Republicans say they want something in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. They just don’t know what that “thing” is yet.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who received some bipartisan points for negotiating a budget deal that takes a government shutdown off the table for two years, has signaled an impending fight. “We don’t want nothing out of this debt limit,” Ryan said on Fox News Sunday. “We’re going to decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt-limit fight.”
Senate Republican leaders echoed Ryan’s comments, but skimped on specifics. “I doubt that the House, or, for that matter, the Senate, is willing to give the president a clean debt-ceiling increase,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday. “I can’t imagine it being done ‘clean,’ so we’ll have to see what the House insists on adding to it as a condition for passage.”
House Republicans returning from recess will likely discuss what they want from raising the debt limit and how they want to get it. But right now, ideas are sort of all over the place, from energy to health care. Ryan has brought up the Keystone XL pipeline. McConnell’s primary challenger, Matt Bevin, told The Hill it should be used to defund Obamacare.
“I’d like to attach to that some real health care reforms that will preserve freedom and choice for Americans, based on what we’re seeing right now,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. “There are a number of things I’m willing to consider. The House is going to pretty well dictate that, but we could do some energy, we could do some tax reform. There are a number of things we can do some really good pieces of legislation that maybe we should tie to the debt ceiling.”
Republicans haven’t crafted a strategy, in large part because most of the attention has been exhausted on the budget and nominations in the Senate. “I am not really ready to talk about that,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. “I just haven’t thought beyond the budget yet.”
“I want to know the circumstances, I want to know how long — I gotta know how they want to go about it before I would want to do that,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said of raising the debt ceiling.
The deadline also isn’t pressuring lawmakers into action, particularly since the timing of the debt-limit increase isn’t even exactly clear. The deal that ended the government shutdown suspended the debt ceiling until Feb. 7. After that, the Treasury Department can use so-called extraordinary measures to stave off the need for Congress to increase the debt limit. Such measures lasted five months last time around.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew predicted in November that there was about a month’s worth of extraordinary measures. The Congressional Budget Office estimated there could be enough revenue to push off the actual debt-limit deadline to March, or even as late as June.
But the Bipartisan Policy Center, which has made accurate forecasts in the past, predicts Congress will most likely have to act by the end of March. Unlike in 2013, the center predicts fewer measures will be available in February, and it believes the CBO estimation is highly unlikely.
The timing of the debt-ceiling deadline could make raising it, or not raising it, a perilous line to walk. Midterms are just around the corner, and a number of Republican lawmakers are facing primary and general election challenges.
In the meantime, the discussions have been mostly informal. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said the debt limit has been discussed in some meetings, but they haven’t been organized meetings that represent the views of the conference.
“Obviously the debt ceiling is the most important debate that we’ll have, and it’s the appropriate place for us to try and find some common ground on some structural improvements that will help us reduce our debt and deficit over time,” Isakson said. But what about doing something on health care or some other GOP priority? “We’ve got enough issues where if we can incorporate some things in there together, we’d be better off,” he said.
Certainly, Republicans aren’t going to say they want nothing in return for raising the debt limit. “Every ounce of fiscal discipline we’ve had has come by virtue of debt-ceiling negotiations, so to let that pass, to raise the debt ceiling without addressing the source of our long-term structural deficit, wouldn’t be a good thing,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.
“Every time we vote to increase the debt limit without any sort of measures — it doesn’t have to be the whole thing — but without some sort of meaningful step that begins to place us on a path towards getting the debt under control, I think is a mistake,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
The White House hasn’t budged from its position either. “We’re not prepared to bargain with the full faith and credit of the United States,” Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said Wednesday. “”¦ There’s still a lot of things that could force a discussion about our fiscal future, but threatening default isn’t one of them.”
For now, enjoy the relative fiscal peace on Capitol Hill, because it won’t last for long. Asked whether the budget deal has eased the GOP aversion to raising the debt limit, Johnson said, “Not at all.”
“This budget deal just prevents government shutdown,” he added.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”