Posted on Tuesday 24 November 2009

One of the stories we have been following on Open Left is a threat from roughly 15 Senate Democrats"national suicide pact." that I have termed a Here is the threat:
  • These 15 Democratic Senators will refuse to raise the debt ceiling, thereby causing the United States to default on its debt by mid or late December.  Such a default will vastly increase the overall amount the federal government has to pay on its debt.


  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi turns over Congressional power on Social Security and Medicare to an unelected commission that will almost certainly propose significant cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits.  The recommendations of this commission will be sent back to Congress in the form of legislation that cannot be amended, which will be granted a vote, and which will pass with the support of 60% of both branches of Congress.
I have learned from a source that Kent Conrad is meeting with President Obama, tonight.  While the details of the meeting are unknown, Conrad is the ringleader of this group of Senate Democrats, and so it is highly likely that the meeting concerns the proposed independent commission for Medicare and Social Security.

We will only know what happens in the meeting based on future actions from Congress and the White House.  There are four basic options:

  1. President Obama convinces Senator Conrad to drop the threat, and raise the debt ceiling with no strings attached.
  2. President Obama convinces Senator Conrad to drop the threat in exchange for a token concession on other legislation, or on another summit discussing the problem   This happened at the start of the year.
  3. President Obama agrees with Senator Conrad, but tells him he that he will handle it himself around next year’s budget (with an announcement likely in the State of the Union address).
  4. President Obama gives Conrad the commission now.
Depending on which of these four scenarios unfolds, we will know what happens at the meeting. This is extremely high stakes – arguably the biggest policy meeting to take place in months.  And you heard about it here, on Open Left.
Some days, President Obama probably wakes up thinking that he could still be a Senator from Illinois and Hillary could wake up [and go to bed] with this kind of thing instead of him. I’d think it every morning as I looked in the mirror at my graying hair and wondered where my life went. I defer to his judgement…

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