Babble Fish Enabled

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Where Do We Go From Here: A Final Solution To The Debt Ceiling Debates

After cutting a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff", Obama has come under much criticism from the left for his dubious bargaining posture. By making permanent the Bush-era tax cuts on those making under $450,000, pundits like Paul Krugman, have lamented that the President has painted himself into a corner.

With little room to negotiate on revenue increases, and even less credibility on standing firm, there seems to be a resignation that this next round of negotiations over the debt ceiling will force Obama to concede massive cuts to social services. There is fear that in doing so the President will only embolden an already brazenly out of touch GOP, and only further weaken his bargaining positions going forward. This does not have to be.

President Obama, despite his concessions, is playing a game of ninth dimensional chess so complicated that even the most experienced pundits have trouble divining his strategies, let alone his endgame. To the linear-thinking old media, the president has few options other than to make a signature post-partisan "grand bargain". But to those with an eye toward history see that our President still has an ace in the hole, and he plans to use it.

There are a number of archaic political tactics that fall into disuse, and either because of impracticality, or in certain cases, illegality, these strategies are tossed into the waste bin of time and are forgotten about. But lest we forget, Barrack Obama is a former constitutional lawyer, and a major history buff, so it stands to reason he has at least a passing familiarity of some of these retired tricks, and he most likely possesses a working knowledge of them as well. I believe it is in these long-abandoned tactics that salvation lies.

Infrequently used since its inception in 1904, there exists a controversial political maneuver that I believe Obama will use to instill a new respect for the office of the President. Named after an incident in which Ol Bull Roarer Taft himself, then Secretary of War, ended an attempted coup in the Philippines by shooting the ambassador whose captivity provided leverage to the rebels, the "Shoot the Hostage" strategy could be a major boon for Obama going forward.

By ending funding for anything not directly tied to defense, the President can cut a wide enough swath through domestic spending that almost any Republican target for cuts can be preemptively dismantled, thus nullifying their tactical advantage. Cuts to education spending? Nope, the department of education has already been dissolved. Changes to Social Security and Medicare? Too late, neither exist any longer. Withholding funding from Planned Parenthood? No go, Planned Parenthood has been erased from the cultural landscape as even an abstract idea. Talk about heading them off at the pass.

I believe that by removing the bargaining leverage used to pry concession from the President, the Republicans will have no choice to drop their obstructive legislative positions, and work to enact the rest of Obama's post-partisan plan for America; expanding the security state, and appointing corporate interests to be stewards of the public good.

President Obama can expect a lot of flak for his invocation of such a drastic political measure. After all, no one likes cuts to vital social services like Medicare, not even libertarian tea-baggers. But here's the rub, and what really makes this strategy such a winner, Obama has a built in excuse from the get, "The Republicans made me do it!" And that is a statement you just can't argue with. 

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