Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ezra Klein: "You can’t get a deal unless you can get the votes. And what’s been clear for some time is Speaker John Boehner cannot get the votes."

Ezra Klein's 11 days until disaster, three options to prevent it:

It always feels different in the room. In the room, everyone wants a deal. They want their name on legislation, in history books. They want to do the big things and make the hard choices. Then they leave the room and they learn their supporters don’t want the choices made if they’re going to be hard. They learn their colleagues know their names won’t be in the history books, and so they’re more concerned with making sure their names are on their desks in the next congress.

But you can’t get a deal unless you can get the votes. And what’s been clear for some time is Speaker John Boehner cannot get the votes. If you need more evidence, look at the letter Boehner sent his caucus, which is more about pretending that he supports Cut, Cap and Balance -- an absurd and unpassable policy that includes a constitutional amendment making tax increases nearly impossible and capping spending at levels not seen since 1957 -- than it is about informing them as to what’s happened in the negotiations. It’s as if the president walked away from the table and sent out a letter saying that Boehner wouldn’t agree to single-payer health care, and so the negotiations are over.

But that’s what made the latest round of interest in the $4 trillion deal so peculiar. The policy was essentially unchanged from the $4 trillion deal that Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor walked away from two weeks ago -- a deal that included about half as much in tax increases as Simpson-Bowles or the Gang of Six . When they walked away, it was because they couldn’t find the votes for a compromise, even one tilted towards conservative interests. Despite all the excitement about them returning to the table this week, no one had ever answered the first question that needed to be asked: Had they found the votes? And if so, how?

We now know the answer.

It’s easy to get caught up in the political machinations. It’s easy to begin speculating about the hopes, constraints, and hidden agendas of the players. It’s easy to sound like an insider and say that the House GOP cannot accept a deal until the very last minute, or unleash some long analysis of how the president’s evident frustration will play with the voters, or say that the real story here is the relationship between Boehner and Cantor. But here’s the bottom line: We have 11 calendar days to raise the debt ceiling. Already, there’s some evidence that our dithering is hurting the economy. If we truly fail to raise the debt ceiling, however, we will unleash a market panic that will, at the least, return us to recession, and if it’s not quickly quelled, metastasize into a financial crisis that we will not soon recover from.

Earlier today, I spoke with David Beers, director of Standard Poor’s sovereign debt department. He explained that it wasn’t economic factors that had put America’s credit rating at risk, nor world events. It was credit-rating agency’s increasing fears that our political system was no longer up to the challenges that face it. “What we’re saying now,” said Beers, “is we question whether despite all the discussions and intense negotiations, if they can’t reach this agreement, will they be able to reach it after the election?”

If we convince Standard Poor’s that our political system has failed, they will downgrade our credit within three months. If they do that, interest rates on our debt will spike, perhaps by 50 basis points, perhaps by more. An easy rule of thumb is that if interest rates rise by 50 basis points, we will lose 600,000 jobs in this country.

At this point, there are three serious options on the table. A $4 trillion deal that includes some revenues, a $1 trillion-$2 trillion deal that’s all spending cuts but leaves much of the job until after the election, and a deal in which Republicans don’t come to a negotiated agreement with President Obama but they grant him the authority -- and let him take the blame -- for raising the debt ceiling. Those are our three options, and Congress needs to pick one. Time is running short.

Again, I apologize for posting complete pieces, but when you want to highlight something, and you don't know where to cut...

"What they’re looking for is somebody who’s willing to look out for them." (VIDEO)

The moment:

Q What can you say to people who are watching who work on Wall Street who might find this news a bit alarming, perhaps?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think what you should say -- well, here’s what I’d say: I remain confident that we will get an extension of the debt limit and we will not default. I am confident of that.

I am less confident at this point that people are willing to step up to the plate and actually deal with the underlying problem of debt and deficits. That requires tough choices. That’s what we were sent here to do.

I mean, the debt ceiling, that’s a formality. Historically, this has not even been an issue. It’s an unpleasant vote but it’s been a routine vote that Congress does periodically. It was raised 18 times when Ronald Reagan was President. Ronald Reagan said default is not an option, that it would be hugely damaging to the prestige of the United States and we shouldn’t even consider it. So that’s the easy part. We should have done that six months ago.

