Debt Ceiling: GOP Were Set Up, Played Parts Like Unwitting Fools
Back on April 13th, as Speaker Boehner was being told by the business community not to condition an extension of the debt limit on a deficit reduction package, Sen. Chuck Schumer saw an opening. As Greg Sargent speculated at the time, the Democrats might be able to exploit any such linkage to drive a massive wedge between the Big Business and Tea Party factions of the Republican Party.
Executives like J.P. Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon are worried that playing chicken with the debt ceiling could be “catastrophic.” Dems are hoping to use the debt ceiling showdown to divide Republicans between their corporate benefactors, who want the debt ceiling standoff resolved with no fuss, and the Tea Partyers, who are demanding that the GOP leadership use the debt ceiling as a hostage in the push for ever more extreme and draconian spending cuts.
The Democrats could have insisted that the debt ceiling be a clean vote with nothing attached, but they also saw the advantage to allowing the bill to be conditioned on debt reduction. It would freak out Wall Street, kill Republican fundraising, divide the party, and highlight their extremism.
Obviously, all of those goals have come to fruition. Some Republicans are openly expressing their regret at having pursued linkage on the debt ceiling.
"Maybe the debt ceiling was the wrong place to pick a fight, as it related to trying to get our country's house in order," Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Thursday. "Maybe that was the wrong place to do it."
Maybe if Bob Corker and the Republicans had paid attention to Chuck Schumer's "please don't throw us in that briar patch" rhetoric in April, they wouldn't have thrown the president in the briar patch. Strategy is not the GOP's strong suit.
So, now it's on to Plan B, which is Mitch McConnell's pass-the-buck plan to raise the debt ceiling by voting not to do so. The president is perfectly happy to let McConnell save a little face:
During their Wednesday meeting, Mr. Obama commended Mr. McConnell for his proposal, Democratic officials familiar with the meeting said. He also didn't bristle at the notion of being responsible for raising the debt ceiling. "If Senator McConnell wants me to wear the jacket for that, I'm happy to wear the jacket," Mr. Obama said, according to the Democratic officials.
Why would he bristle? He set the GOP up, and they played their parts like unwitting fools.