‘It’s his debt ceiling’

To appreciate just how difficult it is to communicate with House Republicans, consider the perspective of freshman Rep. Mo Brooks (R) of Alabama.

As the stalemate over the debt ceiling has demonstrated, it is impossible to strike compromise when the negotiating parties do not agree on what counts as a concession. [Yesterday], freshman Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) showed yet again why the Republican Party’s perverse concept of compromise has left the U.S. on the brink of default.

During an interview with MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer, Brooks insisted that Republicans have already compromised with President Obama by agreeing to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for a laundry list of right-wing policies, including an amendment to the Constitution. “Why should we give Barack Obama $2.4 trillion? It’s his debt,” Brooks said. “It’s his debt ceiling.”

“It’s his debt ceiling” reminds me of House Speaker John Boehner’s recent assertion about President Obama: “This debt limit increase is his problem.”

The scope of the irresponsibility and immaturity is almost impressive.

In case anyone’s forgotten, this isn’t Obama’s debt; it’s our debt. The deficit didn’t soar when Obama took office; it soared when Bush/Cheney was in office. And it’s not Obama’s debt ceiling; it’s the country’s debt ceiling.

What’s more, there’s really nothing partisan about any of this. If the McCain/Palin administration was in office today touting its support for Paul Ryan’s budget plan, the debt limit would still need to be raised in order for the United States to pay its bills.

But in case that weren’t quite enough, during the MSNBC interview, Contessa Brewer noted that much of the debt is the direct result of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Brooks blamed them on Obama, too: “[H]e’s the commander in chief and he could have removed our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan at any given time if he had so chosen.”

Um, Mo? The war in Afghanistan started in 2001. The war in Iraq started in 2003. Obama wasn’t even in the Senate at the time. It wasn’t his idea to finance two wars entirely through deficit financing; it was Republicans who said that the United States, for the first time in our history, should fight two wars and pile literally all of the costs onto the national debt.

As Tanya Somanader joked, “In order for Brooks to win his blame game, Obama would have to go back in time, elect himself president in 2000, reverse his positions, and go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a hollow accusation — unless, of course, Brooks’ economics degree came with a concentration in time travel.”

I’d also note, by the way, that at the time, GOP lawmakers were only too pleased to repeatedly raise the debt ceiling — seven times in eight years — to accommodate the Republican fiscal agenda.

I’ve heard Republicans blame Obama for all kinds of bizarre things, but Mo Brooks is breaking new ground with his inanity. And remember, this is the sort of guy Democrats are expected to satisfy or Republicans will crash the economy on purpose in just 12 days.