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Will we really do any better on the debt ceiling negotiation?

It’s been said that the GOP will get serious about spending reductions when the debt ceiling comes to a vote. Supposedly we have more leverage on that issue.

I’m thinking not. The GOP has less leverage on that issue.

The basic structure of the debt ceiling vote is similar to the fiscal cliff vote. Republicans have the ability to block something the President wants, with a painful consequence if a deal is not struck.

However, with the debt ceiling, the overall breakdown value is worse than it was with the fiscal cliff vote, and is far worse for Republicans than Democrats. If the fiscal cliff had broken down, there would have been some negative economic consequences, public pressure, and if it dragged on long enough, perhaps some electoral pain. Had we gone off the cliff in a meaningful way, we might have even eventually worked out a better deal. But Congress was unable to bear the pain.

The debt ceiling is worse for Republicans in several ways. Firstly, the overall consequences of a breakdown are worse in the sense that a sovereign default would almost guarantee a severe and long-lasting depression that would make the Great Recession look like a walk in the park. Secondly, knowing that this consequence is unbearable to Obama as well, we should anticipate his actions. Who doubts that Obama would invoke the 14th Amendment, or perhaps pull out the old platinum coin trick? The breakdown value of the debt ceiling negotiation could be a massive unconstitutional power grab by the executive. Huzzah!

If we try to play hardball with the debt ceiling, we’d get a repeat of the fiscal cliff vote, and we’d walk away with out pants around our ankles.

Does anybody think that a Congress unable to explode the daisy-cutter they were sitting on will have the intestinal fortitude to explode the debt ceiling nuclear device? I thought not.

No. Pass the debt ceiling, relatively cleanly. I mean, sure, try to get some cuts, but when push comes to shove, just pass the thing.

Then shut down the government – Gingrich style. Don’t pass another spending bill. Save for defense and homeland security, don’t so much as appropriate toilet paper for government lavatories. Not one dime.

Deprive Obama of something he wants. The relative pain of the breakdown values should be reversed. Obama loves government. So do Republicans, but less so than Obama. Take it from him. Perhaps for months.

And if you think a prolonged total government shut-down is too harsh, you really didn’t have the stomach for the debt ceiling vote in the first place.

(“Plan B” is looking pretty sweet right now, ain’t it? Remember that.)

January 2, 2013 at 11:51 pm
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