The Senate today approved, and President Obama signed, a debt ceiling package that will cut trillions from the budget, without raising one dime in revenue (though the super committee that the legislation creates could technically decide to craft revenue-raising provisions later). Though President Obama had continually called for a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction, the bill he signed today is undoubtedly a conservative one, with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) crowing that he got “98 percent” of what he wanted.
The New York Times’ Nate Silver argues that Obama could have gotten more out of the deal, as even the House Tea Party Caucus — which had taken a very hard line against raising the debt ceiling — fell in line in the end:
Almost three-quarters of Republicans voted in the affirmative. And even the Tea Party came around in the end. By 32-to-28, members of the Tea Party Caucus voted for the bill, despite earlier claims — which now look like a bluff — that they wouldn’t vote to raise the debt ceiling under any circumstances.
These results seem to suggest that Mr. Obama left something on the table. That is, Mr. Obama could have shifted the deal tangibly toward the left and still gotten a bill through without too much of a problem. For instance, even if all members of the Tea Party Caucus had voted against the bill, it would still have passed 237-to-193, and that’s with 95 Democrats voting against it.
Of the GOP freshman class, 59 members voted in favor of the deal, with 28 opposed.
Tea Partiers had said that everything from a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution to corporate tax cuts were required in return for their vote to raise the debt ceiling — if they were willing to vote to raise it at all — but still, many of them came over without such pieces being in the bill (which only requires that a vote be held on a balanced budget amendment). Last week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) excoriated Tea Partiers for their “bizarro” and “foolish” debt ceiling demands.