Debt Ceiling Vote & Hostage Taking
Link from TPM. Get ready for the "clean" meaningless debt ceiling vote today. Steny Hoyer is telling Democrats to vote no so as to avoid the game Republicans are playing and not look divided. Looking at how it is worded (basically blaming Obama for the big debt) I guess a "no" vote makes sense since no amendments are being allowed. However, they'd be voting in unison with the Republicans so I am skeptical as to whether it would be wise. I'd prefer a "present" vote from most of the Democrats. Seems like that gives the GOP spin less to work with. Surprisingly, I've seen some liberal blogs giving the same advice to vote no.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is urging his colleagues to vote down today's "clean" debt limit extension to deprive the GOP of a political win, even though he and the majority of his caucus publicly favor the legislation.
His advice underscores the topsy-turvy politics of Tuesday's upcoming vote on a Republican-sponsored bill that would raise the ceiling on government borrowing without tacking on any spending cuts or additional riders. While the legislation is exactly what most Democrats want to see pass, Republicans are bringing it to the floor with the expectation that it will fail -- likely with unanimous GOP opposition. The point of the vote is to divide progressive and conservative Democrats and bolster Republican arguments that major cuts are needed to successfully pass a debt ceiling hike.
Hoyer is warning his colleagues not to be "politically gamed" by Republicans and instead to either vote "no" or "present" to deprive the vote of any legitimacy. He told reporters in a briefing on Tuesday that if the bill is "simply a political charade in which the overwhelmingly majority or all Republicans are going to vote no, I'm going to advise my members that they should not subject themselves to the demagoguery that would surely follow."
And I really hope Democrats don't cave on Medicare in these "hostage negotiations" with Republicans. They can address cost but should not touch benefits or their winning strategy against the Ryan plan is doomed. Republicans have told Wall Street not to worry-that they will eventually vote to raise the debt ceiling, so Democrats should just call their bluff.
From Joan McCarter:
Again, this Medicare plan should be a sinking ship for Republicans, and will be provided Dems stay away from any Medicare benefits cuts in their debt ceiling and budget negotiations. There's some indication that they might just be willing to trade it way. That's what Greg Sargent is hearing.
[I]t’s now clear that Dems think it’s politically impossible not to accede to the GOP demand for deep cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.
And so, with the Biden-led deficit negotiations set to resume this week, Mitch McConnell has now begun insisting that big Medicare cuts will be necessary in exchange for GOP support for the debt ceiling hike. Thanks to their willingness to draw a hard line at the outset, Republicans now appear poised to win big concessions in exchange for supporting something that they and everyone else have already said is inevitable.
As I reported on Friday, some Dems are insisting that there will be no Democratic support for any reductions in Medicare benefits in the Biden-negotiated compromise. But it may be too late for Dems to draw any hard lines. It’s unclear whether Dems will hold fast behind this vow and how it can be squared with the GOP’s insistence on deep cuts in exchange for the debt ceiling hike and with the obvious Dem eagerness to reach a deal. This is the dynamic to watch this week.
The Ryan plan as it exists now won't pass, that's a given. But not passing the Ryan plan won't count as "saving Medicare" if there are benefit cuts in the core program. It's not too late for Dems to draw a hard line, though it might be too late for too many of them to harden their spines. They've got huge majorities of public opinion behind them. Americans aren't clamoring for the Republican plan, they're clamoring for a hard line against it, for Medicare to be protected, for taxes on the wealthy to be raised. It's the perfect set up for 2012, if Dems just don't blow it.