Looking for the Right Word…

I’m looking for a word. Irresponsible doesn’t quite convey what I’m after. Despicable and corrupt come closer. Bat-shit crazy is a bit too inelegant, and besides, being crazy lets people off the hook–it implies that they don’t really know what they’re doing.

Here’s what generated my search for that perfect word: Yesterday, when the House of Representatives voted to raise the debt ceiling, two Democrats and 199 Republicans voted no.

In other words, 201 Representatives favored an American default on its obligations that would probably trigger a worldwide financial meltdown, because….? Because they don’t approve of debt that the House of Representatives ran up? Because they don’t like the President? (There were 19 bipartisan, no-controversy votes to raise the ceiling when George W. Bush was President.) Because they’re pandering to people who are too stupid or uninformed to know what the debt ceiling is? Because they are too stupid or uninformed to know what it is?

Let me spell this out.

The Constitution requires that Congress make all spending decisions—the President proposes, but Congress disposes. Sometimes–okay, a lot of the time–Congress authorizes more spending than the government collects in revenue. That requires government to borrow the difference, in order to cover the deficit that Congress has already authorized.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, Congress also votes to authorize that necessary borrowing to the extent that it will exceed the previously-set debt limit, or ceiling.

To many of us, this seems a bit silly, since the debt ceiling vote comes from the same Congress that has already voted for the spending that requires the borrowing, but this practice of raising the debt ceiling has generally been uncontroversial, and for years the ceiling has been routinely raised by votes from large, bipartisan majorities. 

Routinely, that is, until the unthinkable happened, and Barack Obama became President.

Dishonest rhetoric to the contrary, failing to raise the debt ceiling would not do anything to reduce the national debt. Congress has already authorized the spending. Instead, it would be a vote for the U.S. to default on what it already owes.

Even using the threat of nonpayment of the nation’s bills as a bargaining chip sends a chilling message to world financial markets and undermines America’s reputation as a sound place to invest.

If Congress actually refused to raise the ceiling, the results would be catastrophic; such a refusal would require the United States to stop paying many of its bills—including amounts owed to senior citizens for social security, defense contractors and members of the military who defend the country, and many others. Economists warn that such a failure to pay our bills could precipitate a worldwide economic collapse.  That’s why John Boehner–who periodically visits reality– ignored the suicide contingent in his caucus, and brought a so-called “clean” bill to the House floor.

I’m still looking for the word that adequately describes the House members who voted not to raise the debt ceiling. Those who knew what they were doing are beneath contempt; those who didn’t understand the implications of their votes are intellectually unfit to hold office.

Whatever you call them, they need to be sent home.


  1. ALL of the Republicans from IN voted against raising the debt ceiling. ALEC /Tea Party clones.. or clods.. or clowns…

  2. Sometimes, suffering increases with knowledge. The people who elected these foolish individuals view the situation narrowly and, until they feel the consequences of disaster, they can focus on one “guiding principle” that allows them to rationalize this travesty. If you have any empathy, any vision for what could be, suffering begins when you start to understand the context, but as it happens, you don’t have to start understanding very much. There are 199 people, supported by millions of other people whose vision for this country is so primitive that they do not understand the essentials of the situation or the consequences. Unfortunately, freedom and ignorance do not go well together, but many people seem to think they do. What a surprise there is in store for them. There was no guarantee that this “grand experiment” would actually work, but it’s fairly easy to make some endeavors fail and it’s really hard to make some things work.

  3. Pandering to their base is probably the best explanation. The Republicans have built a base on Bible Thumpers and the ill-informed TEA Party Segment. Given the relatively small turnouts in Primary Elections an organized minority can create havoc as Richard Lugar found out.

  4. Did the CSA really believe it would win a war against the North? Remember GWTW? I believe they did. Although it made absolutely no sense, they believed. When they colluded to oust Lugar, they honestly believed they would replace him with a card carrying KKKer. Why? Simply because they believe. They believe that Jesus is on their side! How in the world can you fight that? Ask Lugar! How is that really different from the martyr looking forward to his day with the virgins? How is it as mentally healthy? IN both isms women don’t count so they don’t need the virgins. So Jesus works for them also. In the arms of virgins or Jesus? What’s the diff? The answer: evolution.

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