Majority Leader Harry Reid and the rest of the Democratic leadership held a press conference in the Capitol today with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to warn of the financial calamities--market turmoil, cuts to seniors and the troops--that they say will occur if the debt ceiling is not raised by August 2.
If the consequences of raising the debt ceiling are so dire, why are Democrats insisting on a deal that includes tax increases?
Would Senate Democrats at least allow a vote on a debt ceiling deal that cuts spending without raising taxes? At today's press conference, Harry Reid refused to say:
TWS: If the House were to pass a bill that raised the debt ceiling $2.4 trillion, but just included cuts and no revenue increases, would you allow a vote on that bill?
REID: I am not going to get into a bunch of hypotheticals. If I answer your hypothetical, I’m going to have to answer another 45 hypotheticals.
TWS: Are tax increases a line in the sand? Are you saying that tax increases are more important than [avoiding] default?
REID: I'm not going to negotiating what we're doing--we've got just a few hours, maybe a few days to work this out. And negotiations, as much as I believe in transparency, some of the negotiations can't go forth in front of all of you.
Of course, the purpose of the press conference was to discuss how, in private negotiations, ideological Republicans had hijacked talks and insisted on a deal that raises the debt ceiling, cuts spending, but doesn't raise taxes. Are Democrats just as committed to a deal that does raise taxes? It seems so, but we won't know for sure as long as the House hasn't passed a bill.