Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Fireside Chat for July 2nd, 2011 (VIDEO)

President Obama addresses the need to reduce the nation’s deficit while creating jobs across the country and wishes Americans a happy Fourth of July.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Pandora's Box, Jurassic Park 2, the 83-17 split and how the Debt Ceiling gets way or the other.

It’s clear that the volume has suddenly turned up on the 14th Amendment argument.

Basically, where we’re at is this. Talks on the Debt Ceiling have broken down. The GOP was originally invested in a Debt Ceiling deal that had an 85-15 split of spending cuts to tax increases, that number coming from a report from the Conservative American Enterprise Institute. This was a report highlighted in fact on Speaker Boehner’s website. (Bet you dollars to doughnuts that that report has been taken down).

The good news in all this is that the spending cut number (around 2.4 Trillion over ten years) has pretty much been agreed to. This would be the 85 number.

Well, the Democrats offered an 83-17 split on spending cuts to tax increases (which included ending subsidies for Oil Companies and a Payroll Tax Cut), and that’s when Eric Cantor bailed on the talks and things pretty much collapsed.

Then the President spoke in a Press Conference that I enjoyed mightily. Still, the fact that the President had to speak was bad news because (as Ezra said on the day of the presser):

The best advice I’ve gotten for assessing the debt-ceiling negotiations was to “watch for the day when the White House goes public.” As long as the Obama administration was refusing to attack Republicans publicly, my source said, they believed they could cut a deal. And that held true. They were quiet when the negotiations were going on. They were restrained after Eric Cantor and Jon Kyl walked out last week. Press Secretary Jay Carney simply said, “We are confident that we can continue to seek common ground and that we will achieve a balanced approach to deficit reduction.” But today they went public.

Let me take a moment to answer one of Lawrence's questions. He asked, why didn't the Obama White House just use the Clinton model for deficit reduction?

Ummm, Lawrence. Have you met today's Republican party?

So what happens now?

Well, frankly…it depends on how batshit insane the Republicans are, and how pissed off the Chamber of Commerce actually gets.

Remember the Chamber of Commerce warned Republicans flat out, that should they fail to raise the debt ceiling; “We will get rid of you”. Of course the Teabagger Caucus did not react kindly to that threat, but I have no doubt that the Chamber is serious. A Debt Default is going to have catastrophic and frankly, unpredictable consequences to the greater, planet-wide Economy. Remember September 15th, 2008? (aka, the day Barack Obama won election), well…that only times ten.

If you’re a conservative, things look pretty simple. You’ve got a President in the White House you don’t like. You’ve got a stalled economy that stalled because of your policies and ideas, but you’re still committed to those same policies and ideas because even though they make the middle class miserable, they don't count in your world. All that does count are the people you really work for (Rich folks and Multinational corporations). If you cooperate with the sitting President (aka, doing your job) there’s a chance things will get better for the people. Can't have that, because that would mean the President would get re-elected. However, if you hold out for your most cherished, bat-shit insane policy ideas that you wouldn’t even let see the light of day under a Bush Administration, well, not only can you stall any economic momentum for a recovery (thereby damaging the President), but you can also appeal and excite your own base in the process. WIN-WIN!!!

I would first refer the Chamber of Commerce to the story of Pandora’s Box. You let these batshit insane Teabagger shitheads into the tent, this is what you get:

In case, you don't understand why I'm making this particular movie reference, or have (rightfully) forgotten Jurassic Park 2. The idiots (aka, the main characters) decided to "rescue" a baby T-Rex. That'd be Mama in the video, sniffing clothes that are soaked in the baby's blood. Think of them as tax breaks for Corporate Jet owners for the purposes of this argument. "Hilarity" ensues after that.

The more the Chamber stands by its threat to destroy any Republican who stands against a raise in the Debt Ceiling, the more likely there is to be a deal. Period.

Fortunately, we are seeing signs of life from the Democrats. One, they've pretty much thrown down a hard marker on Medicare cuts. Ain't happenin' chief, what else you got? Senator Schumer is taking to the airwaves repeatedly to accuse Republicans publicly of the scenario I’ve outlined. And yesterday, on Keith’s new Countdown show, he brought forth Ryan Grim to first discuss the 14th Amendment scenario.

My inclination the moment Keith brought it up was to dismiss it (after all, this is Keith we’re talking about). But then Lawrence brought it up as well.

I still kinda dismissed it, but the fact that he's got Bruce Bartlett to agree with the notion carries some weight with me.. But now, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has brought it up today, even though he has his doubts.

"It's certainly worth exploring," Schumer said. "I think it needs a little more exploration and study. It's probably not right to pursue at this point and you wouldn't want to go ahead and issue the debt and then have the courts reverse it."

Also, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's brought it up as well.

I still see this as officially a push by the Democrats to get this idea out there.

The Senator from Wall Street is right. We don’t know what the economic consequences would be of a debt default, we also don’t know how markets would react to the President simply ignoring Congress and continuing to borrow money.

