Driving the Week: Kabuki Theater on Debt

This week, Washington will began a very long and very public debate on our nation’s debt – think of it more like kabuki theater.  A majority of Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling, which Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has irresponsibly intimated would cause America to default.  Later today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will give a speech a the Economic Club of New York on why we cannot simply raise the debt ceiling without enacting reforms and cutting spending.

According to the Politico:

Boehner’s public insistence that reforming Medicare stay a part of debt ceiling negotiations could reaffirm a concern among Wall Street types that Republicans are driving a hard bargain on the limit and will take the negotiations up to the last minute. …

But it could reassure markets and financial players that the GOP is taking seriously — at least with words — the need to do something about the nation’s fiscal situation, even as the 2012 presidential election looms.

As Heritage Action’s CEO Michael Needham points out, there is good news and bad news when it comes to the debt ceiling:

The good news is that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle appear to agree we cannot simply raise the debt ceiling without taking some additional action – spending cuts or reforms or both. The bad news is that many, including some of the more established elements in the Republican Party, are downplaying their ability to achieve significant reductions and reforms in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

Conservatives must avoid negotiating with themselves, especially in public.  As Mike notes, it is a “poor strategy frequently leads to embarrassing outcomes.”  This week, as Republicans and Democrats alike jockey for position, we should begin to get a good picture at how serious lawmakers are taking this challenge.

Morning Reading:
Heritage Action: Prosperity: Party, Principle and Politics (via Townhall.com)
Washington Post: Lawmakers moving to block defense cuts
CNN: Gas hits $4 mark, near all-time high

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