Monday Morning I was watching Jansing and Company, the MSNBC program hosted by Chris Jansing. The lead-in to “J&Co” of course is The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd and before that the ever-popular Morning Joe, co-hosted by former Florida Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough and his popular cohort, Mika Brzezinski.
Let me assure any reader that might get the impression otherwise, I do not make a habit of waking up in time to watch any of these programs as they are all much too early for my usual constitution. Morning Joe begins at 3 a.m. and runs until 6 a.m. here on the Left Coast. Sometimes if I fall asleep early enough I might wake to the second half of the program. But if I am asleep that early in the evening it means I’ve missed The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, which air at 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., respectively out here.
Until Boardwalk Empire and Newsroom (check out the video of the debt ceiling debate below) start their next seasons, the Comedy Central programs are my only two “must see” programs. I try not to miss either although I’ve received phone calls that late and have found a need to stay awake for the 1 a.m. re-airing of Stewart and Colbert, which means I’ll fall asleep during one or the other. I really need to get DVR once again.
So Monday Morning, having fallen asleep early the night before, I was awake enough to catch the last hour of Morning Joe and then the subsequent programming, The Daily Rundown and Jansing and Company.
It wasn’t until the latter came on that I was fully awake and comprehending the world about me, which included MSNBC on the TV.
One of Jansing’s guests was Tennessee Congresswoman, Republican Marsha Blackburn. The topic was the debt ceiling and what made this an important interview to pay attention to was that Blackburn was advocating letting the government default on it’s debts. Blackburn of course said it in that equivocal way politicians like to speak, when they want a way to weasel out of having to admit they took a stand on something. But Blackburn did say she and her fellow House Republicans were willing to default on America’s debt to get what they want.
Back when Marsha Blackburn was first elected to Congress in 2002 it looked like she would be a moderate voice from the GOP. But then the party started careening to the right and Blackburn went right along with the stampede. She was one of those who tried to push the idea that “Obamacare” has “death panels.”
So here was this once promising Congresswoman talking crazy as if she’d never been in Congress before and had no idea of what the consequences would be if the government defaulted on its debt. Things like Treasury Bonds collapsing which means those “T Bonds,” once thought to be the safest investment one could purchase, would lose their value. As a consequence of that interest rates on all loans, from mortgages to car loans, would skyrocket. A consequence of higher interest rates would be the loss of jobs. Conservative estimates of the jobs that would potentially be lost are 650,000. For reference, we’ve been adding about 150,000-200,000 jobs per month in the past three years.
Another immediate consequence would be on the stock market. It would tank and probably cause a double dip recession. And this would affect all world markets; this much is very true: the United States is the center of the financial world. In fact we’ve even supplanted Paris, France as the center of the fashion world. Well, New York City has, but it’s still in the United States. With global warming and the rising oceans that will eventually change.
The federal government would immediately layoff or furlough workers, tens of thousands of them who would then be eligible for unemployment. That would add another financial burden on the federal budget, not to mention it would close all national parks and several agencies, like the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Transportation Board. Oh, and all the agencies that have all ready over burdened inspectors making sure the food, water and other beverages are safe for us to consume.
We know this is all true because most of it happened in the summer of 2011 when the Teabaggers forced Congress to take the nation to the brink of collapse. Even though the President and Speaker of the House forged an agreement in the 11th hour, the credit rating of the U.S. was downgraded for the first time in history and the stock market had its most volatile week since the 2008 recession.
Now, you’d think there would be some sane and sensible Republicans who know about these things and would say, “Whoa! This is a bad idea!”
Senators who’ve been around the block a few times while in office; people like Senators Mitch McConnell, John McCain and Tom Coburn. Actually the choice is “D”: none of the above. In 2011 no Republicans in Congress stood on the right side of the issue, all of them choosing to push the U.S. to the brink of financial calamity.
On Tuesday Coburn actually said crashing the economy by not raising the debt ceiling would be a “wonderful experiment.” Are you effin’ crazy senator?
But there is one Republican who broke with her party’s disastrous tactic: Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. In an interview with the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Murkowski said, “If you incur an obligation, you have a responsibility to pay for that.”
Murkowski said spending cuts are crucial but shouldn’t be tied to the debt ceiling debate and that it shouldn’t be used for political leverage.
That was on Tuesday. On Wednesday Murkowski got a little company from her fellow Republican, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who echoed Senator Murkowski, “The U.S. cannot default on its obligations to pay for spending that has already occurred.”
Neither Collins or Murkowski are pals with the president nor do they have a storied history of breaking ranks with their party, so having them break ranks with the GOP Senate caucus is a big deal. According to both there are other Republicans in the Senate who feel the same way but don’t want to say it publicly. There’s this thing that happens when Republican senators and House representatives come up for re-election: they get “primaried.”
What that means is the radical fringe of the GOP picks a wacky conservative to run against the incumbent. Then that wacky conservative wins the primary, and goes on to the general election when he or she loses to the Democrat because most Americans will not vote for a lunatic. Usually. There are exceptions. Let’s not forget South Carolina voted for former Senator Jim DeMint who is now looking forward to working with Glenn Beck and Oklahoma voted for Senator Jim Inhofe, the nation’s leading global warming denier.
Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski breaking with their party is a big deal. The strength of the GOP’s ability to be the party of obstruction has been their discipline to be in lockstep on the issues. It’s an indication the GOP’s resolve to hold the country’s (and the world’s) economy hostage is beginning to crumble. Cooler heads are prevailing.
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post put it best: “Reality seems to be enjoying a sudden burst of momentum this afternoon, as more Republicans and Conservatives are coming out and acknowledging the debt ceiling will have to be raised.” That’s funny! Reality appears to be back in vogue with at least some on the Right. Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, Alan Simpson; all three and several others have told the GOP to raise the debt ceiling cleanly.
The House of Representatives is a whole different can of worms. There you can have row upon row of crazy, fringe representatives because they get elected locally in their own districts and there just might be enough voters in a congressman’s district who are just crazy enough to agree with a crazy congressman or woman. “Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) represents my views …” O Dear …
- Representative Joe Barton is the Republican House member who apologized to British Petroleum when the U.S. government held hearings on the BP oil spill in 2010 and held the oil company responsible for its actions.
Speaker John Boehner probably wants to raise the debt ceiling cleanly, but he can’t even voice it without incurring the wrath of his GOP House caucus. So once again Boehner and House Republicans will have to be coerced into doing the right thing by their colleagues in the Senate, ensuring this will be an ugly fight for at least a couple more weeks.
On Monday, in the last press conference of his first term, President Obama said, “The full faith and credit of the United States is not a bargaining chip.”
And then he went on to explain, in what can only be described as 9th grade civics class terms, why the U.S. government had to raise the debt ceiling. He laid out in detail what had been laid out for him when he voted “No” on raising the debt ceiling in 2007. It would crash the stock market, thereby crashing the U.S. and world economies, it would cause interest rates to skyrocket and hundreds of thousands of people in this country would lose their jobs.
So on Tuesday the GOP resolve to crash the system began to waver. By the time this is published there will more Congressional Republicans that break ranks and take the position of Murkowski and Collins, giving reality a bigger foothold in the GOP caucus.
Who knows, maybe they’ll even decide to pass global warming legislation and the president’s gun control proposals … wait, I’m getting off into fantasyland.
And finally a shoutout to the website, NewsMax, where I read some of this information. They are the true leaders in Republican disinformation and conspiracy theories, not FoxNews.
Hey, ya gotta give credit where credit is due. You won’t see me failing to raise my credit ceiling.
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality.