The Best Way To Lose On the Debt Ceiling
In the 1984 film “Revenge of the Nerds”, the heroes (the nerds) line up for a tug-of-war competition with the villains (the football team). Outnumbered and seriously overmatched, they’re facing certain defeat, and the humiliation of being dragged through a large mud puddle.
They deal with it brilliantly: When the starter’s gun goes off, they let go of the rope. The football team tumbles to the ground, angry and deprived of their chance to humiliate the nerds. As as the football players struggle to their feet, the lead nerd smiles at them and says “You win!”
This is exactly the choice we face on the debt ceiling – indeed, on most issues for the next two (perhaps four) years. We have neither the numbers nor the leverage to muscle our agenda through the House and Senate, let alone to override Obama’s veto pen. And trying to block him on the debt ceiling will result in endless nightly press conferences: ”The Republicans are refusing to negotiate. They want your children to go to bed hungry.” It’s a fight we can’t win.
Well, if you’re facing a fight you can’t win, the best course of action is: Don’t Fight That Fight. Hold a press conference yourselves, and announce something like this: “Barack Obama’s fiscal policies are insane. However, we don’t have the numbers to stop him, and by trying we would hurt you more than we would help the country. We hope you, the voters, make more sensible choices in 2014 and 2016. Have a nice day.”