Government shutdown to crash into debt ceiling crisis?

It looks like the federal government shutdown is going to crash right into the debt ceiling crisis.

First, Republicans won’t fund the government unless a law they promised to pay for, but do not have the votes to repeal, is “defunded”. They say people “won’t like the train wreck called Obamacare”. Of course, the seven million people that jammed the website and phone lines before eight A.M. on Tuesday are a potent rebuttal to that lie.

(Who really believes the Republicans leaders and paymasters were ever motivated by any other fear than that working people, denied affordable, usable coverage for decades, will NOW be able to cover their families, will LOVE the new opportunity, and will punish the Cruz puppets now exposed completely for standing in their way!!??).

But the so-called tea party clique in the House of Representatives, a billionaire funded, fascist grouping of scoundrels, are leading Speaker John Boehner around like a pet in a clown suit. All he needs to do is put the Senate continuing resolution (same as House version but no “defunding” of Obamacare) to a simple up or down vote. Half the Republicans will join the Democrats and approve the resolution, and end the shutdown.

But the Republicans have a rule: allow no votes that do not have unanimous support in the Republican caucus — so 30 Koch Brothers flunkeys are set to hold the whole nation hostage. Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma attacked the Tea Party, saying “no one takes a hostage they are not planning on shooting”. My question is: Who says the nuts running the tea party aren’t planning on “shooting the hostage”?

Given that the Republicans are now effectively led by fanatics, nothing is likely to happen until another debt crisis rises up in next week. On Oct 17 the U.S. will default on interest payments to holders of U.S, Treasury securities if the debt ceiling is not raised. It does not apparently matter to tea partiers that the debt is for bills and promises Congress has, again, already promised to pay!

Most contracts in world securities markets use the reliability of Treasury notes as a baseline for their own risk (interest) levels. The selling of Treasury securities is the main means by which the U.S. borrows money — at near zero interest rates, by the way, currently. Partial, even short-term, default on debt payments will result in — the truth is no one knows, nor does any sane person want to find out! Another dip down into the troughs of this depression — for sure.

But we now have seriously entwined economic AND political crises. We will soon find out if the tea party game is only for infantile fools, drawn in by racism, homophobia, by politicians disguised as preachers, or other well-funded “wedge” issues; or if there is a deeper game. The social democrats, and the communists, in 1930 Germany also faced a minority Nazi party devoted to chaos, reaction, racism, and arrogance. They underestimated the danger, then, and failed to unite before it was too late.

Way over a million workers are immediately affected — “indefinitely furloughed” — by the shutdown. Will they get back pay once the government starts up again? With this Congress, who knows? Some military families will be compensated with “vouchers”. I wonder how that exchange will go at the grocery store checkout? Or, if landlords or banks will accept vouchers in lieu of money for rent or mortgages? Federal workers are expressing every emotion from fear to rage to utter astonishment at the disrespect Republican bomb throwers show their public service.

Personally, since my family is directly affected by the shutdown, I have sent an invoice to my Republican Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito for the anticipated lost income from her vote to shut down the government because she wants the health care offered to 230,000 uninsured and underinsured West Virginians under the Affordable Care Act to be “defunded.” I plan to update this invoice for each day’s lost time. She will have my vote as soon as I get paid.

Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP


John Case
John Case

John Case is a former electronics worker and union organizer with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE), also formerly a software developer, now host of the WSHC "Winners and Losers" radio program in Shepherdstown, W.Va.