The only people happy about the battle over the debt ceiling are the pundits, because it gives them an audience and an opportunity to display their insights. Oh, and people close to the President, because they know he won.
Months ago, when John Boehner and Mitch McConnell were assuring everybody that whatever happened they wouldn’t allow the nation to default, President Obama stated his position: he wanted a clean extension that would carry the country past the 2012 election. He didn’t ask for a tax increase on zillionaires, or a deficit reduction—these should be tackled aside from the debt ceiling increase, which after all is only needed to allow the United States to pay its obligations, every dollar of which had been authorized by the Congress.
But Boehner and McConnell couldn’t control their members, especially the Tea Party members who wanted to use the debt ceiling as a bludgeon to smash government. The ceiling had been raised without controversy dozens of times before under Presidents and Congresses of both parties. The Republican threat was a repudiation of ethics, duty, and the Constitution. Still, the threat came.
In the end, and just in the nick of time, the President got what he had asked for: a clean bill that simply raised the limit enough to carry the country past the 2012 election.
You could be confused by the words about a super-committee to identify trillions in savings, or about triggers to force cuts. Here are the facts: the agreement cuts only $7 billion in 2012. Everything else is pushed into what budget pros call “the out years,” meaning the distant future where real decisions will be made by Congresses yet unelected.
The nation still faces a long-term financial crisis, which will need tax increases and spending cuts to resolve. The new debt ceiling law makes the crisis neither better nor worse: it merely allows us to meet our already-established obligations. No more, no less.
There’s still a lot to do, but round one to common sense, precedent, and the President. Don’t let any pundits tell you different.
Tags: 2012 election, ” financial crisis, clean extension, debt ceiling, default, deficit reduction, ethics, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Obama, out years, pundits, super-committee, tax increase, Tea Party, triggers