Are you worried about Republican threats to hold the debt ceiling hostage unless the White House agrees to another round of spending cuts? Business Insider’s Josh Barrow says you shouldn’t be, because the GOP is “full of it.”
Barrow points out the current saber rattling is just like the same stuff we heard from them last winter. Remember what happened that time? Congressional Republicans voted overwhelmingly to raise the debt limit then without any cuts, and he says they’ll do the same thing this time too.
The reason Republicans caved in January is simple: Hitting the debt ceiling is a political disaster for them. It would cause all the problems of a government shutdown—disruption of government services, angry constituents, economic contraction—plus the risk of a crisis in the Treasury bond markets. It is an even less viable political strategy than a shutdown, which Republicans are openly admitting is politically unviable.
Worse, Republicans cannot figure out what to demand in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. The House GOP does not have consensus on a package of entitlement reforms. The party is lukewarm on the idea of cutting Social Security and Medicare. They just spent two election cycles attacking President Obama for cutting Medicare. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who heads the House Republicans’ campaign committee, has been vociferously attacking President Obama’s “chained CPI” proposal to cut Social Security benefits, which many other Republicans favor.
If Republicans were to stage another debt ceiling showdown over entitlement reform, they would have to (1) threaten to cause an economic crisis unless (2) they are given a package of reforms that many Republican officials don’t even want, which (3) would also happen to be hugely unpopular with voters.