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With a reflection of the U.S. Capitol dome serving as a backdrop, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) reacts to a question about negative perceptions of Tea Party Republicans during the Reuters Washington Summit in Washington, October 24, 2013.  REUTERS/Jim Bour
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) seems to be out there all on his own, the only elected Republican still insisting that he's going to "fight even harder" to "repeal every word of Obamacare" in a debt ceiling fight. To hear the rest of the GOP tell it, Obamacare is imploding on its own, so they don't need to hold it as a debt ceiling hostage anymore. That's one of their stories, anyway, and they're sticking to it.
Louisiana Rep. John Fleming, one of the most conservative House Republicans and a champion of the fall defund movement, said “Obamacare is cratering itself” and acknowledged that there’s no way to change the health care law without cooperation with the White House.

“I think our [debt ceiling] debate is going to be over more cutting” the budget, Fleming said. [...]

“I think I would be satisfied if we could deal some with the debt,” Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Senate Republican, said when asked whether the GOP should link Obamacare to the debt-limit debate. “I think the health care law is going to implode on its own.”

An informed observer might think this has more to do with the self-imposed disaster that was the government shutdown to repeal Obamacare, but whatever. The debt ceiling will have to be raised again sometime between February and the end of June. Republicans are trying to figure out what exactly they'll try to get out of it this time, but it doesn't seem too likely to be Obamacare repeal this time. Even House tea partiers aren't setting their sites on full repeal any more. They insist, as Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) says, that they "need to do something" on the law and the debt ceiling, but are flailing a bit as to what that something will be. But even Huelskamp admits that they "recognize we’re not going to be able to take away funding for it."

That's not to say that Republicans aren't going to try to take other hostages. No, the debt ceiling is too juicy a target. Or as Mitch McConnell famously said in 2011, it's "a hostage that's worth ransoming." For his part, President Obama is still refusing to negotiate the debt ceiling.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 11:03 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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