When I hear stuff in the media these days, and want to evaluate its worth, I’ve had to create a new rule. If what I read or hear sounds too brain dead stupid to be true, I check to see if the Republicans are involved, and if they are, then I know it’s golden.
Take today’s news for example. We’re still 41 days out from the midterms, and the GOP is still doing everything in their power to snatch electoral defeat from the jaws of victory, and they’re already plotting a potential nightmare scenario power play if they retake the House. And since this one involves not only the GOP, but Kreepy Kevin McCarthy, you can fill out a deposit slip and take it to the bank.
Axios is reporting that GOP leadership, congressional aides, and business leaders are already hatching a plan to set up a nightmare scenario showdown with the Democrats over raising the debt ceiling if they take over the House in November. The plan as it’s evolving is to use going over the fiscal cliff as leverage to use deficit reduction to gut Biden’s progressive accomplishments ahead of the 2024 Presidential election. Too stupid to be true? Check. GOP involvement? Check. Yep, it’s rock solid.
Before we go on, there’s a distinction I want to make very clear here. There are actually 2 political hostages that the GOP routinely tries to threaten to shoot if the Democrats don’t end. The first one is a government shutdown. This is the more common one, and it happens when congress sloughs off and doesn’t pass a new budget by September 30th. If that happens, the government runs out of money and has to shut down until it comes to its senses. The most common resolution is a continuing resolution to keep current spending limits intact, and kick the can down the road.
But going over the fiscal cliff is a whole different breed of cat. The US Government borrows money like Donald Trump, and has just about the same interest in paying it back. But just like Trump’s loans and 2nd and 3rd mortgages, sooner or later the piper has to be paid. And just like with Trump, if the creditors don’t get a-taste-of-the-gate, bad things are going to happen for your business.
Government shutdowns are easier simply because they’re internal, the government has no more money to spend. But a government shutdown largely impacts only discretionary spending. Those are laws and items put into the budget. But things like Medicare, Social Security, Disability, VA benefits and others are mandatory spending, and go on. The only question is how long it takes somebody to blink.
However, blowing past the fiscal deficit limit, and flying off the fiscal cliff like the last scene in Thelma and Louise is bad juju. The US government becomes a deadbeat, again just like Trump. We’ll still have to borrow money, but at a higher interest rate. Our currency could take a valuation hit, and a recession would almost certainly follow immediately. That’s why nobody has ever actually taken the step.
And this is the club the GOP wants to wield over the Democrats heads if they retake the House in November. Here’s the funny thing. We don’t run up against the fiscal cliff again until mid fall of 2023. All the time in the world for responsible leadership to solve the problem. But the GOP isn’t interested in responsible leadership, they’re interested in power politics. They want to use the fiscal cliff negotiations to gut all of Biden’s major accomplishments, to depress the Democratic voters going into 2024. But it’s a pipe dream, and by this time the GOP should know it.
This scenario is a certified, Grade A, guaranteed loser for the GOP either way it turns out. In 2011, the stupid shits in the GOP House actually appeared ready to fire that convertible off of the cliff, but Mitch McConnell, who has 12 functioning brain cells, refused to turn the US into an international laughingstock, and cut a deal with then VP Biden to avert the crisis. That’s the closest the US has come to becoming international financial pariahs.
Let’s say that the GOP actually goes through with this boneheaded stunt. They play hardball throughout the summer, even with a wimp like McCarthy in charge, and demand deficit reduction in the form of gutting Biden’s social spending accomplishments in return for extending the debt limit. Biden and the Democrats hang tough, as they should, it’s the GOP who are the aggressors. We get to within 48 hours or so of financial detonation, and then McConnell, or some other sane Republican proposes a plan to avert the disaster.
Shit. By the mid to late fall of 2023, most of the GOP presidential primary contenders are already going to be flooding places like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. What elaborate word salad do these candidates come up with to explain the simple fact that their party didn’t have the political balls to make a stand, and damn the torpedoes? So much for the Democrats being the ones being depressed going into 2024.
And what if the stupid shits actually do launch the car off of the fiscal cliff. Instant electoral debacle. The new Democrats are running circles around the Trombie GOP in messaging. Throughout the summer, the Democrats will be highlighting their reasonable negotiations, and spotlighting the intransigent demands of the GOP. Messaging is everything, and the Democrats have turned the corner.
If we go off the cliff, it’s almost immediate. Our credit rating is downgraded, making it more expensive to borrow from foreign lenders. Our currency takes a hit, making it more expensive to buy imported goods. Say hello to a recession. And most importantly, get ready for inflation that will make what we have right now look like The good old days.
Man. Talk about The blind leading the stupid. How many times has the GOP embarked on these madcap adventures with the debt ceiling and government shutdowns. And each time, they go down in flames. And that’s like messing with Social Security and Medicare. It’s a 3rd rail, and once you touch it, there is almost no chance of survival. Because if the other side doesn’t capitulate, you have no winning exit strategy.