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Wed Jan 23, 2013, 10:26 AM

The GOP’s biggest cave yet

Instead of voting to raise the debt ceiling, now they'll just pretend it doesn't exist


It wouldn’t exactly be unprecedented for John Boehner’s latest maneuver to blow up in his face, but all indications are that House Republicans will vote today for a plan that would essentially pretend the debt ceiling doesn’t exist for the next four months.

The idea is both a recognition of the untenability of using the looming debt ceiling expiration as a bargaining chip to extract spending cut concessions from the White House and the fear of most House Republicans of going on record voting “yes” to a debt limit hike. Hence Boehner’s solution, which would “suspend” the debt ceiling through the middle of May and, apparently, make it possible for the government to keep paying its bills for several months after that even if no subsequent agreement is reached.

Given what until about two weeks ago had been the GOP’s Obama-era orthodoxy on the debt ceiling — it can never be raised until an equal level of budget cuts are agreed to! — this represents a huge retreat. It’s also a validation of the deal that President Obama struck with Republican leaders just before the January 1 fiscal cliff deadline. That deal left the debt ceiling unaddressed and allowed Republicans to claim a victory; we have no choice but to give in on revenues now, they said, but this leaves us with the leverage to force deep social safety net cuts in the months ahead. Obama, by contrast, vowed not to engage in any negotiations over the debt ceiling, a commitment that some commentators (present company included) questioned his willingness to keep.

But Obama stuck to his guns and pressure from powerful Republican-aligned forces quickly fractured the GOP and neutralized the threat of further debt ceiling brinksmanship. The party began looking for a way out at its recent retreat in Williamsburg, and the result is today’s vote. Assuming the House does pass Boehner’s plan, it won’t automatically end debt ceiling standoffs going forward, but it will represent giant step back toward pre-Obama norms, in which legislators might cast symbolic “no” votes on ceiling extensions, but never used the threat of a default to force policy concessions. This is a significant victory for the president, and a real surrender on the GOP’s part.



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Reply The GOP’s biggest cave yet (Original post)
DonViejo Jan 2013 OP
Sherman A1 Jan 2013 #1
zipplewrath Jan 2013 #2

Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 10:31 AM

1. If it makes them feel better

the can call the debt ceiling a turnip or a crayon, what do we really care?

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 01:57 PM

2. Retrograde motion

That's what the military calls a preplanned retreat. That's what the GOP basically is doing here, retreating to a new set of front lines. It is a good strategy, as far as it goes. But if they don't figure out why they have had to retreat twice in two months, they'll just have to do it again.

The economy is most likely going to start getting better. The president wants to avoid sequestration. Most of congress wants to avoid sequestration. They can get SOME cuts in spending, and some will have to come from the military. The president will probably agree to some FUTURE cuts in domestic programs, but he won't agree to cuts in current "social safety net" programs, nor in any of his "investments in the future". And he has the upper hand, because the longer this goes on, the better the economy gets, and the more insensitive he becomes to elements of sequestration actually taking effect. (Remember, they kick in over 10 years).

And all he needs is about 30 house republicans to vote with him. THEY need practically all of them.

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