Three must-read articles about the shutdown and impending debt default

I’ve got three articles on deck, about the GOP federal government shutdown and imminent debt default, and they’re all important, so figured I’d wrap them into one article.

With no further ado (read them all):

1. “The default has already begun,” by Felix Salmon

Felix Salmon, Reuter’s economic blogger, argues that the damage from the debt ceiling battle has already begun.

Just like the last time the Republicans threatened to send the world economy into a deep depression, the markets are already getting the jitters, and it’s hurting us economically.

The global faith in US institutions has already been undermined. The mechanism by which catastrophe would arise has already been set into motion. And as a result, economic growth in both the US and the rest of the world will be lower than it should be. Unemployment will be higher. Social unrest will be more destructive. These things aren’t as bad now as they would be if we actually got to a point of payment default. But even a payment default wouldn’t cause mass overnight failures: the catastrophe would be slower and nastier than that, less visible, less spectacular. We’re not talking the final scene of Fight Club, we’re talking more about another global credit crisis — where “credit” means “trust”, and “trust” means “trust in the US government as the one institution which cannot fail”.

While debt default is undoubtedly the worst of all possible worlds, then, the bonkers level of Washington dysfunction on display right now is nearly as bad. Every day that goes past is a day where trust and faith in the US government is evaporating — and once it has evaporated, it will never return. The Republicans in the House have already managed to inflict significant, lasting damage to the US and the global economy — even if they were to pass a completely clean bill tomorrow morning, which they won’t. The default has already started, and is already causing real harm. The only question is how much worse it’s going to get.

2. “Government shutdown unleashes racism,” by Roger Simon

I’ve written (read: gushed) about Politico’s Roger Simon before.  Roger’s opinion pieces cut through the cr*p of Washington like few can.  Roger starts his piece with a “joke”:

Question: If Ted Cruz and John Boehner were both on a sinking ship, who would be saved?

Answer: America.

Here’s a bit more, about the Tea Party rally, led by Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz, that was blaming the White House for the GOP government shutdown that Palin and Cruz and the Tea Party supported (some of the Tea Party revelers also shouted racist insults at the White House cops):

This weekend, racism came out of the closet. (Which assumes it has ever been in the closet.)

Protesters marched through the streets of Washington on Sunday with a Confederate flag and then a protester lounged against the White House fence with one. Displaying the Confederate flag in front of a home occupied by a black family was meant to send a particular, and particularly repellent, message.

There were other signs of our descent. Remember Samuel Wurzelbacher? Known as “Joe the Plumber,” he was selected by John McCain as his presidential campaign mascot in 2008 with the same care McCain used to select Sarah Palin.

Over the weekend, Wurzelbacher posted an article on his blog titled: “America Needs a White Republican President.”

“Admit it,” the article said. “You want a white Republican president again. Wanting a white Republican president doesn’t make you racist, it just makes you American.”

America has come to a sorry pass. Not because there are still racists among us, but because the racists among us think they can tell us what makes an American.

3. “Meet John Boehner’s old problem, same as his new problem,” by Chris Cillizza.

Our third article today is by Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post.  It walks us through the disaster that was this morning’s press conference by GOP House Speaker Boehner in which he basically admitted that he didn’t even have the votes to pass his own proposal for resolving the shutdown and debt limit face-off.

boehner-frankenstein-2The math simply doesn’t add up — time and again for Boehner.  If he loses somewhere between 30-50 Republicans on any vote viewed as a compromise with the White House and Senate Democrats, he must find somewhere between a dozen and three dozen Democratic votes to make up the difference. And, to date, Democrats have refused to throw him a political life preserver to pass just about any of these measures.

Those facts repeatedly leave Boehner with only two choices: 1) Propose legislation favored by the most conservative wing of the party, ensuring unity in his ranks but dooming the bill in the Senate or 2) Accept that a compromise bill will have to pass with a majority of Democratic votes and the very real possibility of a minority of Republicans ones. The first option means we could be headed for default. The second means that Boehner’s speakership would effectively be over.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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45 Responses to “Three must-read articles about the shutdown and impending debt default”

  1. Badgerite says:

    Huffington Post is reporting that the House leadership has decided to bring the Senate deal up for a vote. Hope that is true. Some GOP tweets seem to indicate the report is accurate.

