I’ve commented several times on Roy Blunt’s tendency to play fast and loose with the truth (see, for instance here, here and here). And It seems that his new job as a senator hasn’t changed this particular proclivity. In short, as ThinkProgress notes, Old Roy’s at it again.
Seems like Blunt has been sent out to provide cover for congressional Republicans who are, wittingly or otherwise, out to scuttle the recovery (and Obama’s re-election hopes?) by refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless they get a whole host of ideologically driven spending cuts – cuts they’ll never get if Democrats have what it takes up to stand up to this type of economic terrorism. Roy has been making the rounds of the talk shows claiming that the rating agencies are threatening to cut the U.S. credit rating because of the deficit (here’s the audio of Roy going at it during an interview on KTRS in St. Louis). Of course, this assertion is blatantly false since the agencies involved have been explicit that they are considering this move solely because of the possibility that Republican intransigence will lead to the first ever U.S. credit default.
You can’t default on your debts without consequences and neither can the U.S. government. The debt ceiling pertains to already obligated funds – not new spending, something we would expect Blunt to know. We would also expect that someone who is at least nominally qualified to serve as a U.S. senator would know what the ratings agencies have been very publicly saying. The obvious conclusion is that Roy knows he’s wrong on a number of fronts, knows that the truth is easily available, but has such minimal expectations in regard to the capacity of Americans to distinguish their front side from their back side that he thinks they’ll gladly take anything he says at face value.
I’m also willing to take odds that Blunt knows that his little story about the relationship between the deficit and U.S. credit ratings is not only dishonest in its own right, but gets its punch from another politically motivated fabrication to the effect that the deficit is an immediate problem. Consider, for instance, this graph, prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (via Paul Krugman’s NYT Blog):
The blue line above is the interest rate on 10 year bonds. Note that it is going down; interest rates are decreasing. As Steve Benen notes:
… .I realize the phrase “interest rate on 10-year bonds” probably isn’t one of those phrases that gets bandied about around American dinner tables, but the more serious a problem the deficit becomes, the higher that blue line would appear.
And therein lies the point: the blue keeps going down. Indeed, it hasn’t been this low in many decades. If the deficit were a drag on the economy, and the United States were facing some sort of debt crisis, that blue line would be through the roof. But that’s not even close to what’s happening.
Remember the movie Pulp Fiction – which popularized the idea of the crimeworld “cleaner,” an individual who, for a price, removes all evidence of a crime? Make you think of a particular junior senator from Missouri perhaps?