If, as seems likely, the Republicans take over the House next January, they will likely either blow up the United States welfare state or the world economy, depending on how the Democrats react:
In several recent posts I’ve told you that most of the near-term (pre-2024) dangers of a GOP House majority are manageable. I don’t mean no big deal. It’s disaster after disaster. But I mean manageable in the sense of things the country can get through. With one exception, a debt limit hostage taking stand off in 2023 in which House Republicans force the first US debt default in US history.
The demand from House Republicans will likely be some combination of ‘Repeal all the stuff you passed in 2021’ or ‘Cut Social Security and Medicare’ or we force a US debt default. Adam thinks that faced with this cataclysm Democrats, albeit kicking and screaming, will feel compelled to relent because the consequences of default are that bad. For the elected officials, especially on the Senate side, that may well be true. But I have a different read on those elected officials constituents. I think there is less than zero appetite among Democrats for even entertaining the idea of such a negotiation. I think any move in this direction will spur a rebellion among Democrats nationwide. This is why I think the country will go into default. Because House Republicans are entirely ready to shoot the hostage. Indeed, there is a portion of the GOP House caucus that is not only entirely willing to take that step but is eager to do so.
Krugman examines the GOP's targets, and what they mean:
Republican plans to cut Medicare and Social Security would impose widespread hardship, with some of the worst impacts falling on red-state, noncollege whites — that is, the party’s most loyal base.
Why, then, does the party want to do this? We needn’t take claims that it’s about fiscal responsibility seriously; a fiscally responsible party wouldn’t be seeking to make the Trump tax cuts permanent or oppose giving the I.R.S. the resources it needs to crack down on tax cheats. What we’re seeing, instead, is that despite its populist rhetoric, the G.O.P. is still very much a party of and for the rich.
If Republicans win one or both houses of Congress, they’ll try to achieve their goals not though the normal legislative process but through blackmail. They’ll threaten to provoke a global financial crisis by refusing to raise the debt limit. If Democrats defang that threat, Republicans will try to get what they want by making America ungovernable in other ways.
In what other ways will the GOP make the country ungovernable? Georgetown Law professor Jeff Chavetz lays it out:
Most obviously, the pace of legislation is likely slow to a trickle — though perhaps not dry up completely. But a Republican House could do more than simply reduce the amount of legislation passed by Congress; it could also use powers entirely within its own control to assert itself in the political sphere. It would very likely use the chamber’s oversight powers aggressively, which might include keeping a close eye on the administration’s carrying out of laws passed in the current Congress. So, for example, we should expect Republican-controlled committees to keep a sharp watch for any purportedly wasteful spending under the Inflation Reduction Act — and if they find anything amiss, to make as big a stink as possible.
If Republicans capture the Senate as well as the House, their options will expand even more. They could pass at least some messaging legislation that President Biden would be forced to veto, thus setting up advantageous (for the Republicans) policy contrasts in advance of the 2024 elections. And they could refuse to confirm most (or all) of Mr. Biden’s nominees, making it harder for him to process his agenda through executive agencies and to reshape the federal judiciary.
At the most extreme, they could impeach President Biden or members of his administration.
Because, remember, the Republicans don't want to govern; they want to rule. This has been true for half a century. And unfortunately, we might have neglected vast swaths of our citizens for so long that the country might have to experience something worse than Democratic elitism or ordinary Republican country-club governance before we return to our senses.
The American Right, having gotten this close to power, won't give up soon. Even though we can see how much damage they'll cause in the next generation, we might just have to suffer through it.