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The Lame Justification For Debt Ceiling Hostage-Taking

John Taylor, the Hoover Institute economist who always supports the Republican position, has an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal supporting the Republican position on the debt ceiling. How could an economist justify a policy of risking the severe economic consequences of risking the full faith and credit of the Treasury? Taylor doesn't mention that. He simply argues that spending cuts are good, tying the debt ceiling to spending cuts will lead to spending cuts, so hooray for the GOP:

The principle of linking the debt increase and spending reductions—put forth by the House Republicans in the White House meeting yesterday—is therefore an important goal worth trying to achieve. Yes, there are risks as we approach the Aug. 2 deadline, but those risks are far smaller than the risks caused by the continued debt explosion that is so likely if the link is severed. Rather than calling for a clean debt limit increase, Washington economic officials should be calling for a package linking the debt limit hike to spending reductions.

I don't see anything in Taylor's op-ed that's inconsistent with the reading that, because he shares the Republican Party's policy goals, anything that advances those goals is worth the economic risk.

Let me put it this way to conservatives. Suppose we had a Republican president and a Democratic House. And suppose Democrats decided they would block any debt ceiling increase unless the president agreed to a credible plan to slow greenhouse gas emissions. Would you object to such a demand?

The hack Republican answer is that spending cuts and the debt ceiling are linked, because the debt ceiling is Obama's fault. But of course the debt ceiling has to get raised under every president, and it would have to be raised even if Obama signed the Paul Ryan budget. The debt ceiling has nothing to do with any particular policy choices -- it's just a routine vote that used to be an opportunity for the minority party to embarrass the president, which Republicans are turning into a hostage opportunity. People like Taylor are dressing this up in principle, but the only principle they can articulate is that spending cuts are good. But that same logic would allow the minority to use the debt ceiling to jack up the president over any policy disagreement at all.