Roll Call titled this article “Boehner Threads a Needle,” and I think that they have the right of it. If he had lost control of the debt ceiling process, Speaker Boehner would have been crippled for the rest of this term, and probably been out of the leadership cadre as soon as it could have been done without unnecessary embarrassment; as it is, the various factions of the GOP caucus have a pretty good idea of how far they can all push things before they run up against the Speaker of the House’s power, which is… considerable, in this country*.
Fortunately, this entire exercise should also give the Speaker an idea about how very, very seriously the Right is taking fiscal issues right now, too. Given that Speaker Boehner would very much like to keep being Speaker Boehner, that’s all to the good.
PS: I know that a lot of folks are unhappy about the final deal: not enough ground was recaptured. True. We didn’t liberate Paris on June 7, 1944, either… oh, sorry, violent rhetoric. My bad.
*One reason why so few Speakers run for President; it’s almost as powerful a job and, apparently, often a lot more fun.
Mourners please omit flowers. Or public urination on the graveside.
If there has been one positive result from the recent knife fight in an alley that has been our debt ceiling debate, it’s come from watching the self-appointed Smartest People In The Room come to the belated realization that they’ve been out-maneuvered by a bunch of hobbits. No, don’t take it from me: listen to them. A representative sample is below.
- Paul Krugman: “The worst thing you can do in these circumstances is slash government spending…” preceded and followed by a lot of nonsensical blather, of course. Feel free to read or not, as you like; the point is, Krugman thinks that more government spending will solve our problems, so he’s shrieking over this like a traditionalist vampire shrieks at a holy symbol.
- Greg Sargent: “Even if you think it’s good politics for Dems to be demonstrating concern about deficits and spending, the clear downside is that the progressive economic case has been entirely marginalized, to the point where it has vanished from the conversation entirely.” Bolding mine; it’s not really relevant to this post, but that mindset is a post all on its own. (more…)
Peter Beinart doesn’t understand why the Tea Party gets to be the populist movement transforming American politics, instead of whatever latest cargo cult on the Left is these days. In the spirit of bipartisanship – with ‘bipartisanship’ being defined as ‘kicking progressives in the teeth for the amusement of the crowd’ – I shall deign to explain things for him, hardline progressives, and everyone else with cognitive disabilities.
- First, and most important point: judging from events from 2001 onward, any nascent political grassroots movement on the Left would be immediately co-opted by the professional activist Left (see “The American Dream” for the latest, rather sad, example along those lines). This, of course, dooms any theoretical left-grassroots groups, as most people do not like to hang out with scum.
Yes, this is going to be one of those kinds of posts. (more…)
ABC News has what details we have. 2.8T increase in debt ceiling, 1T in cuts, remainder as per commission, commission must recommend cuts by Thanksgiving, cuts must be implemented by end of year or there’s going to be across-the-board cuts. And there has to be a vote on the BBA.
So. Does this deal suck, or is it great? Devil’s going to be in the details. To give just one example: immediate 1T cuts and immediate 1.8T recommended cuts will be a completely different thing than cuts ‘scheduled’ for, say, 2017. We’re going to need to see the actual deal first, in other words. One thing’s for certain, though: we’re apparently not the only people out there who think that Harry Reid is a useless waste of space…
Jim Geraghty, on one core assumption permeating the entire debt ceiling crisis, on both sides: to wit, that the President knows what the heck he’s doing.
But at this point, are we even sure if Obama could tell if he has a losing hand? (This is, in fact, the same poker player who apparently warns opponents not to call his bluff.)
Ann Althouse, while scoring the dueling press conferences last night (she figures Boehner won*), observed that compromise was a favorite theme in the President’s comments last night. In fact, President “I won” Obama was and is very upset that we’re not embracing compromise, because that’s what this country is all about**. So Ann muses:
The more I look at that, the more enjoyably ruder that sentence gets. As always, context is key…
*Let me address this, actually. If you’re a netrooter, you almost certainly thought that the President did better than Boehner did last night; and if you’re a VRWCer, you almost certainly thought that Boehner did better (we will now pause for the 5% or so contrarians from both sides to chime in with their contrarianism). And, yes, even if you thought that the representative for your side sounded better you don’t necessarily believe him.
But that’s not the issue: the issue is what the folks who aren’t us or the netroots thought. We’ll probably know that in a week or so.
**Which factoid should come as a bit of a shock to the Confederate, Old Imperial Japanese, Nazi, and Italian Fascist governments. Not that you can actually check with any of them, of course – but, hey, you can always get an old ex-Soviet apparatchik drunk and ask him what he thinks about America’s willingness to compromise.
I think that this quote below from a New York Times article on whether the GOP will allow themselves to be stampeded on irresponsibly raising the debt ceiling might just be fairly representative of attitudes among our freshman class. More to the point, I think that the New York Times is coming to the same conclusion:
“Re-election is the farthest thing from my mind,” said Representative Tom Reed, a freshman Republican from upstate New York. “Like many of my colleagues in the freshman class, I came down here to get our fiscal house in order and take care of the threat to national security that we see in the federal debt. We came here not to have long careers. We came here to do something. We don’t care about re-election.”
In fact, the New York Times may – I repeat, may - be even sufficiently concerned about this issue that it’s prepared to do some actual journalism on the subject. The quotes from Republican legislators were all on-point (including a rousing one from Sen. Lindsey Graham, of all people), and there were much fewer attempts to argue the Democratic talking points for them. The NYT even went so far as to not just remind its readers that Democratic rhetoric now doesn’t match their rhetoric from 2004; it actually noted that “[t]he increase then was $800 billion. The White House is now seeking an increase of at least $2.4 trillion. That would lift the limit to at least $16.7 trillion, about twice the level set in 2004.”
Yes, I recognize the irony of praising a newspaper for writing something that looks like actual news. This is the world we live in.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
Ignore the rest of his article on the ongoing debt ceiling controversy – Dionne is the kind of person who is comfortable trying to portray House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as being some kind of Machiavellian mastermind running a shadowy conspiracy to control the Republican party behind the scenes, if you know what I mean* – but as Mickey Kaus notes, Dionne’s got a good (if probably unintended) idea here for putting President Obama on the hot seat:
…Cantor takes every domestic spending cut that was discussed as part of the negotiations with Vice President Joe Biden, declares that the administration has blessed them, and packages them together for a vote.
Dionne calls this a worrisome scenario: I call it a good idea that hasn’t really been assessed and discussed yet by us folks over here at the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, which is why I’m highlighting it now.
Thanks, E.J. Dionne! If this works out, maybe we’ll buy you a fruit basket or something.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*And I think that you do.
It’s hardly a surprise – Pawlenty has been arguing since January that automatically raising the debt ceiling without exhausting other options (read: spending cuts) first is a bad idea – but the video below shows that the former Governor of Minnesota continues to want Republican legislators to not back down on this issue:
As GOP 12 noted, this statement by Pawlenty…
Now is the time. The hour is late, and these problems are big, and the only way you’re going to get people to do something tough is to put their backs up against the wall.
They simply cannot answer this simple, straightforward, almost stripped-down question:
Is the President really willing to risk the U.S. defaulting on its debt just to avoid having to vote again on a bill before the Presidential election?
…Because there is no good answer to it. If the answer is ‘no,’ then the President will be imitating Governor Mark Dayton on Minnesota and accepting the extremely reasonable and fiscally sensible requirements of Congressional Republicans*. If the answer is ‘yes,’ then the President needs to explain why he’s treating the situation as if it’s the modern-day equivalent of the Alvarez Event.
Moe Lane (more…)