An influential conservative activist is explicitly calling on Republicans to hold U.S. creditworthiness hostage until Democrats agree to pass a constitutional amendment requiring Congress to slash federal spending until the budget is balanced.
Erick Erickson — a CNN contributor and founder of the conservative website Red State — says Republicans should refuse to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, likely triggering a catastrophic debt default, until a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate sign on to the Balanced Budget Amendment.
“Make it clear that until you do get the votes necessary for passage you will obstruct and block an increase in the debt ceiling,” Erickson wrote in a Wednesday morning post. “Hold the debt ceiling hostage. If the Democrats want the debt ceiling raised, they need to send [the BBA] out to the states for ratification. They can fight to stop it there. But do this for me — draw a line in the sand. You force a vote and then another vote and then another vote until you get the two-thirds needed in both houses and don’t you dare give up fighting against the debt ceiling increase until you get that two-thirds vote. The rules in this fight must be different. You must keep blocking until they give you what you want.”
More on the BBA — a truly radical plan that would quickly erode the federal safety net — here. Democratic leaders have rightly described the BBA as a Trojan horse for politically unpopular plans to phase out entitlement programs. But they haven’t touched on the extent to which it would hamstring the government, and undermine Congress’ Article I powers.
Republican leaders have promised test votes on the BBA, but have made no indication they plan to use their debt limit leverage to actually pass it. For now, they’re using that leverage to force immediate spending cuts, and perhaps different budget process reforms, but not the BBA. But heavy hitters in the conservative movement are serious about it — or at least they say they are.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.