Writing for MSNBC, producer Steve Benen noted that in 2010 it was the GOP that threatened then-President Barack Obama with an ultimatum of, "Give us trillions of dollars in spending cuts, or we'll crash the economy on purpose."
It happened again in 2013 when Republicans threatened not to allow the debt ceiling to increase. In that battle, they said they'd raise the debt ceiling but only if Democrats stopped the Affordable Care Act from taking effect, approved the Keystone XL pipeline, mandated a "means testing" structure for Medicare, took the Wall Street regulations and made them more friendly to Wall Street, increased oil drilling and stopped any and all efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to stop the climate crisis.
"No, seriously, that's what was included on the party's ransom note," wrote Benen.
Obama didn't allow it, and the government went into a shutdown for 16 days, the second-longest in history up until that point. Trump would surpass this in 2018-2019.
Benen explained that the same thing is happening again, and once again Republicans are threatening to destroy the economy if their demands aren't met. Speaking during her weekly press briefing, Pelosi called it for what it is: "Mitch McConnell is holding the economy hostage."
It's an ironic statement because, in 2012, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the debt ceiling "a hostage that's worth ransoming."
McConnell hasn't made it clear what he wants in exchange for not destroying the economy, Benen wrote.
"We see Republicans pointing a gun at our economy, but we don't see the ransom note with demands that would lead the party to put the gun away and let the economy go unscathed," he argues.
He recalled a piece he did about Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who claimed that increasing the debt limit would make it easier for Democrats "to add trillions more in debt." The debt ceiling right now reflects the bills coming due for last year, not Biden's agenda. Biden's infrastructure plans and other budget items won't begin until the next fiscal year. But Republicans voted three times to increase the debt under Donald Trump, in part because he kept adding such a massive amount to the bill, $7.8 trillion.
Cruz's spokesperson responded to Benen, saying in a statement that Democrats "are 100% capable of raising the debt ceiling through the reconciliation process without a single Republican vote — a process that can't be filibustered."
He then turned around and told Benen that the Republicans aren't holding the economy hostage and that Democrats could use the reconciliation process so the GOP can't filibuster it. Benen noted that it at least explains why there was no ransom note.
The budget Democrats are crafting would do four major things that Republicans support: "prevent a government shutdown, extend the debt ceiling, and fund both disaster relief and Afghan resettlement."
But they're going to filibuster it anyway. "It's why I characterized the GOP's position as foolish: Republicans are telling Democrats to extend the debt ceiling while simultaneously preventing Democrats from voting on a bill that would extend the debt ceiling."
He explained that McConnell outlined the things he thinks Democrats must do to "release the hostage." He wants an increase in the debt ceiling, then revise the Build Back Better package with the budget reconciliation bill.
Benen asked simply: Why not just pass an increase to the debt-ceiling?