Jul 312011

Congressional leaders and President Obama have agreed on a deal that would raise the debt ceiling and take steps toward reducing the deficit. It basically gives the Republicans and Tea Partiers everything they wanted. Details here.

The House and the Senate will have to vote on the deal tomorrow after which the President will sign it into law.

Just between you and me, I’d vote against this deal… if I had a vote. The whole “super committee” thing is kind of freaky, plus there is no provision for additional revenue (i.e. taxes on the rich).

I believe I have to agree with Krugman on this one: “The President Surrenders.”

The tantrum continues

 Posted by at 14:20  Politics, Republicans
Jul 302011

And so the temper tantrum continues…

Congressional leaders struggle to work out bipartisan debt deal

With just three days to go before Congress’s deadline to raise the debt ceiling and avoid sending the country into default, leaders continued to struggle Saturday to work out a bipartisan deal that can pass both chambers and be signed into law by President Obama.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) delivered a letter Saturday afternoon to Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), signed by 43 Republicans, declaring that Reid’s debt-limit legislation was unacceptable.

Needing 60 votes to clear a filibuster hurdle, Reid’s current draft is assured of failure in a 1 a.m. vote Sunday. McConnell demanded that President Obama re-engage in negotiations. “It isn’t going to pass,” McConnell said Saturday in a floor speech. “Let’s get talking to the administration.”


UPDATE: The Senate vote that had been scheduled for 1 a.m. Sunday morning has now been moved to 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The clock is ticking.

Weekly Address 07-30-11

 Posted by at 10:58  Politics
Jul 302011

“Compromise on Behalf of the American People”

From the White House weblog:

In this week’s address, President Obama urged both Republicans and Democrats to take action to avoid defaulting for the first time in our nation’s history. While the two parties are not far apart in their goals, they must resolve their differences quickly so that the United States can continue paying its Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and contracts with thousands of American businesses. The time has come to stop endangering the Triple A bond rating of the United States, put aside partisan politics, and behave responsibly to ensure a balanced approach to reducing our nation’s deficit.

Click below to listen to the audio only:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Transcript after the break.

Continue reading »

Jul 292011

John Boehner managed to get his Tea Party debt reduction plan through the House of Representatives this evening… by one vote. Now all he has to do is deliver it to the Senate where it can be put out of its misery.

House passes GOP debt bill over objections of Obama, Democrats

The House narrowly passed GOP debt-limit legislation Friday after Republican leaders revised it to gain the support of recalcitrant tea party conservatives, but Senate Democrats declared it dead on arrival in their chamber and moved to replace it with a bipartisan plan that would raise the federal debt ceiling ahead of an Aug. 2 deadline, averting a potentially catastrophic U.S. default.

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.

Senate Democrats said they remained solidly opposed to the Boehner plan. In debate leading up to the vote, minority House Democrats called the measure a waste of time.

A complete waste of time. Ridiculous.

UPDATE: (as expected)…

Senate kills Boehner debt-limit bill

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted to table Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s debt-limit bill Friday evening, effectively killing it less than two hours after the House passed it.

Democrats and several Republicans defeated the GOP measure by a 59-41 vote, just minutes after it arrived from the House. Democrats opposed the measure because it would require another debt-limit debate early next year.

The move continues a standoff over the debt limit but could set the table for negotiations this weekend on compromise legislation. An Aug. 2 deadline to prevent a default on U.S. obligations looms.

Action in the Senate stalled after the tabling vote when Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky could not agree on how to proceed on Reid’s proposal. Reid later said McConnell wanted a filibuster and refused to negotiate with him. The Senate adjourned until 1 p.m. EDT Saturday.


Jul 292011


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As always, our thanks go to the talented and observant cartoonists who, each week, help us smile through the pain.

Saturday additions:

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Still no agreement

 Posted by at 12:34  Politics
Jul 292011

John Boehner continues working to find a debt ceiling/spending reduction plan with which a majority of his caucus in the House of Representatives will agree. Meanwhile, the Senate continues to promise that anything that passes in the House will not pass in the Senate. President Obama took to the airwaves once again this morning to urge the Congress to come to some sort of agreement before the nation defaults on its debts this coming Tuesday.

A transcript of the President’s remarks follows the break.

Continue reading »

Don’t got the votes

 Posted by at 21:26  Politics, Republicans
Jul 282011

John Boehner’s House of Representatives was supposed to vote on his plan to reduce spending and raise the debt ceiling this evening, but it seems he doesn’t have the votes. Mr. Boehner is Speaker of the House and leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives and yet it seems he cannot wrangle enough votes to pass his ill-begotten plan. It ain’t for lack of trying…

House GOP leaders delay vote on debt plan

John Boehner
John Boehner

House Republican leaders delayed a white-knuckle vote Thursday evening on legislation designed to ease the nation’s debt crisis, and they began hauling wavering lawmakers into private offices in an apparent scramble to lock down the last votes needed for passage.

Aides to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the chamber would vote “this evening” on a bill to increase the federal debt limit in two stages, in exchange for major spending cuts. The aides did not provide a new timetable for the vote, which had been expected around 6 p.m. Thursday.

Instead, the House suddenly took up a series of non-controversial measures, leaving befuddled lawmakers debating whether to rename a post office in Hawaii before finally going into recess for an indefinite time.

