Sen. DeMint misstates debt ceiling problem

July 11, 2011, 6:49 PM UTC

Up until yesterday morning, I was certain that the debt ceiling deadline was our problem. You know, the collective American “we.”

There obviously are individual disagreements over how we got here and what we should do moving forward, but much of that is like bickering over seat assignments while the plane is going down. Even for those who do not believe the U.S. in in danger of defaulting on its debt, there is no doubt that that S&P’s promised credit downgrade would create a rash of unwelcome economic side-effects. It is a timebomb designed to obliterate differences in ideology or intellect.

Well, except according to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). On Fox News Sunday, the Tea Party favorite used some interesting phrasing when talking about a debt ceiling increase:

“We will give the president his increase in the debt limit in return for some reasonable cuts in spending this year, some caps on spending over the next 10 years, and his agreement to send a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, to the states for them to ratify.”

“We’re willing to give the president an increase in the debt limit…”

“You’re going to see over the next week the large majority of Republicans in the Senate, and hopefully in the House, sponsor a bill that gives the president his debt limit increase, contingent on real cuts, and sending a balanced budget amendment to the states.”

Notice the pronouns? Apparently the debt ceiling increase is an Obama policy initiative, not a necessary fail-safe that has been used dozens of times over the past decades by presidents and congresses of both parties. This is about the President, not the people. Obama can have his way, so long as he first gives up something in return.

It’s as if DeMint is a child who just learned to refuse his vegetables. He and others like him need to quickly internalize the notion that this is our problem. Not just his, or hers or yours.