Yesterday, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling made some Democrats nervous when he told attendees of a breakfast event that President Obama would sign a two-week debt limit increase.
The nervous Democrats thought this was a sign Obama was caving on his debt limit demands. It was not. Signing a short-term debt limit deal is entirely consistent with Obama's current position on the debt limit, which, as Press Secretary Jay Carney reiterated yesterday, is that Obama will never negotiate on the debt limit ever again.
What many in Washington have failed to grasp is that, if forever is Obama's timeline for not negotiating on the debt limit, then every debt limit hike that is not a full repeal of the debt limit is a "short-term" debt limit hike.
One year. One day. One trillion dollars. One dollar. These are all equal debt limit hikes in the White House's eyes.
This is what makes Speaker John Boehner's R-OH current pu pu platter offer such an embarrassment: it doesn't come close to matching the scope of what Obama is asking for.
Another tax reform committee? Chained CPI? Keystone? These are all shiny objects that accomplish little to nothing.
So what should Republicans be asking for in return for repealing the debt limit?
Here are some ideas:
1. Full year delay of all of Obamacere. Even Obama's biggest media fan, Jon Stewart, can see that Obamacare is not ready for primetime. Why not delay the law for a year so the Obama administration can get its act together.
2. Take entitlements off autopilot. Liberals love to say that Congress has to raise the debt limit since they already voted for the spending driving the debt. But this is false. Mandatory spending, including spending on Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, already makes up more than half of all federal spending. The current Congress never approved any of these spending levels, yet Democrats are demanding they take accountability for the borrowing to pay for them. If Democrats want to end the debt limit, then all of these programs should be take off auto-pilot and put on budget next to defense, farm subsidies and all other discretionary programs.
3. Repeal the individual mandate. According to the Congressional Budget Office, a one-year delay of the individual mandate would cut the debt by $35 billion. The bulk of that savings comes from less federal money spent on Medicaid and subsidies for health insurance. A full repeal would save far more money. If Obamacare is so great, Americans should not be forced to buy it?
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