Political Animal


July 16, 2011 12:10 PM The ceiling and the damage done

By Steve Benen

As congressional Republicans inch ever closer to crashing the American economy on purpose, it’s tempting to start looking at the calendar and wondering when we’ll see the real-world effects. We’re all aware of the Aug. 2 deadline, but we’re also aware of the fact that some credit-rating agencies aren’t prepared to wait that long.

But even if we’re fortunate, and Congress somehow manages to prevent a calamity sometime very soon, this breathtakingly stupid game of chicken has already made an important statement. Felix Salmon had a piece the other day that continues to linger.

The base-case scenario is, still, that the debt ceiling will be raised, somehow. But already an enormous amount of damage has been done: the US Congress has demonstrated clearly that it can’t be trusted to govern the country in a responsible manner. And the tail-risk implications for markets are huge. Think of the speed with which the Egyptian government collapsed earlier this year, or the incredible downward velocity of News Corporation right now.

When you build up large stocks of mistrust and ill will, nothing can happen for a very long time. But when something does happen, it’s much quicker and much worse than anybody could have anticipated. The markets might not be punishing the US government at the moment. But the mistrust and ill will is there, believe me. And when it appears, it will appear with a vengeance.

I don’t know if Republican lawmakers are aware of any of this. Worse, I also don’t know if they care. But American leadership on the global stage rests on certain pillars that took generations to build and strengthen — credibility, reliability, stability, the integrity of our institutions, sound judgment. The Republican Party severely undermined these pillars in the Bush era, most notably in areas of foreign policy and the use of military force. The Republican Party is now severely undermining them again, this time in the area of global finances.

No one can say with any confidence what’s going to happen over the next 17 days, but we already know the world is watching. We also know the world sees the actions of congressional Republicans and suspects the sanity of the world’s greatest superpower is very much in doubt.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • Texas Aggie on July 16, 2011 12:20 PM:

    When you see people who are in contact with the rest of the world saying things like, they can't believe that republicans can be so utterly insane as to deliberately cause a disaster, and then see that yes, indeed, they CAN be utterly insane, it just makes the situation worse. If people accepted that the republicans are insane, republican actions would be more or less expected, but when they, the other people, aren't aware of how shatbit crazy these congresscritters are, they will be so jolted that they won't ever trust the US again because they won't know what to expect.

  • zeitgeist on July 16, 2011 12:21 PM:

    sure, the content of the post is solid and on-point as usual, but really i'm still stuck on the awesome musical homage in the title. sometimes its stopping to appreciate the little things that gets you through all the bad news.

  • Josef K on July 16, 2011 12:22 PM:

    If only such an active and ideologically-driven element of our citizenry hadn't lost its godsdamned mind in 2008.

    But at least we've been spared a President Palin. Talk about a nightmare!

  • dalloway on July 16, 2011 12:24 PM:

    It sure would be nice if Democrats began to point this out via, say, a thirty second ad informing American voters that, rather than raise taxes a tiny fraction on their wealthy donors, Republicans were prepared to blow up the entire U.S. economy. And this after Republicans caused the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression and then openly stated they wanted President Obama to fail to repair it. How can you trust these people to govern?

  • c u n d gulag on July 16, 2011 12:28 PM:

    I have been suspecting the sanity of America since 1980 when we elected a mediocre B-actor as President.

    A man who thought trees caused pollution.
    And a man who wanted to count ketchup as a vegetable for school lunches.

    Is it any wonder now that our national politics is polluted by brainless vegetables?

    These are people who sneer at science and fact, but believe prayer will make things better.

    A nation is not to be trusted when many of its leaders believe that the world is 6,000 years old and that Adam and Eve rode tricerotops like SUV's - and that Noah put two of every kind of animal, including microbes, on hihs Ark, but overlooked the dinosaurs.

    Hey, would you forget to store your SUV on board the ship knowing you would need it after a long boat trip? That Noah must have been sooooom Yutz!

    American voters - you asked for it, you're getting it!

  • Elie on July 16, 2011 12:31 PM:

    I see this as a continuation of the civil war by other means. These folks do not see themselves as invested or part of the whole United States. There is no negotiation because they hold an absolute view of what their United States is, and that is the one in their heads and is not the United States with Democratic and black Barak Obama. I believe that they are in a mental outpost that will have to be completely vanquished for them to abandon it.. no logic will take them out of the stance. How to vanquish? I am hoping -- hoping, that public opinion can have a huge impact on them, even as they say they don't care. At least I am hoping..

