Showing posts with label debt limit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label debt limit. Show all posts

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tea Party Terrorists and Civil Discourse (Upated with Remarks from House Debate)

Politico has gone over the edge.  In the new era of "civility in discourse" Politico is now calling the Tea Party a terrorist group.

It has become commonplace to call the tea party faction in the House “hostage takers.” But they have now become full-blown terrorists.
They have joined the villains of American history who have been sufficiently craven to inflict massive harm on innocent victims to achieve their political goals. A strong America has always stood firm in the face of terrorism. That tradition is in jeopardy, as Congress and President Barack careen toward an uncertain outcome in the tea party- manufactured debt crisis.

And a little deeper in:

Terrorism is a tough term, but, unfortunately, it describes tea party tactics precisely. Their first step was to vow not to vote to raise the debt ceiling.

Be sure to see Pirate's Cove for a complete fisking of the piece.

How quickly we forget.  It was January 2011 when Obama, after the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, said "only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation."

How are Obama's minions following his advice?

Harry Reid this morning accused Republicans of taking America "hostage":

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed today the Senate will act on his plan to raise the nation's debt limit, saying the economy should not be held hostage by recalcitrant House Republicans.
(He also complained:  "What's being done in the House is not a compromise," he said. "It is being jammed through."  He would know all about jamming legislation through, wouldn't he?)

The New York Daily News:

They will emerge victorious from this fight not because they are necessarily right or Americans support their cuts-only approach (they don't), but rather because they are willing to nihilistically sabotage the US economy.

I'm sorry, but who was it exactly that ignored the debt commission report?

“Eighteen times the debt ceiling was raised for Ronald Reagan, eight times for George Bush, because they would never stand in this body to see a default on the full faith and credit of the United States”: Larson said. “We need not go through this ideological hostage situation. Why are we holding the American people hostage? Let's put America back to work. We’re a better nation; we’re a better body than that.”

According to Pelosi, the world must be saved from Republicans:

"What we're trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget. We're trying to save life on this planet as we know it today."
Hey, at least the Republicans passed a budget.

"The Republicans are holding hostage the credit of the United States of America."

Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT):

Welch charged, “This is the first time a party has used a debt ceiling vote to hold hostage the American economy.”

And on and on. They all got that "hostage" talking point memo, didn't they.

It goes both ways.  Republicans throw their fair share of heated rhetoric as well, but it seems to me there is enough blame to go around for this crisis and the Democrats are unwilling to accept any.  As I mentioned, they saw this coming months ago.  Obama walked away from his own debt commission report.  His position has always been his way or no way.  Compromise isn't a word he has used until lately.

As for the Tea Party, those Tea Party members are the only ones doing what they were sent to Washington to do.  They can't be bought off with earmarks or vague promises.  It isn't their fault that Obama helped create this crisis by ignoring the debt commission and continuing on his job killing, economy crushing, regulation heavy, massive spending policies.

Politico's piece is just fanning the flames and that is what is irresponsible, not the Tea Party.

Update:  Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VT) complaining on the House floor right now about the Boehner bill being "slapped together behind closed doors" in the dark of night.   He calls this all a "manufactured crisis."  By Obama, I might add.

Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC)  calls the bill the worst evah!  "We have NO time left in the debate on our side to debate whether we will pass an amendment to the Constitution of the United States that literally holds a gun to the economy of America!"

No terroristic language there.

Update 2:  Barney Frank:  "Speaker Boehner should take as his theme song, 'It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To.'"   He calls it "a flawed bill" brought by "a weakened Speaker."

Well, that was mature.

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD):  "The Republican majority should be embarrassed for the American people."  They are "reckless" she says.  The bill was "hurriedly drafted today just to please the far right elements of the Tea Party."  She says the Republican party is putting "our entire future" at risk "for this garbage."

Garbage in, garbage out.

Update 3:  Rep.  Gerald Connelly says the Republicans are "turning our Founding Fathers into deadbeat dads."

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) echos the appeasing the "far right" theme.  Corporate jets!  Close tax loopholes!  Tax the rich!  Eliminate oil company subsidies!

Sheila Jackson Lee:  "This is the worst bill that any American could imagine in the history of this nation!"  Hyperbole.  "We actually have the authority...under the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling."    She says the BBA is "not by majority" and will stop Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare.  Hyperbole.  She urges people to call in and say "Stop the madness!"

