Monday Open Thread

Albert Greene (born April 13, 1946),[1] better known as Al Green, is an American gospel and soul music singer. He reached the peak of his popularity in the 1970s, with hit singles such as “You Oughta Be With Me”, “I’m Still In Love With You”, “Love and Happiness”, and “Let’s Stay Together”.[2] In 2005, Rolling Stone named him #65 in their list of the ‘100 Greatest Artists of All Time’. The nomination, written by Justin Timberlake, stated that “people are born to do certain things, and Al was born to make us smile.”[3] The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Green in 1995, referring to him as “one of the most gifted purveyors of soul music.” Green has sold more than 20 million records.[2]

About SouthernGirl2

A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
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48 Responses to Monday Open Thread

  1. Deaniac of TPV:

    Barack Obama ate John Boehner’s lunch, and then he turned Boehner out to go preach to his conservative colleagues that this eating of the lunch by Obama is actually politically good for them.


  2. Ametia says:

    Note to Chris Matthews: President Obama knows how to lead and through the debt ceiling debacle called on AMERICANS to contact their congressman/women. So go somewhere, anywhere and STFU.

  3. Gabrielle Giffords Returns to Congress for Debt Ceiling Vote

    ABC News’ Jonathan Karl (@JonKarl) and Sunlen Miller (@SunlenMiller) report: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., returned to Congress tonight for the first time since being shot in the head in January, casting a vote in support of the compromise debt ceiling bill.

    “Gabrielle has returned to Washington to support a bipartisan bill to prevent economic crisis,” read a message posted to Giffords’ Twitter account while members began casting their votes on the House floor.

    Minutes later, Giffords slowly entered the chamber to loud, sustained applause and a standing ovation by her colleagues, who huddled around her to give hugs, kisses and handshakes.
    Vice President Joe Biden, with a big smile on his face, walked to the House floor and said, “I came to see Gabby, that’s why I’m here.”

    In the hallway just outside, Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly was all smiles as well.

    “It feels good,” he said as his wife was casting her first vote since the tragedy. “Great actually.”

    Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin told Tucson Weekly in an email that “the congresswoman insisted on participating.”

    “Congresswoman Giffords has been following this debate closely over the past two weeks,” she said. “Like the vast majority of Americans, she is extremely disappointed at Washington’s inability to confront the debt ceiling issue in a timely and thoughtful manner.”

    Escorted by her husband and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., Giffords exited the House floor slowly, giving a small wave to people as she left. She left the Capitol in an SUV shortly thereafter.

    • OMG! I choked up. It’s so emotional. The amazing grace of God allowed Gabby Giffords to walk back in the halls of Congress to cast her vote. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

  4. Ametia says:

    Congressman Rangel is telling it like it is on the GOP holding America hostage. He voted and said there will be changes in 2013

  5. Ametia says:


  6. Ametia says:

    .Howard Fineman you’re a liar. Mitch McConnell is not making the POTUS weak. The POTUS is exposing the Republican Party as the lying, cheating, ideological, anti-government, turtle-looking, weasal he is.President Obama is looking out for Americans; the GOP=CORPORATIONS and themselves. GTFOH

  7. Ametia says:

    The GOP-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve a bill that would raise the federal debt ceiling and impose sweeping spending cuts.
    A vote in the Senate is expected to take place on Tuesday, sources say. That is the day the federal government will hit its debt ceiling, and without congressional action will be unable to meet some of its financial obligations.
    The agreement reached Sunday by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders from both parties calls for up to $2.4 trillion in savings over the next decade, raises the debt ceiling through the end of 2012 and establishes a special congressional committee to recommend long-term fiscal reforms.

  8. Biden: I didn’t cast Tea Partiers as “terrorists”

    Vice President Joe Biden tells CBS News that published reports that he compared Tea Party-linked lawmakers to “terrorists” during a closed-door meeting Monday are “absolutely not true.”

    “I did not use the terrorism word,” Biden told CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley.

    Politico, citing “several sources in the room,” reported Monday afternoon that the vice president, during a closed-door meeting with House Democrats about the deal to raise the debt limit, agreed with an argument by Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, who reportedly asserted that “[w]e have negotiated with terrorists.”

    The report said the vice president asserted in response, “They have acted like terrorists.”

    Biden told Pelley he let lawmakers “vent” about the deal, which includes spending cuts but may not include revenue increases. (Some liberal House Democrats have vowed not to back the deal.) But he says he did not assert that he agreed with the terrorism comparison.

    “What happened was there were some people who said they felt like they were being held hostage by terrorists,” he said. “I never said that they were terrorists or weren’t terrorists, I just let them vent.”

    Added Biden: “I said even if that were the case, what’s been happening when you now have taken and paid the debt and move that down so we can now discuss, the nuclear weapon’s been taken out of anyone’s hands.”

  9. Ametia says:


  10. Ametia says:

    Debt Ceiling Debate
    Congress Takes Up Compromise Debt Plan
    House to vote shortly, Senate action likely tomorrow

    The House and Senate are now both considering the debt ceiling plan negotiated between the White House, and Congressional leaders. A vote on final passage in the House will occur shortly.

    The measure would raise the debt ceiling in several steps lasting until 2013 and could reduce the federal budget deficit by about $2.1 trillion over a 10-year period. The plan calls for a special joint committee that would be tasked with recommending where about $1.2 trillion of that deficit reduction should come from- in spending cuts or revenue. Those recommendations would then have to be voted on by the full House and Senate under special rules. If the joint committee or Congress fail to act, the bill calls for automatic across-the-board cuts.

    The plan also requires the House and Senate to vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, which would require a 2/3 majority in both

  11. Ametia says:

    Rev. Al is hammering the Rethug from Kansas, who is pretending to care about the economy.

  12. Ametia says:

    A final hour of debate on a compromise debt-ceiling bill is under way in the U.S. House, with a final vote expected about 6:45 p.m. ET, a senior GOP leadership aide says.
    House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi will support the compromise deal, a Democratic leadership aide says. It was unclear whether congressional leaders had the votes to ensure the bill’s passage, particularly in the House.
    Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate are working on an agreement to hold a vote on Tuesday, according to multiple leadership aides from each party.
    The legislation needs to reach President Obama’s desk by Tuesday at the latest. If the $14.3 trillion debt limit is not increased by then, Americans could face rapidly rising interest rates, a falling dollar and shakier financial markets.
    Watch live coverage now on

  13. Why the debt deal was made so close to deadline

  14. rikyrah says:

    August 01, 2011 4:00 PM

    Will the debt deal pass or not?

