Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Avoiding The Ploy

Do they really need another reason? Speaker of the House John Boehner has scheduled for tonight a vote on a "clean" bill to raise the debt ceiling:

H.R. 1954: A bill to implement the President’s request to increase the statutory limit on the public debt.


The Congress finds that the President’s budget proposal, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2012, necessitates an increase in the statutory debt limit of $2,406,000,000,000.

In the abstract, the American people, understandably unaware of the implications of a failure to lift the ceiling, are opposed to raising the limit. Boehner has, additionally, set a two-thirds requirement for passage of HR 1954, guaranteeing its defeat. The bill gives the House GOP majority an opportunity to flex its muscles by demonstrating to a portion of its base that it stands foursquare against spending.

The other portion- corporate- of the GOP base is on record as supporting an increase in the debt ceiling but supports also spending cuts.

The Chamber of Commerce and the financial sector realize that defeat HR 1954 increases the chances of ultimate passage of spending cuts with the inevitable increase in the debt ceiling. The vote thus is a freebee for Republicans, who later can accede to a rise after it is connected to spending cuts.

Jed Lewison, writing at DailyKos, hence advocates that Democrats vote en masse against the legislation. If every Democrat in the House were to support it, the measure still would fail- especially, but not only, because of the 60-vote requirement- with virtually every Republican grandstanding in opposition. There is, therefore, no reason for anyone (which means Democrats) to vote in favor. Oddly enough, House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer is urging his colleagues not to support the extension, as he

is warning his colleagues not to be "politically gamed" by Republicans and instead to either vote "no" or "present" to deprive the vote of any legitimacy. He told reporters in a briefing on Tuesday that if the bill is "simply a political charade in which the overwhelmingly majority or all Republicans are going to vote no, I'm going to advise my members that they should not subject themselves to the demagoguery that would surely follow."

We'll take it, though Hoyer did not acknowledge another reason to vote "nay": the need for Democrats to demonstrate that they are not willing to vote for raising the debt limit on GOP terms. It might not convince the Republican leadership, but it's a start.

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