I still can't believe people say the Republican Party is either fiscally prudent or fiscally conservative.
It's long past time to shatter the myth that the Republican Party is the party of sober and conservative economic policy. From dragging us into unnecessary expensive wars with trillion-dollar price-tags to shoving free money at profitable oil companies, prescription drug companies and health insurance companies, they have been willing to spend considerable sums of public taxpayer money if it benefitted large corporations. They cry foul when it comes to spending money on middle-class and poor people, like with food stamps, but wealthy people who already have lots of money are clearly worth spending money on.
The most recent example, though, isn't about direct spending. It's about debt service. The rule of thumb is that you want to keep your borrowing rates as low as possible. If somebody told you, "Well, I have a 2% mortgage, but I thought I'd move to their 3% plan instead," you'd think they were crazy. The discussion over the debt ceiling is just such a discussion.
Every time the Republicans talk about not raising the debt ceiling, they risk the credit rating of the United States of America. Currently, US salable debt is averaging slightly over a 2% rate of return, a hair under 2.05%. As of November 2012, we have nearly $16.4 trillion in debt, though just under $11.6 trillion is publicly held. The service on that debt, just this month, is around $19.73 billion. This is not chump change. We are projected to pay $223 billion in interest on our debt this year. Those debt service payments, redirected, would wipe out a fifth of all college debt in the US, or erase nearly a quarter of all credit card debt.
Every time the Republican Party threatens to hold the US government hostage by forcing a debt ceiling debate, they risk making the country look like less of a good investment. The last time they did this, it didn't happen--we got lucky because no other currency has the same cachet of reliability that the US dollar has. This will not stay the case if the GOP keeps doing this. A rise of a mere quarter of a percentage point in the rate the government pays to service debt means the taxpayers will pay nearly $27 billion more annually. That $27 billion could pay for 675,000 iPads in public schools, enough to give nearly half of all elementary school classrooms access to one of the most coveted teaching tools on the market. It's not like the GOP would be in favor of putting an iPad in every classroom anyways, but when you risk your credit rating you spend enough extra money on just keeping up with the debt that can't do something else that would be really cool with that money.
The Republican Party keeps saying people should be held accountable for their individual poor choices. Clearly they need to be held to their own standard.