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My Debt Ceiling Advice

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"My Debt Ceiling Advice"

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With the political world gearing up for a debt ceiling fight, my hope and advice to the administration and its allies in congress would be for them to be doing everything in their power to push back against this idea. The view I would be pushing, formally and informally through all channels, is that there is not going to be a debt ceiling fight. There will be no fight because there’s nothing to fight over because there’s no negotiation to conduct.

Barack Obama’s position on the debt ceiling is that raising the debt ceiling would be better than not raising the debt ceiling. Conveniently, John Boehner’s position on the debt ceiling is that raising the debt ceiling would be better than not raising the debt ceiling. Under the circumstances, the following legislative bargain suggests itself: Raise the debt ceiling. Nothing cataclysmic happens the day the US goes past the debt ceiling, but it’s inconvenient. The way to resolve that inconvenience is to raise the debt ceiling. The next day it gets a bit worse and the solution is to raise the debt ceiling. A week later, it gets even worse and the solution is to raise the debt ceiling. A month later it gets even worse and the solution is to raise the debt ceiling.

If there’s some large block of members of congress who genuinely believe that failing to raise the debt ceiling is superior to raising the debt ceiling, then obviously it would make sense to negotiate with those people. But I don’t believe that there are any such people. I’m happy to believe that there are lots of members of congress whose preference is to vote no on a debt ceiling increase (as I believe Barack Obama did at one point) but that’s something else. This is quite different from the shutdown battle, where I’m happy to believe that lots of members of congress really do think a week or two of government shutdown isn’t such a bad thing.

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