How The GOP Defines Surrender

Chait rips into Boehner’s recent debt-ceiling comments:

Boehner dismissed the notion of lifting the debt ceiling and then negotiating the budget as “unconditional surrender.” How it could be unconditional surrender when he publicly favors lifting the debt ceiling, Boehner did not say. Obama and Boehner disagree on a wide array of budget policies. They agree that the debt ceiling needs to be lifted. Doing the thing both parties agree upon is a bizarre definition of unconditional surrender. If Boehner was an actual debt-ceiling truther, who argued that lifting the debt ceiling somehow worsens the fiscal position of the U.S. government, then lifting the debt ceiling would be surrender. But he isn’t. He agrees with Obama on the merits of the debt ceiling. Unconditional surrender is when one party agrees to do something it opposes but the other party wants — say, delaying Obamacare, as Boehner is proposing.

Douthat partially blames Republican unreasonableness on sequester spin:

One of the underappreciated dynamics making the current mess worse is the fact that both left and right, for somewhat different reasons, have embraced the idea that the outcome of the last debt ceiling deal  — sequestration, with its butcher-knife cuts to domestic programs and defense — was a straightforward win for Republicans, and a huge concession by the Democrats.

For liberals, this idea has fed into the widespread “never again” attitude where debt ceiling negotiations are concerned. (“We can’t get blackmailed like that a second time!”) For conservatives, it’s encouraged deeply implausible ideas about what they can expect the White House to offer them this time. (“We basically won outright in 2011, so why not try to go for Obamacare repeal this time around?”)

The reality, though, is that sequestration really was a genuine, almost old-fashioned sort of compromise — one that bit deeply into a lot of Republican interests and constituencies, and left the liberal ringwall around entitlements unbreached.

At this point, Cassidy is hoping for a stock-market crash:

Once the markets started tanking, investors, the banks, and the media would besiege Congress for action. The political environment would change drastically. Refusing to acknowledge reality, including the reality that every country has to pay its creditors or face ruin, would no longer be an option. Within days, or even hours, the two sides would come up with some face-saving device to calm the markets. (Finding a more lasting solution would still be a big struggle.)

To sum up, Congress needs adult supervision. Since the President can’t provide it and the Republican leadership won’t, the market might well have to step in and do the job. Such a resolution wouldn’t be pretty, but history suggests it would be reasonably effective. And once the immediate crisis was resolved, the market would probably [recover] pretty sharply.