It’s not quite Oklahoma! or Hamilton, but sometime next week, the curtain is expected to go up on Congress’ “Shutdown Theater” in what is sure to be an opening night to remember.
“Shutdown Theater” should not be confused with “Debt Ceiling Drama,” although both are expected to have strong openings and wide audience disgust as the nation’s actors playing lawmakers will posture and preen in front of the cameras seeking some kind of political advantage.
Why can’t they just call for world peace or an end to racism like other clueless, brain-dead actors?
The federal government could run out of cash and start missing payments on things as diverse as Social Security and military pay sometime between Oct. 15 and Nov. 4, according to a new analysis from the Bipartisan Policy Center.
That analysis, released on Friday as Congress is debating whether to lift America’s borrowing cap, showed a narrower window during which the United States could default on its debt if the limit on what the United States can borrow is not raised.
What makes this a theatrical exercise and not a real-world possibility is that no one is this stupid. No one is dumb enough to actually allow the United States to “default” on its financial obligations to other nations that have been financing our budget deficit for half a century or more.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress have shown no signs of progress at breaking a stalemate over raising or suspending the debt limit — which restricts the government’s ability to borrow money to pay its bills. The congressional dysfunction leaves the United States potentially less than a month away from what economists warn would be a catastrophic economic shock.
“New data demonstrate that Congress has only weeks to address the debt limit,” Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said in a statement. “If they don’t, the U.S. government risks missing or delaying critical bills that will come due in mid-October that millions of Americans rely on, from military paychecks and retirement benefits to advanced child tax credit payments.”
The way the plot has always gone is that Congress has taken the drama to its absolute limit, refusing to raise the debt ceiling until the hero is at death’s door, the fair maiden is in the clutches of the evil ogre, and the villain is off-camera cackling in glee that his nefarious scheme is about to succeed.
But then the hero makes a miraculous recovery, rescues the maiden from a fate worse than death, and foils the villain’s plot — just in time for the final commercial break and PSA reminder to get vaccinated.
Hardly Tony Award-winning material.
Republicans sound absolutely dead serious this time about refusing to vote to raise the debt limit. But then, they always sound dead serious right up until the time they’re forced to fold or watch the United States sink into penury.
It’s a tired script, entirely too formulaic and predictable. But right now, it’s what’s substituting for government in a great republic. So we can take it or leave it.