They really are a piece of work. The Republicans’ latest hostage deal on the debt ceiling is to offer a six week extension of the debt limit – which would make us default right before Christmas instead of this week – but in return Democrats have to agree to basically gut all future federal budgets, with no commensurate tax increases.
The GOP, and its Tea Party overlords, aren’t even serious about reaching a deal.
Basically, the Republicans are proposing to pass something called the “Lankford bill” on shutdowns. Here’s the description via Lankford’s office:
If Congress fails to approve a budget by the end of each fiscal year, the Government Shutdown Prevention Act would ensure that all operations remain running normally without any interruption of services by automatically triggering a continuing resolution (CR) or short-term, stop-gap spending device.
The bill creates an automatic CR for any regular appropriations bill not completed before the end of the fiscal year. After the first 120 days, auto-CR funding would be reduced by one percentage point and would continue to be reduced by that margin every 90 days….
By progressively decreasing the amounts provided under the automatic continuing resolution, the bill provides continued incentives for Congress and the President to reach agreement on regular appropriations bills.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see through this one. All the Republicans have to do is never agree to a budget ever again (to any appropriations bills, to be precise), and the federal budget will automatically be cut by 1% every 3 to 4 months, ad infinitum. It’s a Tea Party dream. And gives Democrats absolutely nothing in return.
As Wonkblog notes, the only way the bill would provide an incentive for both Republicans and Democrats to reach a deal is to propose tax increases at the same time it propose budget cuts. And even then, it’s questionable.
It really is amazing what the Republicans are doing. Their negotiating position is that somehow opening up the government, and passing the debt limit increase, are “Democratic” priorities and not Republicans ones. That’s absurd. Since when is it only Democrats who want the federal government to remain open rather than closed? And since when is it only Democrats who don’t want the nation to default on its debt thus sending the entire world into a Depression?
This is a big part of the problem with letting the Pentagon and other agencies and/or programs re-open. The Republicans got “their” pet agency re-opened, and now they want “ours” – whatever “ours” actually is – closed.
But there’s another problem here as well. The Republicans keep claiming that the debt ceiling default won’t be any big deal, and it won’t cause another Great Depression, and the liquidation of every single Americans’ retirement account, and the foreclosure of your home – even though pretty much everyone who isn’t a GOP member of Congress says otherwise. Okay. Then why should it be a Democratic priority, or anyone’s priority, to avert the debt default if it’s not a problem? And more importantly, why are the Republicans holding the debt default hostage if in fact the default is worthless, and entails no harm? You can’t hold hostage something that’s worthless.
Unless of course you think it really does have value. Which would mean that the Republicans know that they’re holding our entire economy, and the world economy, hostage simply because they don’t like Obamacare. Which is a despicable, and as I argued yesterday, treasonous position.
And one final point. It’s the GOP proposal that we should put off this mess until right before Christmas. Really? So that we can have all of this erupt again in the middle of the Christmas shopping season, effectively destroying the most important time of year economically for every consumer business in the country.
Treason is really too kind a word.