It’s hard to comprehend, but Congress may not raise the debt ceiling. That might lead to a June U.S. debt default.
Since it’s unprecedented, nobody knows what would happen. However, it would likely result in massive job losses, unforeseeable economic collapse, and decades of dread and hatred from other nations. Only dying civilizations can inflict such a vast self-inflicted harm.
Congress has skirted this calamity. But I’ve always believed that the Republican Party’s funders on Wall Street and in corporate America would never allow it because they knew how much damage it would do—not just to the country, which they don’t care about, but also to them.
The GOP donor class, never lovers of realism, has been falling farther into the fever swamps where politicians and supporters live.
Right-wing ultra-wealthy used to comprehend the world well enough to act in their own best advantage. Some continue. However, millionaires who watch Fox News as much as party members have significantly more power. These millionaires have the same cognitive damage Fox causes its followers.
This brain-damaged community believes that the “administrative state”—the New Deal, Social Security, and regulations that prevent chemical companies from poisoning your drinking water—must be destroyed to save America. Normal Americans have no idea the right is planning this or what such phrases signify.
Any non-hard-right history argues that the New Deal and the fundamental architecture of U.S. politics it produced were a compromise that permitted humans to live with capitalism. In the 1930s, the only choices were fascism, which would maintain capitalism but abolish democracy, or abolition of capitalism and a new system.
The U.S. right now believes this arrangement was a terrible mistake and hopes to fix it by creating this crisis. In 2001, Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform and a prominent right-wing strategist, said, “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” They spot a crucial chance to start Norquist’s dream.
Republican Party members didn’t always agree with this. In 1954, Dwight Eisenhower wrote:
The federal government must take on obligations that the majority of people want it to. Any political party that abolished social security, unemployment insurance, labor regulations, and agriculture programs would be forgotten. Of sure, a small group thinks you can. They are foolish and few.
You can decide if these folks are foolish, but their number is growing. Today, most Republicans would fear Eisenhower as a Woke Marxist. Newsmax ran 37 parts on his damaging statement to his brother that “the policies of this Administration have not been radically changed from those of the last.” Thus, he shared New Deal Democrats’ fundamental principles.
GOP leaders now want and feel they can achieve radical change. “I think the day could come where we can replace the New Deal with a Better Deal,” said former Vice President Mike Pence. Steve Bannon promises to “deconstruct the administrative state.” The House bill’s budget cutbacks would begin to dismantle the administrative state of taxation and regulation that has enslaved us.
Bannon’s ultimate objective would be a return to pre-New Deal politics and savage predatory capitalism that can only survive when democracy is severely hobbled: It’s overlooked that most adults couldn’t vote during this capitalism’s heyday. This is what Peter Thiel meant when he denounced “the extension of the franchise to women” and stated that capital freedom was incompatible with democracy.
Right-wing intellectuals have convinced its leading politicians to follow this path. In his presidential candidacy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has railed against the administrative state. They either don’t realize what they’re advocating or are serious authoritarians. However, Republicans like Eisenhower believe regular politics leads to disaster, so they feel they have no option.
As its detractors like to say, “It’s not a political movement,”
They believe the New Deal will lead to a totalitarian future when starving Americans capture rats to feed and all 5-year-olds are compelled to undergo sex reassignment surgery. “It’s not a political movement,” Tucker Carlson told the Heritage Foundation, the right’s most prominent think group. It’s evil.”
It’s insane. But a large portion of the U.S. right believes it. Some realize a U.S. default would hurt. They feel this is important to avert the far worse misery that would come when Bill Gates personally vaccinates everyone at gunpoint every three days. They probably cry at their own bravery, seeing themselves as real patriots eager to sacrifice for the greater good.
They also realize that hardship by ordinary people may help them politically. For 30 years, the Democratic Party has warned of the dire repercussions of the national debt. Clinton declared in his 1996 State of the Union that “the era of big government is over.”
“We have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in,” Obama said in his 2011 State of the Union speech. That’s unsustainable.” The Biden White House boasted of “the largest ever decline in the federal deficit” last November. Republicans just want to discuss budgetary prudence as Democrats have supported since the 1990s. Can Joe Biden refuse?
The Biden administration has a strategy for this. Close their eyes and pretend it was 2011. “Really getting business leaders in key districts to lobby their congressman to tell them how important it was that the U.S. doesn’t default on its debts,” a top Obama official told the Washington Post during a prior debt ceiling dispute.
“This is not the Republican Party of George W. Bush or his father. Most don’t care if Fortune 100 CEOs flip out.” The Biden team seemed to be confused after discovering this.
Biden should have a hidden team ready to implement a radical alternative.
The Biden administration appears to be debating whether they can claim the 14th Amendment of the Constitution requires them to ignore the debt limit and continue borrowing money—a debate they should have settled two seconds after Republicans took the House in the 2022 midterms, given the GOP’s obvious trajectory. Unless you know all of human history, the idea that the powerful have no plan to avert disaster appears absurd.
Get ready. One political faction has moved to fantasy. In the opposing group’s fantasy world, the first faction hasn’t done this. Our crumbling empire may soon become dangerous.