Republican threats to hold the debt ceiling hostage again are pretty silly.
Yesterday, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait pointed out a strange trend emerging out of Washington. Despite the utter failure of their last round of hostage taking over increasing the debt ceiling, Republicans are hinting that they might try it again in 2014. Republican Congressman and 2012 Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan hinted at this recently on Fox News and now Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking up the cry as well.
Chait points out that this is nothing short of bizarre:
Unlike the last debt-ceiling hostage crisis, which resulted from explicable (though disturbing) internal party dynamics, the prospect of a new round of threats seems bizarre. We tested this threat a couple of months ago. Republicans swore up and down they would refuse to lift the debt ceiling unless they got concessions, and President Obama swore up and down he wouldn’t give concessions.
The result was in no way ambiguous. There were no concessions. Not a future commission, not a show vote, not handwritten letters. Zip. Obama tested the Republican willingness to trigger a worldwide economic meltdown to obtain concessions, and it turned out, they won’t pull the trigger. How on Earth they think they can try this bluff again, I can’t imagine.
I can’t imagine either!
This whole scenario strikes as being nothing short of the scene at the end of The Big Lebowski where Walter Sobchak points out to the German nihilists that there will be no ransom payments for the other Lebowski, the millionaire Jeffrey Lebowski’s trophy wife because they never in fact kidnapped her. As Walter explains, “No, without a hostage there is no ransom, that’s what ransom is, those are the f@#$ing rules!” Since the GOP has shown to be unwilling to blow up the economy by breaching the debt ceiling there’s not going to be a ransom, because on a functional level there is no hostage.
Of course this rhetoric could be just for show. But personally I hope Ryan and McConnell take the lesson of the movie to heart and just go bowling instead of shutting down the government or endangering the world economy, yet again.
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Photo by Jason E. Miczek/AP