The GOP’s Declaration Of Total War On Our System Of Government


Ezra rattles off the demands the GOP is making if they are not to destroy the US and global economy:

In return for a one-year suspension of the debt ceiling, House Republicans are demanding a yearlong delay of Obamacare, Rep. Paul Ryan’s tax reform plan, the Keystone XL pipeline, more offshore oil drilling, more drilling on federally protected lands, rewriting of ash coal regulations, a suspension of the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to regulate carbon emissions, more power over the regulatory process in general, reform of the federal employee retirement program, an overhaul of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, more power over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s budget, repeal of the Social Services Block Grant, more means-testing in Medicare, repeal of the Public Health trust fund, and more.

Why not demand president Obama’s resignation while they’re at it?

What the sheer gob-smacking scale of these demands means is that the GOP effectively wants to nullify the last election entirely (except of course for their gerry-mandered, no-popular vote House majority). The staggering thing about this party as it now exists is that it views the governance of the other party as always effectively illegitimate. Elections do not matter. Only their agenda matters. No compromise is possible, even when this kind of catastrophic default is hanging over our heads. In fact, the danger of catastrophic default is something they relish in order to undo the basic principles of democratic government.

This is not a bargaining position; they already voted for the budget that requires us to raise the debt ceiling. It is a bald attempt to reverse elections as the mark of a democracy and replace them with endless blackmail until they get their way. This isn’t conservatism. It’s pure constitutional vandalism. Derek Thompson’s jaw drops:

Give us everything we want or else we’ll destroy the country! is the sort of demand that only a broken party inside a broken system could possibly hope to make.

The debt ceiling should not exist and the rules of the Senate and House shouldn’t allow a minority to repeatedly extort the majority, but, well, you go to debtmageddon with the government you got. Republicans, inching away from shutdown, are all in on an apocalyptic strategy to trade the full faith and credit of the country for their agenda.

Barro chimes in:

America’s constitutional system only works if the divided branches of government are willing to work together to make consensual agreements about running the government. Republicans are showing themselves to be too irresponsible to make the American constitutional system work.

And Chait searches for a historical precedent:

The fact that a major party could even propose anything like this is a display of astonishing contempt for democratic norms. Republicans ran on this plan and lost by 5 million votes. They also lost the Senate and received a million fewer votes in the House but held control owing to favorable district lines. Is there an example in American history of a losing party issuing threats to force the majority party to implement its rejected agenda?

Not on this massive scale, no.

(Photo by Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images)