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The Debt Ceiling Kabuki Theater Plays on

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The Worried Dollar by N.A.
The Worried Dollar by N.A.

I just listened closely to the President's speech on CNBC on the continuing shutdown and the fast-approaching debt ceiling. 

He squarely believes the Republicans are holding the country hostage, and they are.  Of course, this doesn't mean he is off the hook, since there are a number of things he can do, not only enumerated in articles like mine, written last January, when we went through this last time, and which cites economists and constitutional scholars, but also more recently the suggestions that he simply ignore the debt ceiling on constitutional grounds (it's maddening, to me at least, that only the 14th Amendment is cited and not also the equally precedent-setting Article 6: "All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation."  Clearly, the founders - most of them big bond holders - intended for the government to pay its debts, always and completely.  It was, argues Woody Holton in "Unruly Americans and the Origins of the constitution" one of the main founding principals, and was passed even before the Bill of Rights!)

The president is in violation of the Constitution NOW, by partially funding some programs and not others, in clear violation of the previous authorizations of Congress.  He has the tools to end the debt crisis but chooses not to use them.  Recently, the inside-the-beltway reporter John Harwood directly sat down with the President and asked him about the option to simply ignore the debt ceiling and Obama waved it off and didn't want to discuss it.  His office has maintained that it won't use that option, but I believe that ultimately, it will.  This will take the Republicans off the hook, and give them grounds to try and impeach him, which the Democratic-led Senate will waste several months, to ultimately defeat.

Of course, this is a horrible way to run the government, but the Tea Party Republicans do not care.  A switch to debt-free money, which ought to have been done long ago, during the credit crisis in 2008-09, is the only way to really end the ever-growing debt crisis, but this seems to be off the radar for the idea-insulated Administration (once Dennis Kucinich left Congress, it wasn't even part of a bill anymore.  Kucinich's HR2990 would have switched ALL money to United States Notes, directly issued by Congress via a Monetary Authority created for that purpose).

There is a faction of Republicans which WANTS to shut down the government.  This, by itself, is a goal, and they have said so repeatedly.  See Rachel Madow explain this here:

No argument about funding the National Institute of Health, or providing food stamps to hungry children, or even keeping the national parks open, will dissuade them.  They are absolutely convinced that most of what government does is either unnecessary, or can be done better by the private sector - including charity (there is even slight evidence they practice what they preach, since Republicans, as a group, give slightly more to charity than Democrats, often through religious organizations). 

Of course, they also believe all regulations suppress thousands of businesses that would otherwise spring up and provide jobs for the unemployed, despite overwhelming evidence that lack of regulation provides a criminogenic environment that encourages rent-seeking and destabilizing fraud and speculation.  They're not particularly concerned about the government's debt rating being downgraded, because they don't want government borrowing in the first place, so making that harder does not bother them.

John Boehner has the votes to override the unrepresentative Tea Party faction, but chooses not to put the budget to the floor for a vote, so fearful is he of losing his speaker-ship to a Tea Party upstart like Ted Cruz, or even being "primaried" out of office.

So, who will blink first?  Is Obama just setting us up for a Grand Betrayal - what he calls a Grand Bargain - where he slashes all kinds of social programs in exchange for the extortionate Republicans releasing the American People as economic hostages?

I don't know, but it makes great Kabuki Theater.


Scott Baker is a Senior Editor/Economics Editor and Writer at Opednews, and a blogger for Huffington Post.
Scott Baker is President of Common Ground-NYC (, a Geoist/Georgist group. He has written dozens of (more...)
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One of the traditional characters in Kabuki theate... by Meryl Ann Butler on Thursday, Oct 3, 2013 at 1:37:39 PM
The politicians and the folks from the Ministry ar... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Thursday, Oct 3, 2013 at 3:28:20 PM
The Administration says it won't raise the debt ce... by Scott Baker on Thursday, Oct 3, 2013 at 6:27:56 PM
No thanks, Federal Reserve, not any more - this "b... by Lance Ciepiela on Friday, Oct 4, 2013 at 9:54:51 AM
Failing to raise the debt limit does NOT automatic... by roy lutz on Friday, Oct 4, 2013 at 11:48:57 AM
I'm not proposing there be no limit on deficit-spe... by Scott Baker on Friday, Oct 4, 2013 at 1:00:43 PM
While I would continue to pay all the salaries to ... by BFalcon on Friday, Oct 4, 2013 at 10:21:43 PM
We have spent more than enough on our offensive de... by Michael Dewey on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at 9:12:47 AM
My email and comment to the NY Times' reporters, w... by Scott Baker on Friday, Oct 4, 2013 at 6:04:32 PM
Chris Hedges also wrote an important article this ... by Deborah Dills on Friday, Oct 4, 2013 at 7:03:49 PM
Of course, this is a horrible way to run the gover... by Michael Dewey on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at 9:01:53 AM
Ever since hearing of how Lincoln used debt free U... by Michael Dewey on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at 9:01:54 AM
The Republican rich backers have been behind shutd... by Scott Baker on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013 at 8:35:58 AM
My e-comment to Business Week's latest article on ... by Scott Baker on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 12:15:10 PM
I responded to Nicolas Kristoff's article (click h... by Scott Baker on Thursday, Oct 10, 2013 at 4:52:51 AM
Move over Janet Yellen, I want Obama to appoint YO... by Meryl Ann Butler on Thursday, Oct 10, 2013 at 10:32:47 AM
Hey, I thought I was supposed to be running for pr... by Scott Baker on Thursday, Oct 10, 2013 at 12:14:36 PM
ha! Well, I guess you can do this til 2016!!... by Meryl Ann Butler on Thursday, Oct 10, 2013 at 9:01:03 PM
"About that Civil War analogy... President Linco... by Michael Dewey on Thursday, Oct 10, 2013 at 11:32:13 AM