I have commented several times in recent days on the debt calumny that Heather so chillingly describes. Over the past generation the Republicans—Newt Gingrich, Mitch McConnell, and Donald Trump—have six times pushed the country into temporary financial closure and employed the raising of the debt limit as their shibboleth. This is the height of fiscal irresponsibility. A temporary financial shutting down of government would abruptly suspend virtually all payments, including Social Security, FEMA, compensation for vital employees, and more. Refusal to expand the debt limit to permit payment for expenditures already authorized by Congress is nihilism to the highest degree.

At one time I was responsible for rating the credit of debt issued by sovereign states and corporations worldwide. Debt default (technically the non-payment of interest or principal on the promised date) is a most serious matter. A few years ago Standard and Poors dropped the credit rating of the U. S. Government below it’s top (AAA) level because of it’s concern about the ‘full faith and credit’on the U. S. Government.

Mitch McConnell is playing a game of chicken with the finances of the U. S. Government. In such an event, it is possible for the Democrats to prevent debt default unilaterally. This may ultimately be necessary, but McConnell’s irresponsibly partisan gun-to-head approach is simply further evidence that he and his sycophants are playing Russian roulette with the financial credibility of the United States. Trump has boasted of six major bankruptcies in which he stiffed his banks and investors and siphoned off major tax credits for himself. McConnell is following in the footsteps of his master.

Expand full comment

It's time for Democrat and Independent lawmakers to wake up; no reading between the lines necessary as McConnell is doing exactly what he promised to do. Solution? Double down in the best possible way. More carve outs for the filibuster on voting rights. Pass the necessary funding bills quickly by whatever means available. Take complete ownership of the Biden economic agenda now. The real risk is delay. The country needs time to see and experience the positive effects of the Biden agenda prior to November 2022. The time for hope and hand wringing is past. Delay gives Republicans more time to foment the chaos they believe will help them achieve their reactionary, discriminatory agenda.

Expand full comment

When McTurtleneck claims that "the Dems hold all the power", I laugh. Just another BIG LIE. The dems may be in the WH and have a slim majority in the House, the Senate rethuglicans, led by dear Mitch, hold the power. Each day I hate this man more and more (and I don't like the feeling of hatred). It's time for the dems to shoot out his platform and send him to the raging common folk who dislike him as much as I do. It's time for the Dems to take control and be the grown-ups in the room. Change the filibuster and get the infrastructure and voting bills passed. Come-on folks!

Expand full comment

Ever since July, McConnell has been saying loud and clear that since the Democrats hold all the power, they have all the tools needed to deal with these issues. Schumer and Pelosi and Biden ignored his warning , even after seeing how McConnell outplayed the Democrats on the Supreme Court nominations.

The Democrats sit around the campfire singing Kumbaya and making S’mores while McConnell torches the forest.

Wake up, Dems. This is no surprise. It’s classic McConnell hardball. He will not cave. Not going to happen.

Stop whining and do what has to be done.

Day by day a big loss during midterms is looking more likely.

It’s now or never with the Biden agenda.

Now or never.

Expand full comment

With friends like these, who needs enemies? The worst aspect of the GOP spending roadblock is that citizens will actually suffer financially so that Mitch & Company can “win.” Ridiculous, craven, and irresponsible, if not precisely criminal.

Expand full comment

My 457-B and IRA plans are aching just at the thought of what is coming if the default and shut down are allowed to happen. They took large hits when Trump did it a few years ago. McConnell seems to have set up a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation for Democrats. The chaos created by the default will only solidify Trump's base and likely weaken the Democrat's moderate/left coalition. Bypassing the Republican filibuster and raising the debt ceiling will allow them to paint Democrats as spendthrifts.

What Republicans are REALLY afraid of are the successful programs that will be funded by the bills currently being put forward by the Biden Administration. For all of McConnell's brilliance, he still seems to be a two dimensional, either/or thinker. The third dimension - the Z axis, if you will, for Democrats is to at least temporarily suspend the filibuster NOW (it can be reinstated later - it's been modified by Republicans a lot over the past several years, so why not?), then message the daylights out of what the default would mean to average people - and who is behind it, and what the infrastructure and other bills would mean for them as well. Heavy lifts, requiring a lot of truth-telling, a lot of money, without a lot of time, unfortunately.

Expand full comment

McConnell used that same faulty logic 8 years ago. Polling showed that the public blamed repubs for the shutdown, he folded like a cheap suit, and ACA passed.

Expand full comment

Thank God for history teachers like you, who help us understand why action needed to be written into the Fourteenth Amendment about the national debt. Evidently the white supremacists in Congress are unfamiliar with that provision.

This article from Smithsonian Magazine https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/medieval-map-of-north-america-identified-as-20th-century-forgery-180978751/ confirms what has been long suspected - that the Vinland map is a forgery. And it reveals that the map was created in the 1920s, at a time of strong anti-Catholic sentiment, in this case aimed at Columbus. 😔

Maybe replacement theory is right. Maybe old white people like me do need to be replaced by people like my biracial grandson. Maybe one day the color box won’t need a “pink” flesh colored crayon and the world’s people will be one golden glow.

