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GOP ransom note
The GOP's policy plan, courtesy of the Democratic Party's Facebook page
Ezra Klein:
In return for a one-year suspension of the debt ceiling, House Republicans are demanding a yearlong delay of Obamacare, adoption of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s tax-reform plan, construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, more offshore oil drilling, more drilling on federally protected lands, looser regulations around ash coal, a suspension of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of carbon emissions, more power over the regulatory process in general, reform of the federal employee retirement program, changes to the Dodd-Frank Act, more power over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s budget, repeal of the Social Services block grant, expanded means-testing for Medicare benefits, repeal of the public health trust fund and more.

Yes, that’s right: “and more.”

If this policy grab bag sounds familiar, it’s because Republicans have proposed it all before. It was, more or less, Mitt Romney’s agenda during the 2012 presidential campaign. The voters rejected it -- another message, it seems, that Republicans in Washington somehow failed to hear.

The New York Times:
[It is] one of the least serious negotiating proposals in modern Congressional history: a jaw-dropping list of ransom demands containing more than a dozen discredited Republican policy fantasies. [...] The list would be laughable if the threat were not so serious. [...] Unlike a government shutdown, a default could leave the Treasury without enough money to pay Social Security benefits or the paychecks of troops. [...]

[T]he absurdity of the list shows just how important it is that Mr. Obama ignore every demand and force the House extremists to decide whether they really want to be responsible for an economic catastrophe. He made a mistake by negotiating in 2011, hoping to reach a grand bargain; that produced the corrosive sequester cuts.

To prevent the House from making every debt-ceiling increase an opportunity to issue extortionist demands for rejected policies they can achieve in no other way, the president has to put an end to the routine creation of emergencies once and for all by simply saying no.

Jay Bookman at The Atlanta Journal Constitution:
These people really have gone nuts -- stark raving nuts.  It is the most stunning case of mass self-induced lunacy that I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. They are so caught up in their own self-righteousness that they have lost touch with reality. What will their price be the next time a debt ceiling increase is needed? Making Ted Cruz emperor for life? Putting Sarah Palin on Mount Rushmore?

After a wish list like this, that's about all they'd have left to demand.

And Bookman offers up a perfect description of the Obama administration's counter-proposal:
More on this and the day's other top stories below the fold.

In case you're wondering why part of the Republican Party is willing to embrace such a mind-blowingly stupid ransom tactic, look no further than the delusion of ex-Senator DeMint, who claims that the health care law wasn't an issue in the last election. As Robert Schleshinger at US New & World Report explains:

DeMint, Cruz and their allies like to pose as champions of "the American people" battling against Washington elites trying to tell said populous what it should do. But DeMint here is taking arrogant Washington elitism to a whole new level, essentially telling "the American people" that they don't know what they really want or aren't capable of expressing their desires at the ballot box. Pay no mind to that pesky election, DeMint is saying, I know what the country wants better than some group of voters who weren't smart enough to understand esoteric concepts like "Day one. Job one. Repeal Obamacare." DeMint thinks he knows what voters want better than voters do. [...]

DeMint, Cruz and their tea party pals don't need polls. Their certainty that they have a special knowledge of what America really wants is redolent of former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin's infamous remark about "the real America" and "pro-America areas of this great nation." It also stems from the same warped view of the country that prompted GOP megadonor Foster Friess to suggest earlier this year that urban votes should be discounted when measuring the size of President Obama's victory.

DeMint, Cruz and Palin may well speak for what they view as the "real America," but unfortunately for them they don't get to unskew the country any more than they get to unskew the results of last year's election.

Speaking of the economy, The Washington Post pens an editorial in favor of a national raise in the minimum wage:
The U.S. economy needs a national policy, not a patchwork of state and local laws. It’s time for a grand bargain on the federal minimum wage, one that recognizes that both sides in this seemingly endless debate have a point. A decent society can afford neither to price entry-level workers out of jobs nor to leave them completely without leverage in the labor market.

The first step in reforming the federal minimum wage is to index it to inflation, thus eliminating the need for an act of Congress — and a rehearsal of the shopworn arguments — before every increase. Since there is a national consensus in favor of some minimum wage, if not its precise level, let’s take the politics out of maintaining its purchasing power. Both business and workers would benefit from stability and certainty; a federal minimum that kept up with inflation might also discourage state and local governments from acting separately.

The second step is an increase, to make up for some of the purchasing power that has been lost in recent years. House Democrats want $10.10, which is a return to 1968’s all-time high in real terms; President Obama has suggested $9, the 1981 level. Given GOP opposition, neither is politically feasible.

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