There’s general consensus that the caca on white bread served up by Congress is, indeed, a shit sandwich. Kevin Drum and James Fallows are fairly representative, but you can comfort yourself with the White House spin if you think fairy tales can come true.
Paul Krugman has the “Obama surrendered” column of the day. He thinks Obama could have done two things — bundle the debt ceiling increase into last December’s tax compromise, and push the legal end run harder as an option.
I’ll agree that in hindsight it might have been smart for Obama to bundle a debt ceiling increase with the tax cut capitulation last December. But I’d be careful about adopting that position, because it’s been clear from the start that the House Republicans were itching for an opportunity to hold a hostage. The debt ceiling increase was just the first convenient opportunity for a hold up. If it hadn’t been the debt ceiling, the budget would have become the next non-crisis crisis. As Krugman points out, Obama was well aware that there might be a hostage taking, and both he and Reid decided to let it happen. They did it because they thought it was the best option to play the poor hand they were dealt by the midterm catastrophe. I don’t think it was 11-dimensional chess or some reverse sideways flying kick that nobody could see: putting the debt ceiling on the table just got the inevitable “shutdown the government” tantrum started early.
Krugman’s other Obama woulda, shoulda, coulda is the “constitutional option” or maybe minting platinum trillion dollar coins. I don’t see how that would have “increased leverage”. The only way to get Congress to do something is to back them into a corner from which they see absolutely no escape. Obama signaled long ago that he wanted Congress to stop weaseling out of its responsibility as a policy-making body, and it’s part of a strategy on his part to have Congress play its constitutional role. If you don’t think this is smart politics and good government, then maybe you haven’t lived in a Congressional district where the Republican du jour runs a “Washington is broken”, “in it but not of it” campaign every two years. It’s really a neat trick to do nothing and blame everyone else, and Republican Congressional candidates have been doing it for a hell of a long time. Well, our Republican House just served up a huge shitpie. Run on that, you fuckers.