Plan A – How to Win the debt ceiling fight
Why are things so off the rails, with this awful no-good, bad-deal-worse-than-no-deal McConnell punt-and-pass-the-buck ‘offer’ apparently the best idea our leaders can come up with, haplessly up against a lying bad-faith negotiator in President Obama?
1. Fearing a shutdown. The biggest mistake made from the get-go is Speaker Boehner’s incorrect interpretation of how the 1995 government shutdown went down, and his fear of another shutdown. According to the press and Clinton, it was a win for President Clinton. He won the PR warand got re-elected. Never mind that Clinton was benefitting from a better economy, a rather poor campaigner in bob Dole, and had plenty to traingulate with even without a government shutdown. The critical missing element to the analysis is this: Did the end game of legislation reflect the President or the Congress’ priorities?
Answer: CONGRESS. Congress has the power. The only way the President can win is if the Congress willingly gives away that power. In 1995, the government was shutdown for 3 weeks.
2. Not passing bills, AGAIN and AGAIN, to reinforce and make clear the Republican position. WHY HAS THE HOUSE NOT PASSED A DEBT CEILING HIKE ALREADY? one that does exactly what Speaker Boehner wants it to do? Why not get cut, cap and balance done NOW? In 1995, the govt shutdown was ordered not by failure of congress, but by bill clinton vetoing the continuing resolutions. We need to make sure that the only reason for default is because OBAMA VETOED THE DEBT CEILING HIKE. We cannot let him point fingers on this.
3. Negotiating behind closed doors instead of through regular legislative process. Congression porcess gives the House majority MORE POWER. Back room negotiations gives the PRESIDENT more power. Which does Obama want? Why does the leadership give in to Obama?
4. Fearing political fallout rather than focus on the goal – the goal is to get the spending cuts and burden of govt down. That is the promise to the voter. Keep it. Will the squabble between Congress and President unelect Republicans? NO! In 2012, we will likely nominate a governor or outsider, not part of that squabbling. They will not be ‘tainted’ as Dole was in 1996. 23 Democrat Senators will be up for re-election, dont fear hard votes – EMBRACE THEM because the Democrats will face as many and more. It is the democrats after all that pretend we can spend with abandon in irresponsible ways.
These 4 failures of thinking about the debt standoff has led to the mcConnell error: He fails in #4, thinking he is ‘smart’ to put Obama on the hook – instead of thinking how foolish it is to give our spendthrift president the power to decide on what spending cuts to make (hint: Trillions of spending cut opportunities will be thrown away; Ryan plan, thrown away; RSC plan, thrown away; lots of great ideas, flushed … all to satisfy the desire to see what obama would do?!? Folly!) He and Boehner failed in #3, getting trapped in a process where Democrat spin and media enablement of it puts Republicans at a disadvantage, to the point where an uncompromising President is berating them for stubbornness. Only when Cantor up and left the talks, did we peek into the process; it was a bad-faith effort onthe Democrats’ part. but all of this is related to the failure in #1 and #2, playing by Obama’s rules instead of making your own rules.
The solution is simple – Rep Carter spoke of the need to go in regular order, and that is what is needed indeed. That is the process that keeps the House GOP together, instead of split off from a Speaker who is apparently negotiating on a basis and assumption that 60 GOP votes are not even with him (so where is he getting the rest? the good graces of Nancy Pelosi?) If there really are 60 votes to NOT support a COMMON effort to get the GOP position advanced, we need to have a serious amount of cat herding, and blunt talk with folks like Rep Bachmann to, ahem, lead; we need unity on a strong position. There is a better way:
1. Pass spending cut only debt ceiling increase bill in House. Cut, cap and balance.
2. Demand the US Senate act.
3. If they are different, fix it in conference. NO MORE NEGOTIATIONS PRIOR AND ONLY NEGOTIATE ON THE BASIS OF THE HOUSE – SENATE DIFFERENCES.
4. Put on president’s desk.
REGULAR ORDER, REAL LEGISLATING.
the Kabuki theatre talks with president Obama is SOLELY FOR HIS REELECTION. End them. Now. McConnell needed to STFU after his fine speech and let our actions do the talking.
Pass a spending-cut -only debt ceiling increase. NOW. Do cut, cap and balance in the House. NOW. Then – every day – make it crystal clear that the President and Senate stand in the way of operating the government, not the House. And if long-term bill doesnt work, or we cant get a deal with Reid etal, go with gingrich plan of 1 month at a time. $100 billion increase with $100 billion in cuts. AGAIN AND AGAIN PASS THE BILLS IN THE HOUSE TO SHOW THAT THE HOUSE IS NOT THE IMPEDIMENT TO THE OPERATION OF THE GOVERNMENT.
A very bogus argument has been used in favor of Mcconnell’s complicate plan, that it puts the ‘onus’ on the President. Of course that is not what is happening! Real bills passed in the House presented and demanding Senate action on them do exactly that, putting onus on the Democrats in the Senate and on Obama to take action and not just talk.