    By Steve Benen

    For much of the political establishment, there was a great deal of relief after the debt-ceiling agreement was reached yesterday. There is, however, a nagging question: can it pass?

    In the Senate, the votes appear to be in place. ABC News published an estimate this afternoon pointing to passage “with 70-plus votes,” with only 11 Republicans firmly against the measure. The strongest opponents, from the right or left, could conceivably delay a final vote, but barring an unexpected shift, the outcome in the upper chamber isn’t really in doubt.

    And then there’s the House. The lower chamber will vote first, probably taking up the bill around 7 p.m. eastern.

    Congressional leaders are urgently trying to secure the votes to pass the bipartisan debt limit deal as the House prepares for a critical Monday evening vote.

    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) predicted passage with a majority of the GOP conference behind the deal.

    “Working closely with (the whip) and the Speaker, I think we are going to get there,” Cantor said.

    That’s fine, of course, but Cantor and other House GOP leaders said the same thing last week, shortly before realizing they didn’t have as many votes as they’d hoped.

    Indeed, Republicans are said to be “feeling optimistic that they have the votes for passage,” but given recent events, I’d like to think their optimism wouldn’t be taken at face value.

    As of about 15 minutes ago, The Hill’s vote count showed 45 likely supporters and 25 likely opponents, with the vast majority of members not yet expressing an opinion publicly.

    Many of the opponents are on the far-right, which is a reminder that Speaker Boehner will, as expected, need Democratic votes to get this over the finish line. Nancy Pelosi is not exactly feeling inclined to save Boehner’s butt, and the Democratic leadership will not whip this vote, telling members they should follow their own “conscience.”

    That’s not what GOP leaders hoped to hear. According to House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the deal will need at least 150 Republican votes to pass. Given that the caucus has 240 members, that means Boehner could lose 90 of his own members, and still pass the bill without 70 or so House Dems.

    That seems likely, and he odds are in the bill’s favor at this point, but no one should underestimate just how little House Democrats like this package. Given the limited timeframe — members are well aware of tomorrow’s deadline — the pressure to pass the bill will be obvious, but this probably won’t be easy.

    For now, there are no reports of party leaders in either caucus scurrying around the Hill, twisting arms and/or pleading for additional votes, which suggests the votes will be there. But no one should take the outcome for granted.

  15. rikyrah says:

    ugust 01, 2011 1:45 PM

    Eyeing the real crisis, not the manufactured one

    By Steve Benen

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters this afternoon that policymakers “need to move to a jobs agenda as soon as possible.”

    Ya don’t say.

    To be sure, the debt-ceiling deal reached yesterday doesn’t help with the jobs crisis, but it doesn’t proactively make matters worse, either. The cuts for the 2012 fiscal year are largely non-existent, and even if additional cuts are triggered by a failure of the bipartisan commission, those cuts also wouldn’t kick in until 2013 (when, one can only hope, the economy is on stronger footing).

    All that’s required, then, is the political will to take job creation seriously. It was lacking in 2010 — Dems nervous about the midterms were afraid to make necessary investments, and couldn’t overcome GOP filibusters anyway — and the issue has been wiped from the to-do list altogether so far in 2011, with emboldened Republicans seemingly eager to do everything except create jobs.

    With this in mind, there are two questions: how soon the “pivot” can happen and what kind of policies we can expect if it occurs. On the former, Greg Sargent notes today that the issue is starting to take center stage.

    The Alliance for American Manufacturing has been holding extensive meetings with officials in both parties, but particularly the Democratic Party, about some new polling the group released finding overwhelming public support for prioritizing job creation over deficit reduction. The group’s executive director, Scott Paul, says he’s been cautiously encouraged by the interest lawmakers are showing in his pitch, in which he suggests that they embrace an array of pro-manufacturing policies.

    That poll found that when given an either/or choice, 67 percent, or more than two thirds, want job creation favored, while just 29 percent want Washington to focus on deficits. The poll also found increased support for government action to bolster the manufacturing sector.

    Two of D.C.’s best known pollsters, Dem Mark Mellman and Republican Whit Aryes, have been briefing lawmakers in their respective parties, including party leaders, on the poll’s findings, and have urged them to seriously consider a real pivot to jobs after the deficit deal is finalized, Paul tells me.

    That 120 House Democrats showed up for a briefing on this last Thursday — in the midst of a bitter fight on a debt-reduction bill — is encouraging.

    But what happens if there’s broad unanimity that job creation must stay atop DC’s to-do list? If Dems say, “How about an ambitious stimulus package!” it would fail. If Republicans say, “Let’s eliminate the EPA and cut taxes again on billionaires!” it’ll fail, too.

    So what can policymakers do to at least try to make a difference? Keep an eye on a few measures, including the infrastructure bank, an extension of the payroll tax break, and an extension of unemployment insurance benefits. These are modest steps, but they’d help, and they used to enjoy bipartisan support before Republicans went mad.

    There’s also the Fed, which can’t be pushed by Congress, but which can recognize the part of its mandate that has nothing to do with inflation.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Federal Judge Blocks Kansas Law To Defund Planned Parenthood
    A federal judge has issued a temporary injunction against a Kansas law that would strip all federal funding from Planned Parenthood.

    District Judge Thomas Marten ordered the state on Monday to immediately resume providing funding to Planned Parenthood facilities until the lawsuit works its way through the courts.

    A provision in the state’s budget would require family planning funds to first go to public health departments and hospitals, and not facilities like Planned Parenthood that also provide abortions.

    Federal funding is already prohibited from going to abortions, and Planned Parenthood argued that the provision would primarily prevent funding for contraception, cancer screenings, and STD testing for low-income people.

    From the Associated Press:

    Planned Parenthood said it would be forced to close its clinic in the western Kansas city of Hays unless the court immediately prohibited the state from stripping it of $330,000 in federal Title X annual funding. It contended that its 5,700 patients would also face higher costs and have less access to services and longer wait or travel times for appointments.
    Gov. Sam Brownback (R) — who is anti-abortion — was recently dealt another blow when a federal judge issued a temporary injunction against a law that required abortion clinics to be licensed annually under a new set of restrictive regulations by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Koch Group Mails Suspicious Absentee Ballot Letters In Wisconsin

    Is the Koch-backed conservative group Americans For Prosperity up to no good in the Wisconsin state Senate recalls?

