Patterico's Pontifications

4/22/2011

Republicans Hold the Cards in the Debt Ceiling Fight; UPDATE: And Apparently Plan to Fold, As Usual

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:08 am

I read a piece somewhere that argued that Republicans have to vote to increase the debt ceiling, because . . . well, they just have to. (We’re going to hit the ceiling in the next few days, so this is a very topical issue.) The implication of the article is that Republicans’ bargaining position is weak, because they have no choice.

On the contrary. The politics of this says they hold all the cards. Via Hot Air comes a CBS poll that says shows Americans opposed to raising the debt ceiling, by a 2-1 margin.

Since when is it a weak bargaining position to have 2/3 of the country behind your position?

If Republicans are going to vote to raise the debt ceiling — and not to do so will indeed cause financial chaos — they have to extract concessions sufficient that they can credibly say: this is the last such vote we will ever have to have. These concessions prove it.

Decide what concessions are important, demand them, and stick to your demand. Don’t fold when you have all the cards.

Just say: we want this to be the last time we ever raise this ceiling. The Democrats want to raise it forever.

Then say it again. And again. And again.

And don’t let them blame you. Every time they accuse you of wanting to ruin us financially, point out that they have the power to agree to your reasonable demands — which, if they are not met, simply means we will be back in the same position in six months or so. Because, after all: we want this to be the last time we ever raise this ceiling. The Democrats want to raise it forever.

Time to see whether Boehner has the ability to stand firm.

UPDATE: Reason to doubt that he does: this article, which states that lawmakers are planning to give themselves political cover by essentially passing a set of goals and targets — i.e., lip service. The article’s key paragraph:

The tough decisions would come after the debt limit vote, when lawmakers would have to decide each year exactly how to find the needed savings.

Nope. The tough decisions have to be made NOW. When we hold the cards.

But of course, we all know they won’t be.

Get ready to be absolutely infuriated. Again.

72 Responses to “Republicans Hold the Cards in the Debt Ceiling Fight; UPDATE: And Apparently Plan to Fold, As Usual”

  1. This needs to be a watershed moment.

    Why am I skeptical?

    Patterico (c218bd)

  2. Perhaps because of articles like this:

    The tough decisions would come after the debt limit vote, when lawmakers would have to decide each year exactly how to find the needed savings.

    Nope. The tough decisions have to be made NOW.

    But of course, we all know they won’t be.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  3. It is true that one needs to pick your battles, but the Repubs seem to have “next one syndrome” and will not be taken seriously (nor should they be) until they decide to pick the battle and hold their stand.

    I do have some sympathy for their position, for not only do they need to do the right thing for the right reasons, they will have to overcome the Dem-Media machine to make it work. IMHO, just because 2/3rds of the public supposedly doesn’t want to raise the debt ceiling, I don’t think that is a guarantee that the majority will be applauding such a move by the Repubs in 2 weeks.

    But to never choose a place to stand and fight is to make a choice.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  4. Liberalism needs to be banned unless it is actual liberalism.

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  5. Public approval be damned, we’re about to Public Approval ourselves into economic oblivion. Of course they need to use these moments to teach some basic economics, but kow-towing to polls won’t save our nation.

    We gave them a historic mandate and they refuse to use it.

    quiznilo (6151d2)

  6. If the GOP were Leonidas they would be holding the line at Piraeus, that’s the port city of Athens, before you end up in the Aegean

    narciso (79ddc3)

  7. well, the reason why they are afraid to do it, is this.

    yes, right now the people support not raising the debt ceiling.

    but how will they feel if the republicans refuse to do so and the democrats trigger economic disaster? will the people turn on them. that is the fear.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  8. nar

    if they were leonidas, it would go like this…

    Democrats: this is madness.

    republicans: THIS IS SPAR– ah, frick it, I give up.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  9. I do not trust Team R to have a spine, and simply do not trust Team D. Look at how they demagogued 352 million in cuts.

