Let's not kid ourselves. It's all one negotiation.

Let's not kid ourselves. It's all one negotiation.

by digby

Noam Schieber on the proposal being floated for a short term debt limit deal:
The problem with a short-term debt limit increase is it muddies everything you’re trying to make clear. Suppose Congress reopened the government for six weeks under a temporary funding bill known as a continuing resolution (CR) while at the same time raising the debt limit for six weeks. Obama has said he’s happy to negotiate a fiscal deal once the government is reopened, even as he refuses to negotiate the debt limit.

Under this scenario, how would he differentiate between the two? Even if the White House were absolutely scrupulous about not trading anything for the debt limit increase (that is, not making more concessions for a budget deal that includes a debt-ceiling increase than they’d make for a budget deal without one), Boehner could always turn around and tell his rank-and-file that some of the concessions came in return for the debt-ceiling measure. It wouldn’t matter if he were right or wrong. The mere belief among Republicans that they’d extracted concessions for raising the debt limit would encourage them to try again.
I have made the mistake in the past of thinking that kicking the can down the road is better than nothing. I no longer think that's a good idea. It requires too much faith in all parties to regroup and allow the more or less sane people to find a way out.

The idea that you can successfully separate the government shutdown from the debt ceiling negotiations at this point is just silly. Unless the President can extract an ironclad agreement not to use the debt ceiling in the future, the Republicans will see any budget/tax/Obamacare cutting deal that's made in the next few months as being the result of their debt ceiling brinksmanship. How do I know this? Well, look at how they interpret previous debt ceiling moments:
“The debt ceiling historically has been among the best leverage that Congress has to rein in the executive,” Cruz replied. “There’s great historical precedent. Since 1978 we’ve raised the debt ceiling fifty-five times. A majority of those times, twenty-eight times, Congress has attached very specific and stringent requirements, many of the most significant spending restraints, things like Gramm Rudman [i.e. the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act], things like sequestration, came through the debt ceiling.”

“So the president’s demand, jack up the country’s credit card with no limits and no constraints, is not a reasonable one,” Cruz said.
As I wrote before, notice how he says "came through the debt ceiling"? Sequestration is a great example of that. It was the result of a deal to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for a super-committee with triggers for disastrous spending cuts if they couldn't come to an agreement --- which, when dealing with terrorists, is a guarantee for disastrous spending cuts. We all know what happened.

Moreover, notice how he pretends that these were all controversial acts perpetrated by a minority seeking to impose its will on the majority. That has not been the case up until now. Sure, there have been amendments attached to the debt ceiling, but they were passed by a majority of both houses and signed into law by the president in ordinary fashion. This hostage situation is not the way we do things. However, you can see that Ted Cruz sees no difference. It's all about getting his way by any means necessary.

One assumes that there are open back channels in which negotiators from the White House, the Senate and the House can find one another. And it may sound like a very good idea to pass the 6 week clean CR in exchange for "raising the debt ceiling" temporarily in order that the president can claim he stuck to his guns not to negotiate until the government was reopened and the threat of default was lifted. But I guarantee that Ted and the boys will see whatever comes out of those negotiations as a terrific victory for their debt ceiling strategy and they will not hesitate to do it again the first chance they get. Because it will be true. This crisis would not exist if it weren't for the House Republicans refusing to bring the budget to the floor and allow a pro-forma vote to raise the debt ceiling. And everyone knows it.

Update: Boehner himself just rattled off a bunch of previous debt limit votes as evidence that this is all business as usual and the Democrats are being weird. Maybe they even believe it, I don't know.