Why would we ever doubt that hardcore right-wing nihilists with great clout who were willing to shutdown the federal government may also be willing to bring the U.S. into default? Many important components of the modern conservative movement likely may want, or think they want, to bring the nation into default for the very reason that it will indeed be devastating to the nation's ability to borrow money. What do they care if the cost of government borrowing will go through the roof? That is not their problem, or so they may think.
In all likelihood, at least four major rightwing nihilist factions may be willfully or stupidly glad to see the U.S. go over the cliff:
1. Libertarians/John Birchers: It might allow John Galt fantasy heroes, i.e., the Koch brothers, to have their fantasy come true, and fulfill their John Bircher father's dream of crushing the communist housed in the heart of every liberal and every person who has ever received a penny of government assistance (except for the Koch brothers, that is). Their Libertarian protégés may think they would be pleased to see Ayn Rand's fiction as reality (even if in reality this would not be so good for their fantasy hero selves).
2. End-timers: It might allow end-timers, whether of the race war or religious varieties, to get really stoked about how bad things are, and to retreat to their caves for their assault rifles. Some of them, like Michelle Bachmann, don't need much stoking. They have been waiting, if not praying, for these wonderful "end times" since at least the Nixon administration, when the Republican party aggressively supplemented its new racist base with religious fundamentalists:
3. Generalized Government Haters: It might promote the Grover Norquist goal of shrinking government down to the size where it can be drowned in a bathtub (even if he is now having some second thoughts).
4. Elderly Tea Party "Patriots": It could allow all of the deluded Tea Party senior citizens watching Fox to be part of killing those bad government programs, not realizing that their own government programs might be hurt too.
I fear that this is really bad folks. In the short term, all we can hope is that the Chamber of Commerce types talk some sense into John Boehner. If we are going to have any democracy-lite left, the Democrats cannot capitulate. But let's not kid ourselves into overlooking just how twisted and destructive the rightwing nihilists are. Given their "values," they do not value any world that would be so "sick" as to give the poor food to eat, much less medical care. So why not kill that world?
(In the long run, we need deep system change: a political system that is actually democratic would not let a single leader in the house or a single senator or leader in the senate hurt the whole country, especially when this is in direct contravention of the nation's own constitution; and an economic system that is democratic would never question the need to provide true liberty and justice for all, even if it required recouping, or better yet disallowing, all that dirty polluting Koch money currently infiltrating our government.)
9:12 AM PT: I have inserted some "mays" and other words to show more uncertainty on my part. Again, I dearly hope that this does not add up to a significant Republican constituency for catastrophe. But I think we need to start thinking about who will be hurt if the costs of borrowing go up, and who might be okay with seeing them hurt. Those hurt would include senior citizens, so to me group 4 is the weakest link. Group 3 is also potentially a weak link; even Grover Norquist seems to be getting cold feet. Group 2 might break up between true believers and dilettantes who only like to dream about the Rapture when they don't have to count on it, but I think a lot of them are hardcore enough, and want to play with their guns enough, to root for default if not possible calamity. Group 1 includes some truly devious rich people who I would not put anything past. We shall see.
2:37 PM PT: Now the Koch brothers are denying culpability for the shutdown: http://www.nytimes.com/.... Meanwhile, however, the organizations they fund support the shutdown and wax eloquent about how default is no big deal. Stay-tuned on which Koch brothers position will carry the day--their greedy corporatist side or their movement Libertarian/John Bircher side. Small comfort but I sincerely hope it's the former. (System change people.)