Republicans Intent on Keeping Hostage Power Forever

| Fri Oct. 11, 2013 8:00 AM PDT

I assume that David Drucker of the Washington Examiner has a good sense of what Republicans are really thinking about the debt ceiling, and it's not a cheery analysis:

At issue isn't whether House Republicans should accept a bad deal to raise the federal borrowing limit and ensure the U.S. does not default on its $16.7 trillion debt. Republicans are concerned that the refusal of President Obama and Senate Democrats to negotiate those issues with Republicans would establish a precedent making it impossible to haggle over future debt limit increases or to use them as leverage in other policy negotiations....Republicans see the debt ceiling vote as part of an institutional fight over constitutional authority, which is harder for them to walk away from than a policy priority that can always be brought up again later.

In other words, just as I suspected last night, the offer of a 6-week debt ceiling extension doesn't mean much. It's just another deadline. Not only will it be used as a hostage yet again, but Republicans are intent on using the debt ceiling as a hostage forever into the future.

This is what makes the whole affair so intractable. President Obama is intent on preventing the debt ceiling from ever being used as a hostage again. Republicans are intent on keeping it alive as a hostage to be used annually forever. Once you cut through all the sound and fury, that's where we are. There's simply no compromise possible.

Or is there? I keep wondering if it's possible to come up with something outside the framework of the debt ceiling. That is, get rid of the debt ceiling, but put something else in place that gives the House more budget leverage than it has now. I'm not sure what that is since, despite what the tea partiers apparently think, the House already has considerable leverage just through the normal order of things. But maybe there's something that could give them a little bit more without doing serious damage to the constitutional order.

Probably not. It's just a thought.

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