We are now officially in “extraordinary measures”-territory, i.e. we’ve hit our $16.4 trillion debt ceiling but the Treasury Department is using roundabout methods to service the debt until approximately the end of February, and the fiscal cliff fight was only the first of a multi-stage showdown. The debt-ceiling tussle is on par to get even uglier, and I’m not holding out hope that any of the punting and dithering on real reforms will be resolved before the very last minute. Again.
The parties are clarifying their second-round starting positions, and as Ed already summarized, the Democrats are looking for even more revenue to supposedly balance Republicans’ calls for spending cuts; House Minority Leader Pelosi magnanimously informed us on Sunday that raising taxes on higher earners is still “not off the table.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, reiterated his position that the question of ‘raising revenue’ ever further is nothing-doing, and that substantive spending cuts will be the order of the day:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, but — but the deadlines are approaching. And I think the president has said he’s willing to engage in more discussions over the sequester and the government shutdown, but that would also include new revenues. You say that the tax debate is over.
MCCONNELL: Oh, yeah, the tax — the revenue — the tax issue is finished, over, completed. That’s behind us. Now the question is, what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and our future? And that’s our spending addiction. It’s time to confront it. The president surely knows that. I mean, he has mentioned it both publicly and privately. The time to confront it is now.
The arguments abound over who has what leverage and how much of it, but this seems to be the starting-gate we’re looking at for the next round of political theater. Who’s pumped?