Ever get the feeling some people just don't get it? Two years after almost wrecking the economy over the debt ceiling, House Republicans are planning a repeat performance this summer and this time you'll never guess how they plan on doing it.
Rather than tie raising the debt limit to spending cuts, like they did in 2011, John Boehner and the gang are going a different route; they are planning on tying any increase in the debt limit to the passage of tax reform. Yep, you heard right. The most complicated, gut wrenching, contentious political issue imaginable is now going to be the ransom price for avoiding another date with economic Armageddon.
Sometimes you just can't make this stuff up.
According to a story in Politico, the "framework" of a deal "has gained considerable traction" among the GOP leadership. Basically, it breaks down into four phases, each comprising three month extensions: the first would be an initial three-month extension contingent upon the understanding that the House would pass some kind of tax reform bill within three months. Once that was done another three month raise in the debt limit would follow. The Senate would then have up to three months to pass its version of tax reform in order to get another three-month bump. The last three months would come only after President Obama signs the legislation into law. Four phases for one year of debt limit increases.
Simple, except for a few minor details.
One, it is highly unlikely that the House and the Senate would pass tax reform bills that would stand up in the other chamber. Indeed, there has been a major split between the parties over tax reform and which deductions to eliminate for years. Expecting these two camps to agree on a unified bill is the stuff of fairy tales.
Two, we're talking about passing major legislation with a ticking time bomb in the background. If you thought the markets were nervous over the 2011 debacle, try that times a hundred. Tax reform is way too important an issue to shotgun under such arduous and potentially catastrophic circumstances.
And, lastly, once more President Obama will be in the position of having to negotiate with a loaded gun pointed at his head. The last time the GOP held the economy hostage we got stuck with the sequester. Obama cannot let that happen again.
The problem with negotiating with terrorists is that once you start, you can't stop. There's always another hostage to take and another ransom demand to make.
It's high time this president learned how to stand his ground, say no and mean it!