January 18, 2013

* Must read: Dwight Eisenhower’s granddaughter, who had Secret Service protection herself, bluntly charges that the NRA ad exacerbated the danger faced by the Obama daughters.

* Surprise, surprise: The wretched dishonesty in the NRA ad was picked up from reporting in conservative media.

* Paul Krugman gives the White House props for getting it right with its debt ceiling non-negotiation strategy, and says today’s GOP cave has long term repercussions that presage further GOP weakness:

Yes, the GOP could come back on the debt ceiling, but that seems unlikely. It could try to make a big deal of the sequester, but that’s a lot more like the fiscal cliff than it is like the debt ceiling: not good, but not potentially catastrophic, and therefore poor terrain for the “we’re crazier than you are” strategy. And while Republicans could shut down the government, my guess is that Democrats would actually be gleeful at that prospect: the PR would be overwhelmingly favorable for Obama, and again, not much risk of blowing up the world.

* One caveat: It appears the GOP’s plan for a three-month debt ceiling is not quite clean. Jonathan Weisman:

To add muscle to their efforts to bring Senate Democrats to the table, House Republicans will include a provision in the debt ceiling legislation that says lawmakers will not be paid if they do not pass a budget blueprint.

This may mean House Dems will continue to insist that John Boehner find all the votes for this himself. Either way, whatever conditions are attached, Republicans have irrevocably revealed they’ll never allow default.

* Indeed, as Jonathan Chait notes, the “no budget no pay” ruse is designed to create the illusion that Republicans have not totally surrendered on the debt ceiling, even though they have.

* But what if the “no budget, no pay” provision is unconstitutional? Rachel Weiner has both sides of the argument.

* Jed Lewison on the House GOP’s rapidly dwindling options:

(1) they can pass a clean extension of the debt limit, as Cantor’s initial statement seemed to be saying they would, (2) they can try to pass a debt limit extension that includes the unconstitutional “no budget, no pay” gimmick, or (3) they can go back to hostage crisis mode, right back where we started.

And option two might not even work, if House Dems withhold their support, which would result in another “Plan B” fiasco.

* Also: As David Atkins notes, the GOP cave gives Dems leverage to insist on a clean three month debt limit hike with no funny business attached. After all, the GOP leadership has now signaled we must avoid default.

* Michael Cohen on how Obama’s getting results with the “Pat Geary” strategy, which is summed up as follows:

My offer is this: Nothing.

Worth recalling that the battle over the government shutdown and the sequester might not go quite as swimmingly…

* Indeed, as David Firestone notes, none of this will really be settled until Republicans “formally reject the use of chaos as a governing technique.”

* Relatedly, James Downie raises a crucial point about whether the GOP’s sudden de-escalation really matters:

The fact is that, underneath the gestures toward less brinkmanship, Republicans remain committed to the same extreme policies. It would be silly, of course, to expect Republicans to cave to all Democratic demands, but to continue to refuse to raise revenue in any meaningful amount means that any talk of moderation remains just that.

Today’s defeat was an important tactical retreat, but the main fight still lies ahead.

* And guess how the markets reacted to the GOP debt limit surrender?

Dow Average Rises to 5-Year High Amid Debt-Ceiling Talks

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.