Late Night: Dancing on the (Debt) Ceiling
All this week, DDay has been chronicling for the daytime crowd that how to deal with the infamous fiscal cliff/slope/incline/curb/whatever — which, in the real world, remains quite unresolved — is no longer the hot issue among the Washington, DC insider set.
The cool kids have accepted that the Republicans will, somehow, quickly and quietly cave on higher tax rates on the wealthy, if only to take that issue off the table. Having done that, the narrative goes, the GOP will hope to extract its revenge by forcing Democrats to swallow substantial cuts to Medicare and other safety-net programs in exchange for raising the government’s official debt ceiling.
This expected standoff-after-the-current-standoff was gamed out by several different blogs this week. Sadly, they generally discounted the most exciting options–President Obama invoking a passage in the 14th Amendment to declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional, or even more brazenly minting a $1 trillion dollar coin to increase the money supply. Aside from the sheer out-of-characterness of Obama blindsiding the GOP with a unilateral action, Josh Marshall points out that the resulting Republican bawling and foot-stamping (and seeking some legislative way to declare the White House action illegitimate) would affect the markets enough to make Obama’s move counterproductive.
Besides, the real danger with using some allegedly-Constitutional loophole to get around the debt ceiling is that it invites the Supreme Court to find a similarly flimsy excuse to step in and play Calvinball as well. And I don’t think anyone on Team Obama wants to give John Roberts a chance like that to make amends with his right-wing judicial brethren.