Debt ceiling crisis is political theater
July 27, 2011
In my last column I suggested that an unintended outcome of the debt ceiling impasse could be Congress’ loss of the power of the purse. In this column I suggest an intended outcome that the ongoing political theater might be designed to produce.
President Obama has said that he will not resort to the various powers open to him to keep the government running should Congress fail to deliver a debt ceiling increase. This is a suspicious statement, as it is not credible that a president would leave troops at war unpaid and without supplies, Social Security checks unsent and stand aside while the US dollar collapses and the credit rating of the US government is destroyed.
There are national security directives and executive orders already on the books, as well as the 14th Amendment, that Obama can invoke to set aside the debt ceiling. Congress would sigh with relief that Obama had prevented the lawmakers from destroying the country.
So what might be going on?
One possibility is that the political theater is operating to bring about otherwise politically impossible cuts in the social safety net. If the drama continues to the absolute deadline without a deal, Obama, who perhaps favors cutting the safety net as much as do the Republicans, would have to accept the Republican package in order that the troops are not cut off from supplies, Social Security checks can continue to go out, and the dollar be saved. Having opposed the Republicans to the last minute, Obama can say that he had no other recourse.
What American wants the troops deserted on the field of battle and the elderly without groceries? Who other than the rich can stand the higher prices from dollar devaluation?
It would be a perfectly orchestrated scenario for getting rid of the New Deal and the Great Society that use up money that could be spent on wars and bailouts and tax cuts for the rich.
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts