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Tue Dec 11, 2012, 11:36 PM


On debt ceiling, GOP is defining extortion down

Until today, it was not certain whether Republicans would stage another showdown over the debt ceiling. They were said to be thinking about it, but reports carefully noted no decision had been made. However, as Brian Beutler reports, Mitch McConnell today publicly confirmed that it’s on.

“I think I can speak for every single Republican that we think a request of any president to raise the debt ceiling in the future should involve a discussion with whoever the president is about what we might do about the debt,” McConnell said, adding: “We are going to insist that we have another discussion about the future of our country in connection with the request of us to raise the debt ceiling.”

As Beutler notes, this is not an explicit declaration that Republicans will refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless they get the spending cuts they want. But it is certainly a threat to do this.

Pay close attention to how this is covered. In a very general sense, the shrugs that greet the prospect of another debt ceiling fight suggest Republicans are successfully redefining the withholding of support for a debt limit hike as not agreeing to concessions requested by Democrats. In other words, Republicans won’t give Democrats the debt ceiling hike they want unless they get spending cuts in return.

But raising the debt ceiling is not merely giving Democrats something they want. It is averting a threat to the economy and to the whole country. Top Republicans have admitted this. As Steve Benen recently documented, during the last debt ceiling battle John Boehner readily admitted that default would mean “financial disaster” for the global economy.


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