Return to realpolitik on the budget ceiling

The Concordian Politics Blog

Washington and Congress appear to moving away from partisan gridlock and Republicans in the Senate and the President are meeting to advance budget talks. President Obama and the White House rejected the recent budget plan from the House, which extends the United States’ ability borrow for six weeks. They justified their rejection by saying the six week extension would only remake the current crisis occur at that time and that more holistic and long term plans need to be ironed out.  Senate Republicans are crafting a bill that raises the debt ceiling while also pushing back the medical device tax that occurs in the Affordable Care Act back two years. While a clear, non-political resolution would be the best course for the United States, bringing Republicans back from the fringe Tea Party is promising for the future.

Despite Senate efforts, House Republicans, Speaker of the House John Boehner and Tea Partiers still cling to the budget ceiling debate as a leverage mechanism to advance conservative agenda to defund the Affordable Care Act or other policy goals. Recent Pew Polls reveal that 54% of Republicans believe that, “The United States can miss the debt-limit deadline without major problems,” others like Senator Rand Paul said that not raising the debt ceiling is “a pretty reasonable idea.”

To economists, the notion is quite less than that. Mark Sandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics said that missing the budget deadline would likely cut three tenths of economic growth in the fourth quarter. Other economists estimate that not lifting the debt ceiling would cause massive repercussions throughout the economy, lift borrowing rates, tank consumer confidence and naturally kill jobs. Markets and consumer confidence are already taking hits from the uncertainty in similar fashion to the previous debt ceiling debate. No economist will argue that not paying our bills is good for the economy and Republicans stipulating otherwise are walking the fine line between lunacy and politics.

Republicans and especially Speaker Boehner need to return to Realpolitik, meaning that they need to return to political agendas that have some capacity to move the country forward while being realistic. Tieing budget talks to the Affordable Care Act and expecting Democrats and Obama to repeal the bill for budget policy is wholly unrealistic; even Newt Gingrich, who shut down the government under the Clinton Administration, said that these tactics are doomed to fail. Not surprisingly, Newt’s predictions that Republicans would take the blame for their politically constructed dilemma are taking the majority of the blame. Both the Republican and Tea Party are at the lowest approval ratings since the inception of public opinion polls towards parties. And ironically, Republicans are doing worse in this shutdown than the 1995 shutdown, while Democrats and President Obama are doing better in public polls than the previous shutdowns.

Republicans need to hear the music, if neither side will compromise, then the only productive and logical thing for both parties is to ensure that our government is solvent and the economy doesn’t take a multi-trillion dollar skydive. At this point, putting the country first would restore some of the lost credibility of the Republican Party and might even save some of their face. The resolutions to move this crisis a small time further down the road will only give the underlying problems time to fester and multiply. Let’s grow up, pay our bills, put country first and keep the global economy from imploding. When you phrase it that way, it seems as logical as it actually is.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Welcome to the discussion. Before posting, please read our discussion guidelines.