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GOP: No Budget Deal ‘Til We’ve Got a Hostage

May 8, 2013

For several weeks now, the House GOP has been slow-walking the budget process: making demands for back-room meetings, refusing to move forward with a public conference committee… that sort of thing. I previously speculated that this delaying tactic was designed to push the budget negotiations out to the debt ceiling deadline so that they would have more leverage in the proceedings. It’s now official GOP policy — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made it plain:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that Republicans will not vote to increase the nation’s debt limit this summer if it is not attached to legislation to reduce the federal deficit.

“I can tell you with certainty I think it’s extremely unlikely that any Republican is going to vote to raise the debt ceiling without doing something about the debt,” he told reporters. (The Hill – emphasis mine)

In other words, the GOP is again planning to take the US economy hostage. All that really remains to be seen is what they’ll write on the ransom note. For Paul Ryan, as always, it’s all about entitlements:

”The debt limit is the backstop,” Paul Ryan says. “I’d like to go through regular order and get something done sooner rather than later. But we need to get a down payment on the debt. We need entitlement reform.” (WaPo – emphasis mine)

Still other Republicans are calling for additional spending cuts and/or full-scale “tax reform” as they bicker over their wish list:

Some Republicans say that framework is insufficient and that they’ll need spending cuts as well as tax reform to raise the debt ceiling. Others in the conference say that only the full enactment of tax reform will be enough to raise the nation’s borrowing limit and that incremental progress toward completing tax reform is not enough. (The Hill)

So we find ourselves once again with our economy being held hostage…

At issue here is a proposal, which may receive a House vote as early as this week, to figure out what happens if Congress chooses not to act and the nation pierces its debt ceiling for the first time in American history. Instead of working on a plan to avoid disaster, House Republicans are investing their time and energy into a plan to deal with the disaster after they ensure it strikes. (Maddow Blog)

So to recap: the GOP is spending this week on two endeavors: 1) wrangling amongst themselves to determine their hostage demands; and 2) finalizing a plan to deal with the aftermath of actually shooting said hostage when those demands aren’t met. I know it sounds like the plot to a bad made-for-TV movie, but folks, these bad actors are actual elected representatives.

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