The Debt Ceiling Ransom

What Republicans are asking for this time:

Several House members told The Washington Post on Monday that Republican leaders have narrowed their list of possible debt-limit strategies to two options: trading a one-year extension for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, or trading a one-year extension for repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s risk corridors.

Chait puts these demands in perspective:

[R]ather than abandoning their hostage-taking methods altogether in the face of obvious failure, Republicans instead just keep lowering the price.

Three years ago, they were demanding trillions of dollars in budget cuts. Now they want either a pipeline that will probably get approved anyway or to take a random whack at insurance companies. Their new demands are both a massive retreat from their grandiose government-slashing ambitions of yore and at the same time obviously unachievable. Next year they’ll be demanding a football helmet filled with cottage cheese and naked photos of Bea Arthur.

Jia Lynn Yang explains why this debt-ceiling showdown could be worse than last year’s:

Because it’s tax filing season, cash flows will be more volatile over the coming weeks as the government likely pays out more in refunds than it’s getting in income. That means less breathing room for Treasury as it tries to come up with solutions to stave off default …When will the clock run out exactly? The timing with the tax season makes it hard to pin down an exact date. In its latest analysis, the Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that the government will not be able to meet all of its obligations sometime between Feb. 28 and March 25. The BPC says default will mostly likely occur “on or in the days before March 14.”