The Wall Street Journal sums up the politics of the impending US default quite nicely.
Now we’re days from the August 2 default deadline set by the Treasury Department, and the President’s only response has been to blame everybody else for deficient seriousness.
Mr. Boehner reached out to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this weekend, only to have Democrats continue to insist any deal include a sweeping debt ceiling increase that provides the White House with political cover through the 2012 election. The Speaker’s goal now should be to get his House members to design a package of cuts—no matter how small—that can pass both chambers, and pair this with a debt ceiling increase that avoids default. Even many Democrats agree with Republicans on a base of about $1 trillion in cuts over 10 years. Mr. Boehner would also be wise to make sure his bill doesn’t include a mandatory balanced budget provision, or any other clause that the White House can label a poison pill.
Mr. Boehner can then toss this fix to the Senate and let Democrats decide if they want to trigger a default. If the bill falls short of President Obama’s and Mr. Reid’s demand for a big enough debt increase to push any further fights until after the election, then let the White House or Senate Democrats take responsibility for killing it on those political grounds.
This fall-back position is far less than many House Republican freshmen, particularly those in the tea party, were hoping to leverage out of this debt fight. It may not even be enough to avoid one or more of the ratings agencies from stripping the U.S. of its AAA rating.
But it is growing abundantly clear that this may be the best Republicans can do with a President who is using these negotiations to finance the blowout spending of his first two years with a tax increase.