Question For The Crowd: When, If At All, Does The Deal Get Made?

The rational thing to do is the make a deal that cuts spending and raises the debt ceiling. But how do we get there from here?

It’s fairly clear what’s going to happen on Capitol Hill over the next 24-48 hours, so clear that they almost don’t need to go through the motions of actually voting:

  1. The House will pass the Boehner Plan, most likely on a strict party-line vote. The doubts I had this morning that it might not pass have gone away for the most part given the fact that the opponents in the GOP Caucus seem to have overplayed their hand and many top conservative pundits have basically told House GOPers that they need to vote for this or risk looking irresponsible;
  2. The Senate will reject the Boehner Plan, again most likely on a strict party-line vote;
  3. At this point, the Senate might take up the Reid Plan. If it does, the bill will pass, yet again most likely on a strict party line vote.

At this point well have:

  • The Boehner Plan, passed by the House and rejected by the Senate; and,
  • The Reid Plan, passed by the Senate but with no chance of passing in the House.

What happens then could be one of three things:

  1. The House GOP gives in and passes the Reid Plan, which seems unlikely;
  2. House and Senate leaders sit down and hammer out a Boehner-Reid hybrid that can pass both Houses; or,
  3. Nothing happens, August 2nd happens and we enter uncharted territory.

What are the odds that either 1 or 2 happens, instead of 3? Pretty low I think.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. jan says:

    I think the second of your multiple choice possibilities will happen, being that neither party wants to bear the brunt of criticism if nothing happens. The big question will be who gets first billing on such a hybrid bill — Reid or Boehner?

  2. ponce says:

    My money is on the deal being made next Monday.

  3. jan says:
  4. legion says:

    “If” is the big question here – Can Boehner peel off enough Tea Party folk to pass literally _anything_, let alone something that could get through the Senate or the President’s desk. Under normal circumstances, I’d lean towards the #2 compromise, but I honestly don’t know if the Teahadists can muster the power to block anything that smells of compromise. If they can, I think they will, effectively blocking _any_ bill from getting out of Congress, ever.

    At that point, late Saturday or by Sunday afternoon, we’ll find out what the White House’s “Plan B” really is… I suspect that despite his earlier denials, Obama will use a 14th Amendment hammer to dictate a raise – just to keep the country from imploding – and let history decide if it was a good idea or not.

  5. jan says:

    @legion:

    I suspect that despite his earlier denials, Obama will use a 14th Amendment hammer to dictate a raise – just to keep the country from imploding – and let history decide if it was a good idea or not.

    Rather than implode it will just explode. He bypassed Congress in going into Libya. If he does the same thing with the debt ceiling, becoming a unilateral President in his decision-making process, the country will go nuts.

  6. Fiona says:

    @Jan: I seriously doubt that the country will go nuts if Obama invokes the 14th to prevent another economic meltdown. Mostly, the public has yawned when it comes to Libya. There will be certain elements of the public who will go crazy about it–the same idiots who are preventing a rational compromise if anything even resembling the closing of a tax loophole sneaks into the bill. The financial community, however, will breathe a huge collective sigh of relief.

    I suspect will end up with a Boehner-Reid hybrid, which will squeak through at the very last minute. But I won’t be surprised if there’s no deal.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Nothing happens, August 2nd happens and we enter uncharted territory.

    My vote.

  8. jan says:

    @Fiona:

    The financial community, however, will breathe a huge collective sigh of relief…

    On that I agree.

    However, I disagree on how the public will react to the president using a technicality of the 14th amendment to push something through which is this controversial and important, ultimately overriding the Congress…once again.

  9. An Interested Party says:

    If he does the same thing with the debt ceiling, becoming a unilateral President in his decision-making process, the country will go nuts.

    Well, if the President uses the 14th Amendment option, you could then write to your Congressional representative and ask him/her to bring articles of impeachment against the President…

  10. Nightrider says:

    Easy. Get a time machine, travel back to early fall 2000, make sure Palm Beach County changes its plan to use the butterfly ballot, and we suddenly have back in the bond coffer the trillion we wasted in Iraq and the $2 trillion tax cut. The 2011 world sure looks a lot better with that done. I’ve voted both parties and am financially conservative, but I’m not sure in my lifetime there will be a more disastrous misfortune for America than the accidental result of the 2000 election.

