Friday, July 29, 2011

A message to the Firedoglakes, Greenwalds, Schultzes and Greens of the world...

From Ezra:

When Nancy Pelosi served as speaker of the House, her job was conditioning her members for disappointment. It was Pelosi who had to bring them around to a Senate-designed health-care law that lacked a public option, a cap-and-trade bill that gave away most of its permits, a stimulus that did too little, a bank bailout that endangered their careers. Pelosi had to do that because, well, that’s what the speaker of the House has to do. To govern is to compromise. And when you’re in charge, you have to govern.

Lately, Boehner has not been governing. What should have happened Friday is obvious: Having failed to pass a conservative resolution to the debt crisis without Democratic votes, he should have begun cutting the deals and making the concessions necessary to gain Democratic votes. That, after all, is what he will ultimately have to do anyway, as whatever he passes will also require the approval of the Senate and the president.

But Boehner went in the opposite direction. He made his bill less conservative. He indulged his members in the fantasy that they wouldn’t have to make compromises. It’s as if Pelosi, facing criticism for dropping the public option, had tried to shore up her support by bringing a single-payer health-care bill to the floor. Even if that would have pleased her left wing, what good would it have done her? Her job was to prepare her members to take a vote that could lead to a successful outcome. Pretending that that outcome could be far further to the left than it actually could be would ultimately make her job harder.

Did you catch that?

I seem to remember the Whiny Left crowd chanting for exactly that when the Public Option fight was going on...kill the bill and start again with Single Payer.

What we're seeing now in the Debt Ceiling fight is the exact same hole you wanted to dig us in during Health Care Reform.  So, thanks for nothing.

I'm sure ramming through Single Payer would have made the aforementioned people feel sooooo much better, and accomplished exactly nothing as the whole of Health Care Reform would've gone down in flames.

The very thing so many Lefties are excoriating the Republicans for today, is the very same behavior they are still mad at the President for yesterday.

The purpose of the Speaker, of the Senate Majority Leader, of the President, in a strange way are all exactly the same, even if those three will occasionally come to blows.  It is to prepare the caucus for what the deal will look like (yes, disappointment, but with realism), but at the same time do so in preparation for a successful outcome.

The problem I have with the Bill Killers from HCR, with the Ed Schultzes, the Jane Hamshers, the Adam Greens, the Arianna Huffingtons, the Keith Olbermanns (there, I said it), Bill Mahers and the Glenn Greewalds of the world, is that they are very good at sketching out what is their preferred outcome is, while conveniently neglecting to give us any realistic indication of how to get there.  Sure they give us 100% Grade-A bullshit like "he should have lead more", or "he's not using the bully pulpit", or "he's really a Republican".

(And for the record, Robert Reich has been through these fights and should know better.  I guess he enjoys getting his ass kissed too much by the Huffington crowd.)

I went through the Bush Years with a belief that the Left, the people of my ideological stripe, were at least the one's mired in reality.  But the last two years have shown, that that's nonsense.  The Left is terrible at Politics.  There's a reason they lose as many campaigns as they do.  They're lazy and arrogant (lazy because they feel they should just present their ideas and have everyone bow in acquiescence).  The problem is the Left hasn't heard that lesson...and multiple defeats at the polls have not taught them otherwise.

My marker is down, and remains down.  The only way this President does not win re-election, honestly, is if douchebags, like the ones I've mentioned above don't show up.  I am a Liberal, and I will always remain a Liberal in my beliefs, thoughts and actions...

...but I can't stand Liberals.  And if they don't show up to support the President in 2012, I will make it my mission to end organizations like MoveOn, like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Like Chris Mattews said yesterday, "I will not forget those who did this..."

But I'm talking about you Professional Left.

I have discovered your mirror opposite, and for some reason...they've been allowed to sit in the House of Representatives.

P.S. Oh, and Conservatives...if that's how I feel about Liberals, imagine how I feel about you?

The President's Address on the Debt Ceiling for July 29th, 2011 (VIDEO)

Actually, I found this to be a better speech than the Prime Time one a couple nights ago. It was more concise...and just a touch angrier.

