Republicans have reportedly agreed on their newest demand to raise the debt ceiling: repeal the “risk corridor” provision in Obamacare.
So, Republicans are now holding the debt ceiling hostage…in order to receive a policy concession that increases the deficit.
It’s idiotic and silly and at this point, sad.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will not allow us to default. We’ve played this game before and every time they fold at the last minute. There may be some members in Congress who want to stop paying our bills, but luckily the Republican leadership isn’t that crazy.
Here’s how this goes: Conservatives are determined to extract some type of concession from Democrats. Boehner then strings his members along in order to bolster his credibility with them. Then, he has to fold when its clear that Obama and Senate Democrats aren’t budging and he hopes that any credibility he gained limits the conservative backlash.
Last Fall, it worked out pretty well after the government shutdown proved to be a political nightmare for the GOP. Boehner went along with it and was able to surrender without a revolt in his caucus.
That won’t happen this time. There is no government shutdown for Boehner to prove his loyalty.
That means there will be a conservative backlash no matter what. There’s no avoiding it. When Boehner and McConnell eventually come back empty handed, the tea party will furiously demand we default. Of course, Boehner and McConnell won’t allow that to happen – so this entire kabuki dance will end with a debt ceiling increase and a lot of tea partiers very angry at the establishment.
Here’s the thing: this is going to happen every time we have a debt ceiling fight.
Conservatives will demand a scalp, Boehner will go along with it and GOP infighting will worsen once he folds. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Instead of doing that, Republican leadership should decide to end this fight forever. Abolish the debt ceiling. The tea party will be even angrier, but it’s better to get the backlash over with now than to repeatedly play this game for the next few years.
Republican leadership could even permanently implement the “McConnell Rule,” which allows the president to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling and requires both houses of Congress to vote on a resolution disapproving of the action. If both the House and Senate pass the resolution, Obama could then veto it. A two-thirds majority in both houses would then have to override that veto to stop the president from raising the debt ceiling.
This rule was created at the final hour of the 2011 debt ceiling compromise. It gives Republicans an opportunity to voice their disapproval while ensuring that we don’t default. President Obama would surely agree to it if given the chance to take the debt ceiling off the table forever.
That would be a victory for Republican leadership. At this point, no one believes this debt ceiling extortion is actually real. The only thing it does is divide the Republican Party. It’s time to end it – and with it, any chance of a U.S. default – once and for all.
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