You really have to wonder if Republican congressmen have any clue how idiotic they look. They’ve been huddled up for the past several days trying to agree on something–anything!–to hold hostage in exchange for voting to increase the debt ceiling. On Monday they appeared to have narrowed their choices to either demanding approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, or demanding a repeal of the Affordable Care Act risk corridors, which they ignorantly label insurance industry “bail outs.”
Yesterday, they were still mired in indecision, and cracks were beginning to show. Rep. Raúl R. Labrador (R-Idaho) complained, “We should bring up a clean debt ceiling, let the Democrats pass it and just move on. Our constituents are fed up with the political theater. If we’re not going to fight for something specific, we might as well let the Democrats own it.” Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) also referred to the charade as “theater,” noting, “It’s going to end up being clean anyway. I don’t see anything they can put on the table that I would support as some sort of trade-off.”
You see, this is all about political theater, trying to make Republicans look responsible… or something. Instead, they look more craven by the day, with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warning that the temporary suspension of the debt limit passed by Congress last year expires this Friday.
But have no fear! Another hostage was proposed today. Speaker John Boehner has floated the idea of demanding the restoration of recently cut military benefits in exchange for a one-year extension of the debt ceiling. According to reports, he hasn’t actually endorsed the idea himself, because that would require him to take a stand without knowing whether he’d have the support of his fellow Republicans. And if we’ve learned anything about John Boehner since the Republicans regained control of the house in 2010, it’s that he won’t take a stand on anything unless he already knows he’ll be on safe ground.
The quotes coming out of the capital today are classic. Patrick J. Tiberi (R-Ohio) told reporters, “Right now, Jesus himself couldn’t be the speaker and get 218 Republicans behind something, so I think Speaker Boehner is trying his best to come up with a plan that can get close to that. Whatever we move, there will be critics everywhere, but at the end of the day we still have to govern.” At least he acknowledges that they need to govern. I’m not sure the rest of the bunch understand that.
And Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) chimed in, “I’d support [restoration of military cuts] in a heartbeat. We need to figure this thing out, and that’s a way to do it.” Yup, anything to “figure this thing out.” You get the idea that the specific hostage is secondary to the need to simply have a hostage.