By Brendan Loy
The debt ceiling talks have collapsed.
I have little to add, really, to what I’ve already said about this. The political point-scoring brinksmanship on this issue is appalling. The Republicans’ position is logically indefensible, wholly and completely. The Tea Party’s ongoing temper tantrum about the mathematically necessary expedient of raising the debt ceiling — as I’ve said before, this is a math problem, not a policy decision — proves, if further proof was necessary, that the Tea Party is not a serious force for policy reform, but a puerile farce of a political movement. The reality-denying belief that “raising the debt ceiling isn’t necessary” or “default isn’t that big a deal” is just another example, perhaps the most egregious yet, of how far we’ve come as a body politic from making decisions based on actual facts, as opposed to emotion, demagoguery and sheer nonsense. This whole thing — the entire debate — is based purely on shockingly transparent bulls**t.
At its core, this isn’t a negotiation, but rather a hostage situation, and whatever negative consequences the nation suffers as a result of a default (or a “technical default” or whatever the hell you want to call it), if such a thing occurs, will be entirely the fault of the hostage-takers, not the ones being held hostage by their illegitimate demands. F*** ‘em, all of ‘em, these feckless, irresponsible, know-nothing morons who are willing to take unknowable risks with our nation’s future — the future of my daughters’ country — to make a political point by refusing to pay the bill for expenses that have already been incurred — and in the name of fiscal responsibility, no less. “Be Fiscally Responsible: Default On Your Obligations!” What a concept. Yeah. F*** ‘em.
P.S. Also, this:
Increasingly, Americans and the markets have every reason to feel scared s**tless. The controlling faction in the Republican House is a faction that is not so much anti-debt as anti-government. If they have to choose between tackling the debt and raising even some revenues (while cutting spending dramtically), they will choose to push the US into default. Such a default would risk destroying the savings of Americans, make the debt far far worse, spark a double-dip recession, and throw countless people out of work and make those in work radically less financially secure. Even those of us who have saved for retirement by buying unglamorous bonds could see our financial future wiped out by these maniacs on a mission. That is the kind of small-c conservatism these Savonarolans want to penalize. …
This is brinksmanship with all of our lives, our money, our core financial stability and future growth. It is an outrageously reckless way to run a government. And Cantor’s refusal to take any personal responsibility for the result of these talks is of a piece with the record of this shallow, callow fanatic who has the gall to call himself a conservative, even as he launches a wrecking ball at the very fabric of the American and global economy.
These current Republicans would rather destroy the US economy than sacrifice one scintilla of ideological purity. They are an imminent threat to the stability of this country’s economy and the world’s. And they must be stopped before the damage is irreversible.
I had to look up “Savonarolans.” I found Girolamo Savonarola, a 15th-century Italian politico “known for his book burning [and] destruction of what he considered immoral art.” Um, okay. Not sure the relevance of that. But otherwise: spot on.
You know who needs to weigh in against this madness? Mitch Daniels. His debt-reduction credentials are impeccable, unquestionable, beyond dispute. He passionately argues, and I fervently agree, that going forward, we must tackle our long-term structural deficit and prevent the “red menace” of debt from destroying us. And yet surely, being an adult and a sensible, rational leader, he recognizes this feckless, know-nothing position of not raising the debt limit, despite the mathematical necessity of doing so in order to pay for obligations already incurred, for what it is: fiscally irresponsible, reckless insanity. And what was it he said about radicalism? Ah yes:
Purity in martyrdom is for suicide bombers. King Pyrrhus is remembered, but his nation disappeared. Winston Churchill set aside his lifetime loathing of Communism in order to fight World War II. Challenged as a hypocrite, he said that when the safety of Britain was at stake, his “conscience became a good girl.” We are at such a moment. I for one have no interest in standing in the wreckage of our Republic saying “I told you so” or “You should’ve done it my way.”
The House Republicans and the Tea Partiers are perfectly happy to do exactly that — stand amid the wreckage saying “I told you so” — and snap up the electoral benefit when the voters reflexively blame the president for the double-dip recession that they caused. If not Daniels, what figure of unquestioned fiscal conservative credentials will call them out on this terrifying, dangerous nonsense? And will they listen, or add the objector to their ever-growing list of apostates?
If it weren’t informed by such abject ignorance, I’d say the don’t-raise-the-debt-limit position comes as close to outright treason as anything I’ve ever seen in domestic political discourse. I don’t use the word “treason” lightly, but these people are literally willing to destroy the country’s economy to prove a point, even though the risk of destruction if universally acknowledged by everyone except, well, them. However, the reason it’s ultimately not treasonous is because I believe that they, like all those here who will wrong-headedly defend them, believe their own lies. Just as they don’t “believe in climate change,” just as they think “death panels” are real, just as they insist that modest government regulation is “socialism,” just as they deny or ignore empirical facts regarding everything from historical tax rates and revenues to comparative health-care costs and outcomes, likewise in this case, they simply do not recognize or accept the fact — universally and uncontroversially acknowledged by “experts,” and therefore by definition wrong, in their warped worldview — that their position on the debt limit is one of complete reality-denial and total economic nihilism. This earnestness, thus unwavering belief in their own righteousness, makes them less morally nefarious, but infinitely more dangerous. When fanatics honestly believe their own lies — when they truly think they’re doing the right thing, even though they indisputably are not — there’s no telling the damage they can do.
P.P.S. Anyone inclined to respond by blasting my position, I would ask that you first read what I wrote in the above-linked earlier post, if you haven’t already. That’s where I actually spell out my substantive position on the debt limit. This is just a follow-up rant.