In Government Shutdown/Debt Crisis, ‘Default Denier’ Republicans Pushed US/World Economy To the Brink, Again

Republican disapproval jumps 11 percent in recent budget/debt default crisis.

Republican disapproval jumps 11 percent in recent budget/debt default crisis.

(Image source: The Washington Post)

“Cut it or Shut it!” — Republican chant during the 2011 and 2012 budget and fiscal crises…


Though it appears Republicans may at last cave in their current game of economic brinksmanship, let’s be perfectly clear who or what’s to blame. It was not typical bickering in Congress. It was not the fact that Republicans and Democrats disagreed on a whole host of issues. And it’s not because, as Alan Greenspan says, our political system is a failure. It’s simply because Republicans decided to link an ideological issue surrounding a Republican drive to kill Obamacare to the broader issue of keeping the government, and everything else for that matter, running.

What we witnessed was not the failure of a political system, but the drastic moral and intellectual failure of the Republican Party. A party whose entirely irresponsible and selfish actions brought us to the brink, yet again….

A Bankrupt, Extremist, Callous and Irresponsible Ideology

There seems to be no rational limit to Republican idolatry of an ideology, in the service of wealthy special interests, that has proven morally and rationally bankrupt time and time again. And in the most recent government shut down and debt default crisis, the direct threat is now that both the US and world economies would steadily go bankrupt as Republicans attempted to foist their extreme political agenda on the rest of us one more time.

Analysts noted that the recent government shut-down (tied directly to Republican demands for concessions over Obamacare) cost Americans more than 100 million dollars per day and that the number would likely balloon further if the shut-down continued. Similar analysis also showed that the related debt default (also tied to concessions), beginning at midnight tonight, could result in total losses to the world economy in the range of 2.5 trillion dollars over the course of just one year (about 4.2 percent world GDP). Despite these ominous warnings, Republicans appeared, until the very last minute, to be in denial of the ongoing and growing risk resulting from their imposed shutdown and dangerous games of chicken with national debt default.

Earlier today, both ratings agencies and Wall Street chimed in. Fitch threatened yet one more downgrade in the US credit rating, while Wall Street hinted that the game was up asking Republicans to step down in their ongoing and irrational tirade, primarily to serve a few Wall Street special interests.

The drama on Wall Street and the reports of big dollar numbers masked the more tangible and personal losses that were less apparent in mainstream reporting. Child victims of cancer applying for NIH grants to help gain access to treatments their parents can’t afford had to wait in hopes that the Republican blackmail machine fell off the rails. Hundreds of local parks, military bases, schools, libraries and facilities receiving government grant and funding assistance had hours of operation curtailed, events canceled, or had to make yet one more set of hard choices to keep operating. Hundreds of thousands of government employees were released on furlough due to Republican intransigence and brinksmanship. Scientists, teachers, researchers, doctors, and those supporting police officers, security guards, and firemen were all included in the furlough. Essential research was stalled, education and health care was curtailed, and law enforcement and public safety was jeopardized.

Meanwhile, tens of millions of dollars were cut off from middle and working class Americans each and every day. Americans whose skills focus on finding a cure for cancer, inventing helpful new technologies, keeping a weather eye to an ongoing climate change crisis, keeping Wall Street from imploding, providing revenues for ongoing government functions, or just keeping the essential functions of the most powerful civilization in the world humming. These everyday people are the nefarious ‘villains’ Republicans invoke each time they demonize government in rhetoric or lobby for the dismantling of all things public in their endless quest to serve a corporate profit motive. A quest that has increasingly included an incessant barrage of budget blackmail crises.

Brinksmanship and Blackmail In the Service of Greed

It is a sad fact that the ideology Republicans now serve endlessly pushes for short term gains and concessions for wealthy individuals linked to sprawling, bloated, exploitative, self-serving, myopic, and inefficient multinational corporations. In the case of the current shut-down, massive for-profit health care corporations who stand at risk of losing a small percent of their profits (resulting from over-pricing medicine, rationing health care only to those able to afford spiraling costs, and excluding poor and middle class individuals with major illnesses) after the implementation of Obamacare are the primary beneficiaries of the most recent Republican action. And the Republicans would risk wrecking the world economy in order to preserve the overly exploitative and harmful structures of the for-profit medical corporations and related multinationals. (In Growth Shock, such badly behaving corporations were labeled Godzilla Megazombies or GMZs. In this case, they have certainly earned the title.)

