October 9, 2013: the American government shutdown is 9 days old with no apparent end in sight. More and more very important programs are coming to standstill such as veterans benefits, head-start programs, research and development programs, and so forth. Programs that benefit the poor are impacted. And of this is because approximately 30 to 40 Tea Party republicans in the US house of representatives chose this very moment in the budgetary cycle when the USA would run out of funds to run the US government at the end of the fiscal year on September 30th, 2013, to make their last stand regarding Obamacare, more formally known as the Affordable care Act of 2010.
As bad as that might sound to anyone just tuning in, it’s really minor compared to the real threat looming on October 17th, just 8 short days away. That’s when the USA hits its debt limit, or the point where it cannot legally borrow any more money, either by floating bonds or by any other means, in order to have enough cash on hand to pay all of its debts on time.
Keep in mind that “debt” means incoming bills due on goods and services already appropriated by congress and purchased. It is akin to you going out and buying a steak dinner on your credit card, and then the credit card bill arrives later for payment to arrive at the bank on a certain date. If you don’t pay that bill on time (for the steak dinner you already bought and ate, keep in mind), you will have defaulted on your credit card debt. After a brief time period, your credit rating will be downgraded and the interest rate will be raised as a result. Further defaults will further downgrade your credit rating and increase your payback interest.
John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, really didn’t want to be in the position he’s in, any more than many mainstream republicans that understand how stupid it was to play Russian roulette with a government shutdown over Obamacare. But the lunatic Tea Party faction of the republican party is backed by very wealthy (and thus very powerful) people and groups such as the Koch brothers, whose nearly limitless financial contributions under the controversial Supreme Court ruling Citizens United has allowed the Tea Party to blackmail mainstream republicans to support the Tea Party agenda (even if they disagree with it and/or the Tea Party tactics) to avoid facing an extremely-well-financed Tea party primary challenge for their congressional district seat. It is political extortion at its worst, and is just another reason why the Tea Party is also known by increasing numbers of Americans (and others) as the American Taliban:
And as much as Boehner didn’t want to herd these cats during the shutdown, he REALLY EVEN MORE doesn’t want to do so during the run-up to the debt ceiling limit drop-dead date. But he, too, is under threat of losing his seat and his chairmanship to these political terrorists. And interestingly, most of them aren’t even talking about Obamacare anymore. They’re now demanding that the meat-cleaver sequester spending reductions that no one wanted, which have been in effect since March 2013, be further reduced by amounts equal to any increase in the debt ceiling before they will agree to raise the debt ceiling limit. Oh, and don’t even think of raising taxes on the richest 1% (like the Koch brothers and other Tea Party financiers) or reducing government subsidies to the obscenely profitable petroleum industry.
Put another way, the American Taliban is demanding that in exchange for allowing the USA to pay its bills and maintain its credit rating and not possibly enter a new recession and not possibly damage the world economy in the process, it must reduce spending BELOW the already insanely low levels of the sequester which already have eliminated such programs as meals on wheels for seniors, infrastructure projects, etc. And if they get their way, maybe they’ll raise the debt ceiling for 90 days, and then we came play this game all over again.
President Obama, having gone through this exercise only two years ago, has rightfully decided that the US government should not be run by threat and extortion and has dug in. The democrats in the senate and the house are united in this effort. But the republicans are clearly divided.
The senate republicans aren’t playing at all. And in the house, where all of this started, more and more mainstream republicans are realizing that if you can believe the polls, they’re probably doomed anyway in 2014 so better to do the right thing. As of this writing, 21 republicans are ready to join 200 house democrats and vote on a clean continuing resolution and an extension of the debt ceiling limit. That’s 221 and they only need 217 votes for a majority.
Now if John Boehner can only resolve that he’s probably not gonna survive to be speaker either way…..AND CALL THE FRACKIN’ VOTE!!!