Why House Republicans Will Get Nothing in the Debt Ceiling Fight

Matthew Yglesias explains how Obama can make things very painful for House Republicans now that he’s refusing to negotiate on raising the debt ceiling:

The key point is that even without the authority to borrow money, the federal government still has a lot of tax revenue coming in. You use that money to make sure bond holders get paid in full and there’s no default. You use that money to make sure Social Security checks keep paying out. You keep paying federal workers’ wages. But contractors, state governments, and health care providers just get IOU notes signed from the president telling them to keep doing their jobs and promising full payment—as required by law—as soon as congress relents. And you say in advance that this is the plan. Congress can either surrender right away and spare Medicare providers and defense contractors some inconvenience, or else they can hold out for a week or two until every hospital administrator in America is banging on every congressman’s office demanding surrender.


  1. I seem to remember this was a well known option the last time around, except I think you don’t pay federal workers’ wages.

  2. Or send out IOUs for Social Security checks. The difference is that last time Obama wanted a grand bargain deal and thought that would be a good way to force a deal, and this time he doesn’t.

  3. The outlines of the “deal” are fairly clear at this point. Whether is solves the issue is another issue entirely.

    I’m pretty sure no politician is ever going to sign up for the IOUs for Social Security program. Every federal worker and military person will be furloughed before that happens.

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