The Obama administration is utterly steadfast on this point: They will not suffer a repeat of 2011, when they conducted negotiations over whether the United States should default. If Republicans go over the cliff and try to open up talks for raising the debt ceiling, the White House will not hold a meeting, they will not return a phone call, they will not look at the e-mails. They will move to an entirely public strategy, rallying voters and the business community against the GOP’s repeated brinksmanship. Recall Obama’s speech to the Business Roundtable last week:
I want to send a very clear message to people here: We are not going to play that game next year. If Congress in any way suggests that they’re going to tie negotiations to debt ceiling votes and take us to the brink of default once again as part of a budget negotiation — which, by the way, we had never done in our history until we did it last year — I will not play that game. Because we’ve got to break that habit before it starts.
They’re almost religious about this: They believe they owe it to future generations to break the back of the idea that minority parties can and should play Russian roulette with the economy.
But even if it doesn’t come to that, the nation’s borrowing limit remains a problem in the ongoing negotiations. For the same reason the White House doesn’t want to negotiate over the debt ceiling in 2013, they don’t want to see it return in 2014, or even 2015. They want the bomb defused, not delayed. And so they’re insisting on a long-term fix in any deal, proposing to, in effect, take responsibility for raising the debt ceiling away from Congress and hand it over to the president. Their proposal is clear: It functionally eliminates the debt ceiling forever. The White House does not believe that lifting the debt ceiling for a year, or even two years, is a reasonable compromise against “forever.”