Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Thoughts on the Government Shutdown and Impending Default

At the time of this writing, the U.S. leaders have yet to resolve the government shutdown and address the debt ceiling, although a possible Senate deal may be in the works. If no resolution occurs, the government will default on October 17th. According to the Los Angeles Times, Fitch Ratings has placed the U.S. government's AAA credit rating on watch for possible downgrade, and the Treasury Department cannot guarantee sufficient funds to pay the government's bills after October 17th. The U.S.'s status as a dependable, creditworthy entity is in the balance, and if default occurs, it will have hard-hitting ramifications for the American and global economy. Meanwhile, the world looks on in dismay as one of the most powerful nations in the world finds itself unable to resolve a major problem.

Cheered on by right-wing voices against "Obamacare", conservative Republicans have tried to stonewall health care reform to the point of a standoff, which should have never gone this far in the first place. What does the GOP hope to gain from this debacle? Why were so many willing to bring the government to a standstill -- resulting in thousands of furloughed workers, paralyzed social services, and a looming economic crisis -- just to attack health care reform?

Several commentators blame far right forces within the GOP for the current mess. Deborah Caldwell, Amanda Marcotte, and Morgan Guyton have written commentaries on the Religious Right presence in the Republican party and its role in the shutdown. Here in the blogosphere, Infidel753 looks askance at the Republican alliance with the Tea Party and Christian Right.
After Obama took office, when the Tea Party first arose in all its paranoid race-baiting spelling-challenged glory, the Republican establishment was happy to exploit its rabid energy and ride the tiger to victory in the low-turnout 2010 election.  Even when primary-spawned nutbars cost the party Senate seats in Delaware and Nevada, criticism was muted.  The tiger was dangerous, but it was useful to the agenda the establishment has successfully pursued for decades -- tax cuts, deregulation, and attacks on the welfare state, which have exploded the deficit, held the bottom 99% in economic stagnation, and concentrated wealth more and more in the hands of a tiny, obscenely-wealthy minority (not such a "moderate" agenda, in fact).

Nor is this the first time the Republican establishment has joined forces with a movement of dangerous fanatics in order to profit from their zeal.  In the late 1970s the party embraced the rising new Christian Right, unfazed by its anti-gay, anti-female equality, anti-science, anti-modernity fervor, or by the theocratic totalitarian implications of its ambitions.  The fundies helped get Reagan elected, and the alliance has been tightening ever since.  It was only after forced ultrasounds and gay-baiting and slut-shaming and "legitimate rape" started losing elections that the establishment started gingerly trying to dissociate itself from the crazies.  

And now that the latest bunch of nuts has come within an inch of wrecking the global economy that the financial parasite class depends on almost as much as the rest of us do, the establishment wants to disown them and go back to being a sane party and accepted as such.
Similarly, the Hipcrime Vocab blames alliances among right-wing fringe factions for the current state of the GOP.
"The short version is this: Wealthy elites, alarmed at the flattening of incomes that had happened between World War 2 and the 1970's decided to wage an all-out campaign to undo those policies (unions, a social safety net, good public services, progressive taxation,  environmental regulations, etc). To do so, they allied with all of the most venal, extremist, paranoid, reactionary and authoritarian elements in American society that had always been lurking under the surface but had been marginalized and kept under control by the "adults": John Birchers, Evangelical fundamentalists, Christian Reconstructionists, Southern racists, white supremacists, Dixiecrats, Posse Comitatus, "Big Mule" politicians, corrupt politicos, "sovereign citizens," "Patriot" militia brigades, libertarian Robber Barons (Koch Brothers, et. al.), Wall Street swindlers and takeover artists, Randroids, social Darwinists, and so forth, and used these elements to take over one of America's two major political parties in the name of eliminating their taxes, curtailing regulations, and busting unions. Now, having united all of the worst elements in American society under one banner for the first time (for they seem to have little else in common), organizing it, shaping it, and giving it a powerful vehicle (the reactionary authoritarian movement that calls itself the Republican Party), the business class can no longer control it, and like The Sorcerer's Apprentice, can only watch helplessly as the forces it has unleashed for it's own short-term benefit, fueled by white rage and decreasing living standards, tear the country apart (the "Corn-pone Nazis")."
Citizens need to hold their governmental leaders accountable for this mess. The shutdown was unnecessary and completely unacceptable, and observers need to take a close look at who instigated it and why. I hope that a solution emerges by the time I go to bed tonight (but I'm not optimistic), and that this debacle leads to national soul-searching.


  1. I just saw a South Carolina House rep on CBS news this morning who is part of this debt ceiling blockade, and he said one of the concessions he wanted (I don't know if he's speaking for all Republicans on this), was that since over 1,100 waiver were granted for Obamacare to some large corporations and unions, he wants exemptions for the families of members of Congress.

    What the hell? I could understand them campaigning to end all exemptions, but to demand exemptions for their families just show that they want their "piece of the pie".

    1. Sheldon -- Some of the GOP demands were nonsensical or revealing. God, I'm glad this debacle is over (for now).

  2. Thanks for the link! I'm happy to observe that the Republicans have caved at last -- it looks like unconditional surrender. The Senate has worked out a deal that gives them no concessions, and Boehner is going to let the full House vote on it even though that means it will pass with mostly Democratic votes.

    I don't know about soul-searching, but there's enough shit-flinging going on all over the right-wing internet for a cageful of enraged chimpanzees on meth. They're going to be busy tearing into each other for a while.

    1. Infidel -- I'm relieved that the government shutdown has ended (for now) without Democrats caving in to GOP demands. Still, how many times will the country keep finding itself in this mess? These shenanigans need to stop.

      Hopefully, the Republican infighting and incompetence will force some voters to reexamine their candidate choices.


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