If you were interested in buying up U.S. Bonds, how would you react to the President taking the podium and saying, basically, screw Cantor and Boehner. We’re going ahead, business as usual. My guess is a Bond buyer might hesitate, and say “Should we be buying this stuff. Is it safe? What does it mean?”

Between this threat, this new Nuclear Option, and the release of a new drop-dead default date of July 22, it’s clear the full court press is on.

Basically, what I see happening is this. The Democrats rattle the Nuclear Option theory. Republicans howl in protest. Jim DeMint says the Constitution didn’t mean what it says. Someone tries to change the Constitution on Wikipedia, and ultimately, the GOP quietly agrees to the 83-17 split a week before the deadline and declares victory.

Of course, that'd mean dealing with a sane GOP. And frankly there's no evidence that they're out there.

I mean, for pity’s sake, you watch the Teabagger shithead caucus, always crying for their love of the Constitution is going to attack the President for sticking to the letter and law of the Constitution. Watch it happen. There’s never an egg-timer around when you need it. (Hat tip, Randi Rhodes).

The President is going to have to carry through with his unspoken threat, and while dear ol' Doctor Dad would disagree, I think the dire nature of what could happen would force to President to do it. I mean, if the GOP won’t deal fairly. If any bill the Democrats propose gets filibustered in the Senate. If the Teabaggers bite the hand of their Chamber of Commerce masters, what option is Obama going to have left?

As ugly as the consequences might be, they’d be worse if he did. If DeMint won’t come back to reality, pick the Constitutional fight, and pull the Debt Ceiling trigger. What would we have to lose?

Moments like this are what's going to destroy Mitt Romney (VIDEO)

From Democratic Rapid Repsonse, first highlighted by The Only Adult in the Room:

Living up to his nickname, Multiple Choice Mitt...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hey, Teabaggers! You do know that your stance against the Debt Ceiling may go against...the Founding Fathers, right?

From Ryan Grim:

Growing increasingly pessimistic about the prospects for a deal that would raise the debt ceiling, Democratic senators are revisiting a solution to the crisis that rests on a simple proposition: The debt ceiling itself is unconstitutional.

"The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law... shall not be questioned," reads the 14th Amendment.

"This is an issue that's been raised in some private debate between senators as to whether in fact we can default, or whether that provision of the Constitution can be held up as preventing default," Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), an attorney, told The Huffington Post Tuesday. "I don't think, as of a couple weeks ago, when this was first raised, it was seen as a pressing option. But I'll tell you that it's going to get a pretty strong second look as a way of saying, 'Is there some way to save us from ourselves?'"

By declaring the debt ceiling unconstitutional, the White House could continue to meet its financial obligations, leaving Tea Party-backed Republicans in the difficult position of arguing against the plain wording of the Constitution. Bipartisan negotiators are debating the size of the cuts, now in the trillions, that will come along with raising the debt ceiling.


Still more interesting...

The President is gonna hold a Presser tomorrow. 11:30 am, Eastern. 8:30am, Pacific.

Before any of y'all panic about the stalled Debt Ceiling talks, there's may be (I say MAY be) a strategy at work here...

Consider this, from Marc Ambinder now of the National Journal:

The two principals in the debt-ceiling talks, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, began talking on Monday with the same deadline: August 2, when the federal government will default on its debt. But Obama’s clock is running slower. And that means his leverage may ultimately be greater if he waits for several weeks before making a deal.

Obama’s political apogee will be in late July, when, if there’s no deal, the bond market will begin to panic, leading interest rates to rise and the stock market to fall. That’s when the public will begin to understand what happens when the U.S. can’t make its payments to creditors. That’s when the president can use his bully pulpit to call for an adult conversation.

That’s why Republicans want the White House to focus on vote counts right now. What combination of policies will exceed the necessary threshold for passage in the House and the Senate? Boehner is willing to concede that a debt-ceiling deal based on Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan may not get 218 votes. And Republicans have already conceded that they’re willing to cut significantly from defense appropriations to get them.

What Boehner would like the White House to concede early is that its effort to, say, end oil-company subsidies, raise taxes on individuals making $500,000 and up, or curtail sugar and ethanol tax breaks, would also fall short. If the vote were tomorrow, he’d probably get a higher spending-cut to deficit-trigger ratio from Democrats, too. He’d get close to $2 trillion in real cuts over 10 years.

Boehner's bottom line: real spending cuts that exceed the amount by which the debt limit is raised looks reasonable today. Since a large minority of his conference does not believe that the August 2 date is real, Boehner's aides insist that it's foolhardy to think they are any more likely to accept revenue raisers (including getting rid of tax breaks) as the weeks go by.

But Obama knows that vote counts in the absence of the crucible of crisis will differ when Wall Street, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other traditionally Republican interests begin to nervously walk lawmakers out of their partisan garrisons.

And he’s betting that Republicans, having learned that his team is on nimble feet when it plays close to the edge of the cliff, will concede more up front than they did in December, when only the threat of a government shutdown (darn it, the Smithsonian would be closed!) loomed as the existential sword of Damocles. The longer Obama waits, the more Republicans will privately panic, knowing that their leverage decreases steadily as the weeks go by -- and exponentially at the turn of August.