Monday, April 11, 2011


A lot of lefties are quoting this Matt Yglesias post, but I hope they realize what he's proposing is way off base (although it's a fine idea in theory):

[Reaching the debt ceiling] isn't a sudden "shutdown." Nor is is true that we have to default on obligations to our bondholders. Rather, it means that government outlays are now limited by the quantity of inbound tax revenue. But for a while, the people administering the federal government (to wit Barack Obama and Timothy Geithner) will be able to selectively stiff people. So the right strategy is to start stiffing people Republicans care about. When bills to defense contractors come due, don’t pay them. Explain they’ll get 100 percent of what they’re owed when the debt ceiling is raised. Don’t make some farm payments. Stop sending Medicare reimbursements. Make the doctors & hospitals, the farmers and defense contractors, and the currently elderly bear the inconvenient for a few weeks of uncertain payment schedules. And explain to the American people that the circle of people who need to be inconvenienced will necessarily grow week after week until congress gives in.

It's not way off base because gutless Democrats would never do it (though that's certainly true). It's way off base because Democrats can't even win spin wars when they have public opinion and/or 100% of the facts on their side. How the hell are Democrats going to choose the losers in this battle -- especially choosing people for whom the Beltway will automatically shed crocodile tears -- and then successfully pin the blame on Republicans? Oh, sure, Republicans could do it if the party roles were reversed, but do you seriously think Obama and Geithner could stiff Grandma and agribusiness (which would be spun into family farms) and defense contractors (which would be spun as denying the troops needed equipment) and then get the public to believe it's Republicans' fault? In what parallel spin universe is that possible?

My vote would be to stiff by state, starting with the reddest. But I'm not sure I can tell you that that would work any better.

Nice idea, really hard to implement.

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