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Breaking News Alert: Geithner weighs exit following debt deal
June 30, 2011 5:51:28 PM
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has told President Obama that he is considering leaving his post but would wait to make a final decision until the negotiations over the deficit reduction talks are completed, according to people familiar with the matter.
Geithner, who has wanted to leave the administration for some time, would only exit with the president’s endorsement, the people said.
Live streaming PBO at Philly DNC fundraiser happening now
LOL PBO “GOP, They will attack, won’t have a PLAN, but they will attack.”
It’s only been 2 1/2 years; i’ve only got 5 1/2 to go! Go ahead Mr. President
Oh oh! They done broke out this song:
Sooky Sooky! Go Mr. President!
Mark Halperin: The point of it all…I am confused.
When, somebody tell me, when did it become okay to call the president of these United States an expletive on national television? When did it become right and reasonable to refer to President Obama as a common euphemism for penis?
This morning, Time magazine editor-at-large Mark Halperin, a frequent guest on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, said that President Obama was a “kind of a dick yesterday.”
After a bit of nervous laughter, sobriety set in. Something wasn’t right. There was, almost everyone knew, something inherently wrong about calling the president a “dick.”
He was profoundly sorry, Halperin said, as others pointed the fingers at the show’s control room engineers. Whether or not the noted editor knew his comments were being broadcast live, I will leave to the heavens to know. Maybe he thought show producers would use the delay switch to cover his comment. There is simply no way to know for sure. But that’s beside the point.
What we can be sure of is this. The standard of decency for this presidency is different from any other in modern times. There is, it seems, a new brand of distasteful vulgarity oozing through the public discourse. And it appears to me, if only for this president, that the rules for responding are different.
It says something about us when a congressman can call the president a “liar” from the House floor during the State of the Union and never pay a meaningful price. It says something when Rush Limbaugh can compare Obama to Adolf Hitler, who orchestrated a genocide that goes down in history as one of the most profoundly evil and brutal acts the world has ever known, and get away with it scot free.
You can disagree with this president on policy. You can disagree with him on taxes, unemployment, foreign conflict, education and even which holidays he chooses to memorialize with a presidential address. But no one can say that this president has not been respectful of this office and of the people he serves. Known for his unshakable demeanor, Obama comports himself with an all-too-often-missing portion of dignity and grace. He has no choice.
If you understand nothing else, know this. To be Black in America means “we can’t do what they do.” A dear friend spoke those words to me over 20 years ago and I have never forgotten them. Forget making derisive remarks about others in the public square, the fact is we aren’t allowed to get angry or show disappointment openly. To be labeled “difficult” or “angry” is to be marginalized. For African American men and women the vicious stereotypes around what is deemed “aggressive” for us but standard behavior for others is often the difference between a paycheck and the soup line.
“Who do you think you are?” I’ve been asked. “You think a lot of yourself,” the same boss said. I collected myself and quietly left his office that day. I ain’t nobody’s saint but, like Obama, there was nothing I could say without getting frog-marched out of the building.
So Obama will say nothing. He will never address the malicious attacks on his character by respected journalists or side-show carnival barkers. He can’t. He cannot say a nary word about how utterly indecent it all is.
There is something to be said about what we’re becoming. Or maybe it’s about what we’ve always been. A nation with two sets of rules. Mark Halperin may as well have called the president an “uppity Negro.” We’ve been here before.
June 30, 2011 2:50 PM
Schumer pushes the ‘sabotage’ envelope
By Steve Benen
Last week, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the third highest-ranking Democrat in the chamber, broached a subject party officials are generally inclined to ignore: the notion of Republican economic “sabotage.” Today, he went a little further.
After leading Republicans signaled their opposition to their own idea for a business payroll tax break, Schumer told reporters last Wednesday, “If they oppose even something so suited to their tastes ideologically, it shows that they’re just opposing anything that helps create jobs. It almost makes you wonder if they aren’t trying to slow down the economic recovery for political gain.”
This morning, Schumer went from “almost” wondering about GOP motivations to doing so rather explicitly.
Republicans may be slowing the recovery on purpose to hurt President Obama’s reelection chances in 2012, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a speech on Thursday.
The speech made explicit a message Democrats have been hinting at for weeks: Republicans are hurting the recovery with their focus on spending cuts, and it may be an attempt to slow “down the recovery on purpose for political gain in 2012.”
