The drama over raising the debt ceiling has brought the dysfunction of Washington into high relief. But the influx of newly elected Tea Party Republicans, particularly in the House, has only served to magnify said dysfunction. If you want to know exactly why sealing a deal to raise the debt ceiling has been so difficult, listen to how NBC News chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd describes the dynamic on “Morning Joe” today.
Todd talked about the differences between the government shutdown in 1995 and the debt-ceiling negotiation deadlock of today.
I had a member of the House leadership explain to me the difference between ’95 and now. In ’95 there was one cable channel and one influential talk-show host. That is not the case now. In ’95 leadership felt they could actually educate members. So, when they were doing these negotiations during the shutdown, they felt as if they would listen to — at the time that leadership was Gingrich, Armey, John Boehner — that they would listen to what those guys had to say. This time they come in, as one leadership aide said to me, with their own information, their own set of facts, and educating them on the debt ceiling has been much more difficult ’cause they already believe they know. Whether the facts are correct or incorrect, they believe they know coming in. And that’s the largest difference between ’95 and today and the real challenge John Boehner faces.
They know what they want to know. They believe what they want to believe. And I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I didn’t see that obstinacy in action at dinner recently with my own eyes.