    As Politico reports, mailers have now turned up from Americans For Prosperity Wisconsin, addressed to voters in two of the Republican-held recall districts, where the elections will be held on August 9. The mailers ask recipients to fill out an absentee ballot application, and send it in — by August 11, after Election Day for the majority of these races.

    “These are people who are our 1’s [solid Democrats] in the voterfile who we already knew,” a Democratic source told Politico. “They ain’t AFP members, that’s for damn sure.”

    There are two other recall elections being held on August 16, targeting two Democratic incumbents, but they are both a distance away from the recipients of these particular mailers.

    Furthermore, a close look at the mailer shows a continuation of irregularities that have already involved conservative groups and absentee ballots in the state.

    The mailing address for the applications is listed as “Absentee Ballot Application Processing Center, P.O. Box 1327, Madison WI 53701-1327.” A Google search shows that this address is not any sort of government office, but has been used by the conservative group Wisconsin Family Action.

    In addition, Wisconsin Right To Life previously used the same address for absentee ballot application letters and phone calls that were sent out shortly before the July 12 Democratic primaries, but after the official deadlines for the applications. The group responded to criticism, saying the phone calls were intended to be for the general elections in August.

    Calls placed by TPM to Americans For Prosperity Wisconsin, and to Wisconsin Family Action, were not immediately returned.

  18. rikyrah says:

    Another Take
    From TPM Reader RW …

    Let me get this straight. The President kept revenues on the table, did not touch the sunset provisions in the Bush tax cuts, ensured that military cuts keep the GOP honest, protected Medicare by adding in only provider cuts in the trigger, made the reduction apparently enough to stave off a debt downgrade, got the debt ceiling raised, wounded Boehner by demonstrating to the world that he is controlled by the Tea Party caucus, took out the requirement that a BBA be passed and sent to the states and got the extension through 2012? What exactly is wrong with this deal? The fact that there are cuts? If people don’t like that, why in God’s name didn’t they turn out to vote and bring back our Congressional majority? Once these nut jobs were in there, it was inevitable that this crap was going to happen. Whether or not it is advisable to cut spending, what exactly was going to stop this from happening? My experience is that the primary factor in all negotiations are the facts on the ground. The complaints center on a ridiculous notion that if the President had only said “no” harder, that these guys would have caved in. This isn’t negotiating over who gets the side of the bed near the A/C.

    This is a complex matter involving 3,000 members and staffers. Negotiations in these situations don’t work like this. That’s why I’m irked by the constant parade of people comparing the negotiations to movies and card games. These comparisons obscure more than they reveal.
    The GOP came out of this looking unreasonable–I’ve been getting E-mail messages from friends saying they are back with the Democrats because the Tea Party is “destroying this country.” Nate Silver tweeted last week that local conservative talk radio in Kansas was filled with callers attacking the Tea Party! The Wall Street Journal ran two editorials which called the GOP delusional and “childish.” The vaunted GOP message discipline broke down–I read stories all over the “inside baseball” papers here in DC where GOP House members went on the record after the Friday vote wondering out loud if the party had been damaged! I don’t know if you noticed, but John Boehner spent last week negotiating with himself. No new proposals came out from the Dem side, but he produced two proposals, one of which he had to pull after he didn’t have votes. A congressional Dem staffer told me his dad, an urban Catholic who voted for Nixon over Kennedy and has always voted Republican suddenly thinks the GOP is out to lunch and supports the President.

    Hey, we all hate the pain, but this is an ongoing process. They are going to try this again with a government shutdown. When that happens, I’m pretty sure that the country will be resoundingly against a repeat of these types of hijinks.

    On a better note, we know that Boehner has the votes if Mitt Romney “sticks his neck out” opposing the deal.

  19. rikyrah says:

    August 01, 2011 2:25 PM

    The road to revenues

    By Steve Benen

    From a progressive perspective, there’s a list of concerns about the debt-reduction agreement reached yesterday, but if I had to guess, I’d say the lack of revenues is the most frustrating.

    After all, the White House, the Senate majority, and the clear majority of the American mainstream all wanted a “balanced” package, featuring both cuts and new revenues. The deal before Congress is nevertheless made up entirely of spending cuts, just as far-right Republicans demanded.

    Wait, White House officials argue, that’s only half the story. Sure, there are no revenues now, in this initial phase of the process, but this isn’t a one-round fight.

    At the center of the next round will be the Bush-era tax breaks, which President Obama extended in full last December, but all of which are set to expire on New Year’s Eve 2012. This inflexible deadline offers Democrats a degree of leverage that’s been missing. Whether they take advantage of it or not remains to be seen, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

    Jon Chait, who wants all of the Bush-era rates to expire, had a good item on this earlier.

    Obama has one golden ticket out of the revenue dilemma. As I’ve written multiple times, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts gives him enormous leverage over the GOP. Republicans signaled last year they’d rather kill off the entire Bush tax cuts than sacrifice the portion that only benefits the rich. Holding firm on the Bush tax cuts would let Obama maneuver Republicans into the position of killing off all the Bush tax cuts. That would provide all the revenue he needs — some $4 trillion over a decade, as opposed to the $800 billion he’d raise merely by ending tax cuts for the rich.

    What’s more, going to the mat over the Bush tax cuts would provide Obama with a strong political message for 2012. He can’t run on the economy. He needs a contrast election. Republicans will try to pass some version of the Paul Ryan budget, cutting taxes for the most affluent and laying waste to Medicare and Medicaid. Obama can run as the candidate insisting on shared sacrifice — and having already agreed to $3 trillion in spending cuts would give him credible to draw that line.

    The problem, though, is that we can’t be sure Obama really intends to draw that line.

    That’s true, we can’t, but some of the evidence is encouraging.

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, for example, told reporters that the president will veto any measure that extends the Bush-era rates for the wealthy. There was no wiggle room. Obama would almost certainly make permanent the breaks for those making less than $250,000 — breaks that arguably need to be scrapped, too — but if Republicans fight make the same demands as they did in December 2010, the president apparently won’t accept another deal.

    Indeed, I’ve heard rumors that when the White House was trying to help sell the debt deal yesterday, officials swore up and down they’ll follow through on this in 2012.

