BY JOSH MERLO
The annual crisis of the U.S. government defaulting on its payments has returned, and with it comes the circus that is guaranteed to accompany any major political decisions in an increasingly split Congress.
On one side, the liberals and the moderate Republicans; on the other, irrational tea party types whose sole goal it has become to derail anything toward which President Obama has indicated a hankering of like. These radicals have, in effect, hijacked their party, leaving both the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, powerless to effect a useable conservative plan for dealing with the debt and deficit.
Instead of working on preserving pay for millions of American government workers, these so-called “activists” on the right have pinned this moment in time as the best to resume their war against the Affordable Care Act.
The problem: The United States of America is in a position to foreseeably default on its debt. The proposed solution: increasing the federal debt limit to allow for more borrowing as a stop-gate measure to avert the default. Straightforward, simple and effective – the U.S. did this exact thing last year and did not die, have its economy strangled, or go the way of the Weimar Republic.
The debt-ceiling has, historically, been variable, being raised when necessary, prompting the president’s comments about Congress never having refused to grant a request for a higher debt limit. This also has not been a matter of politics in the past: Republican Congresses have given Democratic presidents increases, and vice versa.
Considering these facts, then, that this new budget battle is anything beyond petulance from the GOP is indisputable. Comparable to the little brother who, since he cannot play basketball with his older sibling’s friends, steals the ball, the Republicans are stomping their feet saying, “Give us something we want before we give you what you want.” This is a great negotiating tactic typically, except when recalcitrance causes a government shutdown, or except when one is negotiating from a position of weakness.
The House representatives and Senators who are clamoring against Obama’s healthcare act seem to be missing a vital point: The president and his supporters hold all the cards. If the government shuts down, the Republicans are going to take the fall, and voters come next November will not distinguish between moderate-right, right, or far-right. They are helping no one with their ideological stand.
Again, more importantly, millions are in a position to be hurt by the shutdown of the government. As former President George W. Bush famously said, “[You] can’t take the high horse and then claim the low road.”
It’s very nice and dandy for Republicans to offer rhetoric on individual rights and freedom of conscience, but their obstinate, purposeful ignorance of those affected by the required measures for avoiding default shows the lie of their “nobleness.” Combining this obvious elitism with a pompous self-assurance that they will be able to force the president, the Democratic Senate, and their own party to bend, the Mad Hatters of the tea party are just that: mad.