Montana Politics

High-Stakes Kabuki

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In the lead up to the raising of the debt ceiling, many people doubted that Republicans had the stomach to actually harm the US economy, or that the debt of the United States was really a big deal. Well, it turns out they did, and it is. Standard and Poor’s downgraded US sovereign debt for the first time ever, both because of the size of the debt and the fact that relatively little is being done about it.

I fail to see how this is what Wall Street wants. Wall Street is not flexible enough to deal effectively with what a loss of US economic power would mean. Decades and billions have been poured into making sure the US sets a global norm of free investment and relatively loose standards for business operation. The debt problems of Europe and the US shift some of that hegemony to Asia, especially China, where the investment climate is more controlled and the power of corporations more effectively checked.

So this is no theater, no grand scheme. It is simply failure, failure to do what needs to be done. Admittedly, both parties have fallen short. However, ultimately one party has to take blame. Deficits were not a major threat before the Bush tax cuts and the war in Iraq. The debt ceiling was never a question before Republicans took control of the House (though, mind you, this problem was predicted, even by mainstream media outlets).

This isn’t a grand scheme or show put on for the American people. They won’t benefit from the US government steadily losing its ability to borrow. This is about a few ideologues harnessing popular discontent to push a radical agenda and refusing to follow established rules of compromise. They are taking advantage of our peculiar system of government, which gives the power of obstruction and ultimately blackmail to whatever party has less to lose.

Both parties are falling down on the job. But only one party has ever done this much to damage our reputation and international standing. The other party may be blamed for not keeping it from happening, but the fact is if we had put them in power in 2000, or kept them completely in power in 2010, we wouldn’t be where we are now. Will me make a similar mistake in 2012?

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The Polish Wolf

86 Comments

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