, Salem, MA


October 10, 2013

Column: Distrust fuels the debt ceiling crisis


But how can that happen? How can public opinion change? Given the realities of distrust, news sources and polarization that I outline above, how could all Americans come to see that it would be unusual and dangerous to use debt deadlines as just another political leveraging tool? Won’t anybody who speaks up against using “deadline” tactics just be dismissed by those who oppose Obamacare?

That is a distinct possibility. Some citizens so dislike Obama, or so dislike Obamacare, or are so hostile to the government or government social spending, that they don’t care to listen to anybody who may try to tell them that using debt default as a threat is risking chaos.

Nonetheless, there may be hope in the large number of Republican senators and representatives and reliably conservative news sources who are speaking up and stating their disagreement with the threat of inaction on the debt ceiling. They are making clear that while they too have doubts about Obamacare, or see areas where it could be modified, they do not believe that those objections justify any and all means in the name of resistance.

There are many solidly Republican leaders who are speaking up. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, among others, have all indicated their disapproval of linking the defunding of Obamacare to the funding and financial obligations of the government.

Solidly conservative news sources like the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s Magazine (the Dow Jones business weekly) have described why the debt ceiling deadline is an inappropriate tool to use as a negotiating lever. The national Chamber of Commerce — impeccably conservative — has said the same.

Some citizens want to characterize this whole imbroglio as standard political fighting and posturing and want other citizens to feel that each party is equally to blame for the impasse. Those citizens who fervently oppose Obamacare want you to believe that either side in this impasse could compromise. They do not want you to ask why this stalemate differs from others.

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