January 2, 2013

* Get ready for another debt ceiling showdown with Republicans:

The party’s caucus in the House will discuss its debt ceiling strategy at its retreat in Williamsburg, Va., in a couple of weeks, according to a top Republican aide, who said it was determined to insist again on spending cuts that equal the increase in the amount the country can borrow.

“The speaker told the president to his face that everything you want in life comes with a price. That doesn’t change here,” the Republican aide said. “I don’t think he has any choice.”

So John Boehner is explicitly declaring that raising the debt ceiling will have a “price.” I’m going to reiterate that it’s absolutely appalling that news orgs continue to report on this as a conventional negotiating tactic, in which each side withholds concessions to extract more from the other. In this case, the eventual GOP agreement to raise the debt ceiling — and Republicans will agree to it, and they know it — will not represent a concession on Republicans’ part. Republicans will not be giving up anything in doing this; they will simply be agreeing not to do extreme damage to the economy and the whole country. Yet Republicans will treat this as a concession for which they should be rewarded by concessions from Dems.

People need to stop pretending this is business as usual and start calling this out for what it is.

* E.J. Dionne makes the progressive case for the fiscal cliff deal; as he details, an enormous amount turns on how aggressively Obama draws a line in the next round against debt ceiling hostage taking — and shifts the conversation back to the economy.

* Also, James Downie reminds us that Republicans accepted this deal explicitly because they believe it gives them more leverage in the debt ceiling fight, which raises the stakes further:

If the president caves and agrees to significant cuts and little revenue, this temporary GOP retreat will look extremely smart. If he stands firm, though, in a better political situation than the summer of 2011 and gets Republicans to concede more revenues, the president will have — on the whole — won an important victory.

 One with far reaching implications for the rest of his agenda, I’d add.

* Noam Scheiber has a very pessimistic look at what lies ahead; given the fiscal deal, he can’t see a way that the President gets through the debt ceiling fight without giving major ground on spending cuts.

 * John Boehner has decided he’s done with one-on-one negotiations with Obama, apparently because he feels “burned.” Worth noting that Boehner could not even get his own bill through the House, and that the final one passed with overwhelming Republican support in the Senate.

* Ryan Grim has a good explainer on why the emerging bipartisan filibuster reform proposal is weak and possibly even counterproductive. Preserving Senate comity by keeping reforms bipartisan matters more than the reforms themselves!

* Harry Reid will delay a vote on filibuster reform, to reach a deal with McConnell. But as Joan McCarter reminds us, Reid previously described reformers like Jeff Merkley as “prophetic.” And they want reform by simple majority, so….

* Merkley’s petition calling on the Senate not to punt on filibuster reform is right here.

* A tough Post piece on how the holding and interrogating of terror suspects abroad without due process has continued under Obama, something that has generated far less angst among liberals than it did under Bush.

* I’m late to this, but it deserves a link anyway: Mark Follman takes apart the NRA myth of arming the good guys as the only way to combat gun violence.

* And Dave Weigel skewers the “pork pork pork” argument Republicans used to justify not passing disaster relief for Sandy victims.

What else?

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.