What's the real GOP agenda for the economy?

Maybe the Republican plans for Medicare and the debt ceiling are reckless attempts to derail the recovery before 2012

Robert Shrum

The trains are speeding down the track toward each other, but as the deadline for raising the debt ceiling nears, the establishment seems to assume that somehow Republicans and Democrats will find a way to avoid a head-on collision. But there's always the chance that this could become a case of runaway trains – and that in the perennially peculiar month of August in our politics, the United States could actually default on its debt. Here's how it could happen.

President Obama is looking for compromise, but the GOP's definition of that looks more like wholesale surrender. The president won't accept budget cuts that would shatter the recovery and shred the social safety net. He also knows, as do most economists who aren’t paid for their opinions by right-wing non-think tanks, that the great fiscal challenge facing America can’t be met without new revenues.

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Robert Shrum has been a senior adviser to the Gore 2000 presidential campaign, the campaign of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and the British Labour Party. In addition to being the chief strategist for the 2004 Kerry-Edwards campaign, Shrum has advised thirty winning U.S. Senate campaigns; eight winning campaigns for governor; mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other major cities; and the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Shrum's writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications. The author of No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner (Simon and Schuster), he is currently a Senior Fellow at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.