That's the 4 trillion-dollar question. Because if there are, then this whole debt ceiling debate will play out much differently than it has so far. But if there aren't -- if they've all gone over to the dark side -- then we're in for some bumpy
July 30, 2011

That's the 4 trillion-dollar question. Because if there are, then this whole debt ceiling debate will play out much differently than it has so far. But if there aren't -- if they've all gone over to the dark side -- then we're in for some bumpy roads.

Kevin Drum is now saying what I said back in mid-July. The only way to get anything done will be for Republicans to divide, peel off the Tea Party, and join with Democrats.

If Boehner can’t get the tea partiers in the House to support his proposal, and if Harry Reid can’t find 60 votes in the Senate for his, then pretty shortly they’ll figure out that there’s only one way to pass something: forge a compromise that can get substantial support from both Democrats and non-tea-party Republicans. Such a compromise is almost certainly available, and all it takes to get there is for Boehner to be willing to admit the obvious: the tea partiers just aren’t willing to deal, period. They want to burn the house down so they can build something better from the ashes. They’re insane.

So walk away from the tea partiers. Instead, strike a deal that a hundred non-insane House Republicans and 20 or 30 non-insane Senate Republicans can support. Add that to a majority of the Democratic caucus and you’re done. You’ve saved the country.

Steve Benen:

I strongly agree with all of this. By most estimates, there’s a group of House Republicans — I call it the “Suicide Squad” — that just don’t want to raise the debt ceiling and would gladly pursue default. They’ll vote for right-wing measures such as CC&B, or something close to it, but anything else is simply out of the question.

Exactly how big is this contingent? That’s unclear. There are 240 House Republicans, though, and it’ll take 217 votes to prevent a total disaster. Does the Suicide Squad include more than 23 members? Almost certainly, yes. This, again, makes it necessary for Boehner to embrace a plan that can garner some Democratic support.

For me, the most pressing question, which I don’t know the answer to, is, how big is the Republicans’ sane contingent? Kevin envisions 100 or so non-insane House Republicans joining a similar number of House Democrats to save the country. Sounds good. But are there 100 sane House Republicans? I honestly have no idea. Is there a reliable count of such things?

I would even ask it a little differently. The real question is: how many patriotic Republicans are there? How many are there in that Congress, who if asked to look in the mirror, could manage to do that after they screwed the entire country and forced us into slow economic death?

And along those lines, this question: When do we start holding these Republicans to their oath to uphold the Constitution? That 14th amendment solution works two ways, as I see it. As sworn elected officials, their duty is first and foremost to uphold and protect the Constitution, which clearly states that the validity of public debt shall not be questioned.

Shall not be questioned. Shall not. Since this is debt already authorized by Congressional appropriations, there would seem to be a Constitutional duty for these Republicans to honor their obligations as delineated in the 14th amendment.

I am not a lawyer, nor do I claim to be any kind of Constitutional expert. But as an observer, it seems to me the 14th amendment cuts both ways and carries consequences to those who fail to honor it and who are primarily responsible for the debt; that is, the United States Congress.

So that leaves us with not one, but two questions. First, are there any sane Republicans? And second, what consequences are there for those who are members of the "Suicide Squad?" In my opinion, those under the deepest obligation to honor the 14th amendment are members of Congress first, not the President, and I would like to see a loud, public discussion of what happens to un-American, Constitution-violating members of Congress if they continue down the path they're on.

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