Truth Before Dishonor

I would rather be right than popular

Who blinked?

Posted by Dana Pico on 2011/07/31


The latest news is that there is a debt ceiling compromise in the works; that it took until the last minute is hardly surprising, given that so many negotiations — think the NFL labor agreement, and most union contracts here, as well as the six hour government shutdown last spring — don’t get made until there is a deadline looming.

The deal they were discussing, this person said, resembled the bill that Mr. Boehner won approval for in the House on Friday more than it did the one that Mr. Reid had proposed.

It would immediately raise the debt ceiling by about $1 trillion, accompanied by a similar range of spending cuts, and set up a new bipartisan committee that would work to find deeper cuts in exchange for a second debt limit increase that would extend through the 2012 election.

A failure of the new committee to win enactment of its proposal could then set off automatic spending cuts across the board, including to entitlement programs. Other ideas were swirling around the Capitol as lawmakers searched for a way to avoid default. One of Mr. Reid’s top lieutenants said he saw at least a glimmer of hope.

From msn.com:

Late on Saturday, Reuters laid out these elements of a possible deal:

  • $2.8 trillion deal. It would raise the debt ceiling by that amount through 2012 and make equal spending cuts.
  • $1 trillion in cuts would be agreed now.
  • Special committee appointed by Congress would recommend a second installment of savings of about $1.8 trillion.
  • If Congress cannot agree on how to implement the cuts recommended by the committee, automatic cuts would be triggered, including reductions in military spending and cost savings to the Medicare health care program for the elderly. Benefit cuts would not be triggered though.
  • No cuts in Social Security.

It was unclear whether tax increases could contribute to the additional budget savings under the trigger.

These are supposedly ten-year numbers. With a $2.8 trillion increase in the debt ceiling, and spending cuts of $2.8 trillion over ten years, even without the experts giving us a more detailed analysis it becomes very obvious: we’ll be hitting the raised debt ceiling again in just a few years.

The $1 trillion in spending cuts gets made quickly. Right. Well, if that happens, we’re looking at a $3.8 trillion cushion in the debt ceiling; that’s going to take what, three years to reach?

It was only last spring that the Congress wrestled mightily with budget cuts, after the completely Democrat-controlled eleventy-first Congress failed to do its job and pass an overall budget or most of the annual appropriations bills required to fund government operations. $100 billion in cuts became $61 billion in cuts to the severe $38 billion in cuts which actually meant just $352 million in actual deficit reduction. If after all of that effort, and a looming government shutdown — the government actually did run out of money for about six hours — even the Republicans by themselves could propose only $61 billion in cuts, before they started negotiating with the Democrats, how can anybody stand there, and say that the Congress will cut $1 trillion, “now,” from government spending, with a straight face?

Let me be very clear about this: if the President or the leaders of the Congress stand up there and tell you that, as msn.com, quoting Reuters, put it, “$1 trillion in cuts would be agreed now,” unless those cuts are already agreed to and are part of this purported deal, they are lying to you!

In agreeing to an increase in the debt ceiling, the Republicans have just thrown away their last bit of leverage. They have surrendered to the traditional establishment logic that not increasing the debt ceiling would be bad, bad, bad! and that we simply must borrow and spend more money. They have also bowed to the conventional wisdom that not raising the debt ceiling would hurt the GOP politically, even though it seems to be hurting President Obama.

Rather, the Republican leadership — assuming that the reports are accurate — has decided that they will avoid negative publicity (not that it will work), and stake their bets on the 2012 elections winning Republican control of the Senate and the White House. And maybe that will work, because President Obama is unpopular with a majority right now, his job performance ratings are continuing to decline, and the Democrats have to defend 26 seats in the Senate next year, compared to only ten for the GOP.

But it also risks losing grassroots support from the TEA Party, from the very people who rose up and gave the Republicans the House majority and six additional Senate seats in the 2010 elections. They won’t vote for the Democrats, but they might just get so thoroughly disgusted that they stay at home next election day.

So, in answer to the title question, if the initial reports are true, and the framework of the supposed deal is as reported, it was Speaker of the House John Boehner and the Republican leadership who blinked.
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Cross posted on Common Sense Political Thought

5 Responses to “Who blinked?”

  1. As Sarah Palin said, and I paraphrase: We still believe in Primaries out here in Hobbiton.

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  2. DNW said

    Dana writes,

    “In agreeing to an increase in the debt ceiling, the Republicans have just thrown away their last bit of leverage. They have surrendered to the traditional establishment logic that not increasing the debt ceiling would be bad, bad, bad! and that we simply must borrow and spend more money. They have also bowed to the conventional wisdom that not raising the debt ceiling would hurt the GOP politically, even though it seems to be hurting President Obama.”

    I don’t usually listen to Limbaugh but I caught a few moments of his broadcast the other day as he was responding to agitated listeners who were calling about an interview he had apparently conducted just prior with Boehner.

    I happen to agree with his characterization of the Republican establishment. They are ultimately all incipient Bob Doles; honorable men who can be counted on to cooperate even against their deepest interests in the name of a patriotism and community feeling that the other side doesn’t share. Republicans in the leadership, as Limbaugh put it, always agree to be the “adults”. And being “adult” in traditional Republican lingo means letting the left know that if all else fails you agree to place your hand between their heads and the brick wall they insist on banging their heads against.

    Screw the left. Let them bash their brains out if they insist. Nothing of value is lost while liberty is gained back.

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  3. Dana Pico said

    Our esteemed host wrote:

    As Sarah Palin said, and I paraphrase: We still believe in Primaries out here in Hobbiton.

    The more I read about the deal, the less I like it as a deal, but I do see one very good bit of news in it: President Obama bragged in the White House Fact Sheet that the deal includes the assumption that all of the 2001/2003 tax cuts will be allowed to expire. If the Democrats really want to run on raising taxes in 2012, I say, more power to them, go for it, don’t let me stand in your way! 🙂

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  4. Alan Clayton said

    I unfortunately agree Dana with Palin. This next election will be repeat of 2006. Then we’ll have a Democratic Congress and Obama. Thank gawd. <:-)

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  5. Alan, you’re living in a dream world if you think Democrats are going to win back the House or even keep the Senate. And as far as Obama is concerned, it’s getting to the point where a ham sandwich will be able to beat him.

    Regarding 2006 and now, there’s a lot to say about that. What we had in 2006 was a bunch of Republicans who abandoned Conservative principles (which work every time they’re tried) and turning to Big Government rule (which fails every time it’s tried), and acting like Democrats. So the people voted the people acting like Democrats out because their Big Government agenda was failing and voted in actual Democrats (and then got even more Big Government).

    “The difference between 2006 and now is: you’ve got us.” — TEA Party Hobbits

    The Socialist agenda (and don’t fool yourself. It is indeed a Socialist agenda) of Obama-Pelosi-Reid, et al, has awakened the Hobbits. And just as JRR Tolkien wrote, the Hobbits are working very hard to rescue this nation and, with it, the world from Mordor (Big Government Socialism). 2010 was just the first battle. There will be Republicans who reject Conservatism who find themselves Primaried out of a job and replaced with actual Conservatives.

    And I’m with DNW when he says “Screw the left. Let them bash their brains out if they insist. Nothing of value is lost while liberty is gained back.” Except I’m more than willing to do more than “let them”. I’m willing to help them in that regard. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

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