  2. KingCranky says:

    That part of the 14th Amendment, “…..shall not be questioned”, is crystal clear, the debt ceiling limit must be raised, there’s no allowance for Congress to refuse to do so. The House Republicans wouldn’t stand a chance if they impeach Obama for the very same thing they’re doing, ignoring the 14th Amendment.

    And since there’s no specific reference to either “Congress” or “The Executive Branch/President”, how can the House GOP claim Obama’s breaking the law by upholding the same 14th Amendment the House Republicans themselves are violating by not raising the debt ceiling limit?

    I’m not a fan of Slick Clinton, but he’s exactly right when he says Obama should do so absent Congressional approval and let the courts sort it out, because there’s no way the Senate would vote to remove Obama from office.

  3. Badgerite says:

    That is why I think it is important for the President and the Democratic Party to hold firm on this. This is America. We have elections. Not coups.

  4. Badgerite says:

    I know. I was trying to look on the ‘bright’ side. What is that Monty Python song about the Sunny Side of Life?

  5. BeccaM says:

    Unfortunately, “America goes bankrupt” is 15 months before Congress will be replaced with incoming Representatives and 1/3 of the Senators up for re-election.

    We simply don’t have the time.

  6. Badgerite says:

    I wonder if there is a mechanism for ‘impeaching’ the whole friggin’ Congress. Oh yeah, there is. It’s called an election. I would tread carefully, if I were the GOP. At this point, I think the public has about had it with their antics and their racism.

  7. FLL says:

    Exactly. If Congress refuses to stop the default and Obama just does nothing, that would be what I consider a legitimately impeachable offense on Obama’s part because he would be shirking his responsibility to uphold the Constitution, specifically, the 14th Amendment.

  8. Let them try to impeach him. It will be the end of their party

  9. BeccaM says:

    The impeachment charges themselves are irrelevant, which is why the House hasn’t bothered. They know it’s only conviction in the Senate that matters, and that takes a 2/3 super-majority.

    Then again, maybe the GOPers will go for it. *shrugs*

    I do think Obama needs to face the very real probability the House Republicans don’t give enough of a sh*t about the country or its economy to stop the default — and to act accordingly. “My hands are tied” just won’t wash anymore.

  10. FLL says:

    I don’t think impeachment is nearly as much of a disaster as handing over the reigns of the entire government to Boehner and whatever group of House Republicans is currently able to hold a knife to Boehner’s throat. Bill Clinton was impeached and he did just fine. His party even won a number of seats in the 1998 midterms… but… not enough seats to take over the House from the Republicans.

    This may be an impeachment year. It’s likely that the Republicans will retain control of the House in the midterms. In addition, it’s almost certain that the Senate will not remove Obama from office. We would then be facing three years of Obama funding the government without Congress and the House of Representatives putting on a non-stop impeachment circus: they impeach for one offense, milk that for a while, it goes nowhere, then they impeach for something else. Three years of a three-ring circus? I suppose the country could function, but it would be very weird. I still think it’s something of a long shot for the Democrats to win the necessary 17 seats in the House next year.

  11. BeccaM says:

    Yeah, but y’know what: Some of the GOPers are already saying that Obama’s only impeachment-avoiding solution is total surrender to all their demands. Not just some, but ALL.

    If the Administration takes steps to avert default, they say they’ll move to impeach. If the Administration allows default to happen, they say they’ll impeach.

    Will the House take steps to avoid the default? Not if the House Republicans have any say in it. And they won’t do anything until the message from the White House and Senate Dems is, “Send us your bill, We’ll pay the ransom, whatever it is. Don’t destroy the country.”

    The only acceptable avenue for the Republicans is to give in 100% to their demands. At which point, I think we could pretty much accept that the coup has been successful and from here on out, the GOP rules the entire government from top to bottom. Every 60-90 days, there’ll be another House GOP override of anything they don’t like or want.

  12. Straightnotnarrow says:

    This is probably the best and most succinct proposals that I’ve read in this whole fiasco. Well said and here here!

  13. FLL says:

    If Congress does nothing, Obama has a duty to uphold Section 4 of the 14th amendment:

    “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

    However, in order to do that, an official of the Treasury or the Federal Reserve will probably have to break or ignore one of the following two laws:

    (1) The Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917 that establishes the debt ceiling.
    (2) The Federal Reserve Act that prohibits the Fed from lending directly to the Treasury.

