News & Politics

Paul Krugman: The GOP Is Its Own Doomsday Machine

Republicans have applied mutually assured destruction to basic governance.

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For the first time since the end of the Cold War, Americans live in fear of nuclear annihilation. While North and South Korea have reengaged in diplomatic talks, the Pentagon is reportedly considering a limited bombing campaign, as Donald Trump continues to bait the supreme leader of a rogue nation. (Whether the U.S. now qualifies as a rogue nation itself is up for debate.)

What few may realize is that the ruling Republican Party has become its own "doomsday machine," argues Paul Krugman. In his Friday column, the Nobel prize-winning economist dissects the ways in which the GOP has applied the theory of MAD (mutually assured destruction) to basic governance. It's a strategy they first developed in the 1990s and employed as recently as 2011, refusing to raise the debt ceiling in order to get a Democratic president to meet their policy demands, no matter the consequences to the global economy. And despite controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, Republicans once again stand on the brink of shutting down the government. 

"Once upon a time a party that needed some help from across the aisle would have sought a deal that made some concessions to the other party’s agenda," he writes. "And until a few days ago it seemed as if normal political rules still applied."

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But if Trump's first year in office has taught us anything, it's that these are not normal political times. A bipartisan group of senators actually hashed out a bill that included a number of Democratic compromises, as well as protection for Dreamers, only to watch "President Deals" blow up the agreement over his distaste for immigrants from "sh*thole countries."

Now Republicans have decided to hold the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) hostage, refusing to reauthorize funding unless Democrats bend to their will. If the government shuts down, they reason, they can always blame the opposition for its obstructionism. Krugman implores Democrats to put an end to this, once and for all.

"For once doomsday-machine politics becomes the norm, anything is fair game," he concludes. "Give us what we want, or we’ll cut off Medicare. Give us what we want, or we’ll destroy Social Security. This has to stop. And now is the time to draw the line."

Read Paul Krugman's column at the New York Times.

Jacob Sugarman is a managing editor at AlterNet.