GOP's "blank check" rhetoric on debt ceiling is a lie that news media ignore | Wis.Community

GOP's "blank check" rhetoric on debt ceiling is a lie that news media ignore

Columnist David Corn at Mother Jones magazine provides the single best commentary on how the Republican Party in D.C. has used a simple but totally erroneous phrase to describe what raising the debt ceiling means, thereby projecting their own spendthrift ways onto President Obama and Democrats. Worse, Corn says, the news media are letting them get away with it. Here's the key passage (link to full article below):

Raising the debt ceiling is not equivalent to dispensing a blank check. In fact, Republicans, in Orwellian fashion, are turning black into white. With a blank check, a bearer is free to write (and then spend) any amount he or she places on the note. Thus, a blank check enables future spending. Raising the debt ceiling is about permitting the US government to cover past spending—and the blank checks of the past. These particular blank checks were issued by the Republicans during the Bush years. They voted (with the help of some Democrats) for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq without budgeting for them. They did the same with a Medicare prescription-drug benefit. They also green-lighted President Bush's tax cuts without accounting for the drop in revenue they would cause. Together these blank checks account for two-thirds of the deficit, if not more. (See this .) By claiming the debt ceiling is the problem, the Republicans are blaming the bank for the bank robber's action.

Moreover, raising the debt ceiling does not hand Obama any more authority to spend. Congress controls spending—and the Republicans control the House and have filibuster power within the Senate. If Republicans want to clamp down on spending, they can endeavor to do so through the appropriations process. Holding the line on the debt ceiling will not turn off any spigot. The United States will continue to run up debt; the government just won't be able to pay its bills—which will likely lead to greater interest rates and, consequently, more debt.

None of this has prevented Republicans from deploying the blank-check accusation. Their heavy reliance on this rhetorical ammo suggests it's been poll-vetted and focus-group-tested. When the political battle at hand involves government accounting—a matter that most Americans are not that familiar with—a simple and easy-to-understand metaphor can be rather helpful. After all, how many independent voters want a president with a blank check?

The GOP is peddling a potent lie. And Boehner and his comrades are able to get away with it because within the current political-media culture there is not much of a penalty for exploiting lies.

Share this the next time you argue with conservative friends or your elected representatives or the news media. And be sure to share it with independent voters, who more than anyone are the target group for this lie.

Published

July 29, 2011 - 9:29am

Author

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