Here’s more fodder for why the debt limit will certainly be extended: the Chamber of Commerce is now involved.
Financial industry executives, business leaders and Treasury Department officials are visiting the freshmen in their offices, briefing them in small groups and even cornering them at dinner parties. It’s all part of a behind-the-scenes campaign to school congressional newcomers in the economic stakes of Washington’s next big fiscal fight: over the debt ceiling [...]
“We say: ‘Guys, if we breach it, if we default on our debt, it would make it even harder to pay it back because of the interest costs. And we know that’s not your goal, so just FYI,’ ” said one financial industry executive who, like some others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity to recall private conversations with lawmakers.
Members of the Financial Services Forum — which represents the chief executives of 20 of the nation’s largest financial institutions — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other industry groups have fanned out across Capitol Hill to press lawmakers [...]
Bruce Josten, the Chamber of Commerce’s top government affairs executive, said he has met with dozens of lawmakers on the debt ceiling and brings charts with him.
“If you’re a new member of Congress, how the hell would you know all of this?” Josten said.
There’s never been a more powerful lobbying team than the one assembled on this vote. And not only are the members of Congress who need to be reached amenable to their persuasions, they are in many cases wholly owned properties of entities like the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber spent $30 million on House Republican candidates last year. If they can’t bring enough of them along to vote, nobody can.
John Harwood adds that Republicans have agreed to raise the debt limit not only in public but in private conversations with the President. I don’t know if he’s merely referring to Tim Geithner’s statement over the weekend or some other conversation he was privy to. The point is that the leadership wants to raise the limit, and the freshmen are getting raked over the coals on the issue by their funders. If the Administration would just stay in one place, they can get the debt limit increased without any attachments. The choice is up to them.
…I guess Alan Greenspan mused about why there’s a debt limit at all yesterday on Meet the Press. I can’t find the link right now, but last week Thomas Geoghegan compellingly argued that the debt limit concept is unconstitutional. Other countries don’t have this at all. A lot of politicians would be happy if we joined them.
LATE UPDATE: The Geoghegan piece.