Congressional "leaders" will present the plan -- that will surely have the left and the right moaning and groaning -- tomorrow. Three cheers for our loathsome Congressional "leaders" for taking us down this absurd path.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Congressional "leaders" will present the plan -- that will surely have the left and the right moaning and groaning -- tomorrow. Three cheers for our loathsome Congressional "leaders" for taking us down this absurd path.
I am appalled by the Syrian government’s use of violence and brutality against its own people. The reports out of Hama are horrifying and demonstrate the true character of the Syrian regime. Once again, President Assad has shown that he is completely incapable and unwilling to respond to the legitimate grievances of the Syrian people. His use of torture, corruption and terror puts him on the wrong side of history and his people.
Through his own actions, Bashar al-Assad is ensuring that he and his regime will be left in the past, and that the courageous Syrian people who have demonstrated in the streets will determine its future. Syria will be a better place when a democratic transition goes forward. In the days ahead, the United States will continue to increase our pressure on the Syrian regime, and work with others around the world to isolate the Assad government and stand with the Syrian people.
Liberals are all of sudden whining as if this hasn't been going on for weeks. Hello. For weeks it's been reported that Boehner's plan and Reid's were pretty similar and both have spending cuts. For weeks it's been reported that revenues would only be part of a larger deal, the one Obama wanted, not a smaller deal. Now people are realizing that raising the debt ceiling also means cuts? Hello again. Democrats lost the minute they let republicans tie raising the debt ceiling to spending cuts. Most Americans wrongly believed -- thanks to the excellent salesmanship by the republicans -- that raising the debt ceiling meant raising the debt. It's too late now. If you're a republican and the choice is default -- which you know POTUS will avoid -- versus getting everything you want, you're going eat the whole pie.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.) instructed senators to stay close to the Capitol Sunday afternoon as congressional leaders and President Obama furiously negotiated a deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling. The HillWhere we're at:
House leaders in both parties have their work cut out if they hope to pass a debt-ceiling package being finalized by the White House and Senate Republicans.
Although the details of the agreement are still emerging, early reports indicate it includes contentious provisions sure to alienate both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats.
If both the left and right flanks of the lower chamber unite in opposition, it would fall to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to forge a more centrist, bipartisan coalition to get the bill across the finish line – just as they did to cobble together support for the unpopular Wall Street bailout in 2008.
It won't be easy. Read the rest at The Hill
The poll on Meet the Press this morning said it all: 74% of Americans want a balanced budget, but they don't want cuts to their programs.
That pretty much explains why we're in this mess -- Americans want what they want but they don't want to pay for it. That's why Americans bought houses they couldn't afford. That's why they used their homes like an ATM machine. That's why they got into debt up to their eyeballs.
That's why Americans think you can have a balanced budget without reforms to Social Security and Medicare -- which account for a huge chunk of the budget.
Tom Brokaw is dead-on on how we got here. "The whole country was in on this." Americans have yet to accept their fair share of the blame. They're still shaking their fists at Wall Street and blaming everyone else.
Oh, and Jim Cramer is troll. A sensationalistic troll. I thought everyone knew that. What's he doing on Meet the Press?
An update on the debt deal:
Saturday, July 30, 2011
As seen on twitter via mpoppel,
AP sources: Significant progress toward debt deal between White House and GOPThe White House and republicans have apparently come up with a framework (now being called tentative) of a debt deal. I'll post more as it rolls in. This is the framework per ABC:
Debt ceiling increase of up to $2.8 trillion
Spending cuts of roughly $1 trillion
Special committee to recommend cuts of $1.8 trillion (or whatever it takes to add up to the total of the debt ceiling increase)
Committee must make recommendations before Thanksgiving recess
If Congress does not approve those cuts by late December, automatic across-the-board cuts go into effect, including cuts to Defense and Medicare.
CBS News update says there is a hint of deal as negotiations carry on into the night.
This from NYT. Though it speaks for itself you have to ask, why have the republicans pinned the debt and deficit on Obama? The recession happened on republican watch, for one. Obama's part in the debt was on stimulus to steer us out of a recession. Some say in times like these, we need more stimulus, not austerity. I believe that GOP cries of debts and deficits, led by the tea party, has been a stand in for something else.