“[W]e need to start asking ourselves an uncomfortable question — are Republicans slowing down the recovery on purpose for political gain in 2012?” Schumer said. “Sen. McConnell made it clear last October that his number one priority, above everything else, is to defeat President Obama. And now it is becoming clear that insisting on a slash-and-burn approach may be part of this plan — it has a double-benefit for Republicans: it is ideologically tidy and it undermines the economic recovery, which they think only helps them in 2012.”
I like this for a couple of reasons. The first is that Schumer’s choice of words is practically identical to my post, right down to the McConnell quote and the “uncomfortable question” phrase.
The second is that it’s an entirely defensible and legitimate question under the circumstances, and the only way to have a larger discussion about whether Republicans would actually hurt the country on purpose for purely partisan reasons is for prominent officials to raise the question. Kudos to Schumer for having the guts to do just that.
I’d also note that Schumer made these highly provocative remarks, and as best as I can tell, has faced no pushback whatsoever. One of Congress’ most prominent Democrats has effectively accused Republicans of trying to sabotage the nation’s economy, and Republican officials aren’t expressing any outrage, and aren’t even calling for an apology. No shrieks, no cries, no apoplexy.
And why not? Because to do so would be to engage in the very debate the GOP is desperate to avoid.
The lesson for congressional Democrats, then, is to follow Schumer’s lead.
Bring it on, Schumer!
June 30, 2011 2:05 PM
Purists vs. pragmatists
By Steve Benen
Republican primary voters will obviously have quite a few choices when nominating a presidential candidate next year, and have plenty of factors to evaluate before voting. As is nearly always the case, GOP activists will have to balance ideological purity against a perceived “electability” standard.
There’s a school of thought that says Republicans have no choice but to be pragmatic. This is especially true of those in the media who talk up Jon Huntsman’s chances — sure, they say, he’s from the evaporating center-left wing of the GOP, but when he tells voters, “I can defeat President Obama,” the message will resonate with the Republican base.
There’s some preliminary evidence to suggest this tack has it backwards.
Reader B.B. alerted me to the penultimate question in the new national McClatchy-Marist poll (pdf), which asked Republican respondents, “Which one of the following qualities is most important to you in deciding who to support for the Republican presidential nomination, a candidate who shares your values, is closest to you on the issues, can beat President Obama in 2012, or has the experience to govern?”
Shares your values: 38%
Is closest to you on the issues: 21%
Can beat President Obama in 2012: 15%
Has the experience to govern: 20%
Among self-identified Tea Partiers, the results were nearly identical.
This are clearly not the kind of results the Huntsman campaign wants to see, but the numbers don’t do Romney any favors, either. It shouldn’t be too terribly tough to convince the Republican base not to trust the values and issue positions of the former pro-choice, one-term moderate who supported gay rights, gun control, and a center-left health care reform plan.
And if he’s left clinging to “electability,” this poll suggests it won’t be enough.
I’m Glad Halperin Called Obama a Dick
Thu Jun 30th, 2011 at 11:50:31 AM EST
I am glad that Mark Halperin called the president a dick on Morning Joe this morning. I’m also glad the producer didn’t know which button to push to prevent it from being broadcast. I’m glad not because I agree with Halperin that the president was being a dick, but because it forever removes any doubt about Halperin’s political bias.
“I thought he was a dick yesterday,” Halperin, who also is a senior political analyst for MSNBC, said on Morning Joe, referring to the President’s conduct during his press conference.
Host Joe Scarborough hoped to prevent the comment from being broadcast, saying, “Delay that. Delay that. What are you doing? I can’t believe… don’t do that. Did we delay that?”
Just minutes later, Halperin quickly apologized to the president and viewers for his choice of words. “Joking aside, this is an absolute apology. I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize to the president and the viewers who heard me say that,” Halperin said.
“We’re going to have a meeting after the show,” Scarborough said.
According to Scarborough, there had been a mishap with the seven-second delay button – a new executive producer apparently didn’t know how it worked. “You are supposed to know how to do the job,” Scarborough said of his producer. “I would tell you what I think of him, but he doesn’t know what button to push.”
Later in the show, Halperin again apologized, saying, “I can’t explain why I did it. It’s inappropriate, disrespectful. I’ve already apologized, and I will again to the President. I’m sorry, I’m sorry to the viewers…It is disrespectful, what I said was disrespectful to the president and the office but it also lowers our discourse.”
I’m not sure why Halperin thought the president was a dick. Maybe it was because he wants to raise Halperin’s taxes rather than cut money for college loans, food stamps, and unemployment insurance. Halperin should be careful. He might need that last one.