Lawrence O'Donnell's interview with Sen. Chuck Schumer (VIDEO)

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The Zombie Speakership...(VIDEO)

At least there was a hint of self-sacrifice in this clip. That tells me John Boenher lacks the brain power of Homer Simpson...and that's saying something.

I said it before, I'll say it again.  The sooner John Boehner realizes his Speakership is over, the sooner we'll get a deal on the Debt Ceiling.

The problem I have is that what Boehner did yesterday and what he is doing today is compounding a waste of time, with another waste of time. The Boehner plan was dead on arrival. The Speaker knows that. It was never going to pass the Senate, and that was the point. But last night it became clear it wasn't even going to pass the House, and instead of accelerating things toward a deal, the Speaker did what was previously unthinkable, he moved his plan even further to the right, by re-adding the Tea Party's demand for a Balanced Budget Amendment.

Boehner's plan probably had a puncher's chance of at least getting a party-line vote in the Senate, but add this on, and even that prospect is dead.

So what are we all doing here?

We're basically going through the motions, completely wasting time because the Teabaggers won't compromise, and Boehner is more worried about being Speaker than governing the Country.

Ezra puts it another way:

John Boehner has a problem. He likes being Speaker of the House of Representatives. He would like to continue to be Speaker of the House of Representatives. But being Speaker of the House of Representatives means both leading the House Republicans and compromising to get things done. And in this Republican Party, at this moment, if you want to lead the House Republicans, you can’t compromise to get things done.

We’ve now seen the same farce play out four times. Republican leaders get close to a deal and then, just before they can close it, their members revolt and they have to pull back. The first time was when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor walked out of the Biden talks rather than discuss revenue. The second and third time when when Boehner walked out on the various iterations of the $4 trillion deal he had been cutting with Obama. And the fourth time is playing out right now. Boehner is rewriting his bill so that it links any increase in the debt ceiling to the passage of a balanced budget amendment.

Is that acceptable to the Senate? Of course not. “We simply do not have the votes in this body to enact such a measure,” said Sen. John McCain on Thursday. But that’s sort of the point. If Boehner is to have any chance of passing his bill through the House, he needs to make it completely unacceptable to the president and the Senate.

If that doesn’t make any sense to you — and it shouldn’t — then perhaps it would help if I rephrased: In order to have any chance of surviving as Speaker of the House, Boehner needs to produce legislation that is completely unacceptable to the White House and the Senate. Their opposition is a feature, not a bug. Consider how he sold his plan to Laura Ingraham: “President Obama hates it. Harry Reid hates it. Nancy Pelosi hates it. Why would Republicans want to be on the side of President Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi [is] beyond me.”

Why anyone would think that a plan loathed by the Majority Leader of the Senate and the President of the United States would be signed into law is beyond me. And since then, Boehner has moved the plan considerably to the right. But that’s because he’s not legislating. He’s just trying to survive.

It’s not just that Boehner’s party doesn’t like any of the viable compromises on the table. It’s that they don’t like compromise, full stop. YouGov polled this question and found the two parties to be almost mirror images of each other: Two-thirds of Democrats preferred a member of Congress who “compromises to get things done.” Two-thirds of Republicans preferred a member of Congress who “sticks to his principles, no matter what.”

The problem for Boehner is that the country needs a Speaker of the House of Representatives who compromises to get things done. Even if what’s being compromised is his career.

There's a certain element in this country that is intellectually lazy. It is not exclusively an element of the right, because Lord knows I've seen it on the left, too. There's a certain element among the citizenry who just want problems to go away, and will always take the path of least resistance to get there.

My concern has always been that should we go through an apocalyptic 2011, with battle after battle after battle (because don't forget, the Fiscal Year ends in September, and we're going finish up the Debt Ceiling fight and start this nonsense all over again), and the American People will tire of it all. Instead of blaming those actually responsible, they will decide that its just easier to get rid of the President, and that way all the fights will go away.

I hope that doesn't happen, and I'm decently sure that it won't. But I am afraid that a lot of my fellow citizens are stupid enough to think that way.

And if that's the case, we will bring about yet another crisis enitirely of our own making, because the rest of the world is ahead of us. They're looking at the current batch of Republicans, and have decided they're batshit insane.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

This might be old by the time you watch it, but it shows how the Breaking News is shaking out (VIDEO)

Still whipping, though Boehner got one to flip

This is valuable, even if it winds up being old, because it shows the breakdown of how things are happening:

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Chris Matthews: "I will not forget those who did [this]..." (VIDEO)

"...and I think the Country would be well-advised to do the same."

