More than anything else, the juvenile, irresponsible, and wholly unnecessary fight over the debt ceiling highlights the uncomfortable reality that only half of this country's political system is within spitting distance of reality. Over the course of the last thirty or so years the Republican party has transitioned from the party of fiscal responsibility to the party of irrational fantasy-based politics: Fox News, birther conspiracy theories, and paranoid delusions of a socialist dystopia are, sadly, only the tip of the iceberg and what started out as a novel way to motivate the party base has metastasized into a full-blown industrial strength dose of crazy now aimed squarely at the US Dollar itself.
Bluntly put, if the House Republicans do not vote to extend the debt ceiling the US Government could default on its debts and erase, in a day, the confidence and stability that generations of Americans have made synonymous with the US dollar.
Nevermind that even a child can see that the debt is insurmountable by budget cuts alone; nevermind that every committee, task force, and expert opinion on the topic says the same thing; nevermind that even a complete government shutdown - a 100% cut to all US Government services - would not be enough to prevent the debt from passing the ceiling; nevermind all of that.
The Republicans in Congress want spending cuts and no-new-revenue to solve the US debt crisis; it's beyond idiotic.
Yet every time these fiscally insane Teapublicans wave their pocket copies of the Constitution about and wail about the various allegedly unconstitutional things the Obama Administration has supposedly done, it becomes increasingly clear that none of them have actually read - much less understood - the document they pretend to hold in such high regard. The 14th Amendment is particularly unpopular with the "Crash the dollar to spite Obama and his unconstitutional healthcare bill and illegal Libyan war" set, and it so happens that the 14th Amendment contains a little known provision way down in Section 4 that casts this whole debt ceiling nonsense in a new light.
Sentence one of Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads:
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
If the President's behavior at the White House Correspondents' dinner - mere hours before he announced the death of Osama Bin Laden - is any indication, the White House poker games must be legendary indeed. President Obama plays his cards close to his chest and seems always to have an ace up his sleeve.
The White House and the House Republicans are engaged in a game of political chicken -- each daring the other to call their bluff and allow the government to default yet, if Obama's intent is and always has been to use the 14th Amendment to prevent default should the House fail to back down the dynamics of the game change dramatically.
The debt ceiling negotiations have been compared to a hostage situation and the comparison is extraordinarily apt -- Boehner holds a proverbial gun to the head of the US Economy and demands concessions. But what if that gun isn't loaded? What if Boehner doesn't know it?