NY Times' Weisman Hails Wisdom of Harry Reid's 'Shallow' Attack on Republican Debt Bill

New York Times' reporter Jonathan Weisman mocked the House Republican vote to pay down debt before financing the rest of the government in "House Vote on Debt Ceiling Gives Priority to Creditors."

Weisman prominently quoted Democratic leader Harry Reid as calling the measure "'so shallow' that it would fail an eighth-grade model government class." The copy editor liked Reid's quote so much it was made the story's text box: "Reid calls a bill 'so shallow' it would fail an eighth-grade class." Of course, Democratic leader Harry "He's Hiding Something" Reid has never said anything ridiculous before, so his opinions always garner respect.

The House voted Thursday to allow the Treasury to continue to make payments to foreign and domestic federal creditors and Social Security recipients in the event of a stalemate over the government’s statutory borrowing limit, digging in for another debt ceiling standoff, which is looming in the fall.

The legislation, which passed 221 to 207, would allow limited borrowing to make payments to federal bondholders, then Social Security recipients, even if the Treasury is prohibited from borrowing to finance the rest of the government. No Democrats voted for it, and eight Republicans were opposed.

Republicans said the measure effectively took the threat of a government default off the table if the debt ceiling was breached. But opponents said the bill was unworkable and would do nothing to stave off a messy default and economic chaos once the Treasury exhausted its payment options early this fall. The bill is unlikely to get a hearing in the Senate, and President Obama has promised a veto.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, called it “so shallow” that it would fail an eighth-grade model government class.

Weisman, who has previously snottily attacked "far right" House Republicans for "speaking out of turn," adapted Democratic lingo to mock the Republican legislation.

The bill, called the “Pay China First Act” by Democratic opponents, signaled an end to a truce in Washington’s budget wars that ensued after Republicans and Democrats agreed in January to allow taxes to rise mainly on affluent households, then let $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts take effect in March. Amid those steps, Congress temporarily set aside the government’s borrowing limit, but the statutory $16.4 trillion debt ceiling comes back into force May 19, at which time the government’s debt will actually already exceed that number.


With little real negotiations going on, Democrats accused House Republicans of preparing for disaster. Representative Dan Maffei, Democrat of New York, said the House “prioritization” bill “maps out not if but when the United States defaults for the first time in the nation’s history.”

Some Republicans were no more charitable.

Even if the Treasury could pull off the difficult task of managing incoming taxes and outgoing payments on a daily basis, about 25 percent of the government would have to shut down for lack of money. And Tony Fratto, a Treasury and White House spokesman in the Bush administration, said the task could not be done.