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September 24, 2013 10:19 AM Yo, Wall Street!

By Ed Kilgore

Even though, as Ezra Klein points out today, the differences in opinion between the two parties make a government shutdown or debt default more, not less, likely than they were in the apocalyptic collision of 2011, there’s a strange underlying belief that it will all work out after Republicans are given the opportunity to kick and scream for the benefit of their base. In fact, it’s quiet—too quiet, suggests TNR’s Jonathan Cohn:

[I]f the chances of either a shutdown or a debt ceiling crisis are modest, they aren’t modest enough. And there’s a chance the confidence all of us feel could actually make a last-minute deal less likely.
One reason is that Boehner’s conservative base knows the history as well as the rest of us. Those past deals—the ones that make everybody in Washington so confident—are one reason they don’t trust him. Even though Boehner has obtained concessions in previous confrontations with the Democrats, many conservatives think he didn’t get enough. And this time the fight isn’t simply about how much to cut spending or which tax breaks to extend—issues about which it’s pretty easy to strike a bargain. It’s about whether Obamacare will take full effect—an all-or-nothing proposition that, as Jonathan Chait has written, is now the far right’s central, animating cause.

And then there’s this:

Another danger is that the business community, in particular, remains nonchalant. Corporate leaders are one of the few groups with significant sway over Republican leadership; if CEOs and their surrogates apply a lot of pressure on Boehner, he’s much more likely to make a deal, even if it means…passing something with substantial Democratic votes. But so far business leaders haven’t said much publicly about either the shutdown or debt ceiling—and they don’t appear to be saying that much privately, either. I don’t know why they’re so quiet, but I suspect many are operating under the same assumption—that, one way or another, Boehner will find a way to make a deal. Obama late last week appealed directly to this group, in a speech to the Business Roundtable. But it’s not clear whether it had any effect.

Well, what good is a financial sector if it can’t be counted on to panic? Now would be a real good time for Wall Street to make it clear to congressional Republicans that there will be consequences for the kind of misbehavior that screws up the economy—if only because the current hijinks could definitely endanger what ought to be by dint of landscape and midterm turnout patterns a good 2014 election for the GOP.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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