How much do Democrats want to reopen the government? Enough to keep playing chicken on the
That's the gist of the latest gambit by House Speaker
Oh, and yes, the
That's where the quandary comes in for Democrats. President
Still, the offer suggests that the GOP is willing to make the first significant concession in the fiscal crisis. Instead of hanging two swords over Washington's head, it's content to hang just one.
To Slate's Matthew Yglesias, Boehner's offer is a meaningless feint. What really needs to happen, he wrote Thursday, is for mainstream Republicans to stop going along with their uncompromising tea party brethren and turn their attention instead to cutting a longer-term deal with Democrats that reopens the government and raises the debt ceiling.
Yet Democrats seem to understand far better than the supposedly business-oriented Republicans what would happen to the economy if the debt limit isn't lifted in time to avoid the government stiffing some of its creditors. So Boehner is presenting them a Hobson's choice. They can agree to suspend the debt limit for a few weeks and negotiate the GOP's fiscal issues (the 2010 healthcare law presumably among them) before reopening the government. Or they can stick to their current position and hope Republicans agree to lift the debt ceiling unconditionally before the Oct. 17 deadline, despite the many indications that they won't.
As Obama and top congressional Democrats have said over and over, it's irresponsible (or worse) even to contemplate not raising the debt limit. After all, the limit has nothing to do with how much