By Jim Spencer
For a moment Wednesday, Al Franken looked like he was back on the set of Saturday Night Live and not on the floor of the U.S. Senate. In a speech explaining that there would be no money to pay for military and security personnel if Congress doesn’t pass a bill increasing the debt ceiling by Aug. 2, Franken unveiled a large poster in the chamber that said, “Welcome Terrorists.”
Franken aimed his theater of the absurd at those who believe the U.S. doesn’t have to raise the debt limit to avoid economic catastrophe. He couched it as black humor, but certainly not as comic relief in a House and Senate deadlock that economists say puts the U.S. at risk of a financial meltdown.
“About a month ago, the Bipartisan Policy Center briefed members of the House Republican Caucus on the actual implications of the Aug. 2nd deadline — what we could pay, what we couldn’t pay,” Franken said. “…in the month of August, we could pay our debt interest, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, vendors for defense projects, and unemployment insurance — and that’s all.
“. . .no pay for active duty military. No benefits for veterans. No federal loans for low-income students about to head off to college in the fall. No federal government employees, including counter-terrorism agents in the FBI, for example. No border agents. Now before we default, we would have the time to make this sign. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
Take a look at the senator’s visual aids here (click right arrow to view all 3 pages):