Update 8 pm ET per CBS's Mark Knoller's tweet:
Hint from the WH that some development in the debt limit stalemate might be forthcoming tonight. Might.Obama's meeting with Reid and Pelosi just wrapped. Yesterday, the Senate killed a House bill and today the House killed a Senate bill. Fun times.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are meeting with President Obama at the White House on Saturday afternoon.Obama's also spoken with McConnell and Boehner who are flapping their wings wildly. Looks like we're close to a deal after all of the thrilling theatrics:
Reid said he is open to further negotiations over his debt-ceiling proposal, which he called "the only game in town" at a press conference Saturday shortly after the House rejected the legislation.
The House voted 173-246 on the bill, short of a majority and far short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage, which was required because Republicans brought up the bill under a suspension of House rules. Every Republican voted no, along with 11 Democrats.
Reid said he didn't plan the meeting but received a note shortly before the 3 p.m. press conference about a meeting at the White House. The Hill
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Saturday he and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) are fully engaged with the White House on a debt deal and expressed optimism an agreement will be reached.
“I’ve spoken with the president and the vice president within the last hour and a half," McConnell said at a press conference with Boehner shortly after the House rejected Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) debt-ceiling plan.
"We are now fully engaged with the one person … who can sign a bill into law,” McConnell told reporters. The Hill
The political theater going on today is extraordinary!
What is Boehner even talking about? Obama asked for a compromise bill, not a tea party bill.
Mark his words: Mitch McConnell says the country will not default. "That is not going to happen."
Nancy Pelosi: "I will not yield to you." She asks: Why with this one president, this time, would we put up barriers to raising the debt ceiling? Good question.
Obama says House republicans just wasted a whole bunch of time, urges a compromise. Obama explains why our AAA credit rating matters. Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times. George Bush raised it seven times. Raising the debt ceiling doesn't allow Congress to spend more. It gives Congress the ability to pay the bills for debts already racked up.
Seems to me this is the first time Obama is using this particular backdrop--the fountain--for his weekly address.
Friday, July 29, 2011
I'm usually an optimist, but as the economy slows and this debt ceiling debacle rages on, I fear the economy can't withstand politicians. I'm thinking we have a double dip coming on. All this wrangling has started to hit the markets and cities.
From the White House:
The bill passed today in the House with exclusively Republican votes would have us face another debt ceiling crisis in just a few months by demanding the Constitution be amended or America defaults. This bill has been declared dead on arrival in the Senate. Now that yet another political exercise is behind us, with time dwindling, leaders need to start working together immediately to reach a compromise that avoids default and lays the basis for balanced deficit reduction.Some moderate republicans, including Scott Brown, are considering supporting Reid's bill.
Senator Reid’s proposal is a basis for that compromise. It not only achieves more deficit reduction than the bill passed in the House today and puts a process in place to achieve even more savings, it also removes the uncertainty surrounding the risk of default. The President urges Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House – a plan the President can sign by Tuesday.
Ten percent of the republican caucus wanted to humiliate their own speaker:
Update: Senate kills House bill, but it didn't suffer. It died almost immediately.
The Senate won't pass the House bill that was crafted to appease the tea partiers, and Obama would veto the bill if the Senate did pass the bill. So why did the House bother? Why did the House come up with a bill that only tea party and conservative republicans would like? Leverage, theater, to score points because, you know, we have a lot of time for that. Not. There's only a few days left.
The vote was 218 to 210 in favor of a bill offered by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). After revising the plan and intensively rallying Republicans to support it, Boehner was barely able to muster the 217 votes need for passage, but Democrats were united in opposing it. Twenty-two Republicans joined 188 Democrats in voting “no.”
President Obama warned earlier in the day that the House GOP plan had “no chance of becoming law,” and he instead urged Senate Democrats and Republicans to reach a “bipartisan compromise.” He said time is running out to lift the federal debt ceiling and reiterated his objections to a measure that includes only a short-term increase of the debt limit. Read more at WaPo
The folks on Morning Joe blamed the tea party. I blame republican greediness, thinking they could have it all just because they won mid-term elections. Ideological tea partiers, new to office, know no better. A brave republican leader, someone with years in Congress, should've set them straight, but republicans opted to follow the tea party. Republicans figured they'd eat the whole blasted pie.
If the debt ceiling was simply raised through the normal procedure, we wouldn't be in this mess.
The dismal debt ceiling news on top of slow economic growth really makes average folks out here in the US of A sick.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Update: There will be no vote on the bill tonight. Troubles for Boehner. He'll try again tomorrow.
