Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back in Red

Sorry for the vacation break -- had some sign-on issues while I was away. Thanks to all regular readers who were checking, hope the lack of posts did not drive you away forever.

While the News Corp scandal is a blast and there's other interesting news, the Debt Limit Crisis is #1 with a bullet, and unfortunately that bullet is aimed at the heart of America and the global economy. If there was ever a reason to despise tax-pledge false god Grover Norquist or one-track Teabagger thinking, this is it. No matter what Reps. Bachmann or Gohmert might say or actually believe, they are wrong -- there's no way to successfully prioritize government spending under default, and no way that it won't raise interest rates through the room and further decimate the job market. Per a real economist:

As Norm Ornstein says, this group of Tea Partying freshmen Representatives have created, arguably, the Worst Congress Ever (or at least since the Civil War):

That brings us to the 112th Congress. House Republicans are adamant about refusing to compromise with the president, and are able in most instances to make good on the threat. When they are not able to maintain this unity, they are simply unwilling to bring up or pass measures that would lose significant GOP votes and require as many or more Democrats in support. This is a formula for gridlock, or worse. is the Republicans are simply declining to govern.

We have seen problems emerge on more issues than the fiscal issues now before Congress. For instance, the painful effort to find broad bipartisan support for three significant trade agreements that are clearly in America's national interest, including its economic and diplomatic interest (and which first had to overcome substantial Democratic opposition), have been thwarted of late by Republicans' refusal to negotiate with the president over a much more minor issue of implementing trade adjustment assistance.

Political tactics to provoke confrontation, during a time when the permanent campaign reigns supreme and the competition for majorities in both houses is fierce, have combined with the rise of partisan media, one with far more reach and immediacy than the partisan press that thrived in the 19th century. When a phalanx of conservative media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal editorial page to talk radio and blogs, chimes in that breaching America's debt limit would at worst be benign and at best could actually do the country some good, and are joined by presidential candidates like Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty in those messages, it encourages the confrontationalists to ignore the reality that damaging the full faith and credit of the United States will cause long-lasting economic turmoil at home and abroad.

Know Nothingism lives.

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