Pessimism on the Debt Ceiling?

Debt CeilingEarlier today, I wrote, Optimism on the Debt Ceiling? I noted that some people who I admire and generally agree with were trying to be at least a little optimistic about the upcoming Debt Ceiling crisis—people like Greg Sargent, Jonathan Cohn, and to a lesser extent Jonathan Chait. By this afternoon, I started reading push back.

Matt Yglesias is blunt, Why Nobody Believes Obama on the Debt Ceiling. His point is that this goes back to the Fiscal Cliff negotiations. Obama said he would only accept raising taxes on incomes over a quarter of a million. Obama said he would only accept a deal that raised the debt ceiling. Obama caved.

This is all “boy who cried wolf” stuff. If you bluff all the time, people will believe you are always bluffing. And really, even Obama supporters think that there is a very good chance that he is bluffing. Obama doesn’t really have red lines—more very weathered pink ones.

Ezra Klein couldn’t miss out on the pile on. He wrote:

At the moment, Republicans don’t believe the White House. Nor does the media. Or, really, anyone. This White House is seen as almost congenitally unable to resist negotiations.

Klein goes on to document the many times over the last month and a half (including today) when Obama said he absolutely, positively would not negotiate over the debt ceiling. But then he quotes Obama at today’s news conference. Klein doesn’t mention it, but the statement is effectively a public negotiation with Boehner:

Now, keep in mind that, you know, what we’ve heard from some Republicans, in both the House and the Senate, is that they will only increase the debt ceiling by the amount of spending cuts that they’re able to push through…

Now, what—here—here’s what would work. What would work would be for us to say, we’ve already done close to $2 trillion in deficit reduction, and if you add the interest that we won’t be paying, because of less spending and increased revenue, it adds up to about $2.5 trillion.

Basically, Obama is telling Boehner, “Here’s a way we can meet your demands!”

We’re doomed.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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