Republican Debt-Ceiling Demand: Nullify Democracy

Dave Johnson

After the last election Republicans have one power left: the power to destroy the country. They are threatening to use it to get what they want. And what they want is to reverse the results of the last election.

Shutdown Threat, Followed By Debt-Ceiling Threat

We still don’t know if Republicans are going to shut down the government next week over demands to nullify the new health care law. But that would be small potatoes next to what happens if they let the country reach the debt-ceiling limit and default.

Jared Bernstein explains in “The Relative Costs of a Shutdown Versus a Default” that the government-dollar costs of a shutdown would “only” be a few billion if it didn’t go on very long (not including the wider-economy and other costs, including resulting human suffering and further loss of confidence in our government and democratic system) .

However, the government-dollar cost of not increasing the debt-ceiling could easily be in the hundreds of billions per year from now on. And that’s just increased borrowing costs. Never mind the costs of a crash in the economy that could be much, much worse than the 2008 crisis.

If we really default, here’s a rough rule of thumb for you: The debt held by the public right now is $12 trillion. So, a percent higher risk premium adds about $120 billion to annual payments, about 100 times worse than a shutdown.

Now, I don’t know that a default would raise interest rates by a full point (and, of course, I’m just talking about the increased cost of servicing the public debt… many private rates are tied to T-bills, so the cost to the broad economy is much higher). You wanna divide that by half, be my guest. Or double it.

Shutdown cost: a few billion for a short shutdown.

Debt-ceiling default cost: hundreds of billion per year in direct costs, trillions in ripple-effect costs, potentially the end of economic stability in the world for the foreseeable future, the end of the US as a financial power – and those are just the starting point for the potential costs as tens of millions are left unemployed and the world destabilizes.

A Wish List Of Plutocrat Crap

So with the shutdown fight underway, Republicans are planning out what they will demand in exchange for not destroying the country by defaulting on the debt. It looks like they are going to demand a wish list of plutocratic crap.

From The Hill: “House Republicans plan to tie an increase in the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling to a broad GOP wish list…”

Republicans are demanding everything they have tried to get in the last few years, but was rejected by the legitimate democratic and constitutional processes.

It’s as if every billionaire and Fortune-500 corporation in the country is getting a call this week, asking what they want and what they’re willing to pay to get it. You can only imagine those conversations: “We’re going to go for it. Are you in? OK, what do you want and what are you willing to pay to get it?”

Don’t be surprised if before this is over they are demanding that cigarette sample packages be handed out in every elementary school or they’ll release the Kraken.

Who Benefits? Not We the People!

Jonathan Strong at the (very) conservative National Review’s The Corner has some of the list, in “Revealed: The House GOP’s Debt-Ceiling Plan.” (I have added in parentheses the most likely paying client that asked for the insertion of a particular demand.)

  • One-year Obamacare delay. (Insurance companies.) This would mean 11 million Americans remain uninsured.
  • Tax reform based on Ryan Budget principles. (Billionaires and giant corporations.) Cuts top personal income and top corporate rates to 25 percent. Cut taxes on foreign profits. An analysis of Republican Rep. Paul Ryan tax plan done by the Center for Budget and policy Priorities said this “would provide the lion’s share of their benefits to high-income households and corporations. This would cut $5.7 trillion from revenue in the next decade.
  • Fast-track authority for tax reform legislation – meaning it has to be given an “up-or-down” vote with no amendments.
  • Keystone Pipeline construction. (Canadian oil companies.) This gives Canadian oil companies “eminent domain” power to seize farmland across the U.S. so they can sell tar-sands oil to China. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates constructing the pipeline would increase annual carbon emissions by up to 27.6 million metric tons, equivalent to 6 million cars on the road. Once it’s built, it would create only about 35 new pipeline jobs.
  • Rescind coal ash regulations. (Coal companies.) This would allow coal companies to pollute. (House-passed bill H.R. 2218 gives states greater authority to regulate coal waste. It does not include a standard of protection to ensure that coal ash is disposed of safely, that groundwater is protected from contamination, that air pollution is adequately controlled, or that dam failures are prevented.)
  • Energy production on federal lands. (Oil companies.) This would allow oil companies to pollute federal land.
  • Block EPA carbon regulations. (Coal and oil companies.) This would allow oil companies to pollute and cause earth’s temperature to rise with no limit.
  • Enact the “REINS Act” (Giant corporations) and regulatory process reform. (Giant corporations.) This would give House Republicans (billionaires and giant corporations) veto power over executive-branch regulations intended to hold big corporations accountable for what they do to the environment, public health and general well-being of the public.
  • Consent decree reform. (Racist billionaires.) Allows states to intimidate and suppress minority voters by using pre-election tactics that might deter qualified voters from casting ballots.
  • Blocking net neutrality. (Giant telecom corporations.)
  • Make the “sequester” spending levels permanent. (Billionaires.)
  • Reduce federal employee pensions. (Wall Street.)
  • Dilute the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulations. (Wall Street.)
  • Weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (Wall Street.)
  • Get rid of the child tax credit. (Racist billionaires.) Requires individuals to provide a child’s Social Security number to receive this benefit. This means that parents filing their federal taxes using a tax identification number, which enables immigrants who are not eligible for Social Security numbers to file and pay federal taxes, would no longer be eligible for the credit.
  • Repealing the Social Services Block grant. (Billionaires.) This would eliminate a source of federal funding for day care for children or adults, protective services for children or adults, special services to persons with disabilities, adoption, case management, health-related services, transportation, foster care for children or adults, substance abuse, housing, home-delivered meals, independent/transitional living, employment services, and myriad other social services found necessary by the State for its population.
  • Shrink the Prevention and Public Health Fund. This pays for training primary care doctors and supporting healthy corner stores – and parts of the new health care exchanges.
  • Shrink Medicare benefits. (Insurance companies.)
  • Tort “reform.” (Giant corporations, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies.) This would make it harder for regular people to sue big corporations and other interests for the harms they might cause.
  • Reduce support for hospitals that treat poor patients, usually in urban areas.

This is a big-corporation/billionaire wish list of crap. Not one of these helps the economy, regular people, or democracy. And it appears that this “Onion headline” list is not a hoax. Zach Carter and Luke Johnson of Huffington Post are confirming this list. Think Progress also has the list, with more explanations of some of the demands.

All of these help the 1-percent plutocrats, some obviously inserted at the request of particular paying clients, like the demand to allow Canadian oil companies to use state eminent domain authority to seize farmland and build a pipeline across the country so they can sell oil to China.

Why are Republicans doing this? Why are they refusing to accept the results of the legitimate democratic and constitutional process? Why are they forcing a wish list of plutocratic dreams on the country with the hostage threat to destroy the country if they don’t get these things?

Because this is who they are.


Emily Foster assisted with research for this post.

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