Monday, October 12, 2015

The 7.9% Solution

On the yet-again looming federal shutdown and national debt standoff

The U.S. House and Senate comprise 535 members. 42 divided by 535 = roughly 7.9%

The "House Freedom Caucus" consists of ~42 right-wing House of Representatives zealots who have announced that they explicitly intend to shut the federal government down and default on the national debt if "necessary" next month in order to extort their way to their radical goals of things like defunding Planned Parenthood (and eliminating womens' reproductive rights more broadly) and trying yet again to kill "Obamacare" (and whatever else they don't like). They are now melodramatically obstructing the GOP effort to replace John Boehner as House Speaker, demanding that any successor share THEIR extremist minority view 100%.
The narcissistic chutzpah of these people is rich. They call themselves "principled." The salient "principle," though, is one of a my-way-or-the-highway absolutism. Indeed, they openly argue that political "compromise" is the cardinal Dirty Word, one they simply will not brook. There's a word for this. That word is not "democracy."
Let's be very clear here: While "defunding" and transiently shutting down the government by failing to pass budget legislation is a political act within the bounds of tripartite government (notwithstanding its inanity), intentionally defaulting on the public debt is a separate and explicit Constitutional violation of legislative branch members' Oaths of office -- notwithstanding the GOP extremists' conflating attempt to glom it all together. to wit,

Section 4 of the 14th Amendment declares that "the validity of the public debt shall not be questioned." Section 5 subsequently states that the Congress has the sole responsibility over this question.

More broadly, as set forth in Article I, Sections 7 and 8, only Congress has the authority to appropriate funds and levy taxes. They can appropriate funds by raising taxes and/or borrowing from the private credit markets in the name of the nation. If they choose the latter, they are required to see to it that payment is always honored, even should that mean raising taxes or cutting other program expenditures. Neither the President not the Supreme Court has any Constitutional authority here. Should honoring the public debt require a presidential veto override, so be it. Muster the requisite votes. Should it require taking out "poison pill" provisions in order to pass debt service legislation, so be it. Those are among the legitimate mechanics of governance, in this case devolving to the Congress and no other entity.

The "poison pill" demands of the "House Freedom Caucus" in this public debt matter are simply extortion. There is no other word for it. Extortion is a crime. That it is now being perpetrated under cover of elected office makes it no less so.

Google "House Freedom Caucus." There's a Wiki page right at the top of the search results. These 42 domestic political terrorists all have names and contact info. You can bet they'll be hearing from me. All of them.

You think defaulting on the federal debt won't affect you? You fucking better think again. You have a 401k or IRA? Those are the first places you'll see the adverse effects. They will neither be trivial nor short-lived.

Interest rates would go up significantly across the board (with the inflationary upshot that would ensue), and unemployment will again worsen as the effects ripple out. The debilitating worldwide economic effects will dog us for years.

Last time I checked, 7.9% did not constitute majority rule. Last time I checked, defaulting on the national debt was still a violation of the Constitution by those sworn to uphold it, by those who have the only Constitutional authority to deal with it lawfully.

You should be acutely pissed by these preening, disingenuous derelictions. You should take action. This is not a joke.

There. I fixed their Twitter logo.


I know that a lot of this is just "who will blink first?" brinksmanship, but this time there is an element outright nihilism here. But, again, whatever you think about Planned Parenthood, using it as a weapon with the threat of default is extortion, pure and simple. If we want to defund Planned Parenthood (or any other federal program), that is entirely within the legitimate purview of Congress. But honoring the national debt is not a topic for horsetrading. That's not just my opinion, it's the plain text reading of the relevant provisions of the Constitution.