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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 08:47 AM ET, 07/18/2011

The Morning Plum

* Time to embrace the inevitable on debt ceiling: The week ahead will be all about creating the political conditions necessary to give conservative House Republicans cover to accept what now seems to be inevitable: Their best way out of the debt ceiling impasse is Mitch McConnell’s escape-hatch proposal.

With more and more lawmakers viewing the McConnell plan as the most likely resolution to the crisis after the latest efforts to reach a straight up compromise failed over the weekend, Zachary Goldfarb has the latest on how the McConnell scheme would work:

Under the plan, Obama would be able to raise the debt ceiling three times over the next year for a total of $2.5 trillion. Congress could also vote on a resolution of disapproval each time, assigning blame to Obama for increasing the nation’s debt.
In addition to the $1.5 trillion in spending cuts, the plan would create a new committee of 12 lawmakers, which would issue a report to Congress by the end of the year on how to cut trillions more from federal deficits over the next 10 years. This panel would seek agreement where Obama and Republicans haven’t been able — primarily over changes to entitlement programs and whether raising new tax revenue should play a key role in cutting the deficit.

There is probably nothing that could ever get the most hard-core debt-ceiling dead-enders to accept this way forward. The question is whether there’s a way to sufficiently limit the damage that supporting the McConnell proposal risks doing to House Republicans.

This week, the House will first vote on a “cut, cap and balance” approach, including spending caps and a balanced budget amendment. Such a measure will never pass the Senate, and it even faces high hurdles in the House, but this vote could give enough House GOPers the political breathing room to swallow hard, weather the objections of the right, support the McConnell plan, and prevent the country from lapsing into default and economic armageddon.

Indeed, as Steve Benen notes, John Boehner has all but admitted that the purpose of this vote is to make the next one easier. Said Boehner: “Let’s get through that vote and then we’ll make decisions about what will come after.”

* The best possible deal for the GOP? As Ezra Klein notes, the McConnell plan is probably the best political outcome Republicans can hope for, since it all but ensures major entitlements cuts later and doesn’t really require any big concessions right now on the GOP’s part. (No, raising the debt ceiling does not constitute a concession.)

* Balanced budget amendment a “dishonest” way to shred safety net: E.J. Dionne boils it down:

Then there is the coming debate over a “balanced budget” amendment to the Constitution that would limit government spending to 18 percent of gross domestic product and require a two-thirds vote to raise taxes. It’s an outrageous way for members of Congress to vote to slash Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, aid to education and a slew of other things, to lock in low taxes on the rich — and never have to admit they’re doing it. It’s one of the most dishonest proposals ever to come before Congress, and I realize that’s saying something.

* GOP badly losing battle over debt ceiling: Striking numbers from a new CBS News poll: A whopping 71 percent disapprove of the GOP’s handling of the debt limit crisis, versus 58 percent who disapprove of Dems and 48 who disapprove of Obama.

Only 21 percent approve of the GOP’s handling of the issue.

But: A new poll sponsored by The Hill finds that self described centrist voters don’t think either party is winning the argument.

* The GOP’s anti-tax inflexibility continues to flummox commentators: Relatedly, Ross Douthat becomes the latest conservative-leaning commentator to admit to being caught completely off guard by the GOP’s refusal to budge on revenues and the latest to urge Republicans to compromise.

* Bad right-wing arguments about default: Jonathan Capehart knocks down the Tea Party’s three leading arguments about default and the debt ceiling.

* Obama passes over Elizabeth Warren: The President’s selection of former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray, rather than Elizabeth Warren, to be the administration’s chief consumer protection cop is a missed opportunity, because as Paul Krugman notes, Republicans are equally committed to blocking his appointment:

What’s going to happen, then, is no director for the CFPB in any case. But meanwhile Obama has passed up a chance to symbolically align himself with the public and against the banksters.

* Elizabeth Warren for Senate! Robert Kuttner makes the case that she’d be a good candidate to take on Scott Brown and that carrying the progressive banner in the Senate would be the best possible use of her talents.

Taegan Goddard: “All eyes turn to the future of Elizabeth Warren.” And indeed, this would be a major nationally-watched contest that would stir up base voters on both sides.

* Obama reelect question of the day: Amy Walter asks: How much longer can the President continue to maintain the astonishing gap between his relatively stable approval ratings and widespread pessimism and disapproval ove rthe economy?

The explanation for this gap, I think, lies in the fact that polls consistently show that the public blames Bush more than Obama for our current mess.

* Marco Rubio to Tea Party: Debt limit isn’t big deal: Senator Rubio insisted yesterday that he doesn’t really have a problem with letting Obama control the debt ceiling, as long as it’s packaged with a real proposal to get debt under control.

Key takeaway: Rubio has proven very adept at keeping the Tea Party happy while also appearing semi-reasonable to Beltway elites, but on the debt limit there is no middle ground for Tea Partyers, who have made opposition to raising it their latest ideological cause celebre.

* Herman Cain romping in the anti-Muslim primary: Sorely needed Monday comic relief: Cain claims communities have the right to ban mosques, the latest sign that he’s left his rivals in the dust when it comes to pandering to the Islamophobic wing of the GOP.

* And class warfare rages in Wisconsin: As Chris Bowers notes, Democrats in Wisconsin, to a far greater degree than D.C. Dems, are not afraid to combat the right’s class warfare with class warfare of their own, which is exactly why Wisconsin Dems are winning.

What else is going on?

By  |  08:47 AM ET, 07/18/2011

 
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