By Jed Babbin
The coming fight on the debt ceiling and gun control is an ideological one, one Republicans need to fight or else face oblivion.
The New Year’s Eve deal to avoid the fiscal cliff isn’t just a lousy deal: it’s entirely corrupt. Obama insisted on what he called a “balanced deal,” but to him a balance is only between increased government spending and higher taxes. It allowed President Obama to pretend that the deal reduces federal spending by $732 billion over the next ten years though, in fact, it increases federal spending — by $332 billion — more than it cuts.
And it did precisely nothing about federal spending. In fact, it adds $4 trillion in new debt over the next decade.
The fiscal cliff deal was nothing more than a bridge from one cliff to another. If we’d gone over that cliff, the damage done could have been remedied quickly. None of the tax hikes the so-called “fiscal cliff” would have imposed would have been permanent. They could have been reduced to their pre-cliff levels by the legislation that is now going to be another “must-pass” deal on the federal debt ceiling mess next month.
And now — with the eager help of the media — the next cliff is far higher than the last one. The New Year’s Eve deal only delayed by two months the sequestration cuts that will gut the Pentagon. Obama’s leverage on the sequestration is retained. Add to that Obama’s setup up of Joe Biden’s gun control task force to report in the midst of the next debt ceiling crisis and you have a higher cliff than the last one.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal) has delayed the introduction of her gun control bill to await the broader, more aggressive proposals that Biden produces. She and Obama will couple the gun control bill and the debt ceiling “crises” so that regardless of whether it’s one massive bill or two — raising the debt ceiling and imposing a national gun control regime — it will pass the Senate and be laid on the steps of the House in one big lump, at the last moment.
Obama has indicated that he wants more tax hikes. Yesterday, Sen. McConnell made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows and again rejected the idea of more tax hikes. He told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “The tax issue is finished, over, completed.” McConnell added, “That’s behind us. Now the question is what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and our future, and that’s our spending addiction.”
But it’s not over until Obama has been defeated on it, and so far he hasn’t been.
Obama will — again — push the new “crisis” to the brink. Obama has learned that he can win by waiting until the very last moment because the Republicans will give him what he wants rather than take the blame for what he calls their failure. Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner will be demanding that Republicans act and telling the world that the Republicans are risking a downgrade in our international credit and threatening a government shutdown.
Republicans will be left to defend their demand for spending cuts in return for a debt ceiling hike against a tidal wave of pressure from the media and Obama’s unified liberal congressional base. And they will have to do that at the same time they’re opposing the Obama-Feinstein demand for gun controls.
The February debate will be another masterful exercise of brinksmanship by Obama. Unless Republicans are willing to shut down the government and risk another downgrade to our credit rating, they will lose again.
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