Debt Ceiling 2013: 8 Scariest (And Funniest) Default Quotes

 @LauraMatt
on October 09 2013 7:38 PM
U.S. Congress
U.S. Congress REUTERS

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., continue to talk about the continued government shutdown and the upcoming debt ceiling deadline, but they are not talking to each other. Instead, they have taken the public pulpit, appealing to the emotions and even scaring some people at the same time.

The government shutdown is now in its ninth day and Congress has eight days to decide on whether to settle their differences and increase the debt limit. The debt limit is the highest amount of money the government is allowed to borrow to repay its creditors. Economists and others experts say a failure to raise this ceiling can have worldwide effects.

Despite all of this, though, and before some kind of agreement is reached, Democrats and Republicans -- and at times President Barack Obama -- have to bruise each other, and knowingly or not, scare the public along the way.

Within all their carrying out strategies, there are some misrepresentations. For example, Republicans compare raising the debt ceiling to “maxing out the credit card.” Democrats, like Obama, say increasing the nation’s borrowing ability isn’t raising the nation’s debt because it doesn’t “add a dime to the debt.” And so it becomes a matter of whom do you believe -- Democrats, Republicans, economists, business leaders? Or perhaps you don’t believe there will be a disaster at all like some Republicans.

Regardless, here are some of the scariest (and funniest) quotes out there from lawmakers and others with influence:

No Money, Mo’ Problems

“The United States is the center of the world economy. So if we screw up, everybody gets screwed up. The whole world will have problems, which is why generally nobody has ever thought to actually threaten not to pay our bills. It would be the height of irresponsibility. And that’s why I’ve said this before -- I’m going to repeat it: There will be no negotiations over this.” -- Obama at M. Luis Construction Company, Rockville, Md.

Could Be Cataclysmic

“The debt ceiling is such a calamitous possibility that you could go into a recession or even a depression worse than Lehman Brothers and AIG in 2008...” -- Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Chaos Like You’ve Never Seen

“This would be a financial collapse and chaos unlike anything anybody has seen before. It’s unthinkable.” -- Dennis Hoffman, economics professor at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business to AZCentral.com.

Playing With Fire (Ouch!)

“We’ve never gotten to the point where the United States government has operated without the ability to borrow. It’s very dangerous. It’s reckless, because the reality is, there are no good choices if we run out of borrowing capacity and we run out of cash. ... I’m telling that you that on 17th we run out of our ability to borrow, and Congress is playing with fire.” -- Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

It’s Like A Nuclear Weapon

“The debt ceiling makes no sense anyway. If you’re going to spend more than you take in you’re always going to have to be raising it. What makes sense is looking at the appropriations, looking at revenue sources and that sort of thing. ... It makes absolutely no sense to let it be used as a lever for other things. ... To tie it to something about whether you break the promises of the United States government to people all over the world as well as its own citizens just makes no sense. It should be banned as a weapon. It should be like nuclear bombs, basically too horrible to use.” -- Billionaire investor Warren Buffet tells Fortune.

‘Insane,’ ‘Catastrophic’ Too Polite

“Now, the last time that the tea party Republicans flirted with the idea of default two years ago, markets plunged, business and consumer confidence plunged, America’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time. And a decision to actually go through with it, to actually permit default, according to many CEOs and economists, would be -- and I’m quoting here -- ‘insane,’ ‘catastrophic,’ ‘chaos.’ These are some of the more polite words.” -- Obama during Oct. 8 press conference.

Default Is A Rumor

“The debt ceiling and the [continuing resolution] are the same thing. There is no such thing as a debt ceiling in this country because it’s never been not increased, and that’s why we’re $17 trillion in debt and I would dispel the rumor that is going around that you hear on every newscast that we’ll default. We won’t. We’ll continue to pay our interest and continue to redeem bonds and we'll issue new bonds to replace those. So it's not entirely accurate. What we need to do is have a discussion.” -- Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., on CBS’ “This Morning.”

Scary We Really Don’t Know What Will Actually Happen

“The truly scary thing about going over the debt cliff isn’t what we think will happen -- a scramble to prioritize payments, delayed checks to groups like veterans and senior citizens, and angry, confused investors. The truly scary thing is that we actually have no idea what will happen. ... And nobody will know how long the nightmare will go on. Our international economic reputation -- reflected in our low interest rates, the safe haven status of Treasuries (when everything goes haywire, investors clamor for U.S. debt), and our status as global reserve currency -- rests on the assumption that Washington isn't completely insane.” -- The Atlantic’s Senior Editor Derek Thompson.

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