I’ve long since given up hope for any sort of sudden outbreak of sanity in Washington over the debt ceiling debate, but today the President apparently seemed to stop stomping his feet and threw down a gauntlet. (Or perhaps a mitten?) He’s threatening to veto the Cut, Cap & Balance initiative, potentially leaving us with no deal on August 2nd. Ed reported on the subject this morning and, calling on the GOP to “call his bluff” posed the following question:
If the CCB bill gets through the House and the Senate, would Obama really veto it?
Unlike politicians who get put on the spot during Sunday morning gab fests and dance around on the head of a pin, allow me to field this one, Ed, with a shorter answer.
Now why on Earth would I think that? Well, it requires a little bit of prognostication. We can argue all day about the various polls we’ve covered here regarding who American voters will blame if we don’t get a deal, but there’s one thing I’m fairly sure of. No matter who turns out to be right, Obama thinks he’s holding a winning hand and there is one arrow left in his quiver which we haven’t dug into much yet.
Let’s say for a moment that Aug. 2nd arrives and there is no deal to raise the debt ceiling. All spending bills originate in the House, but once the money has been appropriated and entered, marked up and put in the coffers, the legislative branch loses almost all traction in a situation like this. Long story short… if there are going to be some bills that don’t get paid on Aug. 3rd, the House isn’t going to get much of a second bite at that apple. The spending decisions will take place under the watchful eye of the bean counters who are all on Team Obama.
What does that mean? Here’s where we get into the prognostication. While I have absolutely no way to confirm this right now, I would bet you dollars to donuts that there is a person (or, more likely, team of people) in the White House right now who are coming up with a list of bills coming due. True, some will be looking at the things that have to be paid. But more importantly, there is a list of bills that could conceivably not be paid, and those will be based on the ones that cause the greatest possible political damage. Think of it as Plan Nine from the DNC.
It could look innocent enough at first. Let’s say… a check for some program which funds bulk discount reimbursements for medical equipment such as ace bandages, cleaning agents, or… replacement oxygen bottles. Nothing anyone pays much attention to on a day to day basis.
But the first time that check doesn’t get mailed, some of the day to day functions in the program begin to get gummed up. And that’s where my second guess comes in. Someplace deep in the bowls of the DNC there is a team of media specialists who are already cooking up a television advertisement that’s going to begin running on the afternoon of August 3rd. It will feature a sad faced mother and her son… let’s call him Timmy. It’s a great name for tugging on heartstrings. And of course, he’s in a wheelchair. (Because if Timmy’s not down a well, he may as well be in a wheelchair.)
And Timmy needs oxygen every day because of some respiratory problem. It’s a beautiful advertisement. In fact, let me save Debby Wasserman-Schultz a few minutes and a couple of bucks by drafting it up for her right now. (Somebody may want to tweet this to Debby in case I can collect a few dollars in development fees off of it later.)
Sound crazy? I’ve been playing this game for a little while. Put up ten donuts and I’ve got a sawbuck that somebody at the DNC is working on an ad that won’t be far off from this right now. And remember… the Executive Branch is going to be picking which bills get paid and which don’t.
Think about it.