Republicans are now talking about raising the debt ceiling, but just for a month or two. That would open up a number of key Fiscal Cliff 2 questions:
- Would the President accept that, given his hard-line stance on not messing with the limit in a way that markets and credit agencies might not like?
- Would Republicans agree to (or try to…) again also put off the sequester spending cuts, to keep them in sync with the debt ceiling expiration, and keep what some see as the GOP’s main point of leverage alive?
- Would a vote putting off the debt ceiling breach that drew a lot of votes from House Republicans build momentum for further compromise with the White House — or make conservatives feel like they gave at the office already?
Right now, the most important dynamic in the fiscal cliff fight is the advantages the Democrats have: the President is more popular than congressional Republicans; Democrats are more united than Republicans on strategy and tactics; and the President is about to have unmatchable platforms with the inauguration and State of the Union.
My current hunch is that the immigration negotiations are going to help the White House in the cliff talks and guns aren’t going to be as big a gear jammer as some are saying.