Posts Tagged ‘ceiling

16
Oct
13

Rise and Shine

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Today:

The President has no scheduled public events, but…..

12:30 EDT: Jay Carney briefs the press

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Steve Benen: As debt deadline nears, now what?

In an unexpected twist, the political world starts today with circumstances that look eerily similar to those from 24 hours ago: a bipartisan Senate deal is taking shape and a fractured House remains unpredictable. The point of yesterday, apparently, was to waste a day, humiliate House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and bring the nation just a little closer to default.

After House Republicans rejected a series of desperate attempts by Boehner to make them happy, attention turned back to the Senate, which waited until after the lower chamber imploded to renew its talks. By all appearances, the basic framework of an agreement is in place.

More here

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Michael Tomasky: Senate Debt Ceiling Deal Won’t Mean This Chaos Is Over. Far From It.

Tuesday might have ended with the Senate on the cusp of a deal to avert a default, but it also featured Boehner bowing and scraping to his House crazies to come up with a competing plan that failed.

This is a sad and sickening spectacle, like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. Not as bad as Watergate, you say? I beg to differ. However this turns out this has been in its way worse than Watergate. Watergate ultimately vindicated our system against the machinations of one sociopath. It took time, because he was a president. But even he ultimately observed democratic norms and, when cornered, did the honorable thing.

Today, we have a clavern of sociopaths who know nothing of honor, and we have no easy way to stop them. Except at the ballot box. Except that they’ve rigged that, too, with their House districts. They’ve rigged the whole game so that they light the match and then point at President Obama and shout: “Look! Fire!” And overseeing it all is House Speaker John Boehner, as of Tuesday officially the worst high-ranking elected officer in the history of the United States.

More here

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Dana Milbank: Republicans are at a dead end

Here’s how grave the House Republicans’ condition has become: They’re now in the care of a mortician.

In the early minutes of a marathon meeting of House Republicans on Tuesday morning, Rep. Steve Southerland, a funeral director from Florida, rose to suggest the lawmakers sing “Amazing Grace” — and his colleagues joined him in a rendition of the burial hymn.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,

And mortal life shall cease,

I shall possess within the veil,

A life of joy and peace.

It was an appropriate choice, for the House GOP is practicing its own form of mortuary science: It is burying both the Republican brand and America’s standing in the world.

More here

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Charles Pierce: Reign Of Morons: Apotheosis

…. A great portion of the courtier press that now expresses horror at what is going on now went gleefully along for the ride as it became inevitable. Any members of that courtier press who relished the pursuit of Bill Clinton’s penis, or conducted the absurd campaign of untruth that was waged against Al Gore between 1999 and 2000 lost the right years ago credibly to denounce conservative extremism and Republican vandalism.

That means you, Roger Simon of Politico, who was so shocked the other day to discover that racism may have afflicted the process of government since the president’s election, but who once claimed to right to make candidates like Gore “jump through hoops” for the pure hella-fun of it.

That means you, Chris Matthews, who chased the presidential dick for two years, all the way through an impeachment process that was a constitutional absurdity, but who now discovers that the campaign of destruction never truly stopped.

That means you, Andrew Sullivan, with your current existential torment over How It Came To This….

…… This means all of you who went along for the ride on torture, and on Iraq, and who hid under the bed after 9/11. This is how the power came to rest with Ted Yoho, who is a fool and a know-nothing. This is how historical inevitability is created. This is how its momentum becomes unstoppable. This is how the wreckage piles up.

Full post here

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Bob Cesca: Why Isn’t the GOP Complaining About the Deficit? Because It’s Dropping — Fast.

As we careen headlong toward the debt ceiling deadline, with the House Republicans and Speaker John Boehner in full Three-Stooges-Trying-To-Fix-The-Plumbing mode, the issue area that’s been overshadowed by the grandstanding, political props and brinksmanship is government spending itself.

The budget deficit is really the 4,000 pound gorilla in the room and the Republicans refuse to discuss anything other than the fact that employer mandate for the dreaded Affordable Care Act begins a year after the individual mandate. Yes, we’re in the middle of a showdown over the debt because of Obamacare rather than, you know, spending and fiscal responsibility.

Why aren’t they talking about the deficit? That’s easy: they can’t say anything bad about it because the Obama administration’s record on the deficit is kind of stellar.

