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Monday, October 7, 2013

A Debt-Ceiling Thought Experiment

Posted by on Mon, Oct 7, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Let's say North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un demonstrated the ability to launch a devastating cyberattack that could bring global financial markets to their knees, while forever destroying the US government's credit rating. And now let's say for some deranged reason, he threatened to launch this attack unless President Obama agreed to defund Obamacare.

How do you think President Obama would respond?

And no, that's not such a ridiculous analogy. House Speaker John Boehner and the Tea Party wing he's shilling for are threatening to rain economic ruin on our nation unless President Obama accedes to their demands. Demands that actually have nothing to do with budget negotiations.

It can't be repeated often enough that when it comes to the actual budget in the actual budget bill that Speaker Boehner refuses to even bring to the floor for an up-or-down vote, the Republicans have already won. Remember, "sequestration" was supposed to be the fiscal cliff that would force the two parties to come to terms on a bipartisan budget deal. It didn't. And the "clean" continuing resolution House Republicans now refuse to pass actually funds the federal government below sequestration levels. This is an austerity budget. You know, a Tea Party dream come true.

And now that they got everything they want, they're demanding that President Obama kill Obamacare, or else!

So how do you think President Obama will respond?


Comments (36) RSS

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Allyn 1
Arrest house republicans for treason? And any citizen who voted for a TP candidate?
(oh please oh please oh please)
Posted by Allyn on October 7, 2013 at 12:40 PM · Report this
Excellent point. I never thought of it that way.

2014, Goldy. I know they didn't get their comeuppance last time, but maybe if they get smacked this next time then it'll really sink that their political philosophy is falling further out of the mainstream.
Posted by floater on October 7, 2013 at 12:46 PM · Report this
President Obama needs to hang tough and refuse to negotiate. There will be no defunding of the ACA. If the Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling, pin the resulting economic meltdown on them. You cannot negotiate with economic terrorists.
Posted by Patricia Kayden on October 7, 2013 at 12:49 PM · Report this
pfffter 4
Could the executive branch ever bring suit against the legislative branch?
Posted by pfffter on October 7, 2013 at 12:52 PM · Report this
#gopterrorists or #goptreason. I don't hashtag, but i'd be willing to start with these
Posted by diggum on October 7, 2013 at 12:55 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 6
he'll come up with some way for the GOP leadership to save face and claim victory, like suspend ACA tax penalties this year, and the austerity budget will pass. because he really believes that bipartisan BS he's been on about for 5 years now. too bad the GOP doesn't.
Posted by Max Solomon on October 7, 2013 at 1:04 PM · Report this
Well how has Obama responded so far? Is there a response? No. All he can do is hang in there and hope Boehner grows a pair and calls a vote. Do you want someone to say "he needs to put pressure on them by talking tough"? Because that doesn't really work with these people. LBJ couldn't "work" with these people. They already made up their minds. That means there are two options: delay the ACA (which really means killing it) or hope that the Republicans are scared enough of the political fallout from a long government shutdown and default to do their fucking jobs. There is no Hollywood ending here where Obama makes this brilliant speech and opposition collapses. If you want to have a say in this, organize a DC protest. Do something to rally popular opposition to the GOP. Don't expect Obama to reason with these dicks.
Posted by Jizzlobber on October 7, 2013 at 1:05 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 8
Obama will buckle. He always does and they know it. Damn shame.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on October 7, 2013 at 1:07 PM · Report this
Obama has finally realized that he can't work with irrational people, and will stick to his guns, esp. since he doesn't have to worry about re-election. This could be his legacy.
Posted by NotYourStrawMan on October 7, 2013 at 1:10 PM · Report this
The shutdown is a Tea Party win all by itself. Half the Republican Presidential candidates last cycle wanted to shut down multiple government departments. (But miraculously, the Pentagon is still chugging along at full speed.)

However, it's not treason, it's Congress, which has the power of the purse specifically so that they can withhold funds from other branches. This is exactly the kind of deadlock the Founding Fathers baked into the system.

As to the question "What will Obama do?" the answer is "Nothing, as per usual."
Posted by unpaid reader on October 7, 2013 at 1:10 PM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 11
@Everyone: Unregistered @7 notes that protests in DC would be a huge show of support for Obama. Satellite protests on the west coast, a la Occupy would also help.