Update 4:  I see kids in the chamber.  Such rhetoric for such young ears!

Update 5:  Rep. Marcy Kaptur suggests this bill is like pulling the IV tubes out of an ill patient and "shoving them down the elevator chute."

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)  "This Congress is in chaos!"  True dat.  "We must stop this Republican Roulette and get back to a plan that is realistic."  She calls for a clean vote on the debt ceiling and if not then invoke the 14th Amendment.

Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ) refers to it as the Republican Default Bill.  "The full faith and credit of the United States will be held hostage..."  There's that word again.  Some applause from the floor when he finishes speaking.

The children behind the podium are waving to the camera.

Update 6:  Rep David Scott (D-GA)  lamenting "drastic cuts" to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  About $1000 per person, he says.

Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)  "our nation's first ever default is at hand."

Rep.Markey says the Republicans "don't want compromise, they want capitulation."  He says this bill will change the Constitution "forEVER!" 

Nancy Pelosi says "the clock is ticking" - most overused phrase of the day.  "As we continue this debate today, one thing is very clear to me.  If our goal were to find deficit reduction in a balanced bipartisan way, we could certainly do that...we could find a path to serious deficit reduction."  "That is not the goal of the Republicans of the House of Representatives."   Now she's blathering about clean air standards and food safety.  Clean water.  "We can't do that for ourselves!"

Tax subsidies to big oil!  "You're going to pay more for your college loans so we can give tax breaks to people at the other end."   "This bill is going nowhere.  It is a total waste of time," she says.

The Speaker and the Republicans walked away from the table and the stock market dropped 483 points, she says.  I don't think you can totally blame the Republicans for that, Nancy.

Boehner's New Plan

It looks like it's going to be a long weekend with the debt ceiling debate.  And truthfully, it's enough to make your head spin.

As of today, Boehner has a new plan and apparently the change is that this one includes a balanced budget amendment.  This BBA must be sent to the states before the ceiling is raised a second time.  Spending cuts must be larger than the spending increase, but it doesn't specify when those spending cuts occur, as far as I can tell.

Andrew Stiles at NRO reports that this new Boehner version will likely pass:

The exact language of the balanced-budget amendment will be up to Congress to determine. Members will vote on the updated legislation sometime today and many expect it to pass.
Rush Limbaugh pointed out today that the Boehner bill and the Reid bill are virtually the same except for the time line and the BBA.

Of course, Harry Reid and Obama say the Boehner bill is DOA so it's all for naught.

Steve Womack (R-Ark.) says the new Boehner bill is worse:

Womack tells National Review Online that he believes the initial bill, without the BBA requirement, was a “better play” because it had a much better chance of getting through the Senate, or at least becoming the framework for a final deal. He says the new bill “weakens our position” and “gives much more power to the Senate” by essentially allowing them lead the way on a final compromise.

Conn Carroll at The Washington Examiner says the Boehner bill won't be DOA in the Senate:

In the few minutes it takes to read this post, at least five Democrats will have again told reporters that the Boehner bill is "dead on arrival" in the Senate. But if the Boehner bill is such a non-threat to the White House, then why are House Democrats so scared to let any of their moderates vote for it?
Remember, five Democrats crosssed party lines to vote for the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act. That bill, requiring a constituional amendment with a super-majority to raise taxes, was truly DOA in the Senate. But this time around, no House Democrats will vote for the Boehner plan. Why?

Carroll points out that the Senate won't take the Boehner bill as is, but it will be the starting point for what we eventually end up with.

Here is Kathryn Lopez's take on the way it will go:

So what does the new path look like? This tweaked Budget Control Act will pass the House. The Senate will strip out the BBA language. It will pass the Senate. When it goes back to the House, Boehner loses some of his caucus again, but Pelosi will have to get some of her members on board. If this is such a crisis moment, Democrats are the party in power. Boehner negotiated with his caucus and got an imperfect bill that the Democratic Senate could work with — with a statement of principles in including the BBA. Then the Democrats, who do run Washington, after all, will have to step up to the plate.

She's probably right. 

