Fourteen Democratic Senators have asked Harry Reid for action on reining in the budget deficit, on the same day that the Catfood Commission failed to reach the threshold to deliver an official report.
The number – 14 – is incredibly significant. Democrats will have 53 members next year. 13 of the 14 members who signed this letter will be back next year, and the letter didn’t include Dick Durbin or Kent Conrad, who voted for the Catfood Commission plan. That would mean that, if every Republican wanted a deficit reduction plan, there would be a filibuster-proof majority to do something. There may not be such a majority on the specifics, but in a general sense, there will be some kind of deficit reduction action next year.
It never really mattered what the full commission thought or even did. Once Alan Simpson shot his wad and gave away the plan, this was inevitable.
The 14 signatories were: Mark Warner, Evan Bayh, Mark Begich, Michael Bennet, Tom Carper, Dianne Feinstein, Kay Hagan, Amy Klobuchar, Mary Landrieu, Joe Lieberman, Claire McCaskill, Jeanne Shaheen, Jon Tester and Mark Udall.
I think it’s clear that the Catfood Commission, while “failing” in the technical sense, did its job. It created a report that people can label “bipartisan” moving forward, and it put deficit reduction – when there are 15 million Americans out of work – at the top of the agenda.
And that's the rub. They have successfully framed the argument as "how much deficit reduction and how painful to make it" as the only discussion, not whether or not we should be cutting spending during a prolonged recession.
And now if all the Republicans join in on piling on the pain, there will be enough votes to send this to Obama's desk.
Given his record, what do you think the result of that would be?