WASHINGTON -- Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned on Sunday that if House Republicans, in an effort to flex their fiscal conservative muscles, held up passage of a budget this coming March, it could send the United States into a deep recession and possibly a depression.
The New York Democrat, appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," said that the GOP was "playing with fire" by threatening either to not fund the government or not raise the debt ceiling unless they were first placated with deep spending cuts.
"On March 4 the government-funding resolution expires and it seems that a lot of Republicans in the House want to risk a shutdown of the government if they don't absolutely get their way," said Schumer. "That was a mistake when [former House Speaker] Newt Gingrich tried it in 1995. It would be a bigger mistake now. It is really playing with fire.... you can risk the credit markets really losing some confidence in the United States Treasury and that could create a deeper recession than we had over the last several years or, god forbid, even a depression."
"It is playing with fire to risk the shutting down of the government just as it is playing with fire to risk not paying the debt ceiling," he added.
The raising of the rhetoric and associated stakes surrounding the budget and debt ceiling debate is something Democrats have been doing for weeks. Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, set the trend when he called the idea of a self-imposed default "insanity."
To a certain extent, the tack has worked, with GOP leadership showing little of the willingness for a political showdown that the younger, predominantly Tea Party members exhibit.
"That would be a financial disaster not only for our country but for the worldwide economy," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said of a U.S. default on its debt, during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. "Remember, the American people on Election Day said, we want to cut spending and we want to create jobs. You can't create jobs if you default on the federal debt. Listen, there has been a spending spree going on in Washington these last couple of years beyond control and the president is going to ask us to increase the debt limit then he has got to be willing to cut up the credit cards. We have got to work together by listening to the American people and reducing these obligations that we have."
"I don't think [defaulting] is a question that is even on the table," he added.