  • chi res on July 16, 2011 12:32 PM:

    With you, zeitgeist. Who ever knew that tea could be so addictive and destructive?

  • KurtRex1453 on July 16, 2011 12:32 PM:

    Obama will have to invoke the 14th.

  • Elie on July 16, 2011 12:38 PM:

    This is the second civil war by other means...They do not see the United States as belonging to anyone but them and define it narrowly. They refuse democratic and representative governance other than by their own. It is hard to cure this politically or socially. The Republican party has purged all its moderates and this leaves this group of hard core insurgents. I believe these folks are traitors to the United States rule of law and democratic shared leadership. They want a coup or a takeover that will coerce their will and refute the results of the 2008 election.

    The american people will have to start screaming and the medial will have to step up and do its job. I fault them for helping these folks to retain their distorted beliefs. They still have time to help fix this.

  • Elie on July 16, 2011 12:41 PM:

    Steve, some funky things happen sometimes when one tried to post a comment. I thought that my first comment was not accepted as it said I had made too many comments and therefore needed to post again later. I did and saw after I posted the second comment that my first had indeed been put up. Very weird. Sorry about the redundant thought, though.

  • T2 on July 16, 2011 12:49 PM:

    This may be the single most important post Steve Benen has written. Sadly, it is on a blog of a mostly unknown publication. Until articles such as this appear in the mainstream media, the craziness will increase to the breaking point........which may already be upon us.

  • Jjm on July 16, 2011 12:52 PM:

    Salmon's warning is absolutely vital for everyone to see and hear.

    Obama made crystal clear in his press conference that the American people are NOT with the GOP on their antics, and thus made an exceptionally good case for NOT reelecting them to office. (It was clearly his first campaign speech, and I think it stung them, since today Cantor on the floor said that default is not "a risk I'm willing to take." The GOP recognizes the master politician in Obama even if they cannot bring themselves to admit it.) He called them out for their laziness and cowardice, all of which is true.

    And yes, Elie, this is the Civil War by other means: the South has metatasized and sent its odious values out to all corners of the country.

    And yet: people by and large do not agree with them, despite Fox News pushing these creepy, horrible values to the max.

  • Bob M on July 16, 2011 1:12 PM:

    "civil war by other means" -- nice
    " the South has metatasized and sent its odious values out to all corners of the country" -- nice

    Focus is getting pretty good here.

  • davidp on July 16, 2011 1:22 PM:

    Awesome historical references on this thread. I've one more to add. Many French conservatives in the 1930s were so disgusted by the election of Léon Blum, the Jewish Socialist leader who formed a Popular Front government in alliance with the Communists, that they basically washed their hands of the country. "Since the Republic has fallen into the hands of this scum, it's not the true France any more and it's not worth defending." Consequence: the collapse of June 1940. Does that sound at all familiar?

  • Brenna on July 16, 2011 1:23 PM:

    I agree totally with the civil war comments.

    The republicans are not like us. I know smart, interesting, successful business people who HATE Obama and watch Fox and listen to Limbaugh and agree with their views.

    When I tell my husband what the republicans are doing, he literally doesn't believe me. He doesn't believe anyone could be that outlandish.

    Maybe we (dems) are the crazy ones. I'm starting to wonder.

  • Daniel Kim on July 16, 2011 1:24 PM:

    It may be worse than that. We're looking at financial disaster today, and the irresponsibility demonstrated by our ideologically driven congress, but there's more to trusting America than money. I used to tell my daughters, with some pride, that the world had come to look on the United States as a trustworthy wielder of great power. The nations of Europe could submit to having American troops, bases and even nuclear weapons on their soil because they believed that we would use them only in the most dire circumstances, and not use their presence to intimidate them or make them into clients of an American empire. This level of trust has given Europe over a half-century of relative peace and prosperity. Without the pressures of handling their own defense against their neighbors, Europe became an island of stability and cooperation quite unlike its former history as a powder keg of conflict.

