Bumping up against the ceiling

Well, what have we learned from the ongoing trainwreck that is the debt ceiling negotiations?

We've learned that Boehner is an empty suit as the Speaker. Well, perhaps that's overstating things, as he certainly does have power. But he just as certainly isn't getting the job done as Speaker. Can he be replaced? It's possible, but quite unlikely. I think this leads to this being the least effective Congress in a long time. They really aren't going to end up having accomplished much of anything.

We've also learned that the Tea Party conservatives have no interest in actually governing. Their brinksmanship, I heard today, WILL lead to a downgrading of US bonds (it might take several months, but will happen, is what I heard). If they don't yet realize how big a deal that is, then they are also remarkably stupid. If fiscal responsibility is your goal, then forcing a rise in interest rates (which a downgrade will do) is about the stupidest possible thing to do. It would be roughly equivalent to me going to my bank and refinancing my house at a higher interest rate without getting any cash out.

Long-term, this might end up helping the country, as we learn who the leaders are, and who they aren't. And it might force the two parties to start working together (in particular, re-evaluating the calculus about whether it's better to help the country or to try to stick it to the President).

But in the short- to medium-term, it's going to lead to a whole lot of pain.

Or perhaps it'll lead to Obama ignoring Congress' perturbations, and issuing an executive order that says he's going to ignore the debt ceiling, citing the 14th Amendment. That might actually be the best solution, in that, since it is a long-term solution, it might avert the downgrade entirely (since it would prevent having to go through this exercise in frustration again. Would the courts back it up? I don't know.

And what is all this doing for the recovery? It's sinking it. And the latest Commerce Dept figures show how little margin there is to avoid going back into recession.

So where will beets be tomorrow? Beats me.

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