There’s a Gallup poll out saying that 47 percent of Americans are opposed to raising the debt ceiling. 17 percent are in favor, and the rest say they don’t understand the issue well enough to have an opinion.
What the poll doesn’t tell us is how many of those opposed have any clue what the debt ceiling issue is about. Skim through the comments section of just about any rightie blog post on the debt ceiling — and some leftie ones as well — and it’s painfully obvious that most of the commenters believe Congress is arguing about a vote to raise the debt. And they are opposed to raising the debt, so they are opposed to raising the debt ceiling.
I don’t watch television news as much as I used to, so I have no idea if any of the bobbleheads are even attempting to explain what the debt ceiling issue really is about. I assume Rachel Maddow has taken a stab at it, because it’s the sort of thing she does really well. But my impression is that most people in this country aren’t even being exposed to basic explanations of the issue. They just hear “debt” and “raise,” and they’re agin’ it.
Republicans are demagoguing the debt ceiling issue for all they are worth. Obviously, the plan is to get congressional Dems to cave to at least some changes in Medicare, Social Security, etc., and they’re holding the nation’s economy hostage to do it.
Look, this is so obvious, it usually goes unsaid, but itâ€™s important to understand. McConnell and other Republicans are eager, practically desperate, to make major changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security â€” changes that the public wonâ€™t like. What the GOP needs more than anything is bipartisan cover. They want Obama to make it so, to use McConnellâ€™s word, this isnâ€™t â€œusableâ€ in the next election, because if Republicans tried to do this on their own, the electoral consequences would be severe.
That leaves Republican leaders with two choices to get what they want. Option #1: the GOP can agree to some tax increases and Pentagon cuts as part of a grand bargain with Democrats. Option #2: the GOP can threaten to destroy the economy, on purpose, unless Democrats give in to Republican demands on entitlements.
Guess which one the GOP prefers?
This really is a game of chicken.