Stop Paying the GOP Zip Codes
"We always have enough money to pay our debt service. You’ve had the federal government out of work for close to two weeks; that’s about $24 billion a month. Every month, you have enough saved in salaries alone that you’re covering three-fifths, four-fifths of the total debt service, about $35 billion a month. That’s manageable for some time."
--North Carolina GOP senator Richard Burr, yesterday
It’s generally been assumed by the media that the GOP has been lurching from the shutdown to the debt ceiling deadline with no overall strategy. But what if that's wrong? What if the GOP had planned all along to close the government down and then keep it closed until they could extort from Obama a government restructuring that they could not get from the normal electoral/legislative process?
I’m asking this because as the debt ceiling approaches, the GOP is now dismissing concerns over a default by saying we can keep paying bondholders for weeks with the incoming tax revenues and the savings from the shutdown. If you read Senator Burr’s view of the situation above, he is overtly saying we should pay Wall Street and Chinese bondholders first ahead of everyone else using the shutdown savings, and by doing so we won’t actually be in default. This of course assumes the Treasury Department can program all those payment systems to put bondholders ahead of Medicare recipients, veterans and their survivors, the military itself, and other recipients. And it presumes that there are Treasury Department staff around who haven’t been furloughed to do this reprogramming, assuming it even can be done.
But more than that, Burr is tying the shutdown to the debt ceiling by suggesting that the savings from shutting down the government can finance interest payments to bondholders to avoid any default. Think about that a moment and take it a step further: is Burr saying that the GOP devalues the federal government and its services so much that it is appropriate to redirect federal expenditures for salaries and services to ensure bondholders get paid first? Because that's exactly what is contained in Burr's quote above.
We’re at a point where this lunacy needs to be called out by the president in national forums. Obama needs to shine a light on what the GOP is now suggesting, which is that American tax dollars go first to Wall Street and Chinese bondholders while everyone else including pensioners, Medicare recipients, the armed forces, and government contractors are told to wait in line.
I’d like to see Obama ask Senator Burr publicly what his reaction would be if Obama let North Carolina go first. In other words, what if Obama told the Treasury Department to stop all federal disbursements to North Carolina zip codes, and those of the other GOP senators so their states could finance these interest payments to bondholders, as the GOP now suggests?
Lastly, how many of these same GOP senators voted for the tougher bankruptcy laws for individuals, yet now have a different view about the federal government paying its bills?