With Congress away for the next month, it gives us time to pause and consider the various train wrecks that lie ahead when the members return September 9—and we are talking trainwrecks of the deadly variety. Three weeks after Congress returns, the new fiscal year will start; most of government as we know it will shut down unless both chambers can agree on a continuing resolution to keep government funded until they can finish their appropriations work and/or settle their differences over spending priorities.
A few weeks after that, we will bump up against the debt ceiling, with another confrontation or set of confrontations a near certainty. Just days into the recess, we are seeing a huge ramp-up in pressure on all Republicans from the Right to use every weapon possible to destroy and defund Obamacare. Any vote that keeps funding for it, even if it is to protect the full faith and credit of the U.S., this argument goes, is a treasonous one.
More than likely, we will see Republican leaders attempt first to achieve death by a thousand cuts, proposing a very short-term continuing resolution, perhaps for a month, to work things through—with the insistence that Congress cut off funds for the health care program during that time—followed by another, and another. And we might well see the two elements, government shutdown and debt ceiling, tied together for maximum leverage—the equivalent of terrorists saying we will kill our hostages and blow up New York unless you accede to our demands. A government shutdown and a breach of the debt limit—what a great formula for economic recovery!