How Does Obama Plan to Not Negotiate Over the Debt Ceiling?


I’ve spent the past couple of months trying not to get fully assimilated by the fiscal cliff Borg. Nor more than one post a day! That’s what I told myself. There simply didn’t seem to be any point in obsessing over every little back-and-forth and every little Beltway nuance of who was up and who was down. Besides, it bored me.

I think I was mostly successful in that, but now I have a new challenge: not getting fully assimilated by the debt ceiling Borg. Two months to go on this! But I haven’t done even one post about this yet today, so let’s take on a question that’s perplexed me about this whole thing. Greg Sargent notes that President Obama has vowed that he flatly won’t negotiate over the debt ceiling. Other stuff, sure, but not the debt ceiling. Congress just needs to raise it, full stop:

But it’s unclear to me how this will work in practical terms. Unless Obama is prepared to go into default — or to pull some other ace out of his back pocket, such as the 14th amendment or “platinum coin” options — he will inevitably be negotiating over the debt ceiling. And he doesn’t appear prepared to do any of those things.

My question is a little different. We already know that Obama will be negotiating over the sequestration cuts. And once that’s happening, there’s just no way to pretend that he’s not also negotiating over the debt ceiling. If Republicans keep saying that they’ll only raise the ceiling if the sequester is dealt with, then you’re negotiating over the debt ceiling whether you admit it or not.

At a practical level, then, I’m curious about how Obama plans to pull off this “no negotiation” stance. Any ideas?

On a related note, I also recommend Alec MacGillis’s take on how hostage-taking over the debt ceiling has gone almost overnight from a reckless new tactic to merely the way things are in Washington DC. I know there’s a limit to how much reporters can call out this stuff in straight news accounts, but somehow they need to figure out a way. This isn’t just business as usual. It’s a willful band of radical Republicans refusing to pay bills they’ve already run up. It’s really inexcusable.

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