More here

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TPM: McCain: ‘Republicans Have To Understand We Have Lost This Battle’

With the government shutdown in its third week and the United States dangerously close to the debt limit, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) urged members of his party on Tuesday to stop digging.

“It’s very, very serious,” McCain said, as quoted by the New York Times. “Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.”

More here

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David Cay Johnston (Al Jazeera): Tea party Republicans put dollar’s reputation at risk

Barring an accident of political brinksmanship, the United States will not default on its debts and other obligations.

Economic conditions provide exactly zero reasons to worry that the U.S. cannot service its debts. The danger in the current crisis, therefore, is not catastrophic economic collapse.

Rather, the danger is that the House’s tea party Republicans, in their zeal to block President Barack Obama’s policies, especially on health care, have damaged investors’ long-term trust in the U.S. government. And by thwarting the principle of majority rule, they have demonstrated a disrupting power that they may wield into the next decade, causing further erosion in confidence.

More here

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ThinkProgress

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ThinkProgress: Houston Chronicle Yanks Ted Cruz Endorsement

As the federal government enters its sixteenth day of shutdown and stands just hours away from defaulting on the national debt, the largest newspaper in Texas has pulled its endorsement of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). The conservative lawmaker delivered a 21-hour speech on Sep. 24, urging Senate and House Republicans to vote against any government funding measure that includes appropriations for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and is viewed as at least partially responsible for the current impasse.

More here

Screw them for endorsing him in the first place – they helped get the ****er elected.

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A Year Ago Today:

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On This Day:

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden link arms and sing “We Shall Overcome” during the dedication ceremony for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011 Joining them, from left, are: Harry Johnson, Sr.; Interior Secretary Ken Salazar; and Herman “Skip” Mason (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama says goodbye to former President George H. W. Bush and former Secretary of State James A. Baker, prior to departure from Easterwood Field landing zone, in College Station, Texas, Oct. 16, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Neighbors in West Newton, Mass., react as the President headed their way after speaking at an event next door, Oct. 16, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Morning everyone, looks like it’ll be a long day.

18
Sep
13

Rise and Shine

(Almost) A Year Ago: President Obama greets the Children’s Miracle Network Champions in the East Room of the White House, Sept. 19, 2012 (Pete Souza)

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Today (all times Eastern)

10:45: President Obama delivers remarks to members of the Business Roundtable and answers questions

Live at NBC – Audio only at WH Live

11:15: Jay Carney briefs the press

11:30: VP Biden meets with U.S. participants in the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue in the Roosevelt Room

3:30: The President and VP meet with Secretary of the Treasury Lew

4:15: The President and VP meet with Secretary of State Kerry

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USA Today: Obama’s day: Business Roundtable

President Obama spends Wednesday trying to recruit new backers in his budget battles with congressional Republicans: Corporate executives.

Obama meets with members of the Business Roundtable as the White House and Congress face the prospects of a government shutdown and another standoff over the debt ceiling.

The White House says Obama will ask the business leaders to talk to congressional Republicans “to grow the economy, create jobs, and not reverse the progress we’ve made by shutting down the government or threatening to force the United States to default on the bills it has already racked up and owes.”

More here

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Steve Benen: Boehner moves closer to government shutdown

Some problems are so complex and difficult, they’re nearly impossible to solve. Avoiding a government shutdown isn’t one of them.

After his far-right members vetoed his preferred solution, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) could have very easily reached out to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), put some modest enticements on the table, and picked up plenty of votes to approve a stop-gap spending measure. The whole thing could have been wrapped up in an afternoon, and the media would have cheered Boehner for constructive, bipartisan governing.

But that’s not what the laughably weak Speaker is inclined to do….

More here

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@WhiteHouse

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Spandan (The People’s View): Health Reform in Action: 6 in 10 Uninsured Eligible Obamacare Premiums Under $100

Exactly zero of the right wing red-hot-siren warnings about shooting health insurance costs (“rate shock”) has panned out, but plenty of rate shock has been received on the other end of the scale – with tons of people shocked to find checks from their insurance companies in their mailboxes, rates reduced for their children with pre-existing conditions, and outrageously inexpensive rates in the state exchanges about to open in less than two weeks.

