Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:28 PM
ProSense (116,456 posts)
Ezra Klein offers an interesting perspective on the next round of negotiations.
Calm down, liberals. The White House won.
Posted by Ezra Klein
First, Republicans make a big show of being unreasonable, but they’re not nearly as crazy as the tea party would have you believe. In the end, they weren’t even willing to go over the fiscal cliff. The debt ceiling would do far more damage to the economy than the fiscal cliff, and Republicans would receive far more of the blame. Many thought President Obama actually wanted to go over the fiscal cliff in order to raise taxes, and so it was possible Republicans could’ve portrayed the breakdown in negotiations as a Democratic strategy. No one thinks that the White House wants to breach the debt ceiling, and so Republicans will take all the blame.
Second, there’s no evidence yet that the Republicans will even be able to name their price on the debt ceiling. House Speaker John Boehner has his dollar-for-dollar principle, which implies more than a trillion dollars in cuts to raise the debt ceiling through 2014. But Republicans haven’t named anywhere near a trillion dollars of further cuts in any of the fiscal cliff negotiations. They’ve been afraid to take direct aim at Social Security and Medicare, and while they can call for deep cuts to Medicaid, everyone knows that’s a nonstarter for the White House in the age of Obamacare. Meanwhile, domestic discretionary spending has already been cut to the bone, and Republicans want to increase defense spending. So what’s their demand going to be, exactly? Will they force America into default on behalf of spending cuts they can’t name?
Third, a consequence of the 2012 presidential election, in which Mitt Romney argued for capping deductions and exclusions to pay for his tax cuts, and of the early fiscal cliff negotiations, in which Boehner argued for raising revenue through tax reform, is that Republican policy elites, in my experience, really don’t hate revenue-raising tax reform all that much. Raising any revenues is a bit of a problem for them as it permits the growth of government, but it’s really raising tax rates where they’ve talked themselves into hardline opposition. So they may be willing to strike a deal on this.
Fourth, I don’t think the White House has a shred of credibility when they say they won’t negotiate over the debt ceiling. They may not call what they’re about to do negotiating over the debt ceiling, but that’ll be what they’re doing. That said, I’m quite convinced that they don’t intend to be held hostage over the debt ceiling. As a former constitutional law professor, the president sees himself as a steward of the executive branch and is deeply hostile to setting the precedent that congressional minorities can hold presidents hostage through the debt ceiling. At some point in the coming talks, Boehner or McConnell or both are going to realize that the White House really, seriously will not accept a bargain in which what they “got” was an increase in the debt limit, and so they’re going to have to decide at that point whether to crash the global economy.
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