Debt ceiling positioning

Debt ceiling positioning

by digby

Senate Republicans have a strategy for lifting the U.S. borrowing limit: offer what President Barack Obama asked for in his budget, then dare him to refuse.

These lawmakers, looking beyond an effort to derail the president’s health-care law, see the possibility of replacing automatic cuts to federal programs with reductions to entitlement spending. Among these: Obama’s proposal to trim Social Security cost-of-living increases that would save about $130 billion over 10 years.

“Since the president himself has proposed some of these things, it would seem logical that he would not turn that down,” John Cornyn, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, said in an interview.

The approach is aimed at gaining enough Democratic support in the Senate to force Obama, who said he won’t negotiate on the debt limit, to accept changes that he has called “manageable” as a first step to shoring up Social Security and Medicare. Republicans also would score a victory that would provide balance to lifting the debt ceiling, something their party base opposes...

Even with Obama’s refusal to negotiate, there is room for compromise on the debt measure, said Senator Amy Klobuchar.

“There will be an agreement, and I think we can do it without any of these extraneous, partisan poison pills,” the Minnesota Democrat said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sept. 22.
Murray, who also led a 2011 supercommittee on debt reduction, said there can be no real negotiating as long as the Tea Party is singularly focused on defunding Obamacare. “If there is a fair and balanced path forward,” she said, “I’m on board, but it’s not going to include eliminating Obamacare.”
So, if they agree not to defund Obamacare, will the Democrats agree not to raise taxes? Inquiring minds ...
Senator Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican and member of a separate debt-negotiating group, said a small-scale bargain targeting entitlement spending is possible once wrangling over Obamacare ends.

“The only place you can be incremental at this point is in entitlement reform,” Crapo said. Revisions to the U.S. tax code must be made in a comprehensive way, and the Congress has already cut other federal programs to historic lows, he said.

Republicans would be willing to replace some of the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts to domestic and military programs over the next nine years in exchange for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, Cornyn said.

Senate and House Republicans are taking the same approach on entitlement programs. A House proposal that could come to a vote this week would suspend the debt cap until Dec. 31, 2014. In addition to delaying the health law, it would charge higher-income Medicare beneficiaries more for their premiums.

Any effort to attach a delay of Obamacare to the debt measure probably will be rejected by the Senate.
The president has repeatedly said that he must have some mild (and obviously temporary) tax hikes in return for cutting "entitlements." The Tea Partiers in the House will not go for that.

But Kent Conrad says:
"There are people on the Republican side and people on the Democratic side who are ready to go against party orthodoxy and put together a package,” he said. “Honestly, I think they are actually in the majority.”
Has anyone heard whether the White House has reiterated its requirement for higher taxes in exchange for these "entitlement" cuts lately? Maybe someone should ask.