Monday, October 14, 2013

Terminal Decision

Weekends are usually supposed to be restful. However, the last few days have been anything but.

The latest we've heard about the impending debt ceiling is that Republicans in Congress still can't seem to comprehend the meaning of the word "clean." The plan that was floated last Friday by House Republicans and Speaker Boehner had all kinds of right wing goodies attached. Naturally, the mucked up bill was rejected by President Obama, as all other similarly non-clean bills have been.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans embraced a different plan floated by GOP Senators Susan Collins and Mitch McConnell over the weekend. That plan would increase the debt limit until January and fund the government for six months. However, Senate Republicans also hung so many of their ideological tea bags from the bill that Sen. Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid insisted - fairly -  that he be allowed to hang some Democratic priorities on it too. As the Washington Post confirmed, items like higher revenues to pay our government's bills and a higher overall debt ceiling are things Sen Reid and the Democrats wanted. Tea Party Republicans, of course, insisted that offer be rejected, since they're only going to be happy if Democrats get nothing in any negotiations. So with four days left until the world's markets implode, the 'World's Greatest Deliberative Body' is without a single legislative solution.

As Greg Sargent so aptly pointed out on Sunday, and as we've said multiple times over the past few years, Speaker Boehner has only one real choice this week: Allow the Tea Party to go flying over the edge of the political cliff, and save his political party, the nation, and quite possibly the world. Or, he can let the Tea Party drag the entire world into a massive economic depression the likes of which few alive have ever seen.

That last comment may seem hyperbolic, but according to IMF chief Christine Lagarde, it isn't. According to multiple world leaders and top economists from around the globe who met over the weekend for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s annual meetings in DC, characterizing what would happen if America defaulted on our nation's debt as simply a "massive economic depression" would likely be underselling a disaster.

To any sane person who's been paying attention to American politics over the past few years, that we're at this point isn't really that much of a surprise. When a small part of one of the two major American political parties forces a shutdown of the federal government, then protests the shutdown THEY created, while waving the flag of secessionists who were defeated by America 150 years ago — all while the extremists' actions are undertaken with a sincerity usually only reserved for the mentally ill - you know that a problem like that isn't going to be fixed easily.

The extremist Republicans even made the current debate a political suicide pact, sneaking in a House rules change on October 1 that now prevents any member of the House, other than Speaker Boehner, from offering a bill that would solve either the debt ceiling or the government shutdown.

For Speaker Boehner, no matter what happens, it's likely his position as Speaker is toast. However, like a set of conjoined twins who share a single vital organ, Speaker Boehner must now look at his party and decide which group continues to live politically, and who will die.

Either the sane, moderate Republican Party will prevail and the world's economies will remain whole, or Mr Boehner will allow the Tea Party extremists to leap off the edge of insanity and drag the rest of his political party - and the rest of the world - into the political and economic abyss.

For anyone sane, it really shouldn't be a question of which decision Mr. Boehner should now make.