One of the most bizarre things that I've witnessed in all my years of following politics (and believe me, there's a LOT) is the Republican messaging on the debt ceiling. It is incredibly muddled, far more so than their messaging on the government shutdown, which itself is also quite muddled. Since the Summer of 2011, when this debt ceiling crap began, Republicans have been very careful to not actually go into detail about the potential dangers that would come about from defaulting on the debt.
When pressed, the most anyone would say about it was that the treasury could prioritize our payments, deciding who gets paid and who gets screwed (this possibility doesn't seem likely, by the way). The reason most wouldn't come right out and discuss the consequences of such an action is cause people would come to realize that the GOP is in fact, made up of a bunch of nihilistic sociopaths.
Not raising the debt ceiling would have catastrophic effects throughout the global economy, which would no doubt cause us to dip back into a recession, one that would be significantly worse than the one that resulted from the 2008 crash. Republicans would have you believe that that's just an exaggeration and that things would be fine and dandy. Of course, that's a load of horseshit, because if there were no serious negative repercussions for doing such a thing, then what the hell would be the point of holding it hostage? What incentive would Obama or anyone have for giving into Republican demands? The whole point of taking a hostage is to compel your enemy to offer you something in return for their safety. And this only works if the hostage is someone (or something) that the person you're extracting concessions from, actually cares about.
That's exactly the point that former speechwriter for President Bush, Marc Thiessen, makes in an absolutely stunning column on the Washington Post:
Obama has accused Republicans of hostage taking. Let’s be clear: I’m all for taking hostages. Both sides do it all the time. But one of the first things they teach you in Hostage Taking 101 is that you have to choose a hostage the other side cares about saving. Obama and the Democrats don’t care about stopping a government shutdown. With a shutdown, Republicans are essentially putting a gun to their own heads and threatening to pull the trigger if the Democrats don’t capitulate. Not surprisingly, it’s not working.
Some congressional Republicans can’t seem to get it though their heads: When it comes to a government shutdown they . . . have . . .no . . . leverage. By contrast, when it comes to the debt-limit showdown, they do have leverage; while Obama can let the government close and blame the GOP, he cannot allow the United States to default.
As former treasury secretary Timothy Geithner explained during the last debt-limit standoff, the effects of default would be “catastrophic,” resulting in the “loss of millions of American jobs,” and would have an economic impact “potentially much more harmful than the effects of the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.” Obama will not permit an economic crisis worse than 2008-09 and the “loss of millions of American jobs” on his watch. He has no choice but to negotiate with GOP leaders and cut a deal to avoid a government default.
To my recollection, this breathtaking passage is the clearest and most candid admission of the GOP's strategy from any right-winger ever.
Let me be clear. The fact that the Republicans are planning to destroy the economy if they don't get their way isn't news - everyone already knows this - it's the fact that Thiessen is brazenly admitting it out loud!
I mean, seriously, it needs to be quoted again and again and again:
Obama will not permit an economic crisis worse than 2008-09 and the “loss of millions of American jobs” on his watch.
Here you have Thiessen arguing that Obama won't allow the Republicans to destroy millions of jobs. Remember, Obama is supposed to be the bad guy in all this!
You can't make this stuff up.