  11. jan says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Well, if the President uses the 14th Amendment option, you could then write to your Congressional representative and ask him/her to bring articles of impeachment against the President…

    I’m sure someone on the right would do just that. But, look at all the wasted energy that was expended, when impeachment proceedings against Clinton took time away from the people’s business. Nothing was gained from such political turbulence, either, except more hard feelings between the given two parties.

    In the meantime, I’ve found an article I was impressed with earlier in the month by Laurance Tribe, an Op-Ed piece in the NYT.

    He says:

    The Constitution grants only Congress — not the president — the power “to borrow money on the credit of the United States.” Nothing in the 14th Amendment or in any other constitutional provision suggests that the president may usurp legislative power to prevent a violation of the Constitution. Moreover, it is well established that the president’s power drops to what Justice Robert H. Jackson called its “lowest ebb” when exercised against the express will of Congress.

    Worse, the argument that the president may do whatever is necessary to avoid default has no logical stopping point. In theory, Congress could pay debts not only by borrowing more money, but also by exercising its powers to impose taxes, to coin money or to sell federal property. If the president could usurp the congressional power to borrow, what would stop him from taking over all these other powers, as well?

    Tribe wraps up his argument in a poignant fashion:

    A core function of the Constitution is to “force us into a conversation” about our future, Mr. Obama once wrote. Sometimes, it does this by establishing principles citizens can invoke when they believe the government has overreached. At other times, it does so by directing us back to the political drawing board.

    It is this second message the Constitution is sending at this moment. As Justice John Marshall Harlan II presciently warned, “the Constitution is not a panacea for every blot upon the public welfare.” Only political courage and compromise, coupled with adherence to traditions that call upon Congress to fulfill its unique constitutional duty, can avert an impending crisis.

    A Ceiling We Can’t Wish Away

  12. Ron Beasley says:

    @jan: No Jan, the Tea Party will go nuts and the Republican congress will try to impeach him and we all remember how well that worked out last time.
    In fact Obama would probably like that.

  13. A voice from another precinct says:

    @jan: “Only political courage and compromise, coupled with adherence to traditions that call upon Congress to fulfill its unique constitutional duty, can avert an impending crisis.”

    If that is the case, we are soooooooo hosed. In the prevailing wisdom of the Tea Party, the only courage available is the courage it takes to NOT compromise. Or, haven’t you been listening for the past several days?

  14. WR says:

    @jan: Yes, if the president saves the nation from financial ruin at the hands of little children playing with matches, we’ll up rise up against him. Clearly, you’ve got your finger on the national pulse.

  15. WR says:

    @jan: I can’t wait to see the signs at the Tea Rallies: “I demand you destroy our economy now!”

  16. anjin-san says:

    the country will go nuts.

    The people who will go nuts are already nuts. The rest of the country will be glad to avoid a self-inflicted crisis.

  17. Console says:

    No deal, temporary increase

  18. john personna says:

    If I had to put down $5, it would be on the Boehner plan passing … but I wouldn’t make a bigger bet. It could go a lotta ways.

  19. Hey Norm says:

    Nothing happens until the Market really drops. 200 points today wasn’t enough. But wait for it…

  20. Laurie says:

    I predict #2. It will be closer to the Reid plan -big enough to takes us to 2013 and will need many dem votes to pass in the house.

  21. TerryS says:

    I hope that the President bypasses the debt ceiling by invoking
    the 14th Amendment “the validity of the public debt shall not be
    questioned”.

    Better for President Obama to be impeached for saving the
    American economy from the Republicans than for him to be
    impeached for allowing the Republicans to destroy our economy.

