Now that the House has passed the three month suspense of the debt limit, it is safe to say President Obama won this standoff. The original Republican position was that any debt limit increase had to be accompanied by spending cuts. Obama said he would not negotiate this time and wanted a debt limit increase without cuts. This temporary increase has no cuts.
Obama proved that the GOP does not want to be held responsible for destroying the world economy. Obama’s win should be acknowledged, but it is important to remember how we even got to this point. The only reason we had this debt ceiling fight is that back in 2010 and 2011 President Obama effectively encouraged GOP hostage taking over the debt ceiling while trying to get a grand bargain. When Republicans first floated a trial balloon about exploiting the debt limit for leverage, instead of taking a firm stance Obama played along.
In December of 2010 when asked about the debt limit Obama signaled his openness to negotiating around the debt limit by saying, “I think that there will be significant discussions about the debt limit vote.” In April of 2011 the administration refused to issue a veto threat against anything but a clean debt ceiling increase. Just days later Obama apparently told Speaker Boehner he would trade spending cuts for a debt limit increase. Instead of taking a firm stand against hostage taking the administration repeatedly choose to engage in negotiations because they believed the manufactured crisis was their best chance of getting a grand bargain. At every stop Obama strengthened the hand of Republicans who wanted to use the debt limit as leverage for deficit reduction.
We now see that if Obama simply refused to negotiate in 2011 the GOP would have quickly folded just like they did this time. Yes, Obama successfully resolved the problem, but only after playing a huge role in needlessly helping to create it in the first place.