Rep. Jim McDermott joined Al Sharpton on PoliticsNation Wednesday, to talk about Speaker John Boehner's latest threat to once again hold the government hostage by refusing to raise the debt. And McDermott didn't pull any punches in assessing Boehner's motivation.
"John Boehner does not care about the people of the United States," McDermott, a liberal Washington Democrat, declared flatly. "If he did, he would never be talking about ... threatening the recovery that's going on in this country."
McDermott said Boehner is motivated solely by a desire to see President Obama defeated. "They've decided that the best way to beat the president is to create chaos," he continued. "Don't solve any problems, make a mess anywhere you can, throw everybody under the bus you can get ahold of. Aything that will prevent Barack Obama from being re-elected."
"Boehner became the chief spokesman for the Romney team," McDermott added. "He simply has given up doing what's best for the American people."
Boehner said last week that if President Obama and Democrats didn't agree to significant deficit reduction, his caucus would decline to support raising the legal amount the U.S. can carry on its credit card -- something that for decades has been a routine bit of Congressional business. Last summer, a similar showdown over the debt limit, engineered by Boehner and the House GOP, raised the prospect that the U.S. government would be unable to honor its obligations. In the wake of the standoff, one ratings agency removed the U.S. triple A credit rating.
Republicans have insisted that debt reduction come almost entirely through spending cuts. President Obama wants a more balanced approach that would involve tax hikes for the rich, including an end to the Bush tax cuts for high-earners.
McDermott suggested that Boehner's stunt will backfire. "The definition of mental illness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result this time," he said. "And he's not [going to get a different result]. He's gonna have chaos."
But here's the thing: Last summer's debt limit showdown wasn't necessarily harmful to Republicans' political interests. Yes, it left Americans with a dim view of Congress, but, fairly or not, it didn't help Obama's popularity either, and that's far more consequential. Boehner knows that another picture of chaos in Washington, this one just months before the election, would likely do even more damage to the president's image.
So if Boehner is indeed motivated by a desire to elect Romney, he may not be expecting a different result from last summer. He may be expecting -- indeed, hoping for -- a very similar one.