    At some point, if we don't soon elect a few hundred adults into congress, this feeling of trust will be broken. We have nothing to fear from, for example, a newly-ambitious Germany threatening to roll over Europe again, but we will have much to fear from a distracted and unstable Europe where every nation must again defend its own borders against its neighbors.

    The end of the Pax Romana helped usher in the Dark Ages. What will the end of Pax Americana bring? Will a single bullet in Sarajevo again be enough to drive the world to war?

    I am surprised that the world has shown such forbearance for our foolishness this past decade. Maybe they are waiting for a new Roosevelt or Eisenhower or Kennedy to set things right again. If so, then the world has enormous faith in the American legacy that we now squander.

    The world watches, thunderstruck, as their reliable friend falls into frothing madness. Next, they will remember that this madman has the keys to the gun cabinet. If Democrats do not firmly control both houses of congress and the White House after 2012, I am afraid that the shocked amazement of the world will quickly turn to real fear, followed by action.

  • Stephen Stralka on July 16, 2011 1:28 PM:

    OK, here's a shred of hope. If the rest of the world sees that the contagion is isolated to the Republican Party, and if we can effectively quarantine them by getting them away from the levers of power, then maybe some of that confidence can be restored. Sort of like the way Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize basically for not being George W. Bush.

    As for the new civil war, honestly I often think that I would be happy to let the Republicans have the South, except God forbid they should have nuclear weapons.

  • zeitgeist on July 16, 2011 1:35 PM:

    Daniel Kim, that was both compelling and elequent. Thanks.

  • Neil B on July 16, 2011 1:44 PM:

    Hey, progressives are piling on at Ryan and Cantor's FB pages, pitch in and rub it in for example here.

  • DAY on July 16, 2011 1:46 PM:

    ditto 'both compelling and eloquent'. An editorial of the quality that USED to be seen in the NYT

  • jjm on July 16, 2011 1:47 PM:

    Daniel Kim, you are right. But the GOP doesn't care; they're out for the rich and for themselves, and the USA with its golden reputation be damned. I've never seen so many treasonous comments coming out of a so-called legitimate party in my lifetime. They've said things and done things that under federal law could be considered threats of violent overthrow of the government of the United States; and yet, because they are not commies, they get a free pass.

    And yes, the Léon Blum analogy occurred to me the moment that I saw the mainstream media legitimizing these treasonous comments, these traitors. A black man or a Jew as head of state: anything goes!

    Happily I do NOT believe the American people are with these guys, nor do I think that once Murdoch is given some comeuppance that Fox will be able to continue its reign of lies and treason.

  • Goldilocks on July 16, 2011 2:03 PM:

    Amazing statement, Steve. Is it true that some of these extremist Republicans belong to the End-Timers' movement? Are they the ones wishing for the Rapture and believe the world will end on 12/12/12 at 12:12 (since it didn't end on 11/11/11 at 11:11)? Could this have something to do with loss of sanity?

    Captcha: bishishi Parts - exactly how I feel.

  • Caffiend on July 16, 2011 2:16 PM:

    I wanted to leave this comment on Cantor's FB page, but it isn't allowing more comments:

    "You don't make yourself taller by chopping off the heads of the people around you." -- Missouri Governor Jay Nixon

  • Kathryn on July 16, 2011 2:19 PM:

    The Washington Post has a terrifying front page article today regarding a White House meeting with Standard and Poors, recommend for those with strong stomachs. I fear the bulk of Americans still have no idea what these traitors are up to and, like Brenna, my husband does not accept that the GOP is flat out evil and actively working to destroy the economy. He feels Obama has not been forceful enough in identifying and labeling their actions. So therein lies a problem for the President, in my mind, regular citizens who don't follow the bouncing ball of daily insanity coming out of the Republicans in Congress find fault with him (Obama) for not raising the alarm with enough alarm, if you will.

    I think the Washington based media is hopeless as they will not point out the insanity and continue to play false equivalency games as their comments after news conference on Friday by Pres. Obama showed. Notable exceptions on MSNBC, Chris Matthews has been stronger than normal. At least newspaper articles and editorials are beginning to clearly sound panicky and alarmed.

  • Rip on July 16, 2011 2:20 PM:

    I get the feeling that one of the results of this insane Republican brinksmanship is that corporate/wall street money will not be there for the Republicans to the degree that they were counting on. Despite the constant bitching and moaning about Obama's supposed "hostility" from the business elite, they have come to realize he's hardly been bad for their coffers, and that the Republicans can't be trusted not to tank the economy in a display of petulance.

