Commentary: If The GOP Is Looking For Someone To Blame On Debt Ceiling, Look In The Mirror

Ray Landis, Pennsylvania Capital-Star

The United States government is lurching toward a financial crisis, brought on by the desire of the Republican majority in the US House to use chaos to change the political dynamics of the country.

Attempting to predict exactly how the debt ceiling situation will unfold is a fool’s errand, but the intransigent group of Republicans known as the “Freedom Caucus” appears to be committed to try to inflict massive harm to the economy in order to get its way.

Speculating on how Americans will be impacted by a government shutdown and/or the reaction of the financial markets to the House Republicans holding the economy hostage can produce some frightening scenarios.

Delays in medical care, missing Social Security checks, withdrawal of U.S. support for Ukraine, shuttered government facilities and services – any and all of these are possible when a cabal of individuals who strive for the goal of shrinking government until it fits in a bathtub and then drowning it have enough power to disrupt normalcy.

There may be a feeling of complacency among many Americans as this situation develops over the next few months. We have been down this road before, right?

Republicans demand spending cuts before the debt ceiling is increased, economists raise alarms about a possible financial collapse if the United States government does not have Congressional authority to pay its bills, we go to the brink of exceeding the debt limit, and a negotiated settlement is reached which allows all sides to declare victory.

The problem this time is the side in the debate opposed to utilizing federal spending to help individuals avoid poverty and improve their lives has sold its soul to its most irresponsible members.

The new U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is no friend of those who believe government can help create a more just society. But his desperate quest for the speakership has led him to acquiesce to the rabble in the House GOP caucus who lust for an opportunity to provoke a crisis which they hope could lead to a radical change in society.

Rank-and-file Republicans in the U.S. House have shown no sign they will not go down the path of destruction being laid out by their colleagues. Political pundits will tell you they know that any sign of willingness to compromise would provoke the rath of the far-right mob and lead to a primary challenge.

But the reality is most of the U.S. House Republican caucus believes in the goals of their most demonstrative colleagues, if not necessarily their methods.

Why? Republicans must recognize demographic trends do not favor them in the future. A political party which counted on the support of educated, upper middle class suburban voters for much of the 20th century has seen those voters defect en masse.

Republicans now rely on a mix of ultra-wealthy business owners, evangelical Christians, aging “traditional” Republicans, and rural, low-income families for their votes. Such a mix makes up a shrinking minority of Americans and coming up with a policy agenda which satisfies all these groups is a challenge, which may be why House Republicans seem more focused on Hunter Biden’s laptop than addressing inflation.

Attempts to suppress voting in Democratic strongholds and trying to discredit election outcomes have not resulted in Republicans gaining the political power they desire. Frightening Americans with tales of immigrants streaming across the border to steal jobs is not working when many US industries are facing a worker shortage.

It appears desperate Republicans are caving in to the contention of the “Freedom Caucus” that only a true crisis can produce the necessary upheaval to place Republicans in power. They are gambling a financial meltdown resulting in a stock market crash and high unemployment under a Democratic president will result in enough angst to elect a Republican, whether it would be Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis, in 2024.

We are going to hear a lot of rhetoric over the coming months about how the federal government should be like a family and spend within its means, and how U.S. House Republicans are simply standing up for Americans who do not want their tax dollars wasted on frivolous government projects.

Don’t believe a word of this. The debt ceiling crisis is about a last gasp Republican effort to thwart the will of the majority of Americans and seize political power. The collateral economic damage to millions of Americans? In the “Freedom Caucus’” eyes, the suffering of the many will be worth the benefits to the few.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John Micek for questions: Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

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