There was a point, we confess, when we too hoped that debt-limit brinkmanship might encourage responsible behavior. Then came last summer’s debacle. The country moved closer to the edge of default than anyone had thought imaginable. The U.S. credit rating was downgraded for the first time in history, and the resulting uncertainty and lack of confidence dragged down the economy.

And for what? For no real progress. Yes, the deal that ultimately emerged provided for nearly $1 trillion in cuts over 10 years. But the real hope, to the extent there was any, was in the creation of a congressional supercommittee that was empowered to come up with a broader solution and charged with producing another $1.2 trillion in cuts. The supercommittee super-failed. The debate now revolves around how to defuse the trigger of looming, draconian cuts that had been intended to assure the panel’s success. The action-forcing event did not force the necessary action.

So it is appalling that Mr. Boehner would be willing to repeat this dangerous episode, this time at potentially even greater risk.