Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pseudo-Compromise (Debt-Limit Crisis Endgame)

by Richard Crews
So what is to become of us, as our beloved nation careens toward bankruptcy? *

As the chess game in Washington winds to an exciting close, each side--the Democrats and the Republicans--can make "sacrifices" and claim that the other side made me do it.

Of course the "sacrifices" would be a combination of, on the one hand, trivial gestures and, on the other, changes we should be making anyway.

So the Republicans can give up the absurd tax breaks for the very wealthy, big oil, corporate jets, and ethanol and other farming subsidies, and when their enraged, money-bags lobbyists cry "FOUL!" they can shrug their shoulders helplessly and plead, "Those evil, business-hating Democrats made me do it."

And the Democrats can raise the Social Security eligibility age, and when AARP says, "That does it--no one over 65 will ever vote for you again (never mind that people are living into their 80s and 90s these days)," the Democrats can just say, "It's those evil Republicans--they hate cripples and old people."

Ballyhooing so fiercely about raising the debt ceiling so that it looks like a national crisis may make this all possible. (I throw in that concept as a bone to the closet conspiracy theorists among us.) But it probably won't since the Democrats have no real reason to negotiate a compromise on the debt ceiling: they win that game--stalemate becomes checkmate.

Except and unless--and this is a big one--the Republicans decide to capitulate, cooperate, and help govern instead of maintaining their obstructionist tactics. Having a participating "loyal opposition" contribute to true bipartisan governing might be valuable enough to the Democrats for them to forgo their largely Pyrrhic victory.

But this probably won't happen either--for two reasons: first, the Republicans are so fragmented that they cannot produce a consensus, either for bipartisanship or even for loyal opposition, and second, the Republicans have no Plan B: if continuing the obstructionism that won them the mid-term election in 2010 doesn't work, they've got no other tricks in their bag.

So here's my prediction (which could be wrong): the probable conclusion is--no "compromise" and President Obama, with great tragic eloquence, raises the debt ceiling unilaterally at the last moment. Leaving the nation puzzled, relieved, and bitter--but Democratically inclined--and totally unaware that they have been taken for a merry ride.
* At least "bankruptcy" is what you call it when a business can't pay its bills if the "business" is not the U.S. government--which can just print more money.