  22. Jeremy R says:

    Whatever the final legislation looks like, I hope the Dems aren’t stupid enough to adopt the Boehner plan’s combination of a super-committee mixed with the debt ceiling’s December rise being contingent on adopting their recommendations. That’s almost guaranteed to have us back right where we started, especially with conservative activists already chomping at the bit over future hostage taking opportunities.

    For an example check out this David Horowitz article at Redstate:

    We believe that unless we go to the brink, and use our leverage with the budget process to force fundamental and transformational government reform, we will never limit government.

    What about waiting for the enchanted elections of 2012, in which we win back all branches of government?

    Nothing will change, unless we are willing to employ drastic tactics – the same tactics that you oppose – and stick with them. Even if we win the presidency and the Senate, an eventuality that is by no means guaranteed, we will not have 60 seats in the Senate to block the inevitable filibuster from 41 Democrats, who – unlike those on our side – never sell out. Even if we win 60 seats, we will not have 60 conservatives. Consequently, we will still be forced to use drastic tactics, such as the debt ceiling or budget reconciliation to enact our agenda and repeal Obamacare.

  23. Stephen1947 says:

    You left out an option – after going through all the grand opera of the past several weeks, they finally figure out that the only thing they can do is have a simple up/down vote on just raising the deficit level, without all the accompanying BS. That will make all of congress, but particularly the Republicans, look really good to the folks who thought they elected them to work on job creation.

  24. ponce says:

    I hope the Dems aren’t stupid enough to adopt the Boehner plan

    I wouldn’t worry about that.

    But the process on the Republican side is very important none the less.

    Boehner is muzzling the crazies in his party.

  25. Anonne says:

    They already had a vote on a clean bill and it failed. Morons.

    I would like to think that the only thing they can agree on is that the limit needs to be raised, and that a clean bill is just the ticket. But neither wants to lose the opportunity to maximize a crisis, so here we are.

    I also agree that we will get much closer to Reid’s plan than Boehner’s.

  26. An Interested Party says:

    But neither wants to lose the opportunity to maximize a crisis, so here we are.

    I call bull$hit…I’m sure the Dems would vote for a clean bill raising the debt ceiling…it is the GOP, and the Tea Party crowd in particular, that is playing extortion…

  27. Rob in CT says:

    Whatever happens will suck, from my perspective. No deal – really bad. A deal that raises the debt ceiling will suck from a liberal standpoint, as clearly getting the GOP to agree to the need for more revenue in the future isn’t going to happen. So the Dems will end up “compromising” in a way that’s really capitulation. The GOP will have their belief in Dem spinelessnes reinforced. Rinse, repeat.

  28. john personna says:

    You realize that the President does not need the “14th Amendment option?”

    The government can print money (Interesting piece on there here). And given the “need” for a little inflation, it could work out. Of course, everyone wants a stable regime of fiscal expansion. It would be tricky to sell a little printing as something other than the doorway to a lot.

    Hyper-inflationists would have a field day.

  29. legion says:

    @jan: Frankly, I’m not altogether comfortable with that sort of unilateral action on the President’s part (regardless of who’s in the Oval Office), I don’t think regular citizens will care that much if it goes down this way. Oh yes, the Tea Party folk will be out in the streets with torches & pitchforks (maybe literally!), but pretty much every poll in existence shows that people understand that it’s the GOP that’s standing in the way of solving this problem… As long as most people also grasp just how bad it would be if no compromise happens, I don’t think they’ll care how a solution arrives.

  30. jan says:

    @legion:

    Frankly, I’m not altogether comfortable with that sort of unilateral action on the President’s part (regardless of who’s in the Oval Office),

    The prescient part of your comment is the last…”regardless of who’s in the Oval Office.” Once a President, of any party, sets a unilateral prescedent like this, overriding other checks and balances in our democracy, then it will become more common. This is why we have a separation of powers in our government, to prevent such an action from taking place. And, to rationalize it by saying it will resolve our crisis, just doesn’t do it for me. Because, once an escape hatch is used, as an alternative to forced compromise/reconciliation of political differences, then that will become the route of choice in future difficult negotiations.

