I’ve mentioned versions of this in different posts over the last week. But with the ‘cliff’ notionally behind us, I wanted to hit the point again. Everything that happened over the last few days leaves us exactly where we were, which is that everything now comes down to a fight over the debt-ceiling — and now without the cudgel of the automatic end of the Bush tax cuts.
House Republicans are now even more aggrieved, arguably even more in denial about the fiscal planet we’re living on. Feeling they got steamrolled by the President this time they’re more driven to push things to the limits of confrontation next time. And next time their cudgel is the debt ceiling — so threatening to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States if they don’t get big cuts to various social insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security.
Meanwhile, the President has stated repeatedly that he won’t negotiate on the debt ceiling. Absolutely will not do it. That’s now complicated by the fact that the sequestration stuff comes up at basically the exact same time. From my read that makes it harder to ‘not negotiate’ over the debt ceiling because the two things happen at the same time and he says he will negotiate over sequestration. How do you really separate the two? Some people think this strengthens his hand. I don’t understand that. But maybe they’re right for reasons I don’t grasp. I’ve heard others suggest the President says fine, you tell the public how much Social Security and Medicare you’re insisting we cut. Does that work? Who knows?
There’s also a government shutdown in the mix. That’s what we saw as crazy 15 years ago in the Gingrich Era. It pales in comparison to not paying the government’s creditors.
I believe the President’s committed to not entertaining another debt ceiling hostage negotiation. But again, what’s the plan? What actually happens when the House Republicans refuse to pass a debt ceiling resolution and the country teeters on the edge of default? The House flinches? They don’t try it in the first place? Or does the President allow House Republicans to destroy the country’s credit and take the blame?
Just a short while ago I had a Dem point me to some tweets from former Bush administration spokesman Tony Fratto saying basically that pushing the country into default just isn’t a legit negotiating position. Well, if only Tony Fratto were running the House GOP. When it comes to budgetary hostage taking and threatening the country’s full faith and credit (which is a constitutional imperative, it’s worth noting) I don’t believe we’re nearing or will likely ever hit Peak Crazy.
All that means this looks like a chaotic and destructive couple months ahead of us.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.