Boehner, Reid and Obama: The End Game


TPM and National Journal point out similarities between the Reid and Boehner bills. The difference Steven Taylor sees:

While I may well be missing something, it seems that the main reasons Republicans don’t like the Reid plan is because it has a Democrats name on it and, likewise the Democrats don’t like the Boehner plan because an R’s name is on it.

Jonathan Bernstein says Reid’s is better:

Both plans keep open, through the creation of a new joint committee, the hope of a Grand Bargain that would make all of this essentially a moot point. With Reid, however, if a Grand Bargain isn’t reached then that’s the end of it; with Boehner, Democrats would be back to needing to find a dollar of spending cuts for every dollar of debt limit extension.

Jonathan Chait agrees:

Conservatives have been pointing out that debt ceiling hikes are historically short term. That’s true! But they’re also historically routine votes, rather than high stakes hostage crises.

Keith Hennessey argues in favor of the Boehner plan:

The Boehner bill cuts spending and doesn’t raise taxes.  I hope House Republicans decide to support the Boehner bill, lock in those spending cuts, and then go for more in the next round.

My main issue with both plans is that they punt on the Grand Bargain option, and I cannot see that that is going to be easier to achieve in an election year. The Reid plan gets us past the next election without the kind of uncertainty that could rattle markets and depress growth and investment. But the Boehner plan is more credible with short term cuts. It’s a wash, I’d say.

If I were the president, I would keep my options open on Boehner’s plan. If it really does produce solid cuts in spending, even in two parts that don’t reach a grand bargain, the president just has to run for re-election on a platform to balance out the debt-reduction package, by asking the rich to share in the sacrifice already made by the poor. With major spending cuts under his belt, in other words, Obama can say that the time is now ripe to share some of the sacrifice, by letting the Bush tax cuts expire, and replacing them with a reformed tax code that keeps rates low but increases revenue.

The fatwa against any new revenues is the GOP’s weakest point. Run on it.