Democrats working on a comprehensive budget reform deal to persuade Republicans to raise the debt ceiling are playing a dangerous game with the odds stacked against them.
"I will not support any long-term extension of the debt without a credible plan to deal with the debt," Sen. Kent Conrad said two weeks ago. "And by credible plan, I don't mean just on the spending side of the equation, because revenue is the lowest it's been in 60 years as a share of GDP, spending is the highest it's been in 60 years as a share of GDP. So, clearly you've got to work both sides of the equation."
Conrad is right and wrong. He's right that comprehensive budget reform shouldn't include lower spending and higher revenue. He's wrong that we should expect a deal this year, or anywhere close to the August deadline for the debt ceiling vote.
In the last two weeks, I've spoken with numerous Republican Senate offices, on and off the record, about the debt ceiling vote. From those conversations, I've learned that although there is a real chance that some Republican senators would vote for a tax deal that lowers rates but raises revenue by broadening the tax base (ie eliminating spending through the tax code), Democrats have no shot at raising revenue in the current political climate.