Amazingly, it is the second anniversary of January 6th and we are still talking about an ongoing attempt to sabotage the American government.

I have argued that the Freedom Caucus members, and their handful of compatriots voting against Kevin McCarthy for Speaker of the House, may have been doing so because the rightwing billionaires who back them want to roll back FDR’s “big government” in America.

Now comes investigative journalist Dave Troy noting that America’s rightwing billionaires are not the only ones who want the U.S. government to fail. So does Vladimir Putin.

And most of those voting against McCarthy not only appear to be in the bag for the billionaires but for Putin as well.

Troy argues that Russia endured a terrible default crisis in 1998 and would like nothing more than to see the US go through the same:

“Putin and others in his milieu well-remember what Russia defaulting on its debt was like in 1998. Now it seems they feel like it’s payback time, as many of them feel that default was something engineered by the US between 1989-1998.”

There’s absolutely no doubt that a default by the United States would cripple our economy and lead to a crisis not seen since the Republican Great Depression.

CBS News reported that Moody’s Analytics’ Chief Economist Mark Zandi says it would nearly instantly wipe out as many as 6 million jobs and destroy $15 trillion in household wealth. Unemployment would rapidly spike to at least 9 percent and the stock market would fall by a third.

But is it possible that was actually the goal of the anti-McCarthy crowd? And, if so, why or on whose behalf? Does this have something to do with Kevin McCarthy, in 2016, coming right out and saying that he believed Donald Trump was on Putin‘s payroll?

Back in 2011, the last time Republicans played chicken with our national debt by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, our nation’s credit was downgraded, leading to higher borrowing costs and economic weakness that continued into the 2012 election year, badly (but not fatally) damaging Democrats and Obama’s re-election chances.

Had Republicans not blinked at the last minute and given in to lifting the debt ceiling so the Treasury could pay bills run up by Congress years before, we would have defaulted and the shattering consequences would still be felt today. It’s hard to overstate how much damage it would have done to America, American businesses, and American families.

But are the Republicans fighting against McCarthy really planning a repeat of blocking the debt ceiling only, this time, actually destroying our nation’s creditworthiness? Could they be that psychopathic?

And, if so, are they doing it because their billionaire sponsors think we should shut down most government agencies that support the middle class and the poor, or because Putin is supporting such an effort? Or both?

Ryan Grim reported Wednesday in The Intercept that when insurrectionist Congressman Ralph Norman was asked if he and his colleagues actually intended to force McCarthy (or any other Speaker) to “shut down the government rather than raise the debt ceiling,” Norman replied:

“That’s a non-negotiable item.”

When asked if he was talking about shutting down the government or actually defaulting on the debt, Norman said:

“That’s why you need to be planning now what agencies — what path you’re gonna take now to trim government. Tell the programs you’re going to get to this number. And you do that before chairs are picked.”

Norman was explaining that if Biden and Congress don’t agree to kill off the federal agencies he and his buddies don’t like — HHS? FBI? EPA? SEC? FEC? — they will destroy America’s full faith and credit in the eyes of the world this summer when we hit the debt ceiling.

Troy argued this is all a continuation of Trump’s January 6th coup attempt and his desire to convert America from a democracy and ally of democracies around the world into a despotic strongman-rule nation aligned with Putin’s Russia:

“It’s becoming clear now: This is January 6th, Episode II. The Freedom Caucus is demanding debt default, which will spark a ~$15T global financial crisis. COVID was ~$4T. This will only help Putin and his BRICS+/GGC allies.”

Skeptical but curious, I plugged the names of each of the 20 Republicans who voted against McCarthy in the first vote yesterday into a search engine along with the word “Russia.” Here is what I found about 15 of them:

Andy Biggs voted against legislation to document Russian war crimes in Ukraine, as did Paul Gosar and Scott Perry. Matt Gaetz, Dan Bishop, Paul Gosar, Ralph Norman, and Scott Perry all voted against suspending normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus. Dan Bishop, Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, and Chip Roy all voted against a bill to ban imports of Russian oil and gas. Those four also voted against legislation to strip Russia from “most favored nation status” by the World Trade Organization.

Paul Gosar and Matt Rosendale both voted against a resolution that reaffirmed US support for Ukrainian sovereignty. John Brecheen is new to Congress, but when asked by his local newspaper about whether America should support Ukraine against the Russian invasion he replied, “My position is I would not have voted for funding of war.”

Michael Cloud tweeted: “The Biden Admin has ignored a year-long invasion at our southern border but is considering risking the lives of U.S. soldiers to protect Ukraine’s border? Ukraine is thousands of miles away.” Voting against Sweden and Finland joining NATO, a pet Putin peeve, were Michael Cloud, Andy Biggs, Dan Bishop, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Bob Good, Ralph Norman, and Chip Roy. Eli Crane said of the US supporting Ukraine, “This is a war we shouldn’t be involved in,” and it will make the Afghanistan exit “look like child’s play.”

Matt Gaetz tweeted: “Today the House didn’t organize. Biggest loser: Zelensky. Biggest winner: U.S. Taxpayers.” He also tweeted: “I’m more concerned with the US-Mexico border than the Russia-Ukraine border. Not sorry.” Opposing U.S. aid to Ukraine, Matt Gaetz told a CPAC audience: “Why should Americans have to pay the costs for freedom elsewhere when our own leaders won’t stand up for our freedom here?”

Paul Gosar tweeted: “Ukraine is not our ally. Russia is not our enemy. We need to address our crippling debt, inflation and immigration problems. None of this is Putin’s fault.” Paul Gosar wrote an open letter to the White House asking President Biden to “refrain from participating in its annually recurring nuclear exercise ‘Steadfast Noon’ in conjunction with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to ‘prevent further escalation.’”

Paul Gosar tweeted: “Putin puts Russia first as he should.” Mary Miller, Bob Good, Ralph Norman, Andy Biggs, and Matt Gaetz co-sponsored legislation to forbid any further delivery of military equipment to Ukraine. Mary Miller tweeted: “I will vote NO on sending additional money to Ukraine…” Ralph Norman, who called for Trump to impose “Marshall law” to prevent Biden from being sworn in, first issued a statement on day one of the invasion of Ukraine condemning Russia but then voted “No” on US aid to Ukraine in September and continues to oppose such aid.

Scott Perry voted against aid to Ukraine. Matt Rosendale issued a statement and said: “The United States has no legal or moral obligation to come to the aid of either side in this foreign conflict.” He voted against a resolution “supporting the people of Ukraine.” He also introduced legislation blocking any US aid to Ukraine. Byron Donalds voted against U.S. aid to Ukraine.

There were five exceptions. Andrew Clyde, Bob Good, and Andy Harris all publicly support Ukraine against Russia. Keith Self is new to Congress but told his hometown paper he thinks the US should support Ukraine so long as American soldiers don’t get involved. And Andy Ogles is also new to Congress and doesn’t appear to have ever stated a position on the issue.

While none of this proves that the anti-McCarthy forces are getting their marching orders from Putin, it does raise some significant questions about their commitment to the continuation of the current form and nature of our government. I think Dave Troy’s idea is worth taking seriously.

Because the outcome he contemplates is something both the rightwing billionaires and Putin could get behind.

Shirley Preston

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