Making predictions can be a perilous undertaking, but here are a few as the debt ceiling debate moves toward its denouement.
An agreement will be reached before the August 2 deadline. It won’t be ideal by any means — but all told it will be seen, and rightly so, as a substantive win for the GOP. Republicans will have outmaneuvered the president and his party, securing an agreement without tax increases, that includes some cuts, and creates a new precedent that spending restraint must accompany an increase in the debt ceiling.
The president will have emerged from this episode significantly damaged. He will be viewed as far more impotent than he was at the outset of negotiations. His limitations as a negotiator will have been exposed. The distrust among Obama and congressional Democrats will have increased. And Obama’s effort to portray himself as a mature, unifying and bi-partisan figure — which was at the core of his appeal in 2008 — will have received a crushing blow.
Congressional Republicans will not emerge from the debt ceiling negotiations unscathed; no individual or institution that has been associated with it could. But when we look back on this drama six months from now, the biggest loser of all will be America’s 44th president. And very few people predicted that at the outset of the negotiations.