The question of who “won” the fiscal cliff won’t be answered till we know what happens when Congress reaches the debt ceiling. The White House says that there’ll be no negotiations over the debt ceiling, and that if Republicans want further spending cuts, their only chance is to hand over more tax revenue. If they’re right and they do manage to enforce a 1:1 ratio of tax hikes to spending cuts in the next deal, they’re going to look like geniuses.
Republicans swear they are crazy enough to push the country into default, and they promise that the White House isn’t strong enough to stand by and let it happen. If they’re right, and the White House agrees to big spending cuts absent significant tax increases in order to avert default, then Republicans will have held taxes far lower than anyone thought possible.
But both Republicans and Democrats can’t be right.
Part of my reluctance to accept that the debt ceiling is an actual hostage, a bargaining chip, etc., is that I think Democrats and Republicans both legitimately want spending restraint and, ultimately, deficit reduction. I see it as a matter of striking a tolerable compromise on spending for the sake of actually addressing something that’s problematic, not because one side wants to raise the debt ceiling. The House GOP should be able to get some of what it says it wants without using the debt ceiling at all.
There are some good ideas out there on how to do it, but if they try to use the debt ceiling as leverage instead of negotiating in good faith, they aren’t going to like what happens.
andrewgraham said: So they’re still acting like the debt ceiling is leverage. That should be an easy-enough bluff to call, no?
How do you mean?
Not even the House GOP would literally default on the country’s debt. It just likes to pretend that it would — and the White House, it seems, has already called bullshit on it. Per Ezra Klein:
If Republicans go over the cliff and try to open up talks for raising the debt ceiling, the White House will not hold a meeting, they will not return a phone call, they will not look at the e-mails. They will move to an entirely public strategy, rallying voters and the business community against the GOP’s repeated brinksmanship.
"They’re almost religious about this," he adds.
So, sure, the House GOP can quibble among themselves on how to spin a debt limit increase, but it doesn’t sound like Dems will allow any negotiations to occur. If I’m missing anything here, I’m all ears.
Remember when I predicted we’d see a ratings downgrade as a result of the debt ceiling bullshit?
Apparently Republican senators voting “no” on the debt deal will be ineligible to serve on the Super Committee it establishes, which excludes strong fiscal conservatives Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Jim DeMint, Pat Toomey, Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio, and ranking Budget Committee member Jeff Sessions (via Stephen Hayes). Well that’s great.
In eight short years, the Republicans ran up seven trillion dollars on the national credit card, funding two wars, a new Medicare program, and massive tax giveaways. For them to now wail and moan about our deficit isn’t just disingenuous. It’s pathological. To quote Dick Cheney, “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” Most Americans could care less about our national debt. They’ve got more important things to worry about, such as how to feed their families. If the deadbeats in this Congress don’t want to pay their bills, let me suggest that they not incur them.