Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks during the 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington February 10, 2011. The CPAC is a project of the American Conservative Union Foundation.  REUTERS/Joshua Roberts    (UNITED STATES - Tags:
attribution: REUTERS
Rand Paul wants the crazy spotlight back from Ted Cruz
Great news everybody! As long as we keep the government shut down, Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina thinks the debt limit deadline doesn't really matter:
“We always have enough money to pay our debt service,” said Mr. Burr, who pointed to a stream of tax revenue flowing into the Treasury as he shrugged off fears of a cascading financial crisis. “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.”
And Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky thinks it's actually a political winner:
“It really is irresponsible of the president to try to scare the markets,” said Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky. “If you don’t raise your debt ceiling, all you’re saying is, ‘We’re going to be balancing our budget.’ So if you put it in those terms, all these scary terms of, ‘Oh my goodness, the world’s going to end’ — if we balance the budget, the world’s going to end? Why don’t we spend what comes in?”
“If you propose it that way,” he said of not raising the debt limit, “the American public will say that sounds like a pretty reasonable idea.”
These sorts of views have been brewing for some time, but they are starting to get the media spotlight.
“We have 10 times as much tax revenue as we’ve got annual interest on the debt obligations,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said in an interview, offering the key talking point of the debt limit denial caucus. “So if the president does not want us to default on our credit or obligations, we won’t.”
Other members say they based entire campaigns on not boosting the borrowing limit.
“I ran on not raising the debt ceiling,” said Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.). “We will not default. And I think it’s a lot of hype that gets spun in the media.”
From a political perspective, the strange thing about them is that these Republicans are trying to simultaneously dismiss the debt limit while demanding concessions from President Obama in exchange for raising it.
The thing is, this doesn't make any sense. If Republicans actually believe raising the debt limit isn't a big deal, then how can they make the argument that they have the leverage to force President Obama to offer up concessions in exchange for raising it? If the debt limit isn't that big a deal, surely it doesn't give them much leverage, right?
At least the hostage-taker position makes some sense. Sure, it might be hard to defend the virtue of threatening to force a disastrous default unless President Obama agrees to implement Mitt Romney's economic program, but at least there's some logic to that strategy. But if these guys really believe what they are saying, then they really can't argue that the debt limit gives them leverage, because in their own words, it's essentially irrelevant.
Of course, it's possible they don't believe what they are saying and are attempting to scare President Obama into negotiating with them by posing as lunatics. But even that is a bad strategy, because whether they are genuine lunatics or just bluffing, it doesn't make sense to try to appease them.