Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief at The Huffington Post, appeared on the McLaughlin Group last week to discuss the current state of political negotiations over the so-called "fiscal cliff."
While co-panelist Pat Buchanan said he believed negotiations would be resolved by a compromise, and Newsweek's Eleanor Clift believed "reasonableness may descend on Washington," Grim pointed out that the Obama administration seems adamant in its demands -- both for a tax hike on the top 2 percent of earners, and the elimination of congressional approval over increases of the debt ceiling.
There was another meeting on Thursday, and the White House made it very clear that they're not giving much. The White House feels very burned by the 2011 debt ceiling negotiations. They feel like they have the leverage, and they're leaving it up to Boehner to capitulate.
[...]They think they have enough leverage that they can force Republicans to put the debt ceiling into any package that they eventually come up with, and if they don't, he feels like there's some other way he can force them to deal with this issue.
When host John McLaughlin suggested that the administration's debt ceiling proposal was an example of executive overreach, Grim countered in the following exchange:
Grim: [The debt ceiling] has to be raised.
McLaughlin: Now, that's the power of the purse.
Grim: The power of the purse is the power to spend. Congress has already authorized and appropriated all this money. Now it wants to come back in and prevent the government from paying the debts accrued by Congress itself. So there is something absurd in Congress coming in behind and saying 'all this money we appropriate--we don't want to pay for that. We're going to default on our national debt, spark a global crisis.
McLaughlin: If he has the power to raise the debt ceiling -- the de fact power to do it, is that causing a... bad balancing between the executive branch and the legislative branch?
Grim: Not at all, because Congress still has the power of the purse. If they don't want to spend money, then they don't have to spend money. All this does is say that the Congress cannot unilaterally default on the federal debt.
Watch the full segment below: