Rep. Michelle Bachmann — leader of the House tea-party Republicans — has committed numerous gaffes. But these never seem to matter to her fans. But, to me, her statements in last night’s GOP presidential debate are of a more disturbing kind. Jim Fallows is on the case:
Michelle Bachmann, even when given a second chance, seemed genuinely to believe that the federal debt ceiling applied to future spending, not bills and tax cuts the Congress had already voted to enact. Not sure which is worse: that she knows better and decided this was an applause line to push, or she really doesn’t know the first thing about the Congressional budgeting process. I bet most Americans also think that holding down the debt ceiling is a forward-looking budgetary step — ie, that it’s like resolving to spend less next month. But they’re still wrong. The real comparison is resolving not to pay a credit card bill when it shows up. For a national candidate not to understand this??? Seriously, this is like discovering that your doctor thinks that your trachea is attached to your spleen.
I can see how criticizing Bachmann for her statement not long ago that the opening battles of the American Revolution were fought in New Hampshire, rather than Massachusetts (where Lexington and Concord are actually located) might be called “pedantic.” After all, those battlegrounds were less than 100 miles away from where she was speaking at the time. And with Google Earth on our cell phones, geographical literacy is now little more than a party trick. But is it too much to ask of all leading GOP Presidential candidates that they understand the nature of the debt ceiling and the real-world consequences of not raising it?