The White House and Congress are fully engaged in the Syria debate — and that means they are NOT fully engaged in other important matters.
Specifically, they’re not dealing with the debt ceiling or federal budget crisis.
This isn’t just politics. The Washington follies matter to the economy, the financial markets and your bottom line!
The Syria debate is exposing hypocrisy — in both parties — and creating odd alliances. Last week I saw a House Republican from my own state on cable news, who outlined his party’s internal power struggle.
This congressman was very clear: He would not support a military strike on Syria because his constituents were against it. They are tired of war and see no reason the United States should get involved in a conflict. Most conservative Republicans in Congress say the same thing.
This is a truly remarkable shift.
Hawkish "neo-conservatives" took firm control of the party after September 2001. You can describe their foreign policy as "pre-emptive defense." Their goal is to eliminate potential threats at the source. This was how they justified invading Iraq in 2003. It was necessary, they said, because we could not allow terrorists to possess weapons of mass destruction.
Now, however, we see a large segment of the Republican Party abandoning that view. In many ways they mirror the 1930s isolationist GOP. The dreaded "sequestration" defense cuts took effect and the sky didn’t fall. Some Republicans say they would accept even bigger cuts in defense spending in exchange for reducing entitlements.
These Republicans are joining hands with liberal Democrats who say Syria’s use of chemical weapons is no threat to U.S. national security. The risk of radical Shiite terrorists or al-Qaeda capturing Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile doesn’t bother them.
It’s a big change.
But what hasn’t changed is also amazing.
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In the same interview I just mentioned, the liberal host asked the conservative congressman if he believed President Obama was a legitimate U.S. citizen. The congressman would only say, "No comment," even when pressed.
I found this especially ironic. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Barack Obama are both eligible for the presidency because both their mothers were U.S. citizens. Where they were born is irrelevant. These are simple facts.
Even-more-worrisome is that some people who cannot or will not acknowledge reality hold the country’s fiscal future in their hands.
I think this unwillingness to acknowledge the basic truth of President Obama’s citizenship is a bad sign for both the debt ceiling and the budget battle. These same members plan to defund ObamaCare even at the cost of an extended government shutdown. They will refuse to raise the debt ceiling and let the Treasury default.
They are leading the nation straight toward economic chaos.
Make no mistake: A government shutdown and/or debt default will literally kneecap your equity investments, along with the U.S. economy.
The only way I expect a debt-ceiling agreement, much less a U.S. budget, is if House Speaker John Boehner commits political suicide. He will have to suspend the "Hastert Rule" and allow a vote on bills opposed by a majority of his own caucus. To the core Tea-Party Republicans in Congress, any vote that doesn’t defund ObamaCare is political treason.
Boehner is in a no-win situation. If he works with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling, his colleagues will throw him out of office. If he goes along with the Tea Party and allows a government shutdown, Republicans will take the blame and voters will throw him out of office.
Regardless of what many Tea-Party Republicans in Congress and the Senate believe, President Obama is serious on the debt ceiling. He will not blink.
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