White House Debate Champ, Austan Goolsbee, Lays Down A Marker

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This morning, on ABC’s This Week, White House economist Austan Goolsbee, who won a national intercollegiate debate championship as a Yale student in 1991, offered an opening statement in the coming Congressional debate over a raising of the debt ceiling this spring. Republicans plan to use the necessary move–to keep the U.S. government from default–as a bargaining chip to force spending cuts and other concessions. Goolsbee, at least, is not content to let the GOP define the parameters of debate.

Well, look, it pains me that we would even be talking about this. This is not — this is not a game. You know, the debt ceiling is not — is not something to toy with. That’s the — the — if we hit the debt ceiling, that’s the — essentially defaulting on our obligations, which is totally unprecedented in American history. The impact on the economy would be catastrophic. I mean, that would be a worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008.

As I say, that’s not a game. I don’t see why anybody’s talking about playing chicken with the — with the debt ceiling.

If — if we get to the point where you’ve damaged the full faith and credit of the United States, that would — that would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity. I mean, that would — there would be no reason for us to default, other than that would be some kind of game.

I mean, I hope we don’t — we shouldn’t even be discussing that. People will get the wrong idea. The United States is — is — is not in danger of default. We — we do not have — we do not have problems such as that. This would be lumping us in with a series of countries through history that I don’t think we would want to be lumped in with.

The Congressional GOP now has a green light. The clock is ticking on its response.