Showing signs that the so-called “deal” that caused Wall Street to rally 300 points Oct. 10 began to unravel, House Republicans aren’t happy with the extended fix proposed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). Still not giving up on stopping Obamacare, the GOP’s Tea Party caucus continues to impose its will on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) who essentially told his backers that progress with the White House stalled out. With the Tea Party hijacking the Republican-controlled House, Obama has run out of options heading into Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s Oct. 17 drop-dead date. House and Senate Tea Party zealots like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kt.) and Rep. Steven King (R-Iowa) have called Obama’s bluff, forcing the White House to make concessions or face a credit default. While Obama objects to the strong-arm tactics, there’s little he can do now other than compromise.
Talking tough hasn’t worked for Obama primarily because he’s got nothing to back it up. When Barack opted for diplomacy over war with Syria Aug. 31, Obama’s GOP critics said he emboldened the enemy. What Barack didn’t realize was that his reluctance to take action emboldened the Tea Party to call-the-bluff of what they see as a weak president. Now Barack faces an emboldened Tea Party not hesitating one bit to default the country to get back at the White House. No one talks about the Congressional oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” including backing the U.S. economy. Threatening to default the Treasury puts Tea Party elected officials clearly in breach of their oath. When King admitted publicly he was elected to stop Obamacare, he totally missed his oath to nation, not his narrow constituency that put him in office.
Obama has run out of rabbits to pull out of his hat. White House officials must come to grips with the chokehold placed by the Tea Party on the U.S. government. While some 400,000 federal workers connected to the Defense Department have returned to work, hundreds of thousands more remain out of work. Whatever happens in next year’s midterm elections is not relevant today. Cutting a deal with the GOP is Obama’s only path out of the current nightmare that threatens to default the government. “Sen. Reid and Sen. McConnell are talking to each other for the first time and that’s good,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), referring to dialogue by the Senate majority and minority leaders. Passing the buck to the Senate doesn’t please the House Tea Party, feeling dissed in the process. “I guess they’re talking to the Senate Now,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Kt.).
Hyping the government shutdown since Oct. 1 and now the debt-ceiling crisis, the county is up-to-its-eye-balls with White House and Congress. Ordinary citizens keep slaving away in fear while Congress plays political games with Wall Street and Main Street. Whether Obama or Boehner admit it or not, they’ve both failed to contain the toxic partisanship that has seized Washington. “There is no deal; no negotiations going on,” said Rogers, sending more warnings to Wall Street. Given past history, everyone expects a happy ending to the latest Washington crisis. With Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kt.) running the show, they have apocalyptic visions of what’s good for the country. They’re the same group that urged Bush in 2007-08 to default the auto industry and nation’s biggest banks. Unless there’s a concerted attempt to fight back, the nation’s heading for a fall.
Boehner and his GOP Tea Party friends act completely justified using a government shut down and potential U.S. default as leverage against the White House. Boehner prefers platitudes over factual information, insisting “we can’t pass our debt on to the younger generation.” Since the Revolutionary War, the U.S. has refinanced successive generations of growing debt. Why today the GOP insists that they can no longer live with the national debt is anyone’s guess? GOP officials have been told repeatedly by the Federal Reserve Board that it’s the fraction of the debt to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product that matters. As long as the country keeps thriving and adding jobs, the economy remains solvent. Tea Party plans to default the nation would plunge the economy into recession. Only by paying U.S. debt, stimulating Wall Street and adding jobs can the economy thrive.
Obama has no choice now but to negotiate the best deal he can to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling. Gone are the tough talking days when he told the GOP to shape up or ship out. Boehner must convince the Tea Party that no matter how much they despise Obamacare, it serves no one to default the government. “I don’t like it,” said House Budget Committee Chairman and former GOP VP candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), rejecting calls from moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to reopen the government for six months and extend the debt ceiling until Dec. 31. What Ryan really doesn’t like is that Collins wants to strip the House of power and get things done in the Senate. Still fighting to stop Obamacare, the House can’t see beyond its nose. If cooler heads don’t prevail in the Senate, the nation could face the first financial default in U.S. history.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.