The Flathead Valley’s Leading Independent Journal of Observation, Analysis, & Opinion. © James R. Conner.


2 January 2013

Steve Daines and the debt limit


Steve Daines may be an upgrade over Denny Rehberg, who concluded his congressional career by voting against the fiscal cliff deal. We’ll see. Daines brings considerable business experience, which is useful, but often less useful than those with it think, and a degree in chemical engineering, which should help him understand science and technology issues.

But he also brings a history of economic and political radicalism that suggests he will ally himself with the House Republicans who will try to extort spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling two months from now:

PRLog (Press Release) - Jul. 29, 2011 - Republican Steve Daines:

As we approach the deadline for coming up with a solution for the debt ceiling there have been many plans pushed forward in case an agreement cannot be reached. Nearly all of these plans call for drastic cuts in spending, and some call for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the US Constitution – both of which are desperately needed to preserve America’s future.

One thing is certain however: Congress cannot allow an increase in the debt ceiling void of any spending cuts and other fiscally responsible protections such as a Balanced Budget Amendment.


Not long after Daines issued that endorsement of hostage taking, a deal — a bad deal — was reached. One reaction was a downgrading of the credit rating of the United State.

I’m not inclined to dismiss that press release as just campaign rhetoric. I think he actually believes that holding the full faith and credit of the United States hostage is not just an acceptable tactic, but a societal good if it leads to less government spending. It’s not, of course, but he’ll not be disabused of that belief easily. And he certainly won’t be disabused of it by arguments, no matter how compelling, from the President and Democrats.

Only Main Street Republicans — bankers, builders, investment advisors, lawyers, engineers, perhaps even clergymen — can persuade Daines to vote for a clean bill raising the debt ceiling, and ultimately, persuade him that threatening to send the nation into default on its debts is an illegitimate tactic. I expect that some of these power elite may send Daines that message; but whether enough will is doubtful, especially since some will urge him to keep the gun at the temple of the hostage.

Some Montanas who voted for Jon Tester also voted for Steve Daines. I keep wondering how they reconciled that contradiction.

For more information on the debt ceiling, see the Congressional Research Service’s 27 December 2012 report, The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases (PDF).