The hard part is actually dealing with the underlying debt and deficits, and doing it in a way that’s fair. That’s all the American people are looking for -- some fairness. I can’t tell you how many letters and emails I get, including from Republican voters, who say, look, we know that neither party is blameless when it comes to how this deft and deficit developed -- there’s been a lot of blame to spread around -- but we sure hope you don’t just balance the budget on the backs of seniors. We sure hope that we’re not slashing our commitment to make sure kids can go to college. We sure hope that we’re not suddenly throwing a bunch of poor kids off the Medicaid rolls so they can’t get basic preventative services that keep them out of the emergency room. That’s all they’re looking for, is some fairness.

Now, what you’re going to hear, I suspect, is, well, if you -- if the Senate is prepared to pass the cap, cut and balance bill, the Republican plan, then somehow we can solve this problem -- that’s serious debt reduction. It turns out, actually, that the plan that Speaker Boehner and I were talking about was comparable in terms of deficit reduction. The difference was that we didn’t put all the burden on the people who are least able to protect themselves, who don’t have lobbyists in this town, who don’t have lawyers working on the tax code for them -- working stiffs out there, ordinary folks who are struggling every day. And they know they’re getting a raw deal, and they’re mad at everybody about it. They’re mad at Democrats and they’re mad at Republicans, because they know somehow, no matter how hard they work, they don’t seem to be able to keep up. And what they’re looking for is somebody who’s willing to look out for them. That’s all they’re looking for.

And for us not to be keeping those folks in mind every single day when we’re up here, for us to be more worried about what some funder says, or some talk radio show host says, or what some columnist says, or what pledge we signed back when we were trying to run, or worrying about having a primary fight -- for us to be thinking in those terms instead of thinking about those folks is inexcusable.

I mean, the American people are just desperate for folks who are willing to put aside politics just for a minute and try to get some stuff done.

So when Norah asked or somebody else asked why was I willing to go along with a deal that wasn’t optimal from my perspective, it was because even if I didn’t think the deal was perfect, at least it would show that this place is serious, that we’re willing to take on our responsibilities even when it’s tough, that we’re willing to step up even when the folks who helped get us elected may disagree.

And at some point, I think if you want to be a leader, then you got to lead.

Thank you very much.

The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell:

Andrew Sullivan, putting today's GOP into context:

The Republican refusal to countenance any way to raise revenues to tackle the massive debt incurred largely on their watch and from a recession which started under Obama's predecessor makes one thing clear. They are not a political party in government; they are a radical faction that refuses to participate meaningfully in the give and take the Founders firmly believed should be at the center of American government. They are not conservatives in this sense. They are anarchists.

Their fiscal anarchism has now led to their threat to destabilize and possibly upend the American and global economy because they refuse to compromise an inch. They control only one part of the government, and yet they hold all of it hostage. I cannot believe they are prepared to allow the US to default rather than give an inch toward responsibility. Except I should believe it by now. Everything I have written about them leads inexorably to this moment. Opposing overwhelming public opinion on the need for a mixed package of tax hikes and spending cuts, drawing the president into a position far to the right of the right of his party, and posturing absurdly as fiscal conservatives, they are in fact anti-tax and anti-government fanatics, and this is their moment of maximal destruction.

The President's Town Hall at University of Maryland, College Park (VIDEO)

If you're going to hold a relatively impromptu Town Hall, might as well be right down the street in College Park, Maryland where I was raised, and where I went to College.  GO TERPS!

(More importantly, Go Terps, and try not to get any Scholarships voided.)

But Ritchie Coliseum?  Seriously?  We couldn't do better for our President than that rat-trap?  We couldn't get him into the Comcast Center (where he has spoken before)?  What?  Cole Field House isn't still standing?

You'll also note that the first question, in fact, a lot of the questions, had nothing to do with the Debt Ceiling.

The Fireside Chat for July 23th, 2011 (VIDEO)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Chris Christie has a Murdoch Problem...

