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You know how John Boehner and some hosts on Fox are trying to convince people that Republicans are serious about blocking an increase in the debt limit unless President Obama agrees to the GOP plan to immediately slash Federal spending?

Well, as former Bush Chief of Staff Andy Card explained to Fox viewers earlier today, conservatives shouldn't bet on winning this hostage crisis. Boehner and the GOP aren't going to follow through on their threat because the stakes are too high -- blocking the debt limit increase would send the United States into default, touching off an international financial crisis and hurting the American economy.

I think [Republicans] want the administration to say if you do increase the debt limit or if we increase the debt limit for you, you have to agree to abide by significant spending disciplines that we’re going to impose over the course of the next year, and I think it’s right for them to demand that, but ultimately we cannot have the U.S. government fail to honor its obligations to the rest of the world in this debt, and I do think the Treasury Department is right to say you can’t default, you can’t put us in a position of default, you’re going to have to do something.

We do not want the Federal government to default on debt, and I do think it’s important for Congress to say this is an important debate to have. The solution has to be interested enough by the administration to be part of the solution, and tell us you’re going to be part of the solution.

It may not be possible to get the details.

Ultimately, we cannot send a signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. won’t meet its obligations. The U.S. has to meet its obligations.
I know it’s going to be a tough pill for Republicans in Congress to swallow, but ultimately they cannot allow us to be in a position where we have an overhang that the rest of the world will see as too risky, and it would cause the cost of borrowing to go up for everyone — and that’s not a good thing to happen for our economy.

As Card says, blocking the debt limit increase would not only shut down the Federal government, it would send the United States into default on its obligations, touching of a global financial crisis that would send the cost of borrowing skyward for everybody. Therefore, any threats to actually block the increase are empty.

Card gives a tip of the hat to those Republicans who are nonetheless trying to force President Obama's hand, but as he concedes, achieving their goal "may not be possible." Ultimately, he says, the GOP needs to do the responsible thing.

So while John Boehner wants us to believe Republicans would actually block a debt limit increase, don't be fooled: he'll never do it. As even his fellow Republicans admit, he's running a bluff.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 01:30 PM PST.

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