Here we go again. The feral children of the House of Representatives, better known as Republicans with a few Democrats added for interest, have decided that they will not raise the debt ceiling unless the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is defunded. They realized that just attaching the amendment to the stop gap funding bill to prevent the partial shutdown of the government on October 1 would never pass muster in the Senate. So they decided to go one better:
GOP leaders telegraphed that they would likely concede to the Senate’s demand for a stopgap spending bill shorn of the Obamacare provision but that they would carry on with the fight on legislation to increase the government’s borrowing cap.
“There should be no conversation about shutting the government down,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “That’s not the goal here.”
The debt-limit measure, required to allow the government to pay all of its bills on time, would be brought to the House floor as early as next week and would allow the Treasury to borrow freely for one year.
Republicans vow to load that bill with a GOP wish list, including another assault on the health care bill and a provision to force the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries, a project that environmentalists oppose and that the Obama administration so far has refused to approve. Other elements will reflect different Republican budget priorities, including as-yet-undisclosed savings from health care and government benefit programs and steps to speed work on an overhaul of the tax code.
If this sounds familiar,it should. We’ve been down this road in 2011 with the great debate ending in narrowly avoided default and led to the first ever downgrade of America’s credit rating.
At New Economic Perspectives, Joe Firestone, pointed out in his article President Barack Obama has stated that he would not negotiate on raising the debt ceiling but that he was willing to negotiate with the Republicans on the budget on matters including entitlements. He also highlights an exchange that took place on MSNBC’s “NOW with Alex Wagner,” including Alex Wagner, David Corn, Sam Stein and Ezra Klein:
Sam Stein: . . . you can see the contours of a deal that would upset both parties but palatable. something like in exchange for changes to social security payments, cpi, chained cpi. you could get a reprieve from sequestration. something like that along the lines where both parties are like, well, we don’t really want to do it, but for the sake of making sure we pay our bills – that’s why the republicans keep going there. they know obama care defunding isn’t going to happen, but there are other hostages.
Alex: why does president obama come to the table at all?
Ezra: i think that’s the kind of deal they would come to the table on. they would consider that a deal over sequestration. i’m not sure if they would do that exact deal, but the two deals they won’t do are the ones the republicans want. they don’t want that sequestration deal. they want an obama care deal or a debt ceiling deal. they won’t come to the table on those. . .
So, Sam Stein thinks the zombie “chained CPI” lives again, and Ezra agrees, but also thinks that the Republicans will not agree to that unless they get the deals they want. So, once again, the right wing, through their intransigence, may save us from President Obama’s continuing insistence that seniors must suffer now, and future seniors must suffer as well, for the sake of an illusory long-term debt/insolvency problem that doesn’t really exist, and that he can dispel at any moment by minting a $60 T coin.
Meanwhile, the four Versailles “progressives” on this panel laugh at the stupidity of the Republicans who are marching to the doom of their party, while refusing to call attention to the fact that this “funding” crisis, and the previous ones since 2010 were and are all kabuki, since the President could and still can dispel the illusion of possible insolvency any time he chooses to use the power Congress has given him to mint that coin.
So pull up a chair for the latest installment of “The Congressional Game of Chicken.” I’m betting on Curtain 2 with another filibuster threat to make it a really fun and interesting game.