Wednesday, February 12, 2014


After Republicans took over the House, we had to endure multiple moments of debt ceiling brinkmanship before we could finally get back to doing things the way they used to be done, that is, letting the debt ceiling increase without conditions. And even this week, when we returned to that sane practice, getting there was a struggle. So Eric Posner is nuts if he thinks there's any chance this could happen in the near future:
.... Congress and the White House ought to use this respite to adopt a change that will put an end to debt ceiling fights for good.

Recently, several members of Congress, including Representative Mike Honda and Senators Barbara Boxer, Chuck Schumer, and Mazie Hirono, introduced legislation to do just that. The bills provide that when the national debt comes within $100 billion of the ceiling, the president may send a notification to Congress to that effect. Congress then would have a limited period of time during which it may issue a joint resolution that forbids borrowing above the debt ceiling. If Congress fails to pass such a resolution, or does but it is vetoed, Treasury may borrow beyond the debt ceiling. The bills make sense, and Congress should act on them as soon as possible.
So if the president wants a debt ceiling increase, he or she gets one, unless two-thirds of both houses are willing to override his veto of an increase-blocking bill. Which means the president would get an increase every time.

The usually astute Ed Kilgore imagines the circumstances under which, in his opinion, legislation like this could pass:
You will note that the cosponsors of this legislation are all Democrats, so the big question is whether such legislation could ever draw significant levels of Republican support.
Short answer: no. Somewhat longer answer: I don't think it could draw any Republican support.
That depends on whether it would be demonized by conservatives (many of whom persistently deny that a debt limit breach is inherently damaging to the financial system) depicting it as a mechanism for automating debt limit increases, and just as importantly, whether the business community might decide to insist upon it.
Well, of course it would be "demonized by conservatives ... as a mechanism for automating debt limit increases" -- this bill would let those evil Democrats run up the debt at will! Establishment Republicans would also demonize it, using opposition as a smokescreen to show that they really, really hate debt even if they always work to ensure that the debt ceiling is increased. And because people in the business community now assume that the debt ceiling will always be increased, they wouldn't see a need for a law locking in the practice. So, no, they wouldn't insist on passage.
It is sufficiently abstract to evade a lot of public attention if it is implicitly agreed debt default threats are too dangerous to be risked.
If a bill like this can be portrayed as pro-debt by Fox and talk radio, then it absolutely is not going to "evade a lot of public attention" -- the rubes will be told to howl, and they will howl.

Sorry, no -- this can't happen. Not with the Republican Party we have today.

(Posner link via Memeorandum.)

1 comment:

Victor said...

Yup - ZERO chance.

Not unless there was a Democratic President with problem-proof Democratic Majorities in both Houses.

Oh and then there'll be the issue of the Federal Courts, and the SCOTUS.