So where are they?
Posted by Dr_Awesome on October 7, 2013 at 1:13 PM · Report this
10: Separation of powers was not designed so a minority within the house can hold up budget talks over unrelated legislation, and shut down the government if they don't get what they want. If the founders baked this into the system they must have wanted to see their experiment fail.
Posted by Jizzlobber on October 7, 2013 at 1:14 PM · Report this
10: More to the point, the founders certainly didn't think that legislation that passed in all three branches of government and was upheld by the Supreme Court should be gutted in this fashion. There's a reason why there is a repeal process. Again, unless they wanted their own system to break they did no cook this into the system, at least not intentionally. There is only one method for making a bill law, and there is one method for undoing it. And this isn't it. This may not be treason, but it is douchey to the extreme and the kind of act that will kill this country in the long tun.
Posted by Jizzlobber on October 7, 2013 at 1:19 PM · Report this
chaseacross 14
It's hardly surprising the GOP has finally committed to supervillainy as its modus operandi. I wouldn't bat an eye if a GOP representative started yelling "COOOOOBRAAAAA" on C-SPAN.…
Posted by chaseacross on October 7, 2013 at 1:22 PM · Report this
Frank Blethen's vodka distiller 15
Obama can't run for re-election per the Constitution. He personally has nothing to lose by standing firm.
Posted by Frank Blethen's vodka distiller on October 7, 2013 at 1:23 PM · Report this
unknown_entity 16
The power of the purse was intended as a check on executive power along the lines of "POTUS may be commander and chief but we will not pay to send troops into a foreign war." This is more along the lines of "we refuse to wait until the next elections and we will destroy the country we do not get our way."
Posted by unknown_entity on October 7, 2013 at 1:35 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 17
@ 11, Obama has been written off as GOP Lite by the Occupy movement and most on the hard left - that is, the people who could get a big protest like that off the ground. Their refusal to differentiate between Obama and the GOP is likely working to the GOP's advantage here.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 7, 2013 at 1:36 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 18
Fortunately, Goldy, your thought experiment may not be necessary. Some teabaggy congress reps are saying that they'd back a spending bill that doesn't center on Obamacare.

“We’ve tried a lot of things and used just about every arrow in our quiver against Obamacare,” [Rep. Doug] Lamborn [R-CO], 59, said yesterday. “It has not been successful, so I think we do have to move on to the larger issues of the debt ceiling and the overall budget.”

Lamborn said he would back a debt-limit increase if the agreement included an equal amount of spending cuts. He said he’s also seeking a deal that includes instructions for major tax-code revisions.

“I recognize the writing on the wall,” he said.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 7, 2013 at 1:44 PM · Report this
@12, @13 FTW.

@7, I think Goldy is hoping someone will authorize use of deadly force against the Tea Party so he doesn't have to say it (or repeat his predator drone train of thought) and risk a visit from the Secret Service (do they defend Congress? Sounds like a Googling is in order).

It does seem like the tea party is seizing power, but not through extra-legal means, so I'm not sure Goldy's implied threats of violence would be justifiable in response; but if it feels like the tea party has declared war against the rest of the country, I can't say for certain that they haven't.
Posted by Centrists Rule the World today on October 7, 2013 at 1:47 PM · Report this
The nation doesn't have to default, and Obama can play extortion games, too.

When we hit the debt ceiling (which we really already have, except Treasury is juggling the books furiously to keep things afloat), we'll still have enough to service the debt from incoming taxes. Well, we will if we suspend almost all other government functions. Which we should. Nothing could be worse for the future of this country than a default. (Can you imagine our budget if the interest rate on $17 Trillion of debt were to suddenly triple?)

Close the airports, ports, borders, all government buildings and offices, turn off the lights and phones, order military personnel back to base to await demobilization orders. Just keep open the Treasury, White House, Capitol Building and Supreme Court and our federal civil law enforcement agencies, including IRS, FBI and ATF. Bring the Coast Guard into port.

No payments could be processed, all contracts halted. No ag payments, no oil lease renewals, nothing. All because we ran out of money.

The Republicans have been preaching "kitchen-table economics" for five years to the stupids to sow the seeds of the Norquistian revolution. This should be what they reap, when the stupids realize that the Republicans cut off the funds to run our country.

If we survive this mess, things will change, hopefully for the better.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on October 7, 2013 at 1:48 PM · Report this
@19: No the Secret Service does not protect congress, nor is saying the president should authorize military action remotely the same as saying you wish personally kill some person, for example a person could say that they wish Ariel Castro had gotten the death penalty is very different than saying that I wish to murder Ariel Castro.

