Parallel Universes

Yesterday, the GOP House members met and attempted to agree on a path forward which avoids US debt default.  Ahead of the meeting, pundits predicted members were close to an agreement and would decide maybe even that day.  The meeting has come and gone and no agreement has emerged.

The only thing clear today is that the GOP appears more like a child in a candy story (or a sailor in….), they simply cannot decide like other adults.

For some members, increasing the debt limit is a non-starter regardless of the consequences.  Some of these people do not believe there will be serious consequences because they think the US can pay their debts later when it suits us.  After all we are the biggest, most powerful, and wealthiest country in the world.  Hmmm.

Another faction do not want the country to default but see this vote as the only method they have to force a minority view on the majority.  For this group turning the deficit around is key and this vote might allow them to change entitlement formulas (in return for raising the debt ceiling) and accomplish what they feel is important.  Hmmm.

So, not unlike the negotiating box the GOP put themselves in last fall.  Those negotiation lead to the Government shutdown and accomplished nothing.  As then, John Boehner was seen as unable to control his members.  Some members have gone as far to say that if Boehner were to allow an open vote, they would vote to replace him as Speaker.

Entitlements do represent a huge problem.  Entitlements are easy to demagogue, and most politicians are delighted to take credit if it buys them votes.  Unfortunately, the underlying math doesn’t work.  Healthcare costs, and its impact upon Medicare and Medicaid are on course to bankrupt the Country.  If those GOP members opposed to increasing the debt ceiling were true to their positions, they would be active in developing a comprehensive solution… some path with new taxes and entitlement reforms.

How do we think Medicare and Medicaid recipients will react to a reduction in these benefits if Congress so mandated?  Like most complex problems, no one is ever happy to have a benefit reduced.  This is especially true if Americans think the deficit is a shared problem looking for a shared solution.

Americans are in the end people.  Most people are reasonable and inclined to look for what is fair.  When Congress is so divided, and both political sides seem to lack interest in the common good, Americans have, at this time, no example around which to rally.

Should deadlock persist and default come to be, there is no telling what exactly will happen.  Most business leaders, bankers, and economists have warned against treating default lightly.

John Boehner has a rare chance to stand up for what is sensible and in the Country’s best interest.  The question is will he?

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One Comment on “Parallel Universes”


  1. Late Tuesday the House of Representatives passed a “clean” debt ceiling bill. John Boehner took a leadership position and allowed the House to vote 221 to 201 in favor.


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