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U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 28, 2012. Boehner voiced optimism that Republicans could broker a deal with the White House to avoid year-end austerity measures, saying on Wedn
Republicans just can't let go of the bad habit of hostage taking, even though they know it won't work, even though they know they'd be shooting themselves in the foot. They just can't help themselves. Or, perhaps more to the point, they just can't cut loose from the insane tea baggers that have come to dominate their base. So they've decided they will take the debt ceiling hostage, even though they don't have a clue as to what they'll demand for it.
House Republicans discussed the issue last Friday at their annual all-member retreat in Maryland. As of Monday afternoon, they still hadn't come up with a ransom demand in order to free the proverbial hostage ahead of a late February deadline.

"We had a good discussion at the retreat, and there was general agreement that a 'clean' increase is not a good option–but no consensus yet other than than," a House GOP leadership aide said on Monday.

The problem is that Republicans don't want to raise the borrowing limit without extracting concessions from the White House, but are struggling to devise a proposal that can achieve 217 votes to pass out of the House and thereby force a hostage standoff. They have 232 members, and a number of staunch conservatives don't want to vote for any debt limit hike.

Obamacare? Keystone XL? They don't know. They just know that they want to stamp their feet before capitulating, since both House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have insisted they won't allow the nation to default. They also know that Democrats know this, and thus won't give them anything. But they still have to act out this absurd theater to keep their shrinking and increasingly whacked-out base happy. That's what happens in an election year.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 01:33 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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