7:00 a.m. E.T.
The New York Times’ David Leonhardt cracks the code on why the White House banked the Cliff deal it got:
White House officials took the path they did because they feared that a hardened stance on the debt ceiling would result in no deal at all: taxes would have risen on nearly everyone; automatic spending cuts would have begun; jobless benefits would have ended for many; and markets may have reacted badly.
In the chaos that could have followed, the officials believed, a grand bargain would have been unlikely. If anything, Democrats — worried they would be blamed for the economy’s troubles, as the party holding the White House — might have struggled to get a deal as good as this week’s.
There’s risk in the path he President took — but there were bigger risks in starting the year (and his new term) with stalemate.