Both see the rise of Tea Party influence on the GOP as a major turning point. For Mann, the moment of reckoning came in the summer of 2011. “What flipped me over was the debt ceiling hostage-taking,” Mann said. It was clear then that the Republicans would “do or say anything” to hurt Obama, even if it was overtly bad for the country and false to core Republican values.
“That and getting older. What do I give a shit about access,” he said.
What’s great about this is how Ornstein and Mann who previously were considered basically apolitical, scholarly sources by the media for decades have lost that status for exactly the false equivalence they were writing about.
The other part that I think is key to understand – and will rear its head again very quickly as part of the fiscal negotiations – is that this debt ceiling hostage taking by Republicans was insane and the mainstream media was culpable in not calling them out on it.
And it’s not that difficult to explain: Congress passed a budget. In order to pay the bills for that budget, the US has to borrow money. (The budget is not balanced – we spend more than we take in.)
There is a legal limit to the amount of money the US can borrow – a “debt ceiling.” In order to pay the bills for the already passed budget, that limit had to be raised – as it was every other time it needed to be by Congress. If not, the US budget would have to be cut by about 40% overnight or federal taxes dramatically raised (likely destroying the US and world economy) – or the US would default on its debts (likely destroying the US and world economy.)
It’s just not an option that anybody who lives in this country and understands math can seriously advocate.
It’s like someone trying to influence a negotiation with their spouse by taking their own children hostage and threatening them.
The idea that a major party would even consider using this as a way to influence policy is insane and the fact that the media didn’t make that crystal clear to the US population is unfortunate.
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