Monday, September 23, 2013

Let's Crash The World Economy And Shut Down The Government For No Reason

I haven't written much about the impending government shutdown/debt ceiling raising battle because I may have reached my limit of discussing idiotic congressional politics.

How did we get here?

House Republicans and Ted Cruz in the Senate are threatening to shut down the government unless Obamacare is de-funded. There is a 0.0% chance Obama will defund Obamacare, so this is why there is an impasse. There is major infighting on the Republican side on how to proceed. The tea party people don't give a shit about what happens if the government shuts down or we don't pass the debt ceiling increase in a bid to de-fund Obamacare. The Republican leadership knows that doing either of things would be bad, and more importantly a major political loser for any of them. As a result they are trying to do the same trick they've always pulled on their base, pretend to fight like hell while not shutting down the government and crashing the world economy. Have the crazies in the house caught on to their leadership's bait and switch game? They might have, and that is largely the reason for this impasse. Led by the the rightwing organizations, the Republican base has been whipped into a frenzy thinking that this strategy will lead to the de-funding of Obamacare and have been organizing around that goal since the summer, despite the fact that it will never happen. This makes the usual cave that avoids political suicide much harder for the Republican leadership this time around.

Where are we now?

The house passed a budget that de-funded Obamacare, and have sent it to the Senate where it will be voted down. Then the House GOP leadership will probably try to sell their caucus that they tried their hardest, but their plan didn't have the votes and they need to try something else. How the House GOP caucus responds to that determines how bad this is going to get.

Why does this keep happening?

There are two main factors here:
(1) The house GOP is legitimately nihilistic and gives no fucks and cares about basically nothing other than standing up to the black Kenyan Muslim. They don't care about the consequences of shutting down the government or sending the world economy into a great depression. It doesn't seem like much will convince them otherwise, and any non insane ending to this saga involves the house passing something with a lot of democratic votes.

(2) The Obama administration started this disastrous process of negotiating over the debt ceiling several years ago, when they tried their hardest to negotiate a deal that would raise the debt ceiling in exchange for raising some taxes and cutting social security or medicare. They have since realized what a bad idea that was (negotiating over the deb ceiling, not cutting ss/medicare which that have continued to push for), but the precedent is set. In some ways the right isn't wrong about seeing these crisis points as their best moments of leverage. They had a tangible victory with the sequester, and while the White House sees the error of their ways now, it's not unreasonable for the wingnuts to want to repeat that success.

How does this end?

My best guess is that the government shuts down for a week or two and enough Republicans panic that the house passes something with majority democratic support which ends the standoff. This would lead to unspeakable carnage on the Republican side, but it's kind of hard not to see that regardless of what happens here.

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