I was contemplating Mike Huckabee's comments that Congress needs to stop the spending before it raises the debt ceiling. The theory is that if Republicans threaten to not raise the debt ceiling, it might force the Democrats to cut some programs. The problem with this theory is that most Democrats don't think that the Republicans are radical enough to vote against raising the debt ceiling. If I was President Obama, and Mike Huckabee was a congressman, I would call Mike's bluff. Because I don't think that he would put himself in the position of voting against the debt ceiling. Mike Huckabee is not crazy.
But what about Jim DeMint? Or Rand Paul? Would they gladly watch the American government default on its loans just so they could go back to their constituents and pretend like they did something about the debt? I think so. That's what makes them the crazy wing of the right. Historian and economist Bruce Bartlett calls it "monumental insanity." But it is just this insanity that might force spending cuts. I don't know that DeMint is bluffing.
It is the same concept with TARP. Most economist would argue that TARP was necessary to prevent a massive depression. The problem with TARP though (as everyone recognizes), is that it could encourage further bailouts in the future. However, because of the demagoguery of the crazy right, another bailout is more than likely out of the question. Bank lenders know fully well that the American people will not suffer another bailout. So, ironically, the people who lambaste TARP, while wrong on the policy details, do serve a useful purpose.
Crazy talk often helps in foreign policy. Iran, for example, has chosen this time in history to defy the international community because it knows that the international community is not in a position to do anything about Iran. It is the same with North Korea. I am not encouraging President Obama to start hurling threats at these countries, but my point is that Iran knows that the United States cannot do much to stop it at this point.
I certainly don't want to encourage crazy talk. But sometimes it can have its advantages.