The post you are now reading is not the one I was planning on writing.
The post I was going to write was an open letter to John Boehner demanding a clean CR vote.
It would have been a screaming, barn burner of a post. Alternating between logical arguments and righteous fury. And broken up with the occasional insult involving his skin tone or his drinking.
And then I said, fuck it.
Because it wouldn’t have done any good.
Yeah, the writing of it would have been cathartic. And I would have gotten plenty of “Attaboys” and “Good on ya’s”.
But Boehner wouldn’t have read it. And on the off chance he did, it wouldn’t have changed his mind.
And that depresses the hell out of me. Because I’m running out of things to do about this.
I’ve called Greg Walden’s office to tell him to pass a clean CR. I’ve signed every online petition that been slipped into my inbox. I even sent fifty bucks to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank. Short of flying to Washington and putting Boehner in a head lock, I’ve done all that I can.
And part of me is certain that it’s not going to be enough.
There are three ways this can play out.
One: Someone finally smacks Boehner upside the head and makes him put up the CR and Debt Limit bills up for votes, they pass and we move on.
Two: We hit the debt limit, default and trigger an economic meltdown that makes 2007 look like a dust up over a bounced check.
Three: Despite his continued assertions that he won’t use extraordinary measures, Obama bites the bullet and either declares the Debt Limit unconstitutional via the 14’th Amendment or he tells Jack Lew to mint the Trillion Dollar coin. At which point, there would be all sorts of legal issues involving separation of powers and maybe even Articles of Impeachment because why the fuck not?
One would be the best case scenario. Two would be the worst. And three…
Well, maybe impeachment would fly in the House but it wouldn’t get past The Senate. And maybe even throw the election even further to the Democrats. Of course, that would mean one party rule and without a viable opposition party, there’s a chance some bad ideas would slip through the cracks.
And while if we do have one party rule for a bit, the Democrats would be preferable because at this point, they’d do less damage, it is not a sustainable situation. At some point, new political parties would have to step in.
(And seriously, Greens. Local and State races!! Stop going for the brass ring of The White House. Build a power base first, then we’ll talk about the Big Chair.)
However, as Josh Marshall points out over at Talking Points Memo, there’s a good chance that number three may not even work!
The whole point of a reserve currency, a debt obligation that is regarded as having essentially zero risk, is that it has regularity, certainty a total lack of surprises. Let’s say the President takes the 14th Amendment route, which I guarantee you he won’t. Wall Street types could give us the exact amount. But those treasuries would need to be heavily discounted because they would certainly be the focus of a series of lawsuits that would take time to settle since the move is at best constitutionally questionable. How much less will you pay for that 14th Amendment bond since there’s a chance the Supreme Court might eventually decide it’s invalid and needn’t be honored? What risk do you factor in that the President gets impeached over the move and Congress and the next President expressly renounce the obligations? And if you’re wondering, is it even remotely possible that on the day those securities go on auction the airwaves won’t be filled with House Tea Partiers warning people not to buy them because they’re illegal and lack the full faith and credit of the USA?
So sure you’ll buy the treasuries that the US government has been selling and making good on for over two centuries since they come with the full faith and credit of the United States of America. But how much will you pay for the ones the President says he’s behind but part of the Congress doesn’t? Same with the platinum coin. Even more so with cockamamie ideas about paying some people and not others.
Solidity is about confidence. Your creditors – banks and foreign nations – evaluate you not only by your ability to pay (which the US clearly has) but also the regularity with which you actually do pay – your propensity and willingness to pay. Once you start paying some obligations and not others, investors start to get freaked out, if even you’re still paying them. Because who’s to say they’re not next to get stiffed. This is what Wall Street is working very hard to tell Washington right now. Confidence is the simple assurance that the full force of the US government is beyond the obligation; and it’s going to be done by the book. Payments will be made right on time. Once you issue bonds that the government of the United States itself isn’t sure are legitimate, you’ve punctured the balloon and there’s no going back. Best case you’d have the ‘real’ Treasury bonds and then a few months of heavily discounted US question mark bonds. So two classes of US bonds. US junk bonds if you will.
So, honestly, the best of all possible outcomes would be One.
So please, if you haven’t called your representative yet, please do so. You can either call the House switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or go directly to the House.Gov website to the Office number of your guy or gal.
I’ve done all I can at the moment. Now it’s your turn to step up.