We know what happens if the Boehner bill fails in the House. There is no alternative plan. We suffer whatever shock to the U.S. and world economies that will follow a default. The president will go to the country, claiming the Republicans endangered the country’s economy and global standing. But what happens if the House passes the Boehner bill?
1. The Boehner bill becomes the inevitable solution to the crisis. As Keith Hennessey explains, we also make progress in restoring fiscal sanity:
•As initially drafted, CBO projected the plan would cut spending by $850 B over the next decade. That is less than was anticipated, so the Speaker is retooling the bill to meet his dollar-of-spending-cuts-for-dollar-of-debt-increase principle. . . .
•These savings come from discretionary spending cuts and a bit from student loans.
•It would create statutory caps on discretionary spending and a sequester to enforce those caps.
•The Secretary of the Treasury would be authorized to increase the debt limit by $900 billion upon enactment.
•It would create a new Joint Select Committee of 12 members of the House and Senate, with three each appointed by Boehner, Pelosi, Reid, and McConnell. The committee’s goal is to reduce the deficit by $1.8 T over the next decade. . . .
•IF seven members of that committee recommend legislation by November 23rd of this year, then that legislation enjoys an expedited “fast track” legislative process in the House and Senate, with votes in both bodies required by December 23rd of this year.
•If that fast track legislation resulting from the new committee is enacted into law and it reduces the deficit by more than $1.6T, the Secretary of the Treasury can raise the debt limit by another $1.6 T.
•The House and Senate would be required to vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment in the fourth quarter of this year . . . .
2. The House would have done its job without violating the core promises the speaker made: more spending cuts than dollars increased in the debt ceiling. And no tax hikes.
3. President Obama, after decrying the plan, will almost certainly have to sign it. This in no sense will be looked upon as a victory by Democrats. To the contrary, by ignoring the president’s veto threat, the House will have shown that its views (and those of its Tea Party freshmen) can’t be ignored by the White House.
4. Congress will rebuff Obama and Reid’s efforts to slash more than $800 billion in defense spending. It is for this reason that former ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton has endorsed the plan.
5. The rap on the Tea Party that it is incapable of governing will be proven false.
6. The rap that the Republicans are divided between the Tea Party and everyone else will be disproven as well.
7. The most shrill voices in the GOP will take one on the chin, and thereby reveal that the gap is actually between a few loud voices in the blogosphere and Congress, on one hand, and the bulk of the conservative movement, on the other. The Tea Party, however, will show it can move opinion and govern.
8. Obama won’t have any excuse for the rotten economy.
9. The left will be demoralized. The left demanded a clean debt bill, railed against spending cuts, and pleaded for tax hikes. They will have failed, and Obama, by signing the Boehner bill, will be the object of their ire.
10. The Senate Democrats, who failed to do their job in passing budgets in two successive years, will be forced to take a tough vote, which will either displease their base or, for certain senators, critical red state voters.
At some level you wonder why this is even controversial in Republican ranks. Perhaps with time for consideration the vast majority of the lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will realize this is not just the only game in town but a very decent one.