Make no mistake about it, Republicans attempting to hold the country hostage over the debt ceiling is pure “MAGA” on display.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and his band of MAGA insurgents raised the debt ceiling three times with no spending cuts or preconditions when Donald Trump was president.

McCarthy-turned-MAGA, on the other hand, has no regard for the potentially catastrophic global consequences he’s threatening, including devastating consequences for the world’s environment.

The debt ceiling is the government paying its existing debts. The United States has never defaulted on paying its debts, which both parties participated in creating.

Doing so now, as the MAGA Republicans are threatening, would cause global financial markets to lose faith in the United States, weaken the dollar and cause stock prices to fall, and ensure the federal government could not fund Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, not to mention funding the U.S. military.

However, there is one hidden global consequence of the MAGA prankster’s debt ceiling bill: it would increase global warming.

Republicans in the House of Representatives are demanding the repeal of the climate measures in the “Inflation Reduction Act” to raise the debt ceiling.

This at a time when obviously America and the world are hurtling toward the coming climate tipping point (1.5 C), leading to more severe heat, wildfires, droughts, storms, sea level rise, ecosystem destruction, and global human deaths and displacements.

As I have said repeatedly in my commentaries, despite scientific warnings about the dangers of rising greenhouse emissions, international efforts have fallen far short of arresting the overheating of our planet.

McCarthy and his MAGA combatants know climate change is real because the five worst states facing climate disasters are all politically red: Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas.

For example, the coldest snow storm in three decades hit Texas and the Mississippi River Valley last February, costing $24 billion in damages — their most costly winter storm on record.

In 2021, Louisianans found themselves living in tents and cars after losing their homes to Hurricane Nicholas.

It’s not just that they don’t care about climate change, they are actively trying to stop the United States from fighting it.

The United States is the second leading emitter of greenhouse gases, after China, in the world. The hundreds of billions of dollars in long-term incentives and tax credits in the “Inflation Reduction Act” are designed to reduce net U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.

This is significant global leadership for a global problem, which the world can follow. It is desperately needed.

The extreme irony of what the Republicans are doing is that more than half of the new climate manufacturing in the “Inflation Reduction Act” is earmarked for Republican districts.

This includes building batteries and electric vehicles, along with developing wind and solar technologies. It also includes the creation of 77,000 new jobs.

Nevertheless, MAGA’s vision for the country would repeal the tax credits making this possible, destroy the economic benefits for Republican congressional districts, and instead expedite new oil and gas permitting while repealing the legislation’s fee on methane emissions (a greenhouse gas 80 times more planet-warming then CO2).

This is head-in-the-sand insanity in this time of climate change and economic uncertainty.

The United States has experienced an average of nearly eight $1 billion disasters every year over the past four decades from climate-related severe heat, wildfires, storms, drought and sea level rise.

These massive economic losses were primarily to infrastructure, critical services and property. As the climate overheats, these losses will continue to rise.

In this regard, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that “a delayed … transition to a net-zero economy can lead to shocks to the financial system …”

Debt ceiling default would be such a massive shock to our financial system.

Because the United States has never defaulted on its debts, no one knows for sure what would happen, but MAGA — because it ultimately wants to destroy what it calls the “administrative state,” i.e. functioning administrative agencies — could ensure a first-ever default.

If so, economists fear that as interest rates rise and debt holders unload their bonds, it would create a market panic similar to the stock market crash of 2008.

In other words, global chaos. If MAGA get its way, there would not only be economic chaos but irreparable damage in the fight to slow climate change.

The hostage taking of the U.S. debt by Republicans is ultimately anti-American. We pay our debts!

Moreover, having recognized the existential threat that climate change presents, we cannot allow responding to it to be held hostage by MAGA.

Robert Sulnick

Robert Sulnick

Environmental lawyer Robert Sulnick represented the community of Casmalia in litigation against the Casmalia Resources Hazardous Waste Landfill, co-founded the American Oceans Campaign with Ted Danson, and is a partner in the Santa Barbara environmental consulting firm Environmental Problem Solving Enterprises. The opinions expressed are his own.