The Boehner bill raises the debt limit; reduces the rate of spending increases by 0.5%; and strongly sort-of suggests--in a completely nonbinding fashion--that future Congresses should cut spending further.
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As the majority party, the GOP seems to have forgotten that they are negotiating from a position of strength. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives--that's in the Constitution--so "Dingy Harry" Reid putting forward a plan is a non-starter. The House does not have to bother with any spending bill that originates in the Senate. In fact, to hew to the line drawn by the Constitution, it must not consider any such bill.
The wise course for the GOP would have been to send bill after bill after bill to the Senate. Let them vote them all down!
The proper course would have been to send bills which reset spending to 2006 levels, over and over and over again, and let the government hit the damn debt ceiling! To tell the Democrats, "You can vote for this or you can vote against it, but the United States is out of money and out of time. The government has to start living within its means."
Does anyone outside the beltway honestly think such a show of balls and spine would not resonate with the American people? Particularly those who would be inclined to vote Republican anyway?
Oh, but the press would say bad things about them. Can't have that, can we?
This is what the GOP leadership wanted; make no mistake about it. They don't want a showdown on debt and spending, for two reasons. First, because they like being in charge of all that money; money is power inside the beltway. Second, because if they actually stood up to the runaway spending, and stopped it, the economy would tank.
So we get this insane posturing and playacting, and in the end the GOP votes to raise the debt limit (oh, but not as much as the Democrats want!) and to make a infinitesimal scratch on the surface of the glacier of deficit spending.
...which is now going to grow by 6.5% next year instead of 7% like it normally does. Yeah.
The only thing this bill does--other than reveal the GOP for what it really is--is to kick the problem down the street a little further. The bill does nothing to impose any kind of reality on the spending, so we're going to reach the new limit sooner rather than later, and in six months we're going to have the exact same argument--only this time we'll be in the earliest months of a campaign year.
The GOP leadership doesn't want to talk about this in January or February of 2012, not in an election year! It would be disastrous, so I expect they're playing this to lose. "Okay, we've got to make it look good out there, boys. Can't let the voters think we're throwing the game, got it? We need to stand up to the Democrats, nice and firm and proud, right up to the moment we fold! See?"
Campaign promises: "Well, it's too bad about the deficit, but if you send me back to Washington, I can do something about it this time! We were hampered by Obama in the White House and Reid in the Senate, and we just couldn't get the votes we needed to pass serious fiscal discipline, but this time is different!"
They say it every two years. And people lap it up every two years, which is why they keep saying it...and then going to Washington, D.C. and doing exactly the opposite of what they promised.
Will the plan pass the Senate by Monday? Will it be signed into law by Tuesday, which--Obama and the Democrats insisted--is the day we'll all die or be eaten unless the debt ceiling is raised?
The latest update to Michelle Malkin's watch of the situation says this: "Senate tables Boehner bill 59-41. Reid filed cloture on his own bill. Cue Dem demagoguery about GOP obstructionism in 3, 2, 1..."
The debt ceiling is going up. Government is getting bigger. Real spending cuts are getting kicked down the can. Entitlement reform is going nowhere. Reid and McConnell will dilute Boehner’s already diluted plan behind closed doors. And everyone in Washington will rush to take credit for nothing much.So there we are, eh?
I know it would cause a major fiscal disaster, but now I want this deadlock to continue, for as long as possible. At least that way the GOP would demonstrate that it has some semi-boney (possibly cartilaginous) structure which approximates a spine.
But I'll tell you what will happen:
1) The GOP will cave in.
2) The Democrats will get their debt ceiling increase without the concomitant spending cuts.
3) Succeeding year budgets will be ever-larger.
4) The balanced budget amendment will be DOA.
5) The debt ceiling will be high enough to last until after the elections of 2012, meaning
6) This entire mishmash will be rehashed again in January of 2013.
7) Regardless, all negative consequences will be blamed on the GOP.
So get ready: in the next week or two, US debt will be downgraded, interest rates will rise, and inflation will kick in. Not only will more federal spending be required to service the debt; unemployment is going to rise and GDP will fall and everyone will start saying "Depression?" rather than "double-dip recession?".
It really doesn't matter. We're bound for that regardless of what our government does. It's just that if the GOP had been capable of being the grownups in the room, we might have avoided a much more serious economic dislocation than the one we're due for. The GOP would have lost some elections, yes--but at least we wouldn't be facing the worst economy since the end of the Civil War.