Posted at 02:07 PM ET, 06/30/2011
Time to get scared about debt limit armageddon
By Jonathan Bernstein
Yes, I’m starting to get more than a little scared about the debt limit showdown.
Not because of the breakup of talks last week, or the posturing this week … that sort of thing is normal. Not because the sides are far apart, either. We’re talking budget here; these sorts of differences have been bridged before. The two sides hurtling towards each other in a high-stakes game of chicken? Old hat.
No, what scares me is the strong possibility that a large percentage of Republicans in Congress have come to believe their own rhetoric about the debt limit: that somehow it just doesn’t matter. That default is an acceptable option. What scares me is that epistemic closure among Republican leaders is very real, and very difficult to puncture.
What scares me is the possibility that it’s not a game of chicken at all. Republicans — at least some of them — aren’t thinking that they’ll win because Barack Obama and the Democrats will veer off and capitulate at the last second. They’re thinking that there is no crash ahead.
That’s the message from an excellent article today from Susan Davis, reporting about freshman House Republicans who seem to really buy what Michele Bachmann and others are selling: that there is no real debt limit deadline, and that default isn’t a big deal anyway. Veteran Washington observer Norm Ornstein is also worried, as is budget expert Stan Collender.
Several weeks ago, former Obama Administration OMB Director Peter Orszag predicted that it would take a financial market panic to get this done. I guess what scares me now is: what happens if the Dow drops 2000, 3000 points…and House Republicans take it as a signal that they’re on exactly the right track? What if Rush Limbaugh and Fox News interpret a market panic as a sign that it’s time to double down on tax cuts and Medicare cuts?
Now, I don’t think for a second that John Boehner or Mitch McConnell believe this nonsense (and as I’ve said, they realize that sooner or later, before or after the damage is done, eventually the debt limit will go up — and Boehner at least almost certainly will have to support it). And you never know — it’s very hard, in the middle of these sorts of confrontations, to know what is posturing and what is real. So perhaps they’ll still figure out a way to muddle through. But at this point, color me scared.
30 Jun 2011 11:18 AM
Boehner’s Economic Terrorism
We have a potential catastrophe of national default, an event whose consequences are unknowable but which could quite easily wreck the US and global economies, profoundly damage people’s savings, raise interest rates and destroy jobs for a very long time. In most countries, the goal of the entire political class is to avoid such a thing if at all possible. Greece is currently facing down riots in order to slash its deficit. Britain is entering a period of profound austerity. All of this pain is to prevent the worst possible crisis to hit a country: default. All responsible politicians understand this is something to be avoided at all costs. Conservatives especially see any weakening of the full faith and credit of sovereign governments or the EU as very destabilizing to growth and democratic stability.
So here we are in the USA, with our own awful debt crisis, and the possibility of default and one of the two major parties is saying effectively: bring it on. Even more amazing, it is the conservative party that seeks the collapse of the global economy if they do not get their way on every single thing.
Some sane Republicans (Coburn) are absolutely right in my view that spending needs to be cut deeply, broadly and permanently to get us back on track, that Medicare is at the center of the problem and that corporate welfare is at obscenely high levels. I favor a plan along Bowles-Simpson lines that would truly transform the long-term fiscal outlook, while treading a little gingerly in the next year or so.
But I am also an adult and understand that in the American political system, this kind of package has to win support from House, Senate and president to pass. There will have to be compromise. At a time, moreover, of extreme economic pain in many parts of the country, after a period in which the successful have become relatively richer than everyone else than at any point in recent decades, the sacrifice should surely be shared. You can do this by emphasizing many more spending cuts than tax increases – something I’d favor and something that the British Tories have put into effect. But it is simply insane to believe that the deal can be only tax hikes or only spending cuts and make it through the political process.
For the GOP to use the debt ceiling to put a gun to the head of the US and global economy until they get only massive spending cuts and no revenue enhancement is therefore the clearest sign yet of their abandonment of the last shreds of a conservative disposition. A conservative does not risk the entire economic system to score an ideological victory. That is what a fanatic does. And when that fanatical faction was responsible for huge spending binges in the recent past, for two off-budget wars costing $4.4 trillion, a new Medicare benefit, and tax revenues at a 50-year low relative to GDP and tax rates below the levels of Ronald Reagan, this insistence is lunacy, when it isn’t gob-smackingly hypocritical. I say this as someone who was railing against too much spending when these people were throwing money away like it was confetti. “Deficits don’t matter,” remember?