    The most corporate friendly candidate out there is Mitt Romney and he is falling short of early expectations when it comes to raising money, while Obama racks up record amounts from both small and large donors.

    For decades the Republican elite thought they could use the rubes to get their lackeys elected, and now they are faced with the reality that the rubes themselves have been elected and can't be depended on. They may come to the conclusion that keeping enough Republicans and bought off Democrats in power with a weak Democratic majority in both houses that can be counted on to slow down and thwart any real efforts at oversight and strengthening regulations is preferable to handing the keys to the lunatic fringe of the Republican party.

  • Neil B on July 16, 2011 2:31 PM:

    The progressive digital flash mob at Cantor's FB page is tearing him up and down on this debt ceiling issue, check it out. And tx, Caffiend.

  • tamiasmin on July 16, 2011 2:33 PM:

    If you were thinking about putting serious money into US Treasuries right now, what level of risk would you accept and what rate of return would you expect? Would you be as confident about that investment as you might have been a year ago, when the idea of voluntary default was all but inconceivable? Would you worry about the next time around?

  • hank on July 16, 2011 2:38 PM:

  • hank on July 16, 2011 2:41 PM:

    But seriously -- perhaps the trick here is that the finance industry can tolerate the circus because it offers an excuse to make a whole lot of "money" (that never existed) disappear.

    All that vapor "profit" from the balloons? Someone banked it -- it's on the books as debts owed or derivatives.

    The industry and politicians need some way to pretend that it all legitimately disappeared.

    Maybe this is part of the shell game.

  • delNorte on July 16, 2011 2:56 PM:

    re: "WASHINGTON, Thu Jul 14, 2011 7:03pm EDT
    (Reuters) - President Barack Obama told top U.S. lawmakers on Thursday he wants them to agree on a path to a debt deal over the next 24 to 36 hours, a Republican aide said after talks at the White House."

    Hasn't this deadline come and gone by now? It seems like the President should be carefully watching the clock, waiting as long as possible to maximize the damage to the Republican Party, but acting unilaterally if he has to (14th Amendment and all that) before any real economic damage gets done.

    If he gets the timing right, he can make the Republicans squirm and sweat and reveal their true nature, and he can emerge as the responsible adult willing to put his presidency on the line for the good of the country. I'd really be surprised if this doesn't get resolved this weekend. The outside pressures are starting to mount.

  • jcricket on July 16, 2011 2:59 PM:

    Crazy is too generous of a word for what the Republicans are doing. Wanting to bring down the government is called sedition. They have no intention of trying to strengthen the economy by any means. To do so would strengthen the country - contrary to their goal: Destroy the country by destroying the economy. They would rather rule in hell than serve in heaven.

  • knightphoenix2 on July 16, 2011 4:04 PM:

    Y'all may remember last weekend when Steve had a mildly critical article on Eric Cantor - and the comments got SWAMPED by a bunch of angry conservatives.

    I'm glad to see that a few of us decided to return the favor.

  • knightphoenix2 on July 16, 2011 4:06 PM:

    Y'all may remember last weekend when Steve had a mildly critical article on Eric Cantor - and the comments got SWAMPED by a bunch of angry conservatives.

    I'm glad to see that a few of us decided to return the favor.

  • exlibra on July 16, 2011 4:15 PM:

    We also know the world sees the actions of congressional Republicans [...] -- Steve Benen

    Do we really now it? And is it really what the world is seeing? Because, in Salmon's words:
    "[...]the US Congress has demonstrated clearly that it can’t be trusted to govern the country in a responsible manner."
    Not "Congressional Republicans". "Congress". IOW, the usual "pox on both your houses" blather.

    Of course, to the world at large, such detail matters little; once the avalanche starts sliding down and gathering speed, who made that first cocky yodel is irrelevant...

  • knightphoenix2 on July 16, 2011 4:22 PM:

    Sorry about the duplicate comment; server problems.

    And, what the hell's wrong with CAPTCHA?! It's giving me an UPSIDE DOWN word, for heaven's sake!

