Steven Taylor’s article about the veto points in our system, as well as its lack of broken-ness, is well worth a read. Taylor has been arguing that we’re seeing the system working as designed, however unpleasant the outcomes.
It’s true that the debt limit debate was ridiculous, and that a large contingent of Tea Party freshmen in the House were threatening to not raise the debt ceiling. But here’s the thing: we still raised the debt ceiling, and in such a way that this Congress won’t have the opportunity to use the debt ceiling as a political bargaining chip again.
S&P’s assessment is only remotely serious if you assume that this particular Congress, with its huge contingent of crazy Tea Partiers, is going to serve in perpetuity. But this Congress isn’t going to serve in perpetuity — there are elections next year, and many of the Tea Party freshmen are likely to lose. They won in 2010 because it was a “wave election” in the middle of a very severe economic slump. But 2012 is a presidential election cycle with an incumbent Democratic president. A lot of these Tea Partiers who won in traditionally Democratic districts (and swing districts) are going to lose. In fact, it’s probably even odds that the Dems take back the House.
The simple fact is that the Tea Partiers are almost certainly at the height of their power in this Congress. And no, the debt ceiling debate doesn’t reflect some sort of secular change in US policymaking — the next time there’s a Republican president, House Republicans will be all about raising the debt ceiling, and Democrats won’t engage in the same kind of political brinksmanship. You’d have to be stunningly naïve not to believe this.
The post also contains a firsthand account of just how dumb S&P is. (via)