Yesterday, everyone was buzzing about the underlying threat of House Speaker John Boehner’s remarks about the debt ceiling, though he was busy explaining that he wasn’t threatening default. We were anticipating another case of brinksmanship, with the Republicans using the threat of defaulting on our debt service payments to force concessions from the White House on budget issues or shut down our government. With deadlines on the Bush tax cuts and the automatic cuts to the budget set for January 1, the debt ceiling battle was expected to get seriously vicious.
Sorry, Mr. Boehner – ain’t gonna happen.
It seems the administration has done something very sneaky-nasty. They cut the deficit without the Republicans’ approval or input. They were committed to reducing the deficit by $60 billion in the 2011-12 fiscal year, and at mid-year had already cut it by $50 billion. Whoops. We won’t need to address the debt ceiling until sometime next spring, according to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
Sorry, Repubs. You will not have the debt ceiling to kick around before the election.
The Republicans are waxing hysterical about the possibility of the expiration of the Bush tax rates, and particularly over the agreed-to automatic spending which they are trying to sabotage already by transferring the cuts from the military to such things as Meals on Wheels and women’s health. But According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, if there is no new deal for the Republicans to abrogate and those tax cuts expire and the automatic cuts go into effect, our budget deficit problems will end. The ten-year deficits would be cut by over $6.8 trillion and we could start reducing the dollar amount of the national debt.
Letting nothing happen, as in allowing these deadlines to pass without stopping the effects, is not a positive way to get our government budgets under control, but it beats the heck out of letting the Republicans cut domestic spending to the point where people are starving and living on the street while our military expands until it is spending more than the half-the-world’s defense-budget that it already spends. Vastly preferable for those who believe in fairness would be tax reform that removes the thousands of ways companies avoid paying taxes at all and all the ways wealthy individuals reduce their taxes while creating fair, reasonable tax rates. Vastly preferable would be a budget designed to encourage development, repair our crumbling infrastructure and stimulate the regrowth of the middle class. But, barring that, we will probably have to accept the termination of those things that are set to expire on January 1st or thereabouts.
It must be very disheartening in Republican circles today to realize they don’t have the chance to screw with the economy and destroy the President with the debt ceiling. As they say in the theater, timing is everything, and Secretary Geithner’s timing was pure theater. Bada-boom.