The Daily Parker

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That catastrophe you were worried about? It's already here

Via Sullivan, Reuters' John Judis points out Thursday's deadline doesn't matter:

The best way to look at this, I think, is that there’s a spectrum of default severities. At one end, you have the outright repudiation of sovereign debt, a la Ecuador in 2008; at the other end, you have the sequester, which involves telling a large number of government employees that the resources which were promised them will not, in fact, arrive. Both of them involve the government going back on its promises, but some promises are far more binding, and far more important, than others.

Right now, with the shutdown, we’ve already reached the point at which the government is breaking very important promises indeed: we promised to pay hundreds of thousands of government employees a certain amount on certain dates, in return for their honest work. We have broken that promise. Indeed, by Treasury’s own definition, it’s reasonable to say that we have already defaulted: surely, by any sensible conception, the salaries of government employees constitute "legal obligations of the US."

While debt default is undoubtedly the worst of all possible worlds, then, the bonkers level of Washington dysfunction on display right now is nearly as bad. Every day that goes past is a day where trust and faith in the US government is evaporating — and once it has evaporated, it will never return. The Republicans in the House have already managed to inflict significant, lasting damage to the US and the global economy — even if they were to pass a completely clean bill tomorrow morning, which they won’t. The default has already started, and is already causing real harm. The only question is how much worse it’s going to get.

Sullivan extends it:

It seems to me that if the House GOP really does intend to destroy the American and global economy, to throw millions out of work, to make our debt problem far worse in a new depression … just to make a point about Obamacare, then at some point, Obama, like Lincoln, must preserve the republic.

But no president should ever want to take that position – because it represents the collapse of the American polity. But we are in collapse. If the House pushes the country into default this week, there is no workable American polity left. The most basic forms of collective responsibility will have been forsaken for almost pathological ideological purism and cultural revolt.

These people are crazy, truly crazy. Are we done giving them political power yet?

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