Criminal Minds at Work

Republicans are threatening to refuse to raise the debt ceiling, causing the U.S. to default on its obligations, even though they were previously authorized by Congress and the President. This catastrophe could happen within the next couple of months. That sounds terrible, and Republicans agree that it would be terrible, but they say that of course it won’t happen because all that’s necessary to keep it from happening is for Democrats to agree with us on cutting government expenditures on food stamps, student loans and in a few other respects.

This tactic isn’t prosecutable, but it’s extortion, a crime usually associated with mob bosses. Republicans are saying, “We love the U.S. and the world economy — they are so important. It would be a shame if something happened to them because you wouldn’t agree to cut expenditures for food stamps and student loans.”