Sunday, July 31, 2011

Teabaggers Want Chaos

As I write this, politicians and ideologues alike are working, with various degrees of sincerity, to come to an agreement on a budget and a possible balanced budget amendment, all the while under threat from a small minority of Representatives, voted into office by a small minority of voters, to not raise the federal debt ceiling and bring a level of chaos and pain upon the country that even most Republicans agree would be disastrous.

There are several scenarios in all of this; One is that Republicans exact a huge price in the way of spending cuts, no new taxes, and the debt ceiling is raised. Republican threats to sabotage the economy work. Said economy likely sputters just in time for election season. Republicans, knowing that Americans have short memories, will blame Dems and Obama in particular.

The second scenario is that Republicans exact a huge price in the way of spending cuts, no new taxes, but the debt ceiling is raised only temporarily. Economy sputters because of reduced government spending, which even worries the Chamber of Commerce (but not the Club for Growth), and Republicans not only blame the Dems and Obama in the upcoming elections, they get to sabotage the economy again by threatening to oppose further debt ceiling hikes, unless, you guessed it, further spending cuts. They may insist on repeal of last year's health care reform.

A third scenario is just as repulsive but a bit trickier for Republicans. Not all of them want to just threaten the economy; it's not just a negotiating style with some of them. Republican members of Congress are on record as saying they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling even with spending cuts. And that is because they want to induce chaos. Forcing the federal government to default will, they say, create enough dispair that they can then force through a balanced budget amendment. (Not sure how that could work? Read Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine).

The intransigence of the Teabagger wing of the Republican Party, where most of the hard-line "let the government default" members are, has created governing challenges for the more establishment members of the Party. It is they, not the Dems, who are giving John Boehner gray hair.

It has become obvious that the Teabaggers are no longer playing by the script Republican operatives set for them. Wall Street financed the Teabagger movement specifically as a way to keep Democrats in check. Fact is, Wall Street loves government, as long as it gets what it wants from it; lax regulatory enforcement, if not outright deregulation, lucrative government contracts, preferential tax rates, and no meaningful reforms or investigations. Republicans are especially willing to let the Wall Street Casino continue.

But Wall Street has seriously underestimated the anti-government lunacy of Teabaggers. Most Republicans, the ones promoting Wall Street's interests, have never been especially interested in the deficit.They certainly did not care during the Bush era. Recall Dick Cheney's claim that Reagan proved "deficits don't matter." If Republicans had been interested in the budget deficit, they would not have pushed for a continuation of Bush's tax giveaway to the wealthy. They went back to harping about the deficit just as soon as the two-year tax extension was in place. Even now, virtually no Congressional Republican will agree to any tax increases on the wealthy whatsoever. Their priorities are low taxes and other privileges for the wealthy and for corporate America, reduced social spending on the poor, and high spending on defense. Reducing the deficit is further down their priority pole. 

But not, of course, for the true believing Teabaggers. My own take on this is that enough Teabaggers will very reluctantly agree to a deal that gets them most of what they want; they will have to give up on the chaos-through-default option for now. Boehner et. al. will have to remind them to the very end that destroying the country is not a vote-getting strategy. Nor will they get a balanced budget amendment. That will piss off the Teabaggers big time, and you can bet they will be back with it next year.

Democrats, on the other hand, should not agree to any of this madness. They have yet to appreciate that most Americans support them on this. 

President Obama should invoke the 14th amendment. But he won't.

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