    This also matters a great deal in the context of the bipartisan “Super Congress” panel, where, if the deal passes, Dems will demand additional revenue and Republicans will demand the opposite. No matter who wins, or if there’s deadlock and the triggers kick in, Obama knows he can still get revenue by simply watching Bush-era tax cuts expire on schedule. GOP members know this, too, which Dems intend to use as leverage.

    To be sure, there will be opportunities for Dems to screw this up, and Kos sketches out just such a scenario today. Time will tell. The fact remains, however, that this remains a unique opportunity and the surest way to create a balanced debt-reduction plan that sets the nation on a fiscally-healthier path for many years.

  20. rikyrah says:

    August 01, 2011
    A profoundly ill-advised surrender, but survivable
    All yesterday I watched what was either a Tim Burton or Mel Brooks movie. Sonorous politicians from the lowest ignoramuses, such as Texas’ tea-partying Blake Farenthold, to the highest sophisticates, such as President Obama, kept whining in a fantasy nightmare of the GOP’s dark creation while they comically suffered the very acutest anxieties at Washington’s Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous.

    Here was American democracy, virtuous model for an unvirtuous world: hysterical, combative, delusional, undeliberative, schizophrenic, suicidally ideological, and just plain nuts. “Fiscal crisis” were the high-frequency words of the day — week, month, year — when in reality we were experiencing a fabricated extortion of coup-like contours.

    Except that of Republicans’ making, there was no crisis, there is no crisis. Strike that. We have one now, an authentic crisis of everyone’s making: we’ve spent too little in this, the worst job slump since the Great Depression — and now we’re intensifying the harm. Today’s invented crisis of unendurable debt was still a year or two down the road; judicious minds would have informed our world creditors that substantial fiscal adjustments are on the way — later — but first we’ll spend with Keynesian abandon, lest our fiscal crisis become chronic and quite possibly terminal.

    But, I hear you: “Impossible,” politically speaking. That’s all too true, and that’s also why I’ve resisted parroting the left’s thunderingly unrealistic demands that Obama propose hikes in federal spending through assorted jobs programs. Save it for textbookish theory. What he could pragmatically do was what he’s been doing: unleashing the admittedly secondary Keynesian relief of payroll tax cuts and then praying like hell that such a subordinate fiscal effort succeeds.

    The president has led through a magnificent pragmatism — on healthcare, financial regulation, reviving the auto industry, on catch-as-catch-can stimulus measures, winding down two wars. Yet to confront a hallucinatory “crisis” through a profoundly ill-advised fiscal capitulation is anything but pragmatic leadership: It is, rather, grossly counterproductive tribute to monstrous extortionists — now inflated by a factor of your choosing, but an unmistakable factor nonetheless. The only mitigation is that friendly political and economic historians, years from now, will reflect that he, unlike FDR in 1937, had no pragmatic choice.

    But he did.

    He could have established from Day One that a clean bill is absolutely required. Period. Any variation would lead to a veto. Period. And — “Make no mistake” — all catastrophic economic consequences of legislating otherwise would be on the insurrectionist GOP’s head. Period. That’s about as pragmatic as one can get — politically, economically, historically, temperamentally. No fuss, no theory, no coming to reason together in some alternate universe of magical macroeconomic voodoo. Just a clear, clean insistence on the sensibly singular.

    Having careened around that, Obama could have opted for the 14th Amendment route. I’ve never liked it, I’ve argued against it, it poses tremendously ambiguous questions and suggests a presidential imperialism that’s quite distasteful. But, in the snarling face of a treasonous mob of congressional cretins, its invocation would merely exercise implied emergency powers — in a very genuine emergency.

    But, that’s academic (at least for the moment; stay tuned to the bumbling Gang of 535). The question now is whether presidential routes untaken will doom Obama’s presidency. I think not, no more than FDR’s unwise actions in ’37 or his Court-packing blunder doomed his. Obama’s record of pragmatic success in the first half of his term is ineradicable, and he’s plenty of time to adjust and reset his course.

  21. rikyrah says:

    Five Things for Liberals to Like in the Debt Ceiling Deal

    As the broad strokes of the debt ceiling deal began to leak out over the weekend, progressive groups filled reporters’ inboxes with outraged e-mails. “Seeing a Democratic President take taxing the rich off the table and instead push a deal that will lead to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefit cuts is like entering a bizarre parallel universe — one with horrific consequences for middle-class families,” Progressive Change Campaign Committee Co-Founder Stephanie Taylor wrote. “This deal is the exact opposite of what the majority of Americans support, and all Democrats in Congress should oppose it.”
    “MoveOn’s 5 million members, along with the vast majority of Americans, will not stand for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefit cuts–not now, and not six months from now,” wrote Justin Ruben, Executive Director of, “Congress should reject both ‘triggers’, and a ‘Super Congress’, and pass a clean debt ceiling bill that doesn’t force the middle class and the poor to bear the brunt of this crisis.”

    But as the details of the compromise emerged, it seemed there was actually a lot for liberals to like about this bill. If and when the House passes the bill on Monday, it will likely be with the help of a lot of Democrats. Here’s why some liberals are actually happy with this deal:

