The Anti-Climactic Debt Ceiling Endgame Is Coming Into Focus

What will be the final budget-cuttin' number Congress agrees on before raising the debt ceiling, assuming they don't go with "the apocalypse option" instead? Two trillion? Four trillion? Nine trillion bajillion dollars? Let's go with "zero trillion but something that lets Republicans pretend to look tough anyway" as the probable end to this farce of a government negotiating process.

House Republicans will bring their beloved "Cut, Cap, and Balance" bill to a vote tomorrow, and it will likely pass. Here's what this fascistic wet dream looks like:

Cut - Substantial cuts in spending that will reduce the deficit next year and thereafter.

Cap - Enforceable spending caps that will put federal spending on a path to a balanced budget.

Balance - Congressional passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — but only if it includes both a spending limitation and a super-majority for raising taxes, in addition to balancing revenues and expenses.

Yeah, let's just make several trillion in cuts overnight, add a new statutory limit to federal spending set at a random but very very low number, and then quickly amend the Constitution of the United States of America with some written-on-a-napkin chicken scratch that nutty Sen. Jim DeMint likes. Also: Not a penny in new tax revenue, while making it nearly impossible to ever raise taxes in the future.

This is not expected to pass the Democratic Senate! But it will allow House Republicans, hopefully, to release enough of their pent-up warrior grunts and then proceed to act semi-responsibly by passing a version of Mitch McConnell's plan, which gives the president the authority to raise the debt limit in exchange for some non-guaranteed cut proposals later on.

The Huffington Post's Sam Stein reports on this extremely cynical but most likely nation-saving drama that Congress will playact this week:

The plan, according to a top Senate Democratic aide, is to wait until both chambers vote on the cap, cut and balance measure, which would slash federal spending, tie it to a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, and secure a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. That measure, preferred by conservatives, is expected to pass the House of Representatives before likely falling short of the votes needed in the Senate. Once that process is done, the aide said, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will start consideration on the debt-ceiling proposal hatched by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), which would give the president the authority to raise the debt ceiling while vetoing corresponding, commensurate spending cuts.

"Plan B could be ready to move on the floor by the middle of this week," the aide said. "But that action on it probably will not occur till after the Balanced Budget vote."

In other news, Americans still hate everyone in Washington.

[Image via AP]