17 January 2013 by Keith Hennessey 2 Comments
I have an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal: How to Wage the Debt-Ceiling Fight.
(photo credit: Mr. Soop)
I think you’ve come up with a tactic that actually could work, Keith! You’re avoiding the R’s weakness I pointed out on your previous proposal: R’s proposing explicit spending cuts as part of the debt ceiling increase. Those explicit cuts necessarily identify some special interest group whose ox is being (potentially) gored, and the negative feedback that can generate – and the D’s will exploit that to the fullest. By dropping that, the R’s no longer require any politically courageous steps. Your idea of having the R’s vote to put the D’s on the hot seat of actively voting to raise the ceiling with NO spending cuts is a minor stroke of genius. You’ve come up with a way to force them to take responsibility for their true political position on spending. (IMO, they’d love to bully the R’s into adopting a VAT so they could increase revenues to European levels. Krugman has said as much in one of his NYT columns.)
If Boehner & McConnell adopt it, then we have to see if the MSM will accurately report it to the public. Further, will those “low information voters” absorb it, too, and not just us political junkies? As we learned to our bitter regret, those “low information voters” decide presidential elections, so they’re important.
Why not encourage both parties to drop the political games and brinksmanship and actually work together to pass a budget? Much of what I’ve read recently is about how to avoid blame, place blame or otherwise get around dealing with the real problem. The real problem is that there is not a budget, there is not an agreed baseline and no one misses an opportunity to take political advantage of that situation. One result of this is “low information voters”. They are created when politicians fail to tell them the truth about the budget and allowing them to believe whichever set of “facts” the party they listen to is pitching. (I admit there are other “low information voters” who are just tuned out of the discussion or don’t comprehend it as well.)
I would much prefer a proposal from either party that contains a budget that has a chance of being passed and opens the debate on what expenditures are necessary and where the revenue comes from.
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