At least, he calls 'em Terrorists.

Once again, if you let these batshit insane Teabaggers into your tent, don't expect there to be cupcakes and lullabies:

Expect that.

Besides, it's not like we didn't spend all of 2010 warning you.

Yes, Fox News is racist...and Christianist. All Jon Stewart last night did was document it. (VIDEO)

You want a definition of Christianist, and example can be found here, via Andrew Sullivan.

I'm still...mesmerized at the outrage over every single Terrorist incident where the perpetrator is Muslim, yet in instances of violence (Terrorist and non-Terrorist alike) for example: the Norway Shooter, Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta Olympic Park Bomber, Jared Loughner, Tim Proffit, the guy who tried to ask Eric Cantor a question at a local event, the Tea Party's constant use of racial imagery and threats, the guy who posted former Rep. Perriello's address on the interwebs, all the HCR Town Hall nonsense (which Fox frequently justified), Pastor Steven actual Pastor!!, the Idaho GOP, Teabaggers showing up with Guns at Obama appearancesthe guy who shot the head of the Local Democratic Party in Arkansas, the man who shot up a Unitarian Church in Tennessee, the who shot Dr. Tiller?

(Things ain't perfect on this side of the aisle.  I will point out that things like the Sparkman case turned out to be B.S. and the thing with Rep. Bobby Rush's niece which also turned out to be wrong.)

You see there's a healthy list of quote-unquote white-slash-supposedly-Christian Domestic Terrorists out there, that Fox does not make their audience hyperventilate over.

Lawrence O'Donnell: Rejecting proposals serving a larger strategic purpose (VIDEO)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chris Matthews: "This isn't the return counter..." (VIDEO)

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The GOP gets paid to waste your money...

Bear in mind, it is the GOP who's interested in undoing the Affordable Care Act. Bear in mind that it's the GOP who receives the lion's share of Big Pharma and Insurance industry money (Lord knows, Democrats are guilty of that too).

So keep that in mind when you look at this...this is what the GOP wants to see continued, if not expanded.

Medical Paperwork
Created by: Medical Transcription

The 14th Amendment Option...and why it's probably NOT an option.

Steve Benen first posted this from Prof. Lawrence Tribe, writing in the New York Times.  By way of background, Tribe is a Liberal Law Professor from Harvard who's described Barack Obama as "the best Law Student he's ever had."  So I think we can count him as a Obama Supporter.

His piece goes on to explain his former Student's thinking when he says that the so-called 14th Amendment Option everyone's been talking up simply won't work:

Proponents of a constitutional deus ex machina have offered a more modest interpretation of the public debt clause, under which only actual default (as opposed to any action that merely increases the risk of default) is impermissible. This interpretation makes more sense. But advocates of the constitutional solution err in their next step: arguing that, because default would be unconstitutional, President Obama may violate the statutory debt ceiling to prevent it.

The Constitution grants only Congress — not the president — the power “to borrow money on the credit of the United States.” Nothing in the 14th Amendment or in any other constitutional provision suggests that the president may usurp legislative power to prevent a violation of the Constitution. Moreover, it is well established that the president’s power drops to what Justice Robert H. Jackson called its “lowest ebb” when exercised against the express will of Congress.

Worse, the argument that the president may do whatever is necessary to avoid default has no logical stopping point. In theory, Congress could pay debts not only by borrowing more money, but also by exercising its powers to impose taxes, to coin money or to sell federal property. If the president could usurp the congressional power to borrow, what would stop him from taking over all these other powers, as well?

So the arguments for ignoring the debt ceiling are unpersuasive. But even if they were persuasive, they would not resolve the crisis. Once the debt ceiling is breached, a legal cloud would hang over any newly issued bonds, because of the risk that the government might refuse to honor those debts as legitimate. This risk, in turn, would result in a steep increase in interest rates because investors would lose confidence — a fiscal disaster that would cost the nation tens of billions of dollars.