It seems to me there are two options the president can take. The first is what you are told to do when a criminal or terrorist holds a gun to your head. You surrender.
The point of economic blackmail is that it works. If you have a scintilla of public responsibility and you hold public office, you cannot allow default. And so you give them everything they want. You announce this while declaring you abhor the package but have to back it for the sake of the national interest in preventing catastrophe. You detail and expose the Republican priorities far more aggressively than in the past. You blame the performance of the economy entirely on them from now on out. And you run on a platform of shared sacrifice – of revenue-enhancing tax reform and tax hikes for millionaires. Then you run against the Republicans as hard as you can.
The second option is to bypass them, invoke the 14th Amendment, and order the Treasury to keep paying its debts because an extraordinarily reckless faction wants to destroy the American economy in order to save it (and pin the subsequent double-dip recession on Obama). Bruce Bartlett outlines the mechanism here. He has some other ideas for coping here.
What you probably cannot do is negotiate with economic equivalent of terrorists. What Cantor and Boehner are doing is essentially letting the world know they have an economic WMD in their possession. And it will go off if you do not give them everything they want, with no negotiation possible. That’s the nature of today’s GOP. It needs to be destroyed before it can recover.
is anyone else freaked out by Toddlers and Tiaras as I am?
I watched the show twice, and just consider these children a hairsbreath short of being abused.
Never seen it; but it sure reeks of Jonbenet Ramsey-like fuckery.
June 30, 2011 11:00 AM
The nuns who gave us Nancy Pelosi
By Steve Benen
Forbes magazine recently published a list of the 100 most powerful women in the world. When it came to their academic background, Princeton produced more graduates who ended up on the list than any other university.
In second place was a tiny, little-known school called Trinity College.
Yes, it turns out many of America’s most powerful women — including several leading figures in American politics — went to a college most Americans have probably never heard of, which makes for a really interesting piece in the new issue of the print edition of the Washington Monthly. Here’s the editor’s new summary of the story:
Tucked into a verdant patch of Washington DC just off North Capitol Street is a small Catholic women’s college that few Americans have ever heard of. But the impact of this school, Trinity Washington University, is out of all proportion to its size or reputation. In a narrative tour-de-force in the July/August Washington Monthly, Kevin Carey explores how this tiny, austere institution produced some of the most powerful women in American public life, including Nancy Pelosi and Kathleen Sibelius, and instilled in them the vision and fortitude they needed to carry last year’s health care reform bill across the finish line.
Read “The Trinity Sisters.”
The mask slips
by DougJ in Damascus
I don’t have anything special against Mark Halperin. Okay, that’s not true, I think he’s a sociopathic douchebag. But what bothers me most about him is not his poor sense of humor or poor track record of predicting things accurately, what bothers me is that he presents himself as a non-partisan observer. He’s a Republican, his dad served in the Nixon White House, he loved the Bush White House even more than the rest of the Villagers, I could go on and on. Every now and then, the mask slips, as when he called Obama “a dick” yesterday.
It’s going to be a blast watching him and Mika and Joe Scar cry about Jon Huntsman’s failed candidacy.
White House rejects McConnell invite for Obama to meet GOP
By Alexander Bolton and Sam Youngman – 06/30/11 12:46 PM ET
The White House has rejected Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s (Ky.) invitation for President Obama to meet Thursday with Senate Republicans about their position on the debt-ceiling talks.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said McConnell was asking Obama to visit and “hear Republicans restate their maximalist position” in the negotiations to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.
“We know that position. That’s not a conversation worth having,” Carney said at his daily briefing.
McConnell made the invitation one day after Obama challenged Republicans to give up special tax breaks for corporate jets and major oil companies. Obama wants to include revenue from eliminating those breaks as part of a package to reduce the deficit, but Republicans are ruling out any tax increases.
“I’d like to invite the president to come to the Capitol today to meet with Senate Republicans — any time this afternoon, if he’s available, to come on up to the Capitol,” McConnell said. “That way he can hear directly from Senate Republicans … why what he’s proposing will not pass.”
The tough talk from Obama in Wednesday’s press conference has led to a new round of criticism from GOP lawmakers, who weren’t amused that the president unfavorably compared them to his teenage daughters, whom the president said do their homework on time.
Obama also mocked the GOP’s recesses, and urged them to do their job and reach a deal to lower annual deficits and raise the debt ceiling.
