In the game of chicken that has become governing in America it seemed for the first six days the Democrats were winning. President Obama, along with Senate Majority Leader Reid, made it clear they were not negotiating both on the government shutdown and debt ceiling. They wanted “clean” votes for funding the government and raising the debt ceiling, no strings attached. The strategy seemed to be working as the public is blaming the republicans.
But while holding the line on the shutdown appears to be achievable, Democrats are wondering whether the no negotiation stance can hold with the debt ceiling. The consequences for default are so catastrophic and the Republicans so irresponsible is it worth the risk?
Just as top Senate Democrats began to lay the groundwork to raise the U.S. government’s borrowing limit through 2014, senior White House officials refused to rule out a short-term increase. The divergent messages caused major heartburn for top Senate Democrats and gave Republicans fresh hope that they could defeat a yearlong debt ceiling hike and win concessions from President Barack Obama in this fall’s fiscal battles…
But the incident underscored the fear among the congressional Democratic leadership that President Barack Obama may eventually back away from the no-negotiation stance he and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have voiced for weeks in order to avoid a first-ever default. And it raised questions about Senate Democrats’ next step in the debt ceiling debate if Republicans successfully filibuster a bill to increase the $16.7 trillion national debt ceiling.
For Republicans the debate on the debt ceiling has changed altogether. Now they insist that the United States can not ever technically default anyway. So there is nothing to worry about, not raising the debt ceiling will just lead to more spending cuts.
SEN. PAUL: I think it’s irresponsible of the president and his men to even talk about default. There is no reason for us to default. We bring in $250 billion in taxes every month, our interest payment is $20 billion. Tell me why we would ever default. We have legislation called the full faith and credit act and it tells the president, you must pay the interest on the debt. So this is a game. This is kind of like closing the World War II memorial. They all get out on TV and they say, we’re going to default. They’re the ones scaring the marketplace. We should never default.
So we enter day 8 of the shutdown with Democrats rethinking their strategy and Republicans retreating into fantasyland with no end in sight.