October 13, 2013
Elizabeth Drew's The Stranglehold on our Politics in the New York Review of Books argues that the consequence-free politics is now bedeviling the US system of government, due to the radicalization of the Republican Party.
As a result of the centrifugal forces that have taken over our politics, we have ended up with warring political blocs, not with the federal system envisioned by the Founders. Instead of cooperative interaction among the states and the federal government, we have a series of struggles between them. Federal laws are blocked or degraded in many of the states, and state obligations are unmet....The new turbulence between the federal government and the states and between the president and Congress has been exacerbated by midterm elections. The turbulence has been spreading across our governing institutions—putting the very workability of the American political system in jeopardy.
Defeat of Obama became became the opposition Republican Party’s explicit governing principle. Drews adds:
If that meant blocking measures to improve the economy, or preventing the filling of important federal offices to keep the government running, so be it. Wrecking became the order of the day. Confrontation became the goal in itself. Now the rightward trend in Republican politics is feeding on itself, becoming even more extreme
This was the tactics used by the Abbott Coalition in Australia. His strategy was not to give the Gillard government a thing. Abbott fought in day in day out. He was strident, be angry, be unreasonable. His tactic was to apply maximum pressure and see what cracks and dam the consequences. Winning was all that mattered.
The Tea Party Republicans --the default enthusiasts----reckon that the government of the USA defaulting on its debt for the first time in history is not a big deal. The shutdown is doing no harm and should continue for months, with all tax revenues going to pay off the interest payments on debt. This would avoid damage to the financial system, and that this means that everything will be OK.
Just paying the interest payments on the debt means the whole burden of the cash shortage fell on other things. The government will (a) still go into default on obligations to vendors, Social Security recipients, and so on (b) be forced into spending cuts so large as to guarantee a recession if the standoff lasts any length of time. That would worsening the economic downturn, reducing receipts even more, and so on.
That suggests the default deniers don’t care about the debt and never did, they only pretended to as an excuse to slash social insurance programs. What they want is less spending on social welfare programs and more benefits going to the ultra rich and big corporations. The former will pay for the latter.