Although an authoritative judicial declaration authorizing borrowing above the debt ceiling might alleviate investors’ fears, obtaining such a declaration is no easy task. Only someone who has suffered a “particularized” harm — not one shared with the public at large — is entitled to sue. It would be difficult to conjure up a plaintiff who has suffered such specific harm from an issuance of debt beyond the ceiling. And even if such a plaintiff could be found, increased interest rates would have already inflicted terrible damage by the time the Supreme Court ruled on the matter.

Has Boehner made the Republican Caucus see sweet, sweet reason?

And if he has, can that be a good thing?

So goes the thinking of Jonathan Chait over at the New Republic.  His article is here, but the thinking goes like this.

Boehner comes up with idea to cut spending and hike Debt Ceiling.  Tea Party hates Boehner idea.  Tea Party manages to shoot down Boehner idea.  Vote for Boehner idea cancelled.  Boehner turns around and sells his idea as a good way to stick it to Obama.  Tea Party starts to warm to Boehner idea.

Which brings us to this key graph from Chait's piece:

Once you've gotten the right to cross the philosophic threshold Boehner has, the next step is a lot easier. Boehner will lose plenty of conservatives if and when he cuts a final deal, but he'll gain Democrats. The key step was breaking down the right's default denialism and sense of entitlement to total victory. That's achieved.

What did I say yesterday? (Hell, what did Chait himself say yesterday?) Boehner...needs...Democrats.

And if he decides to follow his Caucus off a cliff, he takes us with them:

Again, that's 44% of the U.S. Government having to get cut overnight.  10% Gross Domestic Product disappearing overnight.

And once again, because this episode of the West Wing sums things up so nicely (and that it can't be repeated enough):

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chris Matthews' interview with Jay Carney (VIDEO)

Still sayin' the Grand Bargain's on the table.

Loved Chris's question, are we all on the same team here?

You do remember how the President mentioned that compromise has become a dirty word, right? (VIDEO)

Well, you should.  He mentioned "compromise" a bunch of times in last night's speech:

Actually, Chris (and mind you, Randi Rhodes totally caught this earlier today), this goes back to the beginning of the year:

Was it just me, or did you hear Leslie Stahl audibly gasp when he said that?

Jonathan Chait writes a better version of the piece I wrote this morning...

Remember this?

Yeah, good times. Well, now there's this from Jonathan Chait:

One of the oddities of the Obama-Boehner negotiation/showdown is that Obama has vastly more strategic latitude than Boehner. Obama can cut almost any deal he wants. He can probably persuade Democrats in Congress to go along with an outrageously bad deal. He could sign a deal that passes with mostly Republican votes.

Boehner can't do those things. He got his job as Speaker by default. He is the picture of the Washington insider and the apotheosis of the kind of Republican conservative activists loath and suspect of selling them out. His head has been on the chopping block from day one, and it won't take much to bring the ax down. Note this not-too-subtle threat from Steve King:

Aside from actually nailing down a plan that can pass the House, there’s also the problem of what kind of support a final deal gets — and whether it ends up receiving the backing of more members of the president’s party than of Boehner’s.

That could be “a real political conundrum,” said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a five-term lawmaker and one of the House’s most vocal conservative members.

“If he ends up with a deal with more Democratic votes than Republican votes, I think the speaker has a real problem,” King said.

The "problem" meaning not that the deal wouldn't pass, but that Boehner would lose his job.

This is the key fact to keep in mind when assessing Boehner's actions. He obviously wants to make a Grand Bargain. But he can't and he knows it. This constraint on his maneuvering ability gives him a huge advantage in the game of chicken against Obama. In other ways, though, it dramatically inhibits him. For instance, it's not even clear that his current plan, which is unacceptable to Democrats can pass the House:

One of the most influential conservatives in Congress says he's confident his own Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will lack the votes to pass his plan to raise the debt limit in the House of Representatives. ...

"I am confident as of this morning that there are not 218 Republicans in support of the plan," Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) told reporters at a Tuesday morning press briefing.

It's possible that Jordan is bluffing, or that things could change. But I think it's at least an open question whether Boehner's bill can pass the House. I'd bet on yes, but I wouldn't bet too much.

