Shutdown and Default: Let Their Will be Done!

NEW SLAUGHTERI gave some thought to whipping up a super-clever comparison of Walter White, “Breaking Bad’s” abused-ego-driven meth king and Ted Cruz, he of the guffaw-inducing narcissism and putative leader of the Republican nihilist caucus. But the concept fell apart so damned fast.

Walter White, trail of bodies, ruined lives and psychic mayhem aside, was at least intelligent enough to remain respectful of science, the inflexible boundaries of hard mathematics and in the end … the very end … even managed to achieve the self-realization that he did it all “for me”. Because he was good at it and it made him feel “alive”.

Ted Cruz, by comparison, doesn’t appear to have respect for anything, other than himself, while still posing as a guy who like the early-Heisenberg, believes himself immune to the consequences of his nefarious actions.

So that idea crashed and burned. And was replaced by the less elegant and more blunt declaration, “Shut it down!”.

A government shutdown and a national default, resulting in actual citizens inconvenienced and millions of dollars a day flagrantly wasted, is the best thing that can happen given the current predicament. Both appeal to the Tea Party apocalyptics who regard destruction of the anti-christ (i.e. anything touched by the hand of a Democrat, including national elections), as divine will. Which is why other contenders to the court of GOP brainiacs — Michele Bachmann, Steve King, etc. — are so unabashedly delighted. Finally, the illegitimate majority will be brought low!

While consensus thinking says the GOP will take the bigger beating for these completely unnecessary (and utterly misbegotten) crises, Cruz and his fellow apocalyptics truly do have a cloak of immunity wrapped around them, personally. Cruz won’t run for reelection for another five years (during which time he will be an electro-magnet for chump cash from the country’s aged, white and angry), and the 70-80 Tea Party congress-warriors live in tightly gerrymandered districts that vigorously exclude anyone remotely moderate from serious consideration. (That recently revealed $250 million Koch brothers slush fund keeps enforcement pretty tight .)

So, bring it on. Every revolution has a decisive battle, and I’ll argue that the past half-dozen years have been a study in deferred conflict and appeasement (to use a Cruz-ism.)

A meltdown, preferably now over a shutdown, as opposed to three weeks from now over a national default, is a critical, unavoidable test of whether there is any level of mayhem that will stigmatize the apocalyptics badly enough to neuter them as a viable force. Put another way, a shutdown, with the entire Republican brand swabbed through the sewer (yet again), may — may — be the only way for the party’s ruling money forces to step in and slap down the rabble slashing the party tires. But I doubt a shutdown alone delivers the level of supreme wrath required to put an end to this stuff.

I give you a statement out today from Goldman Sachs, always the true embodiment of the governing ethos:

“It would be a mistake to interpret a shutdown as implying a greater risk of a debt limit crisis, in our view. It would not be surprising to see a more negative market reaction to a shutdown than would be warranted by the modest macroeconomic effect it would have. We suspect that many market participants would interpret a shutdown as implying a greater risk of problems in raising the debt limit. This is not unreasonable, but we would see it differently. If a shutdown is avoided, it is likely to be because congressional Republicans have opted to wait and push for policy concessions on the debt limit instead. By contrast, if a shutdown occurs, we would be surprised if congressional Republicans would want to risk another difficult situation only a couple of weeks later. The upshot is that while a shutdown would be unnecessarily disruptive, it might actually ease passage of a debt limit increase.”

I’d call that wishful thinking; that the Republican anarchists will be so chastised by reaction to a shutdown that they’ll dial back their rage at “Obama’s blank check” and forgo a debt limit fight. I see no way that happens.

What “adults” like Goldman Sachs — who are probably “shorting” the entire economy as we speak — are going to have to confront is that the self-serving Cruz, Bachmann crowd regards restraint as a form of satanic complicity. Their viability as cash-magnets decreases in direct proportion with the whiff of slackening of resistance to figures deemed illegitimate by the base, (and the base’s financial minders). If Goldman Sachs wants Cruz reduced to pink slime, they’re going to have to go directly to Cruz’s paymasters, and they’re not going to do that until Goldman Sachs quarterly earnings take a hit.

