Pay the Bills!

Greg Gnall
2 min readSep 28, 2021

In the bad old days, in Merrie Olde England and many other countries, those who could not pay their legally contracted debts were thrown into debtors’ prison, from which it was virtually impossible to escape since they had no chance to pay what they owed because, well, they were in prison. Today, with modern day bankruptcy protections, we are not nearly so cruel, although there are still remnants of such detention practices in certain states where an indigent person who is unable to pay a fine or fees in connection with a criminal matter is incarcerated without any hope that the debt can ever be repaid.

Of course such a consequence would never be applied to one Donald J. Trump, who not only used the practice of stiffing creditors and vendors of his real estate businesses as a standard operating procedure, but made it part of a strategy where default was merely an invitation to initiate negotiations to invalidate a loan or statement for services, or at least a chance to compromise on the amount of the obligation ultimately to be paid.

But, as has been true in so many ways, Mr. Trump’s attitude towards an issue has infected the thinking of today’s Republican Party. Under the “leadership” of “Dr. No,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, cynically wants to have the debt ceiling raised, but only if the Democrats to do it, so it can be tied to the notion that it will help pay for the Democrats’ “socialist” public spending goals.

This posturing is nonsense since raising the ceiling is necessary to pay off obligations already incurred under Congresses that were led by both parties, not least the deficits created by the giveaway to the rich disguised as “tax reform” under the exclusively partisan 2017 tax cut. In the past, both parties have cooperated over raising the ceiling regardless of which was in control at the time, although they went to the brink in 2011 before a last minute deal.

Partisan rancor was no small factor in the U.S. losing its AAA credit rating in 2011, and it has only worsened since. But the fact that the Republicans are willing to shut down the government, fail to pay federal employees and veterans, delay Social Security payments and, most significantly, interest on outstanding U.S. Treasury securities while upending the Covid economic recovery, with almost certain dire effects on world markets, shows just how insane the Party of Trump has become. But, after all, they are already willing to overlook the January 6 insurrection, continue to spout the Big Lie of a stolen election and would willingly flock to the banner of Trump ’24. So, once again we have a case of “Dog Bites Man.”

The general feeling is that this will somehow be resolved, but it is difficult to negotiate when one side isn’t demanding anything; McConnell & Co. just want to apportion blame for a perceived advantage in the 2022 midterms. Meanwhile, the country remains hostage. Kind of like Britney Spears.