Over at Talking Points Memo, Sahil Kapur reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pulled the “sabotage” card on his House counterpart, Eric Cantor:
“You have heard, as I’ve heard, that there’s a battle going on between Cantor and [House Speaker John] Boehner as to whether or not there should be a [highway] bill,” Reid told reporters. “Cantor, of course — I’m told by others that he wants to not do a bill to make the economy worse, because he feels that’s better for them. I hope that’s not true.”
Cantor’s office made a speedy response, calling the charge “ridiculous and patently false,” and John Boehner’s office was even more succinct:
“That’s bullshit,” said his spokesman Michael Steel.
It’s impossible to know whether Republicans have a strategy to sabotage the economy ahead of the election, but it’s hard to fault Democrats for their suspicions. Not only is the GOP obstinate on the question of stimulus—despite wide agreement among economists that the economy needs an additional boost—but Boehner has been open about his willingness to provoke another debt ceiling crisis if Democrats refuse to budge on additional spending cuts. If last year is any indication, the threat of default would send the economy into a tailspin and further damage prospects for recovery. What’s more, it would seal Obama’s fate with the electorate: a Republican-provoked economic crisis would blow back on Obama—voters blame incumbents for nearly everything—and deliver the White House to Mitt Romney.
Given the degree to which this is a powerful weapon, I would be surprised if Republicans weren’t considering a plan to sabotage the economy for electoral gain. So far, they’ve been absolutely ruthless in their plan to make Obama a one-term president. If an economic crisis is all that stands between them and the White House, why wouldn’t they pull the trigger?