The GOP Changes the World to Fit Their Worldview
If the economy goes down, people will suffer. But don’t be so sure Republicans will. Why? Because if Republicans block an increase in the debt ceiling, then the debt hysteria they have so adroitly manufactured since President Obama took office will become objectively, albeit perversely, real.
One would hope that the leaders steering our ship of state would shape solutions to meet our problems (e.g. recession and rampant unemployment). But if America defaults, we will indeed have a deficit problem, and Republicans will have pulled off the remarkable feat of molding reality to fit their worldview.
The right wing is a wildly successful promoter of self-fulfilling political-economic prophecy: they disrupt our political and economic system to the point where their own dark fantasies become palatable to a growing number of Americans.
The Chamber of Commerce and the “country club Republican” Speaker John Boehner are likely wondering what sort of monster they have created. Both Boehner and the Chamber are down for starving the beast until it’s ready to devour our nation’s poor and vulnerable. No doubt. But they also want to make sure that profits get made on August 3.
“We have been telling you for weeks and months,” writes Chamber blogger Bruce Josten, “that defaulting on our debt is not an option – it has real, immediate, and potentially catastrophic consequences... Now, make no mistake; too much spending and the need for real entitlement reform has led to the debt crisis we’re in today. But jeopardizing our country’s credit rating and fiscal security by refusing to compromise isn’t the answer.”
Corporate America doesn’t hate the government--they just want it supine and obedient. Others on the right, however, decided to take the anti-government talking points seriously. They are now true believers in the corporate-funded propaganda that was initially designed exclusively for the consumption of the confused Election Day masses.
This applies to business leaders as well, if not to the same extent as to the voluble freshmen class in Congress.
Big business is so greedy and blindly vindictive that they no longer see past next week. See Wall Street’s punishment of Obama for, well, it’s not exactly clear. As outgoing FDIC chief Sheila Bair makes clear, the president has done basically everything the lords of finance want. But he gets little love in return.
This is no longer about results. During the Great Depression, FDR saved capitalism from itself because individual capitalists at a certain point fail to act in their own collective self-interest. The bad news for those cheering against capitalism today, however, is that crisis does not always lead to some sort of feel-good, take society back for the people, moment: the recent financial crisis and current recession, you’ll remember, created the Tea Party and not a new New Deal. If things get worse, American politics will probably just get crazier.
There is, of course, certainly a cold, political rationality behind a potential default: it would force immediate and drastic cuts to social spending that could never be achieved through our democracy’s legislative process.
“Depriving the government of revenue, it turns out, wasn’t enough to push politicians into dismantling the welfare state,” Paul Krugman wrote in February, well before we had any idea that we would be spending our summer mired in a debt ceiling debate. “So now the de facto strategy is to oppose any responsible action until we are in the midst of a fiscal catastrophe. You read it here first.”
But this isn’t just starve the beast anymore, though it’s not clear where right-wing strategy ends and delusion begins: they’re prepared to light the fuse even though it will blow up in their face. And though this might sound insane, these people are.
For example, the whole right-wing Tea Party “buy up all the gold” thing has been economically mainstreamed because their political representatives have waged years of war against the fiscal foundation of the dollar. This in turn makes the whole gold rush more economically sensible, pushing up the price of gold in the face of fiscal calamity. End of the story: the people who were all crazy about gold end up being right because those same people brought down the dollar.
Or, take The New York Times describing the mainstreaming of Ron Paul.
“Mr. Paul’s libertarian views have moved from the fringe toward the mainstream of conservative thinking in the past several years, with his warnings about fiscal meltdown gaining new resonance and the 2008 financial crisis allowing him to press his longstanding critiques of the Federal Reserve.”
Right-wing Republicans have leapfrogged over their prior goal of starving the beast--cutting taxes and shrinking revenue as a backdoor way to force spending cuts and decimate social programs. The goal, now, is to strangle it--even if the profits of their friends in corporate America get asphyxiated in the process.
The Republican mantra on the debt and deficit seems pretty surreal from Philadelphia, a city where thousands of public school teachers and staff were just laid off and forty thousand properties sit abandoned. But if Republicans push our teetering economy of a cliff, their paranoia will have become our reality. In fact, it already has. Pay close attention to what the right wing says. Thanks to political cowardice and shortsighted corporate machinations, our future is subject to their self-fulfilling prophecies.
Daniel Denvir is a reporter at the Philadelphia City Paper. Follow him on Twitter. Follow him onTwitter.