When Michael Isikoff broke the story about the FBI's beginning to zero in on a bit of American Phone-hacking by Murdoch and Corp., I wondered if this was going to get to Christie:

And now it looks like it could, courtesy Eric Boehlert:

The background: A New Jersey start-up company, Floorgraphics (FGI), was created to sell large advertising decals placed on the floors of grocery stores. In 1999, FGI's founders, Richard and George Rebh, met with Carlucci who at the time was CEO of News America Marketing, an in-store advertising division of News Corp. (In 2005, Carlucci added the title of Post publisher to his resume.) At the lunch, after the Rebhs rebuffed Carlucci's offer to buy the company, he allegedly threatened to destroy FGI.

Years later company executives discovered FGI's secure website had been broken into nearly a dozen times and confidential information had been obtained. They alleged Murdoch's company was spreading lies about FGI and using its proprietary information to steal away clients.

At the time, FGI urged authorities to pursue criminal charges, but the case was not prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney General's office in New Jersey, run at the time by Chris Christie. (Now governor of New Jersey, Christie has struck up a close working relationship with Roger Ailes, chief of Murdoch's Fox News.)

A FGI civil suit, claiming a series of anti-competitive practices, was filed against News Corp.'s News America. In 2009, after only a couple of days of testimony, the case was abruptly settled with Murdoch's company agreeing to purchase FGI for $30 million, but not before News America conceded that someone using its computers had hacked FGI's website. (News America claimed it did not know who the culprit was.)

Now, in light of the UK phone-hacking fiasco, NBC's Michael Isikoff reports Department of Justice prosecutors "are reviewing allegations that News Corp.'s advertising arm repeatedly hacked into the computers of a competitor in the United States as part of an effort to steal the rival firm's business, according to a lawyer for the company."

Just what Mr. Unpleasant needs, in the middle of falling ratings, to be deposed by a U.S. Attorney (his old job!)

This is not to say that Governor Christie is guilty of any criminal wrongdoing. I doubt he did anything as unethical as taking a bribe (though it would be in character). But his hot seat is going to get a whole lot hotter.

Steve Benen: You can't fix stupid...

Yeah, Mr. Benen was WAY more polite than I'd ever be in his latest offering:

Jonathan Bernstein had a piece on this today, but it's a point that's been circulating for a while.

One really, really important point to remember about House Republicans right now: There's a very good chance that a whole bunch of them just have no idea what they're doing. [...]

[H]ow do you negotiate with people who just have no idea what they're talking about? Here's another example, from the NYT write-up of the party-line vote against [Cut, Cap, and Balance]: "[T]he outcome was a foregone conclusion and leaders of both parties said the Senate needed to dismiss the House plan to show Republicans that the proposal was dead."

This is just depressing if true; it implies that an unspecified number of rank-and-file Republicans are, I don't know how else to put it, either too detached from reality or too stupid or too incompetent to know that CCB was DOA without actually seeing the Senate results.
Right. In this case, Jonathan is referring to Republicans who don't understand the basics of how a bill becomes a law. His piece on this highlighted a GOP House member, who's likely to run for the Senate next year, who doesn't seem to realize what it means when the Senate "tables" a bill.

But this keeps coming up because congressional Republicans don't seem to understand, well, much of anything.

One Republican lawmaker appeared on national television this week, and was asked to defend his pro-default approach to governing. He replied, "I don't trust the words of any source."

Another GOP lawmaker said a few days ago that our national credit rating will get better if we fail to raise the debt ceiling. Another Republican House member argued that if the government raises revenue, it will make the debt worse, because taxes lead to "fewer revenue dollars."

Common norms suggest we're supposed to simply acknowledge that the parties have sincere, philosophical differences. But eventually, I'd love to see the political world come to terms with the fact that Republicans aren't just being right-wing; they're also being dumb. I know that's impolite. I also know it's justified.

Remember, as the President said at his Town Hall in College Park today, this is all about the Republican House, not the Senate. If the President just had to deal with the Senate, the Debt Ceiling extension would have passed months ago.

The President's Interview on NPR...

Mentioned on Lawrence last night.  Just a link to the audio this time.

The complete text of the interview is available here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kevin Drum: Fun with numbers...

