Are Republicans Crazy Enough To Sink The Economy?

Are the Republican leadership in hock to their crazies, both on the Hill and in their base, to such an extent that they’ll point-blank refuse to raise the debt ceiling if they don’t get their way and see major spending cuts alongside the rise?

Greg Sargent says they aren’t and says Democrats should bet…well, the economy…on it.

Jonathan Bernstein isn’t so sure and argues that even if they are bluffing it makes more sense to have strategies in line – “the responsible thing to do is to attempt to minimize the consequences, not embrace them”.

Interestingly, Sargent’s view seems to be the accepted wisdom among beltway insider left-leaning pundits while Bernstein’s seems more in line with the bulk of commentators outside the D.C. bubble.

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Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I think Sargent is confused.

    The threat of not raising the debt ceiling is a threat of a partial government shut-down. During such a shut-down, the US would continue to service all of its existing debt and continue to operate “essential services” from current revenues and accounts. I believe (but could be mistaken) that Newt Gingrich was speaker the last time this orderly process occurred.

    That is what Rove is talking about. That is what Boehner has been talking about the whole time. That’s why Gingrich was recently asked about the chances of a shut-down on one of the Sunday morning shows. This is simply the face of the crisis in plain, objective terms.

    Sargent, in other words, is out to lunch on that one. Rove didn’t “give away” anything except perhaps Sargent’s confusion. Either that or he’s struggling to spin a Democrat concession that’s soon to come.

    Now what will happen in that light — if the House behaves so as to shut down the gov’t? Here’s one possible line of play that illustrates many similar ways things might unfold:

    A shut-down begins.

    On day 2, the houses passes a bill to raise the ceiling (enough for about 2 months) AND to raise the retirement age.

    The administration and senate might cave immediately or they might demand a clean bill. They’ll have a very hard time in the court of public opinion, demanding a clean bill: that particular cut has long had strong bipartisan support.

    And if the GOP wins that round, they’ll try the exact same thing again.

    The real question is: Are the Democrats united and determined (and perhaps crazy) enough to endure criticism for a weeks-long gov’t shut-down simply to demand a clean debt-ceiling bill, stripped of even relatively uncontroversial spending cuts?

    • Dems united and determined? You are talking about the current Democratic party of the USA? Don’t get me started. Beside that, many, especially Obama, have already demonstrated a willingness to talk about SS-Meds “reforms”.

      What they should be doing is setting the Repubs up right now to take the fall on this. Explain the extreme ideology underpinning the Repubs behind this, give them the rope, and let them hang themselves. Or be prepared to lose a long war of attrition.

      • I agree it is unlikely the Dems will be united and determined. Popular opinion won’t support them well if they try.

        As for the blame game, here’s a problem: Whose minds do you expect to change?

        The GOP has cemented a lot of power at the local and state level, plus they have a lot of soft power in their strongholds among churches and employers. To their base, “blaming” the GOP for brinksmanship that succeeds in forcing cuts is high praise.

        It better be a damn good speech! 🙂

  • Republicans have already demonstrated a willingness to say and do deeply self-destructive things in the service if their crazies. I don’t see whey they’d change their stripes now.

  • Here we go. “Hiding under their desks,” seems, sadly, about right (since they have nothing with which to seriously resist)
    McConnell Shreds Senate Democrats On Debt Ceiling Letter And Slams The Trillion-Dollar Coin As ‘Ridiculous’

    Here’s McConnell’s response to that letter:

    “The Democrat leadership hiding under their desks and hoping the President will find a way around the law on the nation’s maxed-out credit card is not only the height of irresponsibility, but also a guarantee that our national debt crisis will only get worse.

    “With the President asking Congress to raise the debt ceiling, Democrats in Washington are falling all over themselves in an effort to do anything they can to get around the law—and to avoid taking any responsibility for Washington’s out-of-control spending. Rather than offering any plan to break the spending habit that’s causing the problem, Democrats are looking at everything from the ridiculous (printing a trillion-dollar coin) to outright abdication of Congressional responsibility. But avoiding this problem will only make it worse, which is why many of us view the upcoming debt limit debate as a perfect opportunity to face up to Washington’s spending.”

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