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Friday, October 11, 2013

Taking hostage

Let's propose a new rule: Booman is always wrong.

Okay, that's not fair. His heart is in the right place. He's no dummy. But...oh, jeez, just look at this (written in response to this)...
But the Republicans will never intentionally default on our debts, and it was never much more than the remotest possibility that they would do so by accident. That was a hostage that wasn't a hostage. The GOP leadership has already ceded this point. As to the government shutdown, it's very unfortunate, but really no more unfortunate the sequester which has been grinding people down all year long and has been hurting the economy.
It's very important to understand that the GOP is not going to default on our debts. They do not, in fact, have a gallon of gasoline and a match that they will light if we don't give in to their tantrum. We don't have to worry about that.
No, froggie. You're wrong. The Republicans really are that nuts.

Not all of them are nuts, obviously. But the teabaggers are pretty damned crazy, and they have rigged the rules of their game so that the non-insane don't get to stick around. Consider teabagger congresscritter Ted Yoho of Florida:
“You’re seeing the tremor before the tsunami here,” Yoho said. “I’m not going to raise the debt ceiling.”
“I see one side of our government, or two-thirds of it, running 100 miles an hour toward socialism,” Yoho said, meaning Obama and the Democratic-led Senate. He knows people agree with him on that, he said, because he asks people about it at town-hall meetings: “ ‘How many people feel we’re heading into socialism?’ Hands go up.”
“I think we need to have that moment where we realize [we’re] going broke,” Yoho said. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, that will sure as heck be a moment. “I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets,” since they would be assured that the United States had moved decisively to curb its debt.
Yes. He actually said that. Not raising the debt ceiling would bring stability to the world markets. He said it, he thinks it, he means it.

Also see here.

These are people who have convinced themselves that global warming is a conspiracy of scientists. These are people who think that the 2008 financial meltdown was caused by too much regulation.

Never underestimate the nuttiness of the nuts.
This isn't much different from what Obama said when he opposed raising the debt ceiling in 2006:

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a Sign that the US Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. ...Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that 'the buck stops here'. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and Grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."

- Sen. Barack Obama, March 2006

Yes, it was BS then and it's BS now - but the whole point of the game is to provide cover for implementing the Catfood Commission's "austerity" recommendations in the name of "shared sacrifice".
You're right. The Tea Partiers are certifiable. There's so little of value on cable television but tonight Rachel Maddow had an enlightening segment - she occasionally has those - that pointed to Mark Meadows as the author of the letter, signed by the Tea Party contingent, that called for shutdown over Obamacare. Meadows is a real loon: an avowed birther. Maddow's point was that you can't predict these people. They're outside reality, and establishment journalists are struggling with that, because their instinct is to frame this conflict as a classic Republican-Democrat "showdown." It's not.

What you're seeing is a twisted incarnation of the John Birch society achieving national political power, and through that, access to a big red button that sets the economy on a self-destruct sequence.

So it all comes down to Boehner. The Senate Republicans are developing a sensible plan to reopen government and lift the debt ceiling with only symbolic concessions from Democrats; the plan can pass the House, but only if Boehner bucks the Tea Party and opens the floor to a vote carried by Democrats and some Republicans. That could mean the end of his speakership and a full-scale civil war within the Republican Party. I have my odds on Boehner committing harakiri, but it's a probability, not a certainty. Either way something's going to give: the Republican Party, or America.
Not raising the debt ceiling will mean default. Stability, my arse. Warren Buffett's metaphor is nuclear.

Default is probable. No-one with megaclout gives a shit about the long term health of anything conceivable as 'society'. Which may connect with the avowed Repuglican hatred of any halfway-decent state health provision.

Fidelity Investments have sold all of their short-term US government debt.

The US doesn't produce anything. The bubble must blow. The US dollar is insanely high.

One thing that keeps niggling:

Clinton's presidency made to teeter
Wye River Agreement scuppered

brinksmanship on the Hill; Obama probably to be forced to break constitutional law
how are the 'secret' Israeli-Palestinian talks going?

That's the key: The Tea Party people are nuts. No debt ceiling increase will pass the House. This is how it will play out:

1. The Tea Party Republicans in the House ARE crazy enough to take the US into default - and they have every intention of doing so - unless Obama surrenders or sidesteps them.

2. They have Boehner by the nuts. No matter what Boehner might promise, he is too weak and too incompetent to deliver.

3. The "sane" (but worried) Republicans in the House and Senate are still in denial about their crazy TP brethren. They're hoping that Obama capitulates or that Boehner will pull something out of his posterior pocket in time to save the country from default. But see (2).

4. That said, those "sane" Republicans are getting more worried by the day. But the GOP culture will prevent them from doing something drastic or disloyal in time to save the day. The government will have to go over the debt-ceiling cliff (or something tantamount to default) in order to wake them up.

5. Even though the Republicans have tried to mash the debt ceiling and shutdown together as one big problem, it's still TWO problems for Obama, and he's going to need R help to solve the second one (shutdown).

6. Obama could mint the coin TODAY, announce it, and solve the debt ceiling problem. But it's too early and would only further enrage the Republicans and prolong the shutdown crisis.

7. He's got to let the US go all the way to the debt ceiling cliff - maybe over it - to convince the "sane" Republicans that Boehner and TP really are crazy and would have destroyed everything including their own party. The earth will have to shake.

8. The shakes will come. The stock market will start taking some horrific dives. There may even panic selling in the T-Bill markets. Certainly the screams from the world financial community will get deafening as we approach the 17th. That will help.

[On tonight's show, Rachel Maddow suggested that the Republicans have panicked and are ready to do something about the debt ceiling. Nope. See (2). The TP are not ready to cooperate. They may never be.]

9. It will also shake the Republican world when the Senate sends over a clean debt ceiling bill but at the 11th hour Boehner fails to get it passed in the House (even with the Democratic votes). But then its too late.

10. At some point before, or maybe on the 17th, the "sane" Republicans' fever will start to break. They will panic for real. And that's when Obama will announce that he's already minted the coin, to everybody's great relief.

11. Having dodged a huge bullet, the Republicans will ditch Boehner and put the TP back in a bottle. And, unable to stomach any more damage to their brand, they'll gladly pass a CR.

12. In 2014 the Democrats will take back the House.

13. If Obama doesn't mint that coin all bets are off. But he'd be crazy not to, no matter what he's said in the past. The coin is legal.
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