This from R. Duane Graham, over at the Erstwhile Conservative:
I have heard liberals and Democrats I respect very much get it all wrong regarding the nature of the upcoming battle over raising the federal debt ceiling.
One analysis has it that Speaker Boehner is hamstrung by the Tea Party in the House and he can use that as leverage during upcoming negotiations with Obama and Reid.
The gist of it is that Boehner can say to Democrats that he wants to do the right thing but those crazy teapartiers won’t let him. He will argue that he needs something big—substantial cuts, say—to take back to the ravenous nuts in order to keep them in line. Otherwise, he will claim, those crazy extremist Republicans would be willing to tank the economy.
But that analysis is wanting. Boehner can’t credibly make the argument that there’s no way to raise the debt ceiling without giving irresponsible House Republicans want they want. Somehow, people forget that there are 193 Democrats in the House. Only a handful of responsible Republicans—if there are any left in the House—are needed to get the debt ceiling raised and fend off a potential crisis.
If Boehner can’t find a handful of Republicans who care more about the country than they do their conservative ideology, then Democrats should stand back and watch Republicans destroy themselves, as the ideologues put the financial industry—and likely the entire economy—in the proverbial ditch again. Not to mention that those around the world who buy U.S. Treasury bonds would have good reason to believe that America is no longer a stable place in which to invest.
Yes, Democrats must have the guts to call Boehner’s and the Tea Party’s bluffs. If the GOP sabotages Wall Street (very unlikely since they have recently kissed and made up) and by extension Main Street, then that once-noble party will seal its fate for a generation. The likely scenario, though, is that enough Republicans will join Democrats and raise the debt ceiling, thus averting potential disaster.
Democrats, therefore, shouldn’t give an inch on the debt ceiling debate.
The other analysis I have heard involves the fact that 235 House Republicans have made love to tax-hater Grover Norquist and pledged their undying fealty to the concept that the government already taxes too much. In post-orgasmic promise mode, they promise Grover never to raise taxes.
Never mind that revenues, as part of the overall economy, are lower now than any time since 1950. Never mind that the top marginal rates are lower than they’ve been since 1931. Never mind that we are running huge deficits and piling up unfathomable debt, substantially due to a lack of federal income.
This analysis, much like the other one, seems to put Democrats in a box. Republicans will not compromise on the revenue issue, so Democrats have to compromise on budget austerity. In fact, under this analysis, Democrats have to essentially rubber-stamp the severe austerity advocated by the most extremist Republicans in history or watch the economy crumble.
Again, Boehner, unless he meant it when he said there is no daylight between him and the Tea Party, can rely on sensible Democrats to pull his party’s chestnuts out of the debt-ceiling fire. He can make a deal that will satisfy Democrats and save the economy and simultaneously allow his extremist colleagues to vote against the debt ceiling increase. Or, he can risk our economic recovery—and risk the full faith and credit of the United States—and possibly send us into a recession greater than the one we just witnessed—or worse.
In short, Democrats can force some in the Republican Party to be responsible stewards of the nation’s business. Or they can join in with Republicans and kill our nation’s well-being cut by cut by cut by cut.
Democrats, who control two-thirds of the relevant government in this case, have that obvious choice. It’s time Democrats—and the rest of America—find out if Republicans are willing to throw America’s economic fortunes to the wind out of a fanatical and dangerously misplaced loyalty to a discredited political ideology.