The Debt Thing
Lots of you asking me what I thought about this, including one correspondent who asked the question thusly: “Will there be an economy in three weeks?”
At this point, yes, I think so, if only because Mitch McConnell has already provided exit hatch on the negotiations, i.e., Congress gives all debt-raising responsibility to the president and then runs away screaming in the night. I think this is a generally horrible way of proposing to do things — checks and balances only work when people actually wish to check and balance — but in a practical sense if it comes to that in the short run it’s better than defaulting and blowing up not just our economy, but the world’s as well.
That said, I don’t suppose it’ll be entirely surprising that I think if any debt deal fails, it’s going to fail because of House, and specifically because of the crop of dogmatic
morons ideologues that comprise the Republican freshman class. I do suspect that many of those, who are currently yammering about how the people sent them not to raise a penny in taxes, are going to be surprised at how quickly the people are going to be screaming at them when the government slashes their Social Security checks in order to service debt first. If they are really made to choose between grandma and Rupert Murdoch’s tax burden, well, Rupert’s in a bit of a bad odor anyway these days. Obama did the tactically smart and entirely mercenary thing of bringing that bit up and dropping it in the GOP’s lap, I suspect both Boehner and McConnell recognize a political grenade when they see one (Eric Cantor, on the other hand, does not, much to the delight of the Democrats).
I do feel a smidgen sorry for the GOP leadership on this, because they’re trying to be grownups and I suspect they recognize, aside from any political gamesmanship issues, that at after a certain point one does not destroy the nation’s economy simply to make a point, and they have to deal with dogmatic
morons ideologues who are either too ignorant or too stupid (or both!) to realize what a very bad thing it is for the United States to default on its debts. Only a smidgen sorry, however, because they actively encouraged the American people to vote in these dogmatic morons ideologues. This is one of those “You made your bed, complete with a dogmatic moron ideologue ready to screw you, now sleep in it” moments. Alas, the rest of us are in the same bed, and we have to watch.
Yes, yes, some of you say, but Obama and the Democrats are doing the same sorts of things, blah blah blah, they’re all bad actors, blah blah blah, socialism, etc ad inifitum. Meh. Are the Democrats posturing for political gain? Well, duh, yes, of course, and in these late days, seem to be doing a good job of it, too. Are they refusing to consider any sort of spending cuts for a debt deal, which would be the corresponding absolutist position for the Democrats? Not so much. I realize it’s in fashion in conservative circles to define “negotiation” as its actual opposite, i.e., offer nothing and then complain loudly that the other side isn’t willing to meet you halfway. But that’s not what “negotiation” means. And once again, while I appreciate the tender and loving consideration the Tea Party folks have for the wealthiest among us — thanks again, guys! You’re great — the fact is the wealthiest among us really can spare the cash.
Anyway. I do expect it will all get sorted out one way or another, and it’s not entirely unlikely it will end up with Boehner having to give up more than he wants to in order to get Democratic votes in the House while his far right flank sits and howls. I’m perfectly fine with this myself, and as at the end of the day Boehner is situated in an utterly safe congressional district — trust me, I know — I imagine if it comes to that he’ll be fine with it too. We’ll see if it comes to that.
(Update: edited to replace the word “moron.” Not all the freshman GOP are morons, to be fair. Although I think their obsessive focus on never raising taxes ever is foolish.)