Focus shifts to Senate plan for budget, debt deal
Republicans in the Senate appear to be backing a plan proposed by moderate Senator Susan Collins of Maine that would re-open the government, raise the debt ceiling, and repeal the medical device tax in Obamacare.
The Senate is taking the lead in negotiations with the Democrats because House Speaker Boehner has been unable to unify his caucus and get them to back any one specific plan.
The White House rejected a core part of a proposal from House Republican leaders that would extend the nation's borrowing authority for six weeks if the president committed to deficit-reduction negotiations. Instead, Mr. Obama signaled that he wants a deal that raises the debt ceiling for a longer period and creates a longer-term forum for budget talks.
A proposal crafted by Senate Republicans, which has drawn interest from some Democrats, emerged as the likelier avenue for reaching an agreement. It included a longer extension of borrowing authority-through January-and an explicit agreement to reopen the government.
The developments set the stage for a weekend of negotiations and calculations about whether Mr. Obama could fashion an agreement on his own terms that could also pass the GOP-led House. They came as the government remained partially closed for an 11th day and amid fears of a debt crisis.
The Treasury says lawmakers must raise the debt ceiling this month so that all of the nation's bills can be paid. On Oct. 17 the Treasury says it will exhaust its emergency measures and be left with about $30 billion, which could run out in a week or two.
Global financial leaders-with the agreement of the Obama administration-on Friday urged the U.S. government to get its fiscal act together before its budget battles derail the world economy. The U.S. "needs to take urgent action to address short-term fiscal uncertainties," said a communiqué released by the Group of 20 industrialized and developing economies.
The day's events showed how the House Republicans' position has become substantially weakened in recent weeks, and how thoroughly Mr. Obama had gained the upper hand.
Not a 100% lily-livered cave in, but close. GOP would get absolutely no guarantee of entitlement or tax reform - only a promise by the president to "negotiate."
But the GOP's new offer seems to bank on that old Obama stance on benefit cuts, which means it banks on him being consistent, which in turn means it banks on the media making sure that he stays consistent.
The latter is not going to happen. The media haven't called him out for being Two Face on the debt ceiling, opposing raising it in 2006 in stark terms and now demanding raising it in equally stark terms. The media won't even ask him about the Obamacare rollout. They're not going to hold him to account for some old stance he took more than five minutes ago. Not. Gonna. Happen.
Nor will they inquire about the arbitrary exercise of power that has resulted in so many unnecessary shut downs not remotely related to the law.
The House effort to keep the government shut while raising the debt ceiling until the middle of December while negotiations on the budget and the sequester got underway appears dead in the water. Senate Republicans apparently don't have the stomach to risk any more voter fallout from the shutdown and President Obama is insisting that both the debt ceiling and shutdown issue be linked. This leaves House Republicans at sea without a firm plan to move forward. Hence, the Senate is stepping into the vacuum and offering Obama slightly better terms for their own surrender while establishing vague guidelines on budget talks later.
We're still a long way from a deal. But if an agreement passes the Senate and fails in the House, there will almost certainly not be enough time to dedraft something that the House could support before default is "officially" reached on October 17.