Of course, a lot of this is the Stimulus funds winding down, and being replaced with...nothing:

I should point out, that I'd move the blue back to January 4th, when the Republicans took over the House, and proceeded to concentrate on such things as the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, protecting Tax Breaks for Big Oil Companies, trying to end Abortion Rights where-ever they saw it, and...of course, reading the Constitution out loud on the House floor, while skipping the parts that were inconvenient.

Jobs Bills?




Jonathan Bernstein talks to my Dad...(well, not really).

Count dear ol' Dad as one of the panickers on the Left at today's Budget news. So, methinks Jonathan wrote this column for him... know, even though he didn't.

You know what I mean:

The rumors about the debt limit and deficit negotiations are flying this afternoon, followed, as usual, by panic on the left and the right that the worst versions of each rumor is true. “We’ve been sold out!” is the cry of the day.

And yet, it’s worth remembering that early reports are usually wrong, almost always in the details and quite often in their entirety. Why? Lots of reasons. Rumors of a budget deal could be accurate. They also could be spin; they could be trial balloons; they could be a source getting something wrong; they could be a reporter getting something wrong.

Remember, people in politics who talk to reporters usually have an agenda. If they’re leaking something, odds are that they have a reason, and that reason could very well be an attempt to influence events through publicity. That is, they could be afraid someone will happen, so they’ll try to kill it by leaking that it will happen, in order to generate opposition. On the other hand, sometimes the leaker does know exactly what will happen, and is leaking in order to influence the story about it. Given a deal, which parts to we want to emphasize? Leak those.

Or: it could be that the leaker knows that there is no deal yet, but wants to gauge reactions to a possible deal.

Or: perhaps the leaker is believes that the information is accurate, but it actually isn’t. It wouldn’t be the first time that someone on the periphery of a Washington negotiation (or, for that matter, any negotiation) is convinced that he’s a major player. And then there are the reporters. They’re competitive; they’re all looking for the scoop, and even the best ones jump the gun at times.

One more thing. When it comes to the budget, a lot of this stuff is highly technical and complex, including such seemingly obvious things as what counts as a tax increase or what counts as a spending cut. I guarantee that if a deal is reached and enacted, people will be arguing for years — quite possibly, for decades — about basic questions about the size and shape of the deal.

So my first advice to everyone is to calm down; the odds that the initial stories get important things wrong are very high even if they were based on public announcements of a deal, and they’re much higher when it’s only at the rumor stage.

My second advice to activists, however, is that once you’ve calmed down, is to get to work. If it’s a trial balloon and you don’t like it, shoot it down; if it’s a tentative deal, make sure everyone knows your position. It’s no time to be fatalists, moaning about how John Boehner or Barack Obama has betrayed you.

And to everyone ele: realize that a lot of the huffing and puffing you’re hearing isn’t meaningless posturing. It’s how the system works, and is supposed to work. Negotiators need to press for their best deal; advocates have to do the same. It produces a lot of excess, extraneous noise. That may not be appetizing to many people, but it’s actually quite healthy. It is, one might say, the sound of democracy.

I always apologize for posting complete articles in this site. It's just that, it was a fantastic piece of writing, and...also I couldn't find a convenient place to snip.

Uhhhh, Joe Walsh's Letter has got 90 GOP Signatures now...

Yeah, just about lights out for the McConnell-Reid Plan B.  Plan C, anyone?  (Maybe the clean debt ceiling bill Obama wanted in the first place?)

You should read Greg's piece: What happens when House Republicans stare into the abyss? It features Jed Lewison's excellent break down of the head count for Debt Ceiling passage.

This SOB (by which I mean Boehner) is taking us right to the edge.

Let's see a Baby Monkey get 750 points on an Android Phone! (VIDEO)

Completely goofball, via Ezra:

Something looks good to her on the screen, since she keeps trying to lick it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Man, someone's really running for President in 2016

A two-fer from Martin O'Malley:

The ratings agency Moody's is threatening to reduce the rating of five states with AAA credit (along with the rating of the federal government) if Congress fails to raise the debt limit in early August. Now the governor of one of those states -- Maryland's Martin O'Malley -- is publicly singling out the Republicans in Congress who are preventing swift action on the debt limit.

