Something we’ve been tracking lately is the fact that folks on both sides of the aisle are talking less and less about the urgent need to slash the debt right now.
It’s still a widely held belief that the US has a big long-tern debt problem (owing to healthcare costs) but the need to make big cuts now is a passing fad.
The latest to shift?
Of all people, it’s House Majority leader Eric Cantor.
After more than two years of budget fights, the majority leader, more than anyone else in the leadership, is said to want to broaden the discussion. His mantra behind closed doors is “How do we make life work better?” aides say, and he would like the next two years to be at least as much about job creation and economic opportunity as about spending cuts and changes to entitlement programs.
This isn’t to say that Cantor doesn’t care about the debt, but clearly the message is changing. The cut-first political message has dramatically lost its appeal.
And remember, during the debt limit fight of 2011, it was widely seen that Cantor was driving the much harder bargain than Boehner was.
That Eric Cantor was about to make this shift started becoming clear last week. His interviews from Davos were a tad more conciliatory than usual.
And as we noted a few days ago, a top Cantor ally, Brad Dayspring, tweeted:
The US “fiscal cliff” battle isn’t over. There’s the sequester, the continuing resolution, and the next debt ceiling hike.
But so far things have gone smoother than anyone would have guessed, and there may be more reason to hope that both sides aren’t going to be locked in a death match in the battles over the next couple of weeks.