Geithner would be to blame if default occurs, Toomey says

In a new turn in the deficit blame game, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is arguing that if Congress fails to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and the U.S. defaults on bond payments, it would be Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s fault.

Tooomy, in a post on Real Clear Politics, argues that Geithner has the choice of what payments to renege on, and if he chooses to default on bonds it will be up to him.

“Moreover, as the Congressional Research Service has noted, the Treasury secretary himself has the discretion to decide which bills to pay first in the event that a cash flow shortage occurs. Thus, it is he who would have to consciously, and needlessly, choose to default on our debt if the debt ceiling is not promptly raised upon reaching it. It takes a lot of chutzpah to preemptively blame congressional Republicans for a default only he could cause,” Toomey said.

He said that Geithner has argued foolishly that failing to pay welfare payments or furloughing workers would send bad market signals that are equivalent to a default.

Toomey said President Obama and Geithner are threatening a bond market doomsday in order to continue an out-of-control spending spree.

“These threats are dangerous, and they should stop,” he said.

He asked the administration to support his bill, the Full Faith and Credit Act, which would prioritize bond payments over other federal contracts in the event the debt ceiling is not raised, and said the administration must not be allowed to intimidate Congress into a clean debt ceiling bill.

“Congress must ignore the administration's scare tactics and refuse to raise the debt limit until the administration agrees to put the federal government on a sustainable fiscal path,” he writes. 

Geithner has called on Congress to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by May 16.