Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Boehner's flaccid proposition

By Carl 

Well, this is not kicking the can down the road, this is pushing the penny across the table: 

According to a GOP aide familiar with the emerging House bill, it would provide for an immediate $1 trillion increase in the government's $14.3 trillion debt limit in exchange for $1.2 trillion in cuts in federal spending.

The measure also envisions Congress approving a second round of spending cuts of $1.8 trillion or more in 2012, passage of which would trigger an additional $1.6 trillion in increased borrowing authority.

While the bill marked a retreat from legislation that conservatives muscled through the House last week, the two-step approach runs afoul of Obama's insistence that lawmakers solve the current crisis in a way that avoids a politically charged rerun next year in the middle of the 2012 election campaign. 

This is probably a premature enactment on the part of the GOP. Pushing this issue into the middle of next year's election cycle will create a far bigger headache for them than it does for Obama.

Boehner is mollycoddling his radical right wing with this proposal, and basically throwing his hands up and saying "Basta!" Placing this issue in the middle of the election cycle is going to lose him the House, and any chance at the Senate. I see the warped logic the GOP is using, so let me analyze it a little for you.

Of tangential import, this will be the first major issue in the post-Murdochian-meltdown of FOX News, so Boener loses his most effective propaganda tool.

The gamble Boehner is making is that in the next six months to one year, he can marshal public opinion in his favor. Right now, the nation seems pretty divided over who is to blame for the debt ceiling crisis, with the slight benefit of the doubt given to President Obama.

What I believe he is misreading, what Obama can rely heavily on, is that the nation is pretty unified over the idea that the problem demands a long-term solution and now. All those months of stroking to whip up a froth of "you can't spend more than you make" has left the wrong impression of the Republicans in this constituency. It's not about cutting spending deeply, it's about making more money for them. The American people understand that there will be sacrifices, but they remember the Great Depression and World War II when everyone sacrificed. We're all in agreement spending should be cut, and while we may disagree in detail, in the long, broad strokes we get it.

Cutting Grandma's blood pressure medicine won't do it. Cutting ExxonMobil's taxes sure as hell won't do it. The American people want a solution that they can examine, agree with, and then conveniently ignore, secure in the knowledge the problem is wll in hand, and not rising again in six months' time. We, like the markets, prefer certainty, not a "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" buyoff.

Which leads me to point number two that I think Boehner is misreading: Apart from Ryan's universally panned $6 trillion debt-cutting plan, President Obama's proposals are the only ones on the table (not even Reid's match his numbers) that will permanently cut the debt, mount revenues while shedding risky behavior like farm subsidies and plug other corporate loopholes.

If the GOP is successful in kicking the can down the road, Obama can simply run the tape of these past few weeks where he has been stiff in his resolve to seek a permanent solution to the problem. "See? I told you so!" would be a mantra that he could run on.

Meanwhile, in the intervening six months, the GOP has to winnow down the seven dwarves, err, twelve monkeys to a viable field in the primaries. If you think that the debt ceiling isn't going to be a major topic of conversation that the GOP will be arguing back and forth, up and down, in and out until the cows come home, thus softening the impact of any media campaign the GOP leadership might roll out, you'd have to be an idiot, Mr. Weaker Boehner.

We don't have much of an attention span, we Americans, but over and over again, we've shown the distinct ability to sniff out garbage, which is precisely what you offer.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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