The “tea party” may be largely a mirage — these days the teabaggers seem to have more “leaders” and “organizers” and “spokespeople” than actual members — but it’s a mirage with clout. And the mirage has decided the debt ceiling must not be raised.
I’ve wandered into some rightie blogs discussing the debt ceiling, and my impression is that 99.9 percent of them have absolutely no idea what the debt ceiling is. They seem to think that not raising the debt ceiling means that the debt can’t go any higher. And, of course, no one in movement conservatism has the guts or inclination to explain to them that isn’t what it means.
So the “serious” conservatives are taking the stand that of course we must stand firm on the debt ceiling, even though we actually have to raise it.
Seriously. I found this John Boehner quotation in an article headlined “Why Republicans Must Not Cave on the Debt Ceiling”
â€œItâ€™s true that allowing America to default would be irresponsible. But it would be more irresponsible to raise the debt ceiling without simultaneously taking dramatic steps to reduce spending and reform the budget process. To increase the debt limit without simultaneously addressing the drivers of our debt — in defiance of the will of our people — would be monumentally arrogant and massively irresponsible. It would send a signal to investors and entrepreneurs everywhere that America still is not serious about dealing with our spending addiction. It would erode confidence in our economy and reduce certainty for small businesses. And this would destroy even more American jobs.â€
In other words, they’re saying that “not caving” is demanding a package of suicidal cuts from the budget as a condition for voting to raise the debt ceiling. But they’re expecting an awful lot of teabaggers if they think the baggers can be that nuanced.
Eliza Newlin Carney writes for The Atlantic —
With TV ads, petitions and grassroots lobbying, tea party organizers are gearing up to send an absolutist message to Capitol Hill: Don’t raise the debt ceiling under any circumstances.
Baggers don’t do nuance.
Tea party activists have already clashed publicly with some of the 87 GOP freshmen they helped elect last year, and they’re warning that Republicans who don’t keep their fiscal promises will pay a political price.
“We will remove as many incumbents as we can that do not do the job they were hired to do,” Darla Dawald, national director of the tea party group Patriot Action Network, said in an e-mail. “We are watching every member of Congress, their votes, position and language.”
The problem is that polls say baggers don’t want Medicare and Social Security cut, just all that other stuff.
Ezra Klein says that the amount of cuts Boehner is talking about wouldn’t be that big a deal if they are over a ten-year period. My impression is that the baggers aren’t going to settle for that, although one guy — identified as a “tea party leader” — says baggers will accept raising the debt ceiling if gays in the military can be stuffed back into the closet. Whether this guy is a “leader” of any part of the tea party other than himself, however, I cannot say.
Republicans also seem adrift on the subject of cutting Medicare. A couple of days ago we were hearing that Republicans, having been thoroughly spanked by their constituents over Easter recess, were running away from the scheme for privatizing Medicare. Apparently not all of them got the memo; however. And in his recent speech, Boehner said Medicare is still on the table —
And with the exception of tax hikes — which will destroy jobs — everything is on the table. That includes honest conversations about how best to preserve Medicare, because we all know, with millions of Baby Boomers beginning to retire, the status quo is unsustainable.
“How best to preserve Medicare” is a nice weasel phrase that can mean whatever the hearer wants it to mean.
So here’s where the Republicans are at the moment — they will not raise the debt ceiling until they raise it; and they have to simultaneously insist that Medicare must and must not be cut and/or retooled.
One idea being floated by some Democrats as well as some Republicans is to enact a series of baby-step debt ceiling increases concurrent with somewhat larger budget cuts, so that the Republicans can go back to their teabag constituents and somehow argue that they raised the debt ceiling but cut the deficit. Given that the baggers have no idea what the debt ceiling is, except that they don’t want it raised, I don’t see that as a viable option.
The more reasonable thing for the Republicans to do is to go ahead and raise the bleeping debt ceiling, before serious 2012 campaigning starts, while simultaneously pointing toward Mexico and screeching ANCHOR BABIES! A diversionary tactic, in other words. Could work.
First quick point before I have to go and make dinner:
The Teabagger who wants to make the debt ceiling deal if DADT is repealed, what’s the line of thinking?
That you can stop the debt from going up if you can stop gay service members from going down on one another?
Unfortunately, these folks are still doing a lot of damage across the country.
“Nice country youse gots dere. Shame to lose it if youse don’t want to pay our, whatchamacalls em – oh yeah, PROTECTION fees out of youse owns pockets.”
And Americans keep putting these economic terrorists and gangsters in office.
