Senate Republicans Tuesday said they are ready to go to battle over raising the debt limit early next year, echoing comments made by Rep. Paul Ryan over the weekend that the GOP would rally for certain concessions from Democrats at that point. As far as the debt ceiling goes, Republicans were largely in agreement that they should oppose any sort of "clean" debt limit increase -- although there wasn't exactly unanimity over what concessions to demand in exchange for raising the debt limit. GOP senators BuzzFeed spoke with suggested everything from tax reform, to energy reform, to further changes or delays to Obamacare and its mandates.
There's a big difference between what politicians may want and what they can reasonably expect to get. If congressional Republicans want to dream about exchanging a debt-ceiling increase for a right-wing wish list, they're free to let their imaginations run wild, but if they seriously expect a ransom, there's a problem.
This comes just 48 hours after Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, told Fox News, "We don't want nothing out of this debt limit. We are going to decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt-limit fight."
Let's cut to the chase: there's no point to holding the nation hostage again. None. Republicans can once again threaten to start hurting Americans on purpose unless their demands are met, but the White House will not give far-right lawmakers goodies just to entice them to do their jobs.
Indeed, just yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters, "The president's position has not changed."
And it's not going to change. It can't change. Obama simply cannot establish a precedent in which a radicalized minority will be rewarded for threatening to trash the full faith and credit of the United States.
What's more, the White House -- and everyone else -- already knows Republicans are bluffing. As we discussed yesterday, GOP lawmakers said in the fall they were prepared to allow the nation to default unless Democrats met unspecified demands, but when push came to shove, and Obama said he wouldn't negotiate with those threatening Americans with deliberate harm, Republicans backed down.
Boehner & Co. talked tough, but they didn't want to be responsible for crashing the economy on purpose -- and the president noticed.
Complicating matters, this insane rhetoric is coming at the worst possible time: Congress is actually passing a budget, negotiated by Paul Ryan, and supported by both parties. In other words, GOP lawmakers are simultaneously saying, "We're spending this money," and "We may refuse to pay for this spending."
The sooner Republicans realize this is a dangerous game they're sure to lose, the better.