30 July, 2011
©Pirate Joe

Writing this (at 21:55, 30 July, 2011), It seems as if the economically unthinkable is about to happen: Default. Sixty fanatical Tea Party House members are about to push this country (and much of the rest of the world) off the edge and into financial chaos. Sixty nut cases are about to make all our lives (except those of their billionaire backers) a lot more difficult.

I believe, at this point, that default is what we are about to get. Here's why:

First, The the Tea-baggers are not going to compromise. They know that they are driving the Republican Party: they've got 60 solid votes, and many more scared Republicans that won't dare cross them (and Grover Norquist). You can see it in the frustrated, pained and exasperated look on John Boehner's face. He wants to know that if he negotiates a deal that he can get it through the House; yet he knows that he can negotiate all he wants: if the Tea-baggers don't get 100% of what they want, it's no deal. All he will get out of this is no sleep.

Second, The Tea Party Republicans are the ones who started tacking demands on the debt ceiling process; they know that if this tactic works, they can use it again and again to hold the entire country hostage. Why else would they want to do this all over again in 6 months? Easy: it's so they'll have another opportunity to enforce more demands, (possibly many demands) the next time around. If they back down, they know that they will have disarmed what they believe to be their most potent weapon.

Third, There are other options available to President Obama, such as the 14th amendment end-run. It would be a bold, daring, outside-the-box solution, and it's very easy to argue that this is certainly the time that a bold, daring outside-the-box action is precisely what's needed. Some constitutional scholars have said that there is a good argument for him to invoke the 14th amendment and just do it. Some have even suggested that he could be considered in violation of the Constitution if he doesn't; even ex-President Clinton has urged him to pursue the 14th amendment solution. Yet the president has stated that he doesn't believe the 14th amendment is applicable, (and) that he won't use it. He has indicated that he is not interested in other options and intends to stick to this process.  I believe him. One thing I think we can all agree on is that bold, daring, outside-the-box moves are not this president's strong suit.

So why would this be the death of the Tea Party? The consequences of default are legion: rising interest rates, falling dollar, (think gas prices are high now?) far less investment, possible job losses as businesses go to a cut-my-losses-and-see-what-happens mode, and a general economic atmosphere that could make the 1930's look like the sandbox at the church playground. It is quite possible that the dollar will lose its place as the world's standard currency. While we're on that subject, whose currency do you think will take its place? Think Red China.

Since the Tea-baggers are the ones who are obviously enjoying their stomp in the no-compromise limelight, they will (rightfully) get the blame (and rage) for what happens next. Ending up as America's most despised political movement is not outside the realm of possibility.

President Obama, on the other hand, would, after all is said and done, come out quite the hero for invoking the 14th amendment and making a bold move to save the country's fragile economy from taking another beating. Yes, there is some risk that the Tea-baggers might try impeachment. It could be nothing more than a symbolic gesture. The Democrats wouldn't go for it, and the rest of the  Republicans would most likely be quite glad they were off the hook (with no desire to get back on). Public opinion would also be on the president's side.

This just in: More talk of an impending deal, with cuts to Medicare. The president blinks and caves. That I would expect. If that happens, the Tea-baggers win big, learning that intransigence works, and we get a bigger, stronger Tea Party.

There is the chance that invoking the 14th amendment is exactly what President Obama has in mind: he's just waiting for the last minute to keep the element of surprise. I sure hope so.