Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Debt Ceiling

Over on Yglesias this morning there's what appears to be a reasonable suggestion regarding the debt ceiling debate:

As long as we’re taking hostages, I don’t see what’s stopping Democratic Senators—who, after all, constitute a majority—from starting to talk about what concessions they’re planning to demand in exchange for a debt ceiling increase.
That would be the ideal negotiating framework. White House demands clean debt ceiling increase, House majority demands big spending cuts, Senate majority demands partial repeal of Bush tax cuts, and we all compromise on just doing the damn debt increase.

But there's a simple reason it won't work. One side, or one vocal and demanding subset of one side, doesn't really care if the debt ceiling is raised, just as they were eager to see the government shutdown.  Trying to negotiate in this context is like playing a game of chicken against a suicidal guy with a car accident obsession; you can't assume he shares your interest in avoiding a wreck if at all possible.

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