Dodging a bullet
I've had a few inquiries about when my abject apology can be expected since I had been predicting a Grand Bargain, but I think that's a misinterpretation of what I've been writing about on this topic.I didn't predict a Grand Bargain. I said that the debt ceiling "deal" could have been prevented if the Democrats, especially the President, hadn't seen this as an opportunity rather than the dangerous game of chicken it clearly was. The Republicans made it known very early on that they were going to do this and by trying to finesse them rather than outmaneuver them, we've come to this crisis point.
As for the kabuki --- I feel quite sure that if the President and John Boehner had their way, we would have a Grand Bargain and the president would have whipped to get it passed. And it would have been very bad:
In what may be one of the most under-reported stories of the debt ceiling talks, Politico’s Jen Haberkorn notes that before negotiations broke down on Friday evening, President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner tentatively agreed to gradually raise the Medicare eligibility age as part of a “grand bargain” to increase the nation’s borrowing limit:
Details of the plan were not yet finalized before the Obama-Boehner talks collapsed on Friday. But in general, the agreement called for very gradually increasing the eligibility age from 65 to 67 over about two decades, according to administration and Republican congressional sources.
One pathway would call for increasing the age by one month per year beginning in 2017 until it reached 66 in 2029. In 2030, it would increase two months per year until it hit 67.
The administration’s willingness to entertain the idea may have given “a controversial idea more legitimacy and high-profile support than it’s ever gotten before,” Haberkorn observes, and it is likely to rile progressives who question the wisdom of the compromise.
Yeah. That was the Boehner and Obama kabuki dance in which they were allegedly fighting tooth and nail, but actually coming to an agreement over the fundamentals of the Grand Bargain. And that baseline isn't going away. And sadly, no matter what happens with this debt ceiling debacle, that position now has legitimacy with the Very Serious People and will form the basis of future "compromises." We dodged a bullet on that one, but I don't think it will be the last time we hear about it.
The Democrats may end up winning the dubious honor of presiding over the biggest budget cuts in history. But they have stymied any hope of being able to move on jobs and have trampled on the third rail of Social Security and Medicare hard enough to short it out. It's on the agenda to stay.