Friday, July 29, 2011

Now what?

As of this writing, John Boehner still can't gather enough votes in the House to pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling, despite support from all Republican leaders, presumably including Eric Cantor — although I suspect next-in-line-to-be-Speaker Cantor may be less upset than he appears. If there is no breakthrough today, somebody in Washington may have to show some courage.

We all know who that somebody is, and we all know what he'll have to do. Barack Obama will have to go right ahead and break the 1917 debt ceiling law by ordering Treasury to keep selling bonds after the debt ceiling is breached. Presumably he can find some lawyers willing to write some opinions explaining why he's really allowed to do it. As we all know, it's not hard to find lawyers willing to justify anything. Hell, George W. Bush found lawyers to justify torture.

But who would buy those bonds? Well, Ben Bernanke is no idiot, and I think he could persuade the rest of the Fed to go along. Yes, it means "printing" money, and is likely to put even more downward pressure on the dollar, but inflation hasn't been any sort of problem for the past few years. An out-and-out default would do much more harm.

Yes, Obama would certainly be impeached in the House — creating even more political theater — but he wouldn't be convicted in the Senate. As for his electoral chances, they might improve if he finally showed some balls — portraying himself as the strong leader who finally stood up to the incompetents in Congress.

No comments: