On Tuesday’s “Special Report,” Washington Post columnist George Will said the prospect of a government default has been exaggerated, because there is more than enough revenue to cover U.S. debt payments.
Will’s comments came during discussion of a potential government default, which has gotten more attention as the U.S. federal government approaches the so-called debt ceiling on Wednesday night.
“The last time we faced cataclysm over this was when Standard & Poor’s lowered our credit rating, people said disaster,” Will said. “No, the cost of borrowing actually went down 40 percent. I don’t think the markets are as irrational as some of the people on Wall Street say. I repeat what I have said here before: Default is a choice — a choice in the sense that we have 10 times more revenue coming in than is needed to service our debt. We can continue to service our debt by not paying certain other vendors and certain other programs. We will only default if it is a choice. And, furthermore, the 14th Amendment empowering the president not at all, but the Congress entirely, says it is a constitutional requirement to pay, under the full faith and credit of the United States, our bonded debt.”
That explanation led to a back-and-forth between Will and Juan Williams, who insisted at some point a decision would have to be made on the debt ceiling.
Partial transcript as follows:
“Special Report” host BRET BAIER: So then why all of the — well, what has been said about these dates? The fact that they could miss payments and the fact that the world economy, the IMF, the head of the IMF is weighing in. Why are all these people weighing in the past few days about all of this?
WILL: To create a stampede in the direction they favor. But I still — the arithmetic is there, Juan, what do you do with 10 times the revenue?
WILLIAMS: If you’ve got Social Security, if you are a veteran receiving American benefits, I don’t think people prioritizing, ‘Oh we are going to take care of the borrowers and we’re going to take care of China first, but grandma, just wait a second. We will get to you.’
BAIER: That’s it. That’s the politics. I mean, if the president decided that Social Security checks were going to be delayed. If the president makes that decision.
WILLIAMS: Somebody has to make a decision. As George was saying you can prioritize. You can make decisions about where money goes. But, someone gets hurt. There has to be a moment where you say, ‘You know, I’m sorry this happened.’
WILL: But, you can’t call everybody’s pain default.