Battle on the Cliffs

Krugman called out the GOPsters this morning:

In the ongoing battle of the budget, President Obama has done something very cruel. Declaring that this time he won’t negotiate with himself, he has refused to lay out a proposal reflecting what he thinks Republicans want. Instead, he has demanded that Republicans themselves say, explicitly, what they want. And guess what: They can’t or won’t do it.

Bruce Bartlett reminds that the fiscal cliff is a ‘faux’ problem.  It is the debt ceiling that is being held hostage, and that Obama should ready his biggest weapons to deal with more GOP intransigence.

In short, the debt limit is a hostage that Republicans are willing to kill or maim in pursuit of their agenda. They have made this clear ever since the debt ceiling debate in 2011, in which the Treasury came very close to defaulting on the debt.

…  In a new book, “Is U.S. Government Debt Different?,” Howell Jackson, a law professor at Harvard, walks through options for prioritizing government spending in the event that Republicans insist on committing financial suicide. They are all illegal or unconstitutional to one degree or another. They would require the Treasury to either abrogate Congress’s taxing power, spending power or borrowing power.

In the October issue of the Columbia Law Review, Professors Neil H. Buchanan of the George Washington University Law School and Michael C. Dorf of Cornell Law School examine the question of what a president should do when he must act and all his options are unconstitutional. They cite Abraham Lincoln’s July 4, 1861, message to Congress in support of the idea that some laws are more unconstitutional than others and the president is empowered to violate the one that is least unconstitutional when he has no other option.

Said Lincoln, “To state the question more directly, are all the laws, but one, to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated?”

And Krugman reminds that this hostage is going to be recycled again and again by the GOP

Later this afternoon, Boehner, offered an old plan to counter what the they complained was Obama’s old offer:

Republican Congressional leaders countered President Obama’s deficit reduction proposal with a plan to cut the deficit by $2.2 trillion over the next decade by raising $800 billion in revenue and cutting $1.2 trillion in spending.

Another $200 billion in savings would come from changing the way the government calculates inflation, which would slow benefit increases in programs from Medicare to Social Security and raise taxes by slowing the rise in tax brackets.

…  Under the Republican offer, tax revenue would rise by $800 billion (1/2 the President’s effort to drive down the deficit — which the GOP knuckleheads say is their biggest priority) over 10 years, through closing loopholes and ending or curtailing deductions and tax credits. Mr. Boehner did not specify on Monday which tax breaks would be curtailed. (per usual.)

Another $600 billion in deficit reduction would come from changes to federal health care programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the president’s health care law. Cuts to other programs that are not under the purview of annual Congressional spending bills — so-called mandatory programs — would total $300 billion. And discretionary programs, already cut by nearly $1 trillion through last year’s Budget Control Act, would be reduced by another $300 billion.

Those numbers are very different from the president’s plan, which foresees $1.6 trillion in new revenue over the next decade, $960 billion of that from the expiration of Bush-era tax breaks for the affluent beginning next month. The president wants between $400 billion and $600 billion in spending cuts, largely from Medicare. But he also wants upfront spending increases to kick-start the economy through new infrastructure spending, and help to homeowners still struggling with their mortgages.

     And to prove they were serious he referred to Obama’s offer as coming from “La-la-land.”  They guy hasn’t passed mediation 101…

Posted at DailyKos is the White House response to the “offer.”

“The Republican letter released today does not meet the test of balance. In fact, it actually promises to lower rates for the wealthy and sticks the middle class with the bill. Their plan includes nothing new and provides no details on which deductions they would eliminate, which loopholes they will close or which Medicare savings they would achieve.