Look, I know that it’s urgent that we all pretend to believe that the Boehner plan represents a famous victory for fiscal conservatism. My question probably comes under the heading of “too soon.” But …
… should the Boehner plan become law, what exactly has this debt ceiling showdown accomplished that could not have been accomplished through the ordinary budget process?
I count arguably one thing: the $1 billion cut to discretionary spending in the current year.
True, the Boehner plan does not raise taxes. But so what? The Bush tax cuts will still expire at the end of 2012, the tax increases in the Affordable Care Act will still kick in. The chest-thumping about “no tax increases” does not alter any of those pre-programmed facts.
The Boehner plan will do nothing to slow spending in Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. The Republicans brushed aside as empty talk President Obama’s offers on entitlements. Maybe they were right about Obama. But their own plan gains nothing on those issues.
The Boehner plan promises to identify big cuts in discretionary spending over the next nine years. But wait a minute. Discretionary spending is appropriated spending. Congress can cut appropriations through the budget process anytime it wants. Why not just … do it? How is it a big win to declare a commitment to do it over a decade to come?
The answer to that last is that the ordinary budget process requires some cooperation with the Senate and the president. And it was that cooperation that stuck in House Republicans’ craw. The big benefit of the Boehner plan is that it is seen to be imposed – and the current GOP mindset is that it’s better to gain less by show of force than to get more by negotiation.