CBS's Mark Knoller's tweet:
So - no House vote tonight either. We're all going for pizza, debt limit special: deep-dish with everything: deficits, delays and triggers.Live blog of the House vote tonight (maybe) here. C-SPAN also has live stream here.
Chuck Todd summed up the debt ceiling situation pretty nicely-- if Boehner's bill doesn't pass the House, then McConnell will work with Reid to get a deal done quicker. If Boehner's bill does pass, then republicans have more leverage to get what they want:
Too late. Damage already done. U.S. credit will be downgraded anyway, according to John Gieve, former deputy Bank of England governor. WATCH. But the markets won't collapse, at least not immediately. "You gotta ask: Where's the market going to go?"
In a press briefing moments ago, The Smug One gives Harry Reid three options -- default, accept the republicans' last bill or accept the republicans' new bill. Such the jokester.
Reid says the new bill is DOA. The political theater by all is worthy of a nomination.
Seems to me that democrats have been the party of compromisers, which is a good thing, except for the fact that republicans are the party that wants everything it wants.
Dems have compromised on just about every issue that's been up for debate. This time they should hold, even if that means default.
If we default, it's doubtful Obama will take from social security recipients first. Those bills will get paid.
Besides, the nation already lost. Damage is already done.
It lost the minute the republicans decided to hold their vote to raise the debt ceiling hostage in exchange for spending cuts. The debt ceiling simply could've been raised, then the budget could've been discussed. A problem was created when there was none. It was created because our so-called leaders couldn't gather around the table and figure out how to solve this nation's problems.
It was created because republicans figured the only way they could get what they wanted was to hold the nation hostage because after all the democrats always compromise. You can't have one party of compromisers and the other not. Republicans are getting used to bullying their way around. That kind of behavior can't go on.
If we default, perhaps it would signify we've reached bottom, that Washington is as broken as it gets. Then perhaps we can get real about solving the nation's serious problems.
Oh, the hypocrisy.
Freshman U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, a tax-bashing Tea Party champion who sharply lectures President Barack Obama and other Democrats on fiscal responsibility, owes more than $100,000 in child support to his ex-wife and three children, according to documents his ex-wife filed in their divorce case in December.
“I won’t place one more dollar of debt upon the backs of my kids and grandkids unless we structurally reform the way this town spends money!” Walsh says directly into the camera in his viral video lecturing Obama on the need to get the nation’s finances in order. Sun Times
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Note that Obama's meeting with Geithner, who's probably in the process of figuring out what bills to pay first after we default. My optimism, sureness that the debt ceiling would be raised, has turned to cynicism.
I gotta say, I like Boehner a lot more than Reid. I don't agree with Boehner's stance to cut the deficit right now, when people haven't even gotten back on their feet yet, but he's more genuine than Reid.
From the White House:
President Barack Obama today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to the Republic of Peru to attend the Inauguration of His Excellency Ollanta Humala Tasso on July 28, 2011.
The Honorable Daniel A. Restrepo, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, National Security Council, will lead the delegation.
Member of the Presidential Delegation:
The Honorable Rose M. Likins, United States Ambassador to the Republic of Peru, Department of State
On Friday, the President will hold an event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC to announce the next round of a coordinated national program to improve fuel efficiency for Model Years 2017-2025 cars and light-duty trucks. This program, which builds on the historic agreement achieved by this administration for Model Years 2012-2016, will result in significant cost savings for consumers at the pump, dramatically reduce oil consumption, cut pollution and create jobs.
Update on the Boehner plan. Tea partiers line up after Boehner makes deeper cuts. But Senate democrats say the bill is DOA.
Boehner is in a pickle with the tea party peeps.
House Speaker John A. Boehner sought Wednesday to whip his follow Republicans into line behind his bill for a short-term increase in the federal debt ceiling despite a new congressional budget analysis that showed his plan would cut spending less than a rival Senate proposal.These are the kinds of republicans Boehner is dealing with: Florida's Gov. Rick Scott says we shouldn't raise the debt ceiling. I don't know a whole lot about the debt ceiling but I think I know more than him. This guy is clueless. Watch: The debt limit made easy.
In a closed-door meeting with GOP House members, Boehner (Ohio) told skeptical conservatives to “get your ass in line” and drop their opposition to his plan to raise the borrowing limit in two stages tied to deep spending cuts. Boehner had planned to bring the bill to the House floor Wednesday, but he postponed a vote on it until Thursday at the earliest in the face of resistance from tea party-allied conservatives, who saw the plan as falling short of the fiscal restraint that Republicans promised when they took control of the House in 2010. Read more at WaPo
McCain tells tea partiers (those newbie six monthers) that their opposition to raising the debt ceiling is "bizarro"
WATCH Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, who also offers an update.
