Sunday, July 07, 2013

New adventures in GOP hostage taking

Over at John Boehner's House of Dysfunction the Republicans have a problem. They want to use the next debt ceiling reauthorization to extract policy concessions from the Democratic party. The old strategy of issuing an all or nothing demand was a loser. It was a PR disaster.They couldn't find a way to blame the outcome, (or lack thereof), on the White House. Any sort of compromise is impossible. Boehner's crackpot caucus not only won't entertain discussion on the subject, they threaten to take Boehner's gavel for even bringing it up.

So the genius tacticians of the GOP have come up with what I'm certain they think is a brilliant plan. Instead of a single ultimatum, Republicans are offering a menu of hostage demands with various levels of rewards.
Option A: Enact Paul Ryan's voucherizing of Medicare scam. Agree to throw Medicare recipients to the private insurance industry vultures and Republicans will raise the debt limit through the end of Obama's presidency.

Option B: Mercilessly slash SNAP food assistance to the poor, eviscerate Medicaid with block-granting and implement chained CPI to calculate benefits. In return Republicans will raise the debt limit for an unspecified amount of time, one would assume said time frame being dependent on how big the concessions are.

Option C: Agree to means-test Social Security and/or slash some agricultural subsidies, (which I assume still means slashing SNAP and not insurance subsidies for corporate farms) and Republicans will raise the debt limit on pro-rated basis, which criteria appears to be one month of funding increase for every month by which the White House agrees to raise the retirement age for Social Security benefits.
Apparently the Republicans believe by breaking down their hostage demands incrementally and offering false choices, they'll look like the reasonable ones and be able to avoid taking responsibility for acheiving their lifelong dream of destroying the social safety net.

It might even work if Obama is still naive enough to negotiate with them. One can only hope our POTUS has learned his lesson on that score. As Booman said, "If the House wants to spend the rest of the year demanding that Obama privatize Medicare, block-grant Medicaid, raise the Social Security retirement age, and starve poor children, I don't think the Democrats will object. 'Please proceed, congressmen.'"

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