According to Norm Ornstein, if the Republicans-- he doesn’t call them fascists in print— take over the House, “the country will face a series of fundamental challenges much greater than we have had in any modern period of divided government, including a direct and palpable threat of default and government shutdown. The Republican majority will be more radical, reckless, and willing to employ nuclear options to achieve its goals than any of its predecessors have been, and its leadership, starting with McCarthy, will be either compliant or too weak to head off catastrophe.” Yeah… so a weak McCarthy and a weak Biden and a self-serving Schumer. Ornstein put not like this: teabagger Jason Chaffetz was willing to default in 2011— “We weren’t kidding around. We would have taken it down”— but if Republicans capture a majority in next month’s midterms, they’ll make the teabaggers “look like milquetoast moderates. The prospect of default, along with extended government shutdowns and disruptions and a hamstrung administration, will loom large.” Just imagine feebleminded QAnon sociopaths like Marjorie Traitor Greene and Lauren Boebert having veto power over everything!
New Hampshire may not be Alabama or Wyoming but primaries there, wrote Ornstein, “have underscored this threat. MAGA radicals were the big winners— Don Bolduc, slammed by GOP Governor Chris Sununu as a “conspiracy-theory extremist,” prevailed as the Republican Senate nominee, and Trumpists Karoline Leavitt and Bob Burns carried the nominations for the two House seats. Saying flatly that Trump won in 2020 and calling for scrapping the FBI, these candidates are outside any reasonable definition of the mainstream— but they are the rule, not the exception, in this year’s Republican primary contests for nomination to both federal and state key offices.”
Sununu won with 113,485 (78.7%) while Bolduc got just 52,637 votes (37.1%) and the two lunatic fringe congressional candidates got 46,677 combined, Leavitt with 34.6% and Burns with 32.9%. Even with those kinds of small numbers, the fascists have infiltrated and are taking over the party… more or less democratically. “The current members of the Freedom Caucus,” Ornstein reminded his readers, “make up barely a fifth of all House Republicans, but they represent a rogues’ gallery of bombastic pot stirrers and insurrectionist enablers— people such as Scott Perry, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Louie Gohmert, and Mo Brooks." Gohmert and Brooks lost statewide primaries so will be gone next year but the other 7 are not being challenged by the DCCC at all, even though two of the worst of them— Perry and Boebert— could be vulnerable. The freeling expressed goals of these freaks “include impeaching Joe Biden, Merrick Garland, Alejandro Mayorkas, and more; investigating Hunter Biden, Anthony Fauci, and others; but also crippling the FBI and blocking further investigation or prosecution of Trump and his allies, stopping all future Biden policies, and likely fighting for a nationwide ban on abortions, repeal of the Affordable Care Act, tough immigration policies…”
One house of Congress can do a lot on its own—including investigations, subpoenas of individuals, resolutions of contempt, and impeachment. Of course, the House cannot remove anyone from office without the Senate, and it cannot legislate on its own. But it can block legislation and use its veto power to demand change. No question, the House Republicans will block any legislative initiative from the Biden administration. Worse, though, would be the ways they could employ the power of the purse.
That starts with the debt ceiling. An anachronistic policy necessity, used only by Denmark and the U.S., raising the debt ceiling requires periodic action by Congress to maintain the full faith and credit of the United States; the failure to do so when the ceiling is reached would mean a default. Although both parties have played partisan games with the debt ceiling, they have always made it through, even if we came dangerously close during the Obama presidency. In 2011, McConnell said, “I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting. Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this: It’s a hostage worth ransoming.”
McConnell and his House counterpart Boehner did use the debt ceiling threat to get some concessions on spending. The concessions demanded by the new MAGA extremist radicals will be non-negotiable. And this time, if Republicans win, a lot more members will be ready to push us over the cliff—and the speaker, McCarthy, with no ability or willingness to stop their juggernaut. Of course, other major disruptions could occur, including government shutdowns and costly investigations. But it is the tangible threat of default that looms largest.
What to do? One thing is clear. If the Republicans prevail in November, the lame-duck session becomes an opportunity to take this threat off the table once and for all. The way to do so is by making permanent, perhaps via reconciliation, the ironically named “McConnell Rule.” The rule was raised by the Senate Republican leader a decade ago to allow the president to raise the debt ceiling. It allows Congress to pass a joint resolution blocking the action, but contains a provision where the president is able to veto that resolution— meaning, in this instance, that a president would need only one-third of support plus one of the two houses of Congress to avoid default.
We have moved into a new and frightening era in American politics and governance, one when radicals intent on a revolution and craving major disruption will be not just a vocal minority but potentially dominating a governing body. We cannot risk the full consequences of that brutal reality.
The closest races in the country vary from forecast to forecast. Most of the Democrats in the tightest races are wretched corrupt conservatives like Rudy Salas leading 50.3% to 49.7% in a blue California district and Christy Smith, losing 49.8% to 50.2% in another blue California district. Salas and Smith are both horrible, as is Blue Dog incumbent Tom O’Halleran, a former Republican, who’s losing 49.9% to 50.1% in his Arizona district. There are, however, 3 progressives running in too-close-to-call races: Jamie McLeod-Skinner in Oregon, Michelle Vallejo in Texas and Chris DeLuzio in Pennsylvania. If you’re up for a last minute contribution, where it could make the difference between a Democratic and a Republican-controlled House and still contribute to a real progressive, give what you can to: