Such is the charming flamboyance of suicide bombers that they are willing to blow themselves and many innocent people in their proximity to shreds and splinters in an imagined furtherance of goals or abstractions unshared by masses of their fellow citizens. It is their zealous way or the highway to heaven for those who do not share their eccentric zeal and fanatical spirit. The more aspirational and pragmatic bomber will actually offer choices, generally the following: succumb to extortion, or be annihilated. A somewhat fair and balanced approach, don’t you think?
I suppose in assessing the suicidal bombing hierarchy there is something admirably democratic in offering the choice between being ripped and burned by blast and shrapnel and consenting to the bomber’s irrational and rarefied demands. Which brings us to current Republican members of Congress. Having taken the nation hostage, they are refusing to cast, for the 75th time since 1962, and the sixth time since 2000, the yes vote necessary to allow the Treasury to continue operating, continuing to access financing as businesses and individuals do in order to sustain operation or daily life. They refuse of course, unless a radical, long-term budgetary regimen only they endorse is accepted by all.
The day on which America faces initial default is August 2. The repercussions begin instantly and the descent will be swift. Credit agencies around the world will immediately downgrade, for the first time in history, the credit rating of the United States. Republican misinformation to the contrary, it is questionable whether Treasury will have enough money to “prioritize debt service,” essentially taking care of what is owed on Treasury bonds and bills come due. If Treasury could do it initially, they could not do it in perpetuity unless they convinced all those holding Treasury bonds to roll them over, quite a stretch.
Even if Treasury could initially manage to meet its obligations, credit agencies say that alone would not retain the credit rating, since failure to meet all the federal government’s other obligations would cause the rating to be reduced. And this is besides the mayhem and misery that would ensue when paying off Treasury obligations forced 44% of federal spending to come to a halt. That would entail the certain and immediate suspension of many critical services from military operations, food inspection, Medicaid, Medicare, passports and visas…virtually every federally funded service or operation, throwing the country into an unprecedented and unmistakable and unnecessary chaos.
Interest rates would immediately rocket upward, meaning foremost, the United States would be required to offer larger interest payments in order to obtain further loans even when the crisis is resolved, Credit for business and individuals very, very rapidly would become all but impossible due to the exorbitant rates. A 44% reduction in spending would mean, on an annual basis, a 10% reduction in the United States’ Gross Domestic Product, in other words, a catastrophic body blow to the American economy. The stock market plunge would be swift, the level of panic unpredictable. But as in other such panics or slides, an enormous amount of wealth would be evaporated. Needless to say, 9.2% unemployment and the attendant misery currently experienced soon would come to viewed as a relative golden age. This is no hypothetical worst-case scenario, but the predictable and fully expected set of consequences upon default. The only thing unpredictable is the degree of catastrophe.
The entire spiral of devastation would not begin due to any financial or other failure on the part of the United States. No, it would begin because members of one political party in one house of Congress refused to cast a single vote that responsible, or really, just fundamentally sane members of Congress of both parties have cast since 1917 when the debt ceiling law was first enacted.
Again, these political terrorists’ purpose is to obtain through extortion, through the threat of certain and real harm to America’s taxpayers and citizens, a draconian dismantling of programs Americans long have relied upon and by great majorities wish to leave as they are, as well as to retain historically low, economically and socially detrimental tax rates for unprecedentedly wealthy Americans, which also by great majorities Americans oppose. These suicide bombers are demanding, at the threat of pulling the trigger, that America in perpetuity raise no more annual revenue than it currently does, shrinking its 21st Century government to a size no one but this small, radical and fundamentalist constituency is deluded enough to believe is sufficient or remotely desirable.
Incidentally, the reason America has accumulated the debt and deficit it carries today is that three Republican presidents in succession have refused to raise an adequate amount of revenue to fund government at the size most Americans wish it to be. So Republicans at present are terrorizing Americans using the pretext of a problem they themselves created. For in fact, in 2001, the federal government was in the black, in surplus, within range of closing out the national debt. Then came the hacksaw to the revenue stream in order to dump windfalls in the laps of the rich, and two wars nobody in the country asked for.
No one will escape the harm, the bombers included, which of course is characteristic of the fanatical and disordered mind that engages in such behavior. And without question, the casualties of this suicide bombing won’t merely be economic.