It’s telling that a key selling point being used by Eric Cantor to get his caucus behind John Boehner’s debt ceiling bill, is that such a move would call President Obama bluff on his threat to veto any short term increases. From Politico:

“The debt limit vote sucks,” he said, according to an attendee of the closed meeting. But Republicans have three options, Cantor said: risk default, pass Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) plan — which he thinks gives President Barack Obama a blank check — or “call the president’s bluff” by passing the Boehner plan, which not only cuts deeply into domestic spending but calls for a bipartisan commission to find more savings.

It seems that one of the big things Republicans want out of any resolution right now is to prevent Obama from declaring any final deal a personal victory. This is difficult given the President’s past habit of spinning any deal, no matter how bad he loses on the policy, as a victory that proves he has the ability to bring both sides together for “compromise.”

Obama told Eric Cantor he would not accept a short term deal. Ergo, from Cantor’s perspective, the best way to make sure Obama can’t get away with claiming any final deal is a “victory” is to call his bluff.  Threatening to veto any short-term debt increase was Obama’s only veto threat in the debate. Forcing him to go back on that threat would give Cantor the ability to cast a short-term deal as a defeat for Obama, rather than some deficit package made possible by Obama’s skills of compromise.

I don’t know exactly how the difference between the relatively similar Harry Reid debt ceiling increase and the Boehner increase will be resolved. Though I would place a big bet that the Republicans insist that there is at least one more debt ceiling increase vote before the 2012 election, just to show Obama’s threat was empty.

Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at

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