According to Robert Costa, Republicans have narrowed down their choices for what to hold hostage in return for raising the debt limit. They’ll either demand a repeal of the Affordable Care Act risk corridors, or approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. The more extreme Republicans favor the former, the not-as-extreme Republicans favor the latter. (We can’t call them moderate Republicans, because they’re no longer allowed in the party.) Meanwhile, the Freak Show Republicans tried to demand a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, but someone must have told them, “STFU before you make us all look like idiots.”
All this for a one-year extension of the debt ceiling, after which they’ll think of some other ransom to extract from President Obama in exchange for agreeing to pay for the bills they’ve already rung up. Because you see, the real point in all of this is to try to make President Obama look bad.
This game is getting tiresome. Americans have grown weary of it. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, who just weeks ago worked with Paul Ryan to hammer out a budget, pointed out the obvious:
“There is no reason to hold anything hostage to getting a debt ceiling raise. We just had a budget agreement, we had an appropriations bill, we determined where our spending is going to be, we now have a responsibility as the managers of this country to pay for that.”
As far as the ACA risk corridors go, Republicans have been demonizing them as insurance company “bailouts.” Either they don’t understand risk corridors, or they do and choose to call them bailouts anyway. I suspect the smarter Republicans do understand them and have opportunistically instructed their pals who don’t to call them “bailouts.” Anything to demonize ObamaCare, of course. Ironically, the Congressional Budget Office says that repealing the risk corridors would actually increase the national debt.
I’ll give the Republicans one thing: They sure are stubborn, even as they keep lowering their price. Wasn’t it just a few years ago they were demanding trillions of dollars of spending cuts? Now it’s a pipeline. Next year they’ll demand that the first lady cut a college intern from her staff. In any event, I’m sure this will end just as well for them as it always has.