In a rare display of high-mindedness and bipartisanship last week, the U.S. Senate was able to hurriedly pass the Helium Bill by a 97-2 vote. Citing the urgent need to avoid harming the industry and disrupting national security programs, this normally divided institution was able to put party lines aside and do the right thing for the country.
As much as party clowns and computer chip makers will now be able to carry on with business as usual, the same group of lawmakers that got fired up enough to preserve this invisible gas is about to sit back and watch as the economy runs aground and the Federal government grinds to a halt.
In the attached video, our esteemed panel of guests, including RBS senior economist Michelle Girard, KKM Financial's Jeff Kilburg, Zachary Karabell of River Twice Research, and my Yahoo Finance colleagues Jeff Macke and Aaron Task, debate the tactics and likelihood that once again an 11th hour deal will be reached.
Or is it different this time?
For one, this is the last shot conservatives have to defund Obamacare, even though more than 40 previous attempts to do so this year by the Republican-led House of Representatives have already been shot down by the Democratic-led Senate.
Secondly, as Zachary Karabell points out, there is "an eternal revolutionary zeal" within the most conservative parts of the Republican party that believes "you have to blow up the system in order to create a more pure one." To that extent, he thinks it is "very much in their interest to push it to the brink."
Even last week, outgoing Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke was flagging the beltway budgetary battle as a possible threat to our notoriously fragile recovery, saying "a government shut down, or perhaps even more so, a failure to raise the debt limit, could have very serious consequences for the financial markets and for the economy."
"The fact that Bernanke even brought it up, that's the biggest tell right now," says Jeff Kilburg, who seized on the fact that the Fed chief must know or fear something if it's on top of his mind.
Finally, Aaron Task points out that perhaps the lesson lawmakers learned from the similar showdown in 2011 was the wrong lesson, in as much as "the world didn't end" as some had metaphorically suggested it would.
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- Zachary Karabell