Maryann Tobin

This may be difficult for some people to acknowledge, but the only thing standing in the way of prosperity in America is the Republican Party.

If Republicans can’t destroy America by pushing the country off the fiscal cliff, they will do it by threatening to throw the country into default on its debts by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, which will need to be done early next year. Since both acts add uncertainty to the economic climate, they have the potential to rattle stock markets enough to get everyone’s attention.

Regardless of how it is achieved, the GOP seems hell-bent on causing another recession or other serious harm to the US economy and global financial markets – because they can.

The fiscal cliff scenario is a creation of the GOP. When they couldn’t get their way with austerity budget cuts in 2011, they decided to punish the country with a trigger mechanism intended to be so horrible, it would force Democrats and Republicans to come together to make a deal to avoid it. However in true political bipolar fashion, Republicans are making great strides toward giving themselves exactly what they wanted to avoid. If they don’t finish fighting with themselves by Dec. 31, 2012, the Bush tax cuts will expire on everyone, including the millionaires they have pledged to protect at all costs.

Therefore, if the Republicans succeed, everyone will lose and America will almost certainly fall into a deliberately planned and completely avoidable recession.

While the country then faces ever-growing job losses, Republicans are already planning to spread their irresponsible recklessness to the rest of the world by holding the debt ceiling hostage in the new year.

They did this last year. First they convinced unknowing Americans that the raising the debt ceiling meant more spending. But that is not true. Congress raises the debt ceiling as a formality to authorize payments for money the country has already spent.

Not raising the debt ceiling is like ignoring your credit card bill when it arrives. When the payment does not arrive, the lender usually raises your interest rate, because you are a higher risk and they can no longer trust you to pay them back. Shortly thereafter, they close your account and seek a court order to seize your assets to satisfy your unpaid debts.

The Republicans think this is a good idea but they call it “leverage” instead of default, because that sounds better to low or limited information Americans.

House Speaker John Boehner told "Fox News Sunday," "I've made it clear to the president, that every time we get to the debt limit, we need to cut some reforms that are greater than the increase in the debt limit. It's the only way to leverage the political process to produce more change than what it would if left alone."

With about three weeks to go before fiscal cliff automatic spending cuts kick-in and tax rates go up for everyone, Boehner is playing the role of a frustrated babysitter to the radical right-wing children in the Tea Party caucus, who are holding their breath and stomping their feet because they don’t want to raise taxes on rich people. Boehner knows this makes the entire Republican Party look very bad with everyone except rich people.

But Boehner’s troubles don’t end with the 61 members of the House Tea Party caucus of the 112th Congress. There are powerful lobbyists like Grover Norquist, the Koch brothers, and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, all tugging on Boehner’s sleeve, whining, complaining, and threatening to "primary" anyone who doesn’t give them what they want, which is more money, via the US tax code.

Pressure is mounting against Boehner as President Obama continues to hold to his campaign promises for a balanced deficit reduction plan that includes having the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of taxes.

Republicans claim that rich people are job creators and if President Obama is allowed to raise their tax rates by about 3 percentage points, they will lose all interest in being American capitalists.

According to the New York Times, the people Republicans call "job creators" do not agree.

Frederick W. Smith, the chief executive of FedEx and a supporter of Mitt Romney’s, said it was “a lot of mythology” that “you’ll kill jobs” by raising tax rates on the wealthy. Lloyd C. Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, called Mr. Obama’s deficit reduction plans “very credible” and said that he “wouldn’t preclude” higher tax rates on higher income. Randall Stephenson, the chief executive of AT&T and another Romney supporter, called for “a compromise involving an increase in both tax rates” and “significant steps to reform entitlements and rein in federal spending.

So if going over the fiscal cliff hurts the economy, and refusing to raise the debt ceiling only makes America an unreliable credit risk, and wealthy "job creators" say raising their taxes really won’t make any difference in their business plans, why are Republicans working so hard to cause another recession?

If memory serves, Republicans said they wanted to create jobs before the last election, not perpetuate dysfunctional government, ruin the reputation of the United States, and destroy the economy in the process.