Meanwhile, Stacy McCain is keeping an eye on the markets.  It seems the key there is to keep Obama off the television:

Before President Obama’s speech, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 90 points. Now — as of 10:45 a.m. ET — it’s down 110 points.  Why? Because he used his speech for a partisan hit on the GOP as offering a bill that “does not solve the problem” and can’t pass Harry Reid’s Democrat-controlled Senate.
He really is a downer.  Even Peggy Noonan sees that.  Now.

He is a loser.

She's a little late to the realization, but that's okay.

As for Boehener's bill, it goes to the Rules committee this afternoon and a vote could come later.  Stay tuned for updates here.   

(Memeorandum has full coverage as well, as always.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Class Warfare, Slavery References, Damn the Corporate Jets: It's Another Obama Speech! #Drink!!!

Obama's speech tonight was less "table thumping" than I expected.  It was full of class warfare baiting and demagoguery, but less hostile than I've seen him before.  Corporate jets are still the bane of evil.

A few things that struck me (in order of appearance):


For the last decade, we have spent more money than we take in. In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off our debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our nation’s credit card.

How can he, with a straight face, criticize our level of spending after ramming through the bill, the stimulus, omnibus, and Obamacare?  I mean, really.

And on that issue of "two wars" that GWB just "added to our nation's credit card," what would Obama have had him do?  What would Obama have done if 9/11 happened on HIS watch?  I shudder to think.


Now, every family knows that a little credit card debt is manageable. But if we stay on the current path, our growing debt could cost us jobs and do serious damage to the economy. More of our tax dollars will go toward paying off the interest on our loans. Businesses will be less likely to open up shop and hire workers in a country that can’t balance its books.

Woah.  Woah.  Businesses won't open up shop because we can't balance our books?  All along I've thought it was because of the leaden regulations coming out of Washington.  Didn't I just read something where Obamacare is stifling new hiring?  

I thought this was patronizing:

I won’t bore you with the details of every plan or proposal, but basically, the debate has centered around two different approaches.

As if we're too dull and stupid to understand.  In truth, I don't think he understands.  Now, watch the slight of hand carefully here...look at how he frames his ideas (I can't really call it a plan):

The first approach says, let’s live within our means by making serious, historic cuts in government spending. Let’s cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower was President. Let’s cut defense spending at the Pentagon by hundreds of billions of dollars. Let’s cut out the waste and fraud in health care programs like Medicare – and at the same time, let’s make modest adjustments so that Medicare is still there for future generations. Finally, let’s ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their tax breaks and special deductions.

The old "shared sacrifice" argument.  Corporate jets.  Cut the defense budget.  Cut those who provide jobs.  "Shared sacrifice" only includes who he wants it to include.  It's not really "shared."

This is the part that gets me:

The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a cuts-only approach – an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all. And because nothing is asked of those at the top of the income scales, such an approach would close the deficit only with more severe cuts to programs we all care about – cuts that place a greater burden on working families.

More corporate America, class warfare baiting.  Evil corporate jets.  Somebody get this guy an iPod with Marco Rubio's speech on there where he suggests we need more taxPAYERS instead of jacking up the burden on those who already pay the majority of the taxes in this country.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, $250,000 is the new millionare and billionaire:

Keep in mind that under a balanced approach, the 98% of Americans who make under $250,000 would see no tax increases at all.

And the old meme that paying taxes is "patriotic" was invoked again.  If that's the case then 47% of Americans aren't patriotic.

And why was he invoking Reagan and comparing himself to Reagan in this speech.  Reagan would have cleaned this slop up months ago.

Now, check this segment:

Understand – raising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money. It simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up. In the past, raising the debt ceiling was routine. Since the 1950s, Congress has always passed it, and every President has signed it. President Reagan did it 18 times. George W. Bush did it 7 times. And we have to do it by next Tuesday, August 2nd, or else we won’t be able to pay all of our bills.

He says "Congress" has racked up these bills as if he is totally blameless.  Like, he didn't sign any of them, they just slipped on through.  He didn't push anything through or orchestrate like the Wizard behind the curtain.  But, we're too stupid to catch that.  

And all that business about former presidents raising the debt ceiling?  Is he aware that he's racked up more debt during his administration than all previous administrations put together?  That sort of matters in this argument, I think.