Expand full comment

Morning, all!! Morning, Dr. R!!

She says, "McConnell maintains that he does not want the U.S. to default on its debt; he just wants to force the Democrats to shoulder the responsibility for handling it, enabling Republicans to paint them as spendthrifts."

IMO even if Democrats were able to deny funds likely to benefit their own constituents while at the same time direct funds towards Republican voters only, they'd still be called "spendthrifts." So as my dear departed Daddy used to say, "If I'm gonna have the name, I'm gonna have the game." Let the spending begin!

Expand full comment

Dr. Richardson. Thank you. I did not know that the fourteenth amendment also invalidated the Confederate debt.

Regarding your observation: "It is an extraordinary abdication of responsibility".

We, Americans, have done this abdication (all of us) since 1980.

The last President to run a balanced budget in the United States was Jimmy Carter. You are very, very correct that Republicans have managed to foist themselves off as "responsible on spending" while simultaneously creating gigantic debt. As you point out in to "Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party", Republicans, under Reagan, in 1980, sought to tar Democrats with big spending programs that were breaking the the back of the US. This was a lie.

Ronald Reagan was oft heard to decry spending by Democrats as wasteful. I know, I believed him back then as a 20 year old young man off of a farm where I had worked for nearly nothing for years.

However, Jimmy Carter, and all Presidents since WW II, had run responsible, balanced budgets that also paid down WW II debt. Under Eisenhower, who knew responsibility as a former farm boy, the top tax rate for "rich folks" was 91%.

Reagan, it turns out if you look at the graphs, rocketed up deficit spending, for the first time since WW II, in non-wartime, just to fund useless military spending like the $1 Trillion (in 1986 dollars) "Star Wars" program that never produced anything at all.

He also cut taxes on the wealthy.

The combined cutting of taxes and ramping of military spending in a non-wartime situation, post 1980, under Reagan, left the US a breathless $2 TRILLION, in 1986 dollars, ABOVE the debt that Jimmy Carter had paid down. Just like Trump and the Republicans ran up $8 TRILLION under Trump (as you note). Mind boggling.

Nobody in the Republican ranks knows this because most, probably 80%, cannot read the simple xy graph that google will return when searching on "US debt as a function of time".

Also, Republicans, many, are highly trained at believing the white man at the front of the church on Sunday. Hence, Reagan and Trump's easy ability to lie and convince them. Republicans are not trained to read graphs and examine data. They are trained to believe on Sunday what they are told. I know, I was one.

The Republicans who CAN read a graph, just don't. The tiny minority that know the truth, the leadership, just want power. Lying is how they obtained it and are still obtaining it.

But, the real beginning of "It is an extraordinary abdication of responsibility"??

Ronald Reagan. 1980

We should have stopped him then, but, like I said, I was fooled as well. It was much harder for me then to discern at Texas A&M where the only editorials in the school newspaper were George Will and William F. Buckley,

Both of these "opinion" writers were just liars of the Radical Fascist Right wing of the USA.

Expand full comment

I am not as erudite as everyone else here and have not posted in some time. But this makes me so angry I have no words to adequately describe it. McConnell is evil, plain and simple. He needs to go away.

Expand full comment

What travesty have we wrought? The games played with the county’s debt, wreaking havoc with the economy, and no recognition of obligation...the shame of these actions demonstrate amorality. Such despicable deeds wrought.

Whereforth justice and the brilliant light of freedom and equity? Adding to the fraught notion of facism, this development reminds of power for its own sake, corruption in the accumulation.

Without the mere acknowledgment of our out of control climate, we damn ourselves to extinction, and with us, known species.

What ignorant, egotistical beings we are, to turn upon the very planet providing the means of life. And now, given our knowledge, that idjts would wager all upon the platform of profit...

There’s nothing left but despair, or tending my garden to provide habitat for those rings we have not yet exterminated.

Expand full comment

I am so angry. When will we cease to be beholden to vengeful, unpatriotic repubs? So sick of their constantly throwing sand into the gears. Their selfishness for political “gain” (whatever that gain is after the country is in ashes) is abhorrent.

Expand full comment

"McConnell maintains that he does not want the U.S. to default on its debt; he just wants to force the Democrats to shoulder the responsibility for handling it, enabling Republicans to paint them as spendthrifts." Watch what he does. Don't listen to what he says. McConnell would be happy with the chaos created by a default on the US debt. He would blame Joe Biden. Would the national press and media let him get away with it? They would probably say: On the one hand, but on the other hand.

Expand full comment

How low can McConnell and his old, white cronies sink to further their destructive goals? Don't answer. That elected representatives put themselves before their constituents and the country, and are willing to sink the economy and then blame the other side, boggles the mind.

Expand full comment

From its supreme leader to its senatorial fascists, the GOP has hit a new low on the humanitarian scale and a new high on the immorality register. Hell hath no fury like a gaggle of old white men scorned!

"This is an astonishing position."

Thank you, dear Professor HCR, for telling it as it is with a touch of history to give it flavor, and yes, some hope!

Expand full comment