Politics

 

The GOP Is Still Chained to the Base

The GOP Is Still Chained to the Base

Almost everyone agrees that the Republican Party’s debt-ceiling brinksmanship is dangerous to the economy. That includes economists, who agree that it could derail the recovery and plunge the country into a second recession; former GOP officials, who call their party’s behavior irresponsible; and House leaders like Speaker John Boehner, who agrees that Congress needs to lift the debt ceiling and protect the economy.

Despite this, Republicans are prepping demands for their consent. According tothe Washington Examiner, House Republicans are set to deliver a ransom note of conservative policies that range from construction of the Keystone pipeline and expansion of off-shore energy production to Medicare means-testing and GOP-friendly tax reform. It’s hostage taking, plain and simple. Either Democrats concede to the GOP’s extortionist demands, or Republicans blow up the economy.

The GOP’s plain hope is that this will yield them a policy win and do lasting damage to Barack Obama’s presidency. But there’s no reason to believe this is true. Yes, when Republicans tried this two years ago, they won substantial spending cuts, and, yes—in the aftermath of the debt-ceiling crisis—Obama looked vulnerable. But it wasn’t long before the president regained his popularity and hammered Republicans for their behavior. The GOP’s popularity sank to new lows, and it’s not a stretch to think that the party’s failure in last year’s congressional elections—where it lost seats in the House and blew a shot at winning the Senate—has a lot to do with its brinksmanship.

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