Greg Sargent calls out the GOP’s “Bad cop, evil cop” routine on the debt ceiling and notes that the Republicans have failed totally in the past trying to get concessions from President Obama over it.
This continues to get lost in discussions of this issue, but GOP leaders actually want to raise the debt limit, and they know beyond any doubt that they will end up doing just that in the end. In previous debt limit standoffs, GOP leaders have agreed that default will hurt the economy. And according to Politico’s reporting, Boehner knows that raising the debt limit this time would spare his successor — and his party — a major headache.
Thus, if and when Republicans do demand later on in this process that Democrats make concessions in exchange for Republican cooperation in raising the debt limit, Republicans will be asking Democrats to give them something in exchange for what they themselves want to happen to prevent massive harm to their own party and the country.
Orange Julius is planning to play ball on his way out the door, but of course Mitch the Turtle is still playing hostage games.
Now, maybe McConnell knows he’s not going to get unilateral concessions in exchange for refraining from hurting the country, and is just leaking this so conservatives think he’s “fighting.” But whatever the motive for this leak, it’s just a bunch of baloney. As Steve Benen notes, “these dangerous schemes only work if your rival believes you’re fully prepared to kill the hostage – and in this case, McConnell lacks all credibility.” This is especially true, now that we know Boehner is looking to raise it, very likely cleanly, to save his party from a huge political mess.
Conservatives will of course scream betrayal if Republican leaders do move to raise the debt limit with a minimum of damage to the country, without getting anything in return for it. But as I noted here yesterday, we have come a long way from 2011, when the political incentives were stacked in a way that really did give Republicans leverage to extract concessions in fiscal standoffs. But in repeated confrontations since Obama won reelection in 2012, the President and Democrats have revealed that this leverage is a phantom. The political incentives now all point the other way.
The point is that conservatives pushing for more such standoffs know this. They know the tactic will fail, and are only urging it on for their own cynical reasons. Whether or not Boehner actually ends up sparing us the needless drama of a protracted confrontation, the fact that he’s looking to resolve this without one itself confirms how this will ultimately end, no matter what has to happen along the way. And there’s no need for anyone to pretend otherwise.
Which brings me to the question: what happens should the poop-flingers in the cheap seats decide to go rogue? There’s more than enough votes for Nancy Pelosi to bail out Orange Julius in the House and pass a clean debt ceiling bill, but can the Senate GOP wreck the plan? Would Cruz or Paul blow this up in order to save their failing White House runs? Would Mitch then be willing to end that insurrection to save the country?
I mean it’s nuts enough that we’re talking yet again about debt ceiling hostage situations, and yes, the GOP has folded quickly enough in the past, but the bonkers factor has risen considerably in 2015, and I’m thinking maybe Sargent might not want to be so sure that both jokers are going to fold this time.
I’m not 100% sure they will fold this time, and that’s kinda scary considering the stakes.