Noting that deficit commission co-chair Alan Simpson is thirsting for a "blood bath in April" when Congress will have to raise the federal debt ceiling, Paul Krugman worries in The New York Times that the Republican Party might be happy watching the economy crumble as long as a Democrat occupies the Oval Office.
Simpson says there are Republicans who'll refuse to raise the ceiling--which must be done to keep the federal government running--unless Democrats offer "real" "red meat"--major spending cuts. "Think of Mr. Simpson’s blood lust as one more piece of evidence that our nation is in much worse shape, much closer to a political breakdown, than most people realize," Krugman writes.
The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it’s doing the governing. And that party now controls one house of Congress, which means that the country will not, in fact, be governable without that party’s cooperation — cooperation that won’t be forthcoming.
Krugman frets that elites have been slow to pick up on this. And not only is the GOP is working against policies that would ease unemployment, it's also opposing the nuke treaty with Russia "not because of legitimate objections, but simply because it’s an Obama administration initiative," he says. Republicans seem to believe that "if sabotaging the president endangers the nation, so be it. ... It’s hard to see how this situation is resolved without a major crisis of some kind... Simpson may or may not get the blood bath he craves this April, but there will be blood sooner or later. And we can only hope that the nation that emerges from that blood bath is still one we recognize."
- Yes, It Is Sabotage, Steve Benen argues at The Washington Monthly. "We're talking about a major political party, which will control much of Congress next year, possibly undermining the strength of the country -- on purpose, in public, without apology or shame -- for no other reason than to give themselves a campaign advantage in 2012. ... Historically, lawmakers from both parties have resisted any kind of temptations along these lines for one simple reason: they didn't think they'd get away with it. ... But I get the sense Republicans no longer have any such fears. ... The Boehner/McConnell GOP appears willing to gamble: if they can hold the country back, voters will just blame the president in the end. And that's quite possibly a safe assumption."
- They Couldn't Fix the Economy If They Tried, BooMan writes at Booman Tribune. "The GOP may not want to help the economy while a Democrat is in the White House, but they don't know how to help the economy regardless. We saw this during Bush's two terms in office. And when Bush finally faced reality and took the obvious steps to save the economy, the Republicans went Full Metal Teabagger in response."
- GOP Freshmen Will Be Tough to Control, The Wall Street Journal's Naftali Bendavid reports. "We're going to have to deal with it as adults," Republican House leader John Boehner said. "Whether we like it or not, the federal government has obligations, and we have obligations on our part." But, Bendavid reports, "some of the incoming Republicans, such as Rep.-elect Tim Scott of South Carolina, a rising party star, have made it clear they wouldn't support raising the debt limit because of their concern about federal spending. ... GOP leaders hope to package a debt-limit vote with significant spending cuts, making it easier for Republicans to vote for it. But it isn't clear that will be enough for many of the GOP freshmen. And most House Democrats are unlikely to help the Republicans by voting for such a package."
- Why Aren't Dems Talking About This? Kevin Drum asks at Mother Jones. "Sabotage is a strong accusation, but what's remarkable is that virtually no one in any position of authority has picked up on this... On the Republican side, practically everyone from the party leaders on down is thoroughly convinced that Barack Obama is one or more of: a socialist, an appeaser, a Chicago thug, a racist, a would-be killer of grandmas... But the mirror image of that — Democrats saying that Republicans are deliberately sabotaging economic recovery — is virtually invisible. ... This, in a nutshell, is the difference between the conservative noise machine and the liberal noise machine. ... We'll see if that changes now that Krugman has brought his cannons to bear."
- We Must Cut Defense Spending, Michael Tedesco writes at Comments from Left Field. The military is more than half of discretionary spending. Republicans don't appear to be taking threats of a government shut down seriously, Tedesco writes, and "nothing will matter unless they are either willing to cut Defense spending or do as many Democrats have proposed and raise the debt ceiling."
- This Is Not Your Grandpa's GOP, OpenLeft's Paul Rosenberg writes. People who think it is are delusional, he says. "Your grandfather's GOP had been twice humbled: first by the Great Depression, and second by being wrong about Hitler (both the isolationist and those who openly sympathized with him). Today's GOP is in deep denial about both, and the mean old men who run it just can't wait to destroy everything that FDR and his heirs have accomplished since 1932."