Vince Cable has provided us with another one of those wonderful outbursts (“I have declared war on Rupert Murdoch”, “Capitalism takes no prisoners and kills competition where it can”) that reminds us that the coalition hasn’t quite stolen his soul.
Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show this morning, Cable remarked of those Republicans attempting to block the raising of the US debt ceiling:
The irony of the situation at the moment, with markets opening tomorrow morning, is that the biggest threat to the world financial system comes from a few right-wing nutters in the American Congress rather than the eurozone.
The Business Secretary is, of course, right. As NS economics editor David Blanchflower pointed out in his column this week, raising the debt ceiling has been normal practice for nearly half a century. He noted: “It has been increased 74 times during that period and, significantly, was raised more under Republican presidents than it has been under Democrats. Ronald Reagan raised the ceiling 18 times when he was in office.”
The current Republican Party is well to the right of George Osborne. Even under his plans, the national debt is set to rise from £1.3 trillion in 2011-12 to £1.6 trillion to 2015-16, and it won’t start falling as a per cent of GDP until the end of this Parliament. All the same, one wonders what Osborne and his allies make of Cable’s decidedly undiplomatic language.