"All of this brinksmanship and these threats of the dinosaur wing of the Republican party led by Eric Cantor to drive us needlessly into a default have impacted confidence I think throughout the country," O'Malley told me in a Tuesday interview. "It's impacted consumer confidence, it's impacted investor confidence, it's impacted the confidence of small businesses who are the backbone of this economy and who need to hire again. In that respect it's already had an effect. The closer we get to this deadline, and the more immediate ramifications that has for those of us that are going out into the bond market."

Remember, he also took a big step out of Andrew Cuomo's shadow for 2016.

Brian Ross talks about what happened between him and Bachmann's Staff on...The View?? (VIDEO)

I thought there might be video. I just didn't expect this:

Jonathan Bernstein: "Relatively responsible GOP leaders are offering [Teabaggers] various choices on how they’d like to give up.

Again, I try not to post entire articles when I read them, but when they're good, they're good...and this one's really good."

Thus, I present Jonathan Bernstein's: Is GOP quietly negotiating a surrender in debt ceiling fight?

Where do things stand in the debt limit mess? My best guess: What we’re really seeing right now is Republicans attempting to implement an organized retreat and surrender.

Here’s why. Conservatives entered into the debt limit with entirely unrealistic expectations. Moreover, having already lost battles they apparently (and, again, unrealistically) expected to win on health care and the government shutdown showdown earlier in the year, many Republicans committed even more strongly to their unrealistic expectations on the debt limit. But Dems insisted on new revenues drew a hard line on restructuring entitlements — and all signs were that they would not give.

So Mitch McConnell’s original proposal to transfer control of the debt ceiling to the president with absolutely no deficit reduction was basically a strong warning to Republicans: you’re not going to get what you really want. He was letting them know that they could choose to negotiate their best surrender — or, if they refused to do so, they would wind up getting almost nothing at all.

I think that’s also the best way to understand the Gang of Six revived package — it offers Republicans another way out of their mess. Of course, it’s almost entirely symbolic. Down the line it’s possible that some actual legislation can emerge from it, but there’s no chance that “down the line” will be before the debt limit is extended, and there’s no way to guarantee that “down the line” will ever happen. But this is nonetheless an escape hatch of sorts — Republicans could package a debt limit increase with a symbolic vow to implement the Gang of Six proposal later.

So what choices to Republicans have now? They can choose the clean McConnell plan — no actual deficit cutting, but lots of symbolic blame for raising the debt limit thrown at Barack Obama and the Democrats. They can choose a modified McConnell, which would probably be packaged with a relatively small amount of spending cuts. Or they can package a debt increase with a symbolic Gang of Six vote, which would not by itself reduce the deficit.

The key thing here is that every one of these options is a surrender.

Yes, it’s true that under some of these options Republicans get spending cuts. But they would be nothing even remotely like what some of these folks, particularly the Tea Partyers, ran on and have been promising their constituents. And what’s basically happening now is that the relatively responsible GOP leaders are offering them various choices on how they’d like to give up.

Remember how Joe Walsh's Letter might determine if a Debt Ceiling Measure can pass the House?

Remember?  Remember what, it was a blogpost from yesterday.  C'mon we're not that old.  (Okay, maybe Rupert is).

But here's what Greg said on Tuesday:

Senate Republican aides are hoping that the letter doesn’t amass more than 50 signatures, since presumably most GOPers who do sign it are likely to vote No on the McConnell proposal. Walsh’s goal is to get more than 100 signatures on the letter, which would be a major statement of opposition to the McConnell plan in the House and would raise doubts about whether it can pass.

Well, Rep. Walsh apparently has got 80 signatures...and counting.

Greg does the math here:

If the letter does get around 100 signatories, that would mean there are around 140 remaining Republicans. Even if all of them voted for the plan, that would mean you’d need roughly another 80 House Dems. That is probably gettable, though it may be difficult, given all the noise Dems are suddenly making against the proposal. One Dem aide tells me the question of how many Dems will support it turns heavily on the complexion of the $1.5 trillion in cuts that would be packaged with the McConnell proposal.

