The single most important thing that House Democrats could demand, in exchange for the tax cut bill’s passage, is an increase of the debt limit inside the package. It would in effect protect whatever stimulus you might get out of the bill, and deny Republicans another hostage-taking event.
But Harry Reid is somehow of the mind that House Republicans should have to own that debt limit vote, that they’ll have to come up with some responsible solution, and that it will set a trap with their base. He’s entitled to his opinion. It happens to be extremely wrong.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday he’s hoping to assemble a bloc of senators who will demand tax and spending reforms before agreeing to vote to raise the U.S. debt ceiling next year.
Corker said he’s begun conversations with colleagues looking ahead to a vote next spring on the debt ceiling, a highly anticipated moment that’s seen as a possible turning point in the debate over deficits and U.S. debt.
“I’m already talking to folks on both sides of the aisle,” Corker said on CNBC. “I think you’re going to see resistance to voting for the debt ceiling increase later this spring without us doing something that is real as it relates to all of these issues you are talking about.”
Congress is expected to vote sometime in the first half of next year on legislation to raise the amount of money the government is legally allowed to borrow to finance its deficits. By that point, Republicans will control the House and will have strengthened their numbers in the Senate, and they hope to use the debt ceiling vote as a bargaining chip to secure spending cuts.
And Corker’s Gang of Spending Cuts will have a perfect event to point back to and prove the need for spending reform – the tax cut bill he just voted for along with 37 of his colleagues in the Senate. Since that massively increased the near-term deficit, Team Corker must slash spending – which is not going to fall on defense contractors, but real people in things like Head Start, Section 8 housing or other vital services – to make up for it.
This could not have been a more obvious scenario. Before the vote even passes in the Senate, you see Republicans already preparing for battle. The debt limit vote, and subsequent “compromise,” will wipe out the stimulative effects of this tax cut bill. Book it. And it won’t even take that much in the way of spending cuts to pull that off, considering how weak the stimulus is from the tax cuts.