Why the White House Doesn’t Want a Clean Debt-Ceiling Bill

Ezra Klein explains that the White House doesn’t want a clean debt-ceiling bill:

A lot of Democrats took one look at the McConnell plan, which would raise the debt ceiling without substantive fiscal concessions, and saw their way out of this mess. But not the White House. What’s come clear in recent weeks is that the Obama administration is much more intent on reaching a major deficit deal, and much less intent on making revenues a major part of it, than most observers assumed.

That’s led them to offer Republicans a deal that is not only much farther to the right than anyone had predicted, but also much farther to the right than most realize. In addition to the rise in the Medicare eligibility age and the cuts to Social Security and the minimal amount of revenues, it’d cut discretionary spending by $1.2 trillion, which is an absolutely massive attack on that category of spending.

This deal isn’t just a last-ditch effort to save the economy from the damage of a federal default. The White House would far prefer this deal to the McConnell plan, or to the $2 trillion deal that was under consideration during the Biden negotiations.

So why is the White House so intent on savaging Democratic priorities? Klein lists five reasons, which readers can analyze for themselves. Reasons 1,4, and 5 are typical Beltway nonsense, relying on the good faith of congressional Republicans and the idea that there are some “independents” out there who think that the deficit is important. Reasons 2 and 3 make sense, but are entirely speculative because they depend upon specific contours of a deal that we don’t have yet.

But of course Ezra’s just a reporter. Who knows? He could be completely wrong. He has been before. Personally, I still entertain hope that the White House’s silence on the McConnell Plan stems from its knowledge that any embrace of such a plan would kill it. In any event, Klein clearly doesn’t understand the magical, Zen-Master, Ninja, 11-dimensional chess playing abilities of our President, which served him so well in last year’s midterms.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff is a professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles.