken. Some liken it to a game of Russian roulette. Whatever you call it, the potential for failing to raise our nation’s debt limit during this fledgling economic recovery should not be treated like the positioning of a political chess piece,” he wrote. “The question of whether to raise the debt ceiling is not a game.”
Back then, Coons recognized that even discussing defaulting on the debt ceiling could have tremendous negative effects on the economy — the U.S. was eventually downgraded by major credit services — and denounced the fact that “the widely shared goal of reducing discretionary spending was hijacked by those who saw an opportunity to prosecute ideological battles that had no business being part of a budget negotiation.”
It would be too much to hope that the same standards would be applied to Coons today. But what’s also shocking is that this initial shot across the bow took place on national television, and as best as I can tell, not a single outlet picked up the story. What the Obama White House told us was tantamount to the 9/11 attack and can now be suggested and hinted at on MSNBC at day-time without anyone batting an eye.
Funny what a change in administrations can do.
[image via screengrab]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.