Congressional Republicans Have A Philosophy Of Governance: Unyielding Opposition To EVERYTHING
The video above is part of a Frontline political exposé that aired on PBS last night. It documents a meeting that happened in Washington 4 years ago-- a meeting to undermine smooth governance in this country and put party above country in every single instance for the next four years. The stated purpose for undermining the economy and the government back then was to defeat Obama in 2012. Since Obama's very substantial reelection in November-- and the concurrent Democratic gains in the Senate and House-- Republican obstructionists have only redoubled their efforts in blocking every single initiative out of the President. But to what purpose? Obama, obviously, isn't running again? What does the GOP have up its sleeve? As Ezra Klein pointed out in the Washington Post yesterday, hitting the debt ceiling-- which a majority of House Republicans now favor-- would be much worse than a government shutdown.
A lot of Republicans seem to believe it is, or at least seem to be trying to believe that it is, and for good reason. Taking the debt ceiling hostage is a tricky political play. On the one hand, the appeal is that breaching the debt ceiling is so dangerous that the Obama administration can’t possibly let it happen. That’s where the leverage comes from. On the other hand, unleashing economic chaos unless you get your way is a tactic more closely associated with Bond villains than successful political parties.Even the virulently anti-American, neo-fascist Koch brothers, avatars for the replacement of democracy itself with a form of plutocracy, are urging the Republicans to not wreck the party with their blind recklessness. I guess you'd have to believe, despite consistent polling, that the GOP hasn't already done that already.
...[T]he Republican dilemma: What if they convince themselves that breaching the debt ceiling won’t be that bad, and then it is bad-- far worse, even in an optimistic scenario, than the fiscal cliff, which they also weren’t willing to risk-- and they take all the blame? The likeliest answer is they’ll quickly fold, and in addition to having discredited debt-ceiling brinksmanship as a viable political tool, they’ll have discredited themselves, as well.
In any case, their latest attempts to undermine the country have inspired six members of the Progressive Caucus-- Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Jim Moran (D-VA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Peter Welch (D-VT) to propose new legislation meant to abolish the debt ceiling entirely which they see as superfluous and just another impediment for right-wing domestic terrorists to use as a weapon of sabotage against further economic recovery and against their bane, equality. According to Jerry Nadler, "Only a year-and-a-half after the last disastrous debt ceiling debate, House Republican leaders plan to use the same political brinksmanship again this year in order to impose their extreme and economically regressive agenda on the American people. A repeal of the debt ceiling would allow Congress to move forward with legislation that actually promotes jobs, economic recovery and growth... The modern debt ceiling, set in 1939 based on amendments to the Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917, consolidated federal debts in order to provide the U.S. Treasury more flexibility to reduce interest costs and minimize financial risks. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the House of Representatives, at times, used a mechanism, referred to as the Gephardt Rule, to automatically increase the debt ceiling to keep pace with annual congressional spending. In the last 10 years, Congress has voted to increase the debt ceiling 10 times. The 2011 debt ceiling face-off reflected a shift from 30 years of clean debt ceiling increases and resulted in Standard & Poor’s downgrading of the U.S. economy for the first time in history."
This morning, the six congressmembers proposing taking the debt ceiling threat out of the extremists' arsenal held a press conference explaining The Full Faith and Credit Act of 2013. Hank Johnson (D-GA) explained that “The process of raising the debt ceiling should not be used as political weapon against the American people and our credit rating. By tying the debate on spending and taxation to the debt ceiling, Republicans needlessly inflict pain to extract cuts to the social safety net. Repealing the debt ceiling would ensure that Tea Party Republicans can no longer hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to further their extreme agenda.”
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) explained why she decided to be one of the principle co-sponsors of the bill: "This manufactured debate on raising the debt ceiling is the direct result of Republicans choosing to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage in order to protect the wealthiest Americans and enact cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. We cannot allow Republicans to do what they did last year-- to threaten our entire economy to avoid paying for expenditures already enacted into law. It’s time to repeal the debt ceiling-- an unnecessary encumbrance that virtually no other country in the world has-- and give American families, businesses, and seniors confidence that we will meet our obligations, and that the economic integrity of our country will remain strong.”
Monday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke backed what they're trying to do. Speaking about the debt ceiling at the University of Michigan, Bernanke told his audience that "I think it would be a good thing if we didn't have it," although he added that the Republicans won't allow that to happen. Well, of course they won't. Undermining America is their agenda-- their only agenda.