Tuesday, October 15, 2013

House of Horrors

Just when it looked like the Senate was this close to hashing out a truly bi-partisan deal to avert a catastrophe, John Boehner threw a monkey wrench into the works by announcing that the House would be voting on its own bill. That gave Mitch - just call me primaried - McConnell the excuse he needed to bail on the Senate bill he'd been working on with Harry Reid.

And now that same monkey wrench that Boehner threw at the Senate has come back like a boomerang, courtesy of the very same far-right band of gypsies that he has been catering to for more than a month. As of this writing, Republican leadership doesn't have the votes to actually bring a bill to the floor. Hence, it has pulled it.

So basically, with about two days to go, there is no Senate bill and no House bill. In effect, Congress is back to square one. Even if the Senate resumed its efforts and managed to craft a bill by tomorrow, the likelihood is that it would be held up by either Ted Cruz or Mike Lee or both.

The inmates of this asylum are determined to burn the whole damn house down unless they get their way. I would say they are behaving like four year olds, but that would do a disservice to four year olds everywhere.

It's looking more and more as though the United States will default on its debt, which will formally take place at the stroke of midnight this Thursday, according to the Treasury Department. Already, there are warning signs that the financial community is not only losing faith, it's losing patience.

Over the last few days, both Fidelity and JP Morgan have dumped government treasuries in anticipation of a default. So far, the selloff has been limited to 1-month bonds. And just today, Fitch, the third largest credit agency, issued a warning that it is considering downgrading America's AAA rating. Two years ago, you'll recall, S&P downgraded the U.S. for just flirting with the idea of a default. Almost everyone agrees that an actual default will guarantee a downgrade by all the credit agencies and trigger a wholesale selloff of treasuries and a stock market tumble.

As if that wasn't bad enough, The New York Times is reporting that there is an "open revolt" in the House between the hard liners and the more pragmatic caucus. It's a virtual free-for-all. Some have openly questioned whether Boehner even has enough juice left to permit a vote on a Senate bill. So imagine a scenario where Reid and McConnell manage to get their bill passed without Cruz or Lee holding it up and Boehner can't even bring it to the floor.

Over the last few days, this has gone from mildly amusing to frustrating to flat out frightening. In my 52 years on this planet, I have never met a group of individuals so determined to commit suicide and homicide all at the same time. Hundreds of millions of people are about to be deeply impacted by the irresponsible actions of a few dozen insane ideologues.

And that will be a sad day for America.

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