May 10, 2011 Leave a comment
In his facebook feed, John F. nicely analogized Boehner’s tax increases are off the table for dealing with the budget deficit:
All options for putting out the fire are on the table, except water. I will not yield on this.
Nice. This morning, Chait did a nice job of gaming out Obama’s optimum strategy for dealing with Boehner’s bluff on the debt ceiling. The logic seems impeccable to me– I’m going to be really curious to see if Obama follows a strategy along these lines. Chait:
It seems to me that Obama’s play here is clear: He needs to ask Boehner to spell out his demands. What’s the exact bill that Boehner demands as a condition for not crippling the U.S. economy? If he wants to make demands, he needs to write out those demands.
I don’t think Boehner will do it. Boehner got through the government shutdown by cutting billions, not trillions, which allowed him to focus on small-bore programs and programs that only benefit the poor or vulnerable. But if he wants to cut trillions, then he faces real political peril.
Boehner is trying to get around this problem by doing two things at once. He is placating his base by using a hostage strategy to force Obama to make concessions he doesn’t like. But he also wants Obama to lend him cover to make highly unpopular spending cuts. Obama would be crazy to go along with that. If Boehner wants to take hostages and demand some Medicare cuts, then he needs to say what those cuts are. if he wants to make a deal, then he needs to let the hostage go.
But if he wants to hold the debt ceiling hostage for a budget deal, then Obama should force him to say exactly what he needs in order to raise the debt ceiling. If he refuses to say, Obama needs to tell Wall Street that the negotiations are dead until Boehner puts something specific on the table. If Boehner puts a real plan on the table, Obama can go to the public and say this is what the Republicans are demanding. Allowing Boehner to simultaneously make exorbitant demands, refrain from spelling out those demands, and try to gain bipartisan cover for those demands would be a preposterously weak move by Obama. He can’t possibly be that weak a negotiator. Can he?
Can he? I damn sure hope not. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he is.