Michael Shear reports for The New York Times that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has become the new Democratic boogeyman on the debt-ceiling negotiations. This makes sense:Cantor has been the loudest voice against revenue increases in a debt deal. His hard opposition to any new revenues was responsible for trashing both the negotiations led by Vice President Joe Biden as well as the “grand bargain” proposed by President Obama.
The Democratic leadership might be frustrated by the situation -- Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) denounced Cantor from the floor of the Senate yesterday -- but liberals should thank the majority leader. If not for his intransigence, the White House and congressional Republicans would have agreed to a conservative debt deal with cuts to Medicare, Social Security and other integral parts of the safety net. As it stands, we’ll either get a “clean” debt ceiling increase – the Mitch McConnell plan, which includes neither spending cuts or long-term debt reduction – or a smaller deficit reduction package with few if any cuts to entitlement programs.
If there’s anything that should worry liberals, it is President Obama’s continued insistence on a debt deal, despite the near-surrender of Republican leadership. In return for rescinding the Bush tax cuts on income over $250,000 – a revenue gain of $800 billion – Obama has offered multiple times that amount in spending cuts. What’s more, he would forgo an opportunity to rescind the entirety of the Bush tax cuts through inaction (they are scheduled to expire next year). Obama’s plan would continue to starve the government of revenue, and preclude any expansion of progressive policies, even if they were politically viable.
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