Why Mitch McConnell is threatening to hurt the economy on purpose

A full decade after the nation's first-ever debt ceiling crisis, Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans are gearing up for a dangerous sequel.

9/16/2021 11:42:00 PM

.MaddowBlog: A full decade after the nation's first-ever debt-ceiling crisis, Sen. McConnell and his fellow Republicans are gearing up for a dangerous sequel.

A full decade after the nation's first-ever debt ceiling crisis, Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans are gearing up for a dangerous sequel.

When GOP lawmakers created this crisis in 2011, did it really make a difference?Yes. The fact that Republicans were prepared to crash the global economy, on purpose, did not go unnoticed. Just as the nation was finding its footing after the Great Recession, the GOP's debt-ceiling crisis slowed job growth in the United States to a crawl, did real harm to the nation's global reputation, and led to the first-ever downgrade to our debt rating.

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Why didn't Republicans pay a price for engaging in such scandalous tactics?Largely much of the Beltway media covered the story as just another fiscal fight between Democrats and Republicans. It's likely why Republicans feel comfortable giving this another try now.

So why has it been a decade since I last heard about this?Because when Republicans tried to launch additional debt-ceiling fights after 2011, then-President Barack Obamadrew a line in the sand from which he did not deviate: He would not negotiate with those threatening Americans with deliberate harm. GOP lawmakers made post-2011 threats, and put together ransom notes, but when the Democratic White House refused to engage, Republicans ultimately had no choice but to approve clean debt ceiling increases. headtopics.com

And what about during the Trump era? Did Democrats try to borrow a page from the GOP's playbook?No. During Trump's term — a four-year period in which Republicans forgot to pretend to care about the deficit and spending concerns — Congress raised the debt ceiling three times without incident. Two years ago, Trump went so far as to

,"I can't imagine anybody using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge." The Republican went on to describe the debt limit as a"sacred thing in our country."Evidently, the GOP has changed its mind now that there's another Democratic president.

Evidently.What's on the Republicans' list of hostage demands this year?For the most part, nothing. GOP leaders aren't making specific demands, so much as they're saying they'll simply refuse to engage in responsible governing on this issue. The White House, meanwhile, is saying it wouldn't matter if McConnell & Co. came up with a ransom note, because the president won't negotiate with those threatening to harm Americans on purpose.

How many Senate Republican votes does the Democratic majority need?In theory, none, since there's a Democratic majority, but in practice, Democrats will need at least 10 GOP votes to overcome a Republican filibuster.Are there areanySenate Republicans prepared to approach this in a responsible way? headtopics.com

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Not yet. The grand total of GOP senators who've said they'll vote for a debt ceiling increase is, as of this morning, zero.How much longer until the deadline?The Treasury Department hasn't yet identified a drop-dead deadline, but Yellen has told Congress that members will have to act by next month.

Do Democrats expect Republicans to come around before it's too late?Yes, but that's a risky assumption and McConnell insisted yesterday that he and his members will refuse to be responsible.And if McConnell's right?Democrats can try attaching a debt ceiling increase to some other bill; they can create a new exception to the Senate's filibuster rules; or they can blame Republicans for doing enormous harm to the nation's economic health and stability.

Read more: MSNBC »

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