As the nation approaches another showdown over the raising of the debt ceiling, Fox News continues to prove that either they don’t understand economics or they are dedicated to misinforming their gullible viewers – or more likely, both.
On Friday’s episode of Fox & Friends, Steve Doocy and his couch potato pals reacted with surprise to President Obama’s remarks about raising the debt ceiling. The President correctly described the function of this routine economic procedure by telling the Business Roundtable what it actually entails.
“Obama: Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy. All it does is it says you’ve got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress. It’s a basic function of making sure that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved.
Concerned that a succinct and coherent explanation might make Fox viewers aware of a small bit of reality (something Fox works diligently against), Doocy stepped up to make sure that his audience remained blissfully ignorant. He played two videos of Obama, one talking about the risks of high debt and the other advocating raising the debt ceiling. Doocy then said that Obama was talking about the same thing and had flipped his position. However, the debt is not the same thing as the debt ceiling. But this is a subject that is apparently way over Doocy’s head.
Doocy: So the first sound bite was from the president a couple of days ago at the Business Roundtable where he really got people thinking, “Did he just misspeak?” because he said essentially that raising the debt ceiling does not increase our debt. I know he studied law, and not economics, but increasing the debt ceiling indeed raises the debt.
Well, I know Doocy studied journalism at the University of Kansas and not economics, while Obama got a B.A. in political science from Columbia University and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School, but Doocy clearly knows nothing about either economics or journalism. Raising the debt ceiling does not raise the debt one penny. Just as the President said, it merely authorizes the government to pay bills that Congress has already incurred.
Allow me to spell it out. Let’s say the national debt is $10 trillion and the debt ceiling is $9 trillion. If the ceiling is raised to $11 trillion so that it can accommodate the outstanding obligations, the debt is still $10 trillion. There is no change except for the fact that bills can now be paid which, ironically, would have the effect of lowering the debt. Failing to raise the debt ceiling would result in default which would cause the ratings services to lower the nation’s credit worthiness. That would increase the interest that we pay on the debt which, of course, increases the debt. Which is exactly what happened last year.
So Doocy, and most of the Tea Party right, have everything exactly backwards – as usual. There is only one real reason that Fox and the GOP are obstructing the debt ceiling increase, and that is to harm Obama by attempting to blame him for the economic debacle that would ensue following a default. And they regard the devastation that the American people would suffer as merely collateral damage. As evidence, take a look at this chart that I created a couple of years ago illustrating the Republican support for raising the debt ceiling until a certain event occurred:
And the same dishonest, partisan, hackery is in full effect today.