Instead of shutting down the government, Republicans want to torch the entire economy. Do we still have to pretend that they have useful ideas about governance?
“This is like going from crazy to crazier. Threatening to shut down the government is like playing with fire. Threatening to default on our debt obligations is the economic equivalent of playing with nuclear weapons. For the cooler heads in the GOP, this has to be raising all sorts of alarm bells.” — Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), quoted by the Washington Post,
Republicans have mostly abandoned their wet dreams of defunding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) through a budget bill. They’re now making a tactical retreat to fortify, in their minds, a more defensible position: the debt ceiling. They’ve held the country hostage using the debt ceiling before, so they figure they’ll have another go at it. In 2011, they pretty much caved. In 2012, they caved. Is there any reason to believe that they won’t cave again? Not really.
So, if we know that they’re just chest-pounding and posturing for the base in the run-up to the 2014 midterm elections, why does it matter? Well, think of it this way; if Bill Gates somehow lost his wallet and asks you to borrow twenty bucks, that’s a pretty safe loan. Bill Gates loses more money between the couch cushions than I will make in my entire life. The United States is the same way; countries and corporations don’t loan out $17 trillion not expecting to get that back. So, every time the Republicans in the House of Representatives bluster about not raising the debt ceiling and not paying back our debts, they create instability in the global economy. They cast doubt on the ability/willingness of the United States to pay its debts.
For this reason, the U.S. credit rating was downgraded after the 2011 debt ceiling standoff; no one is quite as sure that we’re good for it. So, instead of fighting the evils of increasing debt (whatever they may be, Right-wingers have never told me), this sort of brinkmanship actually makes the debt worse. We’re still going to borrow money, we just have to borrow it at ever- increasing interest rates, because Republicans like to pretend we’re not going to pay it back. The United States has been in debt consistently and without ceasing since 1836; in 1836, we were only out of debt for about a year. When the Constitution was ratified in 1789, we were in debt.
Side Note: Debt is about 101% of GDP. That’s not great, but it’s also not that bad. Consider that the UK debt is, supposedly, around 413% of GDP.
The Republican Circus has been a mess for a while; probably since the Clinton Derangement Syndrome set in around 1992. They’ve sunk to new lows with their official policy of We Don’t Like The Black Guy. The Republican Circus is horribly over-staffed with clowns and the only lion in the whole shebang seems to be John McCain playing the role of the Cowardly Lion. Personally, I feel bad for John Boehner; I know he wishes for the good ol’ days of Republican politics which was just chain-smoking, disenfranchising women and minorities, and accepting kickbacks from corporate sponsors. Now, he’s got this crop of freshman legislators who just want to sink the ship because their opponents will drown, too. He’s forced to act as crazy as they are while preventing them from actually accomplishing anything. All the while, he has to prevent Democrats from actually accomplishing anything as well. You know what, I don’t feel bad for him at all. He may be the most useless member of Congress now that I think about it. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY) and their ilk want to destroy the government from within. At least they believe in something.
More of the insanity:
- The GOP Is No Longer Threatening A Government Shutdown And Will Instead Threaten Something Much Worse (businessinsider.com)
- THEY’RE BACK: Congress Threatens To Default Again (businessinsider.com)
- The right’s new bluff to appease its radicals (salon.com)