That all sounds pretty ominous. But it’s also possible, as Senate GOP and Dem aides are hoping, that there will be a drop dead moment of terror next week that will, shall we say, persuade people to rethink their positions a bit.

This would be the same Joe Walsh who...ahem...distinguished himself on Hardball yesterday:

Hell, even I don't know how big the U.S. Economy is...

...oh, that's right. I'm not an elected Congressman, trying to scold the rest of the country into ending entitlement programs, while keeping all the tax cuts for my true constituency, rich folks and corporations.

Stephen Colbert goes after my Dad's favorite Governor...Rick Perry! (VIDEO)

...and by "favorite", I mean, my Father will for the first time in his life give a max-out donation to any Presidential Candidate, namely Barack Obama, to make sure Rick Perry is not only defeated, but embarrassed in the coming 2012 election.

May not be 100% safe for work. View at your discretion.

My Dad, a lifelong Democrat and unapologetic Liberal, is going to see that headline (he gets an Email subscription to this blog, after all), and demand I take it down. He don't want to be confused with a Republican...ever.

Rachel Maddow's Interview with Elizabeth Warren (VIDEO)

Frankly, she sounds Republicans:

"Let me put it this way," said Warren on yesterday's call. "I'm saving all the rocks in my pockets for Republicans. And if that's too partisan for you, then shame on me."

That was from an Atlantic piece that's out today. I would like to note that Nancy Scola made it sound like Obama passed her over for Richard Cordray.

Actually, no, that's exactly what Nancy said:

Elizabeth Warren is ready to name and shame. After 10 long months spent crafting a brand-new federal agency in her image and likeness, years before that willing the institution into statutory existence, only to be passed over on Sunday in favor of Richard Cordray just as the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is moving out of beta, Warren, on a press call late yesterday afternoon, was eager to share her clarity on who's to blame for the especially precarious position the new federal-friend-to-the-American-consumer now finds itself in.

Rich will be a strong leader for this agency. He has a proven track record of fighting for families during his time as head of the CFPB enforcement division, as Attorney General of Ohio, and throughout his career. He was one of the first senior executives I recruited for the agency, and his hard work and deep commitment make it clear he can make many important contributions in leading it. Rich is smart, he is tough, and he will make a stellar Director. I am very pleased for him and very pleased for the CFPB.

And if you watch the interview below, she gets even more specific.

This is a little seen, little read blog. I should not be doing more reporting than Atlantic Monthly professionals.

Rachel wisely held back, and let the Professor do her thing.

UPDATE: 11:57AM Pacific. Watching that last part again. Rachel pretty much asked her "Are you running for Senate", and not only did Dr. Warren not say no, that was as much in the affirmative as I'd seen her say. Dr. Warren still did not say she was running, but this was the closest I've seen her come to saying she was in.

Someone's running for President in 2016...

At some point I'm going to make a blogpost featuring names of people to know, what their current job is, and where they've got their eye.

One of my entries as going to be: Martin O'Malley, currently Governor of Maryland, and possible 2016 Democratic Nominee for President of the United States.

Today's announcement kinda sealed that deal.  After all, another entry would have to be Andrew Cuomo, currently Governor of New York, and possible 2016 Democratic Nominee for President of the United States.

For those of you who miss Al Franken's former Radio Show...

Great catch by Ryan J. Reilly over at Talking Points Memo. Al used to do this stuff on the air, and he was going against a tape of someone saying something.

This, is on the record, with the joker sitting right there in front of him.

Release. Rotation. Splash. Nothin' but net.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Michelle Bachmann's Goons rough up Brian Ross of ABC News

The question of the day (with a hat tip to NC Steve 3.0 over at TPM) is whether Republican voters will consider today's incident a feature, or a bug. (You know which way I'm leaning.)

That’s when things got interesting. Ross dashed after Bachmann, repeatedly asking whether she had ever missed a House vote due to a migraine. She ignored him. Ross pursued her into a parking area behind the stage. Her aides grew alarmed. When Ross made a beeline for the white SUV waiting to carry Bachmann away, two Bachmann men pounced on him, grabbing and pushing him multiple times with what looked to me like unusual force. In fact, I have never seen a reporter treated so roughly at a campaign event, especially not a presidential one. Ross was finally able to break away and lob his question at Bachmann one more time, but she continued to ignore him.