Remember in the beginning of his speech when he said "neither party is blameless"?  But then he says

Unfortunately, for the past several weeks, Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach.

It's all the Republicans fault!  And corporate jets!  Drink!

If we don't do it HIS way...

For the first time in history, our country’s Triple A credit rating would be downgraded, leaving investors around the world to wonder whether the United States is still a good bet. Interest rates would skyrocket on credit cards, mortgages, and car loans, which amounts to a huge tax hike on the American people. We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis – one caused almost entirely by Washington.

Just change that last word from "Washington" to "Republicans" and that's what he really meant.  Big bad Republicans who won't play by his rules.  

And don't you love the purely political posturing in this one:

Defaulting on our obligations is a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate. And Republican leaders say that they agree we must avoid default. But the new approach that Speaker Boehner unveiled today, which would temporarily extend the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts, would force us to once again face the threat of default just six months from now. In other words, it doesn’t solve the problem.

In other words, "it doesn't get me past re-election!" 

From there Obama rants a bit more about wealthy Americans, corporations, and corporate jets again, and then insists on "compromise."  The problem here is that to him, compromise means his way or the highway.  There is no compromise with a demagogue.

He's starting to wrap it up here and so he pulls out the Founding Father's reference (we've already done the Reagan reference, remember) and compares the whole mess to slavery.  Really?!  

America, after all, has always been a grand experiment in compromise. As a democracy made up of every race and religion, where every belief and point of view is welcomed, we have put to the test time and again the proposition at the heart of our founding: that out of many, we are one. We have engaged in fierce and passionate debates about the issues of the day, but from slavery to war, from civil liberties to questions of economic justice, we have tried to live by the words that Jefferson once wrote: “Every man cannot have his way in all things…Without this mutual disposition, we are disjointed individuals, but not a society.”

This is a debate about civil liberties and slavery?  All this time I thought we were talking about excessive Washington spending.  Or is it the same thing?

Obama closes by saying how great America is (was?) and how history is scattered with ideologues (like him) but that we remember those (like Boehner?) who put country first and stand up for the greater good.

On that part, we agree.

Palate cleanser:  Boehner's response.

Added:  Best quote from The Other McCain:

You know who’s smiling now? Jimmy Carter.

Because Jimmy’s well on his way to becoming the second-worst president in American history.

(Linked at The Other McCain - Thanks!  And at Fishersville Mike - Thank you!  And at Pirates Cove!  Thanks!)

Three Links to Catch Up on the Debt Debate

I was away from the computer, engaged in various projects, for most of the weekend only to get online this morning and find that nothing much has changed in the debt ceiling debate.  After Obama's petulant press conference last week (I mean the one he held after Boehner walked away from the table) I, too, had to step back from the whole mess.  It's all too bizarre.

If nothing else this crisis surely makes even the most die-hard Obama supporter see that he is in over his head.  Right?  At least see that this man really just wants to be a dictator, decree that something should happen, and no honest debate allowed?  Right?

No, there are still people out there that support him and "as God as my witness" I cannot understand why.

Three items to catch up, or summarize the current situation:

This article posted early this morning by Jennifer Rubin:

A Republican aide e-mails me: “The Speaker, Sen. Reid and Sen. McConnell all agreed on the general framework of a two-part plan. A short-term increase (with cuts greater than the increase), combined with a committee to find long-term savings before the rest of the increase would be considered. Sen. Reid took the bipartisan plan to the White House and the President said no.”
What?  He said "No" to a bi-partisan plan that stops the dreaded default?   Rubin concludes:

The ONLY reason to reject a short-term, two-step deal embraced by both the House and Senate is to avoid another approval-killing face-off for President Obama before the election. Next to pulling troops out of Afghanistan to fit the election calendar, this is the most irresponsible and shameful move of his presidency.

Crazy.  Just crazy.  He's playing Russian Roulette with the economy.

Second item:  this article by John Hayward (emphasis mine):

On Friday, right after his Democrat colleagues in the Senate used a procedural maneuver to kill the Cut, Cap and Balance Act without a real vote, President Obama held a town hall meeting at the University of Maryland before a carefully screened, very supportive audience.  He said a few interesting things in this relaxed and comfortable environment.