    "Thank gesionc
    ymparr piano,
    onehalf etattes
    cannot rineje
    ecreve MILIEU

  • Alien Takeover on July 16, 2011 4:51 PM:

    It all begins with CAPTCHA.

  • K in VA on July 16, 2011 5:21 PM:

    Why does just about everyone assume this will soon be over, and we'll pick up the pieces and move on to something else?

    In fact, the "something else" is the FY 12 budget, and the battles on that (i.e., massive cuts to everything but the bloated DoD budget) will go on for months and months.

  • T2 on July 16, 2011 5:25 PM:

    I believe that the removal of Captcha should be part of any Debt Ceiling deal. Benen could go to the thing that The LEFTCOASTER has.....pretty simple.

  • gbb on July 16, 2011 5:48 PM:

    BHO rarely invokes Keynesian logic. Recently, he even parroted the conservative bromide that “government has to start living within its means"-- in the context of responding to a recession, This could not possibly be more wrong.

    Except for Obamaphile equivalents on the center right or Reaganphiles on the far right, there's little evidence B-HH-Obama understands Keynes (and the HH ain't for Hubert Humphrey). Our current problems are due to a toxic mix of BHO Hooverian economic beliefs plus dithering/ compromise as highest goal and lack of BHO progressive ideology combined with Repub far right uncompromising tactics and an insane ideology. Both parties need each other to function as they currently do-- like James C Calhoun or Jeff Davis needed a Millard Fillmore or Franklin Pierce or Adolph needed a Neville. Confront such intracytable opposition with a Lincoln or a Churchill and they have a problem -- and the sooner the confrontation the better--- Google: J C Calhoun and A. Jackson, nullification.

    The Repubs believe they have BHO figgered out--BHO ain't gonna change his ways. He'll negotiate away half his position and then blink in the final negotiation. They've been right for two years, why change tactics now (even if the consequences are more drastic)???

    We are headed for economic crisis. Given it is coming, the sooner the better. There is still time to challenge BHO, much less the Repubs, with Progressive candidates and policies. My guess is the challenger, if reasonably rational and with some name recognition, has 20% voter support within a week-- over 30% among Democrats. That's devastating for a sitting president. Remember LBJ. He did the right thing, but HH "stood by his man" way too long and Nixon got elected.. Come to think of it, Nixon looks real good right now!!.

  • John on July 16, 2011 6:03 PM:

    We also know the world sees the actions of congressional Republicans and suspects the sanity of the world's greatest superpower is very much in doubt.

    This whole situation is disgusting in the extreme, and it's time Obama grew a pair and had these asshole Republicans arrested under the charge of sedition. Osama bin Laden must be smiling with contentment in the great beyond as our own traitorous Congress prepares to do more severe damage to the nation than he ever could with an army of terrorists.

    If these people hate the government and the country so much than they ought to be thrown out. Reopen Devil's Island as a prison colony, send them there and let them rot!

  • desraye on July 16, 2011 6:14 PM:

    @gbb: I hate Obama, Obama sucks. Sigh. LMAO

  • spiny on July 16, 2011 6:37 PM:

    Steve, it takes two to tango and Obama is a willing participant in this dance. He's actually using the threat of default for his own political leverage (at the expense of mostly the people who voted for him...)

    Sure, the Republican party was insane to use the debt ceiling for political gain, but so is Obama- instead of trying to play games with the crazies, Obama should have been pointing out how insane this is and that the normal budget process is a perfectly acceptable place to be having negotiations like these. Right now now, we are playing Russian roulette, with both sides taking turns pointing the gun at our heads and pulling the trigger.

  • r on July 16, 2011 7:08 PM:

    don't understand why you are confused. there is so much blind hatred of obama that they will happily destroy the country. the rich will be fine.

  • Josef K on July 16, 2011 7:40 PM:

    From r at 7:08pm:

    don't understand why you are confused. there is so much blind hatred of obama that they will happily destroy the country. the rich will be fine.

    I'm sure the nobility of France were thinking the same in 1792. As did the Jacobians in 1794. And the Romanovs in 1918. And the supporters of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in Tehran in 1979.

    The moral: violently blow up the foundations of a society, and nobody is safe.

  • Josef K on July 16, 2011 7:57 PM:

    So anyone want to speculate how likely default is at this point?

