fresh voices from the front lines of change







The House GOP’s disarray shows that the party may be a danger to itself. The GOP’s political brinksmanship is danger to the nation’s economy and the American people. A coalition of progressive organizations is tweeting against right-wing budget mayhem.

On Tuesday, the Coalition on Human Needs, 9to5 – National Association of Working Women, AIDS United, Children’s Leadership Council, First Focus, Food Research and Action Center, MomsRising,, National Council of Jewish Women, National Women’s Law Center, RESULTS and progressive activists across the country launched a Twitterstorm telling Congress to raise the debt ceiling, and #StopTheCuts to vital human needs programs. Some tweets featured factoids from the Coalition on Human Needs’ report, “Economic Growth Leaves the Poorest Americans Behind,” which showed how congressional conservatives’ budget cuts will impact the poorest and most vulnerable Americans. Others demanded that Congress pass a #cleanbudget with #noriders

House Republicans can barely get themselves together to choose a speaker, but that doesn’t stop them from playing chicken with the debt ceiling, or demanding cuts that will harm American families. Even as Republicans return to Washington to deal with their leadership mess, so called “serious” Republicans are actually preparing for a government default.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the man who may end up the new House Speaker, introduced a bill he calls the “Default Prevention Act.” In the event of a default, the bill would direct the Treasury Department to continue borrowing to keep paying Social Security, and the principal and interest on public debt — but all other government functions would stop until the debt ceiling was raised. It’s a “Default Prevention Act,” with default built-in.

The consequences of a default would be disastrous for the economy, and the American people. Credit markets could freeze, the dollar could plummet in value, interest rates could skyrocket, and the worldwide reverberations could lead to a financial crisis and recession even worse than 2008. Even the threat of default could cause interest rates to increase, without action from Congress. Wall Street is getting nervous. Ryan’s bill would do little to prevent these consequences.

The threat of another government shutdown looms large. John Boehner’s resignation from Congress may have temporarily staved off the immediate threat, but right-wing conservatives in the House GOP conference may cause a shutdown yet. Barely one-third of House Republicans — 91 out of 247 — voted for the stop-gap spending measure to keep the lights on through December. Some of those who voted against this short-term fix to House Republicans’ mess may even end up in House GOP leadership.

The last GOP-driven government shutdown took $24 billion out of the economy. Small businesses felt the pinch, and some ground to a halt, as government agencies shuttered, and services ceased. The lending stream of $96 million in small business loans backed by the Small Business Association every day froze solid.

Anthony R. Wilkinson of the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders group, spelled out the consequences. “There are restaurants that aren’t being opened and contracts that aren’t being fulfilled,” he said. Chris Leh, the owner of a fledgling Pennsylvania manufacturing company explained how the shutdown’s impact on his business trickled down. As he waited for the SBA to open again, waiting along with him were ”the guys that I’m buying the machines from, the guys who move the machines, the electricians that come in and wire things up, the insurance company I’m dealing with — all of those people aren’t getting paid right now.”

The ideological extremism driving the House GOP conference towards chaos is the same extremism that’s led Republican’s to push the country to the brink with one manufactured crisis after another. House Republicans will eventually choose a speaker. Then, they will go right back to using extortion to drive the country towards economic disaster.

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