Transcript: Thom Hartmann: Brit Hume agrees with Thom Hartmann: Starve the Red States! 30 June '11
You may remember a few weeks ago I weighed in on the debt-ceiling debate by talking about a little-known power that Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner has to prevent our nation from defaulting on our debt.
I referred to it as President Obama's secret weapon to make Republicans agree to a debt limit increase - take a look:
Treasury Secretary Timmy Geithner has the sole authority to determine how our debt obligations are met by deciding which bills to pay...
So…if Republicans REALLY want to play hardball - the President can direct Tim Geithner to play hardball right back at them.
Instead of cannibalizing federal pension funds - he could cut federal assistance to states whose Republican Senators and Congressmen are blocking a debt limit increase...
Hey John Boehner - you don't want to raise the debt ceiling - that's fine. But kiss all that federal money Ohio gets every day goodbye…we're using that money to pay off our debt. No more highway funds, no more Medicaid funds, no more education funds, no more nothing. Ohio, you're out of business.
The next day - Glenn Beck's website - The Blaze - posted a “creatively-edited” version of my take on their website with the headline:
Lib Talker Calls on Obama to Starve People in Red States.
Which isn't exactly true…I was hoping President Obama would get the message about how to force Republicans to have a little skin in the game in the debt-ceiling negotiations.
Not exactly calling for mass starvation of people in Ohio - but, you know, that's what Beck does - which is fine, and I saw the usual uptick in death threats that happen whenever they mention me.
But the funny thing about this is…yesterday - someone on TV echoed pretty much the exact same thing I said a week or so ago about Geithner's power to pick and choose who or what gets paid if the debt ceiling isn't raised.
And it came from the most unlikely of places…Brit Hume on Fox News - take a look:
But there will come a time when there won't be enough money to fund all government departments and agencies, which would mean real disruptions. The administration will then get to decide which programs are funded and which are not, and will surely blame Republicans for any fallout...
The Democrats and the White House has a certain advantage in that they get to decide when the money runs short which agencies and departments get funded and which do not. And they will be able to pick and choose in such a way as to put maximum pressure on Republican lawmakers on the Hill.
One Senator I know of has told his leader that if for example the Agriculture Department were not able to fund the meat and poultry inspections, which would effectively shut down that industry because you have to have inspected meat to sell, that that would be the moment when he would cave and vote to increase the debt limit.
The point of all this is…I still think it's a great idea.
On August 3rd - the day after the deadline - our nation will owe $32 billion - but will only have about $12 billion in revenue to pay up.
That means about $20 billion will need to be cut out immediately - in just one day.
And as we know now - figuring out which bills get paid and which ones get pushed off - is solely up to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and President Obama.
So if the Republicans REALLY want to play hardball on the debt-limit - then President Obama should hold them accountable and put their favorite programs on the chopping block first.
That could mean cutting off payments to John Boehner's F-35 pet project, no payments to the bomb-making factory in Oklahoma, no welfare payments to the Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas industries, and close all the federal buildings named after Ronald Reagan, whose policies brought us this disaster.
Once folks in Eric Cantor's Virginia district - home to the headquarters of most of our nation's defense contractors - see their payments cut off - you can bet Cantor will have a new interest in raising the damn debt ceiling.
So let's put the real consequences of their obstructionism in their face - and watch the Republicans blink.
And in the meantime - we can sit back and watch people's heads explode in the Republican echo-chamber.
That's The Big Picture.