    JD (a8f2ae)

  10. My understanding was the real deadline is sometime in July rather than in early May, that there are measures that can be taken to get us to then, which helps explain the lack of urgency so far.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  11. Why the hell did I double post?

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  12. Pat,

    Apparently the pain for America isnt enough yet, people still have jobs and their houses, when these are being threatened again finally some resolution to the liberalism in this country will be solved, and is unfortunate that soo many people will have to greatly suffer, but in life people rarely react proactively, our leaders in the House realize that holding on to power is more important proactively – than giving the house back in 2012 as the purists are wont to do.

    Yes we should be infuriated – but we didint give 65 70 senators to the republicans – which – is what is needed to enact any meaningful reforms

    We even re-elected reid

    EricPWJohnson (6c5758)

  13. It is Palin and the TEA party’s fault that we don’t control the Senate.

    JD (a8f2ae)

  14. Please, GOP, surprise me.

    Do the right thing.

    Patricia (532877)

  15. JD

    Partly true, finally people are getting over the hysterical backlash and actually writing abut her record – the House in Alaska repealed her legacy and now only the same senate democrats who filed ethics charges against her are now defending her policies

    And yes Palin injected herself half heartedly into supporting a candidate whom did ruin the chances of pickups in Nev, Colo, Oregon and Washington State and left Reid in Power nixing all the anger vent up over Pelosi

    Even BigJolly at BigJollyPolitics – whom I personally warned that he would rue the day the TEA Party existed – is rueing away…

    And this absurdity that people re favoring a debt ceiling hold 2-1 is so much bull

    If they were concerned they wouldnt have re-elected Reid and his debt

    EricPWJohnson (6c5758)

  16. But its soo much easier to get angry at Republicans – getting angry at Democrats takes money, time, effort to defeat the easy thing to do is to burn down our own house

    Purity is like a warm blanket

    EricPWJohnson (6c5758)

  17. Thanks to the gambling unions.

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  18. this is what you get when you reelect the same boehnerdouche whore leadership what screwed you silly the last time you put his cowardly douchewhore crew in power

    happyfeet (760ba3)

  19. “Purity is like a warm blanket”

    Lining your pockets with crazy oil company money is much easier.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  20. if boehner tried to make this a watershed moment – you have to remember this – he will lose – and Team R will get shafted shafted shafted

    why?

    because he is a cowardly whore p.o.s. loser and he can’t pull this sort of thing off. The 2010 budget deal was a dress rehearsal and poor sad boehner got his girl scout cookies stolened.

    happyfeet (760ba3)

  21. As long as they can borrow, they will.

    I suppose they still have our great-grandchildren’s homes to put on the table, so they haven’t hit bottom yet.

    Amphipolis (b120ce)

  22. Partly true?! I was effin mocking you and your idiocy. You never fail to sink below the low standards we have come to expect from you.

    JD (a8f2ae)

  23. I maintain that the status quo will essentially remain intact, and that a long period of economic pain is unavoidable. I do believe that a default could be avoided with decisive action, but that is really scarce commodity these days. I also want to go on record in saying that the left’s Cloward-Priven strategy will not work as expected and desired.

    Jeff Crump (f9f615)

  24. And Powerline is saying the front runners for president are Romney – Huckabee – and Pawlenty. It feels good to know that the Republicans will put up a candidate who really stands for something! (Himself, if nothing else.)

    Gesundheit (d7ea47)

  25. Did crappyfeet use a word that rhymes with sore?

    Do you chastise your mother with that mouth?

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  26. I don’t agree that financial disaster will immediately result. There will be tumult in the markets, but it will serve to focus the politicians’ minds on what must be done.

    Here are a couple of positives that would come out of not raising the debt ceiling:

    The GOP could emphasize that SS and Medicare, as currently formulated, produce more revenue from FICA taxes than they currently require, and checks to seniors and health care providers will continue uninterrupted. They are a problem in the future, but on their own they are not a problem now.

