Between a Republican and a Hard Place

President Obama has insisted that a long-term solution to the nation's borrowing limit be included in a deal to avert the automatic spending cuts and tax hikes that will come January 1 if the president and Congress don't reach an agreement. But Republicans have clung to the debt limit as their sole leverage in the negotiations. "The debt limit ought to be used to bring fiscal sanity to Washington, DC," John Boehner said at a press briefing on Thursday.

There are a number of points on which Obama needs to stand firm during the fiscal-cliff negotiations. The new tax rates could decide federal revenue for decades, and the president must hold his ground on increasing the Medicare eligibility age. But the debt limit could prove to be the most important aspect of any deal. The past two years of Obama's presidency have been dominated by a string of crises constructed by congressional Republicans, who've threatened to crash the U.S. economy to achieve their goals. The next four years will fall into the same pattern if he doesn't use the political capital of his recent re-election to remove the GOP's ability to use the debt ceiling as a means to take the government hostage.

So They Say

"I personally am very fond of John Boehner, his record of predicting what would happen if certain polities—economic policies—were instituted is abysmal ... In 1993—I know because I was there and I covered it—John Boehner got up and said if we pass the Clinton budget plan, we'll lose jobs, the economy will shrink, inflation will go up."

—Press Secretary Jay Carney on Speaker Boehner's prediction prowess, or lack thereof

Daily Meme: Let the Kerry Gossip Begin Anew!

  • Today, Susan Rice withdrew her candidacy for the position of secretary of State. 
  • A withdrawal that the president accepted, saying "While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first."
  • David Frum's take: "It's confirmed: lying to David Gregory a bigger offense than lying to Congress."
  • What else it means? John McCain got what he wanted, and finally beat Obama at something.
  • But even though they won, the war on Susan Rice probably wasn't a good idea in the first place given the GOP's troubles attracting women and minorities to the party. 
  • Ben Smith thinks the Susan Rice controversy is a repeat of Obama's weakness on Gitmo.
  • According to Josh Barro: "This is old news. Susan Rice's chances to be Secretary of State were over once Tom Friedman anointed Arne Duncan."
  • What else Susan Rice's withdrawal from the secretary of State race means? Let the John Kerry gossip recommence!
  • And with that, the buzz over Scott Brown trying to take Kerry's old seat. 
  • And who knows? Maybe the Chuck Hagel for Defense secretary buzz will transfer over to the State Department gossip circuit. 

What We're Writing

  • Mike Konczal rejoices Ben Bernanke's change of tune on monetary policy.
  • Amanda Marcotte says that Jim Moran exemplifies how not to respond to domestic violence. 


What We're Reading

  • breakdown of what each presidential campaign spent its cash on.
  • Amy Davidson explains how Scalia is venturing further and further from the public with his antiquated views on gay rights.
  • The New York Times profiles Senator Bernie Sanders, who says "no deal is better than a bad deal on the fiscal cliff."
  • In which Shep Smith wishes Politico a Happy War on Christmas
  • Frank Rich says of the Obama White House's lack of accountability: "For all that is admirable about this president, this is the failure that could overshadow his legacy."
  • The petition to build a Death Star now has enough signatures that is requires a response from the White House.

Poll of the Day

Non-voters aren't uninterested in politics, they just find the voting process too onerous. That's the main takeaway from a USA Today/Ipsos poll  of people who sat out the 2012 election. Among the non-voters, 28 percent would like to be able to vote on the Internet, while same-day registration and easier voter registration were also popular options. It won't be easy convincing Republicans to adopt such reforms though; these non-voters would have supported Obama over Romney by a margin of 44-26 percent.

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