There are a lot of rumblings that Obama can bypass Congress and raise the debt ceiling via the 14th Amendment. Obama told a town hall in Maryland last week that his legal advisers said using the 14th Amendment would be a tough argument to make:
Q -- the 14th Amendment?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’ll answer that question later. But I just want to make sure that everybody understands defaulting is not an option.
There are some on either side that have suggested that somehow we could manage our way through. But I just want everybody to be clear, the United States government sends out about 70 million checks every month. We have to refinance bonds that we’ve issued, essentially IOUs to investors. We do that every week. If suddenly investors -- and by the way, a lot of those investors are Americans who have Treasury bills, pension funds, et cetera -- if suddenly they started thinking that we might not pay them back on time, at the very least, at the bare minimum, they would charge a much higher interest rate to allow the United States to borrow money.
And if interest rate costs go up for the United States, they're probably going to go up for everybody. So it would be a indirect tax on every single one of you. Your credit card interest rates would go up. Your mortgage interest would go up. Your student loan interest would potentially go up. And, ironically, the costs of servicing our deficit would go up, which means it would actually potentially be worse for our deficit if we had default. It could also plunge us back into the kind of recession that we had back in 2008 and '09. So it is not an option for us to default.
My challenge, then, is I’ve got to get something passed. I’ve got to get 218 votes in the House of Representatives.
Now, the gentleman asked about the 14th Amendment. There is -- there's a provision in our Constitution that speaks to making sure that the United States meets its obligations. And there have been some suggestions that a President could use that language to basically ignore this debt ceiling rule, which is a statutory rule. It’s not a constitutional rule. I have talked to my lawyers. They do not -- they are not persuaded that that is a winning argument. So the challenge for me is to make sure that we do not default, but to do so in a way that is as balanced as possible and gets us at least a down payment on solving this problem.
Now, we’re not going to solve the entire debt and deficit in the next 10 days. So there’s still going to be more work to do after this. And what we’re doing is to try to make sure that any deal that we strike protects our core commitments to Medicare and Medicaid recipients, to senior citizens, to veterans. We want to make sure that student loans remain affordable. We want to make sure that poor kids can still get a checkup, that food stamps are still available for folks who are desperately in need. We want to make sure that unemployment insurance continues for those who are out there looking for work.
So there are going to be a certain set of equities that we’re not willing to sacrifice. And I’ve said we have to have revenue as part of the package.
But I’m sympathetic to your view that this would be easier if I could do this entirely on my own. (Laughter.) It would mean all these conversations I’ve had over the last three weeks I could have been spending time with Malia and Sasha instead. But that’s not how our democracy works. And as I said, Americans made a decision about divided government. I’m going to be making the case as to why I think we’ve got a better vision for the country. In the meantime, we’ve got a responsibility to do our job.
But it was an excellent question. Thank you. (Applause.)
Mohamed El-Erian of Pimco says if the U.S. defaults the headlines will be: Who lost the US's AAA credit rating? WATCH. Lawmakers are taking the tack of questioning the rating agencies.
European markets are falling amid Congress's inability to compromise. Today, Mitch McConnell said Obama won't support Boehner's plan because Obama's concerned about re-election.
But no one likes Boehner's plan. The CBO nixed it and the tea party nixed it (they want deeper cuts) and the House and Senate democrats nixed it, so it would seem that McConnell has better things to do than to stand on the floor and whine. But that's not the case because we all know that McConnell's motive is to oust Obama. The sad part about this situation is there doesn't seem to be any light. It's gone too far and egos have gotten in the way of a compromise.
It’s not the default that strikes the most fear in the White House and Congress these days. It’s the downgrade.If you don't think this effects you, think again:
Even Republican leaders say the country can’t go into default, and they’ll do everything possible to raise the debt limit by Aug. 2.
But what really haunts the administration is the very real prospect, stoked two weeks ago by Standard & Poor’s, that Barack Obama could go down in history as the president who presided over his country’s loss of its gold-plated, triple-A bond rating.
