Debt Ceiling and Not Very Bright Guys

John BoehnerAs I mentioned briefly yesterday, the Republicans are again threatening the Debt Ceiling and the global economic disaster that goes along with it. Jonathan Chait makes a nice catch about the issue this morning, House Republicans Make Saddest Hostage Threat Ever. His main point is that everyone knows they are unwilling to “shoot the hostage” and so everyone knows it is a fake threat. I’m not sure I agree with that.

What he noticed, however, is interesting. He quotes a Wall Street Journal article on the recent threats that has Illinois Representative Pete Roskam saying, “[A] clean debt-ceiling increase cannot pass the House.” Chait responds:

A clean debt-ceiling bill can’t pass the House, you say? Then how come a clean debt-ceiling bill passed the House three months ago by a vote of 285–144? And how come, nine months before that, a clean debt-ceiling increase passed the House by the same margin? The Journal reports on the demands being hopefully floated by various Republican factions without mentioning at any point that the House did in fact raise the debt ceiling without policy concessions the last two times.

This is most likely not some kind of conspiracy to give the Republicans cover. Instead, it is just a reporter trying to make a boring story a little less boring. I agree with Chait, the threat is meaningless in terms of actual plans of the Republican Party. But there is still a very important story here that will always be around as long as we have the current political climate and this really stupid law.

Hostages get shot all the time when no one intended to shoot them. Of course, Congress is not made up of a bunch of common criminals. Ha! That was certainly true for a very long time. And then in 1979, we got the brilliant “Gephardt Rule” that made spending automatically raise the Debt Ceiling. Everything was good until a bunch of criminals took over the Republican Party in 1995. You may remember that one of the big guys in that group was—Oh, what is his name?!—John Boehner. And the Republicans Party has only gotten crazier since then—to such an extent that Boehner now looks like the grand statesman rather than the crazy ideologue that he is.

Let me remind you of a little film history:

Right after this line, “Deep Throat” talks about how things “got out of hand.” Well, in addition to being crazy, the modern Republican Party politicians are comprised of of people who can charitably be called “not very bright.” This is, after all, the party that holds up Paul “I was B-student in math” Ryan as a brilliant thinker.[1]

The only thing more dangerous than a guy who thinks he’s smarter than he is, is a crazy guy who thinks he’s smarter and saner than he is. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the modern Republican Party!


[1] I do not actually know what Paul Ryan’s grades were in math. He strikes me as the kind of guy who did reasonably well in math up through algebra, struggle in early calculus and collapse at vector calculus. He also doesn’t show any signs of the kind of creativity required to be good at differential equations. His entire career has demonstrated how the sloppiest of thinking will be taken seriously, as long as you are conservative enough.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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