One House tantrum, followed by another

Even the most rabid House Republicans couldn’t have been surprised when the Senate killed the GOP debt-ceiling plan, just two hours after it passed the lower chamber. It’s not as if the measure, crafted by Speaker Boehner (R) to satisfy the demands of the far-right, was a serious attempt at policymaking.

The proposal needed to be bipartisan, but was written in secret to be as partisan as possible. The proposal needed to be sensible, but would instead force us to go through all of this again in six months and would mandate approval of a constitutional amendment in both chambers before House Republicans would allow the United States to pay its bills.

Think about that for a moment. Elected GOP lawmakers have come to believe extortion is a legitimate tool to get Congress to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. When I talk about Republicans shredding the American political process, this is what I’m talking about.

With the countdown to the deadline now being counted in hours — in case you’re wondering, it’s 88 hours away — attention will turn to the Senate. What will the House do in the meantime? It could wait for a compromise bill and lay the groundwork for its passage. It could also play a constructive role in the negotiating process.

Or it could do this.

House Republicans will bring up Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s debt limit package Saturday just to vote it down, an attempt to show that the legislation is dead in the lower chamber, according to GOP leadership sources.

I’d call this childish spite, but that’d be insulting to children. Reid’s plan is still being shaped through negotiations, and is being changed all the time to help garner additional GOP support. But House Republicans have decided to bring up Reid’s original proposal — which is an overly-generous offer to the GOP anyway — for no other reason than to deliver a chest-thumping message.

And that message would appear to be, “We’re comfortable being big jerks.”

Last week, House Republicans threw a pointless tantrum over “Cut, Cap, and Balance.” This week, House Republicans threw another pointless tantrum over a watered down version of “Cut, Cap, and Balance.” And today, House Republicans throw yet another pointless tantrum, just to thumb their noses at a Senate Democratic plan that gives Republicans effectively everything they want.

These clowns really are an embarrassment to themselves, the Congress, and the country.

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Steve Benen

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.