debt ceiling increase

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Short-Term Debt Ceiling Increase a Strategic Move for GOP

Republicans this week will vote on a short-term debt ceiling increase that gives Washington three more months to agree on budget cuts.

The GOP would approve the short-term increase with the requirement that both the House and Senate pass a budget before the new deadline - or fail to get paid.

The move, according to Republican party strategists speaking to The Washington Post, was designed to give the GOP leverage in the spending cuts fight that will begin in March.

"Republicans have to do a better job of picking our fights," one prominent Republican consultant told The Post. "So, we need more concern about the impact of Obama's reckless spending before we fight with a guy who controls the bully pulpit."

Debates over what to do about the automatic spending cuts, or sequestration, will start before the new April 15 debt ceiling deadline. Republicans want drastic spending cuts, but if Congress can't agree, then deep across-the-board cuts will go into place anyway. Democrats will have to compromise if they want budget cuts other than the sequester.

The GOP compares this to the president's position in the fiscal cliff fight, when Democrats wanted tax hikes on the rich.

"In the fiscal cliff fight, the president had greater leverage because current law was on his side," a House Republican aide told The Post, noting that if nothing was done on the cliff taxes would have gone up on all Americans. By contrast, the aide added, "in the sequestration fight, we have greater leverage because current law is on our side."

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Why You Should Ignore the Coming Debt Ceiling Debate

Under the guise of yet another debt ceiling debate, Republicans and Democrats will spend much of the week demonizing each other on the Washington stage.

But don't be fooled. This so-called debate will be nothing more than a planned-in-advance sideshow to supply each side with 2012 election campaign fodder.

The deal put in place on Aug. 2 essentially guaranteed that the limit on the U.S. national debt would be raised to $16.4 trillion in January. That means any sound and fury that emanates from Washington this week over raising the debt limit will signify nothing.

"It's pro-forma. They already made a deal to raise the debt ceiling last time around," said Shah Gilani, Money Morning Capital Waves Strategist and author of the Wall Street Insights & Indictments newsletter. "The President has to ask for the increase -- which makes it look like he caused it -- and the Republicans get to display anger that "here we are again.' But it's a game they agreed to earlier."

The deal in August intentionally split the debt ceiling increase into three separate requests to set up these faux debates for public consumption.

U.S. President Barack Obama did his part on Thursday by making a formal request for the $1.2 trillion increase in the debt limit.

That was the cue for Republicans in the House of Representatives to draft a "resolution of disapproval" which they will debate and vote on this week. And given that the GOP has a majority in the House, the resolution is guaranteed to pass.

In this play's next scene, the Democratic-controlled Senate rejects the resolution, which allows President Obama's requested debt ceiling increase to take effect by default - just as all sides envisioned back in August.

And even if a few rebellious Democratic Senators vote with their Republican colleagues, President Obama can veto the resolution. With the odds of Congress overriding a veto near zero, the debt ceiling increase is pretty much a lock.

But the show must go on.

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The Painful Consequences of a Debt Ceiling Increase

Failure to reach a compromise on a U.S. debt ceiling increase could result in an unmitigated economic disaster - one so unprecedented government and private analysts can't even accurately pinpoint all the potential consequences.

To avert this crisis, U.S. President Barack Obama wants a debt ceiling increase of $2 trillion, which analysts say would carry the country through the end of 2012. The president has moved the deadline for reaching an agreement up to July 22.

President Obama said the time cushion was needed to prevent a last-minute panic by the financial and debt markets that could "potentially create another recession" - panicking investors and possibly causing an economic meltdown even worse than the one in 2008.

But even after a debt ceiling increase is approved - though it would obviously produce a brief sigh of collective fiscal relief - the U.S. economy and markets will suffer painful effects, and almost no longer-term positive impact.

So what can investors expect once the U.S. debt limit is, in fact, raised?

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The Debt Ceiling Debate: Will the Democrats' Gambit Lead to a Victory in the 2012 Election?

We talked yesterday (Thursday) about the debt ceiling debate, and how the GOP is making the most of its opportunity to affect the economy in the run up to the 2012 election.

Well, the Democrats are doing the same thing - except whereas the Republicans are looking to make long-term fixes at the expense of short-term growth, Democrats are doing the opposite.

I'll show you what I mean.

As I said in my previous piece on GOP economic strategy, I'm a firm believer in Public Choice Theory.

And in this battle the Democrats would like to see rapid growth between now and November 2012. More than anything, they want to see unemployment come down sharply.

They don't care so much about whether inflation is ticking up a bit, or whether an over-large budget deficit may cause trouble in the future. If they get elected in November 2012, they can try to sort out problems then - particularly if they can recapture the House of Representatives.

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The 2012 Election and the Truth Behind the Debt Ceiling Debate

At this point, there can't be anyone left who truly believes that the debt ceiling debate taking place in Washington is really about what's good for America.

The truth is it's about the 2012 election - and the party that wins the debt ceiling debate will be the party that comes out on top next year.

It's politics - pure and simple.

Republicans and Democrats have their own respective agendas heading into the 2012 election. And with 16 months to go, there's just enough time for actions taken now to work their way through the system and swing the economy in one direction or the other.

Now, I'm not a believer in conspiracy theories, but I am a firm believer in Public Choice Theory. That means I believe we can make clear statements about what economic conditions each party would like to see 16 months from now - considering their own selfish political points of view.

The Democrats would like to see rapid growth, with unemployment coming down sharply. They don't care so much about whether inflation is ticking up a bit, or whether an over-large budget deficit may cause trouble in the future. If they get elected in November 2012 they figure they will sort out any problems after the fact - particularly if they can recapture the House.

Conversely, the Republicans would like growth to be sluggish, with unemployment stubbornly high. They also would like to make the painful decisions that bring long-term growth now, so that they can benefit from the growth and not suffer the political cost of the pain if they capture the Presidency and ideally both Houses of Congress in November 2012.

Both parties, of course, have strong beliefs about what policies work better, about what policies are better for the interest groups that support them, and about what policies are best suited to their ideology. But at this stage of the electoral cycle, they're pragmatists.

Here's how the election cycle breaks down:

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