    The 2012 budget: At one point in the negotiations, the 2012 budget was to be slashed by $36 billion. The final number of cuts: just $7 billion. And just to ensure we don’t have another bruising government shutdown fight over cuts in September, the deal deems and passes the 2012 budget. Yes, that’s right, the old Gephardt Rule or Slaughter Solution, is back. What’s deem and pass? It’s a legislative trick that essentially means that Congress will consider the budget passed without ever actually having to vote on it.
    The trigger: This is counterintuitive, but the trigger is actually pretty good for Democrats. For all that MoveOn thinks that it would force benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, it actually wouldn’t trigger benefit cuts to any entitlements. The only cuts it would force would be a 2% or more haircut for Medicare providers. And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, along with most Democrats, has never opposed provider cuts. Not only that, most progressives actually want the Pentagon cuts. So if the committee deadlocks and the trigger is pulled, Democrats won’t be miserable.
    The commission: Again, for all the liberal carping about a “Super Congress,” the commission of 12 members — three from each party in each chamber — set up to find the second phase of $1.5 trillion in cuts by Thanksgiving is actually rigged to force some revenue increases. Yes, the Bush tax cuts are off the table. But there are plenty of loopholes, subsidies and other corporate welfare programs that are on the table. And with such a strong trigger, it’s hard to imagine at least one Republican not voting to kill corporate jet subsidies over slashing $500 billion from the defense budget – even if the revenues aren’t offset. The question is: who are Republicans more afraid of, Grover Norquist or the joint chiefs? Democrats’ money is on the joint chiefs.
    The immediate cuts: It may seem like a lot, but the $917 billion in the first phase of cuts were carefully negotiated by Vice President Joe Biden and his group. They include $350 billion in Pentagon cuts – a win for liberals. They don’t touch entitlement benefits, another win. And they set top line numbers for the next decade of budgets that aren’t draconian. It still cuts where liberals might prefer to spend, but most of the savings are backloaded to avoid extreme austerity in next few years of fragile economic recovery. Just $7 billion would be cut in 2012, and only $3 billion in 2013. And of that combined $10 billion, half would come from the Pentagon. On top of that, the discretionary spending caps on budgets in future Congresses are subject to revision by those bodies.
    The debt ceiling: Raising the debt ceiling through 2013 will not be contingent on the second round of cuts. There will merely be a vote of disapproval. This avoids another messy fight in January and another round of painful forced cuts.

    Read more:

  22. rikyrah says:

    The Glass Half Full Look
    by BooMan
    Mon Aug 1st, 2011 at 01:31:40 PM EST

    If you want the most positive spin on the debt ceiling agreement, you can choose between Jay Newton-Small and Deaniac83. Those are both good pieces that make solid arguments. I have to confess I’m a little mystified by the triggers, as they seem to offer almost no incentive to the Democrats on the SuperCommittee to make a deal. Gee, if we have a stalemate that means massive cuts to the Pentagon’s budget and downward pressure on the cost of Medicare? I’ll take that in a minute.

    The deal is considerably better than what I feared, but I also think those two pieces are glossing over what a calamity this whole thing has been and what it means for the future. These are huge cuts, yet they don’t even begin to tackle our deficit. So, we’ll keep coming back to this. What we need is something equivalent to the creation of the Internet that will help us grow our way out of this fiscal sinkhole we’re in. With these austerity measures, we’re not going to be stimulating our way out of this mess. And, with Republican dominance of the Senate assured through 2014, we’re not going to accomplish much of anything that we can celebrate.

  23. Ametia says:

    Jay Carney is hold a presser. The media mutts are relentless in their efforts to portray POTUS as a sell-out.

  24. Ametia says:

    Today marks the 4 year anniversary of the Minneapolis 35W bridge collaspe.13 people died from the collaspe. CAN YOU SAY INFRASTRUCTURE???

  25. rikyrah says:

    Time to Hold the Gun to Their Head
    by BooMan
    Mon Aug 1st, 2011 at 11:31:55 AM EST

    If you’ve been reading these pages, you know that I’ve been generally supportive of what the president has been trying to do about the fact that the Republicans are threatening to blow the global economy up on purpose. They obviously have the power to do that if they want to, and they’re unruly enough to pull it off even if their leaders don’t want them to. So, the president has the responsibility to prevent it from happening and he’s succeeded, at last, in getting an agreement that will save the global economy from sudden, epic, collapse.
    Obviously, it would be a shame if the deal collapsed now. But, having said that, I would have no objection to the progressives in the House withholding their support and forcing Speaker Boehner to sweeten the deal. Now is the time to do that. They can’t be unreasonable and they have to be realistic about what can pass the Senate. But they ought to be able to take the gun away from the Republicans and hold it to Boehner’s head for a little while. What to ask for? Perhaps an extension of the payroll tax holiday. I think that’s gettable. An extension of unemployment insurance might he unattainable, but they should at least ask for it.

    This deal is okay considering the circumstances, but it’s going to make it harder to get people back to work. Fighting for a little stimulus is definitely in order because Boehner can’t even come close to passing this bill without substantial Democratic support.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Romney opposes debt-ceiling compromise
    By Michael O’Brien – 08/01/11 10:25 AM ET

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) broke his silence on the congressional debt-ceiling fight on Monday, emerging to say he couldn’t back the final deal announced Sunday

    Romney, who had refused to weigh in during recent weeks on the specifics of different proposals to raise the debt ceiling, said he couldn’t personally back the deal brokered over the weekend between congressional GOP leaders and President Obama.

    While I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama’s lack of leadership has placed Republican Members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal,” he said in a statement.

    Romney joins Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) as another member of the Republican presidential field to oppose the deal, which has been sold by GOP leaders to rank-and-file members as the best, achievable plan.

    Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) had opposed an earlier and more conservative iteration of Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) debt-ceiling proposal. He didn’t explicitly oppose the deal on Monday, but his spokesman talked down the deal.

    “This deal is nothing to celebrate. Only in Washington would the political class think it’s a victory when the government narrowly avoids default, agrees to go further into debt, and does little to reform a spending system that cannot be sustained by our children and grandchildren,” said a spokesman for Pawlenty, Alex Conant. “While no further evidence was needed, this entire debt ceiling fiasco demonstrates that President Obama must be replaced.”

    Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) has emerged as the only Republican presidential contender in support of the deal.

  27. rikyrah says:

    this is HUGE


    HHS announces free birth control for women
    By Sabriya Rice, CNN Medical Producer

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced new guidelines in Washington Monday requiring health insurance plans beginning on or after August 1, 2012 to cover several women’s preventive services, including birth control and voluntary sterilization.

    According to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the decision is a part of the Affordable Care Act’s move to stop problems before they start. “These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need,” she said in a news release.

    In July, the Institute of Medicine issued the results of a scientific review of women’s health needs and provided recommendations on specific preventive measures to help them. Today HHS approved those recommendations.

    Besides contraceptive use, the list includes free screenings for conditions such as gestational diabetes and the human papillomavirus (HPV), as well as breastfeeding support and counseling on sexually transmitted diseases. The full list is available on the Department of Health and Human Services website.

    The decision to offer free contraception was not supported by all. For example, groups like the Family Research Council claims the decision “undermines the conscience rights of many Americans” and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chairman of Committee on Pro-Life Activities with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says “pregnancy is not a disease, and fertility is not a pathological condition to be suppressed by any means technically possible.” They feel the decision forces people to participate who may have moral or religious convictions that oppose contraception use.

