With Mitch McConnell in the driver’s seat, the president had no choice but to go along on his ride.
The United States will not default on its debts, the NFL will play this fall, and President Obama’s polls are sinking to a level from which he may not recover.
But not all the news is good. Though the deal is apparently done it isn’t yet enacted by Congress and it may risk increasing the damage to national security already done by the Obama administration.
At this writing — late Sunday evening — the deal has been reached between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Obama. McConnell spoke at about 8:30 p.m. on the Senate floor, confirming that the framework of the deal was done and that the Republican senators will meet Monday morning to — they hope — confirm a deal. Democrats and House Republicans will also be meeting, separately, on Monday to consider whether they’ll do the same.
Obama came to the microphones about ten minutes after McConnell’s announcement. As slippery as a greased weasel, Obama announced a deal had been reached between congressional leaders of both parties. But he never said he endorsed it. Senate sources told me last night that Obama had committed to it and that McConnell wouldn’t have gone on record without Obama’s concurrence. But because “the liberals were going ballistic,” Obama didn’t have the guts to publicly endorse the deal last night.
Because there won’t be time to pass the necessary legislation by Tuesday, there will be a short-term debt ceiling hike — perhaps for as short a time as two or three days — before the big “trigger-unhappy” deal is enacted.
McConnell was in the driver’s seat for two reasons. First, House Speaker John Boehner was double-crossed by Obama and rightly walked away from negotiating with Obama two weeks ago, but his plan to cut a deal with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid was — as I pointed out at the time — bound to fail. When it did, and after Boehner’s own attempt at a solo solution was blocked by House conservatives, Boehner was so weakened that McConnell was forced to step in. Second, because the “notoriously subdued” McConnell (as the Washington Post characterized him yesterday) proved able to flush the president out of the tall grass that he’s been hiding in for months.
McConnell, as he said repeatedly this weekend, was negotiating with the only person who can sign a bill into law. “If we get a deal,” he said yesterday, “the president will be supporting it.”
We know a lot about the deal, and part of that knowledge is that neither Boehner’s plan nor Reid’s will be the result.
Boehner 2.0 was a classic — and classically awful — “if-then deal,” the kind of deal I warned against three weeks ago. According to the CBO, Boehner 2.0 would have cut the ridiculously small amount of $22 billion from the deficit in 2012. If — and only if — future Congresses abided by it, the Boehner bill would have cut only $915 billion off the federal deficit over the next decade. (The debt ratings agencies had said that American federal debt would have to be cut by at least $4 trillion over that time to avoid a downgrade.) Boehner’s bill passed the House and was quickly rejected by the Senate.
Reid’s bill was even worse and deceptively so. As I wrote last week, Obama would rather we default than forgo the tax hikes he craves. So when he endorsed Reid’s bill and the media proclaimed it to be without tax hikes, I had a moment’s pause.
But only a moment’s, thanks to the indefatigable Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Sessions’ staff analysis revealed that Reid “deemed” two years of budgets in to being. (It’s been 823 days since the Democratic Senate has passed a budget.) Under Reid’s bill, current law was extended through 2013. That meant the Bush-era tax cuts would expire and the alternative minimum tax “fixes” — which prevents that law from doing greater harm — wouldn’t be made. In short, Reid tried to slip tax hikes costing about $3.8 trillion (over a decade) past us, and Sessions caught him at it.
Reid had to pull his bill from certain defeat late Saturday night after McConnell sent him a letter promising all 43 Republicans would vote against it. Reid went ahead with the vote yesterday afternoon, and the bill — as expected — failed when Reid didn’t muster enough votes to overcome the Republican filibuster.
From what McConnell said Sunday morning, and reports through the day, here’s what we know about the deal. It looks a lot like the deal McConnell proposed three weeks ago.
There will be no default and, as McConnell told CNN’s Gloria Borger yesterday, “There will be no tax increases in this deal.” White House political advisor David Plouffe tried to laugh this off on TV yesterday, saying that no one is talking about hiking taxes in the next year and a half. Obama contradicted Plouffe in his late Sunday statement, assuring the libs that he’d be pressuring the new congressional committee created in the deal to “balance” the spending cuts with tax hikes.
Obama will get the debt ceiling increase he wants, but not all at once. It will be in three tranches, as McConnell proposed three weeks ago: a $400 billion hike now, another $500 billion later this year subject to a congressional resolution of disapproval, and a third dose of about $1.5 trillion next year, again subject to a vote of disapproval.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?