Like Houdini, Republicans Make The Debt Ceiling Disappear

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Now you see it---now you don't. Poof! I didn't know Republicans have been studying the art of magic and illusion.

Steve Benen:

Last week, House Republicans caved on the debt-ceiling fight, at least in the short term, announcing they would approve a "three-month temporary debt-limit increase." Over the holiday weekend, the GOP plan apparently got a little touch-up.

Forget about raising the federal debt limit. House Republicans are proposing to ignore it altogether -- at least until May 18.The House plans to vote Wednesday on a measure that would leave the $16.4 trillion debt limit intact but suspend it from the time the bill passes until mid-May. The declaration that the debt ceiling "shall not apply" means that the government could continue borrowing to cover its obligations to creditors until May 18.This approach -- novel in modern times -- would let Republicans avoid a potentially disastrous fight over the debt limit without actually voting to let the Treasury borrow more money.

This is rather unexpected. Just a few days ago, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced plans for a three-month increase. Now, it's four months, and it's a suspension, not an increase.

What does that mean, exactly? Lawmakers are effectively declaring, "The debt ceiling won't exist until mid-May." In other words, Congress authorizes federal spending and the administration acts accordingly, but instead of needing congressional approval to borrow the difference, the White House will be able to just borrow as necessary -- without authorization -- for nearly four months without regard for legal limits.

Right-wing lawmakers will probably balk -- they weren't going to endorse the original plan, either -- but the Club for Growth said Tuesday that it will not oppose the temporary suspension of the borrowing limit. After all, Republicans aren't technically raising the debt ceiling; they're just suspending it. Of course, this raises a related question: can't Congress just make this permanent? Shouldn't lawmakers do exactly that?

Yes they should, and please, let's drop the idea that Republicans care about the deficit. They are using the debt ceiling to push an agenda which could backfire on the country and severely f*&k us all. If they can suspend it or make it disappear any time they want, then what is this whole circle jerk about in the first place? I'd much prefer to watch Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh in Houdini than this freak show.

UPDATE: Debt Ceiling fantasy passed

The House just passed the GOP’s plan for a temporary debt limit extension, 285-144. The threat of default has been averted — in exchange for no concessions whatsoever by Dems. This confirms what some of us knew from the start: Republicans were never — ever — going to allow default. Those who played along with the fantasy that the threat of default gave Republicans leverage got snookered. They got taken.

Today’s vote, in effect, removes the threat of default from the conversation permanently, which is good news for the country. There is very little chance that the coming battle won’t be resolved before the next debt limit deadline of May 18th. In any case, if Republicans try to tie any more conditions to the next debt limit hike, Dems will simply laugh in their faces, since they confirmed today that they are not willing to allow default, no matter what. So now the GOP will try to use the expiring sequester and the threat of a government shutdown to extract the spending cuts it says it wants.

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