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Saturday, December 10, 2016

House Republicans have narrowed their debt ceiling strategies to two demands, neither of which have anything to do with actually reducing America’s debt.

In exchange for a one-year extension of the debt ceiling so the Treasury can pay debts Congress has already voted to take on, Republicans want the repeal of Obamacare’s risk corridors, according to the Washington Post‘s Robert Costa.

Risk corridors will reduce the deficit by $8 billion over the next three years, according to a new Congressional Budget Office report. Republicans included the same mechanism — which they are now calling a “bailout” — in Medicare Part D indefinitely.

If Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling, the United States would intentionally default on its debts for the first time ever. This could lead to a financial crisis that many experts believe would at least rival the one that preceded the Great Recession.

And whom would the public blame for this completely avoidable catastrophe?

A majority, 54 percent, say they would blame House Republicans, while 29 percent would blame the president and 23 percent would blame both, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. Independents would blame the House GOP over the president by a 49 to 30 percent margin.

These numbers match polls taken at the end of the government shutdown in October, showing that Republicans have not shed their obstructionist image even after agreeing to a two-year budget pact. Republican favorability has improved only slightly since the all-time lows recorded during the heat of the standoff.

Since the debt ceiling showdown of 2011, Republicans have raised the debt limit twice with only token demands, as President Obama refused to negotiate for an increase. This year’s deficit will be less than half of the trillion-dollar deficits recorded during the peak of the financial crisis, both as a raw number and as a share of the gross domestic product.

Budget deficit

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has said that he will not let the country default, knowing that going too far down this road could cost his party its majority.

Senate Democrats plan to remove extra demands from any House bill raising the debt limit and send it back to the lower house, the Huffington Post reports. This is the same strategy that Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) employed with the continuing resolution during the government shutdown, as his caucus remained united against ransom demands.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Graph Source: Sunlight Foundation, White House Office of Management and Budget

Graph Credit: Alyson Hurt and Tamara Keith / NPR

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