The Republican attitude, in this as in so many other cases, is ‘give us what we want, or we’ll sabotage everything else.’ This destructive and anarchic mind-set illustrates a degree of petulance not seen in modern memory. In other words, large corporations, like the medical industry, are believed to be entitled to exploit their fellow human beings, even to the extent that they shorten their life-spans, for the sake of their corporate and individual profits. If concessions to these self-serving entities are not ensured, the Republicans attack the very system that supports modern civilization by threatening to shut it down completely.

The Latest Link in a Chain of Crises

Sadly, the current crisis is just the latest in a long string of such events spear-headed by Republican and Tea Party backers. Republican brinksmanship has gone in the service of removing women’s rights, de-funding efforts to research human-caused climate change, instilling new systems of voter suppression in the south, neutering legislation supporting SEC efforts to reduce risk on Wall Street, de-funding EPA efforts to keep water and air clean and to regulate US carbon emissions, and a number of other beneficial activities in which the US Government is involved.

In total, these Republican disruptions are estimated to have cost the US population on the order of 900,000 jobs and 51 billion dollars in personal income annually. But the past damage caused by Republicans linking political issues to budget passage pale in comparison to the billions and trillions that stand to be lost should the US government default on its debt or continue to be shut down for an extended period.

One would expect this kind of behavior, and its related linking of funding the federal government through the extraction of political concessions, from a Batman-style super-villain, not from an American political party. So, with Republicans and the American people in general, the level of confusion and cognitive dissonance continues to reach unprecedented highs.

Will the American People Let Republicans Get Away With It?

Political polls covering the current Republican-inflicted shutdown and debt crisis show that Republicans bear most of the blame for the most recent debacle. However, big money ideological interests like the Koch Brothers are likely to spend large sums to muddy the water, shift blame and obscure Republicans role in the most recent shutdown and debt default. So it is uncertain whether the American people will be hoodwinked, as they were during the emergence of the ‘revolution for the rich’ Tea Party insurgency, or if they will hold Republicans accountable for their infliction of harm on the broader American public in order to extract concessions for their special interest backers.

A recent CBS News interview with political analyst John Sides provides reasons to be cautious.

But with Republican congressional disapproval ratings rocketing 11 points to 74%, it appears possible that the Republicans have finally bitten off more than they can chew and the American public has, at last, figured out the implications of their dangerous games. The Atlantic recently published an article listing the 32 Congressmen most responsible for the current government shut down. Small surprise, every one is a member of the Republican Party or a rabid member of the Tea Party Caucus.


Republicans Losing a No-Win Game

Both Sides Should Worry About Political Consequences

The 32 Congressmen Most Responsible for The Shut-Down

Republican Tea Party to Force Government Shutdown

Republican Bickering Has Cost Nearly 1 Million Jobs

White House Fights Default Deniers

Leave a comment


  1. carl campbell

     /  October 16, 2013

    I think a lot of Republicans are unhappy about this, and that should be noted. It will very likely cause the party to split, which is not in itself a good thing for the country’s future.

    • Conservative ideology has gotten too extreme and absolutist. There’s the egg for the chicken you’ve already pointed out. In my view, with such a level of absolutism running through the right wing these days, schisms and conflict are unavoidable. I hope it resolves well. I’m not entirely optimistic.

  2. Robert, nice to see you’re back.

    I haven’t really followed the shutdown too closely so thanks for the details. It’s hard for people outside the US to understand why anyone would object to a healthcare system that includes the poor.

    Australians have a phrase for the act of throwing a tantrum. We call it “spit the dummy”. That’s what the republicans are doing, they’re spitting the dummy.

    • steve

       /  October 16, 2013

      Sometime in the not too distant future, the world will stop buying the junk bonds that this country is selling. When that happens, the party is over and things will get ugly. Hopefully I’m wrong. But I think socially, politically and financially this country is going to see a very ugly storm soon.

    • They’re rabidly opposed to helping anyone in trouble. And they endlessly blame the victim. In this case, they lost and they can’t reconcile.

      On a related note, have you seen the fantastic TV series ‘Breaking Bad?’ It’s about a high school chemistry teacher who gets sick with lung cancer and can’t afford healthcare, so he turns to selling meth to pay for treatment and keep his family afloat. I think it’s excellent social commentary on the issue of healthcare in the US. Very well done. But also very intense.

      • Yes, excellent TV series. Unfortunately, the strategy used to pay the medical bills to treat the protagonist’s lung cancer cannot be replicated in real life, thanks to the ever-vigilant police departments in the never-ending “War on Drugs.”

