Monday, January 14, 2013

Please proceed, Mr. Speaker

I know that salutation in my title is going to get old. But it so perfectly captures the table that has been set by President Obama on the debt ceiling. Here's what he said at his news conference today:
So we've got to pay our bills. And Republicans in Congress have two choices here: They can act responsibly, and pay America’s bills; or they can act irresponsibly, and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The financial well-being of the American people is not leverage to be used. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip.

And they better choose quickly, because time is running short.
And here's Speaker Boehner's response.
The House will do its job and pass responsible legislation that controls spending, meets our nation's obligations and keeps the government running...
The problem the Speaker has is that last time the House passed a budget (Paul Ryan's), it ADDED $6 trillion to the debt over 10 years. And remember Boehner's "Plan B?" How'd that one work out for you Mr. Speaker?

The fact of the matter is that Boehner has two really big problems in trying to pull off what he's suggesting:
  1. Any legislation he could put together would have to lay bare what it is the Republicans have been trying to avoid for months now...they want to end the safety net - primarily Medicare and Medicaid. So the specifics would wind up being a political nightmare for Republicans - "kill programs the public supports or we'll blow up the economy."
  2. I doubt that anything the Speaker might be able to cobble together would please the tea party lunatics in his caucus. They want blood - and the more the better. That's why his last attempt at Plan B failed so spectacularly.
I don't think we have to worry about how the Senate will react since this legislative pipe dream of Boehner's will never see the light of day.

During the campaign, President Obama talked about "breaking the fever" that has gripped the Republican Party lately. The election didn't accomplish that. But he just invited them to step into the pool that might pull it off.


  1. Uggh. I know that whatever's coming will be difficult to watch. Well, I'll say this: they are fascinating creatures -- horrifyingly, stunningly fascinating.


  2. The article you link to on Paul Ryan talks about things he voted on which increased the debt. Not the same thing as the House's budget

    1. Oops, I had several articles open and inserted the wrong one. Fixed now.

    2. How much did Obama's budget add to the debt over the same time period?


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