Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ringing The Bell

After a long two weeks, America and the world breathed a deep sigh of relief when, last night, both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives finally passed a bill to reopen the federal government and raise the debt ceiling - until early in 2014 - and President Obama signed it into law.

Make no mistake - this fight went the full twelve rounds and more, though it was the American people who were feeling most of the punches. As Chris Cillizza noted in the Washington Post, politicians will say there weren't any true winners in this match, even though we all know that's not entirely true.

If anyone won anything in this fight, President Obama and Congressional Democrats - as well as the American people - have to be on that winners list. By standing together, they've now proven that the majority of the nation can stand up to the political bullies of the extremist right - and that the right wing will back down.

For what it's worth, the costs of this battle were significant. S&P figured up the cost to the U.S. economy in this round was $24 billion, nearly 0.6% of America's fourth quarter GDP, and the nation lost nearly 1 million jobs. That doesn't even take into account all the individuals and businesses who now have a serious ding on their credit, thanks to more than two weeks without paychecks or customers.

The most visible hit, however, was a political one, where the Republican Party frankly knocked their own block off - and the Tea Party effectively is now bleeding out on the floor.

According to the latest Pew Poll, Americans now dislike the extremist Tea Party wing of the Republican Party more than they ever have before. The same poll shows Republicans are so ashamed of their extremist wing, most of them are in denial the Tea Party is even part of the GOP. What's more, the nominal leader of the Tea Party insurgents, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, outright admitted Wednesday afternoon that his entire goal in this disaster was to raise money for any future political campaigns he might have.

As Ezra Klein joked on Wednesday, Cruz may as well have been a sleeper agent for the Democratic Party, as the damage he's done to the GOP is deeper than almost anything the Democratic Party could have accomplished.

Conservatives even began taking shots at their own closed loop media infrastructure, blaming it for only telling them what they wanted to hear. No surprise that the biggest blowhard in right-wing media, Rush Limbaugh now says the Republican Party is the most irrelevant party he can remember.

You built that, Mr. Limbaugh. Enjoy.

As much as we'd love to say this perpetual brawl is now over for good, we don't truly believe it is. Neither do other experienced journalists like Michael Tomasky or Sahil Kapur.

Still, when counting up the costs of this fight, it's important to note the cost/benefit ratio.

The extremist Republicans cost the nation nearly a million jobs - over $24 billion in the economy already - and have effectively destroyed their political chances for 2014 in the Senate, and quite possibly in the House.

Here's the benefit Republicans gained for themselves and the nation, politically speaking, after sixteen days of stupidity:


Hope it was worth the fight, Republicans.