Yesterday, the poll-guru Nate Silver waded into the area of political tea-leaf reading, and summarized that in the Congressional dueling plans on the debt ceiling, it's all over but the face-saving. Nate points out that in the structure of how much spending it reduces now, the Reid and Boehner bills are quite similar. Wrote Nate Silver:
Most of the difference in their price tags, however, has to do with the fact that Mr. Reid’s bill would count $1 trillion from the winding down of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as deficit savings, while Mr. Boehner’s would not — a matter of accounting rather than a substantive difference.If you look at the CBO analyses of the Reid's and Boehner's plans, Nate is correct that in the immediate cuts included (all discretionary) in the two plans are pretty similar. However, Boehner's plan requires another $1.8 trillion in cuts before it's all said and done with no revenue increases - and for now, it only raises the debt limit enough to ruin everyone's Christmas with the recurrence with this same drama that is playing out right now.
The only real difference, instead, is that Mr. Boehner’s bill would require Congress to approve another increase in the debt limit early next year if it fails to approve the fiscal commission’s recommendations, while Mr. Reid’s would extend the deadline beyond the end of President Obama’s first term in one fell swoop. The bills differ, in other words, in whether there will be another vote on the debt ceiling before next year’s elections.
Reid's plan, while also setting up a commission to work on the debt whose recommendations would be guaranteed an up-or-down vote in each chamber of Congress, does not hold the nation's ability to pay its bills - bills that Congress has already racked up, mind you - hostage to that. Nate Silver does not discount this difference, but focuses on the politics of it:
That isn’t to say that this is a trivial matter. Republicans might hope to extract additional deficit reduction from Democrats with another round of talks.Actually, the politics and antics of this debate are the least of our troubles. The truth is that we have the House controlled by a bunch of nutjobs who have no problem tanking our nation's - and this world's - economic system for the sake of ideological warfare. That is why we need to extend the debt limit enough not to let the crazies take another bite at it without the intervention of the American people in the form of an election.
But the politics of another round of debt ceiling negotiations seem like a wash, with neither side having looked good in the current debate.
The Republican plan is without a doubt an unpatriotic holding as hostage the full faith and credit of the United States as a way to force members of the House and the Senate to pass anything the "gang of 12" from his legislation recommends. Not only that, it holds the members of that gang hostage to enact any cut the Republicans want or else they will continue throwing the finances of this country and this world into chaos. Those cuts will inevitably devastate the working poor, students who need a Pell grant, single working parents who need support for child care or a school lunch for their children, working families in need for food assistance, laid off parents in need for job assistance, people in need for housing assistance, or even in need for medical care for a sick child. Either that or we repeal the entire social safety net of Social Security and Medicare. That's what the Boehner plan requires. That is why the CBPP calls it the plan that could "produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history."
It's a plan to bludgeon the poor, and his "revised" plan is to bloody and bludgeon the poor and the middle class faster.
The Boehner plan is also a sham. Hell, John Boehner isn't even sure himself that his plan could prevent a downgrade in US credit rating. Actually, CNN's Erin Burnett reported that the Standard & Poor's analysts have told her that Boehner plan, in addition to keeping the US economy in terrible uncertainty in the midst of Tea Party theater, would lead to a downgrade in America's credit rating, meaning that interest rates would go up on everything, resulting in a tax increase for everyone who has a car loan, a mortgage, a credit card, a store credit, or any form of credit. Reid's plan, by getting us out of the kabuki theater at Christmas time, would prevent that downgrade, ala hidden tax increase. Watch:
The Boehner plan is not a solution at all. It is the kind of band-aid approach that could end up making things worse and raising interest rates (taxes) on everyone anyway. Repeat it with me: the Boehner plan is a sham.
And that's why Nate Silver is wrong. This is not about saving face. This is about saving the national and global economies, and about saving the full faith and credit of the United States. This is literally about the difference between bludgeoning the poor and the middle class and continuing the debt crisis vs. ending the debt crisis and taking away one of the prime weapons of the right wing nutjobs to hold the economy and jobs hostage.
Before we go...
Once again, if you have not yet called TODAY, call your House member - House.gov. Congressional Switchboard: Congressional Switchboard at (202)224-3121. Get their offices on the phone and tell them to vote NO on Boehner's sham.