Friday, September 13, 2013

Deadlines Approaching

We are approaching two critical domestic deadlines: October 1 for the Budget and October 18 for the Debt Ceiling. My earlier analyses assumed there would be short term Continuing Resolutions (60-90 days) passed before those dates for both the Budget and the Debt Ceiling. Now I am not so sure,

Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic writes that "The GOP is About to Crack Up: Three Theories Why". In a lead New York Times article this morning,  Jonathan Weisman writes "Boehner Seeks Democrats' Help on Fiscal Talks". And BooMan Tribune writes this afternoon "Will Boehner Call Off the Attack?" So what's up?

The GOP wants to put through a 90 day CR, without taking a Do-or-Die stand on defunding Obamacare. Tea Party members - 43 of them - have revolted. Without them, Boehner can't pass a CR without Democrats' help. But Democrats want a budget with the sequester taken out, a No-No for Conservatives. On the Budget CR, Boehner seems to have two choices:

  • Kick the can a bit down the road. Tell conservatives he will fight the Obamacare defunding fight when the Debt Ceiling comes up, and ask Conservatives to back him now.
  • Do a deal with Democrats, raising the 2014 Budget up to, or close to non-sequester levels, and pass the Budget CR with mostly Democratic votes, effectively breaking the Hastert Rule, risking a challenge to his Speakership.
Either course is perilous: in the first instance, he raises Tea Party expectations about what a Debt Ceiling negotiation can accomplish; and in the second, he alienates his Conservative base, which could cost him his Speakership.

Suspect he'll go with the former; but it's not clear he can get the 218 votes he needs to pass the Budget CR without Democratic help. The House is supposed to go on Fall recess after next week, and noise is already being heard about the need to cancel the recess. If they do, there will be 11 more work days in September. If they don't, only the five days next week.

We could have a shutdown over the Budget on October 1, just as the debt ceiling drop-dead date arrives.

I think something will get cobbled together for October 1. If so, October 18 may be the crisis date. If not, October 1 it is. Government shut-down, with a possible default crisis two weeks later.

I cannot see how the GOP makes it through to Christmas without either a shut-down, a debt-default or near default, or both.

And this should cook their chances to hold the House in the 2014 mid-terms.

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