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.
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:
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.
I know, I know: that wasn’t the intent. The intent was to flog the concept that a debt ceiling is itself unconstitutional as per the 14th Amendment, thus obviating forever the need for Democratic politicians to stop spending money that we don’t actually have. Here’s the text from the 14th:
Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
…and it’s been argued – pretty much mostly by neo-Keynesian (and former conservative) Bruce Bartlett, which is something that the HuffPo author did not mention (can’t imagine why he’d think that actual conservatives would react badly to a Bartlett scheme) – that the text means that any attempt to enforce a real cap on indebtedness is thus unconstitutional, so there, neener neener. If you’re wondering, however, how you can make it unconstitutional to enforce a cap on indebtedness while not also conceding that it’s unconstitutional to incur that debt in the first place, well, I regret to tell you this: you are immediately disqualified from writing for HuffPo. Or writing fiscal policy for the Democratic party, apparently. Continue reading HuffPo sets groundwork for impeaching Obama.
Personally, I’m not entirely certain why the Obama administration is so adamant about raising taxes on small businesses, but they’ve at least abandoned their previous position where a possible early end to Bush-era tax breaks (now scheduled to expire in 2012) was on the debt ceiling negotiating table. Unfortunately, the White House is still adamantly refusing to accept the pesky objective reality that there are no Magical Revenue Generators that will allow the country to boost the tax-to-GDP revenue ratio to 25%, forever. In other words, the Democrats don’t want to even think about making spending cuts, and they’re reacting to exasperated Republican calls for them in precisely the same way that pigs react when you don’t refill the trough with swill.
I know that people out there get exasperated with the GOP some times, but if there’s been a better contrast in recent memory between Bad and Worse* than in the comparison of this Congress to the last one, I can’t think of it offhand.
Which is a surprise, given that I didn’t think that there were 318 Republicans in the House… no, wait, there aren’t. 82 Democrats voted against raising the debt limit without accompanying spending cuts; which is highly entertaining, given that 114 House Democrats signed Rep. Peter Welch’s letter requesting… precisely this vote. Do compare the signatories to said letter with the no votes on HR 1954: you will notice an entertaining amount of overlap, there.
I think that Daniel Foster over at NRO has a good point, here: a credible threat along those lines is going to force the Democrats to make a lot of concessions. I also think that the tenor of his comments section suggest that ‘credible threat’ is the compromise solution: there is a definite movement out there that embraces a point-blank opposition*. So, Democrats: you can deal with Senator Lindsey Graham; or you can deal with the people who think that Senator Graham is too squishy for words.