The latest talking point on the left is that Speaker Boehner’s plan to raise the debt ceiling by $1 trillion with a roughly equitable amount of cuts is a “temporary,” “short term,” or a “band-aid” solution and, while the bill may not even reach the Senate if it turns out Boehner doesn’t have the votes (he’s trying to “get their [rears] in gear” for a vote sometime this evening), I think this approach to opposing the Speaker’s plan from the left is more than a little odd.
Of course I think the debt ceiling and deficit reduction bill the House already passed — Cut, Cap, and Balance — is a much better solution, but I’m confused by the fact that the main gripe of the 53 Senate Democrats that say they’ll kill the Boehner plan is that it doesn’t raise the debt ceiling enough when, in fact, this approach to raising the debt ceiling is pretty much par for the course in the context of how much Congress has raised it in recent history (see this graphic from an April 2011 Congressional Research Service report).
Over the course of fiscal years 1996 through 2010, the average hike of the debt ceiling at the end of each fiscal year it was raised was $976 billion, making the Speaker’s $1 trillion plan actually bigger than the average debt ceiling hike over a typical fiscal year. Note that I am referring to where the debt ceiling was at the end of each fiscal year, not after every time Congress has raised it; if I calculated it that way, the average debt ceiling hike would be even smaller (you’ve probably heard Democrats touting that “Republicans raised the debt ceiling ten times during the Bush years!”) and would make the Boehner plan look even less “short term” in comparison.
So I just want to be clear what this is about. The Boehner plan is a pretty routine debt ceiling hike and, relative to recent history, is by no means “short term.” The only reason this compromise is facing such harsh Democratic opposition (remember, Reid initially negotiated and supported this deal with Boehner) is because it might jeopardize the President’s reelection campaign by requiring leadership before November 2012 on the real source of the debt problem, exploding entitlements and needless spending on programs like a failed $800 billion stimulus.