We’ve never thought the debt ceiling was the best leverage for a showdown over the entitlement state…
The tea party/talk-radio expectations for what Republicans can accomplish over the debt-limit showdown have always been unrealistic. As former Senator Phil Gramm once told us, never take a hostage you’re not prepared to shoot. Republicans aren’t prepared to stop a debt-limit increase because the political costs are unbearable. Republicans might have played this game better, but the truth is that Mr. Obama has more cards to play.
The entitlement state can’t be reformed by one house of Congress in one year against a determined President and Senate held by the other party. It requires more than one election.
You’re increasingly hearing about the possibility of a split Boehner/McConnell deal, in which Boehner gets less than $2 trillion in spending cuts, which is not quite as many as he wanted, and the McConnell process is used to raise the debt ceiling beyond where the spending cuts have gone. That would, in other words, be the GOP giving on its dollar-for-dollar demand, which seems likelier to everyone involved than the party making an agreement on taxes.