Afterward, I asked Ross — a hard-nosed pro who nevertheless seemed slightly shaken — whether he had ever been treated so roughly. “A few times,” he told me. “Mostly by mafia people.”

I'm pretty sure Brian Ross has the video of this. Film at eleven!

Greg Sargent: How Joe Walsh's Letter will determine if a Debt Ceiling Measure can pass the House

Y'see? This is reporting.

Late yesterday GOP Rep. Joe Walsh, who is backed by the Tea Party, began circulating a letter among GOP colleagues that urges GOP leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor to publicly oppose the McConnell plan and even to oppose it coming to the floor for a vote.

A Senate Republican aide tells me that GOP aides will be closely watching the number of signatures it amasses in order to gauge whether the McConnell proposal can get through the House.

“On behalf of the millions of Americans we represent, we strongly urge you to both publicly oppose Senator McConnell’s plan to raise the debt ceiling and ensure it never comes to the House floor for a vote,” the letter reads.

“We understand Senator Mitch McConnell’s frustration with the debt ceiling debate, but his plan enables Congress to avoid making the hard decisions,” the letter continues. “This plan is nothing more than politics as usual: it passes the buck to President Obama and robs the American people of their voice in Congress.

Senate Republican aides are hoping that the letter doesn’t amass more than 50 signatures, since presumably most GOPers who do sign it are likely to vote No on the McConnell proposal. Walsh’s goal is to get more than 100 signatures on the letter, which would be a major statement of opposition to the McConnell plan in the House and would raise doubts about whether it can pass.

For the record, we're talking about Joe Walsh of Illinois, not Joe Walsh, who's famous and actually worth something.

"We're at the Eleventh Hour..." (VIDEO)

Listen to this video from the House Democratic Caucus and PREPARE TO BE SHOCKED (VIDEO)

Great, Great catch by Steve Benen.

Okay, first things first. Read this paragraph. Don't watch the video yet. Just read the text, and see what you think.

“Congress consistently brings the Government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility.  This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the Federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility — two things that set us apart from much of the world.”

Pretty much boilerplate Democratic thinking on the need to raise the Debt Ceiling, right?.  That's the text of the speech you're about to hear on the embedded video.

But listen to it, and prepare to be shocked! Shocked I tells ya! Because this is a video from the House Democratic Caucus, espousing the "Liberal" position, and look who it is who's doing the speaking.

It just goes to show you. Republicans love Ronald Reagan. They worship Ronald Reagan. They just wouldn't let the actual Ronald Reagan into their party.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hey! Fellow Lefties! Can we ease up on the Elizabeth Warren obsession for pity's sake?

I've always been fascinated my fellow Liberal's obsession over Elizabeth Warren. It ranks right up there with our (their) collective obsession with Van Jones. It's a broken record already: "If X person is not given Y position, then this is the latest betrayal Barack Obama has given to the Liberal People of America."

Stop it.

I hope I don't have to prove my pro-Dr. Warren bona-fides on this space, but it you need proof, you need only look up my blogpost: Elizabeth Warren for Consumer Protection...if she wants it.  (Written a year ago, just about to the day).  Yes, she is that great.  Yes, I want her to have the job...

...if she wants it.

Yes. If.

So, we've heard her say it plainly that she wants the job right?  I mean that's been all over the place (by which I mean, it hasn't).  Does she want another job, say, Scott Brown's?  Does she want to go back to Harvard?

SIDEBAR: I mean, I know it's hard to believe but those Academic jobs are pretty damn sweet.  Right now, dear ol' Dad goes into the office every day, but mostly does his own thing (which would be Researching Mathematics), teaches three classes, keeps a generous Office Hours schedule (which means his students can actually reach him and ask him questions), and gets well paid for his efforts.  He can eat dinner with his wife.  Go out on weekends and take vacations as necessary, and can actually shut off his phone from time to time.

And you're saying that Elizabeth Warren wouldn't want this, after all she's been through??  You're suggesting that she should prefer getting grilled by the likes of Senator Richard Shelby from the State of Toyota--errrr, I mean, Alabama.

