The Washington Post

Obama right on the consequences of default

The best part of yesterday’s press conference was not President Obama bragging that his daughters work harder than Congress. It was his response to CNN’s Jessica Yellin about the consequences of missing the Aug. 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling. Obama was passionate, fiery and spot-on. Fast forward to 51:21 to see it.

If the United States defaults, the president said, “the consequences for the U.S. economy will be significant and unpredictable.” As y’all know, I’ve been ringing the bell on those consequences for months now. And the think tank Third Way puts it all in visual perspective with its dominoes graphic.

But the part of Obama’s response that needs to be hammered into the minds of anyone who thinks raising the debt ceiling is akin to giving the government another blank check was this:

These are bills that Congress ran up.  The money has been spent.  The obligations have been made.  So this isn’t a situation -- I think the American people have to understand this -- this is not a situation where Congress is going to say, okay, we won’t -- we won’t buy this car or we won’t take this vacation.  They took the vacation.  They bought the car.  And now they’re saying maybe we don’t have to pay, or we don’t have to pay as fast as we said we were going to, or -- that’s not how responsible families act.  And we’re the greatest nation on Earth, and we can’t act that way.

Now that the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has canceled the July 4 recess, maybe the greatest nation on Earth will stand a chance of avoiding financial fireworks on Aug. 2. And that’s a big maybe, I know.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.


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