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 o…

  1. BrentB67

    I believe there will still be need to compromise and I am sure the Speaker does also. I would advise him to move his starting point for negotiations much further to the right.

    Begin with the position that that there will be no increase in tax revenue and no increase in the debt limit and then set priorities for what is going to be funded: interest on debt, military, VA, ICE, FDA, FAA, SS, Medicare and when we are out of money to fund anything else (I don’t know how long the list will be) then start adding things back offset by increases in the ceiling. This would be a good opportunity to get rid of a lot of smaller programs and agencies that never seem to die.

    I am not sure this is a good venue to do entitlement reform. We need to raise eligibility ages dramatically ASAP and address lower payroll tax rates and higher/no limits. I think that is a separate conversation.

    An alternative strategy would be repeal base line budgeting in exchange for the debt limit increase that would be a huge long run win.

  2. Eric Hines

    First move: pass, again, last year’s House budget, which contained both current spending cuts and future spending growth rate reductions.  Pass, separately, Ryan’s entitlement reform package.

    Alternate first move: pass this year’s budget with these things in it: Romney’s tax reform plan of 20% across the board rate reductions for individuals, reduction in corporate tax rates to 25%; spending cuts to fit into the revenue projections from the tax reform, Ryan’s entitlement reform plan; a debt ceiling increase equal to half the spending cuts.

    Second move: announce that there’s no point in conducting negotiations on the debt ceiling until the Senate brings the House budget to the floor for a vote, and the House-Senate conference committee has convened to work out differences.  Say that the House is tired of Democrat intransigence; it’s time for them to…fish or cut bait.

    Third move: all Republicans actually talk to their constituents in those folks’ neighborhoods and in neighboring Democrats’ neighborhoods.  It’s wholly insignificant to toss an op-ed at the WaPo and call that communications.

    Eric Hines

  3. DocJay

    I think it is impossible to negotiate with Obama. Logic dictates that what Brent says would be the best we could do right now. Experience teaches me that Obama is a petulant coke head with no grasp of economic reality. Our grand bargain fails and we get downgraded.

  4. Guruforhire

    Scorched earth.

    Broad-based, every microphone, all the time, scorched earth.

    Think the democrats in 03 and 04 when they went after the Iraq war, with every democrat in front of every microphone going nuclear.

    We need to do that.

  5. Flapjack
    Guruforhire: Scorched earth.

    Broad-based, every microphone, all the time, scorched earth.

    Think the democrats in 03 and 04 when they went after the Iraq war, with every democrat in front of every microphone going nuclear.

    We need to do that. · 5 minutes ago

    I would agree, but with a standard message: the US gov’t borrows >40% of what it spends.  This cannot continue.

    Get in front of every microphone, as Guru says, and on every panel with a Dem possible.  Whenever the Dem (or his/her media surrogate) attempts to derail the conversation from that >40%, hammer them.  Folks who ignore the overspending issue are intellectually dishonest and shown as such.

    Lastly, don’t try to cover for past GOP-aided spending extravaganzas.  Time to own up and rid the GOP of that albatross.  The GOP overspent, only less than the Dems; it was stupid and the GOP will make amends.

  6. Sisyphus

    Skip the President, he has never negotiated anything in good faith in his life and neither of you looks at all dignified in golf apparel, pass a bill this week that is both responsible and attractive to the American people and let Reid and Obama sit on it while your most skilled spokesmen demagogue it.

    And, no Mr. Boehner, you are not a skilled spokesmen. Or negotiator, for that matter. You just rammed $330B of new spending you can’t pay for, tax hikes on the most able to shift income to avoid taxes, in yet another round of catastrophic ongoing failures of leadership. No one in your caucus, including you and your staff, even read that bill. If you had any sense of shame, you would have resigned from public life in disgrace then. When a Speaker brings bills to the floor that his caucus does not support, he becomes the de facto Speaker for the Minority. The fact that your caucus tolerates your high-handed stupidity is another sign of the profound ignorance and moral decay that pervades our institutions. First, stop harming this nation. All you show America is the lack of GOP seriousness on fiscal issues.

  7. Spin

    I say hold the line and an all out PR war.  I mean, that assumes that anyone in Washington is serious about getting this under control.  How hard is it to go on TV all the time and repeat the same story:  “Your personal budget is financed by debt, to the tune of 40 cents for every dollar you spend is on a credit card, or borrowed from your parents, whatever.  Now your credit card is maxed out, and you want to buy that new dishwasher.  Would your credit card company raise the limit?”

  8. curtmilr

    Yes, skip the President entirely. Simply ignore him, and say the House & Senate will act, then the President can decide what to do.

    Yes, the House should pass a budget calling for major spending cuts, and demand that the Senate vote & amend it to go to conference negotiations. Pass no OTHER revenue bills until that occurs, and point out, starting immediately, then consistently, adamantly, that it is Sen. Reid’s intransigence a failure to tend to the business of the American people that is causing the ongoing fiscal crisis! Absolutely no negotiations prior to a conference committee.

