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Evan Feeney’s Blog

The Debt-Ceiling Hostage Situation

Evan Feeney

Posted September 30, 2013

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You would not expect an environmental organization like NRDC to be engaged in the current debt-ceiling fight. But this is a cross cutting issue that will impact a number of issues that NRDC engages on.  We are fighting the attempt to attach numerous riders and extort numerous concessions out of President Obama that directly target our issues (and we would also like to keep the economy going, but that’s important to everyone). There are Republicans in both the House and the Senate who refuse to raise the debt-ceiling without “concessions” that would strip the President of his authority to approve or disapprove the Keystone XL pipeline, would block the EPA from regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste, would require more offshore drilling, and would drastically change regulatory measures that help protect public health and the environment.

It is hard to call these “concessions” when it comes to the debt-ceiling; it is flat out extortion. Even a number of House and Senate Republicans are beginning to voice opposition to this plan of threatening to crash the economy. Instead of governing, the Republican caucus is trying to force Obama to sign the entire platform of the Romney campaign into law in exchange for keeping the economy from total implosion.  If we can all remember back almost 11 months ago, Mitt Romney and that platform lost the election. End of story. But rather than accepting that their ideas are not what the people of this country chose, congressional Republicans are throwing an epic tantrum to risk the full faith and credit of the country in order to force feed us every policy idea they had hoped to win on last year.

The insanity of this is that GOP leaders openly admit that raising the debt-ceiling is imperative to avoiding a major economic disaster. Yet they persist that this ransom is a reasonable course of action. It is not. And the best thing to say about the debt-ceiling has already been said by Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post:

The thing about the debt ceiling is that it's not in any way, shape, or form a ‘partisan’ issue. There's no ‘position’  to take on it. It is not a liberal or a conservative ‘idea.’ And raising the debt ceiling confers no privileges or advantages on anyone -- it doesn't advance any policy or philosophy, and it doesn't even permit new debt. Congress has passed laws and appropriated monies. Having done so, certain obligations must be met. Raising the debt ceiling says only, ‘We plan on honoring our obligations.’ Not raising the debt ceiling means you are saying,‘We would like to cause the collapse of what is colloquially known as 'the economy.'

This is not a negotiation, it is a hostage situation. The question is, will Republicans shoot the hostage?

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Michael BerndtsonSep 30 2013 12:49 PM

Shutting down the government is one way of demonstrating the essential functions of government to the anti-government crowd. It won't accomplish anything but more chaos. It is however an option. - Don't shut down the govt. Obama. If you have to, I'd still like you. But, wall street and the 70 to barely alive crowd may freak.

It'll probably hurt the mid-upper-middle to lower-upper classes more than the lower-middle to upper-lower classes. They've already been beaten up pretty badly for the past 10 years. - We still would love you Mr. Obama. Do what you gotta do.

There's not really all that much restriction on offshore oil and gas development environmental protection wise. It has more to do with market and BP completely screwing up. Oil and gas and finance seem to just want governmental indemnification and sympathy if anything should happen. Of course environmentalism is just used as an oil and gas screaming point. - Don't let the US taxpayers pick up O&G spill costs Mr. Obama.

The Keystone XL isn't all that important for next 5 to 10 years. Sure it will save O&G a lot on pumping costs and allow full access to the US markets. But there's rail and all the pipeline doglegs being built throughout Illinois. (Hey, NRDC have you seen those pipeline maps). Exxon Joliet is close to full ready. BP Whiting will be ready for 260,000 bbls/day of bitumen next year. The Texas and Louisiana Gulf refineries are itching for the KXL. But could make do with alternate routes and rail. They do want the billions spent on refinery upgrades and modifications to pay out as quickly as possible. I'm not even sure if pipelines will be the bottleneck for at least Obama's term. - Obama can give them that. Make O&G double pipe and hire pipeline walkers for every mile regardless of automated sensing. Job creation in the thousands.

The two issues on tar sands that every environmental outfit should focus on are: added sulfur and metals (mercury esp.) in tar sands and the heaping pile of smoking petcoke that will ever mount. Allow the pipeline, but regulate the snot out of mercury emissions and petcoke. And no deal to pay-to-not-burn. Even republicans don't want their special spawn to become mad as a hatter. - no deals obama, put this on O&G to cleanup its own mess.

I'd love to have health care through Obamacare's market, it would save me some cash. Which is good. I'll be on the website tomorrow and it'll either be up or not. - Don't delay Obamacare Obama. Stick to your guns. No tax breaks. Nothing.

Air regs have a fairly long implementation timeline. Isn't one of the key rulings, the one from Mass. going up to SCOTUS next year. There's gotta be some wiggle room. - Hold tight Obama - but figure out a plan B. The natural gas economy can wait.

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