Why ANY Debt Ceiling Deal Will Be Difficult To Pass

obama, thinking, april 2011

Photo: The White House/Pete Souz

As President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders continue to look for a compromise on raising the debt ceiling and lowering the deficit, many wonder how any deal could get through Congress.Obama had envisioned $4 trillion in spending cuts, a deal which proved too much for the Republican House Caucus because it included tax increases.

The truth is any deal will be have trouble passing Congress.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said Sunday on NBC that it won’t be much easier to get support for a more modest agreement.

“Small deals are very tough too, because it requires very difficult reforms,¬†savings, cuts in things people depend on that matter,” he said.

So why is a deal so hard to pass?

Raising the debt limit is unpopular

In the latest Gallup Poll, 42 per cent of Americans say they would vote against raising the debt ceiling. Only 22 per cent support it.

Obama sharpens his rhetoric

Boehner says at least 60 GOP Representatives Won't Vote For Any Deal

Speaker Boehner said he expects at least 60 members of his caucus to oppose raising the debt ceiling and would vote against any proposal.

'We have a number of members who won't vote to raise the debt ceiling under any circumstances,' he told Fox News' Bret Baier Tuesday.

Hoyer Doesn't Promise Republican Votes

Cantor takes charge, opposes revenues

Cantor has become the GOP's lead spokesperson on the debt ceiling talks, taking a hard-line approach to the negotiations.

He has repeatedly opposed any new revenues as part of an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, saying a deal with net revenue increases could not pass the House, and would pose an undue burden on job creators.

Can they get the votes?

Without the 60+ Republican members, and with the support of the entire Democratic caucus in doubt, it isn't clear that a proposal can reach the requisite 217 votes required to pass the House.

McConnell provides escape valve

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed a 'contingency' measure to allow the President to raise the debt ceiling as long as Congress does not disapprove.

The complicated measure would require majorities in both chambers initially, but the $2.5 trillion debt limit increase would be considered in three tranches,. At each stage just one-third of Congress would have to support the measure to become law.

All three votes would come before the 2012 election -- McConnell thinks Republicans would benefit from forcing Democrats to vote to increase borrowing during an election year,

The proposal would require Obama to introduce equal or greater spending cuts to the amount he wishes to raise the debt ceiling -- but those cuts would not require Congressional approval.

Boehner called it one of several 'back-up' plans, but fell short of endorsing the last-ditch measure last night, while conservative groups called it a 'surrender.'

A ray of hope

A majority of the Senate is amenable to passing just about any deal. Even so, 60 votes are needed to force a vote on the bill.

With neither party having the requisite super-majority, and with each likely to have members opposed to a compromise, a bipartisan bill is crucial.

Check our how far we've come

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