Republicans Refuse to Negotiate Unless They Can Take a Hostage

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Today’s Washington Post story about the tepid pace of budget negotiations may seem like a snoozer at first glance, but it’s really pretty mind-boggling. Here’s a snippet:

That might seem like good news, but it is unraveling Republican plans to force a budget deal before Congress takes its August break….In the meantime, Republicans face a listless summer, with little appetite for compromise but no leverage to shape an agreement….“The debt limit is the backstop,” Ryan said before taking the stage at a debt summit organized by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation in Washington. “I’d like to go through regular order and get something done sooner rather than later. But we need to get a down payment on the debt. We need entitlement reform.”

….Democrats are urging Republicans to initiate talks well before the next deadline and at last resolve the long-standing dispute over whether to tame the debt solely by cutting spending, as Republicans demand, or also by raising taxes on the wealthy, as Obama insists….But senior Senate Republicans, including several who recently dined with Obama and huddled with administration officials, conceded that it may be tough to bring their colleagues to the table too far ahead of the debt-ceiling deadline….“We need to realize this debt ceiling is out there. It’s inevitable. It’s coming. And [the later deadline] should not relieve pressure,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. But “sometimes we don’t want to act until a gun is at our heads.”

So that’s that. Republicans are flatly refusing to even start budget negotiations until they can threaten default on the national debt if they don’t get their way. Apparently this is literally the only way they’re now willing to do business.

I should have something snappy to say about this, I suppose. But it’s still too early in the morning here in California. I’ve always said that Sacramento made Washington DC look like pikers in the government dysfunction department, but I think I’m getting ready to change my mind about that. As always, California is a bellwether for the nation.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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