I fear we’re a mortally stupid people.
Boehner’s rambling boils down to: “I am not above blackmail to get what I think will make me look tough.” Which is just sad, coming from a teary-eyed guy who’s the color of a Frigidaire made in 1971. Nothing will ever make him look tough.
In the interests of transparency, I wish they would go ahead and broadcast the budget negotiations on C-SPAN. Make the GOP name out loud their proposal(s) while the democrats pick apart the various constituencies that would be gored. If the can get away with it, they want to pick a number to cut spending by and leave the details of who gets the shaft to the democrats. And they would want to shift blame to the democrats.
Make them go on record – and then take it to the voters in 2012. (That’s not to suggest we GIVE the GOP what they want. But get it beyond vague platitudes – make them propose ‘governing’ in dollars and cents and describe the impact to the voters.)
Now that bin Laden is dead. Let’s cut the Defense budget by 40 percent. That should be substantial savings. I know the importance of the debt ceiling because I learned it from an 11th grade Civics/History teacher. And, I can hear him use his favorite phrase to describe today’s Republicans, “They are the epitome of assininity!” And, then, he would throw up his arms and harumph.
Off-topic: I heard that today is often celebrated as Buddha’s birthday.
Only in South Korea and Taiwan. The big b-day in most of Asia is May 17 this year (it’s on a lunar calendar), but it was April 8 in Japan and will be toward the end of May in Tibet. So if you miss one Buddha’s birthday, there’s usually another one coming up.
What the teabaggers think is much less important than what our creditors think. The debt ceiling will be raised, one way or another, because a default would be catastrophic.
This will exacerbate tensions within the GOP, but with 2012 around the corner they’ll do their best to come together and defeat their real enemy, the Kenyan Usurper.
After Obama wins in 2012, this is when the knives will really come out within the GOP.
joanr16…I used to have a refrigerator the same color as Boehner…It was called “Harvest Gold”….and I had a matching stove and range hood the same color.
The orange man is the gift that keeps on giving, the part I liked in his little speech was the part where he says despite the will of our people.it dosent matter about the will of his constiuents he’s going after medicare anyway.
I don’t know, the teabaggers are so poorly informed and so easily manipulated by rhetoric that clever Republican leaders could probably convince them of anything. Even to accept an increase in the debt ceiling by telling that it wasn’t really an increase, because of all the cuts they got and confidently lying repeatedly about the numbers. Teabaggers aren’t strong on math, either.
Still, given how annoying the irrational demands of the teabaggers have been, I’d be happy to see the GOP hoist on its own petard. So many of them must be casting about for a new paranoid fantasy now that the birth certificate one is worn out, and ‘Boehner is working for the Democrats’ would do nicely, I think.
In the world not occupied by teabags, it seems highly unlikely that “investors and entrepreneurs everywhere” will think America is serious about our deficit when the leader of one party simultaneously says “everything is on the table” and “increased taxes are out of the question”. The House GOP is a tragic comedy.
Appealling to the most ignorant among us is bound to go wrong for the GOP. They aren’t leading but rather inciting. It’s all about momentum and while the welcoming of the Tea Party into the GOP “big tent” might have caused a momentary uptick in some poll their time is running out…reality will catch up with them.
But even more amazing that that is the apparent fact that we linger for so long on this form of economic brinkmanship while the glaring, underlying, looming battles over what to cut never seem to take the center stage. Those are the ones that should be happening now in place of this charade.
Maybe the Dems have polled an are just being cautious regarding what is politically feasible but it seems that we should be hammering on tax cuts for the rich, corporate subsidies and related welfare, two wars, defense expenditures and the ever-rising costs of healthcare — where there’s more than enought savings ripe for the pickin’ to handily take care of the situation.
But instead, Dems are now seen as opposing the GOP cuts to social programs. This plays right into the GOP strategy to portray dems as the profligate spenders while the GOP basks in a reason-defying role of simultaneously “cutting your taxes” when they are really only cutting the taxes of the most wealthy (their only constituents that require remuneration rather than hogwash).
Certainly these perceptions are exacerbated by media but there is so much untapped opportunity here that I’m dumbfounded by the apparent inability to tap into it.
It all comes down on a question of what to cut. Reneging on paying interest on debt to other nations is the economic equivalent of being nuked with economic fallout being worse that anything we could imagine…and it would be worldwide. So just what are they talking about here?
The economic hostage taking seems to rely on not being clear on these matters. It is yet another good show or bluster by the GOP without much substance.