Republican leaders submitted a proposal Friday to temporarily raise the Federal debt limit for six weeks and fund the government through mid-December, consenting to President Barack Obama’s demand that the current $16.7 trillion Federal debt rise further while preserving funding for Obamacare.
The Obamacare medical device tax would be repealed under the House GOP agreement, and there’s some language that strengthens the income verification process for Obamacare recipients who want health care subsidies.
The Republicans also managed to wrest some unspecified sequestration tweaks from the deal, but the agreement is a total capitulation to the no-compromise positions of Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who from the beginning have maintained unconditionally that the debt limit must rise and Obamacare must be funded before Senate Democrats would vote to approve any bill the House sends over that attempts to end the shutdown.
The fact that Republicans in the House and Senate aren’t communicating over variations in the proposals they’ve developed this week has only solidified Obama’s negotiating position. The Hill compared the President’s leverage Friday afternoon to that of an “aloof shopper,” following a meeting with GOP Senators that revealed to Obama that most of them had virtually no idea what their partisan colleagues in the House were proposing.
The eminent GOP surrender leaves Republicans with little political leverage heading into future long-term funding talks as the six-week temporary measure counts down. Late Friday, Obama and Democratic leaders hadn’t agreed to a hard deal, even with all the concessions – a sign that Democrats smell blood and believe they can “no compromise” even further, all the way up to the point of getting exactly what they demanded, free from any concessions whatsoever, from the very first day of the shutdown.
If that happens, the GOP will have squandered whatever credibility it has established throughout this debt fight, because Obama’s speechwriters will have only to say, “Republicans just wasted two weeks of Washington’s time, closed down vital government services and attacked our health plan – and now they don’t have anything to show for it.”
And, lacking meaningful solutions from the GOP to curb the government’s credit-card problem or the disastrous rollout of a regressive socialist state-backed insurance law, most Americans will agree with him.