Why the GOP dodged a bullet by raising debt ceiling

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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In the few days since the debt ceiling was raised, the Dow has dropped more than 500 points and Standard & Poor has decided to downgrade the United States’ credit rating. This is very bad news for the nation. But politically, it at least appears that the blame will be shared.

But imagine this scenario: What if the GOP freshmen who blocked Boehner’s bill and argued the August 2nd deadline was simply arbitrary had scuttled or delayed a debt deal?

It seems very obvious to me that Republicans would have been (wrongly) blamed for the Dow drop and the S&P downgrade — and the many legitimate tea party ideas that might help move the country forward would have been (wrongly) discredited.

(I know some people will blame Republicans no matter what, but it would have been so much easier for average Americans to wrongly assume they were to blame had this scenario played out.)

As you may recall, some conservatives opposed raising the debt ceiling unless it included the “Cut, Cap & Balance” provisions that passed the House but died in the U.S. Senate. Others, such as Rep. Michele Bachmann, seemed to oppose raising the debt ceiling no matter what.

But as I noted on July 28, tea party freshmen were playing a dangerous game of high-stakes poker. For a variety of reasons, Republicans would have been blamed in case of a default.

By the way, it often does matter who is assigned blame. Republicans were blamed for the Great Depression, and the result was everything from the New Deal to the Great Society. Democrats were blamed for the excesses of the 1960s and the stagflation of the 1970s — and the result was the Reagan era which dominated politics for a generation.

The GOP and tea party freshmen, it seems to me, dodged a major bullet.

Matt K. Lewis