        • Oh, I agree. The survival strategy and portrayal are unrealistic. But the situation is entirely relevant to current problems.

  3. steve

     /  October 16, 2013

    Both parties are corrupt and neither is capable of good rulership. Both parties are there to serve their own interests and those most responsible for getting them where they are at. Democrats could care less about how irresponsible people are. They will tax as much as they can to curry more favor from those they give it to and increase their power. They’ll pretend to care about certain things, but if the price is right, they’ll cave. Republicans will destroy our environment and while claiming to care about economic responsibility, they will give any dollar they save to military interests a

  4. Tom

     /  October 17, 2013

    Robert – nice to see that you’re still around. i’m completely done with politics (since Obama’s
    2008 campaign that I worked for and, once elected how he turned out to be a moderate Republican rather than a progressive Democrat) and am convinced that the government, especially after Citizens United, no longer works to help the common citizen or to protect the environment (or us from corporate decisions and actions). It’s all military all the time now – with local police even being given military equipment, homeland security and FEMA now being threats to us, and most of our former rights (Carlin was right – they’re only privileges) having been taken away. i’m much more concerned now with environmental degradation, ocean overheating, acidifying and overfishing (not to mention vast mammal and other beachings, loss of predator fish, severe decline in phytoplankton, etc), tree and vegetation death (due to tropospheric ozone rise, methane, hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen and other noxious gases from our civilization and a warming northern and southern hemisphere), the attendant superstorms that only grow in size and intensity year on year, climate change effects on weather patterns, our decreasing ability to grow enough food (maybe soon any at all), and of course the economic time-bomb of the global banking cartel. Thanks for your updates. I appreciate how much time it must take to cobble sources together, provide visual content and comments and present your findings in any kind of consistent way. Just keep up the good work.

    • Thanks for the feedback. I have lots of work to do covering the issues you’ve mentioned. And you’re right, there’s nothing pretty about the politics.

  5. Nancy

     /  October 17, 2013

    Check out the list Robert posted from the Atlantic. 32 congressmen who no doubt graduated at the bottom of their class. Their constituents should impeach them.

  6. I was reading my usual feeds today , and came across one about Acapulco. They are bankrupt, they have the highest murder rate in Mexico, and the storms drove crocodiles onto the streets of the Mexican beach resort and turned much of it into a mud bath.

    I was thinking these man made demons, will be a template for the future, with nature pounding away on already stressed communities.

    ” The rains brought by tropical storms Manuel and Ingrid have pole-axed Guerrero’s economy, with Governor Angel Aguirre saying total damages would exceed 18 billion pesos ($1.4 billion) – equivalent to 9 percent of the state’s annual economic output.

    That huge bill has dug a bigger hole for the city, which Mayor Luis Walton declared bankrupt last year.

    “The city of Acapulco doesn’t have the economic means to sort this out,” Walton said of the devastation. “We can’t.”

    • God, that’s just terrible. I’ll take a look at the Acapulco situation and see what I can dig up. Do you mind if I quote bits from your comment?

  7. Study concludes climate change will wreak havoc on oceans by 2100

    ( —A new study looking at the impacts of climate change on the world’s ocean systems concludes that by the year 2100, about 98 percent of the oceans will be affected by acidification, warming temperatures, low oxygen, or lack of biological productivity – and most areas will be stricken by a multitude of these stressors.

    Read more at:

    • We are already seeing rising levels of anoxia. The new State of the Oceans report by Alex Rogers was pretty alarming to me.

      • There was seminar recently in Seward , Alaska …….. on acidification. This came at the bottom of the article :

        ” A colleague of his recently found pteropods’ shells actually dissolving in the Southern Ocean. Until that discovery, the phenomenon had been observed only in a laboratory setting, and at oyster hatcheries in Oregon and Washington, he said. OARC researchers are now looking for evidence of this in the Gulf of Alaska.”

        Seward important to ocean acidification research

        • A good paper, that. Acidification coming down from the north, heating and bleaching proceeding from the south, and anoxia cropping up in the deep oceans. The world’s seas are in big trouble.

          I honestly can’t believe they’re even considering the stadium wave paper over at TAIB. Never read such a hunk of bunk in my life.

  8. Another related article worth linking to:

    Republicans got what they wanted
    By Julian Zelizer (CNN), October 17, 2013

    Thank you for the post. I missed seeing them and kept checking. Usual morning rounds, including Climate Progress and Climate Change on Google Plus.

