Stepping back from the details of the debt limit deal just reached, I think this was a productive summer in Washington. In July in most years, nothing gets done in Washington. This July, there was some progress made to restrain the growth of the federal debt. Normally, as a nation, we are preoccupied with something utterly inconsequential during the summer. At least over the last month, our elected representatives were finding ways to negotiate with each other and reach an agreement on something of consequence.
Did we do ourselves proud with this extended soap opera? No, the need to use the debt ceiling as the forcing event and the juvenile way that the negotiations sometimes played out certainly didn't elevate our standing in the world. But I'd rather have the deal than the standing at this point. And there really was little concern that the federal government would default on its explicit debt.
Don't make nonrefundable plans just yet for a vacation under the assumption that the debt ceiling agreement that has been hinted at the past 24 hours is, in fact, a done deal.
I'm hearing that there is significant opposition from the tea partiers in the House who (1) don't like some (taxes and military spending) of what's in the current deal and (2) think that they can hold out for more concessions from the White House by waiting until Tuesday or Wednesday. As of now, there's no indication at all that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has the political gravitas with his caucus to simply demand that it vote for any deal. The same dynamic that forced Boehner to change his plan earlier this week to please the tea partiers is still in place.
House Democrats aren't that happy about the deal either so House Republicans may not be able to count on them to make up for for the tea party missing votes as Boehner seems to have been assuming.
In other words...It's not over yet.
The revised debt ceiling increase/deficit reduction bill that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) now is pushing toward a vote in the House tonight apparently includes not just a requirement that the House and Senate vote on a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but that the House and Senate must pass the amendment. If the amendment isn't actually adopted by both houses, Congress would be prohibited from considering the second increase in the federal debt ceiling that will be needed later in the year under the Boehner plan.
In other words, the new Boehner bill requires not just that the Senate consider the constitutional amendment but actually dictates what the outcome must be.
This unambiguously is an attempt by Boehner to appeal to the tea party wing of the GOP to get the votes he needs to get something...or anything...out of the House today.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) failure to get enough votes yesterday from the Republican caucus to pass the deficit reduction/debt ceiling legislation he drafted has the federal budgeting world scrambling today for new options.
With only four days left before the August 2 date on which the Treasury says the federal government will begin to turn into a fiscal and financial pumpkin, two options that up to now were said must not be spoken -- the Lord Voldemorts of the budget -- are starting to be discussed very openly.
The first would be a decision by Boehner to work with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) to come up with a bill that 100 or so Democrats will support. They'll need that many because any bill that attracts Democratic votes will mean that Boehner will lose more Republicans than the 25 or so that yesterday reportedly could not be moved to vote for the bill.
My column from this morning's Roll Call talks about what will happen if and when we reach August 2nd without a deal that will allow the debt ceiling to be increased.
I have never been as confident that a deal would be reached as other analysts and observers, most of who were saying that there would be a deal because...well...in the end there's always a deal.
Until yesterday I had been telling clients that the odds were less than 50-50. Based on all of the events since last Friday, I now think that there's no better than a one in three chance it will happen by the August 2 date the Treasury says the federal government will turn into a fiscal pumpkin.
Honestly, sincerely, and fervently, I hope I'm wrong.
Dissecting the Possible Outcomes of Hitting Debt Ceiling
By Stan Collender
Roll Call Contributing Writer