By DAVID W. MARSHALL
The Reconciled Body
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Each election cycle we get closer. In 2013, the nation experienced a 16-day federal government shutdown when the Republicans demanded the government’s spending bill include provisions which would impede or delay President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. In the midst of the 2013 shutdown, the AFL-CIO, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the United Way sent a joint letter to every member of Congress and Obama urging them to end the shutdown.
They wrote, “As leaders of the business, labor and the nonprofit sector, we are writing to urge you to end the federal government shutdown immediately. Our country is navigating the most challenging economic time in a generation. While we may disagree on priorities for federal policies and we even have conflicting views about many issues, we are in complete agreement that the current shutdown is harmful and the risk of default is potentially catastrophic for our fragile economy… Our three disparate sectors share a common view – no one benefits from the current shutdown and everyone will be harmed if the government defaults. It is in the interest of our nation that Congress restore the normal functioning of our political process, fund the government immediately and quickly move to restore the impasse over the debt ceiling limit.” The letter was signed by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumak, chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue and United Way Worldwide U.S. President Stacey Stewart.
While the 2013 shutdown eventually ended, Congress has yet to permanently restore a sense of normality to its political procedures. When the next government shutdown occurred in 2018, both chambers of Congress and the White House were controlled by the same party – Republicans. The 35- day shutdown, which was the longest in U.S. history, was caused by a funding dispute over the U.S./Mexico border wall.
While government shutdowns seriously impact small businesses working with the federal government, routine government operations in addition to thousands of federal workers, it’s been proven to be an effective political weapon used by Republicans when in power. It’s a reckless weapon that tells the American public, “I don’t care about the national consequences as long as I get what I want.” Today, refusing to increase the debt ceiling is the latest weapon used for political gain.
In 2013, it would have been inconceivable for members of Congress to allow the nation to default or even come close. Ten years later, our politics have progressed toward the point of self-destruction where too many members of Congress are willing to let the nation default on its debt thereby forcing a global economic catastrophe. It makes no sense to the rational person, and it makes no sense to our allies around the world. More than half of the world’s foreign currency reserves are held in U.S. dollars, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, and many nations look to Treasury bonds to safeguard their own economies and guard against drowning in debt.
“I just cannot believe they would let such a major, major disaster happen of the United States defaulting on its debt,” European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde told CBS News. “This is not possible. I cannot believe this would happen.” As President Biden and house speaker came to an agreement only days before the June 5 hard deadline, our international reputation was already damaged. The mere fact that a U.S. default is being talked about is enough to unsettle markets worldwide, experts say.
Our allies have every right to question our economic leadership and our ability to defend our national security interest when listening to MAGA officials like U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz. Leading up to the June deadline, Gaetz confirmed how House Republicans view the debt ceiling standoff as a hostage taking situation they can exploit to advance their political agenda. Gaetz told reporters, “my conservative colleagues for the most part support Limit, Save, Grow, and they don’t feel like we should negotiate with our hostage.” The deep cuts associated with the Limit, Save, Grow Act passed in a party-line vote, ironically hurts their MAGA constituents just as much as those who would be considered constituents of liberal lawmakers or just “others”.
The default crisis of 2023 is a manufactured crisis just as the government shutdowns of 2013 and 2018. Rep. Jim Jordan was among the House members pressuring Speaker McCarty to hold the line even if it means default. What is extremely disturbing is how middle and low income MAGA voters refuse to protect their own self-interests by blindly supporting Republican officials who are targeting Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs. Those same MAGA voters will never see the benefits from tax cuts for the wealthy.
2023 was too close for comfort in regards to the debt ceiling crisis. What will happen the next time we are faced with raising the debt ceiling? Will Republicans retake their 2023 hostage, and the hostage gets destroyed? In 2013. The AFL-CIO, Chamber of Commerce and the United Way showed that groups who are typically on opposing sides can see the risk of default and stand together. As the world is watching, America still has time to fix this.
David W. Marshall is founder of TRB: The Reconciled Body, the faith-based organization. He is also the author of the book “God Bless Our Divided America.” He can be reached through https://www.davidwmarshallauthor.com.