I’m listening to both the US Congress and US Senate debate the deal to raise the debt ceiling, and shaking my head. What theatre. What grandstanding. What utter bullshit.
You don’t have to search long to find opinions condemning the entire exercise as political masturbation and a display of leverage by a vocal minority of the American body politic. CNN alone has posted two opinions on their front page in which a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton criticizes the entire situation, while David Frum — yes, that David Frum!! — slams the Republican party itself for letting itself become hijacked by an extremist arm.
Perhaps the best summary I’ve heard of the whole mess, and of the consequences likely to follow — is another CNN contributor: Fareed Zakaria.
“My basic point is that this is a crisis that we have manufactured out of whole cloth. We have created a circumstance in which the world doubts our credibility, rating agencies are thinking of downgrading our debt and the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency could be jeopardized.
Please understand that none of these things are happening because the United States is running deficits. There was no indication – by any metric – that the United States was having difficulty borrowing money one month ago. In fact, the world has been lending money to the United States more cheaply than ever before.
We face downgrades and investor panic not because of our deficits but because we are behaving like deadbeats, refusing to pay our bills, pouting while the bill collector waits at the door.”
I urge you to read (or listen to) the entire piece. It gives some indication of the potential consequences looming in the distance, still blurry and hard to hear what with the political cacophony going on in Washington. Not just for America, mind you; we shouldn’t be surprised if some of that sound and fury radiates out to the rest of the world.
Side note: if by chance you feel like throwing up your hands and completely disavowing any faith in humanity, I urge you to read the comment section of that — or nearly any — CNN article.