As the Thursday evening deadline to raise the debt ceiling or default on U.S. debt creeps closer, the markets are quaking in their boots and Congressional leaders are white knuckling onto whatever power they currently wield.
The bottom line: one side will have to blink first. The alternative, defaulting on our massive debt, would be the greatest act of government incompetence and malfeasance America has ever seen. Blame would no longer be tossed like a hot potato across aisles in the House, but land squarely in the commander in chief’s lap.
Since the shutdown took effect 14 days ago it has doubled as a blame blaster and bargaining chip. Staged events such as the guarding and closure of open-air memorials conjure to mind previously used petty tactics, like the abolition of White House tours when the sequester was initially put into place.
This shoddy method of “governing,” where the party with the majority attempts to showboat the troubles brought about by the so-called extremists on the other side of the aisle, is not only immature but also wildly inefficient. Let’s all hope this method will bite the dust in place of the U.S. debt ceiling.
The question in every American’s mind is slowly beginning to form into “will we actually default?” At this point it’s safe to say the American public would not be shocked should Congress continue their gridlock and squabbles, presenting no resolution. The government shutdown alone is mainly in the hands of Congress, as they hold the budgetary power. Brought about by Obamacare, it has taken center stage with the public since it’s creation.
However, displays like Ted Cruz’s filibuster against Obamacare were merely a rearranging of deck chairs on the Titanic. The real dark cloud of disaster swirling above Washington is the national debt ceiling about to come crashing down on the world economy.
The collapse of Lehman Brothers five years ago and its effects would look so piddly in comparison with a U.S. debt default as to be laughable. President Obama would squarely take the blame from the U.S. and the world, should he allow the U.S. to default. He will blink first, which puts the ball in Speaker of the House John Boehner’s court. Boehner has already stated he will grant a six-week extension of the debt ceiling, during which more negotiations would be conducted. Which leads one to ask, negotiations for what?
Fellow conservative and budget aficionado, Paul Ryan, has laid out the end game for Boehner, and it looks a whole lot like entitlement reform and restructuring the budget, particularly in regards to the cuts currently in place by the sequester. Altering the mindless formulaic cuts made across the government budget to allow more reasoning in spending is palpable to Democrats and would carry public support. Check sequester altering off the list.
Moving right along into the next issue—something that could only be achieved should the left be backed into a corner, like the one they currently find themselves nearing … entitlement reform. If done responsibly and done right, with scare tactics left out of the political grandstanding, half of the U.S. budget could be trimmed down and gussied up to actually run right.
Although entitlement reform alongside budget reconstruction may seem like a tall order for the House Republicans to deliver on, should they play their cards correctly they could walk away from this debt and budget crisis victorious in several categories. Congress could evade defaulting on the U.S. debt, have restructured the sequester they claimed to abhor in the first place and could even have a chance to stick up for the often touted “middle class Americans” in having a strong hand in entitlement reform. Your move, GOP.
Whitney Greer is a sophomore English major from Medford, Ore.