I suspect it’d be a little awkward trying to explain tomorrow’s developments in the House to Americans who don’t follow politics closely.
There’s a law they’ve probably never heard of that sets an arbitrary limit on the amount of debt the nation can accrue. Republicans have always wanted to raise this limit, until this year, when they decided raising the ceiling is an “existential” crisis. If they don’t do what they’ve always done within two weeks, the economy will crash.
Tomorrow, the same people threatening to crash the economy will spend all day on a competing plan they know will fail, but which will make Republicans feel better about themselves. They could spend the day preventing a crisis, but that won’t help Republicans feel better about themselves, and therefore, won’t happen.
And then, of course, there are the interest groups. On the one hand, we see Republican allies, desperate for GOP officials to create a friendly business climate, demanding they raise the debt ceiling. On the other, we see other Republican allies, also desperate for GOP officials to create a friendly business climate, demanding that they not raise the debt ceiling unless it’s in a way that ideologically pleasing.
“Cut, Cap, and Balance will fix our fiscal mess. The McConnell-Reid plan does not,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in a statement accompanying an alert that these votes will be counted on the group’s scorecard. “McConnell-Reid simply punts our budget problem further down the road and is everything that’s wrong with Washington. Congress has proven that they are unable to balance the budget without reform. Cut, Cap and Balance is the only plan that permanently handcuffs politicians from spending more money than they take in.”
If you’re a Republican, voting for Plan B means you’re that much likelier to face a primary. By holding the test votes on Cut, Cap, and Balance, and the Balanced Budget Amendment, they can at least meet the Club for Growth, and similar groups half way.
Just for added fun, let’s not forget that when Club for Growth President Chris Chocola was in Congress he — you guessed it — voted to raise the debt ceiling without conditions.
The far-right group is led by a far-right politician who’s now urging other far-right politicians not to vote the same way he did.
And his demands are one of the reasons House Republicans will spend a great deal of precious time on a series of legislative stunts tomorrow, which everyone, including them, already knows will never become law.
Sometimes I wonder why most of the public doesn’t share my fascination with political current events. And other times, I can’t blame the public at all.