As President Obama watches the debt ceiling developments in the House of Representatives, it’s worth reflecting on what result he is likely rooting for.
Is Obama hoping that House Republicans will pass their proposed legislation to raise the debt limit, not raise taxes, and not let him avoid another debt limit fight prior to Election Day, while trimming $3.6 trillion in deficit spending versus his 10-year budget (just in the bill’s initial stage, followed by another $1.6 trillion in spending cuts to follow if the debt ceiling is to be raised again)? Is he hoping for this result, knowing that passage of the GOP bill would give it the inside track in the legislative process and all but ensure that something not too far from it would soon end up on his desk — thereby forcing him either to sign it or else to take the preponderance of the blame for allowing the debt ceiling to be exceeded?
Or is Obama hoping that Democrats and a minority of Republicans will combine to defeat the GOP bill, thereby giving the Democratic-controlled Senate the inside track in the legislative process? If so, here is the likely outcome: Either Obama will get his requested $2.4 trillion extension to get through his reelection campaign (and thereby minimize talk of debt as he seeks reelection) — almost surely with fewer genuine spending cuts than the GOP bill contains, and with a higher percentage of defense cuts; or he’ll soon get the opportunity to tell the American people that the only reason we’ve hit the debt ceiling is because 41 Republicans filibustered in the Senate and prevented a vote on legislation that would have raised it, or (more likely) because not even 25 of the 240 House Republicans would join their Democratic colleagues in backing a debt ceiling increase (one that wouldn’t even raise “revenues”) that Democrats had passed through the Senate and which he, Obama, had been poised to sign.
The Republican holdouts might want to ask themselves whether they are rooting for the same result that Obama is — and, if so, why?