Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 1 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend (1 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   2 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

American Hustle: The debt ceiling version

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Well Said 2   Must Read 1   News 1  
View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H3 2/13/14

Become a Fan
  (111 fans)
- Advertisement -

Source: RT

Speaker of the House U.S. Rep. John Boehner (2ndL) leaves from the Capitol building with his security detail on February 11, 2014 in Washington, DC.
(image by (AFP Photo / T.J. Kirkpatrick))

If only the US Congress was half as entertaining as American Hustle, the movie.

Well, for starters, Republican House Speaker John Boehner is no Christian Bale. Not to mention Jeremy Renner. But a hustler he is.

Hardly anybody outside of the US remembers that Boehner started peddling his trademark hustle no less than three years ago. It was an extortion spectacular that could have been devised by the Mob. Boehner threatened to bring the United States of America to default if the Obama administration did not submit to some heavy-duty spending cuts. As in, "Gimme what I want, otherwise I'll burn the house down."

Now it seems the hustle -- like in the movie -- has run its course (and not because Boehner was "intercepted" by the FBI). Mr. Speaker in fact intercepted himself, and brought a clean debt-limit bill to the US Congress.

The bill passed, basically because of Democratic votes (199 Republicans voted against Boehner). Even though he had warned them in advance, as in, "We're not going to make ourselves the story," Republicans went ballistic. And predictably, US corporate media went bonkers with "surrender" (as applied to Boehner) and "victory" (as applied to President Obama), as if this was the snowboard halfpipe final at Sochi (which American Shaun White lost to Russian-born Iouri "iPod" Podladtchikov).

Now, also predictably, the Mob -- as in rabid right-wingers grouped in outfits such as The Senate Conservatives Fund (SNC), Tea Party Patriots and Freedomworks -- wants, what else, Boehner's head. He committed an unpardonable sin: he "sold out" on small government and would not "stop the massive spending and debt that are destroying our country," according to the SNC.

- Advertisement -

Follow the money

He may have the charisma of a leftover salad in the fridge, but Boehner is a well-informed hustler. He changed his game plan for two simple reasons.

#1 (and the most important): to appease serious Wall Street money, which abhors political turmoil.

#2 is murkier. Boehner calculated that by extension he would be appeasing the Republican Party brand, which serves the Masters of the Universe very special interests, but has been hijacked by Tea Party-style fanatics. The problem, though, remains; even party leaders like Paul Ryan and Cathy McMorris Rodgers -- who delivered the terminally boring Republican rebuttal to Obama's State of the Union address -- supported the insurgents.

U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) walks from a Republican caucus meeting to the Senate floor for a vote on whether to raise the debt ceiling, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington February 12, 2014.
(image by (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst))

In a nutshell, the hustle was bad for business. One just needs to check what Moody's Investors Service managing director and chief credit officer, Anne Van Praagh, had to say about it:  "A further lack of consensus would have potential negative consequences for the market and the economy."
- Advertisement -

And the serious money, of course, was fully briefed. Those heavy-duty investors were keenly observing how US Treasury bill rates were increasing in February. The message: the US Congress would not be foolish enough to fail to raise the US borrowing limit on time, and keep those humongous $17 trillion-plus in debt growing and growing.

Although, as foolishness goes, with a US Congress popular approval rate of less than 10 percent, one could never tell. Still, there's no guarantee that the hustle won't be back. After all, the Republican Party today is widely regarded by progressives across the US, and even enlightened conservatives, as the Party of "No."

No to anything Obama wants or does, especially Obamacare. No to immigration reform. No to a national security strategy that makes a modicum of sense. No to all minorities, not to mention an absolutely crucial majority: women (as in rape is "legitimate"). This is essentially Angry Old Male territory. No wonder they're doomed. They know they're doomed. Yet they simply can't stop looking back in anger at everything.

Still, with luck, the inevitable humongous funds, hardcore media manipulation and systematic peddling of lies, they have a chance of grabbing a Senate majority in the November mid-term elections. It's easy to forget that despite the calibrated swagger, this is a lame-duck Obama administration.

The Obama administration can always mollify the Republican insurgents; for instance, by keeping the Pentagon budget apart from the budget sequester, just to let it grow and grow by the fiscal year 2016, when the Hillarator (Hillary Clinton) is bound to star in the second coming of Athena, now bent on capturing the White House.

Make no mistake; the show -- and the hustle -- will go on. And it ain't over till the Angry White Males sing. Bored? Well, there's always American Hustle on DVD, and Season 2 of House of Cards on NetFlix.


Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His regular column, "The Roving Eye," is widely read. He is an analyst for the online news channel Real News, the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and (more...)

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Why Putin is driving Washington nuts

All aboard the New Silk Road(s)

It was Putin's missile?

Where is Prince Bandar?

Why Qatar wants to invade Syria

The IMF goes to war in Ukraine


The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
1 people are discussing this page, with 2 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

The federal Budget limit is an illusion It doesn'... by Peter Palms on Friday, Feb 14, 2014 at 5:01:50 PM
Thre is no Debt ceiling. The Fed may monetize any ... by Peter Palms on Friday, Feb 14, 2014 at 7:08:45 PM