Common Thugs: Blackmail, Hostage-Taking and the G.O.P.

Some months ago, during the last debt ceiling crisis, Paul Krugman described G.O.P. tactics as the equivalent of the guys in ill-fitting suits who come to your business and say things like, “Nice economy you got here, mister. Be a shame if somfin’ happened to it.” But Prof. Krugman was far too kind. The G.O.P. has moved beyond mere extortion to blackmail, hostage-taking and more.

You think WC is overstating the case? Consider the points of Greg Sargent in the Washington Post, hardly liberal media any more. He  convincingly points out that the debt ceiling must be raised to pay for past spending, and should not be used as a chip in negotiating future budgets:

In the current context, conservatives and Republicans who hold out against a debt limit hike are, in practical terms, only threatening the full faith and credit of the United States — and threatening to damage the economy — in order to get what they want. Any accounts that don’t convey this with total clarity — and convey the sense that this is a normal negotiation — are essentially misleading people. It’s that simple.

It’s not a normal suite of negotiations when one side has a pistol to the head of your loved one, and demands $100,000. The G.O.P. threat to blow up the world economy if it doesn’t get its way isn’t very different, except that the pistol is held to the entire world economy and not just an individual hostage.

Where is the moral outrage at this kind of hostage-taking? Why aren’t the major banks, who have a lot to lose if the U.S. defaults on all those bonds they hold, screaming in protest? How is it that our allies and foreign investors aren’t dumping our bonds like hot potatoes? How is it we are tolerating behavior that would be a felony if it happened on the street? How did this become “normal”?

Look, every bit of the debt we are carrying is the result of Congress passing a law. Not the President. Congress. Every penny of the deficit is the result of an appropriation by Congress.

Most of it, as WC has shown earlier, is the result of passing tax cuts in the Bush Administration, and unfunded land wars in Asia. The largest single element of the budget today, bigger than any of what the G.O.P. calls “entitlements,” is the defense budget. Which is now larger than the combined total of the ten next-largest nations’ military budgets.

But the G.O.P. lacks the integrity and moral scruple to confront its own wastrel ways. It doesn’t address the individual programs on their merits. Instead, it intends to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage. It is prepared, or claims to be prepared, to permanently damage the national economy, the world economy. “One move and the nation gets it.”

This is the party of principle? This is the outfit that calls itself  “conservative”? What’s conservative about blowing up the economy? The Nixon Administration prosecuted some of WC’s college buddies for even talking about this idea. What’s next? Duels?

WC asks again, how did this become so “normal” that there is no outrage?


One thought on “Common Thugs: Blackmail, Hostage-Taking and the G.O.P.

  1. A great concern to me is not just the crisis that is being concocted but the faulty notion that shutting down the govt will be a simple reprise of the last time it was done to get at Pres. Clinton. The USA has moved on by several orders of magnitude. Things aren’t done the same way.
    One of the things these veterans legislators ought to do is review what they enacted during that period, and consider the implications. One of the major ones, if not the Act that will lay us low, is the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (Pub. L. No. 104-134) that requires federal payments be made through electronic funds transfer. Regulations from the Department of Treasury require that a significant component of the covered payments are to be made electronically by March 1, 2013. So our legislators have kicked the can down the road to coincide with the regulatorily long-scheduled implementation of electronic payments.
    I don’t think they’ve given the slightest thought to the matter of programming and re-programming computers–or, for that matter, making sure that the shutdown does NOT result in furloughing or losing the employment of the vitally important programmers. If the 1990s shutdown was difficult, then doing so in a world that now functions by electronic payments will unleash havoc that is unimaginable. This simple talk that one reads and hears suggests that no one is giving serious thought to just how this will play out in an age of electronics-dependent govt. This ain’t the ’90s.
    Perhaps it will take something like this to make an impact on those who are unable to accept that these extremists are dangerous–not principled–but destructive beyond comprehension. The only potential upside is that it could result in permanently damaging “the brand” so that folks will cease this flirtation with these elements as if they are some sort of special patriots. Maybe it will destroy them as politically significant players for the long term, and we can regain some measure of sanity in the Congress.
    Paul Eaglin

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