House Republicans have been vowing to make good on at least one of their promises since they were sworn in two weeks ago: take the economy hostage unless they get to gut the social safety net and blame Democrats for it. The problem is that like the typical terrible thing Republicans plan on doing, this is largely on the surface – and the GOP is yet again at risk of overplaying their hand.
Rather than cave to make a deal, the White House has a different approach – striking down the most draconian parts of the agreements they’re trying to force – cuts to Medicare and Social Security – or ridiculous tax hikes for the middle class – as non-starters that will get nowhere as long as Democrats hold the executive branch – while publicly touting these things as the Republicans’ plan and how reckless it will be if they allow the country to default on its debt.
The contrast couldn’t be clearer: Do the responsible thing by continuing to pay off the debt – or gut Social Security and Medicare at the expense of the American economy. By saying it enough, Democratic lawmakers have managed to make the Republican position on this even more unpopular than it already was. While in the past, the strategy was asking what Republicans had to offer – the White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain is leaving nothing to the imagination – showing that things can and will be worse if the GOP is at the helm.
If they were to agree on Republican concessions early on in the game, the GOP would only get bolder – knowing that their attacks were working. McCarthy’s caucus has already shown weakness early on – so if default can readily be broken down into meaning missing Social Security checks and Medicare payments, it makes the whole thing a headache that most Republicans in moderate districts will want to avoid once the pressure is on.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making