    Second, the US would use its income and other tax revenues to continue paying without interruption all its obligations in terms of interest and principal on debt instruments it has already issued. There would be no default and no crisis in the credit markets once it was clear that there would be no interruption.

    Third, from remaining income and other tax revenues, the gov’t would continue to fund the national defense and homeland security costs as those are uniquely federal obligations.

    After that, ALL REMAINING federal spending would need to be prioritized against the balance of tax revenues available to fund it. What spending shakes out at the bottom — in other words, if forced to live on a spending budget that included NO BORROWING, what programs would Congress chose to not fund at all? That is where spending cuts would begin, and work up the list until money was available.

    I suspect Congress and the President would be quick to abandon lots of things like ethanol subsidies — no matter how loudly Tom Harkin and Charles Grassley might whine — and foreign marketing subsidies for multinational corporations.

    Until there is some prioritized order for spending that replaces base-line budgeting — where the default position is that every program is worthy of spending at least as much as it did last year, with the only question being how much of an increase is warranted for next year — the spending habits of politicians won’t change.

    But, if there is a demand to prioritize spending — like cutting up the national credit card — and separate the worthy from the not-so-worthy, then we will finally see a path back towards fiscal sanity.

    shipwreckedcrew (436eab)

  27. It’s the damn polls and pollsters. (Not the trending ones, but the specific issue ones.)

    Random people giving half assed responses to badly worded and/or leading questions in tiny surveys with only a few pre-tested answers that never incorporate larger ramifications, then culminate with published results which are nearly always improperly weighted. This is a problem. This is what is guiding the politicians of both parties. This is what makes good and decent public servants get wobbly. These daily and weekly polls are the fluffy crud that is presently guiding and directing the future and fortunes of our blessed two hundred year old republic–the Last Great Hope on Earth. Hey,there’s another election to be won!
    Thankfully Lincoln and George Washington did not have public opinion polls as a distraction to their work.

    elissa (c74994)

  28. Comment by shipwreckedcrew — 4/22/2011 @ 9:03 am,

    I may be off here but based on 2010 numbers of 3.5 trillion spent and 2.2 trillion revenue, SS, Medicare/Medicaid, debt interest, and defense, equal 68% or 2.38 trillion leaving nothing for the federal government, in fact they are already in the hole 180 billion. What am I missing?

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  29. I do have some sympathy for their position, for not only do they need to do the right thing for the right reasons, they will have to overcome the Dem-Media machine to make it work.

    The key word is media.

    The Dems have a monopoly on broadcast networks, national wire services, national weekly newsmagazines, national daily newspapers, and regional daily newspapers. Independents and swing voters get all their news from these sources.

    Republicans can not do anything without breaking this monopoly.

    Michael Ejercito (64388b)

  30. “economic disaster?” Jeeze, people, do you ever tire of spouting the hysterical rhetoric?

    Not increasing our national debt limit is NOT going to trigger economic disaster. No more than not having your personal credit card limit increased sends you into bankruptcy court.

    Federal coffers at the IRS will continue to see revenue. Bills will still be paid, interest will still be met, and payroll will still be cut. But some things, in order to make the outflow equal to the income, will have to go. In other words, the federal government will have to live on its own income and just will not be able to borrow any more money. That is NOT going to spiral our economic into another Great Depression.

    Here is a thought: end some of the waste and fraud that is the federal government. We are spending money we don’t have because the federal government has no incentive to function in a fiscally sound way. For example: all health insurance companies have loss prevention departments. These departments are designed for no other reason than to root out fraud, and make sure that people are not paid for bogus claims. That allows the insurance company to pay out honest claims, and make a profit. But the federal government, having no incentive to do so due to a steady flow of income from taxpayers don’t do that. So we have billions of money going out in what the General Accounting Office calls “improper payments.” How much does that amount to? Let’s take a look at just a few of the agencies listed:

    Medicare Fee-For-Service – DHHS – $34.3
    Medicaid – DHHS – $22.5
    Medicare Advantage – DHHS – $13.6

    That is $70.4 BILLION that Kathleen Sebilius has let sift through her fingers. And the reasons given? Insufficient or no documentation, inelibible status (meaning the patient was not entitled to those benefits), errors in payment calculations.

