House GOP switches gears on debt ceiling, tries blackmail

House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, left, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia walk to a Republican caucus Thursday on Capitol Hill.
House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, left, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia walk to a Republican caucus Thursday on Capitol Hill.
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

Late Tuesday, the chatty Sen. Ted Cruz read Dr. Seuss to his kids at home: “Green Eggs and Ham.”

On Thursday, House Republicans took a page from another Seuss classic: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Frustrated by the obvious -- the Senate (even many fellow Republicans) won’t go along with their lame-brain effort to “defund Obamacare” -- GOP leaders in the House have switched gears. Proving that today’s teenagers aren’t the only ones with short attention spans, they’ve moved on from healthcare to the fight over the debt ceiling.

Now, the Republicans are perfectly happy to raise it. They just want President Obama and the Democrats to agree to a few, well, alterations in how things are done. Call it their GOP Christmas list. To crib from the New York Times, it includes:


A one-year delay of the president’s healthcare law, fast-track authority to overhaul the tax code, construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, offshore oil and gas production, more permitting of energy exploration on federal lands, a rollback of regulations on coal ash, blocking new Environmental Protection Agency regulations on greenhouse gas production, eliminating a $23-billion fund to ensure the orderly dissolution of failed major banks, eliminating mandatory contributions to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, limits on medical malpractice lawsuits and an increase in means testing for Medicare, among other provisions.

Oh, and six geese-a-laying, and a partridge in a pear tree.

What, did these guys pull an all-nighter, sitting around in a room having a few beers and writing down every silly thing someone said?

I guess it’s not so bad, really. Basically all they’re asking is that we just forget about the years Obama has been in office. They’re just saying, “Look, we know you got elected twice, but the American people really want House Republicans to be president, so excuse us while we take turns sitting in the Oval Office.”


And by the way, can we borrow Air Force One this weekend? Also, some of the boys want to head up to Camp David.

There’s an expression that covers these guys: “Not the brightest crayons in the box.” To prove it, a couple of the GOP’s leading lights:

“People have to recognize there’s never any compromise until the stakes are high,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California. “In our society, that’s the nature of democratic government.”

Rep. Blake Farenthold, Republican of Texas, said, “That’s why we’re paid the big bucks, right, to figure these problems out.”


And here I thought the nature of democratic government was that “we the people” elected folks to work in the best interest of the country. And that when a president is elected -- twice, no less -- that that entitles him to, oh, I don’t know, a little respect when it comes to his political agenda. And that getting those big bucks -- most of which these days come from wealthy campaign donors -- means actually figuring out problems, not creating ways to damage the country, its credit rating and its economy.

This all might be amusing -- if it weren’t so dangerous. But messing with the economy, messing with people’s ability to have healthcare, messing with the environment -- this stuff matters.

Policy disagreements are one thing. Blackmail for political advantage is something quite different.

And if House Republicans don’t get a grip, we may all be in for a real-life version of another Dr. Seuss favorite: “The Cat in the Hat.”



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