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October 12, 2013 12:49 PM Who Holds All the Cards?

By Martin Longman

In this morning’s weekly address, the president was to the point:

It’s not supposed to be this way. Manufacturing crises to extract massive concessions isn’t how our democracy works, and we have to stop it. Politics is a battle of ideas, but you advance those ideas through elections and legislation - not extortion.

Focus on the words: “we have to stop it.”

Why did the White House outright reject the House’s offer and why did the Senate Democrats reject Sen. Susan Collins’ plan?

It’s not because the deals were not good enough; it’s because they were deals.

Because the Republicans (in the leadership, anyway) are not actually willing to default on our debts, the end game here is that time runs out and Congress raises the debt ceiling. Whether they can get some kind of fig leaf to cover their defeat or not, they can stop making demands now because the most important thing to the president is to put an end to these kind of hostage negotiations.

Just to drive the point home, House Democrats assembled this morning to sign a discharge petition in an effort to force a clean vote on a continuing resolution on Monday. It’s doubtful that enough Republicans will join the effort to make it successful, but there will definitely be enough of them available to avoid a default.

Admittedly, the Senate Republicans’ filibuster of Harry Reid’s motion to proceed to a vote on extending the debt ceiling will make some people nervous, but there is no reason to be nervous. There is virtually zero chance that the country is going to default. In fact, the Democrats have such an immense advantage right now that they are actually in a position to hold the Republicans hostage. With the clock clicking down, John Boehner will be desperate when he eventually realizes that his options are exhausted and he needs Democratic votes to avoid causing a global economic calamity.

It will take some restraint from Pelosi to avoid asking for concessions.

Martin Longman is the Web Editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune. He has worked as a community organizer for ACORN/Project Vote and as a political consultant for Democracy for America.

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