With President Obama set to precipitate a constitutional crisis over the upcoming debt ceiling, Republicans in Congress must consider who will best be able to stand up to the bullying commander in chief.

Today, after the fiscal cliff had been passed through Congress, President Obama claimed victory. “Just recently,” he told supporters, “Republicans in Congress said they’d never agree to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. We’ve now raised those rates, permanently, making our tax code more progressive than it’s been in decades.”

But more important than Obama’s triumphalism was his insistence that he will not – repeat, will not – negotiate over the debt ceiling. At all. “While I will negotiate over many things,” Obama said, “I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed.” Of course, Obama has racked up those bills, and it is he who refuses to pay the freight with any cuts whatsoever. But now he’s declaring the unilateral authority to avoid discussing the debt ceiling. “What the president was saying was, ‘I’m not going to play chicken with the debt limit,’” said Jen Psaki, Obama’s spokeswoman.

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