The "Blank Check" Lie

I'm obviously not an expert on the debate occurring over the debt ceiling, but I know enough to know that raising the debt ceiling has nothing to do with cutting spending. During last night's speech, House Speaker John Boehner repeated a whopper that is becoming a standard part of Republican talking points on the issue:

But the far more dishonest statement is Boehner’s line that the debt ceiling amounts to a “blank check.” This is a straight-up lie. Not the everyday, casual fudging that politicians do, but a straight up lie. As the Government Accountability Office explains: “The debt limit does not control or limit the ability of the federal government to run deficits or incur obligations. Rather, it is a limit on the ability to pay obligations already incurred.”

This isn’t a perfect metaphor, but not raising the debt ceiling is more like refusing to pay your credit card bill than it is akin to asking for a blank check. Congress appropriates funds; if they don’t want Obama to spend more, it’s within Congress’s power to withhold that money. That’s you know, in the Constitution. I believe the GOP insisted on it being read at the beginning of the 112th Congress, but they don’t seem to have been paying attention.

It's understandable, though, why Boehner is doing this. In order to justify holding the country hostage to possible default over what has up till now been a procedural matter, he has to pretend that it has something to do with runaway spending. Of course, most of the deficit is the result of policies Boehner supported while a Republican was in the White House.

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