You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Greg Sargent’ tag.

it was all just a bad dream...

Josh Marshall rightly extrapolates from the utterly insane and terrifying comments of Ted Yoho (R-Airstrip One) that we should all be very, very afraid. He’s not wrong, exactly (I just said he was “rightly,” after all) but I don’t think we’re going to default on the national debt. Here’s why:

40-50%: Debt limit compromise on process. Not enough, methinks, has been made of this report from Greg Sargent:

The principle articulated internally is simple. Never mind delaying or defunding Obamacare — there will be no policy concessions in exchange for a debt limit that would damage Dem priorities. Republicans must refocus on legitimate legislative means, i.e., the legislative process’ normal give and take. In exchange for the debt limit hike, there will be no medical device tax repeal. No Keystone pipeline. Obama administration officials are open to the possibility of face saving moves by Republicans being part of the endgame, but only ones involving process — not policy concessions — such as the McConnell provision, a device floated last year that would have largely transferred debt limit authority to the president.

This strikes me as being both politically and policy-wise the best solution. The Democrats and the President maintain that they did not offer policy concessions for ransom, the Republicans get to claim that they won something, and the potential of future debt ceiling crises is permanently defused in a wholly-legitimized manner. The main goal the President is trying to accomplish (and that the whole world should be behind) is that a faction of Congress cannot threaten massive catastrophe in exchange for unilateral policy concessions, and even a completely clean debt ceiling hike doesn’t wholly remove that possibility from the table in the future, though it would make it far less likely.

20-30%: Clean debt ceiling hike, AKA, the GOP caves. Who knows what lives in the addled mind of John Boehner? Of which GOPers are truly mad and which are eyeing the emergency exits on the crazy train? Certainly, though, it seems that if the Senate were to pass a clean hike soon, the pressure on the House to do the same on Oct 16-17 would be enormous, and it seems that wouldn’t be a too-unlikely scenario. This is certainly what the President wants, and it would hopefully defuse future crises of this nature, but of course, nothing is guaranteed.

20-30%: The financial crisis is substituted with a wholly political one. In this scenario, the President would emerge when the first payment is due beyond what is in Treasury’s coffers and above the legal borrowing limit and, legal memo in hand, declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional and order his administration to proceed as if it did not exist. (I don’t think the platinum coin, awesome though it is, has a snowball’s chance in hell of happening). What would happen then is – the government and debt markets proceed as normal, forever. The GOP would epically flip out, the House would pass a bill/resolution ordering the POTUS to respect the debt ceiling, but a) it wouldn’t pass the Senate and b) the POTUS/WH would simply lump that in with “unconstitutional threats to the credit of the US” and move along. The House would then impeach the President on a purely party-line basis, the Senate would acquit, and there it would lie. Certainly nothing would move forward in Congress through the rest of Obama’s second term, but it’s not like anything would anyway! Whether the POTUS’s decision was correct legally would be debated, but morally, pragmatically, and governance-ally the consensus would be sympathetic to him. This would have the effect of burying the debt ceiling as an issue forever, since it’s unlikely that the GOP would believe so strongly in this that, in 2017, a President Christie/Jindal/Cruz/Paul/Palin/whomever would take the oath of office and immediately order a cessation of payments on the national debt. It would also have the odd effect of making any US default ever, for any reason, untenable legally, and thus prevent the US from any kind of Argentina/Greece kind of debt restructuring/selective defaulting down the line, meaning an actual US debt crisis (as opposed to the political crisis nominally centered around the issue of the national debt) would have to be resolved through a combination of austerity and inflation.

…and that’s it. I truly do not believe that Obama and his administration has any incentive to elect to actually catastrophically default over taking the legal out above, and I think they would elect for that knowing full well it would result in impeachment.

But of course, they can’t say they’re going to do that, or even hint that they would, because that would eliminate all incentive for the GOP to cooperate in advancing either of the two other scenarios above. The GOP would love to paint Obama as a lawless debt-addicted tyrant and has been all-but-openly itching for a reason to impeach him since Jan 20 2009, so Obama in fact has to act like Option C is off the table even if he’s completely convinced that it’s the only alternative.

It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks, folks.

Forget the policy; regarding the politics of Operation Twist, here’s an interesting take from Jonathan Bernstein over at Greg’s place:

What I think the key is to understanding the leaders’ action is to remember at all times the precarious situation McConnell and, especially, Boehner find themselves in: They just aren’t Tea Party true believers, and everyone knows it — which means they are constantly only one step ahead of being labeled RINOs and drummed out of their positions. Not only that, but they constantly find themselves in the unfortunate position of having to agree to pass things — appropriations, the debt-limit increase — that will be signed by the Kenyan socialist in the White House. So, from their point of view, any rhetoric that will play to the crazies while not imposing actual legislative obligations on them is a pure win. Fed-bashing, from this perspective, is a natural fit.

And via zerohedge here’s some wisdom from Michael Feroli of JP Morgan:

Another question is how the political pressure will affect potential dissenters. In the absence of this letter we would expect up to three hawkish dissents once again — provided the Fed takes some action — and possibly one dovish dissent from Evans. However, the letter from the Congressional leaders cited in support of its view "significant concern expressed by Federal Reserve Board Members," among others. (Presumably the letter meant FOMC members, as Federal Reserve Board members have been generally supportive of Bernanke’s policy). There is a chance that Committee members who have some reservations about Fed policy may now be less likely to dissent, to avoid validating the views expressed in the Congressional letter, as surely all on the FOMC — hawk or dove — would find this political meddling repugnant. It’s probably still the case that we get another handful of hawkish dissents, though there is now a chance the Committee circles the wagons in response to the political pressure and we get fewer than three dissents.

This, I think, is fascinating. If both of these guys are generally right, then the GOP leaders played to their base but managed to piss off the Fed enough to guarantee that the Fed would enact (in theory) more stimulative policy. This of course only dampens GOP chances of winning the White House next year. So the reactionary extremist base that has captured the GOP is creating such a toxic dynamic within the party that it can’t even pursue its own interests in the simplest fashion.

Join 3,845 other followers

Not Even Past


RSS Tumblin’

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.