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Friday, July 8, 2011

Are Republicans Simply Incapable of Agreeing on the Debt Ceiling?

We're getting down to the short strokes now on the debt ceiling negotiations, and I'm trying to put together a fairly longish post about those negotiations for publication sometime later today (hopefully).

In the meantime, I just read Nate Silver's New York Times article Why the Republicans Resist Compromise and I urge everyone else to do so as well.

Although focused mostly on the GOP's political chances in next year's presidential election, Silver has crunched the numbers and discovered -- unsurprisingly -- that the Republican party has been thoroughly taken over by its most conservative (read Tea Bagger) members. In addition to discussing what this means for Michele Bachmann's likelihood of winning the Republican nomination, Silver's article has this chilling passage that relates to the ongoing debt ceiling negotations:

This is why Republicans find it difficult to compromise on something like the debt ceiling, even when it might seem they have substantial incentive to do so. Republicans are still fairly unpopoular -- only about 40 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the party, which is barely better than their standing in 2006 or 2008, (although Democrats have become significantly less popular since then). As long as conservative Republicans are much more likely to vote than anyone else, the party can fare well despite that unpopularity, as it obviously did in 2010. But it means that Republican members of Congress have a mandate to remain steadfast to the conservatives who are responsible for electing them.

(emphasis added)

I've long believed that the Big Money Boyz would eventually call the Republicans onto the carpet and explain the facts of life to them: the debt ceiling absolutely has to be raised, or interest rates will skyrocket and the Creditor Class (the Big Money Boyz) will find the value of their bond portfolios dropping like a stone. I kind of assumed that all this Republican posturing over the debt ceiling and demanding huge spending cuts in entitlement programs was just a show for the rubes back home.

But Silver's article has got me wondering whether the Republican Congress Critters -- whom I've never thought to be very bright -- can be reasoned with or even threatened by the Big Money Boyz. Most people can't conceive of causal relationships more intricate than 1 cause = 1 effect. If the Republican freshmen understand in their bones that it was the ultra-conservative Tea Baggers who put them into office, then they may not be able to also comprehend that crashing the economy could be much, much worse for them personally than disappointing their lobotomized supporters will be.

And if they can't understand that, then their willingness to do the reasonable thing goes out the window.

And the deadline looms nearer.

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