House GOP: “Gotta nuke SOMETHING!”

Two years ago the House GOP took the US/world economy hostage and threatened to refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless we gave in to their policy demands.  Their argument at the time, as summarized by Jonathan Chait:

[R]isky though it may be to fail to lift the debt ceiling, failing to reduce the debt was even riskier. An extreme imminent crisis justified extreme tactics. The risk of becoming Greece outweighed the risk of a debt-limit snafu (though it was not, of course, high enough to justify even a partial repeal of the Bush tax cuts).

Now Obama has met them halfway and included some retirement program spending cuts in his budget proposal.  The Republican response?  Per the Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery; “The proposals, included in the president’s budget request, outraged seniors, and some Republicans fear that embracing them would be political suicide.”


Oh! So you threaten to melt down the world economy unless Obama agrees to cut spending on retirement programs, and then he offers to do that, and then you decide it’s too unpopular?

The decision that they no longer care about the thing they were prepared to unleash worldwide economic havoc to achieve has not caused them to abandon the debt ceiling as a hostage. (It’s the party’s Nelson Muntz–ian approach to resolving policy disagreements: “Gotta nuke something.”) If obtaining retirement cuts went from so urgent it was worth threatening to nuke the world economy over to “meh,” the next step is to figure out the next thing to nuke the world economy over. That thing, the Post reports, is tax reform.

But what is the GOP position on tax reform? It’s that tax reform must cut tax rates and not raise any revenue at all. So House Republicans are prepared to refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats agree to let them cut tax rates without increasing revenue. Their extraordinary threat, first presented as a way to force a reduction in the deficit, is now being wielded to prevent a reduction in the deficit.

Petulant and irresponsible.  Again, why do decent people choose to associate themselves with the GOP?