Through the looking glass

I’m generally finding it increasingly difficult to understand what on earth congressional Republicans are thinking. Fortunately, a House GOP leadership aide presented this pitch to Mike Allen:

“President Obama blew up any chance of a bigger agreement with his insistence on tax hikes and by backing away from some of the serious structural entitlement reforms he agreed to rhetorically. He has only himself to blame. The President desperately wants a large debt limit increase that will take him past the next presidential election. Republicans will not give him a $2.4 trillion blank check he can use throughout his re-election campaign to continue the spending binge that has driven our nation to the brink of a job-destroying downgrade and default.

“He is trying to set up a no-win situation for taxpayers: either he gets his $2.4 trillion blank check, or America defaults. Republicans will put forward a responsible, common-sense proposal that reflects the principles of Cut, Cap and Balance and which can pass both chambers. As the deadline approaches it would be inexcusable and indefensible for the President to veto a plan that preserves the full faith and credit of the United States simply because it’s inconvenient to his re-election campaign.”

This is valuable for those of us eager to understand why Republicans seem determined to punish the country, but it’s also illustrative of a perspective that’s completely detached from reality. As Jon Chait noted, “Even by the standard of political spin, this is really pretty amazing,” adding that the quote includes some “Alice-in-Wonderland assertions.”

It’s generally tough to say with any confidence whether some GOP flack actually believes his/her own nonsense. Maybe this was sent to Allen as part of a larger p.r. campaign, and no one, not even congressional Republicans, actually considers this nonsense credible.

But in case GOPers actually believe this, let’s note the errors.

* Obama didn’t “blow up” a deal by insisting on additional revenue; Obama insisted on additional revenue from the outset. The public, as it turns out, agrees with him. What’s more, the president wanted a sliver of revenue accompanying massive spending cuts. So who “blew up” the deal? Republicans did.

* Obama isn’t asking for a “blank check.” The nation needs a debt-ceiling increase to pay for the things we’ve already bought. Going forward, Congress will maintain its power of the purse — the administration can’t just spend whatever it wants — so as GOP whining goes, this is just gibberish.

* Obama hasn’t presented Republicans with an either/or scenario. Democrats have made all kinds of offers, most of them extremely generous, in the hopes that Republicans migh accept one of them and choose not to crash the economy on purpose. So far, GOP officials have rejected all of them. And since this is the Republicans’ hostage strategy, the accusation itself is kind of silly.

* “Cut, Cap, and Balance” can’t “pass both chambers.” We know this because we were conscious last week when CC&B got 46 votes in the Senate. Indeed, since CC&B includes a constitutional amendment that requires a two-thirds majority, the proposal can’t pass the House, either.

* Preventing the nation from needlessly going through two debt-ceiling votes, instead of one, has nothing to do with Obama’s “re-election campaign.” Indeed, when Republican leaders themselves rejected the idea of two separate votes, it probably wasn’t because they wanted improve the odds for the president’s campaign.

Ultimately, what we’re left with here is a Republican pitch in which every claim is false.