Brace for disaster on the debt ceiling

Obama Prepares For Stalemate | The New Republic


Boehner offered this rejoinder:

The president has often said we need a ‘balanced’ approach — which in Washington means: we spend more… you pay more.

The implication is that Obama offered to increase taxes and to increase spending. It’s utterly false — indeed, Boehner twice tried to sell his fellow republicans on exactly this approach, and failed. The only way in which it’s not balanced is that it relies far more heavily on spending cuts than have any previous bipartisan deficit plans:


In other words, Boehner recognizes that Americans overwhelmingly prefer a mix of spending cuts and tax increases to cuts-only, and his only recourse was to lie. It’s a peril of defending a highly unpopular position.

I’m not really sure what Obama was trying to accomplish in his speech. I thought he would try to find some kind of lowest common denominator between the Reid and Boehner plans that would stand a chance of passing Congress. He didn’t. Instead he appealed once again to the Grand Bargain. If Obama thinks Congress will pass something like that, he’s nuts. The Senate might, but the House never, ever would.

The most rational explanation for Obama’s speech is that he’s positioning himself for failure. He’s explaining his position so that when Congress fails to lift the debt ceiling, Americans will blame the Republicans and not him. Maybe in the meantime some small deal can arise. But I expect a week from now we’ll be bracing for disaster.


16 comments on “Brace for disaster on the debt ceiling

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  1. The House Rs have passed CCB and it is effectively the law of the land as long as they do nothing else ie the debt ceiling doesn’t actually go up unitil the Congress does it’s part t get the Balance Admend going, and if nothing happens the Cut and Cap effectively happen through default. So why should they deal?

    Now, I haven’t been paying strict attention, so I’m asking, am I misssing something, and if not why isn’t this the conventional wisdom instead of a deal HAS to happen?

  2. Because doing nothing more means default crisis and default crisis turns to true real world crisis – presumably some roiling calamity that McConnell and Boehner and other Republicans who care about the future of the party realize, according to polls, would be rightly blamed on them. Clinton-Gingrich Government shutdown multiplied by the 2008 financial crisis… but worse.

    It’s Congress’ responsibility to raise the ceiling… OR it may at some point become Obama’s prerogative and responsibility to assert executive authority via the 14th Amendment or other interpretations of the powers of the presidency.

    See new RecBrow post for Dem thinking.

  3. @ CK MacLeod:

    What I’m suggesting is that CCB pretty much = default. The effects of implemented CCB would be pretty similar to default, so why g through the hassle of negotiating anything?

    The 14th Admend seems less straightfoward than some seem t think although my understanding is that only Congress would have standing t sue the Pres and getting that through both chambers would be pretty impossible.

    But still, if you’re the House R’s isn’t default really your best option for accomplishing your goals as you see them?

  4. @ bob:
    If there’s a majority of House Rs who’d rather “see what happens” – including the possibility of 1) calamity, 2) assertion of Prez authority, and 3) destruction of the R Party, then, yes, doing nothing more but go on TV and claim everything bad is O’s fault would be their best option.

    Most grown-up Rs, and nearly 100% of the Rs’ big money backers, don’t like that plan.

  5. Probably putting too fine a point on it, isn’t the best interpretation of House R’s approach is that to them, the present situation is untenable and a calamity? And given that that they feel they are the adults? So appeals to them using the words “adults” and “calamity” just reinforces their resolve.

  6. @ bob:
    Part of the process is finding out how many of the House Rs are true believing revolutionaries of the type you describe, and how many of them are going along for the ride – i.e., because they’re Rs and it’s their team. At some point, if not already beneath the surface, it may become a crisis for the “relative moderates”: The long-time members, the leadership, etc., everyone who kind of half-believes the Tea Party rhetoric and up to the crisis point, places a very high value on team unity, even if they disagree with the strategy.

    If they stick with the team and the team stays stuck on the TP strategy, then we go back to finding out just how bad the default crisis is and just how happy everyone in the rest of the world is with having the TP running things.

  7. So, to make the state of play more clear: The TPers DON’T seem at the moment to be placing a high value on team play, since Boehner is supposedly having trouble getting the votes for his current bill. The non-TP Rs don’t seem yet to have taken rejection by the TP as an excuse to break party ranks. Which again goes to this whole thing as a test of the R party. Boehner might have been able to pass some version of the Grand Compromise with Dem votes, but it was generally held that it would destroy his speakership (i.e., radically split the Rs).

  8. Immediately after O’s election, the disaffected R’s, soon to be TPers, pretty much wrote off the R Party as it was and saw it mainly as a vehicle to jack. That’s the boy who brought them. I think there doesn’t have t be enough of them to pass things in the House or even in the R caucus. I think there’s enough of them, that if they simply say no to everything, nothing can pass.

  9. You do have the nub of it, Bob old boy, and we take your sides takeover of the Dems in ’72 as the model.

  10. @ fuster:
    I’m sympathetic to your point, though the alternative history is unknowable, of course.

    However, you should go read the comment threads at HotAir or National Review to remind yourself about the alternative universe in which the conservative base resides. Don Miguel’s snapshots aren’t can’t deliver the full 3-D ultracrepidarian phantasmagoria.

    bob wrote:

    I think there’s enough of them, that if they simply say no to everything, nothing can pass.

    Only if discipline holds. Last time around, long before the Tea Party existed, the cons voted TARP down the first time. It wasn’t until the markets started crashing that they could be persuaded to vote as the sitting president, the nominee, and what’s-her-name, the VP candidate, were asking.

  11. And how much did the market drop after TARP was paased, the problem was structural, not placibo, the fact that MERS hasn’t been cleaned up, that the funds didn’t go to the right sources, much as Obama’s executive experience with the CAC.

  12. @ miguel cervantes:
    TARP wasn’t meant to fix 50 years of economic mismanagement or prevent the stock exchanges from pricing it in. It was meant to help prevent a total meltdown, somewhat like the auto bailouts. Don’t know what you think the rest has to do with the main topic – maybe in the same fantasy discourse where TARP and the bailouts were pure Obama policy, and the national debt is mainly an Obama creation.

  13. It was sold as a cure all, it didn’t solve any of the underlying problems, that’s why the ‘fear factor’ really doesn’t carry anymore.

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