Saturday, December 22, 2012

Early 2013 Political Predictions

I'm a terrible predictor of political maneuvering (probably because I want it to make sense, which it seldom does).  As a public service, then, I'll make my predictions on the outcome of the current tax and debt ceiling fiasco -- just so everyone knows what's not going to happen.
  • No deal this month.  The conservative Republicans in the House think they have lots of leverage in multiple ways come the first of the year and won't vote for anything that has a prayer of getting passed by the Senate Democrats.
  •  Come January 3, the new Speaker of the House will be someone other than Rep. Boehner.  The new Speaker will be more to the liking of the conservative Republicans.  Since they think they hold a winning hand, they'll hold out for someone who is not as willing to reach a compromise with the President.  No Republican will vote for someone nominated by the Democrats, so the matter will be settled when the more moderate Republicans hold their nose and vote for the conservatives' choice.
  • Rep. Paul Ryan will be the new chair of House Ways and Means, with the power to dictate what goes into any tax bill.  White House negotiations with the House on tax matters will be with Rep. Ryan, not with the new Speaker.  No matter how things look in public.  The negotiations will fail to reach a compromise.
  • The conservative Republicans believe they have enormous leverage because the debt limit is going to have to be raised again.  At some point -- I would think a few days prior to the State of the Union address -- the President will make a national broadcast and announce that (a) Congress has left him with a set of contradictory laws, (b) he has instructed Treasury to continue selling bonds in excess of the debt limit as the least damaging way to resolve the contradiction, and (c) he hopes the House Republicans will come to their senses soon.  The State of the Union address won't even mention the debt limit.
  • Life goes on after the President's address.  Interest rates don't go up.  Treasury has no more problem selling bonds than they had before the address.  Public opinion strongly supports the President's action.  It becomes apparent to everyone -- except the conservative House Republicans -- that the leverage they thought they had was imaginary.
  •  The impeachment bill introduced in the House fails.  At least 17 Republicans refuse to sign on, believing (properly, IMO) that to do so would be a disaster for the party's election chances in 2014.
  • Over in the Senate, modest filibuster reform has been implemented.  As a result, Sen. Reid is able to bring bills to the floor, and for the most part, to a vote.  Senate Republicans are unwilling to stand in front of the camera where the public can see them and drone on for days or weeks to block a vote.  The House eventually passes some tax cut bill, the Senate passes a very different version of same, and the conference committee puts together something that the President will sign.  The same group of Republicans that stopped impeachment vote for the compromise so that, come 2014, they will be able to campaign on the tax cuts they supported.

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