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September 12, 2013 5:01 PM ‘Scuse Me, While I Kick the Sky

By Ed Kilgore

As a follow-on to my morning post on Congress getting back to its boring old routine work after a week of excitement over Syria, I love this quote from a Justin Sink post at The Hill:

Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) emerged Tuesday from a Syria briefing with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough predicting that Congress would now “go back to our typical things, like the debt limit,” according to Reuters.


Green is a Democrat, so I don’t know if his tongue was planted firmly in his cheek or he was making the point that debt limit increases use to be routine business. But it is going to be pretty amusing to watch Republicans seamlessly move from accusing the president of irresponsibly dangerous maneuvering towards Syria to schemes that might well wreck or risk wrecking the U.S. and global economies. As Jonathan Chait notes in a piece today on Republican “anarchy”:

One of the things the ultraconservatives are demanding, in addition to their plan to shut down the government over Obamacare, is that the leadership go along with a backup plan to default on the national debt over Obamacare. And the more House leaders have had to wrangle votes for its fake-Obamacare-defunding plan to not shut down the government, the more they’ve had to pledge to use the debt ceiling instead.
Of course, defaulting on the debt would be far more dangerous than shutting down the government. House leaders don’t want to do that, but they don’t seem to have any plan beyond getting past the next obstacle in front of their face. As Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan report, “In private discussions, GOP leadership aides acknowledge they have absolutely no idea how they’ll lift the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling.”

Absolutely no idea, and not a lot of time to find one.

Once down in Georgia when I was working on a flood recovery effort, a professional emergency management staffer from a desperately poor county joked to me: “Our motto is that we have to get people through this emergency so they can go back to their dysfunctional lives.” Before long, we may be hoping the Syria “emergency” comes back to dominate Washington.

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.

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