    Better yet, speculate on what exactly will happen on August 3rd? Wall Street panic? Brokers throwing themselves out windows? Mobs with torches and pitchforks marching on Congress?

  • Michael on July 16, 2011 8:41 PM:

    If you want a clear and concise picture of what is actually going on in congress, we better go to the middle east, where the msm is not so beholden to republican corporate largess Lets try, .... Al Jazeera...http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/07/201171295644164740.html

  • zeitgeist on July 16, 2011 8:47 PM:

    speculate on what exactly will happen on August 3rd?

    That depends - is Americas Got Talent on that night? An evening NASCAR race?

    Seriously, not much. It wont be like a heart attack; more like a fairly rapid degenerative disease that will reach a tipping point on August 3 and start showing symptoms that are hard to reverse.

    The Minnesota shut down has been instructive in a small-scale way. At first, a few people were mildly inconvenienced. After a few days, people who started missing benefits or paychecks were suffering hardship; people who couldn't renew drivers licenses were surprised - they'd never thought of that. People who had reserved camping spots for the July 4th holiday were pissed their vacation was ruined. A few more days and vandals had done hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to unattended parks and a rapidly growing number of people were feeling ripple effects - layoffs started at retail businesses near government facilities, major construction projects, etc. Businesses needing state licenses renewed, or new businesses needing to register, were stymied. Cultural attractions where people take their kids on summer vacation were unavailable. The media coverage got more and more bleak.

    Still, neither side showed signs of budging. Until the big news hit: this week, MillerCoors' distribution license in the state would expire and couldn't be renewed. Other beer permits would follow in quick succession -- Minnesota would be virtually beerless.

    It was front page news all over. Within 48 hours the Governor and Legislature had made a deal.

    I only wish I were making this up for entertainment. I live next door and follow the Star Trib daily. This tells you much about the general public with whom we are dealing.

  • Linda on July 16, 2011 9:19 PM:

    Zeitgeist is right, because Americans have a mental bloc of thinking of government programs that they like and/or rely on as magically Not Government. This is how people can say, "keep the government's hand off my Medicare" with a straight face. One of the long-term consequences for conservativism is that people will understand that things they want are indeed part of the big bad government.

  • dannyshenanigan on July 16, 2011 11:37 PM:

    Yahoo Mail's AP feed picture of the President is awful.
    It's posted with this headline all day.
    "Congress seeks debt solution, Obama goes to public"
    They changed it earlier but put it back up. They are the worst. It's on here for now


    I just can't believe how convoluted such a simple issue has become. Give the republicans credit for being able to muddy the water so effectively.

  • John on July 17, 2011 1:02 AM:

    Still, neither side showed signs of budging. Until the big news hit: this week, MillerCoors' distribution license in the state would expire and couldn't be renewed. Other beer permits would follow in quick succession -- Minnesota would be virtually beerless.

    It was front page news all over. Within 48 hours the Governor and Legislature had made a deal.

    If I didn't know better I'd think that was a plot line lifted directly out of one of the early classic episodes of The Simpsons. And it would be funny too, if the situation wasn't so ridiculously sad. Many Americans lazily and swiftly give up hard won civil rights for some nebulous idea of being "safe" from the possibility that something bad might happen somewhere, at some unspecified point in time, from some ill-defined idea of "terrorism," but by God, take away their beer and "American Idol" and McDonalds Chicken McNuggets and there'll be hell to pay!

  • bardgal on July 17, 2011 1:41 AM:

    @Damiel Kim @ Zeitgeist & @Linda - exactly right.

    The lack of intellect in this country is what happens when the GOP cuts funding to education.

    The ClownCarCrazies® have been sold a bill of goods that is completely fictional, and they're all too ignorant (some honestly, others willfully) to notice that it's all mostly the polar opposite of reality. "Taxes are too high (when they're at an all-time low.) "Socialism is evil and doesn't work." (Most of Europe is proof it does.) "The Governement doesn't create jobs." (The US Military would like to have a word with you.) But our Press is AWOL and completely owned by the Right, so there's no one to call out any of these lies, instead they've perpetuated them to the point it's become our normal vernacular.

    The saddest thing is that most Americans have no idea that the US Government (Fed/State/Local) is the largest employer on the planet with more employees world-wide than any private entity. In fact, the Government can create jobs faster and more cost-effectively than any company because there is no profit involved. The Gov doesn't have $12million + bonus annual CEOs to feed, or stocks to sell.

