Sunday, June 03, 2012

Hey, maybe the Budget Control Act was a 60-yard punt for Obama after all...

so I wondered when the supercommittee failed and Obama coolly let it:
If you assume that a) Obama wanted a deal that included at least as much in cut spending as the BCA mandates; b) he is willing to live with the large defense cuts if he can't renegotiate them on his own terms; c) he will finally make a firm stand on the Bush tax cuts in 2012, insisting on either a restoration of the Clinton era top marginal rate or tax reform that provides more revenue than just that sunset would yield; and d) once Boehner backed out of the summer deal, a good outcome was impossible without and until Obama's reelection... then maybe he tacked his way to the lowest risk/highest yield strategy available to him.
Now lo, Republicans are loathe to let the ax they rigged let fall, reports Jonathan Weisman:

In fact, no one knows what “sequestration,” the term for the automatic cuts, will look like, not lawmakers, not the military. But Republicans who helped create it as a bludgeon to force a bipartisan budget accord are now desperate to undo it. Indeed, some of the loudest advocates for blocking the cuts — like Representative Howard P. McKeon of California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Senator John McCain of Arizona, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee — voted to create them; 28 Senate Republicans and 174 House Republicans voted for the Budget Control Act, overwhelming the opposition. 

But the threat they created may be doing its job. Mr. Graham is openly talking about revenue increases to offset the costs. Even South Carolina’s ardently conservative House members, Mick Mulvaney, Joe Wilson and Jeff Duncan, said last week that they were ready to talk.
Could love of a bloated military trump love of ever lower taxes for the wealthy?  If so, it will represent a shift, at least in conscious or acknowledged priorities:
Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said Republicans were given the choice during the debt ceiling negotiations between automatic defense cuts or automatic tax increases in the event that the so-called supercommittee failed to reach a deficit deal. They chose the defense cuts. 

“The consistent pattern here is they have chosen to defend special interest tax breaks over defense spending,” Mr. Van Hollen said. “They made that choice.”
Graham, at least, is willing to reverse it:
For now, Democrats and Republicans are waiting for the other side to blink. And the pressure may be working. Mr. Graham said the sentiment for raising revenues by closing tax loopholes or imposing higher fees on items like federal oil leases is expanding in his party. 

Asked about the “no new taxes” pledge almost all Republicans have signed, he shrugged: “I’ve crossed the Rubicon on that.”
Obama may ultimately get more or less the deficit reduction deal he wanted, piecemeal. If he wins reelection.  60-yard punts are only helpful if you can move the ball when you get it. A long game can be a loser when the game has a clock.

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