Meanwhile, Democrats have a plan in place either way. Greg Sargent has some great reporting here:

Here’s the game plan, as seen by Senate Dem aides: The next move is to sit tight and wait for the House to vote on Boehner's proposal. The idea is that with mounting conservative opposition, it could very well be defeated. If the Boehner plan goes down in the House, that would represent a serious blow to Boehner’s leadership, weakening his hand in negotiations. ...

At that point, the Senate would then pass Harry Reid’s proposal, and then kick it over to the House, which would increase pressure on Boehner to try to get it passed, since he was unable to pass his own plan.

The second alternative possibility being gamed out by Senate Dems would take place if the Boehner plan does manage to sneak through the House. Aides say Dems would then vote it down in the Senate. ...

Senate Dems would vote to “amend” Boehner’s bill by replacing it completely with Reid’s proposal — which the Senate could then pass more quickly than they otherwise could.

After that, Reid’s proposal — having passed the Senate — would then get kicked back to the House. Having proved that Boehner’s plan can’t pass the Senate, Democrats would in effect be giving House Republicans a choice: Either pass the Reid proposal, or take the blame for default and the economic calamity that ensues.

What's Boehner's plan? I don't really know if he has a plan. I think he has a short-term survival strategy. Of course, from the perspective of the world economy, that makes him very, very dangerous.

The main difference is that Chait thinks Boehner's plan will pass. I think it's dead in the water.

Then again, he's been watching Congress a lot longer than I have, and he gets paid to do it.

Greg Sargent: "If the Boehner plan goes down...that would represent a serious blow to Boehner’s leadership"

Greg Sargent's a little better at this analysis stuff, so I'm sure he won't mind that I'm putting up quite a bit of his article: Dems plot the endgame in debt limit fight here for you to read.

Here’s the game plan, as seen by Senate Dem aides: The next move is to sit tight and wait for the House to vote on Boehner's proposal. The idea is that with mounting conservative opposition, it could very well be defeated. If the Boehner plan goes down in the House, that would represent a serious blow to Boehner’s leadership, weakening his hand in negotiations.

“The Senate will wait to act until we see if Speaker Boehner is able to pass a bill in the House,” a senior Senate Democratic aide says. “At the moment that’s an open question.”

It’s unclear as of yet where most Tea Partyers will come down on the Boehner proposal, but House conservatives are privately expressing serious reservation about the plan, arguing that it doesn’t cut spending enough, and the Republican Study Committee is dismissing Boehner’s plan as not “a real solution.” Dems hope that if conservatives do sink Boehner’s plan, it will reveal clearly that Boehner does need Democratic votes to get anything passed.

At that point, the Senate would then pass Harry Reid’s proposal, and then kick it over to the House, which would increase pressure on Boehner to try to get it passed, since he was unable to pass his own plan.

The second alternative possibility being gamed out by Senate Dems would take place if the Boehner plan does manage to sneak through the House. Aides say Dems would then vote it down in the Senate. And here’s where it gets even more interesting.

Senate Dem aides say they would then use Boehner’s bill — which passed the House but died in the Senate — to expedidate their own proposal. Here’s how. They would use the “shell” of the Boehner bill as a vehicle to pass Harry Reid’s proposal, because for various procedural reasons House messages get expedited consideration. Senate Dems would vote to “amend” Boehner’s bill by replacing it completely with Reid’s proposal — which the Senate could then pass more quickly than they otherwise could.

After that, Reid’s proposal — having passed the Senate — would then get kicked back to the House. Having proved that Boehner’s plan can’t pass the Senate, Democrats would in effect be giving House Republicans a choice: Either pass the Reid proposal, or take the blame for default and the economic calamity that ensues.

I think we're headed toward option 1, because it looks like Boehner's plan is already tanking with some House GOP members.  Dear old Dad, who I talked to this morning, thinks they really haven't started Whipping votes yet, and that's true, but remembering Joe Walsh's letter, I think Boehner starts out the day with 90 votes down, and thus we're headed for Reidsville.

Also, here's Jim Jordan (R-OH) saying something just a wee bit interesting:

A leading House conservative said Tuesday that enough Republicans oppose the debt-ceiling plan drafted by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to make Democratic support crucial to passing it.

“I am confident as of this morning that there were not 218 Republicans in support of this plan,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the chairman of the Republican Study Committee. The group comprises more than 170 House conservatives.