And here comes another:  of the people who are eligible for either Medicaid or premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, six out of 10 Americans currently uninsured will be able to get coverage for $100 or less per month.

More here

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@Jordan44: For GOP, is yielding to this fringe viewpoint of undermining #Obamacare really worth recklessly hurting the economy?

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Steve Benen: ‘This is about political cash, not political principle’

Brian Walsh, a former spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, recently offered his take on why far-right groups like Heritage Action and the Senate Conservatives Fund keep Republican activists so riled up about the Affordable Care Act: “[T]his is about political cash, not political principle…. You see, money begets TV ads which begets even more money for these groups’ personal coffers.”

According to Walsh, who knows the internal workings of GOP politics quite well, conservative activist organizations are effectively waging a political war because political wars make for a convenient fundraising tool.

More here

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ThinkProgress: Latest Obamacare Lie Claims Doctors Will Be Forced To Ask Patients About Their Sexual History

In a New York Post op-ed, the inventor of the death panels lie, Betsy McCaughey, now claims that the Affordable Care Act is turning “doctors into government agents” by having them ask patients about their sex history. “Obamacare will question your sex life,” the headline says, and the issue has gained traction among conservatives. For example, Media Matters notes how Fox and Friends has amplified McCaughey’s argument, claiming that “doctors will be forced to ask patients about their sex life, even if it has nothing to do with the medical treatment that they are seeking at the time.”

But the questions McCaughey finds so outrageous are already routine physician practice…

More here

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Smartypants: FISA Court rules metadata collection constitutional

Today the Obama administration declassified another FISA Court ruling. This is a big one. In it, the court ruled that the NSA collection of metadata is constitutional…..

…. Given that a headline like the one I’ve used here doesn’t attract the kind of linkbait you get from saying “The government is illegally spying on you!” it will be interesting to see how many media outlets report on this story.

Full post here

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OFA

Greg Sargent: GOP climate skeptics to hold hearing on climate science

Did you know House Republicans are planning a hearing on climate science for [today]? It’s true — and it should provide a useful glimpse into whether Republicans are prepared to start caring publicly about the issue, and if so, how they’ll go about doing that given the climate science denialists in their ranks.

…. Gina McCarthy, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, will be testifying. She is already something of a lightning rod, so this is legitimately a big deal: House Republicans will probably be signaling how they will respond when the EPA rolls out its new rules governing carbon emissions on new power plans, a central item on Obama’s agenda that is going to provoke a huge fight…

More here

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Live on C-Span at 10:15 AM EDT

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Steve Benen: Congress targets Obama’s climate agenda

It’s been about three months since President Obama unveiled a fairly ambitious agenda to combat the climate crisis, and in the immediate aftermath, Republicans had very little to say about it. Indeed, Politico reported in June that GOP leaders came up with a game plan: ignore the speech, ignore global warming, and generally ignore science altogether.

That approach will change today….

More here

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ThinkProgress: Following Navy Yard Shooting, Top Donor Threatens To Withhold Donations From Democrats Who Opposed Background Checks

A philanthropist who has donated millions to gun safety causes and groups is urging donors to withhold their support from Democrats who oppose gun safety regulations, following Monday’s shooting at Washington’s Navy Yard.

“Each time large-scale gun violence strikes our country—at a workplace, a movie theater, a political rally, or most devastating of all, at a school—a public debate about gun laws ensues,” Eli Broad, who has also funded some of the Center for American Progress’ gun work, wrote in a dairy for the Daily Kos on Tuesday. “Then, Congress promises action. But every time, our elected officials fail to deliver.”

More here

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TPM: Starbucks: Please Keep Guns Out Of Our Stores

In an open letter Tuesday, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz asked customers to “no longer bring firearms” into the chain’s stores or outdoor seating areas.

Schultz wrote that it had been the company’s policy to follow local laws. In states with so-called “open carry” laws, customers were permitted to bring firearms into stores.

But that policy inadvertently thrust Starbucks into the debate over “open carry” and recent events have prompted the company to shift course. Pro-gun advocates staged a “Starbucks Appreciation Day” last month to commend the company for its position on “open carry.” Schultz wrote that those advocates “disingenuously” portrayed the company as a “champion of ‘open carry.'”

