Sunday, October 13, 2013
The Debt Ceiling: Raise High the Roof Beams, Republicans
I’m really getting worried about the debt ceiling. If the Republicans — and this whole sorry mess is being driven by the Republicans — fail to raise the debt ceiling, the stock market could crash, or at least come as close to crashing as we’ve seen in recent decades. And if the stock market crashes, I could be wiped out, or virtually wiped out, of some money that I’m very much dependent on. And if that happens, I may need to move out of Los Angeles. Where would I go? That’s not a question that I want to think about right now.
As I alluded to in an earlier post, this entire situation is because of the Republicans using the budget process in an entirely new way. Never before (as Lawrence O’Donnell explains in the video below) has raising the debt ceiling seriously been used as a bargaining chip, not before the Republican-manufactured crisis of 2011. But now, with some very Machiavellian hard-line arch-conservatives controlling Congress and determined to shrink the government radically (down to the size where they can “drown it in a bathtub”), any trap-door lever that they can pull or demolition button that they can press, instruments once regarded as destructive to use in the legislature, is regarded by them as a legitimate means to get their way.
Republicans can’t achieve what they want democratically, so they resort to blackmail — probably believing that God is on their side — and a large part of America seems to regard all of this as mere business-as-usual in Washington.
I’m a liberal in large part because I believe that America needs a social safety net to cushion life’s unforeseeable slings and arrows and to give people an occasional hand up. The stock-market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression clearly showed the need for a social safety net and what can happen when businesses are allowed unchecked license to run roughshod over employees and consumers. And if anything in the proverbial net needs fixing, fix it; don’t use that flaw as an excuse to take down the whole thing. But the Republican Party is now under the control of people, both politicians and financiers, who don’t believe in the social safety net — among other government functions — and are bent on destroying it.
I hope that my fears are overinflated and that some kind of deal will be reached before October 17 — but it seems that any deal which might be struck would only encourage the Republicans to keep using these unprecedented, underhanded tactics, by which they can get most of what they want, governing from one unneeded, artificial crisis to another. I don’t know how this will end, but I’m afraid that things will get worse before they get better.