Political maven Keith Hennesey backs the Boehner bill as both viable and not so bad on the merits:
First I’ll flag what I like about the substance of the bill.
- As initially drafted it would cut spending by $850 B over the next decade. That’s not chump change. I expect this number will soon go up to $900 B – $1 T. Update: New version is $917 B in spending cuts over 10.
- It has statutory discretionary spending caps and a sequester to enforce them.
- It does not raise taxes.
- It raises the debt limit, as we must do.
It also tees up House and Senate floor votes on the Balanced Budget Amendment, but that is not my priority. A BBA would take years to enact, and we cannot wait that long to fix the underlying math problem.
I support the Boehner bill for the following reasons:
- It cuts spending and it doesn’t raise taxes. That is an improvement over current law.
- There is nothing in the bill that I dislike. That’s a rarity.
- It is better than the Reid bill, which is the next most likely alternative to become law if the Boehner bill fails.
- It tees up this battle again in 4-6 months, providing another opportunity and keeping the pressure on to cut spending.
- It creates a process that keeps our underlying fiscal policy problems front-and-center for the foreseeable future rather than punting them into 2013.
- I can see no viable alternative strategy to enact a stronger bill.
If I could strengthen the Boehner bill further, my top priority would be to increase the depth and breadth of spending cuts, and especially get savings from the Big 3 entitlement programs. In the process reform world my priority would be the “Cap” portion of “Cut, Cap, and Balance.” I strongly support the 20% of GDP spending cap in that bill.
But I don’t have a viable strategy to enact such an improved bill, and, as best I can tell, neither do those conservatives who oppose the Boehner bill. I think it is a mistake to oppose a bill that improves on current law if you don’t have both a better policy and a strategy to achieve it.
First let’s establish that “Fight harder” and “Communicate your message better” are cheers rather than strategies. Cut, Cap, and Balance is a good policy, it is not a strategy. If you disagree with what Speaker Boehner is doing, present another strategic option, which is more than just a policy or a cheer.
The Boehner bill is expected to reach a vote this afternoon.
NBC's First Read highlights the Democrats collapse strategic withdrawal bold advance in a new direction:
*** In retreat: In this debt debate, who’s up one day can quickly go down the next -- and vice versa. That’s why, after we wrote yesterday that House Speaker John Boehner was boxed in, he now appears likely to get his legislation through the House today (he turned things around the old fashioned way; he willed it). But when you take a step back from the hour-by-hour movements in this debate, it’s obvious how much ground the White House and Democrats have conceded. First, they retreated on their push for a clean debt-ceiling raise. Then they retreated on the size of the spending cuts (now both sides say the cuts must equal or exceed the eventual debt-limit hike). Then they backed away from insisting that tax revenues be included in the final package (both the Boehner and Reid plans exclude them). And now it seems that their final line in the sand is insisting that the debt ceiling must -- in one step -- be raised beyond 2012, versus Boehner’s two-step approach, which would guarantee another debt showdown early next year.
*** Another line in the sand, and another retreat? Yesterday afternoon, the entire Dem Senate caucus -- the 51 Democrats and two Dem-leaning independents -- signed a letter to Boehner saying they’d oppose his legislation if it gets to their chamber. “A short-term extension like the one in your bill would put America at risk, along with every family and business in it,” the letter states. “Your approach would force us once again to face the threat of default in five or six short months. Every day, another expert warns us that your short-term approach could be nearly as disastrous as a default and would lead to a downgrade in our credit rating.” But will Democrats once again blink? Bottom line: It looks like they’ve gotten their clocks cleaned in these negotiations, and Republicans are once again counting on Democrats to retreat. The one thing that could bail out Democrats: that the GOP doesn't know when to declare victory and walk away from the blackjack table.
If we get to Friday and the Senate has yet to pass its own bill, one more concession becomes inevitable.
And the NY Times wonders whether this would be happening if Obama were President:
President on Sidelines in Critical Battle Over Debt Ceiling
Obama and his advisers are studying the polls and conjuring a strategy to present the Boehner bill as not only a big Obama win, but exactly what he sought from the outset. Mickey has provided a draft.