House Republicans are scheduling a vote for Wednesday on a proposal to lift the debt limit for roughly one year. But what was once a reckless game of chicken has descended into a ridiculous charade. Gone are the days when House Republicans threatened to force the country into default if the President wouldn’t agree to vast cuts in spending. Now, as the price of a debt limit increase, Republicans are demanding a spending increase.
That’s right. As part of the global effort to rein in spending, which is purportedly what the annual debt limit cliffhanger is about, they want a relatively small spending increase – specifically reinstating military retirement benefits which were axed as part of the sequester. Or, in other words, insisting on undoing something they won in an earlier debt limit hostage crisis.
But it gets better.
This particular demand is also supported by the Democrats. The only hitch is that Democrats – coming off the last three years of game playing – insist that debt limit increases be “clean”, ie., not involve legislative extortion.
Back up and the bigger picture comes into focus.
Republicans once made impossible fiscal demands of the President, figuring he would have to cave because of the catastrophic costs of a first in history national credit default. It worked the first time and failed pretty miserably the second time. Since then they’ve been trapped in a box made up of the expectations they raised in House Tea Partiers and GOP partisans. The new solution is to ensure they finally get their way and break the President’s will by insisting that the price of a debt limit increase is giving them something the President and the Democrats already want.
That’s what it’s come to.