    If that happens, which it will, the Republican House will probably ignore the fact that Obama is doing what he has to to uphold the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and impeach him. Oh, what a coincidence. They would impeach Obama during the second year of his second term… just like when they impeached Bill Clinton. And of course, the 1998 midterm elections didn’t go well for the Republicans as a result. History repeats itself.

  14. Naja pallida says:

    According to his own whining, Boehner only really has 17-20 of his own caucus actually on his side. The rest are hiding behind his skirts, and forcing him to be the face of their incompetence.

  15. perljammer says:

    The racists among us have always thought they could tell us what makes an American. Nothing new there.

  16. Badgerite says:

    “Put down the gavel. Hands in the air. Back awaaaaay from the podium. Slowly.”
    Time for the Swat Team.

  17. BeccaM says:

    Thanks.

  18. Naja pallida says:

    They’re not conservative either. Words have meaning, and what they say they want doesn’t equate to conserving anything.

  19. Naja pallida says:

    Yes, yes they do. They have special salivary glands that allow them to excrete excess salt form their body.

  20. The_Fixer says:

    I like the way you think :)

  21. emjayay says:

    Lots of muscles too.

  22. Badgerite says:

    Amazing. Apparently the GOP had a plan to pass whatever and leave town. And they couldn’t even get that done. The GOP strategy all along has been to delay recovery til they could somehow get what they wanted which is an end to Medicare and Social Security. And that is still their priority.

  23. Monoceros Forth says:

    The teabaggers are just thirsting for this.

    Something just occurred to me that I’d forgotten for years. Back in 2000 there was this guy I used to correspond with who went totally insane when Obama was elected. He started talking about how Obama was going to crash the economy and how he was starting to hoard gold and all that Randist Ron Paulish nonsense, and eventually we just told each other to go f**k ourselves and that was the last I ever heard from him.

    Ironically I think he was right to hoard gold. I got some taste of how much the market value of gold has increased when I was doing lab work at the UW and we were using gold frequently for electrochemical experiments. At one point I was trying (and failing) to fake up electroless gold plating solutions from what materials we had on hand because the cost of commercial solutions had gotten too expensive.

    But in any case my acquaintance in 2000 wasn’t the only right-winger to scream that Obama was going to lead the U.S. into an economic collapse–just you wait! Four years came and went, four years of hardship and stagnation that Obama didn’t seem much to care about fixing, but stagnation is not collapse. But as Isaac Asimov once wrote in an uncharacteristic burst of effective prose, “a fire-eater must eat fire even if he has to kindle it himself.” If Obama hasn’t succeeded in crashing the economy then perhaps the teabag wing has decided to do it for him. They’ll give Obama all the credit, of course, once they make it happen.

  24. NCMan says:

    That’s not it. The way I hear this talked about is that the house can call for an election of a new speaker at any time and the claim being made is that Boehner would lose his speakership NOW not at the 2014 elections.

  25. karmanot says:

    Further, they give trash a bad name, whereas garbage is totally appropriate.

  26. Butch1 says:

    ;-)

    Do crocodiles salivate? ;-)

  27. Jim Olson says:

    A dead girl or a live boy…

  28. Badgerite says:

    So Boehner has a decision to make. Which comes first? Him or the United States of America?

  29. Badgerite says:

    Exactly. Well put.

  30. BeccaM says:

    This country is well and truly fucked.

    Get ready for a new Great Depression the likes of which the world has never seen before. All because the Republican party has decided to launch a coup and because the Dems don’t seem to grasp the gravity of the situation, nor the measures truly needed to address it.

    I honestly think we’re at the point where Obama and the Dem leadership needs to get the few non-crazy House Republicans in a room — they only need 30 or so — confiscate everyone’s cell phones and tell them:

    “Pick a new House Speaker from among your members here. You’ll get the Speakership with unanimous support of House Democrats and your colleagues in this room. That’s right, House Democrats will vote for a GOP Speaker. We ask only one thing in return: A clean continuing resolution on all current obligations and lifting the debt ceiling until the end of 2014.

    If there is anything REASONABLE you’d like in exchange or in addition, go ahead an propose it now, but it can’t include anything you already know is unacceptable to us. Do know that anything substantial as a counter-proposal from you will be met with a non-negotiable requirement from us that the sequester be lifted.

    You’ve got one hour to talk it over among yourselves — we’ll leave. If we can’t come to an agreement today, then be prepared for a 14th Amendment solution, which you won’t like. And if you think you can impeach the president over that, think again — you won’t get your conviction vote in the Senate.”

