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Larry Womack Headshot

Sorry, Creditors: I've Already Reached My Debt Ceiling

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The federal government could eliminate around seventy percent of its debt by ending two costly wars, restoring tax rates for the wealthy to their already historically low pre-Bush levels and taking more serious measures to get the economy back on track. But who wants to do all that! Certainly not the House Republicans who control the nation's purse.

Instead, the new Republican majority came into Congress insisting that the bulk of the debt remain untouched, arguing instead that it was time to "get serious about the national debt" by whittling away at the remaining sliver that funds infrastructure, essential services and the social safety net. Sure, their math may stink, but the approach was certainly novel. (So novel, in fact, that Republicans panicked when they realized they might be tricked into accidentally actually passing their own proposals.)

If you're anything like me, you could probably eliminate your personal debt by selling your house and living out of a tent, firing any employees you might have, running or biking to work, never purchasing or doing anything you didn't absolutely need to survive, canceling your cable and Internet accounts and selling your children to some clean-looking strangers. Given the available options, I would say Congress has it easier. But, if you really are anything at all like me, you're about as interested in living in a tent as Republicans are in making the insanely wealthy pay real tax rates as high as their maids. (Though for the record, I will cancel my cable the moment networks realize they could be selling their "live" content through TV, IOS and Blu Ray apps like Netflix, Hulu or DivxTV.) So, sucker that you are, you probably intend to take the more conventional approach of generating revenue through work and then trying to live within those means.

Rather than adopt an ideology so embarrassingly consistent with simple math, the Republican-run House of Representatives is choosing a third option, even more novel than the last: the get-out-of-debt-free card. With Democrats unwilling to fork over the magic wand that turns 30% into 100% while simultaneously engaging in a good deal of what Newt Gingrich called "radical right wing social engineering," Republicans are threatening to simply not raise the federal debt ceiling... thereby making payments on the national debt unnecessary until they do!

Did you know that we could do this? If this strategy plays half as well with creditors as it does with a deeply, distressingly uninformed public that seems to think that about 90% of the national debt is sitting in the liquor cabinet on Nancy Pelosi's invisible jet, you and I have just hit the jackpot.

I think I'm going to start by calling my bank and telling them that I will no longer be making mortgage payments. Many people are already doing this, of course, but they're losing their homes and hurting their credit ratings. They must not have explained to the bank that they had reached their personal debt ceilings. I, on the other hand, will inform the bank that there will be no use in foreclosing or doing any sort of violence to my credit rating, since financial penalties actually mean higher real debt, and that doesn't happen when one has reached his personal debt ceiling.

Then I'll call my credit card companies and tell them not to expect a payment this month. But of course, don't bother charging me late fees, raising my interest rates or reporting me to the otherwise-appropriate agencies. I've reached my personal debt ceiling, after all, and that would all mean much more debt!

I'll probably soon after call the various contractors I am working with and tell them not to expect payment for their work, but please do still deliver the products they are working on. Of course, there will be no sense in filing suit, as I have already reached my personal debt ceiling. And don't worry about the secondary, tertiary and ongoing repercussions of my failure to pay. Why, if their creditors don't like it, they can tell them that they've reached their debt ceilings, too!

Next, I think I'll call the cable company and tell them to no longer bother sending me a bill. But, of course, don't even think about shutting off my service; I've reached my personal debt ceiling and I'm pretty into Game of Thrones.

I should probably call my phone provider to inform them next. They won't be getting any payments from me in the near future and I can't have them discontinuing my service with still so many more creditors to call. I especially plan to savor the one to the IRS....

Now that there are no consequences to not paying your bills, there has never been a better time to be a deadbeat in America.

Of course, if that doesn't work out, you can always go into the business of capitalizing on ignorance. That seems to be working out well for some.