Obama blamed divided government for the debt ceiling crisis.  “I’m sympathetic to your view that this would be easier if I could do this entirely on my own,” he told a questioner who brought up the theory, fashionable in some liberal circles, that the 14th Amendment gives the President power to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally.  The President went on to remark, with a chuckle, that this would give him more time to spend with his daughters.  

He's joking about being a dictator?  He's suggesting it would be a good idea?  Seriously?  

Read the rest of Hayward's piece in which Obama says it's just too hard to keep up with all the different plans on the table; Obama indicates that his knowledge of American history only goes back as far as Ronald Reagan, and finally Obama contends that "we've made good choices so far."  

Good grief we ARE in deep trouble if he really believes that.  Read the whole thing.

And the third item to consider this morning is from The Other McCain who has his eye on market reaction to this mess (link in the original):

Let’s be clear: President Obama has orchestrated this unnecessary drama for the specific political purpose of causing a crisis that he — with the willing assistance of the liberal media — hopes to blame on Republicans.

Yet while Obama, the Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) are scripting a kabuki dance, economic reality threatens to intervene...

So what are we to make of these three pieces?  Obama is unfit to be president, is doing a poor job of leading us out of this crisis, and is doing everything in his power to make this worse and destroy the American economy.

A Black Monday, indeed.

(Much more at Memeorandum)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Brett Baier's Panel On the Debt Ceiling

I was watching The Fox Report a while ago and the panel (Juan Williams, Rick Klein of ABC, and Charles Krauthammer) discussed the debt ceiling debate.  Juan Williams said that "the American people side with the president in this debate." 

Both Stacy McCain and Ed Morrissey have posts to refute that CBS poll to which I believe Juan refers so I'm not sure Juan is entirely correct.  I would venture to say (even without a poll) that a large number of Americans are tired of the massive government spending and want a smaller government.

Juan Williams blamed much of Republican resistance on "Tea Party members" and said McConnell's plan was not accepted by the Tea Party members.  I suspect those freshman members remember quite clearly how they got to Washington in the first place and are reluctant to turn their backs on the constituents who sent them there with clear intent.

It does seem, though, that Republicans may have a communications problem as Charles Krauthammer said, "They're losing the PR battle.  Obama has managed ... to spin this" however he wants.  Krauthammer suggests there is one way out:  Republicans need to pass a short term, say five months, resolution with $1.5 trillion in cuts.  There is no way Obama can veto it with any reasonable argument.  While Obama insists we all rise above politics on this issue, he wants "a big deal" so it won't come up again before his election in 2012.  Talk about politicizing!  Krauthammer might be correct in supporting a short term deal as it would certainly avoid the dreaded default issue and it would all but remove the posturing.  For now.

Senator TomCoburn has his own plan - reduce the size of government, cut $3 trillion from entitlement reform, $1 trillion in defense, $3 trillion in discretionary spending, etc. Juan Williams discounted this plan as "too large!"  He says that if you have such a sharp cut in government spending it would drag the whole economy down.   I think Juan is missing a big part of the picture.  The private sector needs to be stronger, not government.

Rick Klein of ABC scoffed that Republicans "don't want revenue on the table at all."  Revenue is, of course, synonymous for "higher taxes."  It's the new euphemism.  

Krauthammer pointed out that Obama has increased discretionary spending over 25%.

On the 2012 election, Qunnipiac has romney ion the lead at 25, Bachman at 14%.

The panel then turned to the 2012 election and the possibility of Rick Perry's entrance into the race; Perry is feeling the call, he says.

All Baier's panelists seem to think that Perry will run.  Williams pointed out that Rick Perry has a good economy in Texas and he will take momentum away from Michelle Bachmann.  "He could be a big player," he said.

No mention on the panel tonight about Obama's plan to veto "Cut, Cap, and Balance" should it get to him, or his likely veto of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act which would actually cause Obama to put some skin in the game as he's asked us to do.

Fear Mongerer In Chief Continues to Politicize Debt Talks

I've been in the kitchen all morning making gumbo.  The Teenager begged for it so last night I agreed to stand over the stove for three hours during one of the hottest days of the year and make gumbo.  So there I am in the kitchen, making my roux and monitoring the world on my iPhone while I work.  When you're stirring a roux you can't just walk away or it burns. 

