nytimes.com — How can so many Republican lawmakers justify pushing their country toward catastrophic default just to score ideological points? The answer can be found in their statements and writings: They are constructing an alternative reality far different from that of most Americans. House members have been encouraged in their destructive daydream by many outside organizations and Web sites. An arm of the Heritage Foundation sent out a letter Tuesday saying the government should live under the current debt ceiling rather than pass the Boehner plan, ignoring the need to raise the ceiling to pay for bills already incurred. Several right-wing bloggers, notably Erick Erickson of RedState, have threatened brimstone on any errant Republican lawmaker who even considers compromise with the president. If the economy does begin to crumble next week, the trail back toward the reason will not be hard to follow.
motherjones.com — Raising the debt ceiling is not equivalent to dispensing a blank check. In fact, Republicans, in Orwellian fashion, are turning black into white. With a blank check, a bearer is free to write (and then spend) any amount he or she places on the note. Thus, a blank check enables future spending. Raising the debt ceiling is about permitting the US government to cover past spending—and the blank checks of the past. These particular blank checks were issued by the Republicans during the Bush years. They voted (with the help of some Democrats) for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq without budgeting for them. They did the same with a Medicare prescription-drug benefit. They also green-lighted President Bush's tax cuts without accounting for the drop in revenue they would cause. Together these blank checks account for two-thirds of the deficit, if not more. (See this chart.) By claiming the debt ceiling is the problem, the Republicans are blaming the bank for the bank robber's action.
To elucidate the mysteries of Washington — in particular, why House Republicans, having compelled the Democrats to craft a Republican-in-all-but-name plan to get a deal on raising the debt ceiling, still don’t want a deal — we turn to the Fable of the Scorpion and the Frog. A scorpion meets a frog on the bank of a stream and asks the frog to carry him across on his back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion answers, “Because if I do, I’ll drown along with you.” So the frog, bowing to the logic of the scorpion’s answer, sets out across the stream with the scorpion on his back. About midstream, the scorpion stings the frog, who is paralyzed and starts to sink — as does the scorpion. “Why?” the dying frog asks. “Because it’s my nature,” the scorpion replies. more »
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robertreich.org — If you think deficit-reduction is being driven by John Boehner or Harry Reid, think again. The biggest driver right now is Standard & Poor’s. All of America’s big credit-rating agencies — Moody’s, Fitch, and Standard & Poor’s — have warned they might cut America’s credit rating if a deal isn’t reached soon to raise the debt ceiling. This isn’t surprising. A borrower that won’t pay its bills is bound to face a lower credit rating. But Standard & Poor’s has gone a step further: It’s warned it might lower the nation’s credit rating even if Democrats and Republicans make a deal to raise the debt ceiling. Standard & Poor’s insists any deal must also contain a credible, bipartisan plan to reduce the nation’s long-term budget deficit by $4 trillion — something neither Harry Reid’s nor John Boehner’s plans do.
krugman.blogs.nytimes.com — Watching our system deal with the debt ceiling crisis — a wholly self-inflicted crisis, which may nonetheless have disastrous consequences — it’s increasingly obvious that what we’re looking at is the destructive influence of a cult that has really poisoned our political system. And no, I don’t mean the fanaticism of the right. Well, OK, that too. But my feeling about those people is that they are what they are; you might as well denounce wolves for being carnivores. Crazy is what they do and what they are. No, the cult that I see as reflecting a true moral failure is the cult of balance, of centrism.
huffingtonpost.com — House Speaker John Boehner should be ashamed of his deceitful speech Monday night. He didn't tell the truth. After introducing himself as the speaker of "the whole House," Boehner spoke as a political partisan and not a practical problem solver. Boehner is a hostage of the Tea Party fanatics in his caucus and the Republicans' obsession with protecting tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans and corporations, like hedge fund managers, corporate jet owners, oil companies and other special interests.
washingtonmonthly.com — About three months ago, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reached out to financial industry leaders, asking how much time he has to screw around with the debt ceiling before doing serious, lasting damage to the economy. He was told that "even pushing close to the deadline -- or talking about it -- could have grave consequences in the marketplace," and top Wall Street executives and lobbyists quickly urged Republicans to steer clear of such reckless nonsense. That was in April. Boehner and his caucus ignored the warnings, and next week, the United States, by Republican design, is expected to exhaust its ability to pay its bills. we may well reach a point at which Wall Street come off the sidelines to tell Republicans, especially in the House, that the game is up.
dailykos.com — Among the many things that has been proposed as a modest way to raise revenue rather than, you know, flushing the entire U.S. economy down the toilet just for the hell of it is modifying the depreciation schedule for corporate aircraft. For some reason this turned out to be a gigantic deal, and was painted by everyone from House leadership to the corporate-jet-owning Rush Limbaugh as an apocalyptic proposal that would doom us all. It makes sense, when you think about it: companies that let their executives jet around the country on private planes for no reason in particular are ones that, by definition, tend to blow a lot of shareholder money on executive perks. Why do we reward bad behavior? Because those same bad actors give a lot of corporate money to the GOP in order to have that behavior defended.
washingtonpost.com — Hours before the negotiations on the debt limit between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner collapsed, political reporters received a missive from Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign that served as a reminder of how irrelevant this kerfuffle might feel next year. The headline read, “Romney for President Launches New Web Video: Obama Isn’t Working: Where are the Jobs?” While the president was snared in a trap set by the Republicans over the debt ceiling, Romney was out there campaigning on the electorate’s animating issue. It’s a nice division of labor for the GOP. Obama is caught up in the Tea Party’s priorities. Romney isn’t. It’s upside-down politics.
robertreich.org — We now live in parallel universes. One universe is the one in which most Americans live. In it, almost 15 million people are unemployed, wages are declining (adjusted for inflation), and home values are still falling. The unsurprising result is consumers aren’t buying — which is causing employers to slow down their hiring and in many cases lay off more of their workers. In this universe, we’re locked in a vicious economic cycle that’s getting worse. The other universe is the one in which Washington politicians live. They are now engaged in a bitter partisan battle over how, and by how much, to reduce the federal budget deficit in order to buy enough votes to lift the debt ceiling. The two universes have nothing whatever to do with one another — except for one thing.