In the Arena

Krugman Quibble

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I agree with most of what Paul Krugman has to say about the debt deal–with one crucial exception. He’s right that Obama should have included raising the debt ceiling in last December’s tax deal…but he’s wrong, I think, about the President using what we’ll call “constitutional means”–the 14th Amendment–to blow past this silly, disastrous fight.

If he had cited the 14th Amendment and simply ordered Treasury to pay the bills, he would have been impeached by the radical Republicans. This would have guaranteed that the next 16 months would have been overwhelmed by an even worse version of the silliness visited upon our nation by the poisonous Limbaugh-Tea Party nihilists.

We can argue about whether we’re due for 16 months of nihilist sabotage anyway. We probably are. But you really can’t fault Obama for trying to keep the wilder excesses of this disgraceful crew off the table. I would prefer that the President passionately make the case against them. I would prefer that he expose their world-class ignorance and hypocrisy. I would prefer that he made himself plainer to the public (and yes, I still think he should appointed Elizabeth Warren to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau–that was a symbolic fight worth having because it would have demonstrated the Limbaugh-Norquist fealty to the oligarchs and put the President firmly on the side of average folks.)

As the election grows closer, he may deploy the array of rhetorical and political weapons at his disposal. For now, he has accepted the least worst alternative to limit the damage this tyrannical minority seems intent on doing to our economy and our nation.