House Republicans are meeting right about now to discuss what in the world they're prepared to do about the mess they've created for themselves. Robert Costa reported late yesterday that a familiar problem is plaguing the caucus -- no matter what GOP leaders come up with to solve their problems, right-wing lawmakers will reject it as insufficient.
Speaker John Boehner may be trying to finalize a plan to raise the debt limit, but House conservatives are already skeptical of his efforts. In interviews, several of them tell me they're unlikely to support any deal that may emerge.
"They may try to throw the kitchen sink at the debt limit, but I don't think our conference will be amenable for settling for a collection of things after we've fought so hard," says Representative Scott Garrett (R., N.J.). "If it doesn't have a full delay or defund of Obamacare, I know I and many others will not be able to support whatever the leadership proposes. If it's just a repeal of the medical-device tax, or chained CPI, that won't be enough."
And while Costa's piece includes similar quotes from Reps. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), and Steve King (R-Iowa.), it's worth appreciating just how extraordinary Scott Garrett's take is.
First, note that Garrett doesn't represent a ruby-red district in the Bible Belt; he's from New Jersey. If we rely on the Cook Partisan Voting Index as a guide, Garrett's district isn't even the most Republican in the Garden State.
Second, note how dangerously ridiculous Garrett's position is. He's prepared to crash the economy on purpose, even if Democrats make enormous concessions in exchange for nothing. Never mind the election results; never mind the polls; never mind the nation's well-being -- unless Democrats start gutting health care benefits to Republicans' satisfaction, Garrett believes he and his colleagues shouldn't even consider meeting their responsibilities.
And third, when GOP leaders express faux outrage over President Obama's refusal to discuss how big a ransom he'll pay Republicans, I hope they'll keep Scott Garrett's quote in mind. He not only expects Democrats to give Republicans everything in exchange for nothing, the New Jersey conservative believes Republicans deserve it because they've "fought so hard."
It's this last part that's delusional to a frightening degree, but it's also important.
Garrett actually believes he's entitled to right-wing goodies because he's "fought so hard" that he's entitled to his child-like expectations.
Brian Beutler had a good take on this yesterday.
[Many House Republicans] take no responsibility for the fact that they put themselves in the position they're in. They hold Obama accountable somehow for allowing them to inflict wounds upon themselves, and now he owes them a price for it.
In that sense, House Republicans have become the entitlement society of their fever dreams, in microcosm.
I am genuinely curious what Scott Garreet thinks he's "fought so hard" for, exactly. House Republicans have known for quite a while about their responsibilities to the country; they've known just as long about the 2012 election results; and they've known that Democrats won't start taking Americans' health care benefits away just because Republicans want them to.
Unhinged GOP lawmakers haven't "fought so hard" for anything except the value of their own temper tantrum -- which really isn't worth much of anything outside their fever swamp.