GOP Preparing New Farcical Debt Ceiling Standoff

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 24 2014 11:27 AM

GOP Preparing New Farcical Debt Ceiling Standoff

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Again and again and again and again. Do it again. Again and again.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Marx wrote that when history repeats, the first time is tragedy and the second time is farce. House Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to see what happens when you go for a third or fourth shot at it:

House GOP leaders have made no final decisions on their debt-ceiling plans, which will be a top focus during a strategy session at a Maryland resort next week. But aides and lawmakers say party leaders believe a "clean" debt-ceiling bill, devoid of policy demands, can't pass the Republican controlled House. [...]
Prominent among the ideas being discussed are changes to an element of the Affordable Care Act known as "risk corridors," which some Republicans have derided as a bailout for insurers because the provision calls for the government to help insurers offset risks related to the law's requirement that they sell policies to all comers. Republicans might also demand repeal of the law's medical-device tax or its surcharge on insurance plans. A House leadership aide said the GOP hopes to pull off a "rifle shot or two on Obamacare" that would attract a small number of Democrats.

House Republicans may also pull in other issues, such as requiring approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
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We have already seen this movie! Multiple times! The way it goes is that the clean debt limit "can't pass the House" because of party cartel situations. Then Democrats argue, rightly, that it would be dangerous to allow the threat of economic chaos to be used as a lever of policy and they won't back down. Then John Boehner admits he was bluffing and allows the clean debt limit to pass the House, with most Republicans voting no but a bipartisan majority in favor. We've seen it. Several times. The only thing possibly accomplished by doing this again is dealing some minor damage to the economy with unnecessary waiting and uncertainty.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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