This Winter a Heaviness Hangs in the Air, continued
In my litany of worrisome phenomena yesterday, I neglected Republicans’ threat to refuse to raise the debt ceiling if their demands aren’t met. They’ve done this before and backed off. Times change, however, and the House is now controlled by wanton extremists. Speaker Kevin McCarthy has subordinated himself to knaves and fools in order to cling to his title. Democrats have signaled that they will not be extorted. But Republicans, being of nihilistic bent, will probably follow through on their threat, proving that they are not bluffing, whereupon President Biden, and the Treasury Department, following his directions, will likely borrow more money to meet the government’s obligations, citing the language of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law . . . shall not be questioned.” The obligations that must be paid were in every case previously authorized by Congress. The debt ceiling is an entirely post facto construction. The matter may reach the Supreme Court, which is dominated by right-wing ideologues. By then, the foundations of world economic order will be showing cracks and strains, and may already be in the process of crumbling.