    The Obama administration released an amendment to the prevention regulation that allows religious institutions offering health insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraception services.

    However, supporters say the service will help millions of women who struggle to afford prescription birth control. “Covering birth control without co-pays is one of the most important steps we can take to prevent unintended pregnancy and keep women and children healthy,” said Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America when the IOM recommendations were released.

    Supporters also say covering contraception helps the government save money up front. According to an analysis from the Guttmacher Institute, in 2006, of the 2 million publicly funded births, 51% resulted from unintended pregnancies, accounting for more than $11 billion in costs. The report found that this is a disproportionate burden on programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, given that only 38% of all U.S. births result from unintended pregnancies.

  28. rikyrah says:

    Paul Krugman is a Political Rookie. Or How Barack Obama Left John Boehner Holding the Teabag, Again.

    Paul Krugman is a political rookie. At least he is when compared to President Obama. That’s why he unleashed a screed as soon as word came about the debt ceiling compromise between President Obama and Congressional leaders – to, you know, avert an economic 9/11. Joining the ideologue spheres’ pure, fanatic, indomitable hysteria, Krugman declares the deal a disaster – both political and economic – of course providing no evidence for the latter, which I find curious for this Nobel winning economist. He rides the coattails of the simplistic argument that spending cuts – any spending cuts – is bad for a fragile economy, ignoring wholeheartedly his own previous cheerleading for cutting, say, defense spending. But that was back in the day – all the way back in April of this year.

    But as I said, Paul Krugman is a political rookie compared to Barack Obama. He is either unwilling or unable to actually look at the deal that was announced and realize what just happened: Barack Obama ate John Boehner’s lunch, and then he turned Boehner out to go preach to his conservative colleagues that this eating of the lunch by Obama is actually politically good for them.

    I am not kidding. Nor exaggerating. I will show you exactly how that happened if you bear with me a little bit. But first, let’s get some details of the deal out of the way so that everyone has an idea what we’re talking about.

    The details

    Here’s the quick and dirty (The White House has a summary here and more details here):

    •$900 billion in initial cuts (below CBO’s baseline) through capping discretionary spending (meaning that nothing is being cut right now). Both parties had largely agreed to these cuts during the debt talks. This is really only about $750 billion of actual cuts; the other $150 billion comes from saving on interest payments on the national debt. This also raises the debt ceiling by $900 billion.
    •Initial cuts do not include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or programs for the poor. It actually increases Pell grants – even in Boehner’s bill.
    •$350 billion (almost half of these cuts) in cuts in the base defense budget – these are not simply the savings coming from winding down the wars. This actually cuts the base defense budget.
    •Specifically protects the President’s historic investment in Pell Grants.
    •Sets up a bipartisan “supercommittee” of Congress (half and half Democrats and Republicans) to achieve $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reductions with both tax reform and entitlement reform on the table.
    •They must achieve at least $1.2 trillion in reduction or automatic cuts set in of that amount, spread equally between security (Defense and Homeland Security, mainly) and domestic spending set in. Social Security, Medicaid, low-income assistance programs and Medicare benefits are exempt (yes, I know you can swear you read or heard on the ether that it is not so, but it is. Follow along below). These are the so-called “triggers.”
    •Either way, the debt limit goes increases additionally by a commensurate amount to the cuts (at least $1.2 trillion, at most $1.5 trillion).
    •A balanced budget amendment is guaranteed a vote, but not passage. But Congress can avoid both the supercommittee requirement and the alternate automatic cuts if it sends a balanced budget amendment to the states (which. will. never. happen. – because Republicans won’t agree to anything balanced in terms of the balanced budget amendment.).
    Remember that the President can still veto anything coming out of this committee and Congress (in which case the triggers go into effect).

    The triggers – whom are they for, really?

    Now let’s get to the fun part: the triggers. The more than half-a-trillion in defense and security spending cut “trigger” for the Republicans will hardly earn a mention on the Firebagger Lefty blogosphere. Hell, it’s a trigger supposedly for the Republicans, and of course, there’s always It’sNotEnough-ism to cover it.

    No, the loudest screeching noise you hear coming from Krugman and the ideologue Left is, of course, Medicare. Oh, no, the President is agreeing to a Medicare trigger!!! Oh noes!!! Everybody freak out right now! But let’s look at the deal again, shall we? From the White House fact sheet, here is what the President actually agreed to.

    Consistent With Past Practice, Sequester Would Be Divided Equally Between Defense and Non-Defense Programs and Exempt Social Security, Medicaid, and Low-Income Programs: Consistent with the bipartisan precedents established in the 1980s and 1990s, the sequester would be divided equally between defense and non-defense program, and it would exempt Social Security, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, programs for low-income families, and civilian and military retirement. Likewise, any cuts to Medicare would be capped and limited to the provider side.
    Read that again. That’s what the media and the whiners are not telling you. The President agreed to no Medicare benefit cuts in the “trigger.” None. The cuts, if they automatically happen, would go to whom? The providers. Who are these providers? Doctors, hospitals, clinics, Medical device makers, service providers, drug manufacturers. Who do you think they mostly donate to in the political season? The entire pressure on these Medicare cuts are on the private medical (and pharmaceutical) industry! So let’s ask that question again. The Medicare “trigger” is a trigger really from whom again? As a matter of fact, both big triggers (Defense and Medicare provider cuts) are triggers for the Republicans!

  29. Ametia says:

    Paul Krugman is a Political Rookie. Or How Barack Obama Left John Boehner Holding the Teabag, Again.
    Deaniac at TPV


    The details

    Here’s the quick and dirty (The White House has a summary here and more details here):

