(Reuters/Rick Wilking)
Will GOP leadership stand up to tea
party on debt limit? (Reuters/Rick Wilking)

Sam Stein:

WASHINGTON -- With the U.S. government officially hitting its debt ceiling on Monday, the Obama administration is distributing a set of talking points emphasizing the “panic” and “catastrophic” outcome that would result from a full-on default.

The talking points, sent over by a Democratic source, strike the same dire tone that administration officials have done for the past few weeks, if not months. The one noteworthy hook may be the invocation of the 2008 financial crisis, which the White House holds up as a possible template for what would happen should Congress not pass a bill raising the ceiling from its current level.

Republicans have tried to argue that failing to lift the debt limit would be no big deal because in theory creditors could still be paid, but that is either an ignorant or dishonest way of looking at the situation.

After exhausting emergency measures (which began today), failure to lift the debt limit would mean the federal government would not have enough money to fully fund its obligations. Nobody knows exactly how we'd decide what services to cut, but the one thing that is certain is that we would go from setting the gold standard for dependability to becoming a fiscal rogue state. Confidence in our government would plummet globally and the economy would tank as it did in 2008.

Republicans either don't understand this or they are lying about it. Either way, they are playing a dangerous game. With the debt limit having already been reached, and with emergency measures now in place, they need to come to their senses immediately. If they don't, they'll be entirely responsible for causing the second major financial crisis in the past three years, and that's the last thing America—or the world—needs.

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