While many Americans are understandably concerned with the effects of the government shutdown, experts are warning that the worst could be yet to come. In two week the country will run out of money to pay its debts and, should a bill not be passed raising the debt ceiling, the country will go into default for the first time. Ever.
Many economists point out that this could bring the slowly strengthening economy to a screeching halt and send America back into recession. No one quite knows what the full effects of a default would be, but the consequences could be long lasting. A report by the National Treasury had these predictions: “A default would be unprecedented and has the potential to be catastrophic: credit markets could freeze, the value of the dollar could plummet, U.S. interest rates could skyrocket, the negative spillovers could reverberate around the world, and there might be a financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse.”
No one could honestly suggest that those are the types of things that are worth playing political chicken over, but not everyone is being honest.
While Republican congressmen and women grandstand about the injustice of closed World War II memorials and National Parks (in a shutdown most people agree was their fault), a shrewd group of House Republicans are concluding that all of this pain and suffering on the part of the American people might have an even greater political end than the defunding of Obamacare. “This is not just about Obamacare anymore,” Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., said. Indeed, Republicans think they can get more. The Washington Examiner points out that House Republicans are seeing a silver lining to the damage caused by a government shutdown and it’s emboldened them to look for bigger gains than even they set out to accomplish.
Having proved that they are just crazy enough to really go through with a government shutdown, their hopes lie in making President Obama and Senate Democrats believe that they could possibly be crazy enough to refuse to raise the debt ceiling as well.
While this tactic can only further harm the credibility of the party, it might just happen anyway as moderate Republicans have oscillated between inability, apathy and resignation towards trying to curtail the more radical elements from within their ranks. The tactic also speaks to how bogus the idea that some in the media are perpetuating about the government shutdown as being a “tweedledee and tweedledum” sort of example of just how polarized the country’s political parties are. Those reporters should take notice because here is clear evidence of a singularly Republican motive driving the entire debacle and exactly what you’d expect from a party that thinks it can get its way just by a willingness to outcrazy everyone.
One thing is clear, House Republicans never wanted to settle for just defunding Obamacare, they knew going into the shutdown that the bigger prize was what they could extricate from a looming government Default that a country, already weary from a weeks long shutdown, would have no patience for entertaining. This is a case of doubling down on a bad bet. Having gained nothing so far other than blame and further damage to a Republican party that was already being looked at as rudderless and fractured, the government shutdown now offers them a chance to twist the knife and hope that America flinches.