More here

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Dealbook: Inspired by Professor, Investor Makes Big Gift for Black Studies

Just over 10 years ago, the private equity mogul Glenn Hutchins was on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. With his 25th Harvard College reunion near, he was thinking about how to put some of his wealth to good use.

One afternoon, clad in a T-shirt and board shorts, he stopped at an old whaling chapel, where Henry Louis Gates Jr., the prominent professor of African and African-American studies at Harvard, was leading a symposium.

That encounter gave Mr. Hutchins his cause.

Since then, Mr. Hutchins has strengthened his connection to Mr. Gates and the Harvard program. Their bond will become stronger on Wednesday, when Mr. Hutchins is expected to announce a gift of more than $15 million to create the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research, solidifying Harvard’s program as one of the top in its field.

More here

Thank you CarolDuhart!

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Ah, memories – a year ago today:

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Washington Post: Wendy Davis prepares to launch Texas gubernatorial bid next month

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) is almost ready to announce her gubernatorial bid – but first she will expand her social network just a little bit more.

In an e-mail sent to her supporters Wednesday morning, Davis – who garnered national attention this summer for fighting a sweeping antiabortion bill in her state – wrote she will be “answering the question” of what’s next for her career on Oct. 3. But before making her formal announcement, she posed a question of her own: “Do you have any friends or family who would like to be among the first to know?

More here

wendydavisforsenate.com

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MoooOOOooorning, Happy Wednesday!

12
Aug
11

‘pledging allegiance to the tea party’

10
Aug
11

‘burned on a teacup’

Mark Mellman (The Hill): Make no mistake: Republicans castigating President Obama for S&P’s ill-considered downgrade are akin to a mugger attacking the mayor, then blaming the sheriff for “letting” him do it.

Republican members of Congress attacked the full faith and credit of the United States by arguing publicly that defaulting on our debts would not be so bad. No rating agency can hear that and remain confident America feels bound and determined to pay its bills.

When every serious GOP economist and most every Republican who has carefully investigated the issue – from Sen. Tom Coburn to former Sen. Alan Simpson – conclude that both spending cuts and revenue increases are required to restore our fiscal heath, but Republican leaders announce they will refuse to appoint anyone to the supercommittee who might even consider eliminating billions in subsidies to oil companies, they not only subordinate the national interest to the interests of Big Oil, they also send an unmistakable message to rating agencies that they aren’t serious about restoring fiscal discipline, thereby mugging America’s credit rating. Then they attack President Obama for what – allowing them to speak freely, if foolishly?

… “Tea Party” is becoming a dirty word …. Republicans running for every office from president to dog catcher are forced to pledge fealty to a group that is increasingly scorned by the American people.

The same could be said of the GOP itself. Just this week CNN/ORC pollsters found 59 percent of Americans harboring unfavorable views of the Republican Party, while only 33 percent offered favorable opinions. At no point in the last two decades has opinion of the Republican Party been so negative …. (While hardly loved, Democrats are 26 points better off than the GOP.)

…. Americans want compromise and moderation, while Republicans emerge from this crisis looking uncompromising in their extremism. Public preference for compromise is clear – three recent polls found 66 percent to 85 percent saying they would rather the parties compromise than stick to their principles.

But the GOP failed this test … Being uncompromising, extreme and in thrall to a movement that is becoming a pariah will hurt the GOP. Unfortunately, it hurts the country even more.

Full article here

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Gallup

10
Aug
11

wednesday

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Ron Klain (Washington Monthly): Among the many misconceptions about Barack Obama is that he is cautious. In fact, it is hard to think of a modern president in recent times who has been more willing to take big risks, not because he is reckless, but because he is willing to suffer potential short-term setbacks to achieve a desired long-term result. It is in that context that the much-maligned debt-ceiling compromise must be understood.

…. One example early in his administration was his choice to “bail out” the automobile industry …. Obama took action by investing substantial funds, demanding important management and strategic changes, requiring bankruptcy filings, and painfully shrinking auto-dealer networks. All were risky steps that could have quickly unraveled.

Two years later, that choice is paying off: Car sales have risen, auto-industry employment is up, taxpayers are getting their money back, and U.S. cars are getting higher consumer ratings than ever.

