Gerrymandered from reality
Speaker John Boehner hoped to focus his caucus on negotiating about over the debt limit, as public overwhelmingly believes that raising it should be tied to spending cuts.
Tea Partiers wanted a fight over funding the government to tie it to the roll out of the Affordable Care Act exchanges. I hoped they’d get it because I figured that it would make a fight over the debt limit less likely, figuring as mainstream Republicans resolved weakened we’d get some deal that would likely include a debt limit extension, the way budget deals generally do. This could avoid a debt limit crisis and do minimal damage to the economy.
I still see this happening.
Democrats could have easily offered Republicans some sacrifice from the Affordable Care Act to keep the government open. That concession, which, I believe would have would had made the GOP even more firm for something larger — something Democrats could never give — on the debt limit. That didn’t happen. Instead, the public is paying attention, blaming Republicans and the tension builds.
A new CNN/ORC International poll says that a majority of Americans think the debt ceiling needs to be raised and that raising it is more important than delaying Obamacare. Most Republicans are still against raising the ceiling, and independents are split. However, a majority would blame Republicans if it isn’t raised. To be clear, people have no idea what a debt default that would result from not raising the limit would look like: the only relevant comparison is the financial crisis of 2008 but instead of the interest rates sinking, they could skyrocket.
Saying a debt-ceiling raise is “caving” to Obama is like saying you’re “caving” to the waiter when he presents the check for your dinner.
— Joshua Green (@JoshuaGreen) September 28, 2013
To be clear, House Republicans are still immune to the polls, which have been overwhelmingly negative for them. They’re still following Senator Ted Cruz’s playbook because there are 30-40 Tea Partiers in the House Speaker Boehner cannot control.
These members include Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert. They live in some of the whitest, most conservative districts in America. And they are hopeless. But Boehner doesn’t actually need them to pass anything, if he’s willing to risk his job.
That’s what this all — and by all, I mean the future of our economy — comes down to: Forcing the speaker’s hand.
Boehner isn’t as immune to reality as his members. If he’s willing to default, giving into him this time would make that default inevitable as the GOP threatens it again and again. This forces him to make that decision before 2014 election and seriously wound the GOP’s steeply gerrymandered advantage.
Republicans have proven in Afghanistan, Iraq and in the 2012 election that they are oblivious to when they are losing. This actually worked out quite well for them in the 2000 presidential recount and after a financial crisis that should have doomed their party for decades.
That sound you hear is destruction of discretionary consumer demand in the vast DC metropolitan areav
— Daniel Gross (@grossdm) October 2, 2013
How do you convince the Republicans they’re losing? You actually have to beat them. You have to prove that wounding the economy actually wounds them.
That hasn’t happened yet. But at least we’re fighting over the right battle.