cliff curb has been stepped over. And now the chatter is focused on the coming trio of Wingnut-manufactured points of doom: the Debt Ceiling, the Sequester and keeping the Federal Government funded. Of the three, two have firm deadlines for action. Without new legislation, the Federal Government will need to shut down after March 27, 2013 and the automatic budget cuts of the 2011 Sequester will begin on March 1, 2013. Failing to resolve either (or both) of these flashpoints would be a bother and cause some trouble, but it would also be in the zone of normal impotent Wingnut foolishness. The GOP would be blamed for any and all problems. I expect they will eventually capitulate as more and more folks realized that the only objective of the modern Conservative movement is chaos.
That brings us to the debt limit. The wingnuts have very little leverage when it comes to the Sequester and a Government shutdown, but they have convinced themselves that taking the global economy hostage might improve their chances. And even here they are a deeply silly and insane group of grifters. They demand that the President agree to pay a ransom before they’ll allow the USA to pay its bills, but they also refuse to say what that ransom should be. They are like kidnappers who demand that you guess how much you’ll have to pay to get get back your daughter while promising to kill her if you guess wrong. It would be impossible to negotiate with such criminals and it is impossible to negotiate with the GOP over the Debt Ceiling.
The GOP (and many in the media) would like to link all three of these items in one new “Grand Bargain” negotiation/crisis/deal and drag it out through March, but that would be crazy. The Debt Ceiling is not like the other two flashpoints–there is nothing about it that can or should be negotiated. It is just about paying for the things that you’ve already bought (while the other two are about what you might or might not buy–or earn–in the future).
The wingnuts are like an inept sitcom Father who decides that he’ll stop paying all the family’s bills as a way to force them to agree to his budget/plan for a family vacation to Wally World. Every time he argues that he’s being “financially responsible” the laugh track gets turned to eleven.
There isn’t any reason to wait until February or March to have the Debt Ceiling fight. President Obama should call the question. Let’s have the Debt Ceiling fight now. It won’t be any uglier now than it will be later, so let’s get it over it.
Technically we hit the Debt Ceiling last Monday. The Treasury Department has some tricks and dodges they can use to buy time for Congress to act, but they do not need to use them all. They could pick any date in the near future and say that this is when we can no longer pay our bills unless Congress takes action. I say, make that date January 29, 2013 and refused to have a single negotiation with Congress about the matter. If Congress doesn’t act by then, then February’s Social Security checks and everything else will not be paid. I don’t think that the Wingnuts have the sand for this fight (and if they do, you can always lay down the coin as a way to buy time until they fold).
Raising the debt limit is going to invoke a wingnut frenzy of self-destruction and stupidity whenever it happens and waiting (or linking it to other issues) will not improve things.
Let’s call the question and get this Debt Ceiling fight behind us.