The Washington Post

White House: Debt stalemate could spoil Christmas cheer

The White House has thrown out a lot of different arguments to win public sympathies for a “grand bargain” debt ceiling and deficit reduction deal. There is the whole default thing and the historic credit downgrade hullabaloo and, of course, can’t send out 70 million-plus checks business.

People gather to watch the first family light the National Christmas Tree. (File)

But this week, the White House put the impact of a debt-ceiling stalemate in terms everyone can understand: It would ruin Christmas!

Okay, maybe not everyone is sympathetic to that reasoning. But White House spokesman Jay Carney and the rest of the communications team are warning anyone who will listen that House Speaker John Boehner’s short-term debt plan would mean a redux of the current impasse in six months — right in the heart of holiday shopping season.

“I mean, imagine,” Carney said this week. “There’s one measure right now, there’s one notion associated with one of the measures in Congress, in the House, that would have us doing this again around Christmastime. Does anybody think that’s a good idea? What kind of impact would that have on the economy?”

On a roll, he continued: “One of the most important seasons of the year for our economy, for anybody who sells anything, right -- let’s throw into doubt whether or not the United States is going to go into default around Christmas. Brilliant!”

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer picked up on the theme, sending this message on his Twitter feed, which will be saved for posterity in the presidential archives: “Happy Holidays America: Boehner plan would have the debt ceiling all over again during the holiday season, which is critical for the economy.”

Carney was back at it again Thursday when asked why the White House was so focused on Christmas in July.

“The reason why we talk about the holiday season is because, as constructed now, the measure that the Speaker of the House has put forward would almost certainly require this -- all of us to go through this again before the end of the year, in the most important economic season in the country and at a time when people don’t want to worry about whether or not their interest rates are going to go up, their mortgage payments and their car payments and their student loan bills and their credit card payments, especially as they’re buying gifts for the holidays.”

Summing up, Carney added: “If we care about the economy, how could that possibly be the answer? It’s not. So we are opposed to that, for economic reasons -- not political reasons, for economic reasons.”

Probably best not to ask what a national default would do to President Obama’s 50th birthday celebration Aug. 4.

More on PostPolitics

House GOP delays debt vote

McCain the prodigal maverick

Double feature: the tea party, debt limit star

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.


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