Stop Fretting: The Debt-Ceiling Crisis Is Over! . . . Did anyone really think this wouldn’t happen? ~J

In 1981, one day after their release, American hostages safely landed at Rhein-Main U.S. Air Force base in Frankfurt, West Germany. (photo: AP)
In 1981, one day after their release, American hostages safely landed at Rhein-Main U.S. Air Force base in Frankfurt, West Germany. (photo: AP)

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Source: Reader Supported News
By Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine
16 October 13

f you’re reading the newspapers just now to get caught up on the debt-ceiling crisis, you may have the impression that events are now spinning utterly out of control. “A day that was supposed to bring Washington to the edge of resolving the fiscal showdown instead seemed to bring chaos and retrenching,” reports the New York Times. “A campaign to persuade House Republicans to lift the federal debt limit collapsed in humiliating failure Tuesday, leaving Washington careering toward a critical deadline just two days away, with no clear plan for avoiding a government default,” warns the Washington Post.

This is the opposite of what is going on. In fact, the events of yesterday amounted to utter success. The debt ceiling will be lifted, the crisis is over, and so, too, may be the larger Constitutional struggle it unleashed.

The mistaken impression of chaos and collapse was left by the collapse of the House Republican plan. But the House Republicans are the hostage-takers. It’s good that their plan collapsed. Their plan was to insist on winning at least some concession from President Obama, testing his resolve not to be extorted, and, at least, pushing the crisis until the last moment.

The House bill failed because it relied entirely on Republican votes, which requires near-unanimity from the Republican caucus. A small number of Republicans so fanatical they refuse to even work within existing political constraints, and therefore regularly undermine the right’s leverage, refused to support any bill. Having spent the day trying to cobble together even a tiny ransom demand, House GOP leaders simply gave up. “It’s all over. We’ll take the Senate deal,” a senior Republican aide told National Review’s Jonathan Strong.

[Update: per multiple sources, the House leadership has agreed to bring the Senate bill to a vote first, expediting its passage.]

The Senate bill is a deal to lift the debt ceiling and reopen the government, without a ransom payment. That agreement is set to be announced, but the contours, which were described to me by an aide, will satisfy the Democratic demand not to make concessions for raising the debt ceiling or reopening the government. The House leadership, as everybody on Capitol Hill now expects, will quickly take up the Senate bill and put this debacle behind them. Rounding up the votes should not be a problem. The entire Democratic caucus will support it if needed, leaving Republicans to find just a handful of votes, well within the number that never wanted to shut down the government to begin with.

Why aren’t we more elated? One reason is that the crisis has exerted such a heavy toll so far. Consumer confidence has plunged and the government shutdown has thrown sand in the gears of the recovery. Ending the crisis puts one in the mind of Pulp Fiction’s Marcellus Wallace after being liberated from rapist kidnappers:

We are pretty far from okay, but it beats spending the rest of your life getting raped in a dungeon, which is more or less what the House Republicans had planned. The Republican debt-ceiling gambit was meant to force Obama to accept the GOP agenda without any Republican concessions – a depressing enough outcome on its own. But it also would have dragged in a reordering of the Constitutional order and the institutionalization of endless crises and panics. We can’t be certain Republicans will never hold the debt ceiling hostage again; but Obama has now held firm twice in a row, and if he hasn’t completely crushed the Republican expectation that they can extract a ransom, he has badly damaged it. Threatening to breach the debt ceiling and failing to win a prize is costly behavior for Congress – you anger business and lose face with your supporters when you capitulate. As soon as Republicans come to believe they can’t win, they’ll stop playing.

Most of the analysis has focused on the mind-boggling stupidity of Republicans in Congress, who blundered into a debacle that failed in exactly the way they were warned it would. The episode will be retold and fought over for years to come, perfectly emblemizing the party’s internal disorganization, mindless belligerence, and confinement within an ideological echo chamber that sealed out important warnings of failure. A grassroots revolt forced Republicans to shut down the government two weeks before the debt ceiling deadline, serving to weaken the party’s standing at the moment they hoped to hold the default gun to Obama’s head. (It’s possible they lesson they’ll take away from their failure will only be not to shut down the government and threaten default at the same time, requiring another showdown.)

But it also represents a huge Democratic success – or, at least, the closest thing to success that can be attained under the circumstances. Of the Republican Party’s mistakes, the most rational was its assumption that Democrats would ultimately bend. This was not merely their own recycled certainty – “nobody believes that,” a confident Paul Ryan insisted of Obama’s claims he wouldn’t be extorted – but widespread, world-weary conventional wisdom. Democrats would have to pay a ransom. Republicans spent weeks prodding for every weakness. Would Senate Democrats from deep red states be pried away? Would Obama fold in the face of their threat?

Part of what undergirded Democratic unity went beyond a (correct) calculation that it would be dangerous to pay any ransom at all. Democrats seemed to share a genuine moral revulsion at the tactics and audacity of a party that had lost a presidential election by 5 million votes, lost another chance to win a favorable Senate map, and lost the national House vote demanding the winning party give them its way without compromise.

Probably the single biggest Republican mistake was in failing to understand the way its behavior would create unity in the opposing party. Not until the very end, when the crisis was well under way, did any conservatives even acknowledge the Democratic view that the GOP had threatened basic governing norms. Ted Cruz and his minions may have undertaken a hopeless crusade, but they dragged along the Paul Ryan Republicans who all along seemed to think their extortion scheme was a simple business deal. Its collapse is one of the brightest days Washington has seen in a grim era.

