As I was reading Norm Ornstein at The Atlantic explaining why the Republican hostage taking of the debt ceiling is unprecedented, I ran across this Mitch McConnell quote from 2011 in which he lays out the GOP strategy that we are now in the middle of, and they are now denying:
McConnell told The Washington Post about the future of the debt ceiling, “What we did learn is this: It’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming.”
The full quote via WaPo:
I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting,” he said. “Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming. And it focuses the Congress on something that must be done.”(Continued Below)
This matters because Republicans have been trying to claim that taking the debt ceiling hostage is business as usual. It’s not.
They also like to point out that Barack Obama was a partisan player on the debt ceiling when he was a Senator. Yes, he was, but only because prior to 2011, no party ever actually held the debt ceiling as ransom. The party that was not in power would let the party in power take the heat for raising the debt ceiling. It was an opportunity for posturing about fiscal prudence.
I explained a bit of this two days ago:
Debt limit votes fall on the party in power. They are politically toxic votes, and so politicians avoid a yes vote when possible. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center shows the vote usually splits along partisan lines, with the party in power voting in support.
It is new, and it is extraordinary, for one major political party to take the full faith and credit of the United States into their hands to be used as ransom. It can’t be said enough that by doing this, Republicans place themselves as enemies of the country.
It is their constitutional duty to raise the debt ceiling to pay for the bills Congress already passed. This is not something they should be allowed to refuse to do, or hold as hostage, and that is why President Obama has said he will not negotiate with them until they put away the gun.
House Republicans are children with their hands on the red button. Obama is the stern parent. For some reason the media doesn’t seem to get it, but from all indications, Obama means business on this matter. The man is a Constitutional scholar and he came up doing community organizing. He understands the precedent he would be setting if he allowed Republicans to violate the Constitution in order to get what a lost election would not grant them. The President also understands how the shutdown impacts the impoverished and vulnerable, and I’d say he is not amused.
What Obama is saying to Republicans is that he will negotiate with any of them at any time, but they must put down the gun and step up to the table as patriots. They may not purposefully harm the American people in order to get their way and they may not crap on the Constitution in order to get their way.
Republicans and the media still seem confused, wondering if Republicans give X, will Obama talk before Y. Based on his own words, no. No, he will not. He keeps saying that and he means it. He is not going to negotiate on his terms for negotiating.
As of this writing, it is still unclear if the Republicans’ six week debt limit increase is unconditional or not. If it’s not, it’s going to be a non-starter. Rumors are that it takes extraordinary measures away, meaning in six weeks we’d be at the Republicans’ mercy without a lifeboat. Another Thanksgiving Hell? The GOP should meet with business. That’s a no thanks.
Earth to Speaker John Boehner (until his duplicitous handling of the shutdown, I felt sympathy for the Speaker and have defended him as one of the few remaining bastions of GOP sanity): Unlike you, Obama means what he says and he has the authority to speak for his terms.
Obama isn’t doing this to be partisan. He’s doing it because he is upholding the very principles of democracy. If Republicans think he’s going to give democracy the finger for them, they have grossly overinflated their own importance.
Mitch McConnell and the GOP may have learned that the debt ceiling was a hostage worth ransoming, but the American people are learning that the Republican Party is a Koch driven tool of the corporations and as such, is no longer capable of governing.
Republicans simply can’t be trusted with power right now. They’re tea drunk and mad with delusion.