Health-Care Overhaul: …. many of the president’s advisers urged him to abandon the push for a comprehensive bill, and pursue a far more limited approach. But Obama wouldn’t bend, and took a gigantic risk: He pressed for a House vote on a bill that was passed by the Senate the previous year and was unpopular with many House Democrats.

Obama could have easily, and visibly, lost. Yet, once again, his gamble paid off, achieving a victory that had escaped his predecessors.

Bin Laden Raid: …. the president once again rejected the play-it-safe advice of many advisers, and ordered SEAL Team 6 to carry out its heroic raid to kill Osama bin Laden. The safer alternative – a drone strike – would have minimized the fallout if the al-Qaeda leader wasn’t at the target, or if the assault went awry. But the president believed the bin Laden’s death could only be verified with a manned raid; once again, the risky decision was the right choice.

…. So now we come to the recent debt-ceiling deal … In accepting a deal that swapped an increase of more than $2 trillion in the debt ceiling for discretionary spending cuts that Republicans wanted – without balanced, revenue-increasing measures – the president didn’t give up on his goal, as some progressive critics have alleged. Instead, he gambled that he would be able to reach his objective later.

The key to this wager is the package of contingent cuts that will be triggered if Congress fails to pass additional deficit reduction after a so-called super-committee makes recommendations in November….. the White House should do everything possible to convince the widest spectrum of voters that the consequences of activation of the trigger would be unacceptable.

…Ultimately, the only way that Republicans will accept what they consider unacceptable – revenue increases – is if the alternative is even less acceptable: horrific defense and Medicare cuts.

…. Obama’s willingness to mark his time and double down may be vindicated, and the critics who are betting against him now may be proven wrong once again.

Full article here

Thank you Loriah

09
Aug
11

‘public support for gop plummets’

Steve Benen: American voters clearly aren’t happy, and no one in Washington is winning any popularity contests, but support for the Republican Party is deteriorating at a surprising pace. A new CNN poll shows the GOP “had the upper hand” when it came to holding the debt ceiling hostage, but the party has “lost a lot of ground with the public” in the process.

A lot of that anger seems directed toward the GOP. According to the survey, favorable views of the Republican party dropped eight points over the past month, to 33 percent. Fifty-nine percent say they have an unfavorable view of the Republican party, an all-time high dating back to 1992 when the question was first asked.

The poll indicates that views of the Democratic party, by contrast, have remained fairly steady, with 47 percent saying they have a favorable view of the Democrats and an equal amount saying they hold an unfavorable view.

…. the Republican Party’s support is down to an embarrassing 33% — the lowest either party has seen in two decades of CNN polls.

There’s plenty of speculation about what the 2012 elections have in store, and whether President Obama can win given the larger headwinds. It’s worth remembering that it matters what voters think of the opposition party, and if the recent trends pick up, the much of the public might balk at the idea of handing a wildly-unpopular Republican Party control of the White House and Congress.

Full post here

09
Aug
11

tuesday

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The White House announced Tuesday morning that the President’s trip to Interstate Moving Services in Springfield, VA., where he was scheduled to talk about fuel efficiency, has been cancelled.

Instead, the President will “meet with industry officials at the White House to discuss the first of their kind fuel efficiency standards for work trucks, buses, and other heavy duty vehicles,” the White House said.

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Eugene Robinson: The so-called analysts at Standard & Poor’s may not be the most reliable bunch, but there was one very good reason for them to downgrade U.S. debt: Republicans in Congress made a credible threat to force a default on our obligations.

This isn’t the rationale that S&P gave, but it’s the only one that makes sense. Like a lucky college student who partied the night before an exam, the ratings agency used flawed logic and faulty arithmetic to somehow come up with the right answer. No, life isn’t always fair.

And no, I can’t join the “we’re all at fault” chorus. Absent the threat of willful default, a downgrade would be unjustified and absurd. And history will note that it was House Republicans who issued that threat.

…. What happened this summer is that Republicans in the House, using the Tea Party freshmen as a battering ram, threatened to compel a default. More accurately, they demanded big budget cuts as the price of raising the debt ceiling. If the Senate and President Obama did not comply, the Treasury’s access to capital through borrowing would have been cut off.

…. The ratings agency should have focused instead on the one development that has direct bearing on our creditworthiness: the GOP threat to force a default. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor should never have planned to use the debt ceiling vote as “leverage.” Obama should have made clear from the start that if necessary he would take unilateral action, based on the 14th Amendment, to ensure there could never be a default. And yes, progressive Democrats who voted against the final debt-ceiling bill should be ashamed.

