Ezra Klein cautions his readers not to get too attached to the idea the 14th Amendment’s prohibition on questioning the US debt might offer a way out of, or at least some leverage on, the debt limit hostage taking. Heaven forbid we grasp at straws.
Klein warns us this path might reveal to investors that our political system has run off a cliff, so like Wile E. Coyote, we’d quickly fall to the bottom.
Layering a constitutional crisis over political gridlock may work in the sense that the Obama administration will win the court case. But it’ll fail terribly in terms of sustaining the market’s confidence in our political system. That’s a step toward total breakdown, not evidence that agreement can eventually be reached and economic renewal achieved. The debt ceiling needs to be resolved in a way that assures investors that America’s other economic problems will be resolved, too. A court case that affirms the executive’s right to rack up more debt and the political system’s inability to agree on a reasonable deficit reduction package is the precise opposite of that.
I don’t want to frighten Ezra by asking him to look down, but we are already over the edge of a Constitutional Crisis cliff and headed for the river below. The 14th Amendment may be the closest thing we have to Roadrunner’s unused wings, so we best start flapping or at least learn to glide on the way down.
The Tea-GOP has the federal government under siege and has essentially shut down every democratic process for even keeping the government going, let alone solving real problems. We can’t pass a budget, can’t extend the debt, can’t raise revenues, can’t fund unemployment insurance or rescue Medicaid, can’t allocate money to people, cities and states in desperate need and can’t even get decent people confirmed for key government jobs. And if you’re in one of those groups who might object, they will suppress your vote and bury the elections with well financed propaganda. What more evidence do we need to recognize the Tea-GOP has dragged us over the cliff?
Their price for letting us reach back for terra firm is that we emasculate the government’s ability to function in the future and cripple its ability to use the powers the Founders gave the federal government to address further the public welfare. This is what strangling the government — and our democracy — in a bathtub looks like.
The President and his Party have foolishly, recklessly embraced these scoundrels and their nation-destroying tactics and joined them off the cliff. It’s obvious that if the country does not wish to crash, it must either convince its leaders to let go of these destructive notions, or we must let go of them and grab for whatever safety we can.
But the last thing we need to worry about is telling the markets we’re standing on nothing but thin air and are about to fall. Smart investors already know that and have been sending out warnings, but no one is listening. The rest are watching from their well-anchored positions on Wall Street and gated communities.