President Obama couldn’t get his deficit commission to agree on a plan to cut Social Security, so they’re setting up a plan whereby the GOP “makes them do it” as the price of raising the debt ceiling:

Congress is expected to vote sometime in the first half of next year on legislation to raise the amount of money the government is legally allowed to borrow to finance its deficits. By that point, Republicans will control the House and will have strengthened their numbers in the Senate, and they hope to use the debt ceiling vote as a bargaining chip to secure spending cuts.

What’s Harry Reid’s plan?

The theory goes something like this: Republicans will demand sharp spending cuts in return for lifting the debt ceiling. Let them. “Boehner et al have had the luxury of proposing all sorts of ideas that bear no relation to reality,” says Jim Manley, Reid’s spokesman. “Next year, they’ll have to lay it all out. No more magic asterisks, no more ‘we’ll get back to you.’”

In this telling, the debt ceiling vote represents a trap for Republicans more than an opportunity for Democrats. If Republicans want to cut spending, now’s their chance. But that means passing a package of spending cuts, which they may find less enjoyable than simply saying that Democrats should stop spending so much

As Dave Dayen notes, the Republicans aren’t going to go after defense spending. They’ll start slashing things like Head Start, Section 8 housing and other services that are vital at a time of economic hardship.

Reid is going to what — fight the Republicans?  Stare them down when they start slashing?  Maybe the President will tell them to go ahead, shoot the hostages.

Right. Like that will happen.

The only part of this tax cut package that is overwhelmingly popular is the unemployment insurance extension. That thing the President got from the Republicans in exchange for agreeing to all the unpopular stuff.  The thing the GOP needs to pass anyway, but don’t want to take shit from their base over.  Thankfully Obama has freed them from that responsibility.

How many times in 2006 did we hear “oh, it’s the best we can do because George Bush has veto power, and he won’t sign anything else?”

For the last year it’s been two Republicans in the Senate who held Obama hostage.  Now it’s an incoming Republican majority in the House. Next week it’ll be the guy who cleans the Rotunda on weekends.

The unemployment insurance extension being given away as a fig leaf to the tax cuts in this bill isn’t a political liability, it’s an advantage.  It’s the part of this package the public really wants to pass.  And Obama has the trump card in the form of a veto.

There is no reason for Democrats to be sucking this one up, and there are some very bad times just around the corner if this bill passes.  I realize it’s possible for people of good faith to have different opinions on what the best plan of action is, but everyone should think carefully about what’s in store for us all if Obama folds the party’s hand like this.