See how that works?
Posted by Merchant Seaman on October 7, 2013 at 2:12 PM · Report this
Obama could do several things to avoid the catastrophe... He could invoke the 14th amendment and unilaterally raise the debt ceiling. He could mint the 5 trillion dollar coin. He is not without options. I expect though that commenter #6 is right, Obama will find some way of helping the republicans save face. My bet is that behind the scenes he and other Dem leaders are pushing hard for the repubs to pass a clean CR and debt ceiling increase, and in return Obama and the Dem leadership are promising they will lobby hard for 'reforms' to the social safety nets and to programs like medicare/medicaid, and Social Security. That is why they keep assuring repubs in public that they're willing to 'negotiate' with them once a CR is passed and debt ceiling is increased. So working Americans will get another dose of 'austerity' with reduced medicare/medicaid/social security benefits, corporations and the well-to-do will still not pay their fair share in taxes even as they reap the lion share of public benefits, and at worse the republicans will have to eat a little bit of humble pie, even as they (and Wall Street) keep piling up the wins.
Posted by screed on October 7, 2013 at 2:12 PM · Report this
The Republican party is the party of the rich and the ignorant. We've all known this forever.

The Democrats don't need to do anything. Once the super-rich are affected, watch what happens to the Tea Party sycophants in congress ...

This isn't the Democrats problem, it's theirs. Never interrupt your opponent when they're fucking it up.

This will sort itself out, without any typical pantywaist Democratic hand-wringing or naval-gazing.

We have a full house against a 7-2 off-suit. Let their rich eat their stupid and move on.
Posted by CPN on October 7, 2013 at 2:26 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 24
Obama has been about "reforming" entitlement programs since before his first inauguration. This will end and when it does social security and medicare will have been cut. And just like Clinton and welfare reform Obama will finally have his reach across the aisle moment and fuck over the working class and the poor.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on October 7, 2013 at 2:29 PM · Report this
pfffter 25
@23 "Let their rich eat their stupid!" Comment of the day!!!!
Posted by pfffter on October 7, 2013 at 2:33 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 26
@ 24, really now. Which Democrats are voting for that?
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 7, 2013 at 3:00 PM · Report this
I'm thinking Obama let congress off the hook by letting the military quietly go back to work. If so, he would have been better off letting congress duke it out and cave like they just did with back pay for the rest of gov. employees.

Not saying he'll cave and once again leaving his opponents knowing they can do this trick again and again and again... but past and possibly current indicators blah, blah, blah.
Posted by Large Hardon Colluder on October 7, 2013 at 3:00 PM · Report this
Oh, and like the analogy, but think using North Korea is a bit too inflammatory. I will be stealing this, with the edit as noted. Thanks in advance.
Posted by Large Hardon Colluder on October 7, 2013 at 3:03 PM · Report this
#24 small point...

Social Security and Medicare are NOT entitlement programs. (I'm not sure about medicaid). Social Security is a pension program, and medicare is an insurance program. Every time you earn a paycheck, you pay Social Security and Medicare premiums. Entitlement programs are like food stamps, or Head Start - you are 'entitled' to them if you meet certain requirements, like income, need, etc.

Right wingers like to lump Social Security, Medicare, etc. with other entitlement welfare programs as a way to cheapen and discredit them. It is a misrepresentation of how these programs function and how they are funded. Unfortunately, more often than not reporters also call them entitlement programs, because many reporters are lazy and/or ignorant. In so doing the mainstream media often helps the right wing noise machine in its effort to portray these programs as just another government handout.
Posted by screed on October 7, 2013 at 3:06 PM · Report this
ballard dude 30
@ 23 'let the rich eat their stupid' comment of the day. well spoken good sir or madam.
Posted by ballard dude on October 7, 2013 at 4:35 PM · Report this
poor Goldy is getting delusional at the prospect of the "next-generation-robbibg-gravy-train" drying up.

fuck you.
Posted by with a rusty nail on October 7, 2013 at 5:56 PM · Report this
@31: it's not really robbing for him, because he's paid already, the generation before him was the one doing the robbing. The gravy train is over, he's put in his share, he just wants to make sure he gets back what he put in.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on October 7, 2013 at 6:15 PM · Report this
delirian 33
Earth to Goldy! Earth to Goldy! Come back from Planet Hyperbole! And please stop calling people retards and saying that we should bomb Congress!
Posted by delirian on October 7, 2013 at 7:36 PM · Report this
mr. herriman 34
i hate to say it, but i think he's gonna fold.
Posted by mr. herriman on October 8, 2013 at 1:15 AM · Report this
#24: Can you ever stop yourself from trying to predict the future. Maybe you should wait until he actually does that.
Posted by Jizzlobber on October 8, 2013 at 8:48 AM · Report this
Goldy 36
@33 When did you stop beating your wife?
Posted by Goldy on October 8, 2013 at 9:49 AM · Report this

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