It’s pretty simple: If you threaten not to pay your bills, people will — and should — take you seriously.

Full article here

08
Aug
11

monday

I’m late posting this video, but John Kerry is always worth the wait.

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The President has no public appearances in his schedule today – he attends two DNC events in Washington this evening (the first at a private residence, the second at the St. Regis Hotel)

07
Aug
11

axelrod

06
Aug
11

‘the meltdown’s true villain’

Wikipedia

Michael Tomasky (The Daily Beast): With a double-dip recession looming and attacks on Obama mounting, it’s amazing the GOP is still setting the U.S. agenda when its own George W. Bush ran up half the debt we’ve accumulated since Reagan.
… Every time I step back and ponder this sordid history, I am amazed that the Republican Party has any credibility..

The Boston Globe ran a chart last Sunday that I’d buy billboard space to reproduce in every decent-size city in America:

The premise of it was very simple: It showed how many trillions each president since Ronald Reagan has added to the nation’s debt. The debt was about $1 trillion when Reagan took office, and then: Reagan, $1.9 trillion; George H.W. Bush, $1.5 trillion (in just four years); Bill Clinton, $1.4 trillion; Obama, $2.4 trillion.

Oh, wait. I skipped someone. George W. Bush ran up $6.4 trillion. That’s nearly half – 44.7 percent – of the $14.3 trillion total. We all know what did it – two massive tax cuts geared toward the rich (along with other similar measures, like slashing the capital gains and inheritance taxes), the off-the-books wars, the unfunded Medicare expansion, and so on. But the number is staggering and worth dwelling on. In a history covering 30 years, nearly half the debt was run up in eight. Even the allegedly socialist Obama at his most allegedly wanton doesn’t compare to Dubya…

In percentage terms, the case is even more open and shut. This table tells the sad tale (see table at the top of the post)…

The percentages in question here are debt as a chunk of the GDP … Reagan raised it 20 points, to 53 percent from 33 percent. Bush Sr. a gaudy 13 points more. Clinton lowered it by 10 points, back down to 56 percent. Bush Jr.? Up 28 points, to 82 percent of GDP. Obama has raised it nine points. Once again: In a 30-year increase from 32 percent to 93 percent of 61 points, nearly half, 28 points or 46 percent, happened under Bush.

…. I can only laugh when I hear Tea Party conservatives avow today that they have no love for Bush. It is truly an incredible record when you stack it up. First, the party fought tooth and nail against every single move Clinton made that ended up putting us in surplus. Then it got power – and let’s not get into how that happened – and ran up completely unprecedented debts and deficits. Then it put the foxes in command of the henhouses at the SEC and OTC and brought the world to the very brink of total economic collapse.

Then a guy from the other party got back in, tried to do what the vast majority of economists would say should be done in such a situation (the government should spend money while the private sector couldn’t), and they fought him tooth and nail. And now they’ve forced him into a deal (which he should not have agreed to) that will help ensure that the economy remains stuck in neutral until, oh, November 2012, to pick a date out of the air. Next, that guy will identify tax cuts to spur job growth, and they will invent reasons to oppose these measures, just as they once invented reasons why “deficits don’t matter”.

Full article here

06
Aug
11

saturday – the downgrade

First, the President’s weekly address:

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Zachary Karabell (The Daily Beast): Math-challenged and politically-driven, S&P’s Friday night credit demotion puts the ratings agency on par with the Tea Party. Zachary Karabell on why that’s dangerous.

…. Let’s be clear: Congress and the White House did not cover themselves with glory during the debt debate throughout July. The United States has a stalled economy and a large amount of debt. But on so many levels, this downgrade is absurd.

…. there is the question of math. When S&P informed the White House of its intention to downgrade on Friday afternoon, the Treasury Department took issue with S&P’s math and claimed that their assessment of the trends of the U.S. debt burden and its ratio to GDP was off by trillions of dollars. No matter. After a brief review, the wizards at S&P went ahead and removed an A.

