CORNYN WANTS TO PLAY WITH FIRE; WILL WE ALL GET BURNED?…. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated on Friday his caucus is prepared to kill a debt-limit extension unless “something significant” is done about the debt McConnell helped create. On Twitter yesterday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the NRSC, was even more explicit:

“Debt ceiling vote is ultimate leverage to get fiscal reform.”

It’s hard to overstate how irresponsible this is, especially for a leading U.S. senator.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently said failing to raise the debt limit “would be a financial disaster, not only for us, but for the worldwide economy.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said failure to raise the debt limit would lead to “financial collapse and calamity throughout the world.” Fox News’ Charles Krauthammer said the consequences would be “catastrophic.” Fox News’ Dana Perino said Republicans are inviting “economic disaster.” George Will said policymakers would have to be “suicidal.”

Cornyn knows all of this, but doesn’t care. He’s the hostage taker, he’s looking for “leverage,” and he thinks he’s found it.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently warned congressional Republicans not to “play around with” a coming vote to raise the government’s legal borrowing limit, adding that lawmakers shouldn’t view the debt ceiling as a “bargaining chip.” Austan Goolsbee, chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, recently explained, “If we get to the point where you’ve damaged the full faith and credit of the United States, that would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity.”

And yet, there’s John Cornyn, not just saying crazy things in private, but taking his strategy public. “Do what I want,” he’s effectively telling Democrats, “or I’ll cause a catastrophe on purpose.”

Behold, the Republican Party of the 21st century.

Update: Remember, time is running out. The Treasury expects to hit the debt ceiling sometime between April 15 and the end of May.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.