Sunday, April 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Q&A: Obama lacks clear edge in next fight with GOP

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama had a clear political edge in his fight with Republicans over the fiscal cliff, and used it to his advantage. In the upcoming battle over federal borrowing and spending, the leverage will be more evenly divided and the outcome less predictable.

In the fiscal cliff fight, Obama wanted to block automatic New Year’s Day tax increases on everyone but the country’s highest earners. Republicans were trying to protect upper-income people from those tax hikes, but eventually gave in because they didn’t want to be blamed for the higher middle-class taxes that a stalemate would have triggered.

Next come three deadlines that will almost certainly become entwined.

The government will run out of cash in about two months. The Obama administration will need congressional approval to borrow more money or face a first-ever federal default, threatening global, economy-rattling consequences.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have said they won’t agree to a debt-limit extension without an accord to cut spending. Just as adamantly, Obama says the government’s debt ceiling must be raised and he won’t negotiate over it, though he says he would bargain over spending cuts and tax increases to reduce federal deficits.

At around the same time, automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs are due to begin after winning a two-month reprieve in the fiscal cliff deal. And in late March, money financing federal agencies expires and new legislation will be needed to prevent a government shutdown. Republicans are sure to use both those measures to try forcing Obama to accept more spending cuts.

Here’s a look at the political pressures each side brings to the battle.

Q: Would Republicans or Democrats really force a federal default just to get their way in a fight over spending?

A: Most wouldn’t and it seems unlikely. But they came close two years ago.

As the government neared its debt ceiling in the summer of 2011, the two sides battled to the brink. They finally agreed to about $1 trillion in 10-year spending cuts and created a congressional “supercommittee” to find an additional $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. The panel produced nothing, triggering a like amount in automatic, across-the-board cuts that Obama and many lawmakers are still trying to find a way to skirt.

That 2011 fight created plenty of worry that the White House and congressional Republicans could become so deadlocked and adamant that they would plunge the government into default. That concern hasn’t receded, especially with a fresh infusion of conservative Republicans to join the GOP’s tea party-powered 2010 freshman class. That group has proved hard for party leaders, especially Boehner, to control.

This time, many in Washington see threatening default as an empty tactic. The potential consequences are too dangerous, including higher interest rates and tighter credit that would wound the economy and make it costlier for the government to borrow money for a long time.

Q: Then what’s the problem?

A: Both sides have reason to think the other will have to cave in. And each has core supporters insisting that this time, their leaders must not yield.

Conservatives angry over the New Year’s Day fiscal cliff deal, which boosted income taxes on top earners, want the GOP to block further tax increases and force deep spending cuts, including on costly federal benefit programs like Medicare. Liberals eager to cash in on Obama’s re-election say it’s time to push hard for his agenda of protecting federal programs and to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans even more.

Q: What leverage does Obama have?

A: Far more than in the 2011 debt limit fight.

Back then, Obama was worrying about getting re-elected in 2012 and had no interest in a stalemate that could destabilize an already frail economy. Republicans had high hopes of capturing the Senate, hopes that might be enhanced if the economy weakened further. And Boehner’s new House majority had momentum and was throwing its weight around.

Yet when the smoke lifted from that fight, polls showed the public largely unhappy with Republicans, considering them too inflexible. Now, Democrats are on offense following Obama’s re-election, Democratic gains in the House and Senate and an economy that continues gathering strength, though slowly.

Also helping Obama: The fiscal cliff fight left the GOP divided and Boehner weakened. Most Senate Republicans backed the final compromise between McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden while most House Republicans defied Boehner and opposed it, raising questions about his effectiveness in leading them this year. In addition, the business community, an influential contributor and constituent of the GOP, strongly opposes a federal default. Powerful groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are already making it clear to both parties that lawmakers must raise the debt ceiling, and Democrats think that pressure will be felt by Republicans.

Q: What makes Republicans think they can prevail?

A: They are united around the goal of shrinking the budget. Insisting on spending cuts in return for a debt limit extension is exactly what the GOP wants to make the upcoming fight about. Polling suggests that on those issues, voters seem more inclined to back Republicans. Surveys show most people don’t like the idea of extending the government’s borrowing limit and back the concept of cutting federal spending, at least until specific programs are targeted.

In addition, after the 2011 debt limit fight, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the nation’s credit rating for the first time and indicated it might do the same if lawmakers didn’t find additional deficit reduction. Republicans say this puts further pressure on Obama to yield.

Q: What about the fights over preventing budget-wide spending cuts or a government shutdown?