    • If these idiots do manage to wreck the government, as they promise, then we are truely and royally screwed when it comes to climate change. I seriously hope there are severe consequences for them in the next election. They are hamstringing any effective government response to any kind of crisis. Meanwhile, the level of numerous crises keeps rising.

    • I must say, in addition, that this looks like desperate spinning. The republicans are now at 74% disapproval and almost everyone is beating them to death. The question, for me, is — how long can republicans hold a modicum of power if all they ever do is sabotage things?

      • The author seems mostly worried that the Republicans are “normalizing” the use of “radical tactics” (his words, not mine) people are more likely to tolerate as politics as usual, nothing was actually resolved but merely put off until January and February of next year, and there is every reason to expect them to use this sort of strategy in following years. And he reminds the reader that this is of course against a backdrop in which the Tea Party Republicans have been setting the agenda ever since the last election.

        Then of course public memory rapidly fades, and with an unrelenting spin which Goebbels would find enviable, they may succeed in shifting more of the blame over to the Democrats in the weeks to come, or at least succeed in getting everyone to think general public opinion has shifted in this fashion. Personally, I don’t think effective propaganda has to change public opinion so much as change the general perception of it.

        It also bears keeping in mind that they also have the gerrymandering in many states that makes it also impossible to dislodge them,. Then there is a great deal of financing that certain people can throw behind the tea party types if the more traditional types don’t tow the line.

        • They are carpet bombing. People are starting to get upset about it. The fact that this article was written shows a growing awareness of the insidiousness of their tactics.

          Here’s a good quote from Robert Reich yesterday:

          “Suppose a relatively small group financed by a handful of billionaires (1) takes over state governments in order to redistrict, gerrymander, require voter IDs, purge voter rolls, and otherwise suppress the votes of the majority; (2) secretly bankrolls candidates for these safe seats who pledge to shrink and dismember the government; (3) then, once these candidates are elected, has them shut down the government in order to repeal or amend laws the plotters dislike; (4) then forces the nation to default on its debts and thereby throws the economy into a tailspin in order to get their way; and (5) runs a vast PR campaign to convince the American public of big lies about laws the plotters dislike or policies they seek. Would you call this an attempted coup d’etat? If not, what would you call it? And what would you do about it?”

  9. Robert, Reich has it nailed. But if, before people have had enough, Tea Party congressmen and their enablers manage to get the US to default that might send the world into an economic spin worse than 2008. They however seem blissfully unaware of the consequences.

  10. The crazy – lazy jet stream is about to hit us again, the upper energy from Typhoon Wipha is crossing the Bering Sea, the models place it in the lower Mississippi Valley by next week .

    Near-record temperatures expected in Interior Alaska
    The latest round of above-normal temperatures continues what so far has been an unseasonably warm October, Cox said. The average temperature so far this month has been almost 8 degrees above normal, he said.

    “There’s only been one day in the month of October that’s been below normal and that was Oct. 1,” Cox said.

    • . If this comes to pass. Dr. Francis’ theory gains more power . Because that’s a hell of a loop from the west Pacific to Alaska to the Mississippi Valley

  11. It’s 44 F degrees at pump station 3 on the Dalton Highway tonight . This is on the North side of the Brooks Range.

  12. Oct. 17th 2013 –
    Not one station in Alaska is reporting a below freezing temperature .

    It’s 43F degrees at Aanktuvuk Pass on the Dalton Haul Road. The top of the Brooks Range.

    • Damn that’s crazy.

    • Looking at ECMWF models, this energy is predicted to stay primarily toward the north, entering eastern Canada by early next week, then jumping off shore at Newfoundland and deepening into a ridiculous 950 mb storm in the Georges Bank region of the North Atlantic. Going forward, the North Atlantic is predicted to get hit by this major storm before it begins to vent its fury on the UK.

      That Rossby wave is very deep. But, as yet, models are not showing the energy translating from the Pacific storm all the way into the central US. Given the state of the Jet, though, it still bears watching.

      I considered writing about this but the forecast and model predictions don’t yet line up with the potential plainly visible in the Jet. Will keep an eye on conditions and if they change, it will certainly bear writing about.

      We have a few days yet. The storm is lashing the Bering now, will cross to Alaska tomorrow and then into western Canada by Sunday. At that point, we’ll have a better idea about track. Something worth keeping an eye on in any case.

      And, yeah, that Rossby wave is very strong. Will have to keep an eye out for a Halloween surprise…


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