On this whole debt limit deal, the White House seems to be supremely confident that they’ll get something done and that it will be the Republicans who will blink. That’s not to say that there won’t be some ugly concessions made, but when it comes to facing their respective bases of political support, it’s the Congressional Republican leadership who will be getting the worst beating.
The reasons are fairly simple. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are not teabaggers, and the people they answer to want no part of a default, or even the threat of a default. Moreover, the White House feels that they’ve framed this extremely well and the Republicans have screwed themselves by pushing the Ryan plan, and by walking away from table in support of tax loopholes for multimillionaires’ yachts and private airplanes. In short, the White House thinks the Republicans have an awful political argument and that they know it. Finally, and crucially, John Boehner has an incredibly difficult task. He must get a bill passed in the House that can also pass in the Senate, which is still controlled by the Democrats. Everyone knows that Boehner can’t do this by relying on his own caucus. And he won’t be able to attract any Democrats for anything remotely resembling what he’s led his base to expect. To even get a bill on the table, he’s going to have to back down and craft something widely acceptable to Democrats. It’s not unlikely that he’ll wind up in a bind where he actually pushes a bill that has more Democratic support than Republican.
And I don’t think the White House plans on giving him a whole lot. Maybe some cost savings on Medicare, but no reduction in benefits. Certainly not a balanced budget amendment. And there will be an elimination of significant tax loopholes.
The thing I am still worried about is that Boehner won’t be able to figure out how to get this done. It’s basically a suicide mission, as I can’t imagine him surviving in a leadership position if he passes a Democratic-majority debt limit bill. But it doesn’t appear he has any other choice. The White House just isn’t buying his threats. They know his masters expect a deal, and soon.