Speaker of the House John Boehner is taking a great deal of heat from the left and the right over his latest debt ceiling plan. Harry Reid says Boehner’s plan is dead on arrival in the Senate, even though Boehner is re-writing the proposal. Boehner really is in a tough spot here, I certainly wouldn’t want to be in his shoes this week.
Bill Kristol warned Republicans against voting down Boehner’s plan and playing into the hands of Pelosi and President Obama.
To govern is to choose. To vote is to choose. To vote against John Boehner on the House floor this week in the biggest showdown of the current Congress is to choose to vote with Nancy Pelosi. To vote against Boehner is to choose to support Barack Obama. It is to choose to increase the chances that worse legislation than Boehner’s passes. And it is to choose to increase the chances that Obama emerges from this showdown politically stronger. So when the Heritage Action Fund and the Club for Growth, and Senators Vitter, Paul, et al., choose to urge House Republicans to join the Democrats to defeat Boehner, they’re choosing to side with Barack Obama. …
But what none of these critics have is an alternative strategy for achieving anything nearly as fiscally or politically beneficial as Mr. Boehner’s plan. The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against . . . Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.
This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into GOP Senate nominees. The reality is that the debt limit will be raised one way or another, and the only issue now is with how much fiscal reform and what political fallout.
If the Boehner plan fails in the House, the advantage shifts to Mr. Reid’s Senate plan, which would raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion in one swoop through 2012. That would come without a tax increase but also $2.7 trillion in mostly fake spending cuts like less government “waste, fraud and abuse” and a $1 trillion savings from troop drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan that are already built into the baseline. As fiscal reform, this is worse than Mr. Boehner’s plan.
Look at that debt! Look how much it’s gone up since Democrats took control of Congress, and since Obama became president. Now they want it to go up to $16 trillion. It’s unfathomable and grotesque.
But there is
very little no chance of Republicans cutting the size of government and reforming entitlements as long as Obama is president and Democrats control the Senate. Professor Jacobson agrees.
Simply put, anything which increases Obama’s chances of reelection will more than offset any additional cuts to be gained beyond the Boehner plan. That plan is far from perfect, and doesn’t go far enough, but think how far we have come in just a few months since Obama proposed a budget which was so outrageous in its spending and deficits that not a single member of the Senate from either party voted for it.
Our Obama problem far exceeds our spending problem. The Boehner Plan keeps that Obama problem front and center for the next year, when Obama would rather be talking fluff and hope and change and playing class warfare.
Regardless of the outcome, Speaker Boehner has stood strong against the onslaught of the democrat media complex throughout the debt limit debate. If Republicans come out of this battle with no new taxes and a plan that reduces the debt as much as the debt limit is increased, then it is a win for conservatives and the tea party.
I tend to agree. If the Republicans in the House can keep the damage to a minimum there’s hope of getting true reform after 2012. But if Obama finds a way to turn this into a political win and wins a second term we may never recover.
This may all be moot, as some Democrats are still urging Obama to simply bypass Congress and raise the debt limit without approval.
Update: NRO calls for House Republicans to improve the Boehner plan, and also warns against simply blowing it up.
The Boehner plan, even in modified form, is surely not the sort of compromise House freshmen envisioned passing when they came to Washington. But they have already made a difference. Without them, a clean debt-limit increase or a Gang of Six deal would have likely passed Congress. Without them, there would be no spending cuts at all. But a plan that does everything we conservatives think necessary to secure our fiscal future cannot be enacted in today’s Washington. The election of Barack Obama in 2008, and the Democratic retention of the Senate in 2010, had consequences that continue to this day.
The 2012 elections will have consequences, too. If Obama is reelected, the further socialization of American medicine will proceed and the modernization of entitlements will not. Taxes will very likely go up. If Republicans want to return the federal government to its proper constitutional dimensions, the legislation they advance now must do as much good as possible while also laying the groundwork for the election of conservatives, and the defeat of liberals, in 16 months. The easier they make it for Obama to blame Republicans for hurting the economy with debt-limit brinkmanship, the more they will undermine that goal.
What Republicans should do, then, is simple, albeit difficult. Cut spending. Hold the line on taxes. Avoid a fiscal crisis. Defeat Obama and Senate Democrats. And with a new mandate and additional allies, set to work bringing lasting change to Washington.
And Jonah Goldberg reminds us who it is that’s kept a deal from being reached.
Imagine you’re in a burning office building. Obama’s plan for getting out alive: “Okay, you guys break up into different groups and come up with a series of proposals about how we get out of the building. I will then negotiate with each of you separately and then together, and then separately. Then I’ll get on Skype and tell the world what I think of your respective plans and criticize you for their lack of seriousness. I will insist that we have balanced approach of applying both water to the fire and opening the windows, which some say will only provide more oxygen for the flames. But my base says window-opening is essential. Oh and I will blame all of the gasoline I threw around on the lower floors of this building on the guy who moved out two years ago. And I will veto any plan that requires we have a new plan should we get stuck on another floor. And, did I mention this mess was created by the former tenant and….ahhh what’s that smell?