Imagine my outrage while stirring my roux at this report that Obama promises to veto the "Cut, Cap and Balance" budget plan should it reach his desk.  Now, let me get this straight:  Obama is going to veto a bill that gives him a $2.4 tillion debt ceiling increase because it limits how much he can spend in the future?

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:

Is it really Barack Obama’s contention that a balanced budget, now or in the future, threatens the dignity of retirees?  What basis does he have for claiming that deficits are a necessary component of retiree dignity?  That sounds very much like a demand for eternal deficit spending, with no attempt at any discipline whatsoever.

It does defy all logic. Well who is inviting default now?

Jimmie Bise at The Sundries Shack:

“Cut, Cap, and Balance” is a significant compromise for the Republicans. Let me outline the opening positions of both sides in the debt ceiling debate. The Republicans position is: do not raise the debt ceiling, do not raise taxes, enact spending cuts measured in the trillions. The Democratic position is: raise the debt ceiling by quite a lot, raise taxes, spend more money (though perhaps not quite as much as in the previous two years).

Read the whole thing.

DaTech Guy thinks it's a strange move indeed to put this information out now:

What is really amazing here is that the White House is making this signal before the vote in the house.  Why do they care if a Republican house passes this bill?  One must assume that the purpose of this signal is to make sure that once passed Democrats in the Senate are dissuaded from casting a gimme vote for this in the interest of appearing to do something.

If this report from The Weekly Standard is to be believed, it's no wonder that nothing has come of the talks at The White House:

The president has been less genial away from the prying eyes of the press and the public. In the private talks, he’s dominated the discussion with the eight most senior members of Congress in an overbearing way not likely to lead to compromise. He’s been argumentative. He’s come across as President Blowhard.

After Sperling briefed the group on the deficit cap proposal, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi addressed another subject. When a Republican participant criticized the deficit cap, Obama interrupted with a monologue. When the Republican tried to speak a second time, the president quickly cut him off and delivered another sermon on why the criticism was wrong.

Obama has taken the tack that he must respond to everything that’s said, whether by a
Republican, a Democrat, or even Biden. And his responses, like those in his press conferences, are never brief. But who’s going to complain about Obama’s verbosity, at least in his presence? He’s the president.

No matter how much Obama says he is trying to compromise but in truth that only means it's his way or no way.  I can't for the life of me find one compromise to which he has agreed.  And now with this vow to veto "Cut, Cap, and Balance," should it ever get to his desk, he simply seems more amateurish and buffoonish than ever.

He says the process should not be politicized, that some things should be bigger than politics yet he's the one resorting to fear mongering and threatening old people with their Social Security checks.  Nobody wants the whole process to break down or a default situation  (even though there is more than enough money to pay our debts), but it's time for Obama to quit trying to make this process all about him and get down to a serious compromise.

Call his bluff, Republicans.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hissy Fit Number 1400

Hmmm.  Something tells me that the video clip I used in the last post might work better for this one. 

It sounds like Obama is cracking under the pressure to me.  His "abrubt" exit from the debt negotiation this afternoon was petulant, childish, and at the very least, unprofessional.  Mr. Obama is not accustomed to losing.  Those community organizing skills are not working so well for him right now.  Via The Corner:

At this point, Cantor explained, the president became “very agitated” and said he had “sat here long enough,” that “Ronald Reagan wouldn’t sit here like this” and “something’s got to give.” Obama then told Republicans they either needed to compromise on their insistence on a dollar for dollar ratio of spending cuts to debt increase or agree to a “grand bargain” including massive tax increases. Before walking out of the room, Cantor said, the president told him: “Eric, don’t call my bluff. I’m going to the American people with this.” He then “shoved back” and said “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

This is one (and only one) example where his inexperience shows.  Had he ever led a business, been CEO of anything, had executive experience as a governor, ever done anything of significance beyond 144 days in the senate before running for president we might be further along in these negotiations.

Breaking at about the same time was news that Moody's put us on "downgrade watch."     Just too much pressure for the man-child?  Maybe Obama didn't like being compared to Jell-o.  Or maybe Cantor didn't get the memo that Obama was feeling testy today.  Who knows.

If Obama is attempting to channel Reagan and his summit at Reykjavik he's falling way short.  As Pundette says:

Since he brought up the comparison, imagine Reagan throwing a tantrum like that. Or never coming up with a plan of his own.


