There should be no doubt that one of the most dangerous aspects of this current debt ceiling deal, is that it set a precedent for Republicans turning every future debt ceiling increase in the future into another hostage situation to force spending cuts. As Republican Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell put it:
“What we have done, Larry, also is set a new template. In the future, any president, this one or another one, when they request us to raise the debt ceiling it will not be clean anymore. This is just the first step. This, we anticipate, will take us into 2013. Whoever the new president is, is probably going to be asking us to raise the debt ceiling again. Then we will go through the process again and see what we can continue to achieve in connection with these debt ceiling requests of presidents to get our financial house in order.”
Another debt ceiling vote will take place in late 2012 or early 2013. Assuming President Obama is re-elected and Republicans hold at least one chamber of Congress or even a large minority in the Senate, we are being told very clearly will we have this same basic fight again. Yet this next time it should end much worse for liberals.
When the Republicans took the debt ceiling hostage this time they were in risky uncharted waters. They didn’t know what Obama’s bottom line would be. They didn’t know if he would fold on new revenue. They didn’t know if Obama would be willing to use some innovative solution like the 14th amendment or a trillion dollar coin. The Republicans took a politic risk not knowing if their stance would make them look incredibly unreasonable causing their poll numbers to crash and Obama’s and Democrats’ poll numbers to rise sharply. They didn’t know if the media would turn on them in this fight.
This next time the Republicans will go into the fight much better informed and far more confident that this tactic will work against Obama. They now know Obama won’t use an innovative work-around and that he will accept an all-cuts package if the GOP holds firm.
I have little doubt that in the next debt ceiling fight Republicans will consider the basic design of this current deal simply the left-most goal post of any new negotiation. From there, they will drag the next package even further to the right.
If you thought this deal was bad, there’s strong reason to suspect with Obama in office the next one will likely be significantly worse.