The comments from Jordan, who announced Monday that he would not support Boehner’s plan, come as several Republican members have expressed skepticism about or declined to weigh in on whether they might support a two-step increase in the country’s debt ceiling in exchange for $3 trillion in deficit savings.

Jordan said that members “appreciate the speaker’s hard work” but that the proposal would not do enough to get the country’s fiscal house in order.

Translation. Boehner...needs...Democrats.

Some men (with bad hair) just want to watch the world burn...

From Huffington Post...:

On Monday, Donald Trump urged Republicans to reject any deal with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling and let the country risk default. Economists and administration officials have warned that defaulting on our debt would have dire economic consequences, but for Trump there is an upside: the crisis would prevent President Barack Obama from being reelected.

"Frankly the Republicans would be crazy unless they get 100 percent of the deal that they want right now to make any deal,” Trump said on "Fox and Friends" Monday. "If this happens, for instance if this stuff is going on prior to an election, he can’t get reelected. He possibly can’t get elected anyway. … The fact is, unless the Republicans get 100% of what they want, and that may include getting rid of Obamacare, which is a total disaster, then they should not make a deal other than a minor extension which would take you before the election which would ensure Obama doesn’t get elected, which would be a great thing."

The longer Boehner takes to realize that his Speakership is over, the longer it'll take for a deal to get cut.

Now that the Speaker Boehner (apparently) doesn't have the votes to pass his own "Tea Party friendly" plan (because the Michelle Bachmann and the Tea Party has rejected it), its pretty clear that any Debt Ceiling plan will pass like it has always passed, with the votes of the President's party.

Of course, to do that, Boehner is going to have to come a little closer to Democratic positions, like increasing revenues, easing spending cuts, or...getting rid of both entirely and passing a clean damn bill.

He won't totally capitulate. After all, its still a GOP Majority in the House. They need to get something to hang on their wall.

But the final vote will probably have to look something like this: the overwhelming majority of Democrats (minus a few red state stragglers that we can live without anyway) and a few (between 50 and 70) establishment Republicans in the House (i.e., anyone's who's non-Tea Party) . And the usual suspects in the Senate, all the Democrats plus a 20-30 Republicans.

Mind you, if Boehner decides to go with the Reid plan, the only way it passes is with that formula, with that mix of Democrats and establishment Republicans.

Seems easy enough.  Why isn't this happening?

Simply put, John Boehner wants to be Speaker, and the above referenced formula helps the country. It just doesn't help him stay Speaker.

It's easy to see a scenario where, provided Boehner does the right thing for the country, is prompty stabbed in the back by the Tea Party set who never wanted a deal at all....hello Speaker Cantor, unfortunately beating Rahmbo to the position of the first Jewish Speaker of the House.

Simply put the longer Boehner takes to realize that his Speakership is pretty much over (because if we default, it'll be over anyway), the longer it'll take for the Congress to cut a deal on the Debt Ceiling.  When he realizes he can't get a deal done bowing to Tea Party demands, he'll use the above referenced formula and get it done.

The only question is...will it be too late?

President Obama's speech on the Debt Ceiling for July 25, 2011 (VIDEO)

On the Debt Ceiling itself:

Now, what makes today’s stalemate so dangerous is that it has been tied to something known as the debt ceiling -– a term that most people outside of Washington have probably never heard of before.

Understand –- raising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money. It simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up. In the past, raising the debt ceiling was routine. Since the 1950s, Congress has always passed it, and every President has signed it. President Reagan did it 18 times. George W. Bush did it seven times. And we have to do it by next Tuesday, August 2nd, or else we won’t be able to pay all of our bills.

Unfortunately, for the past several weeks, Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach.

If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills -– bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.

For the first time in history, our country’s AAA credit rating would be downgraded, leaving investors around the world to wonder whether the United States is still a good bet. Interest rates would skyrocket on credit cards, on mortgages and on car loans, which amounts to a huge tax hike on the American people. We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis -– this one caused almost entirely by Washington.

So defaulting on our obligations is a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate. And Republican leaders say that they agree we must avoid default. But the new approach that Speaker Boehner unveiled today, which would temporarily extend the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts, would force us to once again face the threat of default just six months from now. In other words, it doesn’t solve the problem.