“We know that position. That’s not a conversation worth having,” Carney said at his daily briefing.
Who the fuck does Mitch think he’s dealing with TOBY from Roots? GTFOH McConnell. PBO’s done with you yellow-bellied bitches.
Ha! Mitch better go _____ himself!
Mitch & nem got that ass whooped yesterday, he even going before the cameras to predict what PBO would say, before he said it, to cover preempt any GOP chicanery. Naw son, you don’t get to call your lil meeting, in an attempt to “one-up” the POTUS.
GOP= Just stall, delay, lie, cheat, suppress, OBSTRUCT… WASH, RINSE, REPEAT…
Chuck Schumer Accuses GOP Of Sabotaging Economy To Hurt Obama
WASHINGTON — Republicans may be slowing the recovery on purpose to hurt President Obama’s reelection chances in 2012, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a speech on Thursday.
The speech made explicit a message Democrats have been hinting at for weeks: Republicans are hurting the recovery with their focus on spending cuts, and it may be an attempt to slow “down the recovery on purpose for political gain in 2012.”
“Now it is becoming clear that insisting on a slash-and-burn approach may be part of this plan — and it has a double-benefit for Republicans,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. “It is ideologically tidy and it undermines the economic recovery, which they think only helps them in 2012.”
As proof, Schumer referenced remarks by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who said last year his main aim was to make Obama a one-term president.
“Republicans aren’t just opposing the president any more, they are opposing the economic recovery itself and all that means for America’s working and middle class families,” Schumer said.
Republicans are doing nothing of the sort, according to a senior GOP aide, who pointed out that Obama said in a speech yesterday that “deficit reduction is important to grow the economy and to create jobs.”
GOP Of Sabotaging Economy To Hurt Obama = TREASON
Time Chuckie and nem speak out in defense of AMERICANS and stand up to the GOP THUGGERY.
Minnesota Government Shutdown: State Could Close Doors Friday
A simmering labor dispute in Minnesota could erupt into a full-blown state government shutdown just in time for the July 4th holiday weekend if a $5 billion budget gap isn’t closed by the end of Thursday.
Across the border from where Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) launched his assault on public sector employees’ collective bargaining rights, a conflict over Minnesota’s budget threatens to temporarily lay off more than 20,000 state workers. Only this time, Gov. Mark Dayton, from the state’s Democratic Farmer Labor Party, is facing off against intransigent Republican legislative leaders.
State parks and zoos are scheduled to close, potentially infuriating thousands of Independence Day campers, revelers and barbecuers. If the Thursday midnight deadline is not met, the state capitol would shut its doors. Non-critical functions like road construction would screech to a halt, creating an economic ripple effect that would raise the state unemployment rate by as much as a whole percentage point.
“This is going to be a tough shutdown,” said David Lillehaug, an attorney for the governor, on Wednesday.
Dayton is proposing progressive income tax increases to fix the state budget, which faces a huge gap over the next two years, while the GOP is demanding further spending cuts. Both sides said they were attempting to compromise. But time is running out, and even if an agreement is reached Thursday, it may not come soon enough to avoid a partial shutdown.
If the shutdown occurs, “It’s the largest single layoff that’s ever occurred in the state of Minnesota,” said Jim Monroe, head of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE). Monroe estimates that more than 8,000 of his union’s members would be temporarily out of a job, and the effects on the state as a whole would be “almost unimaginable.”
Bruce Says Goodbye to His Saxman
Thu Jun 30th, 2011 at 11:01:39 AM EST
Here’s an excerpt from Bruce Springsteen’s eulogy for Clarence Clemons:
Standing next to Clarence was like standing next to the baddest ass on the planet. You were proud, you were strong, you were excited and laughing with what might happen, with what together, you might be able to do. You felt like no matter what the day or the night brought, nothing was going to touch you. Clarence could be fragile but he also emanated power and safety, and in some funny way we became each other’s protectors; I think perhaps I protected “C” from a world where it still wasn’t so easy to be big and black. Racism was ever present and over the years together, we saw it. Clarence’s celebrity and size did not make him immune. I think perhaps “C” protected me from a world where it wasn’t always so easy to be an insecure, weird and skinny white boy either. But, standing together we were badass, on any given night, on our turf, some of the baddest asses on the planet. We were united, we were strong, we were righteous, we were unmovable, we were funny, we were corny as hell and as serious as death itself. And we were coming to your town to shake you and to wake you up. Together, we told an older, richer story about the possibilities of friendship that transcended those I’d written in my songs and in my music. Clarence carried it in his heart. It was a story where the Scooter and the Big Man not only busted the city in half, but we kicked ass and remade the city, shaping it into the kind of place where our friendship would not be such an anomaly. And that… that’s what I’m gonna miss. The chance to renew that vow and double down on that story on a nightly basis, because that is something, that is the thing that we did together… the two of us. Clarence was big, and he made me feel, and think, and love, and dream big. How big was the Big Man? Too fucking big to die. And that’s just the facts. You can put it on his grave stone, you can tattoo it over your heart. Accept it… it’s the New World.
