Are GOP Leaders Intentionally Trying To Make The Republican Party Look Stupid?

Another debt ceiling increase is coming up. I’ve pointed out that the spending was already approved by Congress, so it isn’t any real opportunity to claim the moral high ground.

But it ought to be a chance to negotiate for something worthwhile.

The Republican leadership has a choice. They can try some political hardball or they can quietly acquiesce. Talking Points Memo claims they are somehow picking the worst of both options at the same time.

“I think for the president to ask for a clean debt ceiling [increase] when we have the debt the size of our economy is irresponsible,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Fox News Sunday. “I think the president is taking an unreasonable position to suggest that we ought to treat his request to raise the debt ceiling like some kind of motherhood resolution that everybody says aye and we don’t do anything, when we have the stagnant economy and this massive debt created under his administration.”

Fighting words. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has similarly warned that Republicans will insist on attaching conditions to any resolution that raises the country’s borrowing limit and prevents a potentially disastrous breach in late February. They may tie it to legislation that scraps a stability mechanism in Obamacare that they call an insurer “bailout,” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) signaled.

But what if Democrats reject the demand, as they have vowed to?

“We’re never going to default. The Speaker and I made that clear. We’ve never done that,” McConnell said. Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel, calling on the White House to negotiate a solution amenable to the House, similarly said the Speaker believes “we should not default on our debt, or even get close to it.”

The TPM compares the Republican situation to a hostage taker who makes demands but promises to never hurt the hostage. What is the incentive for getting anyone to meet his demands?

The rest of the article simply mocks Republicans for being in this position. It claims that the only reason Republican leaders have mentioned causing trouble over the debt ceiling is because they have to make the Tea Party happy.

I think that authorizing a budget that demanded an increase in the debt ceiling has eliminated the possibility that the Tea Party can or should be happy with Republican leadership. But using an opportunity to fight to make a gain is not a bad idea.

The TPM post reads like it comes from an alternative universe where Obama is incredibly popular and respected. It treats the Republican as if they are known losers.

But Obama’s reputation is cratering. As Truth Revolt reports:

On the eve of President Obama’s State of the Union Address, a new poll from Washington Post-ABC News shows that fully 63 percent of Americans have either little to no confidence Obama will make the right decisions. The public is evenly split on whether Obama is honest and trustworthy, with 49 percent of Americans answering in the affirmative, and 48 percent answering negatively.

A bare majority of Americans, 52 percent, feel Obama does not understand the problems of people like them – a shocking downward turn for Obama on an important likeability issue in which he dominated in 2012. A majority of Americans, 51 percent, also believe Obama is not a strong leader. His disapproval rating stands currently at 50 percent, with 41 percent disapproving strongly – only 23 percent support him strongly. 50 percent of Americans have an unfavorable impression of the president.

Republicans should be winning. In fact, they are winning except that their leaders don’t seem to understand what is happening.