So. Apparently, over the weekend, the GOP did just what Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) predicted. They “. . . figure(d) out they F*ck*n lost,” the government shutdown spin cycle and have executed an impressive grande jeté in the general direction of the debt ceiling.
Do not, however, expect that the change of focus to a far more damaging objective will, in any way, temper the illogical ignorance, silliness and breathtaking incompetence that Republicans brought to last week’s discussions, debates and posturings.
Nope. This is only Monday and we already have howlers ranging from Sen. Tom Coburn’s(R-OK) belief that there is “no such thing as a debt ceiling” to Rep. Ted Yoho’s (R-FL) hallucinatory vision that not raising the US debt limit would “have a stabilizing effect on global markets.”
Others, like Rep. Tim Huelskamp, (R-KS) dismisses default wories with:
Nobody thinks we’re going to default on Oct. 17th.
Depends on your definition of “default,” I guess. Rep. Huelskamp, looking at the 2011 debt ceiling kerfuffle through the lens of his months in Congress, said:
That would have been a very devastating thing. But I want to tell you here today — in my honest opinion — that was never, ever going to happen . . . because we had sufficient dollars to pay our creditors. It’s 8 percent of our revenue, and we can’t pay them?
Back then, Huelskamp voted against raising the debt ceiling, describing the spending cuts in the deficit-reduction deal as “paltry.” I suspect he’ll do the same this time around.
As if all of that isn’t stupid enough, I was sure that by this week we’d have some conservative wit sermonizing about how the national budget is just like his freaking checkbook. And I wasn’t disappointed . . . .
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Loon Star State) sat us all down for some homespun economic wisdom. He’s against raising the nation’s debt ceiling but Joe has a simple plan to avoid default, which involves not paying “every bill the day it comes in.”
Barton told CNBC:
I’m not going to vote for the so-called clean debt ceiling where we just give the president a blank check. I will not vote for that.
We have in my household budget some bills that have to be paid and some bills that only paid partially. I think paying interest on the debt has to be paid. I think paying Social Security payments have to be paid. I don’t think paying the secretary of energy’s travel expenses have to be paid 100 cents on the dollar.
This talk about default by the U.S. Treasury is nonsense. The president can be smart or the president can be stupid. And I would assume as smart as President Obama is when push comes to shove, he’ll be smart.
So, we are not going to default on the public debt. But that doesn’t mean that we have to pay every bill the day it comes in.
Brilliant! So, here’s a guy who has an actual vote in the matter who, obviously, doesn’t understand the first thing about the national debt, and who believes that raising the debt ceiling is like handing the president a blank check. So, clearly he doesn’t understand that his own body of government controls the spending and owns any resulting debt.
Hark! We should be hearing from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), at any moment, now, about his excellent derp-alicious scheme for prioritizing debt payments which, like most of Ryan’s musings, is completely unworkable in reality.
Every day that goes by, here in Dystopia, proves that Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein were righter-than-rain when they wrote It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism.
Here’s how Mann and Ornstein see things. . .
Their principal conclusion is unequivocal: Today’s Republicans in Congress behave like a parliamentary party in a British-style parliament, a winner-take-all system. But a parliamentary party — “ideologically polarized, internally unified, vehemently oppositional” — doesn’t work in a “separation-of-powers system that makes it extremely difficult for majorities to work their will.”
These Republicans “have become more loyal to party than to country,” the authors write, so “the political system has become grievously hobbled at a time when the country faces unusually serious problems and grave threats. . . . The country is squandering its economic future and putting itself at risk because of an inability to govern effectively.”
Honk if that has the ring of truth.
************** IRRESISTABLE UPDATE ********************
The #occupation of the World War II Memorial by heroic congressmen continues to be a source of quality pandering. One videographer was on hand when Texas Rep. Pete Sessions visited the memorial and responded to a heckler.
HECKLER: A clean resolution—if it passes, it will pass.
SESSIONS: Look. We’re not French. We don’t surrender.
HECKLER: Surrender what? You created the fight!
Stay classy, Pete!