A: Both parties think those two prospects will prompt a search for savings that will eventually be tied to raising the $16.4 trillion ceiling on government debt.

GOP lawmakers are trying to create leverage by saying that unless there’s a deficit-reduction deal, they’re willing to partly shut down the government and live with the automatic spending cuts – which are divided evenly between defense and domestic programs. They interpret the fiscal cliff deal as setting a final figure for new tax revenues and say the focus should be put back on spending cuts.

Democrats believe a federal shutdown would hurt Republicans politically, as it did in the 1990s when the GOP Congress battled President Bill Clinton. Obama insists that additional spending cuts must be coupled with higher taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans to produce a “balanced” package. Polling showed the public backed him when he sought higher taxes on the wealthy in the fiscal cliff fight.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Supervisor candidates vary on Plan Bay Area

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 12 Comments | Gallery

 
Earth Day means cleanup Day for Suisun City

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

Hop to it: Couple lights up home, yard for Easter

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1

 
Bay Area makes growth plans

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

Ranking the best Bay Area athletes

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
The Edge hosts Easter egg hunt

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3

Alooma Temple keeps children in mind

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield author to speak at women’s expo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

The resurrection has changed the lives of Christians

By Perry W. Polk | From Page: C3

 
Piano scholarship competition set in Vallejo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Understanding your health insurance

By Morgan Westfall | From Page: D4, 1 Comment

 
Armijo graduate completes basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: C4

 
Record Store Day a commercial hit

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Easter egg hunt brings out the smiles

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Dutch Bros. joins Fairfield coffee corridor

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B7, 4 Comments | Gallery

City sets plan to dispose of property assets

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B7, 1 Comment

 
Fairfield police log: April 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: April 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Counties tell Brown they need money for his law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
San Francisco probe leading to entrapment claims

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Exhibit recreates Warhol’s 1964 World’s Fair mural

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Ohio couple married 70 years die 15 hours apart

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
Documents detail another delayed GM recall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

Official: 3 bodies retrieved from inside ferry

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13 | Gallery

 
13th body pulled from snow in Everest avalanche

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

At barricades, Ukraine insurgents await Easter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Costa Rican a celebrity after certified miracle

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14 | Gallery

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoons for April 20, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Question of the week: Will Flight 370 be found?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

Neighborhood speeders don’t get it

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

 
Why would a person do this?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
Sound off for April 20, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

Government … for the government?

By Bill James | From Page: A8, 9 Comments

 
Jeb Bush, love, and today’s GOP

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
 
.

Living

Community Calendar: April 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History for April 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Book details lives of cloistered nuns

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Bill Nye says he underestimated debate’s impact

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3, 4 Comments

Horoscopes for April 20, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: D4

 
Pete spends weekends at my house but he never invites me to his

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: D4

.

Entertainment

Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers has book deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Tartt, Goodwin finalists for Carnegie medals

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

New book on fracking illuminates pros, cons

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

 
.

Sports

A’s score 3 in 9th, rally past Astros 4-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Warriors beat Clippers 109-105 in playoff opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Kings, Sharks look to put Game 1 in past

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Stults, Padres hand Giants third straight loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Raptors GM Ujiri uses profanity about Brooklyn

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Williams scores 24 as Nets beat Raptors 94-87

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Durant leads Thunder past Grizzlies 100-86

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hawks take 1-0 lead by rolling past Pacers 101-93

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Federer beats injured Djokovic to reach final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Wie shoots 67, wins LPGA LOTTE Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Travis Bowl Highlights

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Rapids, Earthquakes play to scoreless tie

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Stars Recreation bowling results

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Jimenez leads Langer by 1 shot in Greater Gwinnett

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Donald shoots 66, takes lead at RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Big names among prospective Buffalo Bills buyers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Indians set two new school records for track

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

 
Award-winning archery champ shoots with his teeth

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

Survivors keep busy as Boston Marathon approaches

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Business

US delays review of contentious Keystone pipeline

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Why high oil prices are actually good for airlines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Subscription sample boxes shake up beauty routines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Girls from modest families get lift in technology

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

Haunted house part of San Antonio apartment lofts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B13

 
Recalls this week: lanterns, exercise devices

By The Associated Press | From Page: B13

Review: Siri-like Cortana fills Windows phone gap

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
.

Obituaries

Lloyd G. Hoffmeister

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Ramon Isidro

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

Rogelio Tinoco-Zamudio

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
James Leroy Barbour

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

William Paul Wehrly

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Sealwyn Shirley Brucefield Shepherd Malkiewicz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Anne Irene Elizabeth Fulgoni

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Margaret Elizabeth Silva

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics