Durbin Says Fiscal Cliff Deal Must Include Debt Ceiling

A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 27 2012 1:18 PM

Durbin Says Fiscal Cliff Deal Must Include Debt Ceiling

73985399
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) talks with reporters after voting on the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health And Iraq Accountability Act at the US Captiol April 26, 2007 in Washington, D.C.

Photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Illinois senator and No. 2 Democrat Dick Durbin speaking today at the Center for American Progress offered a mostly upbeat talk on the prospects for a fiscal cliff deal but left one huge fly in the ointment—debt ceiling.

Durbin, as befitting a veteran of various Senate “gangs,” spoke at CAP less to rally the progressive faithful than to try to persuade them that if Republicans can be made to give ground on tax revenue that liberals should embrace a grand bargain. Key points were about the evils of the fiscal cliff, the desirability of strengthening entitlements with reform, the possibility of sheltering infrastructure from spending cuts, and the need for a fair share from revenue. Durbin emphasized the potential pliability of many of his Senate Republican counterparts rather than the intransigence of the House Republicans who are actually key to a deal.

Advertisement

And then came a crucial question from Suzy Khimm—would a grand bargain also have to address the debt ceiling?

Durbin didn’t offer a snappy response like “yes” but what he offered was a long-winded and not-very-quotable way of saying yes. That’s in stark contrast to the stance of House Speaker John Boehner who emphasized today that "there is a price for everything," including a lifting of the debt ceiling.

This isn’t a subtle difference. The debt ceiling has long been an opportunity for some hypocritical posturing, but last year House Republicans weaponized it. And now it’s the most dangerous object in the American economy and far too potent for any party leader to simply forget it’s out there. A “fiscal cliff” deal that deals with the debt ceiling in a big way—ideally by totally scrapping it—would accomplish something important that’s unrelated to weird obsessions about the long-term budget. But a “fiscal cliff” deal that doesn’t address the debt ceiling is basically worthless. Far from averting a crisis, it would simply lay the groundwork for a new crisis after having exhausted party bases appetite for compromise.

Ideally before wasting a ton of time negotiating the content of a fiscal cliff deal, legislators would talk about its scope. Whether the bargaining includes the debt ceiling or not is crucial, and leaving it out there as a footnote to be decided later is very misleading.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company

Sports Nut

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 18 2014 1:34 PM Americans Fault Obama for Giving Them Exactly the Anti-ISIS Strategy They Want
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 18 2014 12:47 PM How One of the Most Prolific Known Forgers in Modern History Faked Great Works of Art
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 12:03 PM The NFL Opines on “the Role of the Female”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Everyday That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 1:47 PM The Only 15 Netflix Hacks You’ll Ever Need
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 1:24 PM Can the Celebrities Whose Photos Were Stolen Really Sue Apple? It may be harder to prove “harm” than it seems.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.