James Fallows

James Fallows continues his comments on the current debt ceiling crisis. –

Here’s a comparison: Suppose, by similar quirk, there was an arbitrary ceiling on the amount of ammunition the U.S. military could buy each year. Or the amount of fuel for drones, bombers, and Humvees. Like overall national debt, these purchases are foreseeable consequences of previous political decisions — in this case, about the wars the country decides to fight. But suppose that when the “ammo ceiling” came due for its routine extension, a group of legislators said they would refuse. No more bullets or jet fuel after August 2, and for good measure no more food for the troops, unless demands for radical change in future foreign policy were met in full. That would rightly be seen as blackmail, and as a reckless willingness to damage the nation for partisan ends. A similar reckless exercise in blackmail is underway now, with the difference that the consequences can be longer-lasting and worse.

Blackmail- that’s exactly how I see it. I am happy to observe that I am not the only one.

There is not much to be done now. The Republicans cannot generate a bill that will get a majority of their own caucus’ vote. Without that, there is no chance of a congressional action ending the crisis. The only ball park left is for the President to declare that based on a Constitutional provision, the United States will continue to pay its debts.

I doubt if he has the will or the courage. Of course, even mice pushed into a corner will on occasion bite.

James Pilant

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