And so, in the days ahead, you’ll hear top Democrats continue to amplify the case that the so-called “Boehner Rule” — in which Republicans insist on dollar-for-dollar spending cuts in exchange for the debt limit hike — is a dead letter. You’ll hear them continue to call on Republicans to stop allowing Tea Party intransigence to exert total control over budget strategy. You’ll hear them demand an end to chaos governing. But we’re probably stuck with chaos governing for the foreseeable future. Anyone see any way out of this?
As I've noted before, anticipations by Sargent, Beutler and other progressive close watchers of the budget battles that Democrats won't cave on a particular upcoming sticking point are pretty good indicators that Democrats will, in fact, cave on that particular point. In this case, Sargent does leave the outcome open, merely relaying what we'll hear from Democrats. And it's hard for me, too, to imagine Democrats making any new spending concessions without further tax increases. But still...
It's now looking like the federal government won't run out of money to pay its bills without another debt ceiling hike until September or October. That means that debt ceiling negotiations, if Democrats enter them on any terms, will coincide with appropriations bills for FY 2014. It seems likely that Republicans will demand anew an all-cuts replacement for the sequester, with a large rollback of the sequester's defense cuts, along with the entitlement cuts that Obama has put on the table (for starters) -- chained-CPI and increased premiums for wealthier seniors. They'll demand more, but they may ultimately hope to get something like the level of cuts outlined in Obama's 2014 budget (about $900 billion over ten years), without any of the proposed new revenue.
It's hard to imagine, as Sargent suggests, that Democrats would agree to any of this (new spending cuts, or sequester replacement without new revenue) -- or any concessions directly linked to a debt ceiling hike. But it was hard to imagine that they would agree to an FAA sequester fix, or funding for the remainder of FY 2013 that incorporated the sequestration cuts, or a budget deal in January that only postponed the sequester for two months -- or, for that matter, a budget deal in August 2011 that matched the entire total of the debt ceiling hike with spending cuts, as demanded by the Republicans.