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Sat Dec 1, 2012, 11:13 AM

Michael Tomasky on Obamaís Republican Revenge Over the Debt Limit

by Michael Tomasky Dec 1, 2012 4:45 AM EST

When Tim Geithner proposed that Congress be denied power over the debt limit, he was speaking for a president who intends to push back against the pols who humiliated him in 2011.

Like all of you, I have no idea how this fiscal cliff (I know, I know, Iím not supposed to call it that!) business is going to work out. I dearly want to see President Obama win on the 39.6 percent rate for upper incomes. But there may be one thing Iíd like even more: for him to win the fight over raising the debt ceiling. There are more important issues facing the nation, Iíll grant you. But nothing, and I mean nothing, symbolizes how extreme, arrogant, oblivious to precedent and reason the Republican Party has become than the position Republicans took on the debt ceiling last year. Itís made worse by the fact that they made a then-weak Obama eat dirt. He seems to know this, and I hope to high heaven he seeks and secures his revenge.

The most interesting wrinkle in the package of proposals announced by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on Thursday was the call for Congress to relinquish all authority over the debt limit. Of course this is not going to happen. The power of that debt-ceiling vote is the only leverage Capitol Hill Republicans have right now. They know this, and they certainly plan to use it to try to extract from the administration promises that it will agree to domestic spending or entitlement cuts in like proportion to the amount by which the limit is raised.

But Geithner and Obama, obviously, also know that the debt vote is the only leverage the GOP has, and therefore, they want to make it an issue now and get people to start thinking about it. Itís not yet clear the exact date by which a vote to raise the limit would have to take placeómid-February, maybe, at the very latest. But itís close enough to the Jan. 1 tax and spending deadlines that the Republicans can surely threaten that theyíll be willing to take the country into default if the administration doesnít go along on deep spending cuts.

Hereís what I think is at stake here for Obama, and itís pretty huge. He might well get his tax increase. A huge win. If there is a larger deal, chances seem good that it will be more on his terms than the GOPís. If there is not a deal, it doesnít seem to me that it should be so hard to persuade a majority that it was the Republicansí fault, because the people know now that the Republicans are obstructionist and hostile. So Obama comes out all right either way. Then, soon thereafter, Congress doesnít increase the debt ceiling, and the bonds are downgraded and veterans donít get their checks. If that nightmare scenario happens, thereís a good chance that blame shifts to the president, because seniors and veterans kind of expect the president to be looking after their benefits.

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Reply Michael Tomasky on Obamaís Republican Revenge Over the Debt Limit (Original post)
DonViejo Dec 2012 OP
Enrique Dec 2012 #1
rainin Dec 2012 #2

Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 11:26 AM

1. good, no more "I take the Speaker at his word" from Obama

which is what he said in 2010 when asked why he didn't make the debt limit part of his tax cut deal. He said he trusted that the Republicans would not do anything to risk a default situation. Ha!

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Response to Enrique (Reply #1)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 11:57 AM

2. That frustrated me too!

He kept saying that the Republicans wanted to do what is best for the country (paraphrasing). The two sides just had to work out the details of how they were going to move forward. Bullshit! We could see that the Republicans didn't care about the country. They wanted to paralyse Obama to improve their position in 2012. First and only priority: make Obama a one-term President. America be damned.

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