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11 Responses to Stop Fretting: The Debt-Ceiling Crisis Is Over! . . . Did anyone really think this wouldn’t happen? ~J

  1. The energy Doctor says:

    The ongoing spending is cause for celebration?
    We borrow $.44 on every dollar we spend.
    We are advancing the government almost a trillion dollars on the debt ceiling to cover the hundreds of billions they spent these last five months while stealing the money from the federal pension funds and the rest of it to cover them until January.
    We can’t find one way to curb any kind of spending while American citizens are curbing their spending everywhere to try to pay their bills.
    We can’t seem to find one war to withdraw from while our soldiers are sitting ducks being killed by supposed allies who wear our supplied uniforms and kill us with our own guns.
    And let me get this straight…….it’s all the Republicans fault?
    The Republicans are losers for sure but anybody who thinks the other side is not spending us into oblivion needs to check their math. This struggle was not about party or health care good or bad, it is about a country that spends money it does not have and won’t even try to payback. The government stole hundreds of billions from the federal employees and left an IOU. Both parties spent three Trillion dollars from the Social Security fund and left an IOU for that….and it’s the Republicans fault?. Blame who you want but all of the people of this country have been stolen from and lied to and article like this just keep up the hate, fear and lies either out of ignorance or control

    • william says:

      Yes absolutely true and yet all the democrats keep heaping the abuse and criticism on the republicans as though they were the real source of all our problems in this country. The deficit and the debt are bi-partisan unless the congress, senate and presidency are all under a single party and last I checked, the republicans were in control of congress right now.

      That having been said, the democrats were in charge of all three from 2008-2010 when a vast amount of new debt and deficits were created in order to stimulate the economy which has clearly not worked. The democrats are still in charge of two out of three and still hold the most power. Thus, who is really to blame? The simple answer is, politicians are to blame. Govt doesn’t work for the people, it only works for itself and thus, support for government is simply self-abuse. Those people who continue to think that involvement in politics is a valuable work are hurting themselves and those whom they encourage to be part of the process.

      The democrats are self-serving as are all politicians, that is why all their rhetoric consists of abusing the republicans. In my view, both parties and politics in general are despicable and bring out the worst in humanity.

      • Jean says:

        William, it’s time everyone understands that it doesn’t matter who wins are loses, because the entire United States Government is owned by one group of criminals. It only appears that one side is winning or losing. That’s part of the game being played by the would-be controllers. The actual result – always, is that ALL the people in this entire country are losing. Do you understand what I am saying? Hugs, ~Jean

  2. emma says:

    “Did anyone really think this wouldn’t happen?’
    No. (smiling… not because it keeps going– but because it’s so obvious! Finally.)

  3. Muse says:

    YES, this is all theatrics, YES this just proves even more that BOTH the Democrats and the Republicans are nothing more than Cabal flunkies, and they are nothing more than puppets for the Cabal. But, one question that you may want to ask yourself is WHY did the Cabal (or maybe the good guys) do this? What are they getting out of this? What are they trying to do? It could be that the Cabal is trying to get us used to the martial law that they want to impose upon us. Or, it could be that the good guys (for example, in the Pentagon and/or the other parts of the Government-yes, good people in the Government EXIST) were sending a shot across the bow, as it were. Perhaps this was the good guys telling the Cabal that this is what we are capable of if you don’t go along with OUR program. As I said before, I believe time will tell. I do think, though, that this just REALLY started to cement in people’s minds just how much we need to get rid of the 2 party system. Did you know that George Washington was against the 2 party governmental system? Perhaps we could ALL use some of his wisdom right about now. Obviously, things are coming to a head, one way or another. I believe that the near future should be very interesting for all of us.

  4. Wow what an interesting twist in the so called US game plan ??… lets see they the two party’s have been a two party system for how Long ??your right for over 100 years now…. YES the GIG is up not on the people of the US , it’s up on the crime Lords running the White House…. time to jail them all and rebuild your Nation from the ground up…..Don’t fall for this so called back to the old ways of doing things as ever??!!….. IT’s over…. You woke up the sleeping Giant ..many Millions of the US public are now taking over the drivers seats…..The best is yet to come…..

  5. julie says:

    It is all theatrics. These are not battling parties but players in the same cast reading from the same script. Now I suppose they have succeeded in putting the sheep back to sleep for a time….when will this game end?

  6. ms bean says:

    they are like 2 gangs, and neither party should ever be voted in again

  7. GDLee says:

    Fiat currencies are notes on a piece of paper and entrees into a column. The US constitution was written for congress to establish the creation of monies but government is full of people who are bought and sold like cattle. They sold the creation of money to a bunch of foreign and domestic banksters who have robbed a tremendous amount of wealth from America, look at what was build while they were advancing their constructive fraud. Wittingly or unwittingly you have all been sold into contractual servitude (Google:Colonel Edward Mandrel House).

  8. Warren Nelson says:

    I myself am so fed up with all the bs, going aournd the politicians that look at the American people as pawns. All of our lawful and proper documents give the American people the right to alter or eliminate present government and establish one more to our liking, and that means Obama and his henchmen as well as all those cowardly Senators and Congressmen/women now in office as supposedly PUBLIC SERVANTS turned traitors knowingly, willingly and intentionally commiting treason, worthy of hanging.

  9. Ethyl says:

    IS it over? Has the House approved it? They hadn’t a little while ago.

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