Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blaming Boehner

My internet access is extremely spotty until the middle of the week and posting will consequently be light. So instead of reading my blog, go read Jon Chait instead.

There's a hierarchy of blame when it comes to the debt ceiling crisis.* Obviously, at the top of the hierarchy are the Republicans who are either totally unwilling or very reluctant to raise the ceiling. But next after them is surely John Boehner.

Boehner, more than any other person or group, is responsible for subjecting America to the depredations of rabid Tea Party congresspeople. Boehner is simultaneously unable to control his caucus and unwilling to split his caucus, meaning that every time the far right fringe makes a demand of the leadership, he promptly knuckles under. As a result, the agenda of the entire House of Representatives is being set by fifty-odd Tea Partiers. As Chait explains, there's no reason this should be the case -- there's a Democratic-leaning compromise to raise the debt ceiling that could quite easily pass both houses of Congress -- except that Boehner won't consider risking his Speakership for the good of the country. What makes his behavior particularly galling is that the man clearly understands the urgency of raising the ceiling, as well as the basic dangers of major spending cuts during a period of economic weakness. In short, Boehner is consciously placing the entire United States in mortal economic danger to preserve whatever modicum of political influence he has left.

*Not the "debt crisis," by the way. Everyone in Europe and half the people in America are referring to it as this, and the phrase is totally misleading. The debt isn't causing a crisis. The political mechanism is causing a crisis. Although, thinking about the above, maybe it isn't really the "debt ceiling crisis," either. It's the Boehner crisis.

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