News Column

'Fiscal Cliff' Skirted; Now Debt Ceiling Looms

Jan. 3, 2013

Robert Bianco, USA TODAY

Jillian Rayfield, Salon: "Congress was able to eke out a deal to pull the country back from the 'fiscal cliff' but likely teed itself up for an even bigger fight in two months over the debt ceiling. The plan that passed will raise $620 billion in revenue over 10 years. It only got 85 votes from House Republicans, with 151 voting against it. And though the deal pulls the country back from painful fiscal cliff cuts, it's only temporary. The sequester is (pushed back) for two months, not so coincidentally timed with when the government will reach its spending limit and Congress will have to vote to raise the debt ceiling."

Igor Greenwald, Forbes: "The business lobby has argued that resolving the fiscal cliff would boost consumer and business confidence. In fact, we've got an immediate tax hike on the people most likely to respond by slowing spending, followed by bipartisan pledges of further austerity and another game of budgetary chicken come February. This is not a recipe for a stronger economy, now or later. It's a capitulation to intransigence and inertia. All of a sudden, 'more of the same' looks like the best-case scenario."

George Zornick, The Nation: "By delaying the sequesters, President Obama has set up another spending fight in which he doesn't have the leverage of the expiring Bush tax cut rates. Obama insists that he will still insist on $1 in revenue for every dollar in cuts during those talks, but that's going to be a dogfight. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is already hyping this as 'Round 2,' in which he and presumably his colleagues will go to the mat for deep Medicare and Social Security cuts. Taken en masse, the three remaining cliffs -- with much of the revenue side of the equation already handled in the deal Tuesday night -- could be disastrous for Democrats."

Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog: "There can be little doubt that the GOP will test Obama's resolve, working from the assumption that he'll blink before Republicans follow through on their threats to do deliberate national harm. But as of now, the White House insists Democrats will negotiate on all kinds of policies, but not this one. As the machinations get underway in earnest, keep in mind we'll see bipartisan talks even if the president sticks to his guns because of a confluence of events: In two months, the automatic sequestration cuts will be set to kick in, and in March, funding for the government will run out. Both sides will discuss ways to avoid unpleasant outcomes, but that doesn't necessarily mean Obama is negotiating over the debt ceiling."

Robert Kahn, Council on Foreign Relations: "If history is a guide, we face another down-to-the-wire negotiation with an immense amount at stake. Statements from both sides Tuesday signaled profoundly different views of what a debt-limit deal would look like -- Republicans wanting cuts in discretionary spending and entitlement reforms equal to the increase in the limit, while the White House made clear it will continue to demand a 'balanced approach.' When both sides think they have the leverage, deals are hard to come by."

Daniel Horowitz, Red State: "Just 17 months after Obama was granted a $2.1 trillion debt limit increase to preserve his re-election, we have breached the new ceiling. In just 519 days, we've burned through $2.1 trillion in debt. Will Republicans grant him another lifeline through the end of his second term?"

(c) Copyright 2013 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.



Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013


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