Senators who try to play the deal-making heroes on this one will destroy not only their own credibility, but that of the entire Republican Party. Instead, they must remind Americans that the nation would not be facing this crisis were it not for the Obama administration's unbridled spending.
I completely understand what is at stake here. If the United States fails to raise its debt ceiling by Aug. 2, we face a serious devaluation of the dollar across the globe, a dire threat to the nation's overall financial status and possibly even an inability to pay entitlement benefits for seniors, and for Medicaid and welfare recipients. Of course, all this is theoretical.
The reality is that a majority of Americans are prepared for a few days of pain to prove to the world that we can and will find a way to control our reckless spending. Polling conducted earlier this year indicates that a majority of Republicans and independents would support a government shutdown akin to those of late 1995 and early 1996.
Why? Because they've adopted as their own the concept put forth in the early days of the Obama presidency by then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel -- namely, that one can take advantage of a crisis and put it to maximum use in achieving bigger and broader aims.
But Emanuel's crisis-exploitation formula was to swiftly spend boatloads of money. The Republicans' counter-solution should be to take advantage of the government's fiscal crisis by allowing the nation to suffer for a few days while Congress and the president sober up from the past two years of spending and make the tough cuts in spending that must be made.
There is another hidden reason why most Americans are willing to endure the pain of bumping up against our nation's debt ceiling. They see their own financial circumstances as being so bad that they don't see a downside to drastic action to stem federal spending -- especially if standing firm, at least for a while, will make those who profited from prior costly bailouts and stimulus efforts now have to share in the financial pain being felt by so many Americans.