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This should go without saying — which means, of course, that it has to be said — but any presidential candidate whose position is flat-out opposition to raising the debt ceiling under any circumstances should be immediately asked:

So which 40% of the federal government do you plan to permanently cut starting on August 2nd?

Demagogues like Michele Bachmann are allowed to earn swooning cheers from tea party crowds with cross-of-gold-like proclamations that “I. Will. Not. Vote. To. Increase. The. Debt. Ceiling.” — but are then allowed to avoid answering the obvious followup question. Keep in mind: Bachmann’s position isn’t that she wants a balanced budget in 2020, or 2015, or even next year. She wants one starting in two weeks. That means big cuts in at least one of three areas: Social Security, Medicare, and the Pentagon. If she plans to keep any of the rest of the government around, it means even bigger cuts in those three areas.

For some reason, the press has long been willing to give a pass to conservative crazies because, hey, that’s just how they are. (In Bachmann’s case, it also helps to have a flying wedge of bouncers to keep pesky reporters at bay.) Still, she has to answer questions eventually. And the first and only question she should be asked, over and over and over again, is: Which 40% of the federal government do you plan to permanently cut starting on August 2nd?

She’ll never reply, of course, since her adoring crowds might be slightly less adoring if she was willing to tell them the truth about what her priorities are. But it would still be nice to see professional reporters act like profesisonal reporters and refuse to stop asking until she gives a real answer.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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