Republicans haven't officially unveiled their list of demands for raising the debt limit, but they are previewing them through leaks
, and they are every bit as loopy as you'd expect:
House Republicans plan to demand major perks for coal companies and Wall Street banks, alongside healthcare and social service cuts and a one-year delay in the implementation of Obamacare, in exchange for raising the debt ceiling until the end of 2014, according to a source close to the House GOP leadership.
Among the other items on the GOP's list
: Tax reform on their terms, effectively eliminating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Medicare means testing, blocking net neutrality, forcing approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, expanding offshore oil drilling, and, in the words of a GOP list of talking points: "Pretty much every jobs bill we have passed this year and last Congress."
That last point might not be so bad if their definition of "jobs bill" didn't begin and end with repealing Obamacare along with every other regulation that the Chamber of Commerce doesn't like, but that's pretty much all they've got to offer. If there's any bit of good news here, it's that apparently an effort to include a provision banning abortions was rebuffed—at least for now.
The real question here is whether Republicans are serious about any of this. If they are, then President Obama is going to need to start getting that trillion dollar coin (or something like it) ready, because their is no way this list of demands is going anywhere. As Jonathan Chait puts it:
It’s Mitt Romney’s 2012 economic plan. Almost word for word, in fact. True, Romney proposed to repeal Obamacare, while the House Republicans propose to delay it for a year. But the gambit there — extend the debt ceiling for a year while delaying Obamacare a year, so that the next debt ceiling hike lines up with another Obamacare delay — makes the two tactics essentially the same. The rest of the list is Romney’s agenda on taxes, regulation of the environment, finance and other business, Medicare, tort reform. That’s their opening demand: implement Romney’s economic plan or melt down the economy.
So the GOP's proposal is to pretend that Mitt Romney won. Obviously, President Obama and congressional Democrats aren't going to accept such an "offer." In fact, they have been very clear about the fact they are prepared to give absolutely nothing in return for raising the debt limit, since raising the debt limit isn't a policy decision—unless you define the question of whether or not to pay our bills as being a policy decision.
Whether or not there actually is a chance that President Obama will blink, if House Republicans believe that there is, then they will probably spend as much time as possible making themselves appear as crazy as possible, in the hopes that they can scare the president into submission. In the end, the fact that there are nearly as many Democrats in the House as Republicans should be enough to avoid a true economic cataclysm—even if 90 percent of Republicans refused to cross the aisle, 10 percent of them voting with Democrats would be enough to avert default.
But if it comes to that, that sort of a scenario won't play out until the final hour. And until then, Republicans will be committed to doing everything possible to maintain the perception of maximum insanity—which they can mostly do just by being themselves.
Congress must stop playing politics with the debt ceiling. Please sign our petition rejecting Republican economic terrorism. Our country has no time for such petty politics.