Thinking ahead to the next round of the debt-ceiling talks in February. Republican negotiators may be worrying that they are losing credibility. The first time they extracted real concessions from Democrats. This time they got nothing of note and appeared to come off worse in polling and in the chat-osphere.
I worry that going in to the next round of negotiations they may calculate that they have to actually trigger a default to be taken seriously in the future. Otherwise, the whole thing looks like posturing. What’s worse: being ridiculed for being prepared to trigger a default by refusing to agree a rise in the debt-ceiling, or for pretending to be prepared to do it?
The Republican idea that somehow a default would be purifying and beneficial is pretty crazy. But at least it sounds like a principle, part of the wider view of the benefits of a small state. And risking all for your principles can look like an admirable thing to do. But risking all by faking crazy principles sounds to me like a thing that would be seen to be dispreputable. If you turn out not to be telling the truth about being prepared to risk a default, what else are you not telling the truth about? How are you going to be treated in any other negotiation you participate in, either with the Democrats, or with other Republicans, carving up the spoils of Congressional Office?
Actually, for bad things to happen, you don’t have to worry that Tea-Party Republicans will try this. You just have to worry that financial market participants will worry that Republicans will try something. Or that markets will worry that others in the markets will worry that Republicans will try it. [Or… And so on ad infinitum.]