The closer we get to August 2, the more I think that the voluntary crisis called the “debt ceiling debate” will end badly. That’s something I would not have considered last week, believing, naively perhaps, that even the Tea Party intransigents would compromise enough to rescue the U.S. from potential economic disaster.
“We will not raise the debt ceiling.” Full stop. That is their cry, and no more vociferously than from poster girl/presidential candidate Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) who has been using her intransigence to underpin campaign ads.
The thing that worries me is not so much ideology (which worries me, but can usually be overcome in the national interest), but that some of these guys on the Right don’t even believe that the default date is actually real.
If they don’t believe the date is actual, there is little at stake in missing it. Ergo, there is no motivation to do anything at all, and no urge to compromise even one teeny, tiny baby step. It’s almost as if they are daring the date, daring the experts—hell, even daring the bond rating agencies. Do they want to prove to themselves that the date is bogus?
The two stupidest reasons I've heard from the Right to explain the August 2nd date are 1) to go a day longer would infringe on President Obama’s birthday party, and 2) Ramadan begins, and would tie up the president, since, of course, he’s a Muslim. Yeah, seriously. And, somehow, the president has used his superhuman powers (or he stole Dumbledore’s wand) to persuade economists, Moody’s, and Standard and Poors that the date is really the drop-dead date before a calamitous economic catastrophe ensues.
So this is the mentality which the president and the Democrats in Congress are up against. Add to that the Tea Party’s misguided notion that they have some sort of economic and social mandate from The American People. (All they need to do is read the polls to understand just how misguided they are.)
What emerges is a perverse sense of compromise that amounts to “my way or the highway.” They are “willing” to allow the president to raise the debt ceiling—something sane people know is mandatory, and allows us to pay for things already purchased—in exchange for adopting their agenda. To me, this is more extortion than compromise. It says: “We’ll let you do what you have to do to ensure the economic safety of this country, if you do everything we say.”