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“We should have a contentious debate” over the debt ceiling: Sen. Isakson

Aaron Task
Editor in Chief
Daily Ticker

Congress has signed a budget deal to fund the government through fiscal 2014, but that doesn’t mean the era of self-made crises is over.

“Washington is addicted to brinksmanship, and the media plays along, so we expect the debt ceiling extension will become the dominant story in this town for the next month,” writes Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Potomac Research Group. “Republicans will seek something in exchange for their votes.”

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Ticker, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) didn’t exactly run from that scenario.

“We should have a contentious debate” over the debt ceiling, Sen. Isakson tells me. “We shouldn’t just automatically lift the ceiling on the debt without having a constructive conversation about it.”

Related: Here’s How to Bypass the Debt Limit

In fact, Sen. Isakson believes the 2011 showdown over the debt ceiling “ended up being worth it,” even though it resulted in the first-ever downgrade of America’s credit rating and legitimate concern about the country’s willingness (vs. ability) to repay its debts. “In August 2011 we got the Budget Control Act in return for raising the ceiling; that served America well,” he says.

The Budget Control Act led to the creation of the so-called Super Committee and ultimately set the stage for the sequestration cuts that most economists believe restrained U.S. economic growth in 2013, albeit not as much as feared.

As for what Republicans will hope to gain from a 2014 showdown over the debt ceiling, Potomac’s Valliere says approval of the Keystone Pipeline is likely to top the wish-list.

“You’ll see some political plays like [Keystone] but in the long run I think it ought to be regulated to the structure of debt borrowing and finance, and the appropriations and budget process,” Sen. Isakson says. “That’s what determines what the debt is going to be…and we ought to stick to the businesses of what we’re talking about.”

Watch the accompanying video to hear Sen. Isakson’s views on other issues such as the extension of long-term unemployment benefits, corporate tax reform and the two (relatively) simple policy measures he says will reinvigorate jobs growth in America.

Aaron Task is the host of The Daily Ticker and Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo! Finance. You can follow him on Twitter at @aarontask or email him at altask@yahoo.com.