Unemployment has been rising, as have been gas prices, and the biggest issue that is gripping our government today is whether or not to raise the debt ceiling. Most middle-of-the-road political Americans could care less about the debt ceiling; they’re more concerned with keeping a roof over their heads. On the other hand this debate has become a litmus test for the hard right and the far left to see which side will blink first.
Conservative Republicans and Tea Partiers are threatening to riot in Congress, and liberals are daring Obama to make another concession to the Republicans who always seem to steal his lunch money in these policy negotiations. Well, I will spoil the ending for you liberals waiting with baited breath: Obama is going to cave, and it’s all your fault.
By cave I mean Republicans want spending cuts without raising the taxes on the rich, and Obama will eventually allow that to happen despite his recent rhetoric that a compromise won’t happen without the tax hikes.
To fully understand why Obama is going to give in to the Republicans you have to understand how we got into this mess to begin with. The United States is an expensive country to run, and our bills keep going up with multiple wars and unreliable allies to pay off — not to mention entitlements to seniors.
In order to pay off our expenses every few years Congress has to approve a higher debt ceiling, similar to extending our credit card limit, in order for the nation to keep the eastern seaboard lights on. This was done seven times during the Bush Administration and generally is a rubber stamp issue in Congress. If we don’t pay, it’s not as if a million repo men from China are going to show up and take Chicago as collateral.
However, the United States would be tagged as a bad lending risk. It would ruin the nation’s credit rating and generally embarrass us across the globe. So with the stakes so high and the consequences so obvious where is the conflict?
The Republicans insist that the only way that they will increase the debt limit is if federal spending is cut by the amount that the limit is increased. So, if the debt limit goes up by $40 billion dollars then the federal government has to make $40 billion in cuts. Obama has argued that we’re operating on duct tape and fumes as it is and won’t agree to cut federal spending unless there are revenue increases, namely lifting tax cuts on rich people, and eliminating loopholes for big corporations.
If this doesn’t get solved by August 2, then the nation goes into default, and suddenly Uncle Sam is giving out fake phone numbers to collection agencies. More specifically, Social Security checks, veterans benefits and millions of other people might not get paid for awhile. Of course the real question is: Who’s going to blink first? Obama, or the Republicans? Quick answer: Obama.
The reason is because Democratic voters and Republican voters are fundamentally different and hold their elected officials accountable in totally different ways.
My new book One Day to Sell explains it this way:
Candidate’s issue positions follow one of two models: the proximity model or the directional model. In the directional model, the candidates position themselves close to their ideological base, gradually moderating in the direction of median voter. Under the proximity model, candidates seek the middle of the ideological spectrum, closest to the median voter. In political terms, these models are usually referred to as “catering to your base” versus “targeting swing voters.” When asked which strategy they preferred, GOP campaign managers were split: 58% preferred to cater to the base, 42% said the best strategy is to seek centrist voters. Democrats were just the opposite. By a 70-30 margin, Democratic campaign consultants are more likely to seek the centrist voter than cater to base.
Republicans know that their voters do not accept compromise on any level on key issues so they always have to please the base (ie: Tea Party).
Democrats know that their best bet is to get swing voters and thus compromising to get a solution is the best option. A recent poll breaking down how voters feel about the debt ceiling debate bears this out.
It’s not that Democrats don’t care about protecting Social Security and Medicare as much as Republicans love tax cuts. Democrats just know they can compromise and still keep their jobs. Republicans know that if they compromise they’ll be facing some right wing Tea Party challenger in the next election who will accuse them of betraying the Constitution. Far left Democrats don’t primary elected officials when they aren’t happy about their policies, they just complain.
So take heart Democrats, your President will do exactly what you want, which is come up with a compromise rather than stick to his word. Which means he’ll back off of raising taxes on the wealthy (even though income taxes for the rich are at their lowest point in half a century) and instead cut social programs for the middle class, students, seniors and poor, just like the Republicans want. And you will complain, and you will vent your frustrations online and on radio call-in shows. … And then you’ll vote for him again next year, just like you always do.
This article originally appeared in TheLoop21.comunder the headline “Obama Will Cave In Before the Debt Ceiling Does…And You’ll Like It”.