The ridiculous debt ceiling negotiations

Stephen Colbert provides the best summary I have seen to date of the absurd discussions involving raising the debt ceiling.

It was always obvious that the debt ceiling would be raised because the oligarchy demanded it and the Republican party leadership, like that of the Democrats, are their faithful servants. The Republican leadership had assured the financial and business world that the ceiling would be raised and everyone, including Obama, knew this. So the Republican idea of holding the ceiling ‘hostage’ to demand other concessions was laughable on its face. How can you use hostages as a negotiating tool if both sides agree that the hostage would be released unharmed? All Obama had to do was insist that the ceiling be raised with no conditions and it would have happened.

The only reason for this spectacle was for both party leaderships to create a made-for-media drama that would allow them to arrive at ‘compromise’ policies that would further benefit the oligarchy while hurting everyone else, all the while claiming that they were forced to take this drastic action to ‘save the hostage’.

It is still possible that there will be such a deal but where things seem to have gone awry is that the Republican party base does not understand how this game is played and took at face value all their leadership’s rhetoric about how raising the debt ceiling was a horrendous evil that should never be agreed to unless a steep price were paid. Now that time is running out, they have to find a way to wriggle out of the situation.

Colbert further discusses the issue with Naftali Bendavid, the congressional correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.


  1. Steve LaBonne says

    Obama, having been offered what amounts to a clean debt limit raise (i.e. a Republican capitulation) on a silver platter by McConnell, is still holding the debt ceiling hostage himself, to try to force through his middle-class-screwing “grand bargain”. By now anyone who’s paying attention at all should realize that 1) Obama’s admiration for Reagan extends to policy, not just politics; and 2) this whole manufactured “crisis” is a farce designed to fool the American people into accepting the “bipartisan” reaming they’re getting from the plutocrats.

  2. says

    Steve -- The alternative explanation, advanced by, inter alia, Lawrence O’Donnell, is that Obama’s proposed Grand Bargain is nothing more than a bluff of his own. He knows very well that the lunatics in the House will not agree to any tax increases, no matter how much sense they make to rational human beings. This is all about being able to say later that he was willing to do “something big” on the deficit but Republicans wouldn’t let him. He’s banking on not needing to actually make the kind of cuts his (pathetically compliant) base opposes, though I don’t doubt that he would be quite willing to cut ruthlessly if he felt he could still look good.

    For while Obama may very well be, in practice, a tool of the oligarchy, I’ve always thought that the best way to understand him is as nothing more nor less than an ambitious politician. This is a man, as they say in Britain, with an eye on the Main Chance. His only real concern here is securing his own re-election, so he can be a two-term president. What he actually accomplishes for the nation is a (distant) secondary consideration.

    Obama’s re-election prospects hang on his appeal to independents, so he constantly sells himself as the only one willing to compromise in the national interest. Whatever happens in the next few weeks, he’s going to come out of this looking really good for 2012. All those Republicans who have chosen fealty to Grover Norquist over their oath of office will eventually see the error of their ways, but by that time the damage done to the country will be irreparable (if it isn’t already).

  3. says


    While I would like to think that what you say is correct, I am afraid that Steve’s view is more plausible. It is a very dangerous game to propose a plan that you don’t want on the basis that the other side will reject it.

    For one reason, there is the small chance that they will accept it.

    A second reason is that once you have said you are willing to do something, you cannot draw a line in the sand in later negotiations.

    Every indication says that Obama really does want to cut Social Security and Medicare. He is just looking for a way to do it.

  4. says

    Raising the debt ceiling is not really a negotiation. It’s either raise the debt ceiling or declare bankruptcy. Mark Aalam, Bankruptcy Attorney, Owner of Bankruptcy Legal Center in San Diego, CA.

  5. says

    An article was posted back on November 4, 2010 with the title “Abortion is causing the US to go bankrupt?”. The article quoted what I had posted on the web, “END ABORTION NATIONALLY OR FACE NATIONAL BANKRUPTCY.”. Well, I have corrected my statement because I am not going to predict the future. Here is the correction: Hypothesis: ** Abolish abortion of inhabitants of the womb nationally or suffer national bankruptcy.** Please research the hypothesis using the Bible and US history. Proverbs 14:34

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