Memewatch: What if we fail to raise the debt limit?


The Times almost starts to report: What will happen if we don’t raise the debt limit?

Timorously, barely daring to speak, the New York Times has finally begun to answer that question. But just barely!

Annie Lowrey’s news report appears on page A14. With one week to go before we drop dead, the New York Times has finally started explaining what would happen!

That said, you have to read Lowrey’s report with great care if you want to get clear on the facts.

If we fail to raise the debt limit, will Treasury be able to keep paying our “debt service?” That might be possible, Lowrey reports (see paragraph 14). “But the administration has argued that doing so would be technically difficult and would fail to blunt the market reaction to a breach of the ceiling.”

That means the effort might not work out! And even if it does work out, “the market” might go nuts anyway.

We might be able to keep paying our debt service. But what will certainly happen, even if that part works out?

At the Times, we’re finally told in paragraph 17. We’re finally told, with one week to go before we all drop dead:
LOWREY (10/10/13): Breaching the debt ceiling would mean that the Treasury would be forced, in effect, to balance the government’s budget. It would need to refrain from sending out about 30 percent of the government’s payments until Congress raised the ceiling again—enough to tip the economy into a recession in a matter of days or weeks, many economists say.
Finally, we start to learn! Let’s translate that into English:

Even if everything else works out, federal spending will have to be cut by 30 percent right away! Obviously, that would produce complete total chaos, though Lowrey can’t quite bring herself to tell her readers that.

This is the lunacy Rand Paul proposed to Erin Burnett last Wednesday. This is the lunacy he proposed on Meet the Press.

In each case, Paul’s multimillionaire TV hosts had no idea what to say or to ask. Back in September, Chris Matthews had his head stuck up his asp when Rep. Mo Brooks made the same damn fool presentation on Hardball.

Conservative voters have seen Republicans proposing this lunacy all along. And as this serial nonsense unfolded, the New York Times stuck its head in the sand, refusing to explain the lunacy of this proposal.

Today, with just one week to go, the Times starts explaining—on page A14. If you read paragraph 17 with care, you may start to get the picture.


We have a Potemkin “press corps.” They pretend to report such major proposals, but they often do no such thing. In this case, they have fiddled and diddled about, while a succession of GOP solons have made this absurd proposal.

Tomorrow, we’ll show you what Rachel did last week after Rand Paul spoke with Burnett. We’d call it good solid entertainment—and a big journalistic fail.

Have the most basic questions been answered: Can we talk? Lowrey’s report is clear as mud.

Have the most basic questions been answered? Does Lowrey explain the meaning of the term “default?” If we keep paying our “debt service”—in Lowrey’s language, if we keep paying our “bondholders”—will we avoid default?

Go ahead. Try to find the place where Lowrey answers these basic questions. Meanwhile, how many readers will understand what she says in paragraph 17—that 30 percent of government spending will have to cease, right away, if we run out of ways to avoid our need to borrow?

This report comes very late in the game, and it’s very fuzzy. On the bright side, the fuzziness allows the Times to avoid stating a basic fact: Rand Paul has been making a crazy proposal while major “journalists” sit there and stare.

That’s an awkward fact to report. The Times keeps ducking the task.


  1. If we hit the debt ceiling, Obama should ignore it. He'll be impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate, and the debt limit will be a dead letter.

    1. I'm not even sure the House would impeach him. The rational members might award him the Congressional Medal of Honor.

  2. The sky is going to fall next week.

  3. Would cutting government spending by 30% really push the country into recession? Or, would it be good for the country, because it would mean that federal government spending was under control? I don't think any economist really knows. Let's face it: Obama's huge deficit spending hasn't created a boom. OTOH, federal spending during the Clinton Administration was about half what it is today, and the Clinton economy did boom.

    Now, a 30% cut would mean a huge change to those areas that felt the cut. Government service would be dramatically reduced in a myriad a ways. This would have a major impact on federal employees and on the people they serve.

    I wish the Times had focused on the known impact of a huge cut in federal spending, rather than find "many" economists to speculate on the overall economic impact

    1. "the Clinton economy did boom"

      What where Clinton era tax rates???

      Aw, I'm just kidding you, you idiot douchebag!

  4. Sure thing, DavidinCA.
    First we cut defense spending. Then we stop paying the royalties for the energy companies drilling overseas. then we cut ALL corporate welfare.

    But, since it was your idea (since you're smart enough to see the deficit as the nation's largest problem), we'll let you tell Corporate America the plan. Let us know how that works out for you.



  5. If I understand you snark, Berto, I agree with you. I think you're saying that defense and corporate welfare ought to be the first areas to feel the cut, but they won't be. In particular, farms owned by corporations and wealthy individuals continue to receive very large federal payoffs.

    I've worked for two businesses that ran into hard times and had to make major cuts. Without radical action, they would have folded. It wasn't fun for the employees, but, in both cases, the result was a healthier organization that could continue to stay in business. I'd love to see similar healthy pruning done for the government. However, I'm afraid the cuts would be based on political clout, not true value to the public.

    1. Did your business control its own currency???

      Just joshing! -- Your personal experiences are really *super* relevant and enlightening, you fucking idiot.

  6. Correct, DavidinCal, the poor don't bribe, er, I mean, fund the politician's enough.

  7. David

    Under Obama the increase in spending has been very low.

    Running a business is not comparable to running government.

    Your comments are always full of vitriol and devoid of facts. It is strange.