  31. ArthurH says:

    It will probably be like the ending to the fable about “The Gingerbread Man,” in which the title character plays hard to get and ends up hiding from his pursuers in the mouth of a crocodile. I’ll bet when Gingerbread John finds himself in that mouth he’ll sniff and say, “Smells like orange pekoe.”

  32. ArthurH says:

    What Johnny the Weeper fears is that if he breaks with the Tea Baggers a Koch sponsored group will pour money into his district to defeat him. He’ll keep the Speaker job for now, but will have to fight for his political life in early 2014. And Boehner knows he is too old for a new career as a Hawaiian Tropic model.
    PS: Next time Boehner goes on a TV talk show, the old jazz tune “Willy the Weeper” would make the perfect intro tune.

  33. Butch1 says:

    It’s over Boehner save for the crying of the crocodile tears. You had a wonderful run. It wasn’t that much fun trying to keep all the clowns in the clown car so just let it go and be done with it. Cantor will screw it up soon enough when he realizes it isn’t a piece of cake trying to keep the clowns in the clown car either. By that time the 2014 elections will be at hand and perhaps we shall see new leadership and a different direction in the House. Who knows, perhaps it may take until 2016 but this Tea Party clown minority may have seen their last in the House after this attempt at bring down the House and the government.

  34. nicho says:

    They’ve been doing that for a long time. It’s no sign of advancement. Even a lot of slaveowners would have claimed that their slaves were “like family.”

  35. The_Fixer says:

    Maybe he fears that they will expose his widely-known drinking issues and his widely-known use of spray-on tanning chemicals?

    But seriously, folks, there may be a little more at work. I suspect that a lot of it is ego, and the appearance having testes. You know, a male pride sort of thing.

  36. Monoceros Forth says:

    Sometimes I try to tell myself that it’s some sign of advancement at least that racists now must prefix their racism with an apology. It’s always, “I am not a racist, but…” with them. There is in that insincere expression at least some grudging, unspoken awareness of being at odds with civilized behavior.

  37. cole3244 says:

    if we had real leaders in wash these traitors to the american way would be dealt with in short time, but since we have timid pols in power the anti america crowd are given a false sense of security to do their worst at the expense of our democracy and everything we hold dear.

  38. nicho says:

    Neanderthals were actually nice people. They lived communally and cared for their sick and elderly. Please don’t insult them by comparing them to conservative trash.

  39. goulo says:

    “America Needs a White Republican President. … Wanting a white Republican president doesn’t make you racist, it just makes you American.”

    Holy smokes, what clueless racist idiocy. So over the top I had to web-search to verify it was real (it is). Sheesh.

    They truly seem to have no clue that being American DOESN’T actual mean wanting a white Republican president…? That millions of Americans don’t want a Republican and don’t have racial requirements for their president…? The mind boggles.

    This kind of shit makes me really pessimistic about the future of the US. How will the US climb out of this this neanderthal culture which seems to be becoming more and more dominant?

  40. NCMan says:

    Can anyone explain to me how Boehner will lose his speakership if the Teabaggers revolt? There are what, 240 Republicans in the House? And, you need 218 to win the speakership. Even if there are 60 Teabaggers who won’t vote for Boehner for speaker, if ALL OF THE OTHER 180 REPUBLICANS do vote for Boehner, who else but Boehner can win. How about some dems whisper in his ear that they will vote for him just to break the hold of the Teabaggers????

  41. John says:

    I think some one has pictures of the Weeper of the House with an under age girl. No other explanation possible. He is afraid, very afraid

  42. usagi says:

    I’m getting the impression that the VSP (Very Serious People) don’t understand that these loons are true believers. I think there are members of Congress who’ve crossed over into Heaven’s Gate territory, and they’re just going to take as many of us with them as they can because they can.
    The truly scary part is I don’t have a clue what anyone could do to prevent it. It all seems to (again) come down to John Boehner’s willingness to fall on his sword for the good of the country, which seems about as likely as Queen Elizabeth fessing up that she actually is a lizard person.

  43. devlzadvocate says:

    Boehner, “There are a lot of opinions about what to do” Opinions are like assholes and every Tea Bagger has one that stinks. You are the leader! Who gives a damn about opinions? Make a freakin’ decision! Stop fucking with our lives. Btw, I put this stuff on his FB page everyday.

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