Carl Hulse of The New York Times goes full scale shrill blogger and accuses House Republicans of deliberately engineering economic chaos in an effort to secure political advantage: “many Congressional Republicans seem to be spoiling for a fight, calculating that some level of turmoil caused by a federal default might be what it takes to give them the chance to right the nation’s fiscal ship.”
But he seems to have the goods:
“I certainly think you will see some short-term volatility,” said Representative Austin Scott of Georgia, the president of the freshman class. “In the end, the sun is going to come up tomorrow.”
Such sentiments are strongly influencing the negotiating posture of House Republican leaders as they try to strike an agreement with the White House while remaining well aware that the rank-and-file seem more than prepared to oppose a deal if they believe it falls short of the deep spending cuts they contend are required.
My guess is that this kind of extremism may end up backfiring. If the bulk of House Republicans refuse to accept an 85:15 division between spending cuts and revenue increases, then as Zero Hour approaches a “clean” debt ceiling with neither spending cuts nor tax hikes becomes more likely. The whole game here has many layers to it. Mitch McConnell’s weird gambit yesterday is a reminder that on one level the GOP objective is simply to force Democrats to make an “tough” vote to raise the debt ceiling. A different game is the one the White House is playing in which they actively want to reach a deficit reduction deal and prefer steep spending cuts to a clean increase as long as the cuts are paired with revenue increases. But if the Austin Scotts of the world aren’t ready to take yes for an answer, then this cavalier notion that creating an economic cataclysm is somehow going to advance their goals doesn’t make much sense.