Thursday, November 4, 2010

The First Test - The Debt Limit

The national debt limit is $14.3 trillion (the photo to the left is old). As of tonight, the US debt stands at about $13.6 trillion. So we will blow through the debt limit sometime in the early part of next year. There is already discussion on the blogs (here and here) about the consequences of the failure to raise the limit and possible congressional intransigence to do so. Democrats, as the responsible party in power and with a President of their own in the White House, cast an unpleasant vote to bring the limit to its current level in January 2009. There is no way they will walk this plank again after what happened this week and they won't be in any mood to make this easy for the Republicans. The Republican leadership is hinting they would move a debt limit bill so long as it is accompanied by spending cuts, which will probably not be cuts of Obama or congressional Democrats' choosing. So don't count on any House Democrats to vote for that. The House Republicans have a 21 vote margin (or so) meaning the 21 most conservative members can hold any debt ceiling bill hostage to hold out for their most cherished legilsative fantasies. How will our new paradigm play out with House Republicans in control, with both liberal Democrats and highly conservative Republicans both having 40 votes to filibuster in the Senate, and the President with nothing much left but the veto power and the bully pulpit? This will be the first test, but it could be ugly.

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