How Would You Advise Boehner On The Debt Ceiling Talks?
I thought it might be good to get ahead of the game and prepare ourselves for the upcoming fight rather than talk about what could have been after the fact. Some considerations:
President Obama seems to be more interested in defeating Republicans than in accomplishing a legislative agenda. Maybe he thinks that he is unrestrained and empowered after the last election with political capital and a strong bargaining position. We’ve seen the tenacity with which he pursues a goal he is deadest on achieving.
Boehner seems to be more interested in making a deal than the president. I get the sense that he is not interested in doing anything ambitious. He seems to be concerned with making everyone get along. He sounds like a man who has completed his bucket list and he’s just hanging around in the meantime.
The Republicans have lost a few seats and are in a slightly weaker position after the election. Conventional wisdom says that they have greater leverage on the debt ceiling than in the fiscal cliff talks. If Obama does not change his strategy he will try to drive a wedge between Republicans and exploit that weakness. Boehner has said that he wants to hold the line and demand commensurate spending cuts in return for increasing the debt limit. Others say that the GOP should avoid a showdown that leads to a government shutdown.
So, you’re in the room with Boehner, Cantor, and other House GOP leaders during the strategy session. What do you tell him? What is the goal and what is the strategy to get you there? As tempting as it might be to suggest some scorched-earth, blaze-of-glory, nuclear option I think it might be better to try to come up with a plan that you believe you could sell to the speaker. Assume you have a genuine opportunity in which he will consider your case. What should he ask for and why do you think it will work?