It seems like the obvious answer is no, doesn’t it? Even if they offered you something in exchange, even if it was something incredibly valuable. It seems like you would never do this, that even having a discussion about such a thing would be ludicrous. “You want me to what,” you’d ask. “No, no, just hear me out,” they’d reply. Sorry, I’m already gone. And yet, and yet, here we are with our government discussing the debt ceiling which, admittedly, sounds like something incredibly boring and prone to leaks of money….and it is, or, rather, it should be. Telling someone you won’t kill yourself for them should be a simple process.
So, the US government survives and pays its bills solely through borrowing money. That’s completely how the government is run. Here’s a chart. If you already know all this then skip to just below the NYT ad in the middle of the page.
We borrow money and we spend it on keeping the government running, paying for people’s retirements, the mail, all the things that the government does. And when the economy is bad, like it is now, then the country has to borrow more because it’s not making enough money via tax receipts. If you don’t get paid then the government doesn’t get paid. You can see it on the chart. After the 2008 economic collapse, the borrowing numbers skyrocket because tax receipts are low but the government is trying to keep things going rather than letting the entire country slide into depression aka the land of 25% unemployment. right now it’s only like 7.5%, just imagine…
So fine, the government has to borrow money (mostly from me and you) but the government also has a built in fail safe/arbitrary requirement in Congress where our elected representatives are legally required to raise the limit of how much we can borrow in order to pay debts we have already incurred.
It works this way, the government buys things, services, retirement payments, jets, etc, and then comes back to Congress and says “okay, we need to now pay for the things we’ve bought.” Raising the debt ceiling is essentially getting permission to pay for the things you’ve already “bought” basically through writing an IOU. It seems crazy but it’s not. Every country in the world survives through debt management. Some do better than others…we’re particularly bad at it. Clearly that needs to change but you can’t change anything if your government suddenly decides “y’know what, I’m just not going to pay for anything I bought.”
What happens when you do that is that you default…as in the entire country defaults on its debt and can’t borrow anymore. It’s like if you max out your credit cards and then can’t get another one to shift the debt to. You’re stuck holding the bill with no way to pay it.
Enter the suicide request. The government currently needs to raise its debt limit and instead of simply doing so and working out how to reduce all this debt at some other point the Republican Party wants to settle everything NOW. It’s a grandstand play to be sure. The Republicans don’t actually want to shut the government down, which is what would have to happen in order to keep the government from defaulting on its obligations. They don’t actually want that, they want attention and a bully pulpit with the media.
Touche’ you crafty politician!
So I understand why the Republicans are doing this. They have their pet issues and they want to get rid of Obamacare and replace it with absolutely nothing among other things. Essentially they’re playing the crazy hijacker here screaming at the negotiator about how serious they are except they are their own hostage. “I’ll do it! I’ll kill us both!” And the solution they’re offering the country is that instead of the Republicans shooting every they want the Democrats to just shoot themselves…there’s no good reason for them to do this. It gets them nothing in the long term and all it gets them in the short term is some press that appeals to the base. Guess what, well crafted and useful policies get you that and more.
So why are there even negotiations going on about this? Why are Democrats, the President, discussing this at all? If the Republicans want to shoot themselves then let them. Let their tantrum shut the government down for a week. Let the people see what this kind of nonsense produces…it produces ruin and no one gets what they want. But, again, this won’t really happen. The government may shut down for a day, maybe two, but eventually the Republicans will acquiesce and raise the debt ceiling. The government will borrow more money and on we will go building our ladder of IOUs to heaven where I hear the gold is. But why go on even playing this game?
If I ask you to kill yourself or I’ll kill us both when we both know you’re not going to then what’s the point of even discussing it? It’s like trying to stop and have a conversation with a raving madman while on the way to work. You’re not going to get anything worked out and you’re going to be late. Now, imagine the madman has this list of demands for you which, politically, constitute killing yourself:
- One Year Debt Limit Increase
- Not a dollar amount increase, but suspending the debt limit until the end of December 2014.
- One Year Obamacare delay
- Tax Reform Instructions
- Gives fast track authority for tax reform legislation
- Energy and regulatory reforms to promote economic growth
- Energy provisions: Keystone Pipeline, Coal Ash regulations, Offshore drilling, Energy production on federal lands
- EPA Carbon regulations
- Regulatory reform
- REINS Act
- Regulatory process reform
- Consent decree reform
- Blocking Net Neutrality
- Mandatory Spending Reforms
- Mostly from the sequester replacement bills we passed last year
- Federal Employee retirement reform
- Ending the Dodd Frank bailout fund
- Transitioning CFPB funding to Appropriations
- Child Tax Credit Reform to prevent fraud
- Repealing the Social Services Block grant
- Health Spending Reforms
- Means testing Medicare
- Repealing a Medicaid Provider tax gimmick
- Tort reform
- Altering Disproportion Share Hospitals
- Repealing the Public Health trust Fund
What? WHAT?! You want us to do all that just so you won’t bankrupt the country? You couldn’t get any of these things passed within two months by themselves much less by combining them into a magical cocktail of absolute impossibility. Who taught the GOP how to negotiate? As any parent or 16 year old girl with her first boyfriend should know, once you give in to unreasonable demands…scratch that, once you entertain unreasonable demands then you look weak, you look like you’re considering it and yet here the country sits, going through the motions.
The President should hold a press conference, take the podium, and utter only five words regarding this issue.
“Do it. I dare you,” and he shouldn’t speak about it again until this has run its course.