The insanity in Washington continues.
Today the senate is expected to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government at current levels… including the president’s Affordable Health Care Act. The vote would have occurred yesterday but Senator Cruz delayed the vote until today. Apparently the senator had previously sent out notes and emails to supporters encouraging them to “watch the show on Friday.” Not wanting to deprive his supporters of another chance to see him perform, the narcissistic junior senator from Texas selfishly deprived the congress of valuable time to avoid a government shutdown. Meanwhile Republican Senator Bob Corker took to the well of the senate to publically scold Cruz on his self serving tactics. Cruz questioned how corker, a Republican, could dare to vote with the Democrats. Fun! While this nonsense may provide great material for Jon Stewart and the cast of SNL it doesn’t help to resolve the very real possibility that the government will shut down on October 1st .
Such an event is not without precedent. The United States government has shut down 17 times in the past. The most recent in 1996 when then Speaker Newt Gingrich and his Republican caucus shut the place down for 21 days. Bill Clinton destroyed the Republicans in the media for their recklessness and became one of the world’s most popular figures. Newt Gingrich eventually was run out of Washington. The two parties DID manage to balance the budget and the government employees received back pay for their time on the sidelines. There is zero chance that this congress will find its way to a balanced budget. And the 800,000 “nonessential” employees who will be sent home can forget about any back pay.
While a government shutdown will damage the economy and impact millions of Americans it pales in comparison to the economic Armageddon that the failure to raise the debt ceiling will bring. And that game of Russian roulette has begun.
The Treasury Secretary has advised Speaker Boehner that the government will run out of money on October 17 and consequently will be unable to pay its bills. As we expected, Speaker Boehner responded by releasing a list of conditions that he will demand from the president in exchange for a vote to raise the debt ceiling. There are 15 items on the list ranging including: defunding Obamacare, adoption of the Ryan tax reform plan, building the Keystone Pipeline, defunding the Consumer Protection Agency, eliminating EPA emissions restrictions etc. etc. There was talk of including a ban on late term abortions but that proposal failed to make the cut.
If this grab bag of conservative goodies sounds familiar to you…it should. This is the same Republican platform that presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigned on in 2010…and lost.
The president responded by saying that he “will not negotiate the full faith and credit of the United States of America.” Speaker Boehner said: “Well, that’ not how this works.”
The stakes here are high and very, very real. If the government fails to increase the debt ceiling the economic repercussions will be felt worldwide. Billions of people could honestly lose their life savings over night.
Allow us to put these two events into perspective.
The health care law that has Republicans fuming will affect the roughly 10% of the population that is currently uninsured. The remaining 90% will continue along as they have before.
The increase in the debt ceiling is not about enabling the government to increase its spending in the future. The debt ceiling must be raised in order for the government to pay for the goods and services it purchased in the past.
Everything else is simply nonsense.