The last time we faced a debt-ceiling crisis, in the summer of 2011, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) walked out of the negotiations and President Obama warned that millions of Social Security checks might not go out. Thankfully, a compromise was reached hours before the deadline.
The debate now is not so much about national policy as it is about political heft. Since 1962, Congress has raised the financial bar nearly 70 times. Even "tea party" insider Dick Armey, a former conservative leader in the House, admitted the debt ceiling needed be raised in 2011.
Obama 2.0 has drawn a line in the sand. If the debt ceiling isn't increased and the government can't honor its financial obligations, then 70 million checks won't be processed.
I'd hate to be a GOP member of Congress trying to explain this to senior or military constituents. Remember, they vote on election day.
Once again the GOP is up in arms about the debt. Having shot down efforts to close more of the gap through higher taxes on the wealthy, Republicans are now asking for deeper cuts in Medicare and Social Security.
I have a different suggestion: Charge Wall Street a small transaction fee whenever shares are bought or sold. According to economist Dean Baker, a fee designed to raise the federal government about 1% of the U.S. gross domestic product annually would provide about $1.8 trillion over 10 years. And it would decrease market volatility by encouraging investors to think of the long haul.