Yesterday's news from the Congressional Budget Office on the shrinking deficit came as something of a shock to those who pay attention to such things. We knew the budget deficit was getting smaller, but we didn't realize just how quickly the perceived problem was vanishing -- we're now looking at over $400 billion in deficit reduction in just one year, and about $800 billion in deficit reduction since President Obama took office.
There are several important angles to this, but perhaps the most politically salient one is the way in which the shrinking deficit leaves Republican talking points in tatters. GOP arguments about President Obama's fiscal recklessness now look absurd. Conservative cries about the United States becoming Greece look ridiculous. Republican demands for austerity appear pointless and unnecessarily destructive.
And yet, the drive among congressional Republicans to hold the nation hostage and create another debt-ceiling crisis remains unaffected.
Looking to up the ante on debt limit negotiations, House conservatives will push to enact spending changes included in the House-passed budget in exchange for an increase in the nation's debt ceiling.The House Republican Conference will meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss the way forward on debt limit negotiations, and a conservative aide said that instead of making cuts to discretionary spending, members are seeking a structural overhaul."We do expect many conservatives to make the point that the debt ceiling needs to be tied to reforms from our House-passed budget that get us on a path to balance in 10 years, especially via mandatory spending that drives our debt," the aide said.
The deficit is already shrinking at a pace unseen in modern generations, but for many members of the conservative Republican Study Committee, unless Democrats agree to even more deficit reduction, they'll embrace default and crash the economy on purpose.
There's just no reason for any of this. It's a strategy impervious to facts.