FRI MAY 13, 2011 AT 06:05 PM PDT
Chamber of Commerce lobbies Republicans to raise debt ceiling
byJed Lewison

Bruce Josten, the Chamber's top lobbyist

Chamber Urges Lawmakers to Raise Debt Limit ‘Expeditiously’
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce waded into the fight over increasing the government’s borrowing limit on Friday by urging members of Congress to raise the debt ceiling “as expeditiously as possible.”

The business community’s chief lobby in Washington made the case in a letter to lawmakers signed by Bruce Josten, the group’s head of government affairs, arguing that failure to pass legislation authorizing an increase in borrowing by Aug. 4 “would create uncertainty and fear, and threaten the credit rating of the United States.”

As conservative critics of raising the debt-limit grow louder and louder, the White House and Republican congressional leaders need groups like the Chamber along with small banks and businesses in members’ districts, to persuade lawmakers that default would be a huge blow to credit markets, crippling the economy.

The real problem here is that House Republican leadership has treated the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip. They're more interested in placating their political base than in doing the responsible thing. That's not a shock, it's sort of funny watching the Chamber beg the guys who they put in power to not wreck the economy.

If Republicans were willing to raise the debt ceiling without taking any major policy issues hostage, I'm sure enough Democrats would join them in raising it that the debt limit would be raised without either party needing to take the blame. But that's not what they're doing. They are making unreasonable demands and promising their political base things that they will never be able to deliver Given the way things are playing out, it's easy to see how this could spiral out of control—House Republican leadership needs to find a way to walk themselves back from the ledge, but they haven't even taken a baby step in the right direction. And odds are, until the Chamber does more than simply sending a letter, they won't.