Apparently Dr. Strangelove is writing the script for America's crumbling fiscal situation.
A quick rundown of how the votes stack up in the House, where most of the weirdness resides: of the 435 seats, 240 are held by the GOP, only 60 of whom caucus with the tea party chaired by the Apocalyptic-minded Michelle Bachmann. She's said repeatedly she won't vote to raise the debt ceiling no matter what deal is made. Either she doesn't understand what the debt ceiling is or she wants to hasten the end of the Republic as we know it and bring on the Four Horsemen. Many of the 180 Republicans outside the caucus apparently sympathize with the tea party. Otherwise it would be simple to peel off some of them to vote with the Democrats and save the Treasury.
Speaker Boehner's bill, which may be voted on this week or possibly even dropped altogether because it's not sufficiently ruinous, is an evil recipe that would burn through the sturdiest of lab beakers. It cripples government through the next election by giving Obama a short tether on the next ceiling date, and it's full of cuts to perfectly decent programs that actually help the country. At the same time it retains intact all those foul gimmicks in the tax code such as the oil depletion allowance. Mangling programs such as food inspection also kills employment in the government and with contractors, making the recession worse. Yet even this horrid legislation isn't extreme enough for many House Republicans. If a bill this vicious isn't cruel and stupid enough for them, how can we expect to round up a majority for anything civilized? It's possible only if some of them are bluffing. That is, they don't intend to say yes to anything until the last second because they hope to wring still more concessions out of timid Democrats.
Already Senate Majority Leader Reid has given up on seeking additional revenue, so the Republicans' tactic of giving not an inch has worked beautifully. But precisely when is that last second? When does Dr. Strangelove's Doomsday Machine go off? When will the bond market throw in the towel (raising interest rates for everybody)? Apparently some congressional Republicans think they can easily slide past the August 2 deadline, thereby beating even more hideous concessions from scared Democrats who actually care about preventing financial collapse. Maybe the Republican crazies are waiting until Reid promises that the whole country will fall into formation at 5 a.m. and obey whatever orders emanate from the Koch brothers regency (the Koch brothers are not to be confused with the Cohen brothers of Big Lebowski fame).
But America may have already lost its bond rating, which means interest rates are already dead meat but kept in the freezer for now because the bond raters won't make their move until Congress does whatever it's going to do. Or maybe Moody's and Standard & Poor's are already on their way to squeeze into the mine shaft with Dr. Strangelove, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the slave women with whom they will breed the next civilization.
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