Burning down the House
July 24, 2011 5:16 PM   Subscribe

Give me a civics lesson here. What's the endgame for House Republicans?

It seems as though the House Republicans have decided to pass their own "take it or leave it" plan and dare the President to veto it. If he does, they figure he'll own the default. But since the Dems control the Senate, can't they prevent any measure from ever getting to the President's desk in the first place? What's the endgame for House Republicans?
posted by Crotalus to Law & Government (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Crotalus at 5:20 PM on July 24, 2011

THe end game is the same for the Republicans as it is for the Democrats. To use the time as leverage to get their idea of the right way to address the debt issue passed. The Repubs want no new taxes and deep spending cuts and the dems think we should not cut social programs and that cutting government spending will hurt the economy even more than increasing the debt. The Dems also want to increase taxes on the "wealthy" to help reduce the debt. They want to take it from one group, the wealthy, and give it to another via social programs such as medicaid, social security and the like. The Repubs say we want to keep our money and the government can stop spending so much. We will spend our own money as we see fit and that spending will help the economy.

The endgame for both is to get the other side to cave. THe real endgame is some compromise of less spending and some revenue enhancers via closing loopholes.

Just my $0.02, although I think this question is unanswerable with any certainty.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:44 PM on July 24, 2011

I imagine you've already seen this post.
posted by box at 5:47 PM on July 24, 2011

The endgame is just increasing the debt ceiling. Just like it's been increased since 1917. All the rest is simply play-acting.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:50 PM on July 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

Ultimately I don't think their endgame is formally the same. If the provision fails the anti debt and anti govt parts of the party will have formally restricted the size of the govt and damaged the ability of the govt to run up future debt. They have a win-win scenario.
posted by Rubbstone at 5:50 PM on July 24, 2011

The end game is to ruin the economy so Obama takes the blame in the next presidential election.

Look at states like Iowa that had a similar budget battle. The newly elected GOP Governor of Iowa wanted to push through a 2 year budget instead of a 1 year budget as is traditional. But the Democrats controlled the legislature. The 2 year budget stripped the legislature of their annual financial oversight powers, leaving the next oversight opportunity after the biennial election, when the GOP expected to take control of the legislature too. The GOP also attached their favorite ultraconservative proposals to the budget bill, like making abortions more difficult to obtain. They moved the Overton Window so far to the right, the Democrats were happy to cave in to the GOP budget if they could just get rid of the wingnuttery.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:54 PM on July 24, 2011 [6 favorites]

If, by "House Republicans", you imply the entire caucus, as opposed to the leadership, I think it's hard to say that there's a single endgame. I don't think you can dismiss as kabuki the expressed beliefs of various Tea-Party-infused House Republicans that nothing will happen and that the federal government can just get by on ramen.

The leadership's endgame, in that context, is to allow them to keep believing that, by forcing a "bipartisan" vote where enough House and Senate Dems are prepared to suck it up and offset the no-voting GOP members, and thus paint a target on their backs for 2012.

Not all games of chicken end with a swerve, though.
posted by holgate at 6:38 PM on July 24, 2011

For many decades the goal of the Republican Party has been to reverse the New Deal and Great Society programs: to end or greatly diminish Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social programs; also to end many other functions of the US Federal government such as environmental regulator, oversight and funding of education, etc.

The Republicans have never been able to accomplish through the legislative process because these programs are too popular. Instead, they have adopted a policy of "starving the beast." By reducing taxes, the goal has been to make it impossible to fund the programs they don't like.

They've been making good progress with this plan, thanks in part to George W. Bush's huge tax cuts and wars. However, they now have the opportunity to take a grand shortcut.

If Congress (and specifically the House Republicans) can force the US Government to default on its debts, they will instantly and dramatically increase the interest rates that the US will have to pay on all its subsequent debt. Because the debt is so large and new debt is issued so frequently, these increased payments will constitute a huge burden on the treasury. The increased cost of borrowing will allow the Republican Party to realize de facto (in fact) what they have not been able to bring about de jure (by law).

They will also reap a political bonus. When economic collapse and chaos follows the default, the Republicans will blame it on overspending by Democrats. They will say, "See, we told you that we had to stop spending so much money. Now the world economy has gone and collapsed because we couldn't get our spending under control."

The press will not call them on this obvious falsehood, and neither will Barak Obama. He'll make conciliatory gestures and say that we really should do a better job of getting our spending under control, and if he holds the football one more time maybe Lucy the Republicans will play nicely next time.

Collateral damage? Republicans don't care about collateral damage.

There is, of course, an alternate scenario: the Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling and Obama takes the possibly constitutional option of directing the Treasury Secretary to ignore the debt limit and keep honoring our debts. One could argue that this is within the purview of his executive powers to avoid the global chaos that would follow default. Republicans would, of course, be counting on this. Their owners supporters in big business wouldn't have to worry about economic meltdown. There might be some minor economic consequences, but nothing dramatic.

On the other hand, it would give the Republican Party an excuse to begin impeachment proceedings against President O. Even better, it would give them a campaign platform that would last for decades: the great Democratic Dream President flaunts the constitution so he can keep running up the US debt and spend your money and your children's money.

Make no mistake. There are all sorts of extremely positive outcomes for Republicans. To understand them, you just need to abandon any limits on the breadth and depth of your cynicism, as they have clearly done.
posted by alms at 7:27 PM on July 24, 2011 [45 favorites]

I've been wondering this myself lately, and I can only conclude that Boehner doesn't have the votes to do anything that doesn't include the crazy faction of the House. Therefore, he has to show up for meetings, demand whatever the Tea Party has come up with that morning, then walk out when he doesn't get it. Obama has practically handed the Republicans the keys to the car, and yet they can't take yes for an answer. I think Boehner's dealing with ideologues who think Obama is a Muslim communist, and will only be content once Michelle Bachmann is president.
posted by Gilbert at 10:02 PM on July 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Of the 1%, By the 1%, For the 1%. There may not be a unified endgame for either major party, just a lot of Congresspeople individually driven by 1% interests.
posted by SakuraK at 10:23 PM on July 24, 2011

Sadly, I think Gilbert is right. Boehner seems like a guy that wants to get a deal done just as much as anyone else. But he doesn't have the votes. (I also suspect Eric Cantor is being a dick so he can get Boehner's job.)
posted by gjc at 7:11 AM on July 25, 2011

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