And so it begins. Republicans will probably not shut down the government, because they're focused on playing chicken (again!) with the debt ceiling, and it appears they are somewhat more unified in their resolve on this. They have issued a set of demands they expect President Obama and Democrats to satisfy in order to prevent the global economy from melting down on October 17th, and they know exactly what they're doing, it seems.
I mention this, of course, because the North Carolina Republicans' reasoned, sensible approach to extortion politics has apparently disappeared over the last two months.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who dubbed Cruz's threat to shut down the government over Obamacare the "dumbest idea" he'd ever heard, said Congress shouldn't give Obama a debt ceiling increase without attaching strings, and the president "is going to pay some price for it, which is a benefit for the American people."
"I hope [an Obamacare] delay is either part of the next [continuing resolution] or I hope it's part of the debt ceiling," Burr said.
There are a couple of important angles to this. First, if anyone was inclined to give Burr points for being an adult in July, now is the time to kick yourself. What he's describing is a dangerous extortion scheme in which radicalized lawmakers threaten to hurt the country on purpose unless Americans start losing health care benefits.The fact that Burr didn't want to threaten a government shutdown was nice, but the fact that he does want to threaten the full faith and credit of the United States is madness -- the severity of a sovereign debt crisis is vastly more serious than a shutdown.
Shutting down government: Bad. Melting down the global economy: No big deal, because it's the only way to get Obamacare repealed, billionaires' tax rates dropped, and the Keystone XL pipeline built.
It isn't just Burr, either.
Asked bluntly if using the limit for leverage risked blowing up the economy, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) paused for a second and then offered a drawn-out "Yes" that suggested the answer was obvious.
"That's why we're paid the big bucks -- to figure these problems out," Farenthold added.
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) argued that although the House GOP conference wants to use the debt limit as leverage, there will not be a default simply because the consequences are so severe. "I think we'll reach an agreement on that. Everybody realizes we can't default on our debt, so we'll be fine," Luetkemeyer told several reporters.
But reminded of the costs of the last showdown, he shrugged and allowed that the outcome was not entirely predictable. "Every situation is different," Luetkemeyer said. "We're going to see what happens this time."
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) admitted that a default would be harmful, but he argued that even if the debt limit were not raised in time, a default would be President Barack Obama's fault.
"There is a scenario where the president could be irresponsible and force a default," Brooks told reporters. He said the U.S. government, with about $2.5 trillion in annual revenue, could easily pay the $250 billion a year required to satisfy its debt-holders.
"We've got ten times as much money as is necessary to make our payment obligations to our creditors," Brooks said.
These idiots have apparently forgotten the 2,000 point drop in the Dow Jones Industrials in 2011 when it appeared default was imminent, and the downgrade to our credit rating that cost us low, preferred interest rates on some of our bonds.
Oh, and it will all be Obama's fault so they're totally all right with that. Because they really think sane people will look at what they're doing and blame the President?
I can hardly wait for Chuck Todd to show up and start complaining that the White House isn't compromising enough. Oh, wait. Andrea Mitchell did that earlier today with her Republican pal Kay Bailey Hutchison:
I think the Democrats have it absolutely right with that ad at the top. Republicans have the world economy in their hands and they're not afraid to strangle it, but golly, they'd hate to have to do it.
They should remember the United States doesn't negotiate with terrorists. Not terrorists with guns and not terrorists with debt ceiling votes.