Are the Tea Party Republicans really crazy enough to commit political over the debt ceiling?
The first time around, Republicans in the House elected on a wave of Tea Party support demanded Obama drastically reduce the $1.2 trillion deficit (mainly built up by the Bush Administration) or face default.
A last minute agreement was struck between the two parties to reduce the deficit and raise the debt ceiling. In the end, Republican House Speaker John Boehner said “When you look at this final agreement that we came to with the White House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I’m pretty happy,”
The deal included the creation of a bipartisan supercommittee in order to determine the best ways to reduce the deficit. If a deal within the committee couldn’t be agreed upon, then automatic spending cuts would take effect. Needless to say, no real deal was made and sequestration has become all but permanent.
Here we are now, two years after the first manufactured crisis. Government spending has fallen two straight years for the first time since the Korean War. In fact the national deficit (not to be confused with the national debt) has fallen every year since 2009.
The Congressional Budget Office forecasts that the annual deficit, which topped 10 percent of GDP in 2009, could shrink to as little as 2.1 percent of GDP by 2015. Not too bad for a country that recently experienced firsthand the worst recession since the great depression and waged two major wars.
All this good news isn’t enough for Tea Party Republicans who recently forced the government to shut down over Obamacare. They are now holding the debt ceiling hostage again and their demands are more of the same, but this time Obama is not giving an inch.
The United States is set default on its debts in just three days and both sides seem deadlocked. The exacted penalties of a default is unknown as it has never happened before. But economists and top bankers have warned the consequences would be catastrophic and send shockwaves through international markets.
As the government shutdown drags on and hardline Republicans continue to play chicken with the debt ceiling, some House Republicans are beginning to express a willingness to go along with a bipartisan Senate plan. They realize the deficit is under control and the government should be reopened in order to negotiate further.
Such a deal that would see Republicans backing down to Democrats is being fought hard by Tea Party backed representatives like Paul Ryan who claimed yesterday that by kicking the can down the road, the GOP would lose “leverage” in their fight against Obamacare.
The debt ceiling fight still seems to be within the Republican Party than with Democrats and about the health care law rather than debt reduction. The real trouble lies with those who think the debt ceiling is comparable to their own personal household debt or think a default would be similar to the aftermath of the American Revolution. Despite their idiotic comparisons, when push comes to shove I think they’ll still join the real world.
The Tea Party might include conservatives hell bent on destroying the government from within, but I still think saner heads will prevail, even if it comes to within five minutes of midnight on October 16th. Mutually assured financial destruction doesn’t benefit anyone, least of all the politicians who cause it.
Tea Party Republicans are backed by very wealthy business interests like the Koch Brothers who all agree that a failure to pay the bills are bad for the country. Are these Republicans dumb enough to bite the hand that feeds?
Maybe, but they must be aware that if the economy tanks on their account, many of their brief political careers will be over whether they receive political funding or not. No amount of blaming Obama will save them this time.