Debt Ceiling Denailism

Plumer flags the numbers above from Pew:

[A] majority of Republicans say that the United States can blow past the Oct. 17 debt ceiling deadline without “major economic problems,” Pew finds. But what’s striking is that 52 percent of tea party Republicans don’t think we ever need to raise the ceiling.

Maybe this is the moment we discuss the Dunning-Kruger Effect, defined thus:

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes.

Of course, understanding that the debt ceiling is not permission to raise spending further but merely to pay the bills already agreed to is counter-intuitive. It takes some explanation. People aren’t stupid for grasping this, just understandably ill-informed. But that’s where elites are necessary, from within a political coalition. And those elites are missing or compromised. John McCain can complain all he likes about wacko-birds. But who was it who put a Class A wacko-bird on his own national ticket? McCain empowered Palinism as much as anyone. A reader adds:

First, thanks for your continuing coverage and commentary regarding the debt limit and government shutdown battle. My thought is this: where is the courage of the leaders of the Republicans? Where is the Bush family? Where are the so-called moderates, like Chris Christie?

Where are the business leaders? They should be hammering the GOP to extend the debt limit. They have much at stake, far more than any favors the GOP can do for them. Why are the more sane thought leaders and influencers of the Republican party either silent, or at the very least very reserved? Are they all afraid of the bullies in the Tea Party and conservative media? My feeling is that if anyone stood up to the bullies, they would find that bullies usually back down when confronted and are not that tough.

The national and world economies hang in the balance. Our leadership in the world hangs in the balance. Make no mistake, if the US defaults this country will never be the world leader it is today again. There is so much at stake that you think some on the GOP and their allies in the corporate community would rise up to tame the radicals in the party.

The Tea Party is like crack to the Republican party. It has produced some highs, but it is also a poison that destroys. Someone in the GOP needs to get the party to break its addiction.

But intelligent, educated Republicans, like Charles Krauthammer and George Will have defected to the loonies. The Bush family? They’ve made some sane comments – but not at a critical moment like this past week, when one would have thought their simple patriotism would have demanded some kind of intervention. And so the epistemic closure tightens and out polity’s dysfunction intensifies still more.