There is increasing concern among Democratic officials both on and off the Hill that Republicans will draw out negotiations over raising the nation’s debt ceiling in an effort to institute one of several blunter deficit-reduction measures.
In recent days, chatter among operatives and Hill aides has centered on one specific addition the GOP is pushing in exchange for signing off on a debt limit increase. A cap on overall government spending — bringing it to 20.6 percent of GDP over the course of ten years — has been sharply criticized as too crude and potentially damaging for a fragile economy. But the proposal, known as the CAP Act, has bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress. And as Republican leadership surveys the landscape to see what type of concessions it can extract during the debt-ceiling debate, members have homed in on caps, viewing them as an easy sell to both on-the-fence lawmakers and the public.
Of course, there are Democrats, notably Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, who have been supporting spending caps, thus abetting the hostage takers. As I wrote on Wednesday:
Another dangerous idea gaining traction on the Hill is a mandatory spending cap, which has been proposed by Senators Corker (R-TN) and McCaskill (D-MO). My Hill sources tell me that Republicans plan to push this as part of the negotiations over the debt limit (yes, they’re still paying politics with the debt limit.) Any proposal that focuses solely on spending caps is really a back door way of agreeing to the Ryan/House GOP plan. A spending cap would ultimately lead to massive cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. And, it would mean reducing deficit by spending cuts alone, not increasing revenue. Too many of the very smart people in DC seem to ignore the concept of raising revenue (that would mean a tax increase for most of them.)
Also, keep in mind that Boehner has been warned about the serious economic consequences that could result from playing politics with the debt limit. And, that warning came directly from “top Wall Street executives.” Those are his people. They bankroll the GOP.
The GOP got away with ruining the economy in 2008. The Obama administration didn’t hold Bush and Congressional GOPers accountable for the economic havoc. So, my guess is that the Republicans are probably convinced that Obama and the Democrats will cave to their latest hostage-taking. And, if not, Republicans are confident they won’t get the blame.