Obama could win and lose at the same time, striking a deal to avoid default but failing to pass muster on the substance of that deal with credit agencies, which could go ahead and downgrade the rating anyway. Read the rest at Politico
Financial analysts say such a move would hit Americans with more than $100 billion a year in higher borrowing costs, but it’s not just that. It would be a psychic blow to a nation that already looks over its shoulder at rising economic powers like China and wonders, what’s gone wrong? And it would give the president’s Republican rivals a ready-made line of attack that he’s dragging the country in the wrong direction. Politico
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
On the debt/deficit side of things, the House of Tea Party (formerly the House of Representatives) is making sure corporations don't see any tax increases. Average Americans will bear the brunt of the deficit cuts if the republicans get their way. Today, the House passed a bill for the oil companies (it's not expected to do well in the Senate):
House Republicans approved legislation Monday to force the Obama administration to make a decision in the coming months on a controversial proposed pipeline project that would carry oil from Canada to Texas.
The House passed the bill in a 279-147 vote, mostly along party lines. Forty-seven Democrats voted in favor of the legislation, while three Republicans opposed it. The proposal faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL project has ignited a firestorm in Washington in recent months amid a rash of pipeline incidents that have exacerbated long-standing objections to the proposal from environmental groups and many Democrats. The Hill
There is no wiggle room on the drop dead Aug. 2 deadline. Jay Carney says Boehner's bill won't pass the Senate and therefore would never make it to Obama's desk. Read the Reid plan and the Boehner plan here. Republicans to the right of Boehner are opposed to his plan, so is the CBO.
More on the debt ceiling and debt talks:
In Obama's speech last night (watch) he asked people to call their congress people and ask for a compromise. It worked. Boehner must be getting a lot of calls. As seen on Twitter from NBC's Kelly O'Donnell:
Notice going out around Hill: : "System Alert - House Telephone Circuits Near Capacity "From the Hill:
House websites and telephone lines are getting jammed one day after President Obama asked voters to call their lawmakers.Obama's trying to get a compromise, meanwhile Boehner's cuts might not be good enough for the House of Tea Party, formerly the House of Representatives.
Outside callers could expect to get a busy signal when contacting numbers on Capitol Hill, according to the House Call Center.
"Due to the high volume of external calls, House telephone circuits serving 202-225-XXXX phone numbers are near capacity resulting in outside callers occasionally getting busy signals," the Call Center said in an email to system administrators on Tuesday morning. "Outbound calls are unaffected," the email read.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Times are eastern
Obama and Biden receive the presidential daily briefing.
Obama meets with senior advisers.
Carney briefs the press. LIVE STREAM
Obama and Biden meet with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
Full speech (text):
In Boehner's press conference minutes ago, he said Reid's plan is "full of gimmicks." I honestly didn't think republicans would push this far. It's hard to tell now if the debt ceiling will be raised without Obama pulling a rabbit out of his hat.
President Obama on Monday endorsed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's debt-ceiling plan while blasting Speaker John Boehner's effort.
"Sen. Reid’s plan is a reasonable approach that should receive the support of both parties, and we hope the House Republicans will agree to this plan so that America can avoid defaulting on our obligations for the first time in our history," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "The ball is in their court."
Reid's plan would cut $2.7 trillion in spending, including $1 trillion in savings from ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It would also raise the debt ceiling by $2.7 trillion, ensuring another hike would not be necessary in 2012. The Hill
Cantor's role has been to protect hedge funds:
As the debt ceiling talks tick down to the Aug. 2 deadline, leading the opposition to any deal that includes higher taxes is the new tribune of rank and file House Republicans: Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.
It was Cantor who walked out of talks with Vice President Biden over White House demands for new revenue, who torpedoed an initial attempt by President Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner to reach a “grand bargain” and who was invited for last-ditch talks with Obama and Boehner that collapsed Friday night.
Cantor’s pivotal role marks a rapid rise to power for the 48-year-old from the Richmond suburbs. It also represents a major coup for sectors of the investment community that Cantor has been striving to assist for several years — on the same tax issues that have been at stake this month. And so far, Cantor has prevailed on those issues.
Among the White House’s top demands for new revenue are changes in the tax code affecting hedge funds, private equity firms and real estate partnerships, which would raise an estimated $20 billion over 10 years.
For the past four years, Cantor has taken the lead in the House on fighting the same changes. Read more at Washington Post
Obama canceled a couple of fundraisers today due to the ongoing debt ceiling and deficit talks (not on the public schedule). It doesn't look as though the House of Tea Party is any closer to bending and each party is coming up with their own back up plans. I'm hoping Obama has something in his back pocket. It's too bad the President of the United States has to run Romper Room instead of taking care of business.