From MARK SUMNER
America starts this day still facing the continuing threat of fiscal destruction by Republicans who think of rigid adherence to ideology first, second, and always.
Why day 216? Because it’s been 216 days since the Bush tax cuts were extended. You remember the tax cut extensions, don’t you? That was the last artificial line in the sand created for no reason other than to give the GOP a cause to extract concessions from the president and to shift tax burden from the rich to the poor. In other words, it’s now been 216 days since this same group of hostage takers were last appeased. It’s been 216 days since we gave them exactly what they wanted and made this next round of the drama a dead certainty. It’s been 216 days since we signed on as partners in the very thing that’s creating the debt.
While we wait another another year and a half for the tax extension issue to roll around again and hope that next time Democrats can muster the courage to not scream “how high?” when the Republicans shout “jump!” we can at least not make things worse. We can make a start toward actually addressing the debt problem caused primarily by the costs of the war and the cuts in taxes by not rewarding the GOP for their debt ceiling strategy. We can insist that this president get what George W. Bush got seven times and what Ronald Reagan got 16 times: a clean bill raising the debt limit.
If we don’t, if the Republicans gain even the slightest thing by pulling this stunt, then that clock might move off day 216, but it’ll only start counting toward the next crisis. It won’t be crisis averted, it’ll just be day 1 of the next crisis.
Because all that will have happened is that we will have demonstrated-again-that we will deal with people who have taken the nation hostage. As long as we keep shying away from every confrontation, Republicans will keep finding occasions to create confrontations.