    How about the Earned Income Tax Credit that creates a payday for zero liablity taxpayers?
    A loss in $16.9 BILLION. Reason? FRAUD. People claiming the deduction that were not eligible for it.

    Unemployment insurance? Yep, the federal government paid out $17.5 BILLION to people who were still working or had returned to work.

    The debt limit should not be increased. It is just a legal permit for the federal government to continue to waste the dollars you have worked so hard to earn. The government needs to live within its means, and today, not down the road. If people like Kathleen Sebilius cannot run an effective agency, she should be fired, TODAY.

    retire05 (2d538e)

  31. how will they feel if the republicans refuse to do so and the democrats trigger economic disaster?

    What would economic disaster look like? Would illegals go back home? Would China refuse to sell us anymore of their crap?

    j curtis (0fc606)

  32. I read a piece somewhere that argued that Republicans have to vote to increase the debt ceiling, because . . . well, they just have to.

    In fact, they do to but they’ve already secured a significant win, by finally forcing the long averted discussion/debate/bickering/horsetrading/battle etc., over deficits and debt management into the forefront of public discourse. But if the GOP wants to mess with economics of the planet and play ‘Cuban Missile Crisis-style’ brinksmanship w/t full faith and credit of the United States and go ‘eyeball to eyeball’ w/Democrats and the financial community, Republicans will end up in the roll of Nikita Khrushchev, and blink.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  33. Yeah, because if the GOP wants to cut the budget and the President does not reach an agreement with them, then its all the GOP’s fault.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  34. Obama voted against the debt ceiling increase. Many prominent democrats did so.

    Now they claim doing so is horrible and unpatriotic because they are liars.

    DCSCA (c16eca)

  35. Are you really saying that or are you just joking?

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  36. Comment 34 was mine. I realize it’s clearly not DCSCA because it’s written above a third grade level, but I don’t want to confuse him.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  37. Republicans will end up in the roll of Nikita Khrushchev

    – In the “roll” of what? the fat of his double chin?

    Icy Texan (82fcef)

  38. full faith and credit of the United States

    The full faith and credit clause has nothing to do with finances, nimrod.

    Some chump (4c6c0c)

  39. Mark Miller was more conservative than your guy Eric so get over yourself.

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  40. “Republicans will end up in the roll of Nikita Khrushchev, and blink.”

    Disco Stu – Nah, most Americans are smart enough to know the Dems are playing the role of the communists so poor analogy. The Dems are more like hunger strikers looking to die unless the Republicans cave in (plays to the Dem fear mongering rhetoric).

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  41. @#36-Thank you, Dustin, for correcting your error– and for revealing your use of my handle on the sockpuppet thread. Have a safe holiday weekend, fella.

    @#37- That’s funny. @#38- That’s funny, too. There’s a sale on Visine at CVS. Get some as you’re gonna be doin’ a lot of blinking.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  42. The full faith and credit clause has nothing to do with finances, nimrod.

    I’ve noticed that many, perhaps most, of DCSCA’s comments are simply rewritten versions of other people’s comments. Obama used this ‘full faith and credit’ language, which was a mistake. The reason DCSCA repeats that mistake is open to speculation, but perhaps it’s because he is unable to think for himself.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  43. @#36-Thank you, Dustin, for correcting your error– and for revealing your use of my handle on the sockpuppet thread. Have a safe holiday weekend, fella.

    I will, and you do the same.

