Waiting for Big Business to lower the boom

About three months ago, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reached out to financial industry leaders, asking how much time he has to screw around with the debt ceiling before doing serious, lasting damage to the economy. He was told that “even pushing close to the deadline — or talking about it — could have grave consequences in the marketplace,” and top Wall Street executives and lobbyists quickly urged Republicans to steer clear of such reckless nonsense.

That was in April. Boehner and his caucus ignored the warnings, and next week, the United States, by Republican design, is expected to exhaust its ability to pay its bills.

Josh Marshall noted late yesterday that we may well reach a point at which “Wall Street/business interests,” among others, “come off the sidelines” to tell Republicans, especially in the House, that the game is up.

On a personal level, this has long been my hope. For quite a while, the only thing that’s stopped me from panicking over the Republicans’ debt-ceiling fiasco is the likelihood that some very wealthy, very powerful people, who hire very effective lobbyists and write very big campaign checks, would pick the phone and deliver a very clear message to the GOP: Enough. Raise the debt ceiling. Now.

That hasn’t happened, at least not in large numbers. While some in the private sector have weighed in carefully, most Big Business leaders are afraid to get dragged into a partisan fight. Others simply assumed their intervention wasn’t necessary. But with a ticking financial time-bomb set to go off, more are coming off the sidelines.

Wall Street has tried to ignore the threat posed by Washington failing to raise the debt ceiling. No more.

Business executives stepped up appeals this week for political action, worried that the nation faced a crisis, and prepared contingency plans in case the stalemate persists. […]

The potential consequences give business leaders a responsibility to warn Washington policymakers about the real-life implications of failing to raise the debt ceiling, said Larry Zimpleman, chief executive of Principal Financial Group.

By all accounts, business leaders don’t much care which solution is approved. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce threw its support to the Boehner plan yesterday, then added that it could also support other rival plans, too.

The point is, the resolution of the crisis is what matters. Big Business doesn’t care how Congress raises the debt ceiling; the industry just wants it done.

“Right now, at this moment, there’s nothing more important for financial stability than coming to an agreement that will both lift the debt ceiling and put us on a sound fiscal path,” Rob Nichols, president of the Financial Services Forum, a trade association of the chief executives of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and other large financial firms, told the LA Times.

A New York Times report added, “The chamber and other business groups have pressed with increasing urgency for Congress to raise the maximum amount that the government can borrow. They have cataloged the consequences of default at meetings, parties and dinners and over drinks.”

So far, Republicans don’t care — or at a minimum, care more what the right-wing base believes than what the “job creators” believe. With business leaders apparently stepping up more aggressively now, it’ll be worth watching to see if Republican attitudes shift at all. Our economy may depend on it.