Like So Much Modern Political Dysfunction, The Debt Ceiling Crisis Was First Created By Newt Gingrich

And to think that for a few weeks, Gingrich was considered the serious Republican presidential nominee (boldface mine):

Back in 1979, the Democratic House Speaker, Tip O’Neill, handed the unhappy job of lining up votes for a debt-ceiling raise to Representative Richard Gephardt, then a young Democratic congressman from Missouri. Gephardt hated this, and, realizing he’d probably get stuck with it again, consulted the parliamentarian about whether the two votes could be combined. The parliamentarian said they could. Thereafter, whenever the House passed a budget resolution, the debt ceiling was “deemed” raised.

The “Gephardt Rule,” as it became known, lasted until 1995, when the new House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, fresh from the Republican triumph of the 1994 midterms, recognized the same thing that Tea Party Republicans recognize today: The threat of default could be used to extort Democratic concessions. Gingrich abolished the Gephardt Rule, and within the year the government had shut down.

Unlike what a lot of fancy-pants pundits are proclaiming, this isn’t a fundamental failure of our presidential-congressional system or some other hooey. It is intentional and cynical sabotage combined with a hunger for power.

And one side tried to fix the problem, while the other side ruthlessly exploited it.

We few, we dirty fucking hippies remember this didn’t start in 2010.

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