Financial Armageddon: It’s what the apocalyptics want for lunch.  And since we’re going to have to go through some kind of apocalypse to have chance of sterilizing that crowd, we might as well do it now.

16 thoughts on “Shutdown and Default: Let Their Will be Done!

  1. bertram jr. says:

    Well, Bri, I can tell ya that the bidness folks with the money ain’t spending it.

    And the consumers are broke. So they ain’t spending it either.

    So where’s that hope and change from King Barry – the Nobel Peace Prize winner? IRS scandal, Syrian debacle, etc.

    He’s a real charmer, that fella. Denies his white Kansas heritage, too.


  2. bertram jr. says:

    Look, the average Joe keeps his Camry for 4-5 years – things tanked in 2008 – do the math. Used car values are at all time highs because people are holding on longer – so new cars are a relative bargain.

    Are you saying Barry is a success because a few Accords are moving?

  3. PM says:

    I heard one commentator saying that we are at the necessary “hot stove” moment, where certain members of the GOP need to learn that touching a hot stove leads to burnt hands.

    Frankly, i am not certain that they are smart enough for that to work. what i am wondering, instead, is if there is going to be a splintering of the GOP, with the Tea Party caucus (a minority of the Congressional GOP) breaking off into its own anarchical world. Of course, Boehner would still lose his job, so he is going to want to do everything he can to avoid this. But if Boehner does end up passing the Continuing Resolution with support from Democrats, and the debt ceiling extension in a similar fashion, I can’t imagine him as Speaker of the House.

    So, then, who would become the next Speaker? And would the conservatives be willing enough to compromise with the realists (people like: ) as opposed to the realists and the democrats getting together?

    Is there another Republican House member who can do a better job than Boehner? I don’t think Cantor is up to it, myself….

  4. There are so many absurd things about the current situation, but I think this is the most absurd: Liberals are having to beg to save a conservative developed, supported and pioneered idea! We preferred Medicare for All, not Romneycare.

    As conservative Mitt Romney put it ““we got the idea of an individual mandate…from [Newt Gingrich], and [Newt] got it from the Heritage Foundation.”

  5. PM says:

    Here is a sane conservative’s thoughts on the situation:

    I agree that there could be a deal on the occasion of a debt limit increase/continuing resolution, but it needs to be a bipartisan deal–in other words, the GOP needs to offer a substantially equivalent concession to whatever it is that they want. The point is that the quid pro quo for the Democrats can not be funding the government or preventing a default.

    And, frankly, I simply can’t imagine what a substantially equivalent concession for getting rid of the ACA might be. Maybe an agreement to impeach Scalia and Thomas and allow Obama to appoint their replacements?

    1. PM, Obama couldn’t even do a deal that said Obama would defund the ACA if the Republicans all resigned en masse and agreed to let Democrats run unopposed in their districts. As tempting as that would be to him, he could never do any deal like that…or any deal.

      First, abandoning 48 million uninsured Americans and the rest of us impacted by them would be immoral.

      But even if Obama were inclined to be immoral, it would be about the most anti-democratic thing I could imagine. After all, negotiating over hostages would legitimize hostage-taking and lead to more hostage-taking, thus effectively killing our majority-rule representaitve democracy for a hostagocracy. rule of the most wreckless hostage takers.

      Republicans said filibuster reform was the “nuclear option” when Harry Reid was mulling that over, but what they are doing right now is the real nuclear option. This is like the democratic version of the Cuban missile crisis.

      1. PM says:


        i generally agree with you–as usual, jonathan Chait puts it very well here:

        My point was that in the past, the debt ceiling was seen as “must pass” legislation by all sides, so it frequently became an opportunity for compromises and bargains between the opponents–something that they would attach their favorite bills to in order to get them passed.

        What we are seeing the GOP house try to do is fundamentally different–they are saying we will only pass this if you give us what we want. Not a compromise at all.

        I was suggesting that we try to go back to the old way–come up with a compromise where both parties get some of what they want (and give in on something that they do not want), and use the occasion of a debt ceiling/continuing resolution to pass it all.

        But as i said, i can’t imagine what a substantially equivalent concession for getting rid of the ACA might be. Going back in time and certifying Gore as the winner in Florida in 2000?

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