Moody's Chief Economist Warns GOP Blackmail Will Drive Economy 'Off A Cliff'

 Mitch McConnell

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Photo by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Senate Budget Committee held its first congressional hearing on the debt limit/spending cuts extortion bill the House Republicans passed last week. Dubbing it "Default on America," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said he called the hearing because House Speaker Kevin McCarthy broke his promise of transparency and regular order in passing a bill “cobbled together by House extremists in back rooms, in the dark of night.”

Democrats were marginally successful in getting their message out: Republicans are holding the nation’s economy hostage with two disastrous choices, both promising economic chaos. Republicans reinforced that message by hijacking the hearing to talk about the dangers of the deficit—no Republican was swayed by being lumped in with the House extremists.

"Attempting to extract partisan policy confessions with threats to intentionally drive the American economy off a cliff is the very definition of extremism," Whitehouse said, kicking off the hearing. He pointed out that 275 pages out of the bill’s 315 pages were giveaways to the fossil fuel industry.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, was the Democrats’ chief witness. He reiterated that either of the options Republicans were offering would send the country into recession and steep unemployment. It would be economic chaos either way, which seems fine with most Republicans in the Senate.

Most Republicans are fine with it. One, Sen. Mitt Romney, the “moderate,” acknowledged it “would be awful” to default on the debt, but it would all be the Democrats’ fault because they didn’t fix it when they had the chance.

No, really. That’s what he said. “Don’t forget that that could have been solved a long time ago by our Democrat friends simply in their reconciliation bill doing what Leader McConnell asked them to do, which is just raise the debt ceiling yourselves—didn’t need a single Republican vote, not a single vote!” Romney railed. Politics got in the way, he said. Not Republicans who refuse to do the bare minimum requirement of their job: keeping the nation economically afloat. Why can’t Democrats save us from ourselves! Romney lamented.

Other Republicans barely acknowledged the ticking time bomb of a default, just three weeks away. Like Romney, they followed the lead of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, washing their hands of any responsibility for fixing this. They went with beating up on President Joe Biden instead.

The top Republican on the committee, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, blasted Democrats for “showboating.” Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy went with calling Biden “immature” for insisting that it’s dangerous to take the the full faith and credit of the nation hostage. Kansas’ regrettable choice for a senator, Republican Roger Marshall, used his time to rail about Democrats’ focus on climate change.

What every single Republican who spoke Thursday demonstrated was that they’re as much in the pocket of the Freedom Caucus maniacs as McCarthy. They’re rooting for economic chaos, making the calculation that a ruined economy will be good for their 2024 election prospects.

That should have been the message from Democrats in the hearing Thursday: Republicans are willing to blow the whole economy to pieces to put the likes of Donald Trump back in the White House. Biden and congressional Democrats need to make that the sharp focus: How far Republicans will go to win.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.


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