The spin has already begun as the left points to Eric Cantor and his line-in-the-sand moment previously, but again, I would suggest that maybe we expect more from our president.  Maybe as president you have to rise above petty things and learn to compromise.

Reuters quotes Obama:

"I have reached the point where I say enough," Obama said, according to the aide. "Would Ronald Reagan be sitting here? I've reached my limit. This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this."

Bring it on.   

Quote of the day (filed under WTF?) goes to Nancy Pelosi:

“He stayed for two and a half hours and listened to what members had to say. It was his meeting and the meeting had come to an end,” she said. 
“The president could not have been more gracious. I have never seen a president spend so much time with the leadership of Congress day in and day out, respectful of their concerns,” Pelosi added.

Respectful?  Gracious?  I guess she has a different perspective of "gracious" than I do.  I call it childish.

(Welcome "Morning Jolt" readers!)

Mitch McConnells's National Game of Chicken

Don't let anyone tell you that average Americans don't care about the debt ceiling debate.  I've been up since 3:30 this morning, unable to sleep, trying to make sense of Mitch McConnell's proposal.

As far as average Americans being involved or connected to the debate?  Let's just say that Obama got the attention of many of them yesterday when he suggested that Social Security checks may not go out next month.  I can't even begin to tell you the fear this struck in my 87 year old mother.  She's panicked and distraught.

"But how can he do that?" she cried.  "I paid into Social Security!  Your father paid into Social Security!  He served his country in the war!  That's our money we paid into that!"

As Marco Rubio said on Rush Limbaugh's program yesterday, this ought to put a chill up and down every American's spine:

But let me tell you one thing, Rush, that no one said yet or maybe they have, the fact that payments on Social Security and Medicare may stop is a stinging indictment and a wake-up call.  What Americans should realize, "Hold on a second, my social Security check and my Medicare benefits are borrowed?  The money that you're using to pay for my Social Security are borrowed?  I thought I paid into a trust fund.  I thought I worked my whole life to pay into some system and now you're paying my money back and you're claiming that the money is being borrowed?"  That's what they're basically conceding when they're saying this.

It's a wake-up call for a lot of Americans who weren't paying attention before.  Obama's statement yesterday pulled many into awareness who were not there before.

As far as McConnell's proposal goes reaction is all over the map.  The most succinct summation of the proposal comes from Guy Benson, (H/T: Hot Air):

Now that the table is set, here’s how the proposed plan would work: Republicans in Congress would agree to vote to authorize the president to propose three separate incremental debt ceiling increases, spaced over the remainder of his term. He would be required to couple each request with a corresponding set of spending cuts that exceed the dollar amount of his sought-after debt limit hike. These cuts would be of his choosing alone. The first pair of requests would come prior to the August 2 deadline. It would be for roughly $700 Billion. The next requests, for $900 Billion, would come in the fall, and the final tranche (also for $900 Billion) would be scheduled for summer of 2012 — in the thick of the campaign cycle.
In all likelihood, on each occasion, Republicans would overwhelmingly vote to disapprove of the president’s debt ceiling increase request. This allows GOP members (and almost certainly some vulnerable Democrats) to technically vote “no” on raising the debt ceiling. If, as is likely, simple majorities in both houses vote to disapprove of the president’s requests, he’d be forced to veto each disapproval, pinging the issue back to Capitol Hill. If Congress can’t override those vetos with 2/3 majorities (and Republicans won’t have the votes, even with some Democrats), the debt ceiling will increase. But not without the exacting a substantial political price from the president and his allies in Congress. They will own the debt ceiling hike. Period. Members of Congress who vote with the president will set themselves up to be targeted by brutal attack ads (“so-and-so has voted to increase the national debt limit three times in the last year alone,” etc).

Benson's conclusion is that the whole process is "fuzzy and unconvincing."

