Congress Economy

The Next Hostage Crisis

According to the National Journal, House Republicans, under the leadership of John Boehner, are drafting a plan to hold the debt ceiling hostage, and their ransom demand will be to enact the Paul Ryan Path to Poverty budget. Because everything old is new. Second verse same as the first.

House Speaker John Boehner is now working with several leading conservatives–including Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin–to draft the options menu.

It is based on what’s known as the Ryan budget, according to Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., a far-right spending plan passed by the House that’s been written off by Democrats as nothing more than a political document that decimates support for the poor and hurts the middle class. And it will outline what Obama will have to agree to for whatever length extension he wants.

For a long-term deal, one that gives Treasury borrowing authority for three and a half years, Obama would have to agree to premium support. The plan to privatize Medicare, perhaps the most controversial aspect of the Ryan budget, is the holy grail for conservatives who say major deficit-reduction can only be achieved by making this type of cut to mandatory spending. “If the president wants to go big, there’s a big idea,” said Scalise.

For a medium-sized increase in the debt limit, Republicans want Obama to agree to cut spending in the SNAP food-stamp program, block-grant Medicaid, or tinker with chained CPI.

For a smaller increase, there is talk of means-testing Social Security, for example, or ending certain agricultural subsidies.

Implement the horrible policy proposals we ran on in 2012 or else!

What’s mystifying to me is the idea that this is a winning message to springboard into the 2014 campaign on. More cuts to food stamps, ending Medicare as we know it, and the block-granting of Medicaid. Vote for us!

I don’t believe the Republicans will emerge from this any more successful than their last attempt to hold the debt ceiling hostage which, as you may recall, ended with them more or less throwing in the towel entirely. And the stakes are higher now, because while they will be holding the debt ceiling hostage on one hand, they will also be holding immigration reform hostage on the other, demanding that we remove the path to citizenship and build an electrified fence with an alligator-filled moat on our southern border.

And did I mention that the House still hasn’t passed a farm bill?

House Republicans will be defying the will of the people on all fronts this Fall.

  • Victor_the_Crab

    Forget that the demographics are poised to wipe them off the map in the future. Between the corporate media not calling out their bullshit, the teabaggers calling the shots in their own party, gerrymandering, and right wing judges on the Supreme Court re-writing the country’s lawbooks to their benefit – like the recent voter ID law, the Republicans plan on ruling the United States of America forever and ever. And nobody’s gonna stop them!

  • Wary

    Recall Pres Obama has already stated he will not negotiate on raising the debt ceiling since it isn’t about new policy but paying for spending levels that have already been set. this is a desperation tactic by GOP since House didn’t pass farm bill nor anything else

  • DZ

    A big reason the Republicans are doing it: Because they’re looking at the landscape and see no real, lasting political damage for doing it. And, sadly, neither do I.

  • Felonious Grammar

    Because corporate news is not covering this in depth and for as long as it is an issue, the Republicans can do this repeatedly. All they need to do is to make it look like they are fighting an authoritarian POTUS. As long as the debt ceiling is allowed to be a grave issue in the minds of so many citizens and government spending is being framed as something other than putting money into our economy, then these Republicans can present themselves as Crusaders against government over-reach.

    However this looks on the national stage, in State Houses Republicans are tearing it up.

    • trgahan

      Agreed. Boehner and House Republicans don’t care how they look or what the near term national electoral results could be.

      They won 2010 and redistricted themselves enough seats to stop any significant progressive legislation on the Federal level for at least the next two election cycles.
      Now their only job is to keep President Obama from doing ANYTHING, while at the state level they entrench in already red states and pass legislation to turn battle ground states red.

      The Republicans of the 1930’s are probably giving a standing ovation to this congress for its ability to stop one of the most progressive presidency’s in over 40 years dead in its tracks.

    • Victor_the_Crab


  • Mike_Norris

    Like the Republicans haven’t done enough to destroy themselves in the past few weeks. The sequester is beginning to hit home now and have its full effect; the immigration bill is all but DOA in the house; and the farm bill died a quiet but painful death. I wonder if Boehner can screw up anything else? The debt ceiling will be the death of this congress if Boehner and the Repubs fuck this up. The President should not acquiesce to anything. Make it clear to these assholes: pay the bills or default. What has this congress done right this term? What have they done that is good for the American people? Where are the jobs Mr. Speaker?

    • Zen Diesel

      I hope that he goes on television the night before the default and explain to the country the shit storm that is about to happen and make it clear that the Republicans in the house caused it.

      • Christopher Foxx

        He should start now. No need to wait until the last moment.

        Pointing out the Republican’s utter hatred for “regular Americans” should be an ongoing activity.

      • Mike_Norris

        Yeah, I agree. I think the President should explain to the American people that this is entirely the fault of the Republican congress. I think he will do that. And continue to ask in public everyday, “Where are the jobs Mr. Speaker?”

  • Zen Diesel

    I sure hope Obama turns his phone off, and give the Boner a middle finger salute, I say let the dum dums drive the car over the cliff, it’s the only way they will every learn.

  • muselet

    Steve Benen this morning:

    For the last few months, the political world has been preoccupied with some ridiculous “scandal” narrative, hoping to tie together unrelated stories — which really weren’t that interesting anyway — to tell the public there are meaningful controversies unfolding in Washington. But so-called scandals like Benghazi and IRS scrutiny evaporated into nothing.

    But if the political world is eager to fill the void, the debt-ceiling story strikes me as a genuine scandal. For the first time in generations, we have a major political party vowing to do deliberate harm to Americans unless their demands are met.

    How is that not a scandal?

    Fair question.


    • Victor_the_Crab

      This is something the Snowaldian trolls, that have been infesting this site, had better answer. How can they say that Obama is the embodiment of everything that is wrong in America, yet not realise or care that the alternative is far, far worse?