Fact-check: Think Progress Shilling for Democrats and Debt


Over the last few years, one of the left’s most effective voices has been Think Progress. An influential blog under the Center for American Progress’ umbrella, it has over 500,000 Facebook followers, and is regularly cited by the Left in online media.

Unfortunately for truth and accuracy, Think Progress often manipulates facts. An October 30 post by Josh Israel entitled “Senate Republicans vote unanimously for debt default” is a prime example.

The basic facts are straightforward enough: Senate Republicans opposed the President’s decision to suspend the debt ceiling until February 7, 2014 under authority granted in the deal that ended the “shutdown.” As part of the deal, Congress got to offer a show vote in each chamber that “disapproved” of the suspension.

This week, the Senate took its show vote, which lost 54-45. The House passed its version, 222-191, but the loss in the Senate made the passage irrelevant.

Beyond these basic facts, however, Israel’s post relies on misleading rhetoric and outright dishonesty to bash the GOP. Consider:

First, the Senate didn’t have a vote that would allow default. It held a show vote that would allow Republicans to go home to their constituents and brag about opposing the President’s suspension of the debt ceiling. Given Democratic control of the Senate, every single objective observer knew the vote would not pass – that would require over a dozen Democratic Senators to go against their leadership on the debt ceiling.

Second, hitting the debt ceiling would not constitute default for America. It would force a prioritization of spending – but default would only take place if the Treasury did not make interest payments on our debt.

Third, not suspending the debt ceiling doesn’t constitute hitting the ceiling. Congress could actually cut spending and balance the budget, and thus avoid hitting the debt ceiling. That would violate every historical precedent, but it’s certainly within Congressional purview.

Fourth, Israel tries to pin the title of “hypocrite” on some Senate Republicans for voting to raise the debt ceiling in 2004 and opposing doing so now. It is indeed hypocritical, but Israel neglected to note that President Obama did the same thing as a Senator in 2006.

A think tank blog should know better.