We seem to be coming closer to a deal on the debt ceiling. It begins with the McConnell plan, in which the debt ceiling is raised three times between now and November, and each time, Republicans are able to offer a resolution of disapproval. Then it adds in $1.5 trillion in spending cuts harvested from the Biden talks. Then it creates a committee of 12 lawmakers charged with sending a deficit-reduction plan to Congress by the end of the year. Whatever they decide on would be protected from the filibuster and immune to amendments.
For Republicans, this plan is something close to the best of all possible worlds (sorry, but I do not consider a world in which "Cut, Cap, and Balance" passes to be a possible one): It's all spending cuts and no revenues. It's a little plan that denies the Obama administration the political and substantive benefits of a big plan. It's a multi-part plan -- which is more important than people realize -- that forces Democrats to take three hard votes between now and the election, and almost ensures that deficit reduction will be an issue in 2013 and beyond. It's a plan that smartly pockets more than a trillion dollars in spending cuts Democrats can sort-of accept and only then begins a grand bargain process, ensuring that if there's a grand bargain later, it will cut far deeper into the bone of Democratic priorities. If it passes, Republicans will have escaped these negotiations without making any significant political or policy concessions.
As for the Democrats? Well, it's a deal. No particular part of it is so objectionably that Harry Reid couldn't pass it if he tried. And it raises the debt ceiling. That's not a particularly rousing argument, but perhaps it will be enough.
Yeah. About those taxes.
Despite what the GOP keeps telling us, Bruce Bartlett has compiled a list of 19 different polls taken since January that demonstrate that Americans support increasing taxes in order to reduce the deficit and inequality. Americans may not love tax increases, but they understand their necessity for deficit reduction.
And about those entitlements.
Nearly twice as many Americans say it is more important to maintain the benefits from entitlement programs than it is to cut the budget deficit, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released Thursday, the day President Obama and top congressional leaders met to discuss budget and debt issues.
The poll found that about three of every five Americans said they wanted to maintain Social Security and Medicare benefits while 32% said it was more important to take steps to reduce the budget deficit. Politically, Democrats across all income levels support maintaining entitlement programs while the GOP is split, with the less affluent being more likely to support keeping the benefits than the rich.
OK, I'm going to stand back now, and see if this shakes out as described...
Update: And from CBS this morning...
Americans are unimpressed with their political leaders' handling of the debt ceiling crisis, with a new CBS News poll showing a majority disapprove of all the involved parties' conduct, but Republicans in Congress fare the worst, with just 21 percent backing their intransigent resistance to raising taxes.
51% of Republicans disapprove of Republicans. Imagine that.