I love that skinny, white, insecure kid from Freehold, New Jersey. I’m going to miss Clarence, too. The two of them brought out the best in each other. People forget, back when Bruce and Clarence first got together, it has highly unusual to have a mixed-race band and it impacted where they could get gigs. Bruce didn’t care. He made his friendship with Clarence an example for the whole industry, the country, and the world. And they were badass.
Thank you for sharing this.
The $20 million Mitt?
By MAGGIE HABERMAN | 6/29/11 6:46 PM EDT Updated: 6/30/11 7:14 AM EDT
Jonathan Martin and I gamed out the second-quarter numbers last week, with some top Mitt Romney advisers suggesting he would raise upwards of $20 million, a figure the AP’s Philip Elliott reports as solid this afternoon:
Romney is expected to report raising $16 million to $20 million for the quarter, said two advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss fundraising before the deadline. Romney, who pumped $42 million of his own fortune into his 2008 presidential race, was not planning to write himself a check this time and instead has canvassed hotbeds of GOP donors such as Texas, California and New York.
If it’s true – and it would not be unheard of for a campaign to low-ball – it’s certainly more than anyone else in the Republican 2012 field will report when disclosures are filed July 15.
But it’s also less than what he raised in the first quarter of 2007 when he was last running for president, during a cycle in which Rudy Giuliani and John McCain had much of the coastal, Florida and Texas bundlers locked up.
It’s also less than much higher figures, of as much as $40 million, that some Republicans had expected him to raise (recall that at one point earlier this year, some Romney bundlers were toying with the idea of raising as much as $50 million in one quarter).
Romney will still be the runaway frontrunner in the cash field, but it wouldn’t necessarily be a prohibitive enough war chest to keep people considering campaigns of their own on the sidelines. And it also helps explain the recently-formed super-PAC formed by people with historical ties to Romney.
And – again, if it ends up being the figure – it’s an indication that reports of donor apathy on the Republican side are very real.
UPDATE: The WSJ puts Romney’s campaign on the record with the $20 million figure, but also says the super-PAC will report roughly $10 million raised – a figure more easily reached by the outside group, which can raise in large sums.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0611/58072.html#ixzz1Qm0JypTj
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he’s canceling July 4 recess for Senate to deal with the debt ceiling crisis.
Lawmakers must raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by Aug. 2. Otherwise, the Treasury will run out of money to pay the nation’s bills in full and on time.
Republicans have demanded that any deal to raise the debt ceiling include deep spending cuts, but they have been reluctant to consider measures favored by Democrats that would increase revenue.
June 30, 2011 8:00 AM
The S&P vs. the GOP
By Steve Benen
Over the weekend, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said of the debt-reduction talks, “We need to put something together that will actually pass and make a difference, impress Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s and the rating agencies that are about to downgrade the U.S. credit rating for the first time in our history.”
Even for McConnell, it was a bizarre thing to say. The rating agencies are increasingly worried because of McConnell’s own tactics. Our national credit rating is in jeopardy because McConnell and his cohorts are choosing to deliberately put our credit rating in jeopardy.
Indeed, whether the confused GOP leader understands this or not, if he wants to “impress Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s and the rating agencies,” McConnell can pay more attention to their warnings.
Standard & Poor’s will drop the U.S.’s credit rating from its current triple-A to a D if the government misses its debt payment on August 4, Reuters’ Walter Brandimarte reports. S&P’s managing director John Chambers explained, “If the U.S. government misses a payment, it goes to D. … That would happen right after August 4, when the bills mature, because they don’t have a grace period.” The company would downgrade Treasury bills unaffected by the blown deadline, but not as much.