    Also, I have no idea what a sockpuppet thread is. I share this computer with my roommate in Brazil.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  44. Yeah, Disco Stu. Like nobody else ever sockpuppets as you.

    Icy Texan (82fcef)

  45. @#38- That’s funny, too.

    What’s really funny is that you don’t know what the full faith and credit clause is really about, and you’re just doubling down on your stupidity.

    Now, Article 1 Section 8 empowers Congress to borrow money on the credit of the United States of America, but that’s not the full faith and credit clause.

    Some chump (4c6c0c)

  46. Listen to Some Chump, DCSCA. This is a pretty stupid mistake to make. You’re not talking about gay marriage, you’re talking about debt. Obama wanted to say something constitutiony, but shows an amazing ignorance. You’re just a lazy internet troll, so it’s not really the same degree of problem that you’d merely repeat Obama’s dumb gaffe verbatim. My hope is that if you realize how stupid your comment was, you will figure out something about Obama’s competence.

    I mean, he’s supposedly a constitutional law expert and he doesn’t know gradeschool level concepts.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  47. IMP and epwj are having an idiot contest with jharpy today. Dead heat, so far.

    JD (822109)

  48. @#38/#45/#46:

    The full faith and credit clause has nothing to do with finances, nimrod.

    ROFLMAO yeah, it is pretty funny- some ‘chumps’ just never seem to learn, eh ‘nimrod’:

    “Full Faith and Credit:
    A situation in which a government agrees to repay a debt no matter what. For example, if a bond is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, the U.S. government must find some way to repay the bond. U.S. Treasury securities, Ginnie Mae bonds, and some other debt securities are call full-faith-and-credit bonds because they have this backing. Municipalities may also attach full faith and credit to their bonds, but this means less than the credit of the United States.”
    source, http://financial-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Full+Faith+and+Credit

    Seems President Obama was correct as well– again. Grade school, indeed, ‘Dustin.’ Speaking of which, go dye some eggs. Have a safe one down there in in ‘Brazil,’ Texas.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  49. EPWJ is and has always been an idiot.

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  50. DCSCA – Different context, moron.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  51. @#38- Per DCSCA’s posted comment: “full faith and credit of the United States”– no reference to the Constutition, ‘nimrod.’ Some chump, indeed.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  52. @#50- Sober up, moron.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  53. Another manic IMP day. Sweet.

    JD (0d2ffc)

  54. Polls on this topic, and on the budget fight more generally, are meaningless.

    Tell me the result you want and give me $10k and I’ll produce a poll saying anything you want by any margin you want it.

    This is an area particularly subject to manipulation by how you ask the questions.

    I’m sorry, but I reject any assertion that any poll (other than the electoral polls on election day) actually prove anything meaningful about what will happen if, for example, there’s no compromise before the current debt ceiling is reached. Sure, we can guess. Yes, I engaging in the guessing games too. Yes, we can identify factors that ought to cut differently now than they have in the past.

    But anyone who claims to have a clear and sound idea of what’s going to happen at the showdown is deluding him- or herself, and anyone to whom that notion is being promoted. The political risks — and who would gain or lose in November 2012 from a political crisis in spring 2011 — is impossible to quantify.

    I am not against being tough now. I’m not against driving as hard a bargain as can be driven. I’m not even categorically against the notion that a showdown now would turn out well.

    But I’m 100% sure that there is a lot of time left before November 2012. I’m 100% sure — because it’s a function of the constitutional specification for how often we elect presidents and congressmen and senators — that it will be the November 2012 election which will decide these issues into the middle of this decade.

    I don’t think it’s the right time now to throw caution to the wind and plunge ahead as if we’re certain we know how this is going to turn out, because nobody does.

    Beldar (cd529f)

  55. DCSCA is one of those guys that just can’t admit he’s wrong. Goes hand in hand with lying about his background. He cares so much about his internet persona that his internet persona became a punchline.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  56. Bah. Seems like my best chance of steering clear of the comments filter is always to mange a verb tense and omit a definite article or two. Sorry for the garble if it impairs my point.

