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  • How to Win the Debt Ceiling Battle

    Posted by Bruno Behrend on September 23rd, 2013 (All posts by )

    I don’t have the time nor inclination to argue why the GOP is self-destructing in its idiotic drive to trigger a shutdown of the government. It suffices to say that such shutdown likely costs the GOP the House in 2014 at a juncture where it probably could win the Senate…

    …If the party (or its waxing, aggressive right flank) wasn’t insane.

    ______

    The reason for this post is to propose a solution for the upcoming budget crises/debt-ceiling battle. I call it the “Rolling Sequester,” and it is designed to attract independents and fiscally conservative voters, not drive them away in droves.

    Rather than layout the plan on this blog post, I’ve uploaded the 2-page memo that I sent to some folks in DC. I hope it finds its way into the hands of someone who can do something with it. Maybe the readers of this blog can help with that.

    Critiques welcome.

    Rolling Sequester Strategy

     

    14 Responses to “How to Win the Debt Ceiling Battle”

    1. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      I’m interested by the fact that you don’t see this differently. ObamaCare is unwanted by the majority of Americans. It’s the wrong direction to take in healthcare reform. We also can’t afford it. The Dems are unwilling to negotiate on this.

      Yet you blame the GOP for this problem. Why? And if the Republican party will not stand against something like this, what is their purpose for being?

    2. Bruno Says:

      Michael,

      I’m as opposed to Obamacare as anyone, but there is no way to succeed without the presidency or the senate.

      A shutdown risks losing the house.

      I believe my strategy works in concert with a rational anti OBcare strategy.

    3. Robert Schwartz Says:

      I am of the view that Obamacare will be such an unmitigated disaster, that the best course for opponents will be to let the gang of clowns and morons in Washington (a/k/a the Obama Administration) get on with it.

      Revenge is a dish best eaten cold.

    4. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Robert

      I don’t think history shows that surrender is generally a winning strategy.

    5. Bruno Says:

      Mike,

      It isn’t surrender.

      Implementation of the will kill it. Frankly, shutting down the Gov is the ONLY thing that saves OBcare.

    6. Michael Kennedy Says:

      For some reason, my comment on the linked page never made it over to this page. Here it is again.

      By asserting that the GOP is the party that desires a shutdown and by describing it as a “disaster” you have given up the field before the battle. Obama wants a shutdown. He will not allow your rolling sequester. The present CR legislation passed by the House places the next burden on Democrat Senators up for re-election next year. Obamacare is unpopular in the country. What happens if the Senate passes a version of the CR including Obamacare funding? The coming conference is another opportunity to make the point about who is the father and mother of Obamacare.

      The end game will be to allow the CR funding Obamacare to pass with lots of GOP “present” votes. Remember that Hillarycare was what turned the House and Senate in ’94.

      I don’t know if the House leadership is that smart but I don’t think your proposal is any better.

    7. Bruno Behrend Says:

      Mike K,

      Again, I don’t see the CR/Debt Ceiling vote as necessarily intertwined with the ObamaCare issue (defunding or otherwise).

      First, since you concede that Obama wants a shutdown, it follows that you seem to think it would be bad for the GOP. Is this an accurate reading of your views? If not, please articulate what you suggest.

      Next, I reject that my idea “gives up ground before the battle.” There is a budget battle, and an Obamacare battle. They can be mixed or separated, depending on how the GOP wants to play it. I support separating the issues because it simplifies the issues.

      While we all can read the polls on Obamacare, I’ve not yet seen a single poll that indicates public support for shutting down the government. I stand by my view that the GOP would take the lion’s share of the blame, and get precious little credit.

      Last, I reject the idea that Obama can allow, or disallow, anything relative to the debt ceiling. There is a ceiling. It must be raised. How does the GOP do that? If they couple the CR with ObamaCare, they essentially take their stronger argument (deficit reduction), and mix it with an argument THEY CANNOT WIN.

      Alternatively, if they simply raise the debt ceiling by 90% of the projected deficit every month, they have a very strong case that it is they who are being responsible, while the Dems are forced to defend higher spending and taxes.

      To be honest, I don’t see the logic in an “Obama won’t allow it” argument re: the CR, while ignoring “Obama won’t allow it” re: OBcare. He has very little power to stop a rolling sequester, but all the power he needs to defend his signature bill.

      The more I think about your response, the more obvious it becomes that the GOP needs to rapidly separate OBcare from the debt ceiling debate, and convincingly win the battle where they have the most public support.

      Dislike of ObamaCare is NOT support for a shutdown. This the key error of those arguing for going off the cliff. Note, that OBcare, while unpopular, has 3X the support of Congress.

