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Debt ceiling: DeMint threatens to blow up government; Ryan, Graham look for hostages

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Chief Senate Nihilist Jim DeMint is ready to blow government up, demanding a "show-down" with Obama over the debt ceiling.

DeMint, a de-facto leader of Senate conservatives and many Tea Party senators, called for an all-out battle early this year, when Congress will face a tough vote to legally authorize the government to take on more debt.

"I think we should resist that. We need to have a showdown, at this point, that we're not going to increase our debt ceiling anymore. We are going to cut things necessary to stay within the current levels, which is over $14 trillion," DeMint told the conservative magazine Human Events in an interview released Monday. "So this needs to be a big showdown."

Since the debt ceiling was removed from the tax cut deal it remains the primary hostage for Republicans, or at the very least a great opportunity to take some more. Less bombastic, but still just as nihilistic Republicans are thinking ahead to what they can get out of this.

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The new GOP House that will be sworn in on Wednesday is eager to make spending cuts, and budget hawks hope to use the vote on the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip to extract agreements from the White House to cut spending.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) has said he's trying to build a bipartisan bloc to accomplish just that, while Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee, has wondered what Republicans would "get in exchange" for raising the debt ceiling.

Lindsay Graham knows what he wants in exchange: Social Security cuts in the form of raising the retirement age and means testing. Because, of course, Social Security doesn't add to the deficit and never has. But you can't let a little fact like that get in the way of demagoguery on "shared sacrifice."

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At the moment, the White House is talking tough.

Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, laid out the fairly alarming implications of the United States defaulting on its obligations while asking the question: What type of insanity would persuade us to do this?

"Well, look, it pains me that we would even be talking about this," he told co-host Jake Tapper. "This is not a game. You know, the debt ceiling is not something to toy with. If we hit the debt ceiling, that's essentially defaulting on our obligations, which is totally unprecedented in American history. The impact on the economy would be catastrophic. That would be a worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008."

"As I say that's not a game," Goolsbee went on. "I don't see why anybody's talking about playing chicken with the debt ceiling. If we get to the point where you've damaged the full faith and credit of the United States, that would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity. There would be no reason for us to default other than that would be some kind of game. We shouldn't even be discussing that. People will get the wrong idea. The United States is not in danger of default. We do not have problems with that. This would be lumping us in with a series of countries throughout history that i don't think we would want to be lumped in with."

Unfortunately, it's not insanity driving the Republicans, it's the conviction that if they threaten to shoot their hostages, they win. Since that worked before, it's not insane for them to think it'll work again. Beware "bipartisanship fever" over the debt ceiling, because the Republicans are out for blood.

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