“The Path to Prosperity” that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled yesterday ruled the discussion on “Morning Joe” today. As I wrote yesterday, Ryan deserves credit for laying down a marker in the budget fight that cannot be ignored. And it’s not being ignored. Democrats are out with their own incendiary rhetoric reminiscent of the health-care debate. We’ve gone from “death panels” to “death traps.” But I’m all about the looming vote to raise the debt ceiling.
While we’re counting down the hours to a government shutdown, we’re also counting down the weeks, if not days, until the nation defaults for the first time in its history. This will happen if Congress neglects to raise the legal limit on the amount of money the federal government can borrow to meet its obligations. And that’s a distinct possibility with all the newly elected Tea Partyers in the House and Senate.
Yet, former representative Harold Ford (D-Tenn.) told me something during the commercial break that actually gave me hope that crisis could be averted. My “Debt Council” has long advocated simultaneously raising the debt limit and instituting reforms to begin bringing the debt and deficit under control. Which is going to be next to impossible since there is no time to engage such a serious debate and since Speaker Boehner barely has control of his conference.
Ford thinks that Ryan’s “Path” actually gives Boehner and other Republicans the cover to vote to raise the debt limit. The long-term financial plan has $6.2 trillion in budget cuts over the next 10 years and reorders Medicaid, Medicare and the tax code. It’s a Tea Partyer’s dream document and it’s now driving the discussion in Washington. For the sake of the American economy and American families who would be destroyed by a default, I hope Ford is right.