    8. Death 6 Says:

      The fall out of a CR fight without OBcare is not clear to me. Many moderates in the Republicans seem quite ready to assume the blame if Reid and or Barry refuse to pass a CR that has no OBcare funding. It seems to me the blame should sit squarely on the rather weak shoulders of Harry and Barry if they shut down the government. This is a matter of placing the onus where it belongs. A filibuster on the rules for the senate consideration of the CR (not filibustering the CR as McCain, et al. want to say) raises the issue of senate rules and allows Republicans in the senate to raise the visibility and discussion of the real issue: OBcare. If Harry gains cloture, he needs some RINO votes: call them out. If Republicans take a filibuster and a CR without OBcare funding off the table, then the RINOS are free to vote safely with no accountability. If the rolls were reversed, does anyone think Harry wouldn’t push a filibuster?

      So what is the end result? If a shut down is pinned on Barry and Harry over their holding the entire government hostage to their pet rock, they will blink. They lose in 2014 and maybe 2016. If it gets pinned on the Republicans, the RINOS in both houses will blink. The RINOS lose in 2014 and 2016 and the Republicans probably have a net loss. But the wild card is with funding won only with RINO capitulation, what is the net effect of OBcare on the economy and the voting public? If it is as bad as those who urge funding it, despite opposing it, seem to suggest, what then? The Republicans who fought hard against it are clean and fully entitled to say, “See we told you so.” In that case, Republicans win in 2014 and probably 2016 after RINO losses in the primaries, ceteris paribus.

      If the house Republicans vote for a CR that funds OBcare and it really goes south, the Republican leadership will own part of it. Worse, it will never be repealed. They can only vote “present” with any credibility after they show they are willing to fight against it by making a unified and honest attempt to pin responsibility for any temporary shut down on Barry and Harry and if it comes down to it ultimately offering a compromise of partial funding of OBcare (no money for subsidies for sure). You can’t have McCain, Cocker and Graham waving the white flag and calling Cruz names before there is ever an honest attempt to stop Harry from limiting debate.

      You can only expect to win after a strategic retreat if you are gaining strength relative to that of the opposition. If the OBcare subsidies are funded, the addiction is assured. Opposition to OBcare will dwindle and the dependency culture grows. Any hope for gains based on this issue is greatly reduced no matter the other indirect economic effects prior to November 2014.

      I don’t support the sequester method of budgeting because it hits key defense programs disproportionately and does nothing to deal with the unearned dependency entitlements. Doubling down on that is dangerous for security and does nothing significant to slow the growth of the dependency constituency.

      Mike

    9. Michael Kennedy Says:

      My comments about the present legislation concern the Continuing Resolution, which the House passed, even though we have not had a budget since 2009. I don’t think O-care should be entangled with the debt ceiling. My point was NOT to shut down the government, which Obama wants to do. My point was to let the Democrats own O-care again. Memories are short.

      The vote in the Senate might smoke out a few nervous Democrats. If not, my suggestion was to let the CR pass with most or all Republican votes as “present.” There will be a quorum. The majority will be Democrats. Obama wants to shut down the government and try to use that situation to do so, but it will not be clear that the GOP is responsible.

      Now, it has been years since I read Roberts Rules but a majority of those voting, I think, will allow it to pass with no GOP (or few) fingerprints. Personally, I don’t care because it will collapse of its own weight. I do think emphasizing who foisted this on us is worth some effort.

      I read left wing blogs ( which block my comments) and they all assume employer heath plans will continue. I don’t think they will. What plans remain will have to adopt the Obamacare guidelines, which mandate cadillac care, and will quickly get too expensive for average workers. The Guidelines are onerous and doctors are planning retirement or a shift to cash practice. This is a cluster**k. The next step will be to shift Medicare into exchanges. There is already discussion. I am lucky because I can still find docs I know. Not everybody is.

    10. phwest Says:

      A quick edit – 3rd from last paragraph, should be $3.8 trillion.

      Practical thought – federal revenues are very uneven (a decent chunk is from quarterly withholding, and so comes in Jan/Apr/June/Sept). As such, the 10% monthly cuts will also be very uneven – non-existent some months, and larger in the remainder. The shutdown is hitting in October precisely because September is a “surplus” month (not sure about this year, but last year September was a $75 Billion surplus). Using the prior 12 months as an examples you would end up with ;

      Period Receipts Outlays Deficit/Surplus (-) 10% “Cut”

      Oct-12 184,316 304,311 119,995 $12 Bil (4%)
      Nov-12 161,730 333,841 172,112 $17 bil (5%)
      Dec-12 269,508 269,699 1,191 $100 Million (0%)
      Jan-13 272,225 269,342 -2,883 nothing
      Feb-13 122,815 326,354 203,539 $20 Billion (6%)
      Mar-13 186,018 292,548 106,530 $11 Billion (4%)
      Apr-13 406,723 293,833 -112,889 nothing
      May-13 197,182 335,914 138,732 $2 Billion (1%)
      Jun-13 286,627 170,126 -116,501 nothing
      Jul-13 200,030 297,623 97,593 nothing
      Aug-13 185,370 333,293 147,923 $12 Billion (4%)

      source : http://www.fms.treas.gov/mts/mts.pdf

      This seems really unworkable. 4-5% cuts on all spending will mean much higher cuts on discretionary spending. Just from an administrative perspective this would be a nightmare to deal with. I can’t see Obama agreeing to it, nor does it seem likely to me that this would actually mitigate the polical fallout on the Rs from a shutdown.

