Negotiations to raise the nation’s debt limit before the looming Aug. 2 deadline broke down over the weekend when Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) became the latest Republican to walk out of the talks. With only eight days to go before the country risks defaults, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) proposed to essentially give Republicans exactly what they wanted: a plan that would reduce the deficit by $2.7 trillion but include no increase in revenue. The plan is a major concession from Democrats, but Republicans still look poised to reject the plan and let the nation risk default for one reason — politics.
This morning, business magnate and sometime Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump elaborated on those less-than-noble motives on Fox News. Trump said Republicans should reject even a good deal like the one Reid is offering because the uncertainty will ensure President Obama is not re-elected:
TRUMP: Frankly the Republicans would be crazy unless they get 100% of the deal that they want right now to make any deal…If this happens, for instance if this stuff is going on prior to an election, he can’t get reelected. He possibly can’t get elected anyway…The fact is, unless the Republicans get 100% of what they want, and that may include getting rid of Obamacare, which is a total disaster, then they should not make a deal other than a minor extension which would take you before you the election which would ensure Obama doesn’t get elected, which would be a great thing.
BRIAN KILMEAD: If you look at the average American when they’re polled, it seems the President of the United States gets less of the blame than Republicans do, but you see Republicans with maximum leverage.
TRUMP: Absolutely the Republicans have the leverage. I don’t care about polls. When it comes time to default, they’re not going to remember any of the Republicans’ names. They are going to remember in history books one name, and that’s Obama. They’re not going to be talking about Boehner or anybody else. [...]
Trump proposes that the GOP time debt ceiling votes and possibly let the country default all to sabotage Obama’s re-election chances. Such an amazingly reckless notion is not only playing games with the debt ceiling — it demonstrates a willingness to let the economy fail and millions of Americans suffer for political gain.
Trump is willing to gamble with the U.S. economy and bet that if the country defaults, Obama will take the blame and be remembered by history as the culprit. As host Brian Kilmead pointed out, that’s far from a sure thing. A series of polls show that the vast majority of Americans disapprove of how the Republicans have handled the debt ceiling situation and would put most of the blame at their feet if the country defaults.