Carney said today, "We have a divided government. We have a two-party system. No party controls every branch of government. Compromise is the only option."That's true, but of course his definition of compromise involves giving in to Obama's rigid demand for tax increases (even though Obama said it's unwise to raise taxes during a recession), promises of massive distant cuts (that can be overturned in future budgets--imagine Pelosi grinning and holding that huge gavel again), and Boehner's likely demise as Speaker if he agrees (after a Tea Party revolution casts him off for heresy).
It's a tough spot--one Boehner had no choice but to place himself in after the O sucker punched him with a last minute dealbreaking tax increase in their previous almost deal. Speaker John walked out (stormed?) and decided he would only play with the adults in Congress, which caused last night.
But the GOP dare not dismiss the hackery. Obama's working off a time tested formula. He knows the washed and unwashed masses who don't know a debt ceiling from a hole in the wall will side with him when he starts really scaring them--after all, this is the president of the United States talking--and money is involved. The Tea Party is still a minority.
What to do? Boehner can continue to ignore Hopey and work with Dopey in the Senate, hoping Barick's political capital has run dry as advertised and planning things around an eventual O'cave-in later this week. But desperate men do desperate things, and O is probably being counseled that this is his Newt Gingrich winner take all moment for 2012. That's probably why he reeled Biden back in and opened up a massive can of boilerplate. Never let a crisis go to waste.
If Boehner agrees to a relatively clean bill on the last day he will get blamed by both the TP'ers and Dems, getting stuck with any perceived damage to the markets and our credit rating, which will be ginned up by the White House propaganda factory and parroted by the baby bird media. The damage will not only be to him personally, but to the entire GOP.
Boehner could of course cave now and allow the massive tax increase but everyone knows the outcome there, so it's not worth discussing.
Or....Boehner can start saying, "ok sir, you're right, we're dysfunctional--including you--so if you want compromise we've got a compromise ready that basically does nothing but extend the limit for 9 months, just like previous extensions". Problem is, this would technically favor Obama since he didn't want any major debt decreases in the first place, but he couldn't very well admit that after fashioning himself as Captain Deficit, so that might lock him up. Then again, the baby bird media is there.
It might be the only way, though. Boehner would need to make repeated statements alluding to the fact the government is so divided that it's useless taking the chance of busting the debt limit over a rigid demand for tax increases--that it's something the people will need to decide in decision 2012, and therefore the only responsible and adult thing to do is pass an extension just like the preceding versions. He can then point out how Obama called his own no vote on extending the limit in 2006 a 'mistake'.
The Tea Party might be mad they didn't get a huge deal but not as mad as with other outcomes. Further counterattacks from Obama demanding a tax increase would start to look pettier by the day and also illustrate his singular goal from this affair--tax increases.
Then again, that scenario kinda leaves the impression that the entire thing is an elaborate kabuki dance. Which it is, really. But at least very little actual damage would be done.
Some of the baby birds are jumping out of the nest. And doing their jobs. It's promising to see a reporter actually interrupt one of the press lackeys instead of allowing endless scolding filibusters even if it is Ed Henry, one of the few who would push back in the press room when he was with CNN, now with Fox News.
Some recent history from Timmy Geithner...
Amazingly we didn't melt down in March, although he avoided it by writing IOUs to the government pension program. Is there another magic accounting trick available this time?
Notice what the baby bird reporterette said at the end: "now we've got a date on the calendar to hopefully provide some push forward". That's part of the arsenal at Obama's disposal. Nothing turns off the mass public like financial numbers, although EVERYBODY cares about their own finances. When they hear threats and warnings that might hit home, they take notice. Obama is now exploiting this fear perhaps as no Democrat has ever done before, and certainly as no modern president has done before.
Again, as postulated above, my position is not a cave. It calls for Boehner to craft a short term clean deal raising the limit for no more than 9 months, coupled with a blizzard of statements reiterating that divided government will not allow a big deal until we sort things out in 2012. This avoids the radical label--hey, just trying to avoid catastrophe--and if Reid won't take it up or if he does, and Obama won't sign it then let the default begin, which will be entirely on him.