Is it already that time of year again? Another chance for the Republican Party to destroy the world economy with a debt ceiling standoff? Oh yes! Christmas comes but once a year, but the impending disaster of a US government default is something that pays benefits all the time. And we are but one month from another deadline when all reasonable Americans ask, “Are the Republicans really this reckless?!” The answer to that is: yes. They are like teens left along to monkey with the control room of a nuclear power plant. They don’t want anything to go terribly wrong, but they aren’t wise enough to know what they don’t know.
Back in 2003, the Republican Party raised the debt ceiling on the very same day that they passed a budget busting tax cut that did almost no good for the economy because it targeted the very rich. Imagine that: the Republican Party of 2003 was the careful one. If they manage to control Washington in 2017, I suspect we are looking at things that will make the Iraq War look like a wise and considered decision. I’m thinking: a war with Iran that devolves into a global nuclear war with Russia. I’ll bet Kevin McCarthy is fantasizing about it right now.
There was talk that Boehner might resolve this and various other issues before he stepped down as Speaker of the House. He did say, “I don’t want to leave my successor a dirty barn. I want to clean the barn up a little bit before the next person gets there.” But we haven’t heard anything from him recently. And even if he does raise it, is will most likely be a temporary measure — the same kind of thing he did for the government shutdown. Let’s never fix anything! Let’s just push the confrontation ahead a month or two!
Michael Hiltzik has pointed out that the whole idea of the debt ceiling was originally created in 1917 to give the Treasury Department more latitude to deal with the federal budget — not less. It was created so that Congress didn’t have to vote on every little thing. “The debt limit became a fiscal pitfall only after 2010 when talk of holding it hostage for political ends became commonplace.” The only previous time there was anything like this was under Newt Gingrich in 1995. And think about that for a moment. I have lots of policies that I prefer. But the idea of risking default for the sake of winning a political battle should be seen as treasonous.
I know what people say: the Republicans wouldn’t really cause the country to default! But I see no reason to think otherwise. The truth is that it might well benefit them politically. It would send our economy into a tailspin and the American people, in their wisdom, might reward the malefactors with complete control of the federal government. Or it would destroy the Republican Party. I am convinced it is the uncertainty about that which stops the Republicans from doing it. Regardless, the debt ceiling issue will come back, because it never goes away. Not as long as the Republican Party exists in its current form — as a failed party.