First of all, a six-month extension of the debt ceiling might not be enough to avoid a credit downgrade and the higher interest rates that all Americans would have to pay as a result. We know what we have to do to reduce our deficits; there’s no point in putting the economy at risk by kicking the can further down the road.

But there’s an even greater danger to this approach. Based on what we’ve seen these past few weeks, we know what to expect six months from now. The House of Representatives will once again refuse to prevent default unless the rest of us accept their cuts-only approach. Again, they will refuse to ask the wealthiest Americans to give up their tax cuts or deductions. Again, they will demand harsh cuts to programs like Medicare. And once again, the economy will be held captive unless they get their way.

This is no way to run the greatest country on Earth. It’s a dangerous game that we’ve never played before, and we can’t afford to play it now. Not when the jobs and livelihoods of so many families are at stake. We can’t allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington’s political warfare.

On the Teabaggers:

Now, I realize that a lot of the new members of Congress and I don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But we were each elected by some of the same Americans for some of the same reasons. Yes, many want government to start living within its means. And many are fed up with a system in which the deck seems stacked against middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthiest few. But do you know what people are fed up with most of all?

They’re fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word. They work all day long, many of them scraping by, just to put food on the table. And when these Americans come home at night, bone-tired, and turn on the news, all they see is the same partisan three-ring circus here in Washington. They see leaders who can’t seem to come together and do what it takes to make life just a little bit better for ordinary Americans. They’re offended by that. And they should be.

The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government. So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.

Apparently, they did.

Stephen Colbert: When in doubt, go with Muslim (VIDEO)

Monday, July 25, 2011

The President's Speech before the National Council of La Raza (VIDEO)

Chris Matthews lights 'em up (VIDEO)

...and by "them", I mean the Republicans.

Pay attention to about ten minutes in, where Howard Fineman talks about the Teabagger's slow motion secession from the country. There's a lot to it. He wouldn't put a racial tone to it, but...frankly I might.

Dick Durbin: "The president negotiated with [Boenher] in good faith. [Boenher] walked away from it. Twice.” own it.

The second most powerful Democrat in the Senate warned Republicans Sunday that they are toying with a fragile economy and would take the blame for any fallout from a debt default.

On Sunday, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he had six words of warning for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio): “If you break it, you own it.”

Republicans and the White House have argued the case that the president “owns” the economy, along with its recovery.

Durbin slammed Boehner for calling off debt-ceiling negotiations with the White House on Friday.

“The president negotiated with you in good faith,” Durbin said he would tell Boehner. “You walked away from it. Twice.”

Jonathan Bernstein puts the blame for the Debt Ceiling crisis squarely where it belongs...

Amen, Brother!

I have no idea what’s going to happen in the next week. One hopes that enough Republicans are only bluffing with their craziness, or can be talked out of their craziness (by who? Who will they listen to?) at the last minute. Or perhaps eventually, if there’s no other way, the president will take unilateral action — the Constitutional option — after all. But the idea that there was some obvious way for Democrats to deal with this situation strikes me as naïve. This isn’t about poor bargaining or fecklessness by the Democrats. It’s about dealing with the consequences of the fact that Americans elected to Congress a whole bunch of people who are either trying to impose fringe policy views despite apparently having no understanding whatsoever of their consequences — or are so driven by opposition to the president that their highest priority is opposing him, regardless of those consequences.

Translation: America, you voted for these idiots, prepare to deal with the consequences.

Summing up the Conservative mindset on the Debt Ceiling...

Republicans simply may not have the emotional capacity to accept a bargain that they don't see as a humiliation for Obama.

New Republic
July 25, 2011

I hope you understand this is why a lot of African-Americans see actual racism in this country's reaction to the President. It's right there in that sentence. It's not enough for the House GOP to beat Obama, they have to humiliate him, even if they have to take the country down to do it.

This is the same GOP that ran up the debt that they now don't want to pay. This is the same GOP who voted seven times for George W. Bush to raise the Debt Ceiling without pre-condition.

If the GOP wanted to simply beat the Obama Administration, we would have had a Debt Ceiling deal days ago.

This is about humiliation, and that's why I see race in this.

