I’m not sure how Jazz makes an argument on the sequester that isn’t better made on the debt limit itself. The argument should be simple; Mr President, you say we have an unsustainable debt and that we spend too much money, where would you like to cut spending?
Mr. Boehner said the Republican-controlled House would pass legislation cutting spending and increasing the debt limit, and would defy Mr. Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate to reject the package. : The Senate Republican minority leader, Mitch McConnell, in his own statement, also demanded spending cuts for a debt-limit increase.
Fitch already has a negative outlook on the U.S. as the country’s debt burden has risen to around 100 percent of its gross domestic product, and has said it will make a decision on the rating this year, regardless of how the debt ceiling discussions pan out. The U.S. government reached its statutory debt limit of nearly $16.4 trillion at the end of 2012 but has engineered extraordinary measures that should see it through February.
With a March 4 deadline looming on extending a stopgap spending bill, both Republicans and Democrats are preparing for the possibility of a federal government shutdown. Interestingly, a new poll of political insiders reveals that Republicans overwhelmingly believe that a government shutdown is not in their interest. Democrats, by contrast, believe a government shutdown would benefit their party.
The reason? The great government shutdown of 1995-1996, in which a weakened President Bill Clinton faced off against determined Republicans, led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) – and won. Take a look at the classic New York Daily News cover from that period (above) as evidence of how the Republicans lost control of their message. The Republican Revolution died that day.
John Boehner, the current speaker, was the No. 4 Republican in the House leadership during Gingrich’s heyday. By many accounts, the experience of living through that shutdown has deeply affected him. Assuming Boehner can maintain control of his caucus, that alone makes it less likely a shutdown will happen this year.
“He can run the parts of the government that are left, or he can run no government,” Gingrich told Time magazine reporters six months before the first shutdown. “Which of the two of us do you think worries more about the government not showing up?”
That was the first mistake the Republicans made: They appeared to be too eager for a confrontation, while Clinton constantly emphasized he was willing to compromise within reason. Then Gingrich told reporters he stopped funding the government in part because Clinton made him exit from the rear of Air Force One when they returned from attending the funeral of slain Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin. That comment just made Republicans appear petty.
In the end, after weeks of turmoil, the Republicans meekly gave up and eventually cut a deal with Clinton that was not much different than what they could have gotten before the shutdown.
Clinton used the episode as the springboard for his successful reelection campaign, and he humiliated Republicans for it during his 1996 State of the Union speech. He singled out for praise a man seated next to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton – Social Security Administration worker Richard Dean, who had survived the Oklahoma City bombing and rescued three people from the devastated Murrah Federal Building.
As Republicans stood and applauded Dean’s heroism, Clinton pulled out the knife, recounting how Dean was forced out of his office during the first shutdown and had to work without pay in the second one. “Never, ever, shut the federal government down again,” the president scolded.
That’s why Republicans rightly fear a government shutdown.
The American people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time. The consequences of failing to increase the debt ceiling are real, but so too are the consequences of allowing our spending problem to go unresolved.
Without meaningful action, the debt will continue to act as an anchor on our economy, costing American jobs and endangering our children’s future.
The House will do its job and pass responsible legislation that controls spending, meets our nation’s obligations and keeps the government running, and we will insist that the Democratic majority in Washington do the same.
The above was John Boehnor’s statement in response to the president’s news conference yesterday.
Republicans would be best served by harping on across the board spending cuts, even though such a policy cuts meat the same as fat. Here’s an interesting idea from the boys and girls over at National Review:
Republicans should recognize that the prospect of default is the Democrats’ chief weapon in their campaign of avoidance. That prospect is not a source of Republican leverage in the debt-ceiling fight; it is the primary source of the Democrats’ leverage. It is a way to distract the press and the public from the reality of our fiscal crisis.
The Democrats’ strategy offers Republicans an opportunity. Since the Democrats insist that the prospect of default is the reason they will not negotiate about spending restraint, Republicans should begin the debt-ceiling fight by permanently eliminating that prospect, turning the debt-ceiling debate into an argument about future spending rather than past borrowing.
The House should pass a bill to redefine the debt limit so that it constrains primary spending but not debt service. Under this reform, a Treasury that had hit the statutory borrowing limit could continue to borrow what it needed exclusively for paying interest on the national debt and to roll over existing debt obligations, but it could not borrow for any other government spending until the limit had been increased. This would take default entirely off the table.
The rest here:
The NRO editorial ends with the following paragraph. Note that it advocates for doing something not all the different from what Luntz proposes, “redefining” implying much the same thing as “re-crafting”.
What the public wants, and what the country needs, is for the federal government to pay its past debts but reduce its future ones. The debt ceiling should offer an opportunity for a debate about precisely how to do so. By carefully redefining the debt limit in law, Republicans can make sure that discussion takes place. And by then proceeding to offer specific spending cuts coupled with a proportional increase in the debt ceiling, they can help make sure that it ends with our country less in debt and better positioned to prosper.