When I talked to Joe Carson on Monday, the prospects of the United States getting out of this whole debt-ceiling thing alive were dim. With the totally inadequate McConnell-Reid plan on the table, the director of global economic research for AllianceBernstein Investments offered his own idea. “The best thing right now,” he said, “would be for President Obama, House leader Boehner and Senate Leader Reid to ask for a 30-day extension of the debt ceiling and get all the budget committee members together and strike a deal and do not leave Washington until a deal is done that puts in place $4T to $6T of deficit reduction over the next 10-15 years.”
Little did we know then that this seemingly crazy idea of a short-term extension of the debt-ceiling would gain some serious traction.
The Post editorial this morning broached the idea. “Maybe the best approach now is a short-term increase in the debt ceiling to provide a few months breathing space for additional negotiations,” the editorial board suggested. And moments ago at the daily briefing, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that President Obama would sign off on this as long as there is agreement on a long-term, bipartisan deficit reduction plan that would need more time to get hashed out.
Washington’s way of putting off the big decisions until the very last moment is tiresome. Folks here know what the problems are. And it’s not like there haven’t been enough committees, commissions and gangs who have produced any number of proposals to solve them. But the folks here have grown increasingly enamored of this Russian roulette-style of governing. That we are so close to destroying the full faith and credit of the United States has me increasingly pessimistic about our prospects of surviving this latest round of attempted suicide-by-inaction.
If a short-term extension of the debt ceiling is what is needed to adopt the Gang of Six’s more balanced approach to fiscal discipline — and the ratings agencies back off their downgrade threats, which would also have a negative impact on the nation’s struggling economy — then let’s make it happen. The 5 p.m. meeting at the White House between Obama, Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor today must be the beginning of the end of this debt-ceiling craziness.
Whatever Congress comes up with and Obama agrees to isn’t going to be popular, but it must be done. As Carson told me, “At some point, we need politicians that stand up and do the right things and [are] not just worried about if they become the next jobless claim in the next election.”