    Beldar (cd529f)

  57. Every time they accuse you of wanting to ruin us financially, point out that they have the power to agree to your reasonable demands — which, if they are not met, simply means we will be back in the same position in six months or so.

    And then get the blame because the Democrats will successfully propagandize the matter until everyone thinks that the demands are unreasonable.

    Which is why, as what’s-his-nom says, is why Boehner will find himself in the roll of villain.

    always to mange a verb tense
    [envisions Beldar forcing a reluctant verb to the sink to get its over-due shampoo. Not of course that I never ever mange a verb tense or otherwise typo a word myself. What, never? No, never. What, never? Well, hardly ever.]

    kishnevi (07cf78)

  58. Consequences.

    Angeleno (2ffd38)

  59. “Just say: we want this to be the last time we ever raise this ceiling”

    But they don’t. They just passed the Ryan plan, which requires trillions in new debt.

    I’m shocked you think the GOP has the cards here. The debt ceiling has to go up or people won’t get paid. Holding this hostage isn’t so hot.

    jasonc (6fa251)

  60. The debt ceiling has to go up or people won’t get paid.

    LIE

    JD (318f81)

  61. The alternative would be to raise revenue, but since we’re talking about actual payments due, it would have to start flowing in mighty quick.

    jasonc (d03d04)

  62. That is not the only alternative.

    JD (318f81)

  63. Either more money comes in or less goes out. And since we’re talking about debt and payments due, the more time the GOP dwadles, the less time they have to change the amount of payments due or money coming in. So they really don’t have that many cards, cuz pretty soon the limit will be reached.

    jasonc (b5a79f)

  64. Via Hot Air comes a CBS poll that shows Americans opposed to raising the debt ceiling, by a 2-1 margin.

    Shallow.

    Most Americans don’t understand the implications of not raising the debt ceiling.

    Walsingham (2e22bd)

  65. The debt ceiling has to go up or people won’t get paid.

    You never did correct this lie. You just moved on to a false choice.

    Shallow.

    Many people do not realize the consequences of continuing to increase the debt limit, while doing nothing to fix what causes them to need to.

    JD (318f81)

  66. -You never did correct this lie. You just moved on to a false choice.

    You either have less going out or more coming in. There’s nothing else to it. The GOP has few cards because they aren’t acting on a time scale to affect this — the ability to cut spending such that it affects payments due before the debt ceiling gets hit is really narrow.

    jasonc (a9197b)

  67. Candidate Obama was accidentally right about this issue, but he did not realize it, because he was being a contrarian hyper-partisan reflexively opposing continuously raising the debt ceiling.

    JD (318f81)

  68. good job moving on.

    jasonc (3a0f11)

  69. I almost give a shlt what you think, “jasonc”. Almost.

    JD (318f81)

  70. Congress : please?! Just one more time. I swear I will only use it in emergencies. Please?!
    Parent : that is what you said last time.
    congress : this time is different. I swear. I will be responsible this time.
    Parent : okay. Just this one last time. But don’t ask again.
    congress : u r the best. I heart you.
    6 hours later ….
    congress : dad, you are never going to believe what just happened.

    JD (318f81)

  71. Wealth is created by labor and the investment of capital to create more labor and wealth.

    Government does not create wealth nor labor, although it does have a role in promoting and regulating both.

    Punishing wealth to promote labor is a tried and true political tactic that usually results in the detriment of labor.

    But it feels so good it can’t be stopped.

    Ag80 (6134b7)

  72. The USA is spending an eye watering $2.5bn a day (Yes a day) on fighting wars when the USA is not even under attack but they don’t seem to put that on the table when they talk about debt spending and stopping people pensions who have paid for them all their lives.

    Click my name to see a full breakdown of this $2.5bn or if you don’t believe it’s really that high.

    Flash-Invader (253985)


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