Can the United States pay 100% of its financial obligations? Of course. That is not the issue driving the downgrade of U.S. creditworthiness by Standard & Poor's.
Rather, S&P's downgrade is a pointed critique of our political system -- the reality that we have a group of political extremists, nihilist, who have invaded and seemingly conquered the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan conservatives.
This band of political hooligans are both unable and uninterested in governing. Reagan would have a hard time recognizing these Tea Partiers as real Republicans.
Let's face it, the Tea Party has sought to shut down the Government by any means necessary. As another expression of their nihilism, fresh from the Tea Party's foray into vandalizing America's economic stability, they most recently blocked funding of the Federal Aviation Administration, purely for ideological reasons.
It is fair to assume that any rational American would agree that the FAA, responsible for our civilian air transportation system, is a critical agency to keep funded.
But we are not talking here about a group of people moved by the quaint notion that Government decisions must be made with reason, using empirical data, and a spirit, as the U.S. Constitution says, of promoting the "general welfare" of all Americans.
This band of Tea Party ideologues in Congress share a quasi-religious zeal that can withstand exposure to any contradicting data or objective reality. The whole world, including vast majorities of Americans, yelled at them "don't blow up the American economy!"
Yet they purposefully drove the country to the very precipice of calamity, to paraphrase Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Is it surprising then that such a radical, destructive agenda is creating significant market turbulence? Not in the least. In fact, it would be surprising if it didn't seriously rock global markets -- as it has.
Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, a candidate for president in 2012, is the Chairperson of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress. She voted against the deal to raise the debt ceiling. Why? Dana Milbank of the Washington Post writes:
When Michele Bachmann was asked during a television interview last week whether she thought higher unemployment would increase her chances of winning the presidency, she gave an unexpectedly candid reply: "I hope so."
Now she's putting that theory to the test. On Wednesday, she argued that failure to raise the debt limit -- a prospect that even Republican congressional leaders say could lead to economic catastrophe -- might not be such a bad thing.
"This is a misnomer that I believe that the president and the Treasury secretary have been trying to pass off on the American people, and it's this: that if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion, that somehow the United States will go into default and we will lose the full faith and credit of the United States. That is simply not true." ...
It bears mentioning that Congresswoman Bachmann is consistently ranked near the top in most 2012 GOP Presidential preference poll. Predictably, she draws most of her support from people that identify with the Tea Party.
And she is now blaming President Obama for the downgrade -- a craven bet that Americans are too clueless to know that Bachmann and her band drove the country into the economic paralysis that S&P cited as one the main reasons for the downgrade.
But you wouldn't know this from her latest statement on the downgrade. According to FoxNews, Bachmann is pointing her finger at Obama for supposedly causing the downgrade that she and her Tea Party allies sparked through their mindless opposition to a deal with trillions of dollars in cuts:
"...This president has destroyed the credit rating of the United States through failed economic policies and his inability to control government spending by once again raising the debt ceiling..."
This logic-free pretzel of an argument is what now passes for serious discussion of economic policy among the Tea Party faithful.
While it's worth reading the entirety of the Standard & Poor's statement, there are a few choice sections that clearly point to the Tea Party lunacy as a contributing factor to their negative outlook:
"...The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America's governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy. Despite this year's wide-ranging debate, in our view, the differences between political parties have proven to be extraordinarily difficult to bridge, and, as we see it, the resulting agreement fell well short of the comprehensive fiscal consolidation program that some proponents had envisaged until quite recently. ..."
And the "less stable" policymakers fingered by S&P for blocking real budget reform?
"...Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act...:
The world's most powerful country was brought to the edge of financial chaos by Mrs. Bachmann and her Tea Party cohorts. Americans should never forget the damage that they have caused the whole nation. Beyond the hit to our national finances, the spectacle of Tea Party Members of Congress actually trying to justify an American default has made our Congress the laughingstock of the world.
But America is no punchline. Never. We are a democracy with the ability to overcome any challenge -- even an invasion by right-wing barbarians seeking to destroy the fabric of our society, the very strength and stability of our economy.
In the 2012 election, Americans from what I call the Patriotic Center, real Republicans, Democrats and Independents, should make sure that these Vandals are driven from the Congress and State legislatures across the nation.
America's future hangs in the balance of the 2012 election -- so we better get it right.