It is certainly remarkable that when conditions in an environment have been so abnormal and unhealthy for so long that it is a cause cé·lè·bre when the group abandons its bad behavior and functions according to convention. It has been four years since the legislative construct known as the debt ceiling has been increased unconditionally, and although the repercussions will be swift and severe for doing their constitutionally-mandated jobs, there is no reason whatsoever to heap praise on 28 House Republicans who joined Democrats and voted for a clean debt limit increase. The good news for Americans is they are spared another Republican “govern by crisis” event that has been the overriding theme in Washington since Republicans won control of the House in the 2010 midterm elections, but to hear conservative groups rant and rail, the clean debt limit is an American first signaling the end of the world and 28 House Republicans’ careers in Washington.
The reaction from teabagger belief-tanks such as the Heritage Foundation, FreedomWorks, Club for Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund, and myriad other teabagger groups was borne of outrage that Speaker John Boehner rejected their demand that raising the debt limit unconditionally was unacceptable; many were enraged the debt limit was raised under any circumstance. One might be tempted to feel empathy for Boehner, but the outrage against him by teabaggers is of his own making. It was Boehner who came up with the absurd notion that any debt limit increase be accompanied with equal dollar amounts in cuts to domestic programs. The so-called “Boehner rule” became part and parcel of any debt limit increase since 2011, and sadly, Republicans in the House and Senate made it the set-in-stone requirement for any spending whether it was for disaster relief, unemployment benefit extensions, or paying the bills Republicans put on credit.
What is still mystifying is why Republicans and their teabagger cohort contend that raising the debt limit is new spending or adding to the nation’s long term debt. It is either that they are clueless of what the debt ceiling is, or they comprehend precisely what it means and are using it to extract more from the American people as well as portray President Obama of piling on debt to break the country. It is highly likely that it is a little of both because there are a significant number of “true conservatives” who reject the idea of raising the limit at all even claiming there are no consequences of a default, and career Republicans who raised the debt limit unconditionally seven times while George W. Bush was on a deficit spending spree. Whatever their individual reasons, Republicans and teabaggers placed all the blame on the nation’s debt on Barack Obama when the lion’s share of the debt belongs to Republicans who put two unfunded wars, exorbitant tax cuts for the rich, and an unfunded Medicare prescription plan on credit that are all still accruing substantial interest and new debt; particularly the unfunded wars that will add to the deficit for a generation.
It is important to note that the House did not attach a dollar amount to the debt limit; they simply suspended the debt ceiling until March of 2015. It leads one to wonder why Congress does not do away with the debt limit entirely because it is, as mentioned above, a legislative construct with no Constitutional basis whatsoever. The 14th Amendment, Section 4, of the Constitution clearly states that “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, shall not be questioned.” Congress authorizes the public debt “by law” when they pass any piece of legislation that requires government spending. Further, in Article 1 Section 8, it states “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution requiring Congress to pass legislation to “pay the debts” or authorizing Republicans to question “the validity of the public debt” or threaten to default on debt they incurred through legislation. There is also no statute authorizing Republicans to withdraw funding “for the general welfare of the United States” to pay the debts they legislated, but it did not stop them from causing long-term economic damage to the nation when they held the debt ceiling hostage for Draconian spending cuts to domestic programs in 2011.
The House vote to suspend the debt limit for a little over a year was not necessarily a victory for President Obama or Democrats, and it was not a defeat for Boehner and 27 Republicans. They simply did the job the Constitution mandates. It was, in a sense, a victory for the American people who will not have to endure another Republican crisis or suffer the economic effects of the last two debt ceiling debacles. Americans will continue feeling the effects of the job-killing, economy-retarding sequester for nine more years, and they dodged another economic raping that cost the nation well-over a hundred-thousand-jobs during the 2011 debt ceiling crisis as well as America’s stellar credit rating when S&P issued a credit downgrade; credit ratings agencies threatened another downgrade during the government shutdown and debt default threat last year.
The real losers in this absurdly unnecessary story are the teabaggers in Congress who went to Washington to decimate the government because an African American man is President. Remarks from teabaggers criticizing Boehner for acquiescing to President Obama instead of damning him for doing his job certainly exposed their sheer hatred of this President. Tim Huelskamp (TP-KS) accused Boehner of “giving the President exactly what he wanted, which is exactly what the Republican Party said we did not want.” The co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots’ anti-government organization, Jenny Beth Martin, said Boehner calling for “A clean debt ceiling is a complete capitulation on the speaker’s part and demonstrates that he has lost the ability to lead the House of Representatives, it is time for him to go.” What Boehner did was not capitulating to, or giving, the President anything; he did his constitutional duty and teabaggers are dumbstruck their control of the House, and Boehner, appears to be coming to an end.
Speaker Boehner does not deserve any credit or criticism for enlisting Democrats to bail him, and Republicans, out yet again. He had no support from his own caucus for a debt limit increase with even minor concessions, and there was no way President Obama was going to negotiate another debt limit deal that was bound to include taking something away from the American people. Boehner may face serious repercussions from “true conservatives” in the teabagger movement, but that is the price he pays for climbing in bed with morons and imbeciles who went to Washington to destroy the government that Boehner has been all-in for over the past three years. No American should expect Boehner to suddenly begin working for the American people’s general welfare despite it is an election year. Boehner simply had no choice but to do his constitutionally-mandated job, but after leading a dysfunctional, destructive, and demented caucus for three years, reverting to normalcy and doing his job is both a cause for celebration and cause for outrage from dysfunctional teabaggers who are the real losers.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.