The Treasury Department says that the federal debt ceiling must be raised by August 2. Two days later, the department must pay $30 billion in short-term debt. But negotiations between the White House and Congressional Republicans have broken down to the extent that some Democrats are debating whether to just declare the debt limit unconstitutional and ignore it.
Moody’s has said it, too, would downgrade the U.S. if it defaults, though less severely
There are many congressional Republicans, including Paul Ryan, who’ve said, as if they know what they’re talking about, that the United States need not worry about missing a few payments. S&P, one of the agencies Mitch McConnell is so eager to impress, is making clear these Republicans couldn’t be more wrong.
Avoiding “selective default” couldn’t be any easier: all Congress has to do is raise the debt ceiling, as they’ve done repeatedly for years. It doesn’t cost anything; it doesn’t require hearings or investigations; it doesn’t even take a long time. The whole process could be wrapped up in five minutes.
But Republicans don’t want to. In fact, there’s a certain beauty to the GOP’s clinical insanity: they’re eager to impress rating agencies, so they’re pursuing a strategy that would aggravate rating agencies.
Also keep in mind, Moody’s Investors Service — another one of the agencies McConnell wants to impress — has said the nation’s AAA U.S. credit rating is at risk of being downgraded by mid-July, long before the deadline, if it looks like failure is even a possibility. In other words, the United States would suffer if it looks like the country might miss a payment on its debt obligations, and since Republicans refuse to even consider reducing the debt with a penny of additional revenue, it’s getting increasingly difficult to see how this game of chicken ends anytime soon.
And this point is just a couple of weeks away. The heat isn’t just on, we’re starting to feel a little singed.
June 30, 2011 8:25 AM
How health care rulings are covered
By Steve Benen
Regular readers may recall an from February, in which I compared coverage of health care court rulings from several major media outlets. Given yesterday’s developments, it’s time to revisit the subject.
To briefly review, there were five major lower-court rulings that evaluated the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act on the merits, three sided with the Obama administration and two sided with ACA opponents. As I documented, rulings in support of the law generally received little to no attention from the Washington Post, New York Times, Politico, and the Associated Press, while rulings against the law were literally treated as front-page news.
Indeed, it wasn’t even close. In every instance, conservative rulings received more coverage, longer articles, and better placement.
Yesterday’s ruling was the most important to date — it was the first ruling from a federal appeals court bench — and even had the added hook of having Republican-appointed judges siding with the Obama administration. Surely this is front-page news, right?
Wrong. Here’s the tale of the tape, putting yesterday’s coverage in the larger context of the other cases:
* 6th Circuit ruling (upholding the ACA): article on page A5, 1053 words
* Steeh ruling (upholding the ACA): article on page A2, 607 words
* Moon ruling (upholding the ACA): article on page B5, 507 words
* Hudson ruling (against the ACA): article on page A1, 1624 words
* Vinson ruling (against the ACA): article on page A1, 1176 words
* Kessler ruling (upholding the ACA): no article, zero words
New York Times
* 6th Circuit ruling (upholding the ACA): article on page A15, 853 words
* Steeh ruling (upholding the ACA): article on page A15, 416 words
* Moon ruling (upholding the ACA): article on page A24, 335 words
* Hudson ruling (against the ACA): article on page A1, 1320 words
* Vinson ruling (against the ACA): article on page A1, 1192 words
* Kessler ruling (upholding the ACA): article on page A14, 488 words
* 6th Circuit ruling (upholding the ACA): one piece, 832 words
* Steeh ruling (upholding the ACA): one piece, 474 words
* Moon ruling (upholding the ACA): one piece, 375 words
* Hudson ruling (against the ACA): one piece, 915 words
* Vinson ruling (against the ACA): one piece, 1164 words
* Kessler ruling (upholding the ACA): one piece, 595 words
* 6th Circuit ruling (upholding the ACA): one piece, 940 words
* Steeh ruling (upholding the ACA): one piece, 830 words
* Moon ruling (upholding the ACA): one piece, 535 words
* Hudson ruling (against the ACA): three pieces, 2734 words
* Vinson ruling (against the ACA): four pieces, 3437 words
* Kessler ruling (upholding the ACA): one piece, 702 words
The discrepancy is overwhelming. There are, to be sure, some possible explanations for this, but they’re not especially persuasive.
One could argue that yesterday was a busy news day, and that the ruling got crowded out by other newsworthy developments. Perhaps. But if the 6th Circuit had gone the other way, would the NYT’s story by on page A15 or on page A1?
