Are Republicans serious about refusing to raise the debt ceiling? - By Christopher Beam - Slate Magazine The Republitards are just bluffing unless they want history to repeat itself: Why the disagreement among Republicans? Perhaps the elders have learned their lesson. In 1996, Boehner, then a freshman, led the last budget showdown between a Republican Congress and a Democratic president. When the parties came to an impasse, Boehner blamed Clinton: "We have offered to work with the president to avert this crisis," he said. "But so far, all we have gotten are excuses." Everyone remembers the outcome of that gambit. The new Republican majority refused to raise the debt ceiling. President Clinton refused to meet GOP demands, which included eliminating the Commerce Department. The government shut down. Newt Gingrich made an unwise comment about how Clinton had once made him sit at the back of an airplane. Voters blamed Republicans for the crisis. Clinton was re-elected. What would happen if Republicans forced another shutdown? This time would be worse. The administration would have to come up with $1.4 trillion in savings to make up for the budget shortfall. With a total annual budget of $3.8 trillion, that would entail a budgetary massacre. Treasury would be unable to sell more bonds, driving the already vulnerable bond market haywire. Investors could also take it as a sign that the United States is unable to repay its debt. And as in 1996, voters could blame Republicans.