House Speaker John Boehner has a new excuse for the dissent within the ranks of the House Republican Caucus he is supposed to lead.
The caucus, Boehner says, has been infiltrated by a cabal that hopes to take the US economy hostage in order to force political concessions from President Obama and Congressional Democrats.
Appearing Wednesday on conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham’s,, Boehner acknowledged what every serious economic analyst has already said: that a failure to raise the debt ceiling before the August 2 deadline would be devastating to an already struggling US economy.
So “why,” Ingraham asked, were House Republicans resisting the deal that President Obama has offered—a deal that is ridiculously deferent to Republican demands for cuts to needed domestic programs and for tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.
“Well,” Boehner said of the most belligerent members of his caucus, “first they want more. And my goodness, I want more too. And secondly, a lot of them believe that if we get passed August the second and we have enough chaos, we could force the Senate and the White House to accept a balanced budget amendment.”
Let’s be clear about what Boehner is saying: he has members of his caucus—perhaps sufficient in number to block resolution of the debt ceiling fight—who would be willing to force the United States to default on its debts. Why? Because they want to create so much economic chaos that the president and Congressional Democrats will sign on for a bad policy that could not otherwise advance.
That’s blackmail. But Boehner’s not concerned about the fact that his lawless colleagues would threaten the good faith and credit of the United States—not to mention the economic stability of their homeland—in order to score political points.
The Speaker’s only concern is that a wrong move might make it harder for him to maneuver politically.
“I don’t think that that strategy works,” Boehner explained to the radio host. “Because I think the closer we get to August the second, frankly, the less leverage we have vis à vis our colleagues in the Senate and the White House.”
That is sort of reassuring.
Boehner is not a responsible player. But at least he is enough of a hack to fear that his colleagues who have lost touch with economic reality might—if allowed to have their way—create chaos not just for the economy but force a crisis that Ingraham suggested could “be disastrous for the Republican Party.”