As the U.S. moved a day closer to financial default Tuesday, pressure for President Barack Obama's Democratic administration and its Republican rivals to agree on a debt plan came in many forms.
News outlets and bloggers were reporting congressional phone exchanges and email addresses as being overwhelmed, with lines to the office of Republican House Speaker John Boehner particularly heavily inundated.
Obama — in a primetime televised national address late Monday — had asked Americans to call their representatives in Congress to voice their thoughts about the debt standoff.
Capitol Hill was ringing busy Tuesday due to a high volume of calls to the U.S. House of Representatives, CNN reports, citing an email from the House's call center.
"Due to the high volume of external calls, House telephone circuits serving 202-225-XXXX phone numbers are near capacity resulting in outside callers occasionally getting busy signals," the email said.
House offices had also received "a flood of emails," leaving a number of websites experiencing slow connections — or else completely down — as of late Tuesday morning, including those of Boehner (R., Ohio), Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.), the Wall Street Journal reports.
Lawmakers are locked in a standoff over over competing plans to raise the debt ceiling before Aug. 2, when borrowing authority expires and the country runs out of cash to pay all of its of its bills.
One voice having little trouble being heard was that of City University of New York journalism professor Jeff Jarvis, who reportedly took to Twitter over the weekend to express what turned out to be a common feeling among his legion of new followers.
From his account, @JeffJarvis, he first wrote: "Hey, Washington assholes, it's our country, our economy, our money. Stop fucking with it."
And that was just a warm-up. Jarvis followed it with: “People, it’s time to get fucking pissed off." And then: “Can we start a Twitter chant: FUCK YOU, WASHINGTON! Pass it on."
According to The Wrap, Jarvis then began asking followers to help transform his rant into a digital phenomenon. "Seriously, folks, if we can’t use this tool to recapture the public sphere and debate, what is it good for?” he wrote.
Jeff Howe of Wired, tweeted: “Holy shit, @JeffJarvis has gone all Howard Beale on us. I love it. And I feel it. Give us our future back, fuckers.
Comparisons with Peter Finch’s iconic monologue from "Network" — in which he says "I'm mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore" — were inevitably made.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, high-level talks on the debt crisis were reportedly continuing, and more high-profile calls for bipartisanship being made.
According to Reuters:
With no compromise in sight and the threat of a far-reaching U.S. credit downgrade looming, IMF chief Christine Lagarde urged swift resolution of the political impasse in Washington, warning that failure to reach an agreement would have serious consequences for the world economy.
"The clock is ticking and clearly the issue needs to be resolved immediately," Lagarde told the Council on Foreign Relations think tank, according to a text of her remarks.
And Bloomberg pointed out Tuesday that:
the speaker, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell all voted for major drivers of the nation’s debt during the past decade: Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts and Medicare prescription drug benefits. They also voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, that rescued financial institutions and the auto industry.
Bloomberg News calculated that these initiatives "added $3.4 trillion to the nation’s accumulated debt and to its current annual budget deficit of $1.5 trillion."
Obama, in a televised address late Monday called the political showdown "no way to run the greatest country on Earth," and said failure to increase the $14.3 trillion U.S. borrowing limit would severely hurt the nation.
Warning that Americans could "become collateral damage to Washington's political warfare," Obama singled out House Republicans for intransigence, CNN reports: "The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn't vote for a dysfunctional government. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message."
Boehner, who is insisting that excessive government spending is the root cause of America's financial problems and that expenditure cuts are the only solution, responded in a televised address: "The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago [to raise the debt ceiling], and he wants a blank check today. That is just not going to happen."
Stock markets have been rattled by the acrimonious stalemate over the debt ceiling, Reuters reports, "with both sides offering competing plans that are unlikely to win bipartisan support."