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Raise the debt ceiling

Ben and I tackle the debt ceiling vote in our newest Scripps column

When you're out driving with your family and see a stop sign ahead, how do you usually handle the situation? Do you wait until the very last second, then slam on the breaks -- hurtling your passengers forward against their seat belts and causing bruised ribs and bloody noses, along with no small amount of unnecessary alarm? Do you ignore the stop sign altogether and drive right on through, oblivious to crossing traffic?

If you're a halfway decent driver, you do neither of these things. You try to slow down gently and calmly before coming to a full stop -- knowing that the panic-driven way of halting might be just as injurious as plunging through the intersection. This, roughly, is the situation we face with the debt ceiling.

Simply put, if the feds try to completely slam the breaks on federal spending now, we'll end up in a fair amount of pain. Under one scenario, America would simply stop making interest payments to China and its other creditors -- destroying our country's worldwide economic leadership, most likely never to be regained. In the other scenario, interest payments would continue and all other programs would be hollowed out immediately.

That might sound good in some Tea Party scenarios, but the sudden loss of funding and thousands of federal jobs would upend the recovery.

To throw another metaphor on the pile: This wouldn't be ripping off a Band-Aid quickly -- it would be re-opening the wound. We don't need that.

We also don't need to pile up ever-more exorbitant amounts of debt endlessly into the future -- neither Democrats nor Republicans believe that. Big changes are coming to the federal budget. They should happen in an orderly fashion. Refusing to raise the debt ceiling at this point wouldn't be orderly, but it would be incredibly destructive.

Ben, on the other hand, advocates "holding the line." Read the full column for his take.


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