Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Go All In On Debt Ceiling And Lose!

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 22, 2011

Republicans bolstered by 84 new members mostly from the Tea Party/conservative ranks took control of the House of Representatives on January 3, 2011. Almost immediately, the House instigated a government shutdown crisis by demanding budget cuts from the Obama administration. It was resolved by some real cuts but mostly smoke and mirrors. No surprise since the Democrats held the best hand, the White House and the Senate albeit by a much-reduced majority. Memories of President Clinton’s success in blaming the Republicans for the 1995 shutdown also blunted the fervor.

Obama’s request to raise the debt ceiling puts the House Republicans in the spending breach once again. This time with a stronger hand from the crushing defeat of the Democrats in November 2010 but still not enough for the Rs to go all in. Failure to reach a settlement on the debt ceiling will most assuredly be blamed on the Republicans. No Social Security check for Grandma, economic disaster, stock market crash, yadda, yadda, yadda, all the fault of those wacko Tea Party types. Today’s White House press conference put on full display the power of the President to shape (demigod) the discussion. In the end, President Barack Hussein Obama will save the world by invoking the 14th Amendment and unilaterally raise the debt limit. It’s a lose/lose for the GOP.

So how do the Republicans stay true to their values and still duck the incoming fire? The House took the first step in by passing the Cut, Cap and Balance Act, the only proposal actually in written form. Senate Democrats on a straight party line vote promptly tabled it. It is now time, if for no other reason than there is no time left, to propose a mixture of substance and symbolism. On the substance side, there seems to be general agreement to cut spending by several trillion dollars so offer a cut of around $3 trillion with at least a quarter of the reductions in the first year. The symbolism, which could turn into substance, comes in two parts. First, require both houses of Congress to debate and vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Pass or fail it will put every legislator on record as to how serious they really are about controlling our escalating debt. Such an amendment came within one vote in the Senate from passing in 1995. Second, appoint a blue ribbon committee to draft a tax system reform bill for an up or down congressional vote before the 2012 elections. Again, pass or fail it would separate the serious from the frivolous and move the whole tax issue debate off the Bush tax cuts and corporate jets on to the obvious need for reform.

The compromise may be only the spending cuts but considering the cards in the GOP’s hand, they should take it and wait for a winning hand in November 2012.

Sound Politics


2 Responses to “Go All In On Debt Ceiling And Lose!”

  1. oldegramps said

    Take the 14th in hand, Mr. President…you’re the only “adult in the room”…!

  2. Fredc said

    With all of the mistakes that Obama has made in this process, the 84 Republican crazies in Congress have essentially given him a free pass to re-election. A sane Republican party can keep the Dems honest, but these uncompromising extremists will certainly be part of a 2012 Republican ship-wreck in 2012. Thankfully so.

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