Political Animal


May 01, 2013 4:52 PM Sizing Up Hostages

By Ed Kilgore

There was a long piece at Politico today by Jake Sherman with a catchy title—“House In Chaos”—which was mainly a vehicle for getting conservative advocacy types to make threatening noises in the direction of Speaker John Boehner. I take this sort of story with a shaker of salt, but buried near the end was some interesting news about the efforts of House Republicans to figure out which hostage to take when action on the debt limit becomes necessary in September or whenever:

First, House Republicans want to pass a bill next week that prioritizes debt payments in the case of default.
Several options are being eyed to ride alongside the debt ceiling. One is tax reform — a strategy vocally supported by Ryan, sources say. This method would include passing a framework for tax reform, which would allow Congress to lift the debt ceiling, alongside a plan to allow tax-writing committees to figure out how to write the difficult details of reform.
Another option under discussion, according to aides, is moving a package including some spending cuts, elements of entitlement reforms and piecemeal tax-reform measures.

The former approach would presumably represent some sort of “fast-track” process for tax legislation, but not any actual changes in the tax code. The second, another “see what we can get” cats-and-dogs measure, would probably please such Tea Types as are willing to contemplate anything other than a debt default, but would depend on an expectation of a White House surrender.

At this point, it’s not clear if House GOP leaders are mainly trying to trick the media, trick the White House, or trick their own Members. But it does seem they’ve made a firm commitment to tricking somebody.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Ron Byers on May 01, 2013 5:13 PM:

    How about they are trying to trick themselves. The economy is moving forward despite their best efforts. The deficit is shrinking. I don't think the public is in any mood for another debt crisis. Obama has made it plain he isn't going to surrender. Even the reporters at Politico should be smart enough to figure out that the next debt ceiling fight is going to be a bust for Republicans.

  • RaflW on May 01, 2013 5:55 PM:

    Their recent track record suggests they'll roll themselves, but claim they "spanked" Obama. Their donors may be stupid enough to not be able to tell the difference.

  • c u n d gulag on May 01, 2013 6:10 PM:

    Imho - it's definetely, "Trick the MSM."

    Once you trick them, you have an easier path, not only to the rubes who already believe you, but to the people in the center, who might not.

    "Both sides are the same! Both sides do it!", sells a hell of f*cking lot of snake-oil!!!

  • Anonymous on May 01, 2013 8:14 PM:

    The former approach would presumably represent some sort of “fast-track” process for tax legislation, but not any actual changes in the tax code.


    Are you suggesting Ryan & Co. hopes to get Obama to sign off on a blank check? As in "here, sign this bill letting us quickly rewrite tax codes that we'll conveniently name later or we collapse the economy."

    again, Huh?

    Stinks of desperation.

  • Honeyboy Wilson on May 01, 2013 10:30 PM:

    President Obama's role in the debt ceiling hostage taking should be to go on vacation and tell the House to call him when they've passed a debt ceiling increase.

    PS Your Captcha sucks.