Paul Ryan on the budget deal: Hey, we might fight on the debt ceiling instead

The key bit runs from 5:45 to 7:15. My pal Karl asks a good question:

The whole point of the budget deal, I thought, was to defuse a political landmine in the GOP’s path to the midterms. Take away the possibility of another shutdown, the thinking went, and you’re taking away an ace in the hole that desperate red-state Dems might otherwise play to save their seats next November. Mission accomplished. Except now Ryan’s saying that hitting the debt ceiling, which everyone understands would be far more damaging economically than a shutdown, is still in the picture if Republicans don’t have their as-yet-unspecified demands met. Krazy kwestion: Having folded at the last minute in a debt-ceiling standoff more than once before, why would the GOP’s threats be taken seriously this time? They just caved on the budget in order to avoid any new brinksmanship that might come back to haunt them in the midterms. Now Ryan’s vowing … much more dangerous brinksmanship early next year? Does anyone, starting with Obama and Harry Reid, think they GOP will stand firm this time knowing what sort of political backlash it could inspire?

Their plan, I guess, is to lie low for now and then take stock of ObamaCare’s status next month. Maybe will be running smoothly, insurers will be up to speed in processing applications, and middle-class people whose insurance was taken away in the name of booting them onto more expensive O-Care plans will have magically made peace with their predicament. Or maybe will have new technical problems due to the payment system not having been built yet, insurers will be overwhelmed by the combo of backlogged applications and HHS’s endless half-assed seat-of-their-pants “fixes,” and new O-Care enrollees will be up in arms over their new deductibles and shrinking provider networks. In that case, the GOP might conclude — maybe not unreasonably — that O and his caucus will be so frazzled by ObamaCare screw-ups and what it might mean for the midterms that they might agree to some sort of delay. What that delay would look like, though I have no idea; the more people who sign up, the more impossible a mid-enrollment-period delay becomes. Even a popular GOP demand, like agreeing to scale back the “risk corridor” provisions in the law so that HHS can’t bail out insurers, could cause chaos if Dems acquiesced in it now. I think they and O have already passed the point of no return on ObamaCare. Which is great news for the GOP insofar as it means their opponents are fully committed to stay the course through next year’s havoc all the way up to the midterms. But it also means that O’s unlikely to make any debt-ceiling deals.

Maybe Ryan knows that and the point of the next round of brinksmanship is simply to make the Landrieus and Pryors in the Senate squirm by forcing them to either stick by the O-Care clusterfark or humiliate O by voting with the GOP. If nothing else, once Republicans do cave, they can use it as a campaign commercial for their audience of grassroots righties to illustrate why it’s so important to get the Senate back in GOP hands in 2015.

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