The First Flames

The number one mission of the 118th Republican House Caucus is to make Joe Biden and the Democrats look bad. They really don’t care about what they will perceive as collateral damage. That includes the American and global economies. Harsh assessment? Yes. Brutally accurate? You bet!

Last week Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testified that America would hit its debt ceiling on Thursday January 19th. The House Republicans plan to use that as a blackmail instrument.

I’m not going to get very deep into the debt ceiling itself today. Only two democracies even have one – the other is Denmark and they never use it as a political ploy. (Poland, which should hardly be our economic model, has something somewhat similar in a provision in its constitution that ties debt to GDP.) Basically, the debt ceiling limits the debt (read: bonds) the Treasury Department can issue to pay for previously congressionally approved spending.

Barring congressional action – which doesn’t appear to be rapidly forthcoming – the federal government will have to begin picking and choosing which bills it will pay promptly in order to stay solvent before the end of the week. (Reporting is that the House Republicans are working on a plan to determine the short-term winners and losers.) A federal government shutdown is a real possibility and something the House Republicans seem to be embracing. Here is what we have learned from previous government shutdowns: they are never good and end up costing the taxpayers more money in the long run. (Going back to at least the 1990s every government shutdown has been caused by right wing Republicans. When will the electorate recognize this and dispel the myth that Republicans are good for the economy?)

When the Tea Party people (and the current MAGA people, or whatever label they are choosing this week, are basically the same economically ignornant threats to the world economy), threatened to explode the economy and default on our debt the United States’ credit rating dropped for the only time in history. If you pay taxes in America, you are still paying for that.

If there is a federal government shutdown (and I think that possibility is very real) the right and its news media/mythology machine will wrongly blame it on Biden and the Democrats. I just hope that enough of the electorate will see through their lies. Should we default, that will be like an earthquake for the global economy and Americans will be in a much different world.

Today the American dollar is the basic global business currency which is a huge advantage to America, American consumers and American companies. If we default the dollar is extremely likely to lose that status.

If you think inflation and rising interest rates (and I have a plethora of thoughts on both that I will not get into today) are a problem today, the present will seem like nirvana by comparison.

A threat to the economy, a threat to democracy, a threat to the poor, the young, the working class and the middle class; otherwise the House Republican majority isn’t all that bad. These are but the first flames in their effort to burn it all down.

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