George Will Calls Opposition To Raising Debt Ceiling Suicidal

In addition to his comments about Sarah Palin, George Will also weighed in yesterday on the ongoing battle over the raising the debt ceiling:

I know of no other developed nation that has a debt ceiling. This is a purely recurring symbolic vote to make people feel good by voting against it.

The trouble is it’s suicidal if you should happen to miscalculate and have all kinds of people voting against it as a symbolic vote and turn out to be a majority. Because if the United States defaults on its sovereign debt, the markets will be — well, it will be stimulating.

I’m really beginning to think that all this talk about blocking a rise in the debt ceiling by some in the GOP is just that, talk. They really can’t be serious about it, can they?

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    Mr. Will is feeling very generous with my money this year.

  2. JKB says:

    This time, no. But they definitely need to take the vote to crisis until it owns the entire news cycle for a week. Every American no matter how uninvolved needs to viscerally understand that there is no money, just debt.

    Then, to avoid worldwide destruction, they pass it but only with promises to do everything in everyones power to not reach the debt ceiling again. Cut backs require pain and people are purposely not wanting to accept that we do not have the funds for their pet project.

    Raising the debt ceiling isn’t something that should happen as a matter of course. It should be a gut wrenching, very public, very painful process.

  3. mantis says:

    Then, to avoid worldwide destruction, they pass it but only with promises to do everything in everyones power to not reach the debt ceiling again.

    Like say, letting the tax cuts on top income of the most wealthy expire? Oh wait, Republicans wouldn’t allow let that happen. What do they want to do to balance the budget again? I must have missed the specifics.

  4. Alex Knapp says:

    I don’t see why we can’t just let the market decide when the U.S. is borrowing too much. Right now, interest rates on T-bond are absurdly low, indicating a great deal of confidence by investors that the United States is good for its debts.

    Why don’t conservatives trust the free market?

  5. Don L says:

    We got so far listening to the likes of George “treat the enemy with the dignity they don’t deserve,” Wil.

  6. wr says:

    JKB — Since you believe that the nation requires “cutbacks” which will bring pain and sacrifice, I’m curious — exactly what are YOU willing to sacrifice? I mean personally, not the kind of pain that will be inflicted on people you don’t know and wouldn’t like if you did. What personal sacrifice are you will to make to help rid us of this debt?

  7. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Obviously some of the commenters here missed the last election. The American people have heard the wolf cries. “Wolf, wolf, wolf” and yet we wait for the wolf. If we don’t get money for this from taxes the sky will fall, if we cannot spend on that, the sky will fall. At some point, we want to see the sky fall. We are getting ready to cut up the credit cards, take away the check book and put the feds on a tight budget. No more stealing more from one group to pay for votes from another. That is not the American way. I guess that lie about 8% unemployment with the stimulus had some consequences. To quote a certain pretender to the throne. “Elections have consequences”. We just had a historic change.

  8. Alex Knapp says:


    A default would almost certainly result in a bond market collapse, wiping out retirement savings, pensions, and the ability of private and public entites to finance any new construction. It would also almost certainly cause a staggering blow to the economy that might take a decade or more to recover from, if at all.

    If the debt were seriously an issue right now, Treasury bonds would be very high interest right now, indiciating that investors see the U.S. government as a risky investment. But in point of fact, interest on T bonds are ridiculously low, indicating a large demand for them.

  9. wr says:

    I’m with Zels on this one. For decades those pointy heads have been crying wolf about nuclear weapons, claiming that if we engaged in a nuclear war millions of people would die and civilization might end. At some point all these warnings aren’t enough. We demand to see proof. Let’s start raining nuclear bombs down on our own cities and see if these elites have been lying to us all these years!

    Hey, it’s fun to be a Tea Partier!

  10. Axel Edgren says:

    Basically, what we have here is a party that wants to spend billions on tax cuts that provenly do not create any jobs (small businesses – the best hope for more jobs, are not affected by letting the cuts on the 250K+ expire) and then grandstanding over the debt limit so as to make the little dogs jump and cheer for them.

    This is what is so dangerous about stupid people, like the ones that dominate the GOP today. Because they have little intelligence they need to be very cunning and instinctive. The intelligent don’t use their intelligence enough.

    Well I win either way, because I think people mostly get what they deserve. If Americans elect people that are dumb enough to not raise the debt ceiling, then they get very badly hurt and I get to laugh. If they don’t lower the debt ceiling the right-wing maniacs will have a sulk, and I can enjoy that too.

  11. john personna says:

    I guess the saddest thing is that we accept this kind of predictable drama.

    No, it isn’t about anything serious.

  12. Axel Edgren says:

    What now, college libertarians (there is no other kind)?

    The US people thinks the rich should pay more taxes. The teepers want to waterboard public workers first things first.

  13. Naveen says:

    The problem is easily solved.

    Vote to raise the debt ceiling, with the following conditions:

    1. All taxes for those making over $1 million should be eliminated. Working backwards, taxes will rise the less money you make. This will create an incentive for people to work harder and make more money, thus spurring the economy into growth.

    2. Social Security and Medicare are eliminated. Retired people are unproductive members of society. These programs are just welfare for people with gray hair.

    3. Heck, all government programs are eliminated.

    4. Except the military of course. Expand the size of the military. This will create jobs.

    5. Deportation of all Mexicans. Since there are 12 million illegals in this country, that will require a lot of work. Hire private contractors to do the work with the money saved from eliminating the government. Those private contractors will then hire American workers to deport the Mexicans. That’s killing two birds with one stone.

    6. While we’re at it, let’s deport all the black people to Africa.

    7. Christianity is declared the official religion of the United States and require all public school students to swear fealty to Jesus. This will put us on the right side with God who will then reward us with prosperity.

    8. Repeal of the Affordable Care Act — err, Obamacare. This is also bad, because it involves the government.

    If all of this is done, then the debt ceiling should be raised. If the socialist fascist Democrats disagree, vote against raising the debt ceiling.

    In case the global economy collapses from failure to raise the debt celing, blame Obama. He’s a socialist fascist Muslim Kenyan — the perfect scapegoat for our failures!

  14. gman says:

    I don’t know if neveen was being sarcastic or what but what I do know is that the republicans have bamboozled the uninformed masses once again, good luck to all the hard working middle class because they have your interest at heart: Yeah right!

  15. godsmotive says:

    Mr Will is on the wrong side of this…..cut the government 10% across the board…make the managers of the agencies and bureaus manage instead of just collecting their paychecks. George you need to spend less time being the token conservative or people on your side will starting thinking of you as just another of Obama’s favorite conservatives….that puts you outside of our trust.