Marc Thiessen of AEI bases his proposed negotiating strategy for the Republicans on one simple idea: that the President cares more about the country than they do. Therefore, if they threaten to besmirch the national honor and wreck the national credit by forcing a default – which is what not raising the debt ceiling means – the President has no choice but to give in to their demands.
Unlike with the fiscal cliff, Republicans have all the leverage when it comes to the debt limit. Today, Obama is perfectly willing to go over the fiscal cliff and blame the GOP for the resulting tax increases on the middle class. But when it comes to the debt limit, he does not have that luxury. He can’t default on our debt — the consequences are too catastrophic. So in the end he will cave.
Alas, I think Thiessen is right: most Republicans in Congress are substantially less patriotic than is the President, so that when they threaten to damage the country they’re proposing something that will hurt him more than it does them. And that’s why any resolution of the “fiscal cliff” problem involving any concessions at all on the President’s part must include a permanent resolution of the debt-ceiling problem.
In the meantime, reflect that America’s owning class and corporate apparatchiki – the people who support AEI – are willing to pay the salary of a man such as Thiessen, whose class loyalty is so much stronger than his national loyalty that he, too, is willing to damage the country as long as it serves the short-term selfish interests of those who pay him.