Two Points On the Gentle Fiscal Incline
- I suspect both Chait and Suderman are overestimating the political impact of raising the Medicare eligibility age. But if we’re talking about direction rather than intensity, I think Suderman has a better case and (from my perspective) this is bad. Doing this would do more to undermine support for Medicare than it would to strengthen the PPACA, particularly since the people negatively affected are more likely to live in states where support for Obama is lowest. To reiterate, this would be a horrible idea and nothing the Republicans could plausibly offer would justify it. Fortunately, the fact that both Nancy Pelosi and Neera Tanden came out in explicit opposition this weekend makes it highly unlikely that the Obama administration supports it.
- This is a good start:
Whatever House Republicans might think, the White House is all steel when it comes to the debt ceiling. Their position is simple, and it’s typically delivered in the tone of voice that Bruce Willis reserves for talking to terrorists: They’re happy to raise the debt ceiling on their own, as would be the case under their proposal to take authority for the debt ceiling away from Congress. But if Congress rejects that offer, then the debt ceiling is Congress’s problem, and the White House will not help.
A good start, but not far enough. In the event that the GOP shoots the hostage, the Obama administration needs to make it clear that it will use its authority under the 14th Amendment to prevent the United States from defaulting, putting further pressure on Congress. Should the GOP refuse at that point to call the ambulance, we can talk about more radical solutions. (Although probably not realistic, I like the “I.O.Us to Republican zip codes” solution.)