Senator DeMint: Looming Economic Disruptions Okay for Long-Term Debt Fix

South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint repeated his threat again that he’s willing to confront “economic disruptions” as a consequence of raising the debt ceiling, but that doesn’t mean default is certain.

DeMint repeated his charge that Treasury Secretary Geithner has irresponsible for implying that the U.S. would default, because current revenue levels would cover debt payments, Social Security and payments to troops.

But he acknowledged the money would run out in other areas.

“We talk about it’s disruptive and it would be. We’ve made a lot of commitments to contractors, government employees, and if we start delaying those payments, it is disruptive.” DeMint said on The Brian Lehrer Show. “We don’t have a good decision here because if we just raise the debt limit again without serious permanent structural reform, I think the disruption economically into the value of our dollar could actually be worse.”

Geithner and DeMint have been trading letters and insults. In a letter late last month, Geithner criticized DeMint’s his premise that covering debt payments alone would forestall a major market disruption. “This idea is starkly at odds with the judgment of every previous Administration, regardless of party, that has faced debt limit impasses.”

He continued, “The fantasy that ‘market participants’ would stand by and watch such the U.S. government commit fiscal suicide without running for the hills screaming in holy terror represents new heights in GOP ludicrousness.”

For DeMint, though, it’s clear that he sees this as a moment to stand up for the diffuse, diverse Tea Party activists who he has stoked with his organization and his campaign fundraising.

“What a lot of people are wondering, including myself, is is the energy still there,” DeMint said. “Will it build or will it die out?”

Standing firm and organizing around this debt ceiling issue, he said, is the way to find out.