At 10 p.m. Republican leaders were still advising members to stay close by the Capitol in preparation for a vote. But the regular delivery of towers of pizza boxes to congressional offices hinted that such a vote was not close at hand.

In the wake of the postponement, several Republicans from South Carolina were brought into Speaker John A. Boehner’s suite on the second floor of the Capitol. But leaders made no headway with them. Two lawmakers — Reps. Jeff Duncan and Mick Mulvaney — left the office and went into a nearby chapel, telling reporters they were praying over the matter and for their leadership.

Rep. Tim Scott (S.C.), a liaison to leadership for the freshmen class, said he was still opposed to the legislation. He added that leaders have told him they are on the brink of securing the 217 votes needed, but still just short.

“I hear three votes, four votes, it’s very close. They’re only a handful away,” he said.

Scott then joined Duncan and Mulvaney in the chapel. About 45 minutes later, they emerged and headed downstairs to the first-floor offices of House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), where Boehner,Cantor and McCarthy were waiting.

Remember that these people work for us. We pay them. They are wasting all this time on our dime. They know full well that the plan they are fighting so desperately to pass in the House will be dead on arrival in the Senate. They know this and yet they continue to waste their our time. They could be using this time looking for a sensible and realistic solution to the debt ceiling question rather than spending all this time protecting their own bloodied egos.

I think we need some new employees.

UPDATE (via TPM): House Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) just announced there will be no vote tonight on the Boehner debt bill.

We’re getting our money’s worth out of these guys, aren’t we? (At least what our money is likely to be worth at this time next week.)

Jul 272011

Things are turning surreal in Washington this week. It seems that the Republicans are splitting apart while the Democrats are coming together. I don’t know quite what to make of it. Here’s the NYT on Boehner’s woes:

With G.O.P. Unity at Risk, Boehner Tries Tougher Style

John Boehner
John Boehner

WASHINGTON — Speaker John A. Boehner is a laid-back leader who likes to say that his role is to let the House work its will. But with the nation’s economic standing and his own political future at risk, Mr. Boehner jettisoned his usual laissez-faire approach on Wednesday.

“I didn’t put my neck on the line and go toe to toe with Obama to not have an army behind me,” Mr. Boehner declared at a private party meeting, according to some House members. He demanded the fealty of conservatives who were threatening to sink his budget proposal and deny him the chance to confront the Senate with a take-it-or-leave offer on a debt ceiling increase.

(That’s President Obama to you, sir.)

Meanwhile, every member of the Democratic caucus in the Senate — including Independents Lieberman and Sanders — signed a letter to Mr. Boehner today assuring him that his plan would be dead on arrival in the Senate and urging him to seek a more sensible and realistic solution:

Speaker John Boehner U.S. Capitol, H-232 Washington, DC 20515

Dear Speaker Boehner,

With five days until our nation faces an unprecedented financial crisis, we need to work together to ensure that our nation does not default on our obligations for the first time in our history. We heard that in your caucus you said the Senate will support your bill. We are writing to tell you that we will not support it, and give you the reasons why.

A short-term extension like the one in your bill would put America at risk, along with every family and business in it. Your approach would force us once again to face the threat of default in five or six short months. Every day, another expert warns us that your short-term approach could be nearly as disastrous as a default and would lead to a downgrade in our credit rating. If our credit is downgraded, it would cost us billions of dollars more in interest payments on our existing debt and drive up our deficit. Even more worrisome, a downgrade would spike interest rates, making everything from mortgages, car loans and credit cards more expensive for families and businesses nationwide.

In addition to risking a downgrade and catastrophic default, we are concerned that in five or six months, the House will once again hold the economy captive and refuse to avoid another default unless we accept unbalanced, deep cuts to programs like Medicare and Social Security, without asking anything of the wealthiest Americans.

We now have only five days left to act. The entire world is watching Congress. We need to do the right thing to solve this problem. We must work together to avoid a default the responsible way – not in a way that will do America more harm than good.


Only five days left before default. Five. Days.

The Republicans own this one. Lock, stock and barrel.

Refusing to win

 Posted by at 16:16  Politics, Republicans
Jul 252011

Greg Sargent points out that the Republicans seem to be refusing to accept victory, even though they are getting everything they have been saying they wanted all along in the current debt ceiling negotiations. He correctly points out that there are only three possible reasons for their confusing and irrational behavior…

First: The GOP wants another debt ceiling fight closer to Obama’s reelection. Second: Even though Dems have given up on getting new revenues, a one-shot deal could help the president politically. Third: Republicans, having seen Dems concede multiple times already, see no reason not to drag us even closer to the brink in hopes of extracting still more. Perhaps GOP leaders think getting still more will make it easier to sell the compromise to a caucus that is now populated with a non-trivial number of public officials who are so delusional that they won’t raise the debt ceiling under any circumstances — even if Republicans are given 100 percent of what they want in return.

By the way, did you know that the federal debt ceiling was raised seven times while George W. Bush occupied the White House? Can anybody recall any of those times being this big of a deal?

I think Bruce Plante pretty much nailed it in this cartoon (from Friday Night Cartoons a couple of weeks ago):


The ball is in their court.