Class Warfare Blog

October 4, 2013

Republicans Double Down and Cut Their Own Legs Out From Under Themselves

Well, the House Republicans have managed to shutdown the “nonessential parts” (sic) of the federal government. (Nonessential here means “not needed” or “not noticed” by rich conservatives like Sean Hannity, who has said he has seen no effect of the “shutdown;” I guess he is not on supplemental food aid nor did he get furloughed from his job.) Speaker of the House John Boehner claimed he didn’t want to shut down the government all along. But reports are starting to leak out that according to their own (paraphrased) statements, it’s “about strengthening their hand in the debt-ceiling talks.” It’s “leverage” in the debt ceiling fight.

So, the idea is to threaten to not increase the debt ceiling, the amount of money the Executive Branch can borrow to pay the bills already authorized by Congress if Republicans don’t get their way (for you Tea Partiers out there, the Congress is in charge of all federal government spending, the Executive Branch merely has some latitude in how that money is spent, it has no capacity to incur debt on its own). But to just threaten defaulting on our debts is somewhat crazy because all of the financial people (conservative, liberal, middle of road, whatever) say that doing that is a very, very bad idea.

The President has stated that he “will not negotiate” over what is entirely the Congress’s responsibility (raising the debt limit or generating revenue by revising the tax structures). So, that is the showdown. (I assume this comes under the rule of “not negotiating with terrorists.”)

But the American people are watching. They were watching when Boehner insisted that he didn’t come to Washington to shut down the government, then they were watching when the Republicans shut down the government. They are still watching while the Republicans are trying to blame the Democrats for the shutdown (and not buying it, even in Fox (sic) News polls). Next the Republicans will say that they don’t want to default on our payments to our creditors, but Americans already realize they lied the last time and understand who will be at fault if we do. They just have witnessed the Republicans in action.

And Americans know what happens when they miss debt payments. There are real consequences. Many are old enough to remember missing a credit card payment or just being late by a day or two and seeing our interest rate go up from 11% to 32%. If any of us are truly worried about the national debt, can you imagine what happens to that debt if the rate we pay on it doubles or even triples? Most Americans can. Economists say that another recession is an obvious outcome.

If this default on our Congressionally-approved debts happens, whither the Republican Party? Or should I just say, doing it will wither the Republican Party.

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