Here’s some analysis from Greg Sargent that’s enough to make one nauseous:
There’s no way around it: Republicans have won the political war over the debt ceiling. The House is set to vote today on a proposal for a debt ceiling hike without any spending cuts attached. It will be rejected — the GOP is unified against it, and even some Democrats will vote No. This is the “clean” vote Dems originally sought, but it’s now clear that Dems think it’s politically impossible not to accede to the GOP demand for deep cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.And so, with the Biden-led deficit negotiations set to resume this week, Mitch McConnell has now begun insisting that big Medicare cuts will be necessary in exchange for GOP support for the debt ceiling hike. Thanks to their willingness to draw a hard line at the outset, Republicans now appear poised to win big concessions in exchange for supporting something that they and everyone else have already said is inevitable.
In fact, it’s so nauseating that I’m having a hard time believing it: thus, the title of my post. Maybe I am just being gullible about this.
The Republicans are in deep trouble over Medicare. They lost a safe GOP House seat because of it. Obama’s poll numbers are going up because of it. The Democrats now have an advantage in the generic congressional ballot because of it. McConnell’s gambit is to take it off the table by forcing the Democrats to sign onto Medicare cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. And the Democrats are going to go along with it?
There are several possibilities, then, that could explain this report.
1) The Democrats are so blitheringly idiotic that they are cutting their own throats. In other words, gross political malpractice.
2) The Democrats actually want to cut Medicare, and are using this as a justification.
3) Sargent is wrong; the mere fact that the Dems won’t vote for a “clean” debt ceiling increase doesn’t mean that they aren’t pushing for it; it’s just that they have other pressure points to use, namely, the fact that the GOP’s money masters will not let them sink the credit of the United States Government, and put billions of their dollar-denominated assets into question. Republican donors are selfish plutocrats, but when push comes to shove, they are selfish first, plutocrats second.
At this point, I am still leaning toward Door #3. This is mostly because I don’t believe that Obama is a political idiot, and I do believe that he sees health care policy as central to his legacy. On Medicare, this is the man who closed the donut hole, and is now pursuing some of the most important efficiency reforms in Medicare’s history. I’ll need a lot more data before jumping to conclusions. Besides, one central fact jumps out at me from Sargent’s report: he is focusing almost entirely on the House Democrats, perhaps the least-relevant caucus in the negotiations now. I wouldn’t draw many conclusions from what they are doing.
I have no idea what’s going on inside Biden’s negotiations over the debt, but I have yet to see that reporters do. And now that I think about it, I’m not even sure that the people inside the room know, either.
Obama does this a lot; sacrifices on the rhetoric, and then we find that he has gotten what he wanted from the beginning. The budget deal a couple of months ago was a good example: turns out that the federal government will spend $3 billion more this year than it would have otherwise. That’s not to deny that a lot of the cuts were awful, but they were far less awful than they could have been, and they wound up weakening Boehner and enraging his caucus, getting that caucus to go all-in on the Ryan plan, which has injured them more.
I’m fully prepared to lambaste the President, but I don’t see it here. Yet.
UPDATE: If you believe TPM, I’m right. So far, Obama hasn’t caved. The quotes coming from the GOP appear to become more and more desperate.
“Unfortunately, what we did not hear from the president is a specific plan of his to deal with the debt crisis,” sad Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).
That’s because if he’s smart, you’re not going to get one, Jeb. You’re in big trouble on Medicare, and Obama isn’t going to bail you out (again, if he’s smart). He’s going to wait for your Wall Street Galtian overlords to start screaming at you.