Republican plans to link a defunding of the Affordable Care Act to a debt ceiling increase is like "playing Russian roulette with all the chambers of the gun loaded," says former Sen. Judd Gregg.
"It's the ultimate no-win strategy," the Republican who represented New Hampshire in the Senate for 18 years writes in an opinion piece for The Hill
"You cannot in politics take a hostage you cannot shoot. That is what the debt ceiling is. At some point, the debt ceiling will have to be increased not because it is a good idea but because it is the only idea," Gregg says.
Failure to raise the debt limit would mean the government will default on its obligations. That's simply "not an option either substantively or politically," he writes.
"A default would lead to some level of chaos in the debt markets, which would lead to a significant contraction in economic activity, which would lead to job losses, which would lead to higher spending by the federal government and lower tax revenues, which would lead to more debt."
But the strategy is being sold as a true conservative principle, Gregg points out. Proponents should realize the aim is unachievable, he says.
"Barack Obama is president and his party controls the Senate. Neither he nor his party colleagues are about to repeal the signature effort of his presidency," Gregg writes.
"The rigid stance will also cause massive collateral damage to all Republicans. Even those who may not support it will be harmed by the label of incompetence that will stick to the whole party as a consequence."
The idea is being advanced by people "who have never governed and are not inclined to do so," Gregg pens. "Rather, their goals are improved fundraising and, in some cases, individual advancement." But Americans won't react positively to the fallout of a default or near-default, he says.
Republicans should put off the fight on Obamacare and entitlements until next year through the issue of how to fix and replace the sequester cuts, Gregg writes.
"Most Americans do not seek purity; they seek answers to the everyday problems they confront." And they expect government help in solving these problems, he says.
"If the Republican Party ignores this concern and constantly speaks to an ever-narrower segment of the population, it is not going to be viable for long, no matter how vocal that small band of people may be."
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