Ezra had similar thoughts:

Whoever is nominated to lead the CFPB is going to spend the next year of his life being filibustered by Republicans. The very best he can hope for is a recess appointment, in which case his tenure in the position would be relatively swift. So the question isn’t who you want leading the CFPB for the foreseeable future. It’s who you want spending his or her time being stopped from leading the CFPB for the foreseeable future. And it’s not clear that the answer to that question is “Elizabeth Warren.”

Warren, after all, has another option that she appears to be taking seriously: challenging Scott Brown in the 2012 election. For reasons I’ve outlined here and Bob Kuttner elaborates on here, there’s reason to think she would be a very effective candidate. But if she wants to do that, she can’t spend the next year being blocked from leading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She has to spend at least part of it preparing for her candidacy.

Now, I don’t think there’s any doubt that Warren would prefer to lead the agency she’s built than launch a Senate campaign that may or may not succeed. But launching a Senate campaign that may or may not succeed seems like a clearly more effective way to protect her agency and further her ideas than being blocked from leading the agency she’s built.

Meanwhile, Richard Cordray is actually in a very good position to spend the next year or two being blocked from running the CFPB. Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general with a great reputation in consumer-protection circles and Warren’s blessing, doesn’t have anything to run for until Ohio’s governorship opens in 2014. By all accounts, he’s a good choice to lead the agency now, if he can somehow get past the Republicans, and spending a few years publicly fighting to protect consumers is unlikely to hurt him back home.

Dr. Warren seems high on the choice (because it looks like she's the one who made it):

Rich will be a strong leader for this agency. He has a proven track record of fighting for families during his time as head of the CFPB enforcement division, as Attorney General of Ohio, and throughout his career. He was one of the first senior executives I recruited for the agency, and his hard work and deep commitment make it clear he can make many important contributions in leading it. Rich is smart, he is tough, and he will make a stellar Director. I am very pleased for him and very pleased for the CFPB.

And she is clear eyed in what's ahead:

Make no mistake: this agency still has enemies in Washington, D.C. And they have a plan.

In May, forty-four Republican Senators wrote a letter saying that they will block anyone from serving as CFPB Director. Many of them don't like the agency or the ideas that led to its creation. They lost that fight last summer in a straight-up vote, but they say they will use a filibuster over a Director nomination to undercut the agency. Without a Director, however, the agency's authority over payday lenders, debt collectors and other non-bank financial companies can be challenged. The Republicans say that they will permit a Director only if the agency is amended to make it less independent and less likely to act.

I remain hopeful that those who want to cripple this consumer bureau will think again and remember that the financial crisis -- and the recession and job losses that it sparked -- began one lousy mortgage at a time. I also hope that when those Senators next go home, they ask their constituents how they feel about fine print, about signing contracts with terms that are incomprehensible, and about learning the true costs of a financial transaction only later when fees are piled on or interest rates are reset. I hope they will ask the people in their districts if they are opposed to an agency that is working to make prices clear or if they think budgets should be cut for an agency that is trying to make sure that trillion-dollar banks follow the law. I hope they will ask their constituents if they are opposed to the confirmation of someone who saved $2 billion for retirees, investors, and business owners as Ohio Attorney General and who has worked hard on the front lines fighting against fraudulent foreclosures and abusive lending practices.

This week is the culmination of two years of hard battles. The President put the consumer agency in his first outline of financial regulatory reform, and he never wavered in his support for it. The agency was declared dead several times, and weak versions and lousy bargains were offered again and again, but he stood fast. When he signed Dodd-Frank into law, creating the new agency, he offered me the chance to stand it up -- something for which I will always be grateful. The fights continued, and again, the President never wavered in his support. In fact, just last week he issued a veto threat if the Republicans try to move the agency's funding to the political process, and I know that in the future he won't allow opponents of reform to succeed in weakening the CFPB.

Oh yeah.  Veto threat.  That's a total betrayal.

And how seriously should we take the idea of Dr. Warren running for Senate? Well, she took the time to meet with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to Roll Call.

Ruby Bridges (VIDEO)