    The GOP-ELITE know this, and they want in on the action. If they can starve the programs of funding until they cannot operate - they can step in, privitize it, and make a profit. But that leeds to greed, deregulation, cost cutting, people cutting so that one person does the work of five, and overworked and tired employees, safety regulations are shortcut, and overlooked. The result is miners die, and 19 men get past (privately run) airport security and board 4 aircraft with boxcutters.

    Regulation is good, and what saves capitalism from itself.

    A strong, healthy, populace is a producitve popluace.

    More jobs create more revenue and a healthy economy. More people have money to spend, which creates more demand for goods and services, which creates more jobs.

    I hope Murdoch and his empire will go down in such huge flames that it will scare what media owners are left to allow honesty back into the press.

  • bardgal on July 17, 2011 1:59 AM:

    @Michael - thank you for that link - it's a must read!


  • bob h on July 17, 2011 5:55 AM:

    Republicans have also acquired in more peoples' minds the reputation as a group willing to destroy the general welfare rather than give on unneeded tax breaks for the well-off. When this acknowledgement, nothing new to those of us who've watched the republicans for the last 20 years, reaches critical mass, there will be a firestorm reaction.

    The Republicans have always been motivated by hatred of government; now they have added to that hatred of a successful, black President.

  • Tom O on July 17, 2011 10:44 AM:

    Let's not forget the precedent the Republicans are setting here, especially if this goes to default. Two can (and I hate to say it, but should) play this game. Otherwise we will lurch from hostage crisis to hostage crisis, with a crazy minority effectively in charge of the country.

  • daveminnj on July 17, 2011 11:01 AM:

    did no one get the neil young reference " the ceiling (needle) and the damage done"?

    later lyrics to be adapted "and every junkie is like a setting sun"

    perhaps "milk blood to keep from running out"?

  • Rihard Gordineer on July 17, 2011 12:20 PM:

    Every Democratic Senator Voted Against Increasing the Debt Ceiling in 2006...including Senator Obama! YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT!-Every Single Democratic Senator Voted Against an Increase in the Debt Ceiling in 2006...including Senator Obama. (interesting things them pesky little facts!)Mr. President, I agreed with your statement in 2006 and it still rings true today!:
    �The fact that we are here today to debate raising America�s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure,� Obama said in 2006. �Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren.�

  • N.Wells on July 17, 2011 12:31 PM:

    To daveminni,
    First credit goes to Zeitgeist in post #2 in the thread (July 16, 2011 12:21 PM) "i'm still stuck on the awesome musical homage in the title".

    To gdb,
    As psychologically gratifying as your idea might be, it's a really really bad proposal: defaulting would balloon interest payments, thus doing even worse damage to our financial position than what the republicans propose, including wasting huge amounts of public wealth on entirely unnecessary interest payments. Also, Obama is not responsible for this mess: blame goes to the Republicans.

  • Jim Keating on July 17, 2011 2:19 PM:

    The conservatives keeping with their misinformation
    and out-right lies making believe public opinion is with them are now saying: "the credit agencies will downgrade our rating if we don't reduce the deficit"; they also say Europe is demanding we reduce our deficit,I have not heard a news report that said either one of these statements. But now conservatives are acting like it is a fact.

    PS get some submission numbers you can read

  • zeitgeist on July 17, 2011 2:32 PM:

    Thanks N.Wells. But daveminni, chi res was also all over it a little farther down the thread.

    to our Republican friends showing up to discuss the 2006 debt ceiling vote, nice try but not relevant.

    first, unlike current wingnuts, the Dems did not try and hold the increase hostage. which is related to. . .

    second, it was a harmless protest vote because there was never any chance the increase would fail. as a result, ratings agencies and the global markets never had any reason to doubt our full-faith-and-credit. here, however, Republicans control the House, and this is more than just a protest vote: this is an actual effort to damage the United States.

    shorter: Dems in 06 were playing politics; ill-advised but ultimately harmless. Repubs in 2011 are committing treason. no comparison.

  • RZ on July 17, 2011 11:05 PM:

    Nice Neil Young shout-out, Steve.

    Props to you for that one.

    Nice catch, daveminnj