Allahpundit sees the proposal as pitching the whole mess back into Obama's court and forcing him to own the whole crisis:

It sounds complicated but it’s not. This achieves two things in one fell swoop: (1) it provides a nearly foolproof mechanism to avoid default armageddon in case the two sides can’t make a deal by August 2, which will reassure markets, and (2) by investing Obama with near-unilateral power to raise the ceiling (it’s not fully unilateral because Congress could, in theory, override him with a 2/3 vote), it makes him almost wholly responsible for the debt hike, which will be a major political liability with the election around the corner and a plurality of voters still more worried about raising the ceiling than letting a default happen. After a month of shrieking from lefty legal experts about how the Fourteenth Amendment supposedly lets O ignore the ceiling, here’s McConnell calling their bluff. You want to own America’s debt problem? Enjoy.

Yet the conservative blogosphere is unconvinced.  Michelle Malkin:

It’s a convoluted way of abandoning the fight for fiscal sanity altogether and leaving the mess in the Democrats’ enhanced control.
Erick Erickson at Red State is incensed:

Yes, instead of putting the burden on the White House, McConnell would make it damn near impossible to block a debt ceiling increase. We’ve seen this before. The House once had the Gephardt rule that required the debt ceiling vote be attached to a more popular measure so members of Congress could escape a tough vote.

Consequently, the debt ceiling has gone up to $14 trillion without Congress ever having to make a tough choice about debt. 
And now Mitch McConnell wants to make it even easier by allowing Congress to go through a dog and pony show of feigned cuts that never get cut while allowing escalation of our national debt. So much for accusing Barack Obama of smoke and mirrors.

Legal Insurrection has mixed emotions:

My initial reaction is negative, but not as negative as some people.  If the authority were to give Obama the power to increase the debt limit but contingent on equivalent cuts which Obama could choose, that would make sense.

Essentially this is a $2.5 trilliion election strategy, figuring that it is better to defeat Obama in 2012 than run the risk of consequences now which would keep Obama in office through 2016. Because by 2016 $2.5 trillion is going to seem like chump change at the rate Obama is going.

The problem is, standing firm now both is the right thing to do and may be just as good an electoral strategy. We don’t know how all this will play out, but backing down on a core principle which led to the 2010 electoral victory could just as easily fracture the Republican Party and lead to the electoral disaster we are trying to avert.

The professor also points out that Obama would not get his tax increases under this plan.

Jennifer Rubin is actually for the McConnell plan:

What does this do? It shifts the onus to the president to put up the cuts he wants. Moreover, it puts the Senate Democrats in a tough bind. Do they vote against this if there is no grand bargain, filibustering a mechanism that would avoid default? Having failed to present their own budget, Senate Democrats are now on the spot. As for that White House meeting today, I imagine the White House will be none to pleased. Put up or shut up, they are being told. That might not sit well when the modus operandi has been to offer virtually no immediate cuts in private and spout platitudes (peas!) in public.

National Review Online doesn't seem to think Republicans are going to go for this plan:

In reality, everyone would consider the Republicans partly responsible for an increase in the debt ceiling if they adopt this course; everyone would consider them to have lost their nerve for a fight; everyone would expect the spending cuts not to happen; and everyone would be right. Which is why it does not appear that House Republicans, or even all Senate Republicans, are going to follow this course.

The Wall Street Journal this morning is backing the plan, insisting that the debt ceiling is going to be raised one way or the other:

The tea party/talk-radio expectations for what Republicans can accomplish over the debt-limit showdown have always been unrealistic. As former Senator Phil Gramm once told us, never take a hostage you're not prepared to shoot. Republicans aren't prepared to stop a debt-limit increase because the political costs are unbearable. Republicans might have played this game better, but the truth is that Mr. Obama has more cards to play.

The entitlement state can't be reformed by one house of Congress in one year against a determined President and Senate held by the other party. It requires more than one election. The Obama Democrats have staged a spending blowout to 24% of GDP and rising, and now they want to find a way to finance it to make it permanent. Those are the real stakes of 2012.

Even if Mr. Obama gets his debt-limit increase without any spending cuts, he will pay a price for the privilege. He'll have reinforced his well-earned reputation as a spender with no modern peer. He'll own the record deficits and fast-rising debt. And he'll own the U.S. credit-rating downgrade to AA if Standard & Poor's so decides.

So where are we after all this?   Mitch McConnell insists this is "a contingency plan," a last ditch effort if talks completely break down.  It appears to me they already have.  At this point, it seems, the debt ceiling will be raised and all the rest is just political posturing.

It's a colossal game of "chicken" on a national scale and all of us are in the line of fire.