Washington's frayed nerves showed through Monday amid tough talk on the right, a White House veto threat, canceled weekend passes and the top Senate Democrat likening default to a "very, very scary" outcome even for those "who believe government should be small enough to drown in a bathtub."
"What will it take," asked an agitated Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), "for my Republican colleagues to wake up to the fact that they're playing a game of political chicken with the entire global economy?"
It'll take a default, apparently. Many House Republicans seem to sincerely believe that all this debt ceiling talk is scare tactics. America has made the tremendous mistake of electing a bunch of nuts who think you get to believe whatever you want to believe and that, worse, that you can force what you want to believe to become true. Talk of default goes into the same box as global warming and evolution. Now we're observing the predictable consequence -- they're running full speed toward a brick wall, while refusing to believe the brick wall exists.
With the clock ticking, House Republicans feel the need to waste a day with a completely symbolic vote on their draconian "Cut, Cap and Balance plan" -- a hopeless effort to, among other things, make it much easier to gut Medicare and Social Security and much harder to raise taxes. Politico's Jonathan Allen and Jake Sherman report that if this doomed effort is Plan A, then there is no Plan B.
There's a narrative gaining traction in Washington as a debt crisis looms: House Republican hard-liners might soften their stance once they’ve gotten a vote on their Cut, Cap and Balance proposal.
But if that's the case, the conservatives aren't in on the plan.
While such a vote would usually be viewed as a chance to win some political cover for those who later agree to a more moderate deal, the idea of seeking cover out of a symbolic vote is foreign -- if not outright offensive -- to the new breed of House Republicans.
The debt-limit disunity has grown so dire in Republican circles that party leaders were still rounding up votes Monday night on the conservative movement's pet cut, cap and balance plan. The decision to appease conservatives could backfire on party leaders if the bill fails, leaving them without a demonstration of the conference's position.
Whatever happens in the House, the Senate seems set to move forward with Mitch McConnell's Rube Goldberg plan. What House GOP wants be damned, this is what they'll finally wind up dealing with.
"If the 'Cut, Cap, and Balance Act' passes the House, it will be considered and defeated in the Senate," explains Steve Benen. "If all goes according to plan, the details of McConnell/Reid will be presented later this week, starting the clock. This will initiate a series of Republican filibusters, which once exhausted, will clear the way for a Senate floor vote by July 29 -- a week from Friday -- leaving the radicalized House just four days to debate and pass the emergency measure before the Aug. 2 deadline."
And it's important to point out that we don't have to actually default to screw up the economy here. If Wall Street thinks we headed to default, they'll react before we get there. For the record, a market panic is not good for the economy. By leaving "just four days to debate and pass the emergency measure," House Republicans invite this panic.
Just don't try to tell them that. They'll laugh at your "alarmism."
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