Debt Ceiling 2013: Don't Worry, Millennials — These GOP Senators Want Default For Your Own Good

If this is what GOP re-branding looks like, Democrats shouldn't be worried about their electoral prospects — only about the basic functioning of the American government. 

In a series of jarring comments made to PolicyMic, several Republican senators have claimed that the current debt-ceiling showdown could have positive implications for millennials.

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, shared his view on how a debt default could play out over the short and long term.

"Well, in the short term, first of all, I think that any such default would be short because I don't think either party would allow that to last. I don't think it'll happen, but if it did it would be very short...It all depends on what it generated. If it generates some real progress toward entitlement reform and getting tax reform teed up for activity, then I think that's one of the best things that could happen for young people."

"On the other hand," he continued, "if it simply in the short term generated government defaults, that's gonna be harmful. So it's kind of a long-term versus short-term view."

When asked her thoughts on Sen. Crapo's comments, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, did not share his view: "He could be right, but I just don't think it's a good policy for a great nation not to pay its bills."

Sen. Roger Wicker, (R-Miss.), when asked by PM to comment on what a debt ceiling default would mean for young people, focused more on using the debt-ceiling debate as a "tool."

"I think the larger question there is what would a sensible long-term budget deal do to improve the outlook for the country after my generation is long gone? So to the extent we could use the budget ceiling under the current law as leverage to get a long-term deal to slow the growth rate of the federal government, then I think the use of that particular tool could be very, very helpful to millennials."

Statements like this should be troublesome to anyone remotely concerned about the health of the U.S. government. As several analyses have shown, it would be utter folly to believe that debt ceiling brinkmanship would not be detrimental to the economy, or that a full-on default would be anything but catastrophic.

As NPR journalist Adam Davidson put it in the New York Times, "[I]f the debt ceiling isn't lifted again this fall, some serious financial decisions will have to be made...At some point, the government won't be able to pay interest on its bonds and will enter what's known as sovereign default, the ultimate financial disaster achieved by countries like Zimbabwe, Ecuador, and Argentina (and now Greece)...If the American government can't stand behind the dollar, the world's benchmark currency, then the global financial system will very likely enter a new era in which there is much less trade and much less economic growth. It would be, by most accounts, the largest self-imposed financial disaster in history."

Thankfully, not all members of Congress agree with Senators Crapo and Wicker. In a conversation with PolicyMic, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) disagreed with his Republican colleagues.

"We have to have bipartisan negotiated ways of reducing spending on a lot of things, but this is not the way to get people to the table," Casey said. "I think it's reckless, and it's hard to believe that there are as many people in their party willing to go there and not just talk about it...The idea that anyone on either side of the political divide would use the full faith and credit of the United States as a tool, as a negotiating tool is really, it's outrageous, but it's also reckless and dangerous."

Let's hope sanity eventually wins out. In the meantime, I'll be watching re-runs of the Ted Cruz filibuster. 

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Stephen Calabria

Stephen is interested in all things regarding the US Senate and international relations. Born in NJ and raised on Army bases in Germany, Stephen graduated from American University in 2009. He is a former intern in the Office of the Senate Majority Leader, and former intern with Talking Points Memo.Opinions expressed here are purely his own.

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