One could also argue that rulings upholding the law maintain the status quo, which almost by definition, makes them less noteworthy. This is more compelling, but there are implications associated with this. The news-consuming public doesn’t necessarily follow the details of these legal developments, and Americans find important what the media tells them is important. With that in mind, it seems very likely the public has been left with the impression that the health care law is legally dubious and struggling badly in the courts because that’s what news organizations have told them to believe — rulings the right likes get trumpeted; rulings the left likes get downplayed.
Several months ago, Greg Sargent explained the broader implications of this very well.
You could argue that if the Supreme Court will ultimately decide the fate of the law in any case, it doesn’t matter much if the public has a distorted picture of its legal predicament. But of course this does matter, because it’s unfolding in a political context. If people have an exaggerated sense of the law’s alleged unconstitutionality, it could contribute to the law’s unpopularity, which could in turn make the push for partial repeal or defunding of the law easier. That in turn could make it more likely that the law’s implementation could grow more chaotic. That could impact real people, and it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that it could impact the law’s fate before the highest court.
Again, it’s not hard to see why decisions against the Affordable Care Act are deemed more newsworthy. But it’s still unfortunate that the public is being left with a highly-distorted impression of what’s happening.
June 30, 2011 9:10 AM
Mark Halperin and the Quote of the Day
By Steve Benen
It’s hard not to love that “liberal” media.
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the three-hour program co-hosted by a conservative Republican former congressman, Time magazine’s Mark Halperin was asked for his assessment of President Obama’s White House press conference. “I thought he was kind of a dick yesterday,” Halperin said.
If you can watch the video, note how Halperin, ostensibly one of the nation’s most influential pundits, was smiling, with a smug satisfaction. It wasn’t a word he just blurted out in the heat of a larger discussion — Halperin thought about it, asked about whether the broadcast was on a seven-second delay, and then took his shot.
A few minutes later, Halperin’s smile had disappeared. Apparently realizing he’d royally screwed up on national television, Halperin added, “Joking aside, this is not a pro-forma apology, this is an absolute apology, heartfelt to the president…. I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize to the president and to the viewers who heard me say that.”
Later in the program, Halperin apologized again, conceding that his carefully-chosen on-air words were “inappropriate” and “disrespectful.”
There are a couple of angles to keep in mind here. The first is that Halperin’s credibility as an objective observer of political events has long been dubious, at best, but this morning’s little stunt should remove all doubt. In candor, I don’t much care that Halperin sides with the right over the left, and takes cheap shots at Democrats. I care that Halperin is presented to the public as a neutral, even-handed expert, when that’s plainly not the case.
To this extent, the “dick” comment only helps bring an end to a thin pretense.
The other point that’s worth remembering is the larger dynamic. Forget Halperin’s choice of words, and instead consider the argument he and his “Morning Joe” colleagues were pressing. They were annoyed, apparently, because President Obama wasn’t docile and conciliatory during his press conference. He showed some backbone, and this seems to have troubled the political establishment to no end.
If the president stays cool, he’s an emotionless Mr. Spock. If the president shows some fire in the belly, he’s “a dick.”
What passes for mainstream political punditry in 2011 is too often a national embarrassment.
Mark Halperin; YOU’E A DICK!!!
Those white boys can’t handle the POTUS’ TRUTH-TELLING. He shows them up with his intelligence, with a quickness, every damn time.
The Supreme Court’s continuing defense of the powerful
By E.J. Dionne Jr., Published: June 29
The United States Supreme Court now sees its central task as comforting the already comfortable and afflicting those already afflicted.
If you are a large corporation or a political candidate backed by lots of private money, be assured that the court’s conservative majority will be there for you, solicitous of your needs and ready to swat away those pesky little people who dare to contest your power.
This court has created rules that will have the effect of declaring some corporations too big to be challenged through class actions, as AT&T customers and female employees at Wal-Mart discovered.
And remember how sympathetic conservatives are supposed to be to the states as “laboratories of democracy,” pioneering solutions to hard problems?
Tell that to the people of Arizona.
Good Morning, Everybody! :-)
Good Morning, Everyone at 3CHICS!
Top-o-the-morning to you, rikyrah! :-)
Inspiration for today…
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Thank you for the inspiration this morning, SG2. Lord knows we can use it.
Thank you! Maybe this will help calm me down a bit? I get to the board late and find out Halperin let his penis envy get the best of him! What next?
Maybe he’ll join Anthony Weiner in dick REHAB- better yet, an opening for Fox Noise.