Ever wonder how Republicans can justify to themselves rejecting one proposed debt-ceiling compromise after another, even when the proposals are grossly skewed toward their priorities of further enriching the rich and impoverishing the poor and the middle class?

Steve Benen explains it: to a hostage-taker, returning the hostage alive is his part of the bargain; the victim doesn’t get to ask for anything else. The Republicans think they’ve done enough when they promise not to destroy the economy and dishonor the country by forcing it into default.

If there were any doubt, the GOP agenda is now clear: it’s the old “Rule, or ruin.” Whenever Democrats win elections, the Republicans will make it impossible to govern.

No point blaming them; that’s just the way they are. Time to start fighting back.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

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Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.