The Republican Party, and its House leader Eric Cantor, are ready to pull the plug on the U.S. economy if they don’t get their way.

If the ceiling on the debt limit isn’t lifted by Aug. 2, which the Republicans are resisting so far, then the U.S. government will go into default on its financial obligations.

No one knows what the exact repercussions on the U.S. and world economy will be if the federal government goes belly up. But it is fair to say that we will be moving into uncharted and stormy waters.

People here as well as worldwide will be hurt, and hurt badly. A double-dip recession is almost a certainty and an economic catastrophe isn’t out of the question.

But Cantor and his fellow Republicans don’t seem to be bothered by this prospect. They almost seem to relish the idea of the economy spinning out of control.

From their point of view, a default that sends the economy into free fall would make it easier to impose economic “shock therapy” on the American people in the form of steep cuts in social programs and entitlements – yup, things we are entitled to because we’ve worked and paid for them – like Social Security.

There is only one way to describe this strategy: the work of thugs, gangsters, criminals.

They (and their corporate supporters) deserve to be taken to the woodshed and swatted with a big paddle, but I guess that isn’t politic.

What then is politic?

Resisting their extortion demands is the only sensible course of action at this moment of crisis. Labor and its allies should continue to press the president and congressional Democrats to draw a line in the sand and say with one voice, “No deal. We are not against a compromise, but we are against capitulation to the outrageous demands of the right-wing extremists in the Republican Party. Sweeping cuts in entitlement programs are neither good for the economy nor warranted on their merits. Our entitlement programs may need a little tweaking, but they remain fundamentally sound.”  

In the longer term, the overriding task is to unceremoniously vote this Republican gang out of office in next year’s elections.

Would it solve all of our problems? By no means, but it would sure help. Only on a more favorable political terrain can the working class, racially oppressed, women, youth and others hope to win, through mass struggle, the reforms necessary to address the crisis conditions – including joblessness and fiscal imbalances – brought on by a global slump.


PW Editorial Board
PW Editorial Board

People’s World editorial board: Editor-in-Chief John Wojcik,  Managing Editor C.J. Atkins, Copy Editor Eric A. Gordon, Washington D.C. Bureau Chief Mark Gruenberg, Social Media Editor Chauncey K. Robinson, Senior Editor Roberta Wood, Senior Editor Joe Sims