    •$900 billion in initial cuts (below CBO’s baseline) through capping discretionary spending (meaning that nothing is being cut right now). Both parties had largely agreed to these cuts during the debt talks. This is really only about $750 billion of actual cuts; the other $150 billion comes from saving on interest payments on the national debt. This also raises the debt ceiling by $900 billion.
    •Initial cuts do not include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or programs for the poor. It actually increases Pell grants – even in Boehner’s bill.
    •$350 billion (almost half of these cuts) in cuts in the base defense budget – these are not simply the savings coming from winding down the wars. This actually cuts the base defense budget.
    •Specifically protects the President’s historic investment in Pell Grants.
    •Sets up a bipartisan “supercommittee” of Congress (half and half Democrats and Republicans) to achieve $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reductions with both tax reform and entitlement reform on the table.
    •They must achieve at least $1.2 trillion in reduction or automatic cuts set in of that amount, spread equally between security (Defense and Homeland Security, mainly) and domestic spending set in. Social Security, Medicaid, low-income assistance programs and Medicare benefits are exempt (yes, I know you can swear you read or heard on the ether that it is not so, but it is. Follow along below). These are the so-called “triggers.”
    •Either way, the debt limit goes increases additionally by a commensurate amount to the cuts (at least $1.2 trillion, at most $1.5 trillion).
    •A balanced budget amendment is guaranteed a vote, but not passage. But Congress can avoid both the supercommittee requirement and the alternate automatic cuts if it sends a balanced budget amendment to the states (which. will. never. happen. – because Republicans won’t agree to anything balanced in terms of the balanced budget amendment.).
    Remember that the President can still veto anything coming out of this committee and Congress (in which case the triggers go into effect).

    • Ametia says:

      I’ve been out of the loop all weekend. Our POTUS looks tired, but I support and love him for continually putting forth the call for CONGRESS to do their jobs.

      If folks aren’t happy with the outcomes, they need to get off their asses and help effect change, by electing folks in congress who will SERVE their greatest good.

      Thank you Mr. President

      • I second that. Elections have consequences and folks need to vote these damn terrorists teabaggers out and elect a congress who will support their interest. Folks need to keep in mind of what happened in Wisconsin when you don’t vote.

  30. rikyrah says:

    July 30, 2011
    Malignant rodents
    From The Hill, the understatement of the week: “[S]ome veteran Republicans worry their party could be seen as intransigent.”

    Note the use of the conditional, which only amplifies the hilarity of the yeomanly euphemism of “intransigent” for sadistic, venomous, and mad as a hatter.

    Yet how many “veteran Republicans” are cited? What number of worried and worldly old bulls does The Hill reveal to be brooding about their party’s demonic descent?

    Two — one, George Voinovich, is retired from the Senate, and the other, John McCain, recently made a flagellant appearance at the Church of Hannity to renounce his impetuous heresy.

    Otherwise, Republican sentiment — which I can only assume is a prevailing sentiment, given the paucity of outspoken dissidents, not to mention recent events — persists in the infantile notion that governance is merely a who’s up, who’s down political game. A former John Boehner and Mitt Romney adviser, for instance, clearly sees the biggest of all essential pictures: “President Obama has the most to lose here because he’s presiding over the chaos.” (Insert “tee-hee”).

    Which ironically brings us to the inescapable argument that Republicans, in this momentary question of political gamesmanship uber alles, are profoundly correct.

    In ordinary, responsible and sane times, one would sanely be writing to one’s congressman or senator or praying to one’s god that such a crisis as this be averted. But this era of Republican “intransigence” is neither ordinary nor responsible nor sane — indeed, what Republicans have wrought are extraordinary times that call for insanely extraordinary measures: a full-spread national swan dive straight into the roiling economic Styx, after which a spiritually cleansed electorate will most assuredly march to the polls with cathartic dynamite in mind and blow these Tea Partying Radical Rightists straight to hell.

    I see no other way but the absolute worst of ridding ourselves of these malignant rodents.

  31. rikyrah says:

    August 01, 2011 8:00 AM

    Don’t call it a compromise

    By Steve Benen

    Perhaps this is just semantics, but I’ve seen several reports on the debt-ceiling framework describe it as a “compromise” between Republicans and Democrats. That’s far too generous a term. Is this a deal? Sure. Is it an agreement? Absolutely. Can it fairly be characterized as a “compromise”? Not at all.

    Republicans threatened to crash the economy, on purpose, unless a series of radical demands were met. Democrats made an effort to lessen those demands and make them less painful than intended. The result, not surprisingly, is rather ugly, which is to be expected.

    The debt-reduction framework isn’t a compromise; it’s a ransom. If one were to draw up two lists — one with all the concessions Democrats made, the other with the concessions the GOP made — the one-sided image would be striking. Of course, that’s what happens when one party has a gun to the head of its hostage — in this case, the nation and its economy — and the other party wants to prevent their rivals from pulling the trigger.

    With 40 hours and some contentious votes left to go, what are we left with? The White House fact sheet is pretty detailed and worth reviewing, but here’s the long and the short of it:

    According to officials in both parties, the deal would raise the debt limit in two stages. The first increase would total $900 billion, with the Treasury gaining access to $400 billion in additional borrowing authority immediately. The other $500 billion would come later this fall — unless two-thirds of the members of both chambers of Congress objected — permitting the Treas­ury to pay the bills through early next year.

    The second increase would raise the debt limit by at least $1.2 trillion, also subject to a resolution of congressional disapproval. That process would place the entire burden for a debt-limit increase on the White House, because Congress is likely to vote to disapprove the request, forcing Obama to veto it. But the process virtually guarantees that the debt limit will rise, because Republicans lack the votes in the Senate to override Obama’s veto.

    The agreement would also cut agency spending by roughly $900 billion over the next decade and create a new legislative committee to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in additional savings by the end of this year.

    To clarify an important point, the debt ceiling increases that cover us through the end of next year will occur in phases, but there will only be one vote.

    As for the bipartisan panel — some have been calling it a “Super Congress” — its members will be tasked with tackling tax and entitlement “reform,” with the goal of saving $1.2 trillion. Democrats will fight to ensure some of that total includes new revenue; Republicans will fight for the opposite.

    If this commission fails to reach an agreement, a “trigger” kicks in: across-the-board cuts. The idea is to create an incentive for lawmakers on the bipartisan panel to succeed, since they won’t like the triggered consequences. In this case, half of the cuts would come from defense (presumably a goal Republicans would want to avoid), while the other half would come from domestic spending (which Dems would want to prevent).

    If you’re looking for good news in this agreement, you’ll be looking for a long time. Overall, what we’re left with is bad news and less-bad news.

    And what’s the less-bad news? There are a few noteworthy angles: (1) if the trigger kicks in, Medicaid and Social Security would be walled off and protected, and while the domestic cuts could affect Medicare, the cuts would be limited to Medicare providers, not beneficiaries; (2) triggered cuts for the 2012 fiscal year are practically non-existent, so it won’t hurt the economy in the short term; (3) a surprising amount of the overall deal targets the bloated Pentagon budget, which makes more painful domestic cuts less necessary; (4) there won’t be another debt-ceiling fight until 2013, giving the GOP one fewer hostages to grab for a while*.