    Consequently, while all these talks may seem futile and draining, it is much better, IMO, to go through this grueling process, one that democrats and republicans alike will have to deal with, rather than taking the easy way out.

  31. Liberty60 says:

    @jan:

    Once a President, of any party, sets a unilateral prescedent like this, overriding other checks and balances in our democracy, then it will become more common. This is why we have a separation of powers in our government, to prevent such an action from taking place. And, to rationalize it by saying it will resolve our crisis, just doesn’t do it for me.

    I agree completely. Once the President is granted the power to imprison and wiretap American citizens without court oversight, the normal system of checks and balances that protect the liberty and freedom of the citizenry is destroyed.

  32. An Interested Party says:

    @Liberty60: Exactly right…funny how some people didn’t have a problem with this kind of thing when Bush was in office…of course, his administration was supposedly saving us all from the evil Islamofascism hordes that were going to blow some of us up and convert the rest us under Sharia law, so I guess that was the difference…

  33. JohnMcC says:

    In my worst moments, this is how I fear it will proceed: No deal is reached by 2Aug. With federal spending necessarily reduced to 60% of what it was the previous month and some $500Billion in T-Bills maturing (ie – we have to pay the face amount), the Treasury and White House decide to pay bond holders first, military salaries and contractors second and a hierarchy of entitlements in descending order. For example, Soc Security recipients will get their checks but Medicare providers do not. SNAP (food stamps) are provided at 50% but unemployment compensation is not paid at all. Everyone who gets reduced or cancelled amounts, gets an IOU. The economy begins a rapid decline, massive increases in unemployment and business failures result accompanied by higher interest rates. A second great depression follows and we actually see Americans starving on the sidewalk.

    In my more optimistic moments, Barack makes a dramatic speech and cites the 14th Amendment and wall street soars and economic disaster is averted. He is impeached in the house the next week. A dramatic trial in the Senate shows the American electorate how blindly ideological the Repubs have become, how divorced from reality. And a huge liberal majority is elected in ’12.

    In any case, there are massive tensions twisting our politics. As with the slow building-up of tension along tectonic plates, the release is going to dramatic. And I’m too old to look forward to “dramatic” with happy anticipation.

    Hell, I’m supposed to retire in Jan12!!! Looks more and more unlikely.

  34. Nightrider says:

    Above I said the Bush tax cuts were $2 billion. Bruce Bartlett says that the Bush tax cut cost $3.2 billion. http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/26/are-the-bush-tax-cuts-the-root-of-our-fiscal-problem. Wow, $4+ trillion for just the tax cut and the war that wouldn’t have made less sense if we picked the target using mad libs. Sigh.

  35. Anonne says:

    @An Interested Party:

    I call bull$hit…I’m sure the Dems would vote for a clean bill raising the debt ceiling…it is the GOP, and the Tea Party crowd in particular, that is playing extortion…

    Call bullshit all you want, but we already have on record that it wouldn’t pass at the end of May.

    In the vote, 236 Republicans and 81 Democrats opposed the debt ceiling increase, while 97 Democrats voted in favor of raising the limit without conditions. Seven Democrats voted “present.”

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/may/31/house-rejects-clean-debt-ceiling-hike-318-97/

    What the hell was that? I take it maybe now, after 6 weeks of Calvinball, that maybe they might be ready to all pass a clean vote but I sincerely doubt it. The Republican lie machines in the media have done a good job twisting things around.

  36. Rob in CT says:

    Annone,

    File that under “Dems being wimps.” They knew the vote would fail. ~80 of them decided to vote “no” so they could claim to be fiscally conservative.

    If there were enough GOP votes to pass a clean bill combined with all the Dems, we might be ok (I say might, because when discussing Democratic party discipline, it’s best not to assume anything).

  37. Anonne says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I would love a clean bill, since raising the limit apparently is the only thing that less-kooky Republicans and Democrats can agree upon. But these dummies just won’t go there. Democratic wimpiness is why I have no party affiliation. Republicans are greedy and insane, Democrats have no backbone, and keep losing their principles when flashed with corporate campaign cash.