Don’t Make Me Take This Belt Off!
Call me clairvoyant, but my Magic-8-Ball tells me that Republican war plans over raising the debt limit are about to be decommissioned. Not because Newt thinks it’s a bad idea, or because Susan Collins (RINO-ME) has had a sanity seizure, but because the Almighty Koch Bros. have issued a sit-stay command to their congressional lap dogs lest their empire suffer any ill effects from the economic repercussions of GOP idiocy.
Speaking through their sock puppet Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, the Kochs instructed their Congressional minions to
. . . calibrate your message. Focus on overspending instead of long-term debt. Focusing on [the debt ceiling] makes the messaging more difficult.
Phillips warned further that a prolonged fight over the debt ceiling could hasten a “grand bargain” between President Barack Obama and John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the house. That is a notion that AFP opposes vehemently because it would raise taxes as well as cut spending.
Our number one priority is to stop government overspending. The debt limit is a symptom of that but if debt becomes the be all and end all, it becomes easier for liberals to push a combination of future spending cuts that are not enforceable and immediate tax increases.
That may not seem like a big deal but, trust me, it is.
And the Kochs aren’t the only ones raising an alarum, for example, Tom Donohue, of the US Chamber of Commerce, told Chuck Todd, recently:
When you get down to defaulting on the debt, you have a very, very serious question: What will happen to interest rates, what will happen to our relationships around the world? It could really hurt the economy.
I think we have to let the folks up on the Hill use the assets they have while at the same time trying to tell them that using the debt is the least desirable of those.
As Greg Sargent of the Washington Post Plum Line blog put it:
Even the likes of Newt Gingrich and the Wall Street Journal editorial board have told fellow Republicans that if they continue with the debt ceiling standoff, the voices from the business community warning that they will take the blame for economic disaster will only grow louder, putting them at serious political risk. Donohue’s subtle warning to Republicans is the latest sign not only that the GOP’s threat of default is untenable in practical terms, but that Republicans can no longer be perceived to be willing to default — which only further undermines whatever leverage they supposedly had in the first place.
That would mean silencing the likes of Koch funds recipient Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), a man with a plan for a slow-mo default. Or Rep. Tim Huelskamp and Rep. Dave Schweikert, both Koch proteges, who are spoiling for a fight with Speaker Boehner over any available issue
In the end, I trust the Kochs’ survival instincts and self-interest to put an end to this particular fight. They sank $400 million into the 2012 elections and experienced somewhat diminished returns what with Willard losing the election, the loss of some House seats and Democrats holding on to the Senate.
The Kochs are cagey enough to realize those disappointing results call for some changes in the game plan. And, sure enough, they’re changing it. During the 2011 debt ceiling fight, Americans for Prosperity sang a different tune; at that time they were against the debt-ceiling deal because it didn’t ask for enough spending cuts. But that was then, this is now. That was a different Obama, and different leverage on both sides.
What will matter most is whether the Kochs can control some of the less sophisticated, misguided and intellectually lazy TEA Party yahoos, that they bankrolled into Congressional seats, better than the Speaker of the House can control them. I give the Kochs better odds, though, because Boehner can only pull committee assignments. The Kochs control the campaign funds.
Also, the Koch family has worked tirelessly for decades to get the Republican Party under its thumb; something tells me that they won’t let all that go for nought because a few hard-right demagogues decide to blow up the Republican brand to get their way. If anything like that threatens, I predict we will see a campaign funding reset, like no other, for 2014.
I might despise them, and what they stand for, but the Kochs have pretty much proven to be a lot smarter than their competition, not to mention the saps they put into office. But that makes sense, I guess . . .
Here’s this, just for fun: