If the federal government fails to pay its bills and the interest on its borrowing by the middle of the month, it is the overwhelming verdict of the nation’s smartest economists that financial mayhem will ensue.
Until this week, no one on either side doubted that. In fact, it was implicit in the Republican case for using the debt ceiling as a lever to cut public spending. Only with the threat of Armageddon in the markets and the prospect of a return to the Crash of 2008 did the Republican bartering made any sense.
Now the looser cannons on the GOP deck have changed their tune. At last count, seven House members and six senators have suggested the government can remain shut down in perpetuity and America can fail to make interest payments on its borrowing and nothing much will happen.
Hard-right Republicans’ rejection of basic economics is just the latest example of how they have abandoned rational thought and refuse to accept established scientific facts. Consider their arguments against evolution.
Not long ago, Republicans were hardheaded realists who derided the woolly pipe dreams of their Democratic rivals. Now they appear to have lost all touch with reality, embracing notions that used to be the preserve of paranoid eccentrics who write rambling letters in green ink.