The View From Across Oceans on Our Debt Ceiling Idiocy:
Hey, gang, at the end of what will be known as our waning salad days, let's check out what editorials from around the world are saying about our fucktarded debt ceiling debate (also known as "That Time the GOP Destroyed the World's Economy and Unleashed the Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse") to see if we can learn anything by viewing ourselves through the eyes of others (here's a hint: we're pretty goddamned dumb):
From South Africa's Business Day, July 18:
"Deficit reduction will have to be achieved through a combination of higher taxes and reduced spending. The golden ratio between the two - the level of taxation and spending that both avoids stalling economic growth and minimises the effect on the poor - depends on the prevailing economic circumstances. The Republicans argue that spending cuts should account for 85% of the required savings, and tax increases just 15%, to achieve optimal deficit reduction. But this is significantly out of kilter with international best practice. In Britain, a ratio of 3:1 has been applied and has met with significant resistance. Even the austerity programmes imposed by the international community on Ireland and Greece do not come close to an 85%-15% split."The Republicans have themselves never imposed such harsh deficit reduction measures when in power. In fact, they have tended more towards higher taxes than towards spending cuts. Under Ronald Reagan, tax increases accounted for more than 75% of deficit reduction measures."
From the South China Morning Post, July 18: "The main stumbling block to raising the debt ceiling above US$14.29 trillion is in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where the tea party faction is demanding savage budget cuts and no new revenue, even from closing loopholes in tax law that was always intended to raise it. It has extended a bitter feud with the Democrats over government spending into rejection of every compromise entertained by other factions, including Obama's offer to slash the deficit by US$4 trillion over 10 years and trim 'untouchables' like Medicare and Medicaid."
From a Beijing newspaper (translated by the BBC), July 16, a genuine threat: "Analysts believe that Obama and Congress will 'definitely' reach an agreement [on raising the US debt ceiling] in the end, but they have dared to use their sovereign credit as a ball to kick around and dared to turn China, Japan, Germany and many other countries that have bought US Treasury bonds into hostages... As long as the 'relative decline' of the US economy is real, the decline of the US' dollar-centred financial hegemony will be unavoidable. This process ought to be gradual, and no-one wants it to come overnight. But it should not be averted."
The Irish Times on July 18, regarding "Cut, Cap, and Balance":
"The measure, which has no hope of passing in Congress, is populist political grandstanding by Republicans in the hope of regaining the initiative ahead of the presidentials. But the public is not impressed. Polls consistently show a majority favour higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations to help reduce debt."
The Irish Times also made the contrast between the two American parties pretty damn stark:
"The difference between Democrats and Republicans, however intractable, remains remarkably simple. The latter, driven by hard-line Tea Party ideologues, insist that any deal on cutting the US deficit, a precondition for agreeing to raising the debt ceiling, can not include tax increases, and specifically not those on the wealthy proposed by President Obama. And the president will not countenance deep reductions in healthcare for the elderly."
That's about as clear as it gets: Republicans want to save money for the wealthy, Democrats want old people to have health care.
German magazine Der Spiegel goes through the opinions of commentators across Deutschland's political spectrum. Predictably, it goes from "What the fuck?" to "No, really, what the fuck?" And everyone knows who to blame.
For instance, Bild says, "The Republicans have turned a dispute over a technicality into a religious war, which no longer has any relation to a reasonable dispute between the elected government and the opposition."
Right-wing paper Die Welt says, "The influence of the Tea Party movement...cannot be overestimated...The movement sees traditional politics as corrupt and regards Washington as a den of iniquity..They see the other side as their enemy. Negotiations with the Democrats, whether it's about appointing a judge or the insolvency of the United States, are only successful if the enemy is defeated. Compromise, they feel, is a sign of weakness and cowardice."
Meanwhile, the leftish Süddeutsche Zeitung says much the same: "It's actually unimaginable. On August 2, the US could, for the first time in its history, become insolvent because the Republican majority in the House of Representatives refuses to raise the ceiling on the national debt."
See that? Left, right, and center in Germany know: This is about Republicans playing games, not Democrats clinging to sacred cows.
The other thing you get from reading around the world is a far, far more stark view of what happens upon default. "Armageddon" is vague and drama queeny. But, for instance, a column in The Times of India warns, "There is no company in the US that would be unaffected by a government default - and no bank or other financial institution that could provide a secure haven for savings. There would be a massive run into cash, on an order not seen since the Great Depression, with long lines of people at ATMs and teller windows withdrawing as much as possible. Private credit, moreover, would disappear from the US economic system, confronting the Federal Reserve with an unpleasant choice. Either it could step in and provide an enormous amount of credit directly to households and firms (much like Gosbank, the Soviet Union's central bank), or it could stand by idly while GDP falls 20-30 % - the magnitude of decline that we have seen in modern economies when credit suddenly dries up. With the private sector in free fall, consumption and investment would decline sharply."
So, yeah, you probably want to stock up on gas for your chainsaws and ammo for the rifles. Because Republicans are hastening our horrible demise, and unless Obama is willing to step up and have an old-fashioned gunfight at the Supreme Court corral, it's zombie hordes by Christmas.