Out of all the political debates I’ve had over the last few years, perhaps none infuriated me more than the “controversy” over whether or not to raise the debt ceiling. I’ve experienced plenty of mind-numbing back and forth discussions with Republicans, but the debt ceiling easily ranks atop my list as one of the subjects where many conservatives proved what sheep they are to whatever the right-wing media tells them to believe.
For those of you who might not know, the debt ceiling isn’t all that complicated. What it boils down to is basically just a procedural move that allows the government to pay its bills. It’s not a budget, it’s not about new spending nor is it “giving the president a blank check” to do whatever he wants with taxpayer money. It is quite literally just a vote that allows the government to pay the money it’s already agreed to pay.
To put it in “real word” terms, say you have a $150 credit card bill due at the end of the month but you require approval from your spouse to pay it. You’re not asking to charge more on the credit card, you’re simply asking permission to pay the bill on the debt you’ve already charged and agreed to pay. If your spouse says no, then you default on the payment and it hurts your credit score which impacts your future borrowing power. If your spouse says yes, you make your $150 payment and honor your credit commitment.
That’s what the debt ceiling is. It is in no way about new spending.
Yet, despite the simplicity of it all, it seems Ben Carson has absolutely no idea what it is. During a recent interview with Kai Ryssdal, Carson was asked whether or not he supported raising the debt ceiling, only to ramble on and on about new spending and the budget – neither of which have anything to do with the debt ceiling. Even when Ryssdal tried to point out to him that he was talking about a completely different subject, it didn’t deter Carson from continuing to prove that he has absolutely no idea what the debt ceiling is:
Ryssdal: All right, so let’s talk about debt then and the budget. As you know, Treasury Secretary Lew has come out in the last couple of days and said, “We’re gonna run out of money, we’re gonna run out of borrowing authority, on the fifth of November.” Should the Congress then and the president not raise the debt limit? Should we default on our debt?
Carson: Let me put it this way: if I were the president, I would not sign an increased budget. Absolutely would not do it. They would have to find a place to cut.
Ryssdal: To be clear, it’s increasing the debt limit, not the budget, but I want to make sure I understand you. You’d let the United States default rather than raise the debt limit.
Carson: No, I would provide the kind of leadership that says, “Get on the stick guys, and stop messing around, and cut where you need to cut, because we’re not raising any spending limits, period.”
Ryssdal: I’m gonna try one more time, sir. This is debt that’s already obligated. Would you not favor increasing the debt limit to pay the debts already incurred?
Carson: What I’m saying is what we have to do is restructure the way that we create debt. I mean if we continue along this, where does it stop? It never stops. You’re always gonna ask the same question every year. And we’re just gonna keep going down that pathway. That’s one of the things I think that the people are tired of.
Now I’ve seen Republicans play stupid about the debt ceiling when they clearly knew that they were misrepresenting what raising it means, but that’s not what Carson was doing. It seems like he legitimately had no idea what the heck he was talking about. His answers literally made absolutely no sense at all as it relates to the debt ceiling, which only solidifies my belief that Carson is woefully unqualified to be president.
While Ben Carson might know medicine, it’s clear that he doesn’t know much about anything else.
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