‘This was not a both sides kind of thing’



Last night Rachel laid out, in the plainest of terms, why it’s wrong to think the political problems that led to the credit downgrade of U.S. debt by Standard and Poor’s is the result of “both sides” of the aisle having act more responsibly.

In examples like Congressman Jason Chaffetz we saw a perfect willingness on the part of Republicans to allow a default on the debt:

Chaffetz, who voted against both Boehner’s first proposal and the final bill, said he was well aware of how the leadership had used his and others’ willingness to let a default happen as a negotiating chip, and said he didn’t mind at all. “We weren’t kidding around, either,” he said. “We would have taken it down.”

There is no “other side” to this attitude.

The S&P report itself (pdf) explains in terms that could be confused with liberal talking points that the Republican tactic of brinksmanship is what undercut confidence in America’s ability to ensure payment of its debt:

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 debtceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy.

And lest there be any further question, representatives of S&P in subsequent interviews reiterated their problem with the Republican strategy of treating debt as a hostage:

The firm’s conclusion “was pretty much motivated by all of the debate about the raising of the debt ceiling,” John Chambers, chairman of S&P’s sovereign ratings committee, said in an interview. “It involved a level of brinksmanship greater than what we had expected earlier in the year.” 

What actually remains for the Democratic “other side” is not stepping back from an extremist position like Republicans, but the challenge of circumnavigating their irresponsible counterparts in order to help drag the nation out of its economic trouble. As Rachel explained:

And the other side is left to figure out not only how to stop them from doing that, how to defeat and marginalize that radical fraction in the Republican Party that is trying to do that, but also how to find enough non-arsonists on that side of the aisle to actually participate in building something that will work for the country – right now, and fast.


'This was not a both sides kind of thing'