Speaker of the House John Boehner

Apparently, House Republicans are convinced they can hold the debt ceiling hostage again even though they proved they aren’t willing to shoot the hostage. From National Journal:

With an anxious eye toward the coming debt-ceiling negotiations, House Republicans are drafting what members call a “menu” of mandatory spending cuts to offer the White House in exchange for raising the country’s borrowing limit. [...]

For a long-term deal, one that gives Treasury borrowing authority for three-and-a-half years, Obama would have to agree to premium support. The plan to privatize Medicare, perhaps the most controversial aspect of the Ryan budget, is the holy grail for conservatives who say major deficit-reduction can only be achieved by making this type of cut to mandatory spending. “If the president wants to go big, there’s a big idea,” said Rep. Steve Scalise, chairman of the Republican Study Committee.

For a medium-sized increase in the debt-limit, Republicans want Obama to agree to cut spending in the SNAP food stamp program, block-grant Medicaid, or tinker with chained CPI.

For a smaller increase, there is talk of means-testing Social Security, for example, or ending certain agricultural subsidies.

It is frankly comical that Republicans think this strategy will work again because they completely folded in the last debt ceiling fight. Faced with the possibility of being blamed for destroying the American economy the Republicans quickly passed a short term extension.

The rank and file Republicans don’t seem to get that they “won” the first debt ceiling hostage stand off because Obama wanted to “lose.” He wanted to use the incident to tell upset liberals that he was “forced” to accept a grand bargain that cuts Social Security. Obama was not being held hostage, he was trying to create an excuse. When the whole strategy blew up in his face at the last minute Obama decided this was a really stupid tactic.

The only way taking the debt ceiling hostage could work is if Republicans demand something from Obama that he wants an excuse to do anyway. Even that might not work because the administration seems to have realized appearing to give in to demands makes the President look unacceptably weak.

Photo by Gage Skidmore released under Creative Commons License