An increasing number of Republicans do not believe the Obama administration's dire predictions of economic "catastrophe" if the debt limit is not increased. They argue a period of technical default can be managed without plunging markets into chaos.
Establishment Republicans including Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor who announced his presidential candidacy last month, are backing a short-term default if it leads to deep, immediate spending cuts.
Jeff Sessions and Paul Ryan, the top Republicans on the Senate and House Budget Committees, have also said failure to raise the debt limit would not trigger immediate catastrophe.
Republican Senator Pat Toomey has even introduced legislation directing the Treasury to prioritize debt service over other payments if the debt limit is not raised. It has 22 Republican co-sponsors in the Senate and 98 in the House of Representatives, although no members of the Republican leadership have backed it.
David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush and a Republican advocate for raising the debt limit, said he holds regular question-and-answer sessions with Republican congressman over a beer.
"I have yet to meet one Republican who actually says a failure to raise the debt limit scares them," Frum said. "It is deeply, deeply troubling the number of Republicans I now talk to -- and I include the mainstream -- who think a technical default is manageable.
Many on Wall Street disagree. They fear even the briefest default would cause a steep climb in interest rates worldwide and a tumbling dollar...
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