    And (5) if the deal passes, there will be no calamity this week, and everyone lives to fight another day.

    Still, I know this gets repetitious, but I’m inclined to say it anyway: there’s nothing in this deal to promote economic growth and nothing to create jobs. We’re still stuck in the wrong conversation, focusing on a crisis that doesn’t exist, and ignoring the immediate crisis that confronts the nation. Indeed, all available evidence suggests the agreement will make the economy and job losses worse, not better. That Republicans wanted to take a huge step backwards, and Democrats negotiated to make it a more modest step backwards is cold comfort.

    The Senate is likely to vote on the deal as early as this afternoon, and passage appears likely. The House vote may come tonight, and the outcome in the lower chamber is very much in doubt.

  32. rikyrah says:

    August 01, 2011 9:15 AM

    Plenty of blame to go around

    By Steve Benen

    John Cole said something interesting last night, which I found compelling: “You don’t ‘win’ a hostage crisis. You resolve it.”

    That seems right to me. The debt deal reached yesterday offers practically nothing in the way of redeeming qualities, and no one involved in the process should walk away feeling good about themselves or the system that led to the agreement. Assuming this deal passes — an assumption that may yet be premature — the question then turns to who deserves the blame.

    Right now, my sense is most of the rage on the left is being directed at President Obama for, to use John’s frame, resolving the hostage crisis by meeting many of the criminals’ demands. And if you’re looking for me to defend the deal the White House agreed to, you’re going to be disappointed.

    But if I’m making a list of people who’ve disgusted me in this process, I’m inclined to put Republicans at the top. It was the radicalized Republican Party that took the nation hostage. It was the radicalized Republican Party that threatened to crash the economy on purpose unless Democrats met their demands. It was the radicalized Republican Party that refused to compromise. It was the radicalized Republican Party that launched the most dangerous stunt in generations, putting the world in jeopardy. It was the radicalized Republican Party that normalized extortion politics, changing the very nature of governing.

    Am I supposed to be angrier with the radicals who held a gun to our heads, or those who prevented them from pulling the trigger?

    The New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny said today President Obama “can no longer make the argument that he has changed the way Washington works.” For crying out loud, has anyone actually seen what GOP extremists have done to American politics?

    The president’s critics, of course, aren’t saying Obama was wrong to prevent a catastrophe; they’re saying Obama could have averted a disaster more effectively, by giving up less and meeting fewer Republican demands.

    This is not without merit. As many have noted over the last 24 hours, the president might have been able to push for a debt-ceiling increase last December (though it may have necessitated another in 2012). He might have bluffed on the 14th Amendment and the “Constitutional Option,” even if he perceived the tack as illegitimate, just for the sake of leverage. He might have been as stubborn and inflexible as his rivals, and then when the economy collapsed, blamed them.

    And why didn’t the president do this? Jonathan Cohn’s assessment sounds right to me.

    My guess is that he pursued this strategy because he didn’t want to poison the atmosphere for negotiations and believed (genuinely, accurately) that moderate entitlement cuts should be part of a balanced deficit reduction agreement. But the atmosphere was poisoned from the start and Republicans were never going to support a balanced agreement. He was trying to do the right thing when it was not possible to do the right thing. It may not have made for bad politics, but it certainly made for bad policy

    In this sense, Obama’s mistake wasn’t about strength or ideology; it was underestimating at the outset what the GOP is capable of. The president thought if he were responsible, Republicans would be responsible. If he made concessions, they’d make concessions. If he persuaded the American mainstream, this would have some sort of effect on the process.

    He thought for a while, in other words, the madman with the gun to our heads was open to compromise and was willing to be sensible. He was very wrong.

    Greg Sargent noted yesterday, “If Dems had refused to budge from the demand for a clean hike, would Republicans have blinked — or would they have allowed default? The bottom line is Dems weren’t prepared to take that risk.”

    Right, and Republicans were. It was a game of chicken in which one side didn’t want to crash and the other didn’t care. The GOP convinced everyone the party wasn’t bluffing — these guys really are that dangerously crazy. Their concern for the national interest really is that weak.

    When it comes to pointing fingers, it’s a realization that’s worth keeping in mind.

  33. rikyrah says:

    Picking Through a Shit Sandwich
    by mistermix

    There’s general consensus that the caca on white bread served up by Congress is, indeed, a shit sandwich. Kevin Drum and James Fallows are fairly representative, but you can comfort yourself with the White House spin if you think fairy tales can come true.

    Paul Krugman has the “Obama surrendered” column of the day. He thinks Obama could have done two things—bundle the debt ceiling increase into last December’s tax compromise, and push the legal end run harder as an option.

    I’ll agree that in hindsight it might have been smart for Obama to bundle a debt ceiling increase with the tax cut capitulation last December. But I’d be careful about adopting that position, because it’s been clear from the start that the House Republicans were itching for an opportunity to hold a hostage. The debt ceiling increase was just the first convenient opportunity for a hold up. If it hadn’t been the debt ceiling, the budget would have become the next non-crisis crisis. As Krugman points out, Obama was well aware that there might be a hostage taking, and both he and Reid decided to let it happen. They did it because they thought it was the best option to play the poor hand they were dealt by the midterm catastrophe. I don’t think it was 11-dimensional chess or some reverse sideways flying kick that nobody could see: putting the debt ceiling on the table just got the inevitable “shutdown the government” tantrum started early.

    Krugman’s other Obama woulda, shoulda, coulda is the “constitutional option” or maybe minting platinum trillion dollar coins. I don’t see how that would have “increased leverage”. The only way to get Congress to do something is to back them into a corner from which they see absolutely no escape. Obama signaled long ago that he wanted Congress to stop weaseling out of its responsibility as a policy-making body, and it’s part of a strategy on his part to have Congress play its constitutional role. If you don’t think this is smart politics and good government, then maybe you haven’t lived in a Congressional district where the Republican du jour runs a “Washington is broken”, “in it but not of it” campaign every two years. It’s really a neat trick to do nothing and blame everyone else, and Republican Congressional candidates have been doing it for a hell of a long time. Well, our Republican House just served up a huge shitpie. Run on that, you fuckers.

  34. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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