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Wednesday 16 October 2013

Debt Ceiling – Infighting Starts

While the cheaper end of the press is fixated on slebs’n’goss, events across the North Atlantic are still headed by the debt ceiling negotiations, where first much of the US Government shut down and workers went unpaid, and then the potential of default came into view as the President and his fellow Democrats dug in their heels and declined to yield to attempts by the GOP to defund Obamacare.
And the Dems have thus far prevailed: the Republicans, especially in the House of Representatives, are not moving as a coherent whole, with the Tea Party faction deciding to be of independent mood. As the pressure has mounted – if the USA defaulted, the knock-on effects would tip the rest of the world into recession sooner or later – the GOP has started to crack.

So now there is a compromise deal about to be presented to the House, before going to the Senate, and if it passed the former hurdle, getting over the latter would be a formality. The trouble for House Majority Leader John Boehner is that the compromise makes very little concession to his side. This has put his leadership in question. The Prez and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have no such problem.

And this is a pointless exercise: the infighting will resolve nothing. It certainly won’t make the Republican side of the House any more coherent. Boehner’s task is next to impossible, and it would be no different for whoever came next, were he to be deposed. But that has not deterred Stateside watchers like Tim Stanley at the Telegraph, who you can tell as he’s a Doctor.

As Stanley puts it, “After days and days of shutdown, after banging on the debt ceiling, after 800,000 people were sent home without pay, after war memorials were barred and parks closed – what have the Republicans achieved? Some negligible tweaks to Obamacare. Oh, and now only about four people are prepared to admit to pollsters that they are Republican”. Quite.

The problem is, he can’t see that the GOP’s problem is not Boeher: “The mistakes start with John Boehner who has shown a remarkable inability to control his own caucus”. Then he does get it: “The Republicans have been undone by factionalism”. The Tea Party crowd, whipped up by faux populism and with plenty of money behind it, has served only to destabilise the Republican Party.

And the kind of conservatism they bring to the table is not dissimilar to that coming out of all those Astroturf lobby groups in the UK, like the TPA, IEA, CPS, ASI and the rest. Young Dave and his fellow Tories may not see the parallel, but letting that strain of conservatism into his party will split it apart the way the GOP is now fracturing – with the certainty of night following day.

It may only be a matter of time, and it will not end well for the Tories.

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