I know the code words. I know the behaviors. I'm an African-American, this is not a hobby for me. Knowing the code words, recognizing the behaviors is a matter of survival.

And when you see it, it's hard not to react to it.

Matt Ygelsias: Why 2.7T in cuts for a 2.7T hike in Debt Ceiling isn't good enough for the GOP

Okay, it's early morning for me on the West Coast, and I'm sure some of you are already in a twitter (get it, huh?  Twitter) about Harry Reid's total and craptastic capitulation to GOP Demands, giving them everything they want in the Debt Ceiling fight.  All spending cuts, zero tax increases.  How could you, I hear people cry.  Why have Democrats surrendered...again?

But I'm going to say what Lawrence is going to say tonight.  It's only a surrender if you expect the GOP to bite on the deal, and Harry Reid clearly doesn't expect them to bite on this deal.  This is for public consumption, a way of assigning (successfully might I add) blame to the GOP for being unreasonable in their Debt Ceiling demands, and brings us closer to what I feel to be the ultimate resolution, a clean bill, with mostly Democratic votes, but a loss of our credit rating thanks to an entirely self-manufactured crisis.

Matthew Ygelsias tells us about why the Republicans are really saying no (to their own demand, no less):

Republicans have sought to portray themselves as having two bottom lines. One is that any increase in the debt ceiling must be met dollar-for-dollar with spending cuts. The other is that no revenue increases can be part of the deal. What Harry Reid did yesterday was essentially call the GOP’s bluff by outlining a plan that raises the debt ceiling by $2.7 trillion and includes $2.7 trillion in spending cuts, a healthy share of which comes from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Republicans are rejecting this even though it nominally meets their demands. Why? Because it doesn’t achieve either of their two real objectives. In particular, the plan doesn’t cut Medicare, which means that Democratic party candidates for office in November 2012 and 2014 can accurately remind voters of the content of the Republican budget plan. In case you forgot, this plans repeals Medicare. Having repealed Medicare, it then gives seniors vouchers to purchase more expensive private health insurance. And having replaced Medicare with a voucher system, it then ensures that the vouchers will grow steadily stingier over time. It was only after voting for this plan that Republicans seem to have realized that repealing Medicare is unpopular. Since that time, they’ve been trying to entrap Democrats into reaching some kind of Medicare détente with them, which would immunize them from criticism. Reid’s plan doesn’t do that.

Second, while Reid’s plan doesn’t raise taxes, it also doesn’t take tax increases off the table. Currently, the Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire in 2012. If Reid’s all-cuts plan passes, that still leaves the door open to significant revenue increases.

That's not to saw that Matthew's piece wasn't a "brilliant move, Harry" piece, it wasn't. But I thought it was important to show you the politics at work here.

Jonathan Chait: What's John Boehner Up To?

Jonathan Chait had a good explanation Sunday Night:

Here's my guess. [Boehner's] got a faction that opposes raises the debt ceiling on principle unless and until President Obama has agreed to implement the entire Republican fiscal agenda. He's got another faction that's willing to cut raise the debt ceiling, but fiercely opposes any tax hike. They're willing to raise the debt ceiling without any deal -- that is, they support a version of the Mitch McConnell plan -- and they also oppose a deficit agreement that would allow President Obama to move to the center on fiscal policy. But you have a larger group that regards the McConnell plan as a sell-out.

Basically, Boehner doesn't really have the votes for anything. He doesn't even have the votes for Cut, Cap and Balance, because that requires a supermajority in each house to pass a Constitutional amendment.

So he's reduced to the lowest common denominator. That's a plan that only temporarily lifts the debt ceiling, pleasing the faction that opposes lifting the ceiling, avoids any tax increases, pleasing the anti-tax absolutists, and provokes a confrontation with Obama, pleasing the political hardball faction. It also positions the party as having voted to lift the debt ceiling past August 2nd, thus providing the party with an argument for laying the blame on Obama if and when dire consequences occur.

How should Obama respond to this apparent move? He needs to veto it, for two reasons. First, as he's said, extending debt ceiling chaos into the election year will only worsen the crisis. And second, abandoning his one true demand would prove that he's willing to capitulate on anything at all. This would set up a second debt ceiling showdown in which Republicans would be emboldened to make even more maximalist demands.