    If the media tries to call it a scorched earth policy, say: “If you want to call truth telling about the failed Democrat policies “scorched earth”, so be it, but it doesn’t change the fact that it IS THE TRUTH!”.

    And THAT line should be a lead GOP talking point for the next two years! EVERY spokesman. EVERY time they areat a podium, in a town hall, on camera, or in print anywhere!

  9. Shane McGuire

    My only piece of advice:

    The most powerful word in any negotiation is “No.”

    Use that power.

  10. WeighWant

    The same way 2 kids share one piece of cake.     One cuts, the other picks what part they want.

    Without adult supervision, I don’t think you can count on anything except higher debt and higher ceiling.   Neither of these whimperin’ puppy dogs has any stake in the outcome.  

  11. Guruforhire

    Outside of a scorched earth media campaign, start dictating terms.

    Tell the president the way it is going to be.

    Tell the president he can spend 2.783 trillion increasing at 3% a year for the next 10 years.  Its his job to get with his people and come up with a plan they can live with that accomplishes that level of spending, acknowledge that the republicans may not entirely like the way he accomplishes this, but the insanity has to end.  The republicans will go into a conference and come up with a revenue plan that extracts that money from the people.  The president may not like how they do it, but in the name of ending the insanity it has to be done.

    Yes the numbers I use are real.  2.783 trillion is the 2013 sustainable leveling of spending, and yes we do average about 3% of growth in real terms over extended periods of time.

    It will take us 20 years to balance the budget holding levels at todays levels of spending constant.

  12. Schrodinger

    A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

    Joshua in War Games


    The only winning negotiating strategy is to not negotiate. Pass a budget and then adjourn.

  13. WI Con

    Communicate & articulate (I know, Boehner’s already lost the arguement) what current tax reciepts will fund. Rand Paul & Tom Coburn have been effective on this – it currently covers if prioritized: interest on the debt (no need for default/downgrade), S.S. , military and Medicare if I remember correctly. The world will not end!

    What could it fund with changes in entitlements, tax and budgeting reforms (scrap the base-line budgets).

    I agree with the others, pass the budget that we envision or want (assume entitlement reform, elimination ofsubsidies: agricultural, PBS, Planned Parenthood, fund an EPA & DOE w/ 60% fewer employees, etc.). Even w/ that, the limit would still need to be increased, but increase it as if using the House Budget. Do it for three months at a time to keep the issue front & center. Do it with consequences: no Senate Budget? No increase in limit.

    There are several options other than capitulation.

  14. Bryan G. Stephens

    Pass a budget that freezes spending. No increases for anyone for any reason. Period. Then, build a debt limit around that.

    No cuts, just no more increases. Period.

  15. Aaron Miller

    Why compromise?

    This is a PR war, not a negotiation.

  16. Illiniguy
    Guruforhire: Outside of a scorched earth media campaign, start dictating terms.

    Tell the president the way it is going to be.

    Agreed. We’re already over the cliff. There’s going to be a wrenching change to how things are done in this country; we might as well do it all at once instead of piecemeal. We’ll probably lose politically, but I’d rather know now what kind of country my kids are inheriting rather than wait around for the final credits to roll.

  17. Frank Soto

    This one is very different than the tax debate.  Republicans hold the edge here.  If you don’t raise the debt limit, the government MUST dramatically reduce spending immediately.

    Where as the dems were eager to go over the fiscal cliff, they won’t want to be in partial government shutdown for more than a period of days.  They’ll talk as if they’re not afraid of it, but it will be all bravado.  We’ll take a beating in the press, but there are two years to change the narrative before the midterms.

    The dems will have to swallow a deal with significant cuts..  

  18. Western Chauvinist

    I’m probably naive about all this, but it seems to me the last bit of leverage the Republicans wield is the debt ceiling (and appropriations, but they never seem to stop writing the checks no matter how lousy the “investment”).

    What can they realistically wrangle from the Dems? Is it possible to end baseline budgeting? That’d be nice (she says, trying not to sound embittered) . How about forcing the Senate into conference and coming up with a balanced budget to live by for the year? “Stop it. No, I have not been smoking newly legalized weed!”

    What is the downside risk to Republicans? They shutdown the government causing massive hardship (among the government employed and their cohorts in the world of contractors), which cascades into economic/societal collapse? They cause a constitutional crisis by, ironically, asserting their authority over the purse strings?

    Feh. We’re already in a constitutional crisis with 1) an Executive which arbitrarily enforces existing laws and imposes new ones ad hoc through executive order, 2) a Senate which either won’t vote or otherwise fulfill its obligations under existing laws, 3) a Supreme Court which argues the case for the Executive…

    In_a_strategy_session_with_Republicans_I’d_be  talking_about_going_to_the_Cross.

  19. The Mugwump

    John Boehner?  You mean our very own Alexander Kerensky?

  20. Yeah...ok.

    Impeach the senate for not producing a budget. It is their job and they have violated their oath to uphold the constitution.

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