by Linda Beale
As the New York Times reported on Saturday: Stohlberg, A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning, New York Times (Oct. 5, 2013), the current fiscal and political crisis was planned as a manuver to get their way by the inner operatives of the Tea Party/GOP coalition. What the media has tended to report as a partisan dispute with both sides to blame is in reality a planned attack of economic terrorism on the United States government and its citizens from members of that very government–an artificially created economic crisis planned as a heavy ax over the President’s head that would force him to give away the ship in order to save hapless federal employees, their families and their communities from the economic havoc that would ensue with a government shutdown or, most especially, with a refusal to increase the federal debt limit. And that attack has been supported by the likes of the Koch Bros (who’ve reaped a fortune from the oil-friendly laws they lobby for so successfully) and groups funded by them and similar interests, like the Tea Party groups, Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Action for America, and the Club for Growth.
On the debt limit (sometimes called the “debt ceiling”), let’s review just what the issue is.
1. Congress has already approved certain spending measures.
2. Congress has already approved the legislation that determines the amount of tax revenues the government is currently bringing in.
3. The mathematical equation that shows the relationship between spending and revenues requires borrowing to make up the difference: Spending MINUS TaxRevenues EQUALS RequiredBorrowing.
4. The idea of a debt ceiling is fundamentally at odds with the enactment of spending and tax measures that determine how much borrowing is required to bring the two into equilibrium. You cannot hold borrowing constant when spending and taxes are already determined, without causing a default. The debt ceiling, that is, is an artificial concept that has no place in modern governmental affairs. Most advanced countries don’t have such a concept. And regretably, having such a concept readily lends itself to economic terrorism such as the Tea Party/GOP coalition is threatening (“bargain with us on our terms, or we’ll unleash a default on the country and all that entails”).
5. A default has dire consequences for any country entering into one–future borrowing becomes more costly or nonexistent and austerity measures that stifle growth and job creation while likely resulting in detrimental and even dangerous infrastructure and programmatic expenditure delays are put into play. People suffer–especially older Americans on Social Security, sick Americans depending on Medicare, and young Americans dependent on various kinds of family assistance programs, not to mention government workers, government contractors and all the corollary businesses that cluster around necessary government expenditures.
6. Thus, since the Tea Party/GOP coalition has taken the position that it is willing to cause a default if it does not get its way, regardless of the consequences, the Tea Party/GOP coalition will be responsible for all of the dire consequences known to follow from national defaults.
Tom Tomorrow’s political cartoon on the Tea Party hostage-taking approach to legislation, entitled “A Political Crisis” and originally posted at Comics and reposted at Daily Kos, hits its target, though perhaps, as one of the commenters on the website suggests, it should more accurately be called “An Existential Crisis.”