    11. Bruno Behrend Says:

      Phwest,

      Thanks for running the numbers. It’s pretty cool too see actual impacts.

      While I agree that there might be some “fallout,” I think it will be much less than if there is an actual shutdown, but no one knows with any certainty.

      The more robust critique would be whether the Dems could ignore the GOPs increase of the debt ceiling and get away with blaming them for a “shutdown” despite their raising the debt ceiling. I think it is worth the risk, given that the Dems are on record as “refusing to negotiate.”

      Their strategy is to put all four leaders in room with the president so that they could walk out and blame the GOP for “not being reasonable.” In my scenario, the GOP simply circumvents that and raises the debt ceiling prior to any fake “negotiations.”

      On aspect I left out of my memo was that there needs to be some sort of enforcement mechanism disallowing spending beyond the debt limit. If that cap is self-enforcing (borrowing is statutorily limited), then I think the GOP is in pretty good position. For example, Pelosi is on record as saying “there is nothing left to cut.” If we go through all of 2014 testing that silly proposition, I think the GOP wins.

      Another aspect is that the cuts to some discretionary spending will be so deep that the Dems are much more likely to come to the negotiating table after a few mos. of their program being gutted. If the cost of this strategy is defense cuts, so be it. We all know there are 100s of billions in waste in government, and I think process is one of the most effective to smoke it out.

      Monthly cuts to programs will bring out specific details on various areas of needless spending.

      As for the uneven application, it is an interesting point, but doesn’t really change the dynamic. We’ve seen years of these 1, 2, 2.5 year CRs, only a few of which have been wins, and most of which kick the can down the road.

      I think the continuous review of specific budget items will do more to focus the electorate on spending than the dangerous and counterproductive “deals” these pikers make every 9-18 months.

    12. tomw Says:

      Two thoughts relative(?) to this current ‘crisis{ha.}:
      1)To my mind, concurrence with Democrat objectives is surrender. The more a ‘spotlight’ is signed onto who owns the product, the better, ditto for increasing the debt.
      2)Using the CR as a tool to require all waivers to be cancelled, to put ALL Federal employees into the ‘exchanges’, in their HOME OF RECORD, and require enforcement of ALL provisions of Obamacare would be a good thing. No more ‘cookies and candy’ for his henchmen, nothing ‘special’ for the unions, ditto for Congressional “Staff” who WROTE the damn thing.
      NO, pass a CR funding it, and you have to comply with its statutorial requirements, and failure will be a cause for funding to be withdrawn.
      PAY to PLAY. If you want your pile of merde foisted on the US citizenry, you get NO relief from the mess you create, and if you try, the money dries up.
      Yes. I am angry at the RULERS and MASTERS we have hired who seem to think THEY are the boss. They are not. WE are, and should take them to task for their terrible performance in office.

      The conservative portion of the populace is larger than the liberal portion. They must be enraged and engaged for the message to get through the MSM chaff.
      tom

    13. tomw Says:

      Two thoughts relative(?) to this current ‘crisis{ha.}:
      1)To my mind, concurrence with Democrat objectives is surrender. The more a ‘spotlight’ is shined onto the owner of the product, the better, ditto for increasing the debt.
      2)Using the CR as a tool to require all waivers to be cancelled, to put ALL Federal employees into the ‘exchanges’, in their HOME OF RECORD, and require enforcement of ALL provisions of Obamacare would be a good thing. No more ‘cookies and candy’ for his henchmen, nothing ‘special’ for the unions, ditto for Congressional “Staff” who WROTE the damn thing.
      NO, pass a CR funding it, and you have to comply with its statutorial requirements, and failure will be a cause for funding to be withdrawn.
      PAY to PLAY. If you want your pile of merde foisted on the US citizenry, you get NO relief from the mess you create, and if you try, the money dries up.
      Yes. I am angry at the RULERS and MASTERS we have hired who seem to think THEY are the boss. They are not. WE are, and should take them to task for their terrible performance in office.

      The conservative portion of the populace is larger than the liberal portion. They must be enraged and engaged for the message to get through the MSM chaff.
      tom

    14. IGotBupkis, "'Faeces Evenio', Mr. Holder?" Says:

      }}} I think it is worth the risk, given that the Dems are on record as “refusing to negotiate.”

      They are on record, but, as usual, their propaganda arm is making sure the LIVs don’t have any idea what is going on.

      They’ve been “on record” time and again with “do what we want or else”… feel free to go ask the LIVs whether or not it’s the Dems or the GOP which is “obstructionist”.

      :-/