More reporting and commentary is becoming available for those interested in the implications of section 1002 of the recent debt-ceiling bill (the “default prevention act of 2013”). Below are two more links.
First some background on section 1002. As I wrote this morning, my reading is that by making Congress record a vote against a debt-ceiling increase to stop it, rather than a vote for it to ensure it, thereby giving Congress a more passive role in the process, section 1002 of the deal makes a crisis come February (when the US is next scheduled to hit the ceiling) far less likely. Even if a majority in Congress does vote against an increase, Obama would still retain the power of veto. So, come February, the radicals will need a majority willing to vote against an increase, probably even two-thirds (it takes two-thirds to override a president’s veto power). None of this takes a debt-ceiling crisis completely off the table, but does make the manufacture of a repeat crisis more unlikely.
Qualification: I will be subjecting all my comments on section 1002 to others’ hopefully more informed understandings, and I suggest you do too. I will report on this blog what I learn.
In that vein, two new sources of information have come to my attention.
First, Ezra Klein. Nothing he reports contradicts my take on section 1002 — I think — even as he tries to stamp out the overly optimistic interpretation. As he writes, no, “we didn’t get rid of the debt ceiling forever.” He is right. But that’s not the point. The point, or rather the main questions are, how it will shape the next debt-ceiling showdown, and what kind of precedent will section 1002 — what Klein calls the “McConnell mechanism” — introduce into the future? Here’s Klein:
“We’ve been using the McConnell mechanism to raise the debt ceiling since 2011. If we made the McConnell mechanism permanent — something the Obama administration favors — it would basically disarm the debt ceiling forever. But last night’s deal didn’t make the McConnell mechanism permanent. It’s only valid until Feb. 7, 2014.”
One clarification I think we still need: does the fact the McConnell mechanism runs out on February 7, 2014 make it applicable to the debt ceiling scheduled to run out that exact day, or inapplicable? I haven’t seen an answer precisely laid out. But I think we need one.
Meanwhile, a second source of information comes via the Heritage blog. Long story short, Heritage is right now a leading fount of radical conservative intellectual and strategic work. They were against raising the debt ceiling. Now, Heritage wants to make sure their audiences know they think section 1002 of the deal is “nonsense” and particularly “troubling.” Heritage’s displeasure is striking. And probably a sign the bill will be effective in preventing a repeat come February. The radicals need crises, and losing the ability to manufacture them would indeed be troubling, from their point of view.