Thursday, October 03, 2013

Boehner as promised not to let the nation default over Obamacare fight (apparently)

Late on Thursday afternoon, October 3, 2013, as the security incident on the Capitol grounds was winding down, the Washington Post, in an online article by Lori Montgomery and E O’keefe, reported that high level aides in the House of Representatives of GOP congressmen have been told that Speaker John Boehner will not take this fight with Obama (over Obamacare, largely) to defaulting on required debt payments.  The implication is that he will support an up-down vote on raising the debt ceiling before long.  Apparently these persons were told this by Boehner directly.  There was some talk that Boehner is testing the waters, setting up a politically acceptable exit from a horrible deadlock by settling the dispute over the shutdown and debt ceiling at the same time.  The link for the story is here

Ezra Klein even tweeted that he hoped that the debt default risk was now over.  It’s a little hard for me to believe that it will be that easy.

The details of the story, however, suggest that Boehner might agree to call votes only on very short term extensions, to pay the nation's bills a week or so at a time, putting the president and Democrats again in a box, challenging their "no negotiation" position and still keeping the nation on edge (especially Walll Street) until Democrats make major policy concessions.  Later, some commentators on CNN said that Boehner, will willing to accept Democratic support to pay the nation's bills (and Social Security, by the way), still wants some kind of policy concession, especially in future entitlements (possibly even present) before he will even do that. 
Later this evening, CNN confirmed the report in a story by Tom Cohen, Deidre Walsh, and Greg Botello, here. As I was at an HRC event this evening, a few people seemed to be following this on their smart phones.  It seemed like following football scores.

However, real entitlement reform will be necessary, as we keep borrowing larger amounts to pay off previous obligations.  Inevitably, the conservatives may be right: we cannot borrow money or print or coin money forever, without risking a crash in the dollar as reserve currency itself, and major entitlement reforms, some of them rather sudden, have to be faced.  I think it is inevitable that means testing will come up soon again, and for starters, Social Security recipients should told the actuarial value of their historical FICA tax contributions, taking into account that a portion of that tax pays for disability insurance as well as retirement (a curious foreshadow of the mandatory insurance debate, which can certainly spread to other areas) and that a small portion is due to the fact that the first beneficiaries in the 1930’s had not paid into the system. 

See a related story today (and yesterday) about the House Hastert Rule on my Issues blog.  

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