Congressional Republicans are angry because internal documents show the Treasury Department, the White House, and Federal Reserve officials privately discussed the possibility of prioritizing certain debt payments in the event of a debt default while publicly saying doing so would be a terrible idea.
It is a terrible idea and avoiding a national default would obviously be a much better idea, but Republicans believe this is evidence of a conspiracy.
“These internal documents show the Obama Administration took the nation’s creditworthiness and economy hostage in a cynical attempt to create a crisis so the President could get what he wanted during negotiations over the debt ceiling,” said House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).
“The Administration owes it to the American people to be honest and transparent about its debt ceiling contingency plans.”
The only reason we're talking about this is because congressional Republicans held the debt ceiling hostage on an annual basis between 2011 and 2015. On more than one occasion, a national default was averted at the 11th hour of the last day. Moreover, Congressional Republican leadership relied on Democratic votes to raise the debt ceiling on more than one occasion. Raising the ceiling would not have been possible without Democratic assistance.
For Pete's sake, his unwillingness to default on the national debt and crash the world economy is among the reasons why former Speaker of the House John Boehner is no longer with us. The calls for his resignation reached a crescendo each time the ceiling was raised.
The Treasury Department has responded to Congressman Hensarling by saying the department was "forced to consider a range of options" to deal with a "catastrophic" default. The department noted that prioritizing certain payments would be the "least harmful option" in the event of a default, but a default would obviously be a goddamn disaster regardless of how it's handled.
Debt ceiling shenanigans will almost certainly plague the next president unless it's a Republican. In that case, it will once again be seen as a routine matter.