House GOP Blinks: Will Lift Debt AND Reopen Government
House Republicans have sent the White House a revised proposal to lift the debt ceiling for six weeks, as well as reopen government through December 15th, which was their original spending proposal before the partial shutdown. The revised GOP plan reflects the demands Obama made in a meeting with House GOP Leaders on Thursday. It also reflects the unwillingness of the DC GOP to face a fiscal showdown with Democrats.
Aside from reopening the government and agreeing to raise America's debt over the current $16.7 trillion limit, the Republicans made several other concession to President Obama and the Democrats. One such example is that Obamacare would receive funding. The Republicans would get to take out a portion of the president's signature legislation, but the law would substantially remain intact. The AP reports:
Under a proposal she and other GOP senators have been developing, a medical device tax that helps finance the health care law would be repealed, and millions of individuals eligible for subsidies to purchase health insurance under the program would be subject to stronger income verification.
In addition, some of the across-the-board "sequester" cuts would be reversed under the GOP plan. It has not been determined which specific cuts will be targeted at this time.
In exchange for meeting, at least momentarily, all of Obama's demands, the House GOP is seeking a "framework" for future negotiations on addressing longer-term budget issues. These negotiations would be led for the Republicans by Rep. Paul Ryan, who is likely to seek a "grand bargain" resolving the nation's structural budget problems.
After such a swift capitulation on the current impasse, how likely is it that the GOP will be able to extract meaningful reforms during yet another round of budget talks? House Leadership has already shown that, when nearing an actual deadline, it will cave while extracting very few concessions.
The GOP surrender comes at a time when it is in a stronger position than it was during the partial government shutdown in 1995/96. The public generally blames both parties and President Obama for the fiscal stalemate. Obama's approval ratings, meanwhile, have cratered to 37%, the lowest of his Presidency.
In addition, 61% of the public thinks significant spending cuts have to be part of any deal to lift the debt ceiling. By that, they mean actual cuts, not a "framework" to discuss cuts.
The House GOP has signaled to the Democrats that it is desperate to end the stand-off. They will, of course, promise that they will have more "leverage" next time. They've said that so many times, they probably even believe it.