… I have no criticism of an academic theory about how nations function economically. But when debatable theories become the underpinnings of decisions by unelected individuals who run organizations with significant sway (sway ceded to them by governments throughout the 20th century), then we have a problem …. drawing on theories about the “right” level of debt puts S&P in a strange bedfellow alliance with the Tea Party.

The people who run the ratings agencies are welcome to their analysis, as is the Tea Party. But if Rogoff and Reinhart or the Tea Party announced that they were downgrading U.S. sovereign debt, they would be laughed for their audacity. Yet when it is one of the anointed ratings agencies, there is this sudden need to genuflect.

… The company assailed the Washington culture of “brinkmanship” so in display during the debt ceiling fiasco, and used that as the primary reason to take us down a notch. Excuse me, but since when is a pristine political process a key ingredient to good credit? Are we supposed to have civil politics in order to maintain the rating?

…. There is not a scintilla of evidence that the political process has yet impeded the ability of the United States to meet its debt obligations, even with the debt ceiling brinkmanship….

Finally, as a symbol that the United States is sliding off the rails, the downgrade is potent … the actions of S&P are part of problem and not just an independent verification that one exists.

These agencies have been elevated to heights that should not ascend; they have been chronically wrong and late in the past; and their rationale for a downgrade sounds more like a prim distaste for a dysfunctional political process that a reasoned assessment of the ability of the United States to discharge its obligations. No defense can be offered of our current political system or near-term economic prospects. But S&P – already on overreach as “neutral” judge of American creditworthiness – has no special standing to rule on the political system, and using that as a cudgel to prove their own power is a destructive act.

Full post here

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Politicususa: … Reality denying Republicans have already tried to shift the blame to Obama for the debt downgrade, but it is important to state the obvious. If Republicans would have passed a clean debt ceiling extension, the downgrade would have never happened. The GOP’s political recipe for bringing Obama down of one part chaos and one part obstruction was never going to allow that to happen. Many Republicans wanted the debt downgrade because it plays into their political strategy for 2012.

Whether or not S&P’s numbers are off, and with Standard and Poor’s track record they very well could be, the political point can’t be ignored. S&P downgraded our debt because our political leaders can’t agree on anything….

… The S&P can be described as a troubled and flawed organization at best. They took a justified beating from Democrats for their role in helping to cause the financial crash of 2008. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the people at S&P saw this as a chance for a bit of reputation enhancement and political payback.

In economic terms, S&P is one of three ratings agencies. As long as the other two agencies keep the US rating at AAA there should be little impact from S&P’s decision. The biggest impact will be likely felt politically, not economically.

Republicans can try to blame Obama all they want, but they the ones who ginned up a crisis out of thin air, and they are party that has forced the United States of America’s debt to be downgraded for the first time in this nation’s glorious history.

The message to Obama and the Democrats is simple. They can’t fix this. Republicans are hell bent on making sure that the economy doesn’t recover. This reality leaves Democrats with two choices. They can either battle with the Republicans thus adding to the gridlock that is trashing the economy, or they can compromise and flush the economy down the drain.

It is a lose-lose situation that has no hope of improving unless the voters wake up and remove the Republicans from the House majority in 2012. Until then the American people are going to force fed a buffet of embarrassment, humiliation, and failure prepared by the master chefs of economic destruction in the Republican Party.

Eat up America. This is government that you voted for in 2010.

Full article here

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Krugman

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Steve Benen: Before we get into Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade United States debt, it’s worth appreciating the events that immediately preceded the announcement.

Officials from Standard & Poor’s provided documents to the Treasury Department, explaining the downgrade. Obama administration officials noticed a problem: the S&P numbers didn’t add up:

…..A Treasury staff member noticed the $2 trillion mistake within the hour, according to a department official. The Treasury called the company and explained the problem. About an hour later, the company conceded the problem but did not indicate how it planned to proceed, the official said. Hours later, S.& P. issued a revised release with new numbers but the same conclusion.

Got that? S&P prepared an analysis to justify a specific conclusion. The analysis was off by $2 trillion. Treasury explained to S&P that the analysis wasn’t even close to being accurate, which led the ratings agency to concede they’d made a mistake.

And a few hours later, S&P decided to reach the same conclusion anyway. The agency wanted to proceed with a downgrade; whether its numbers added up was irrelevant.

That certainly inspires confidence in the integrity of Standard & Poor’s decision making, doesn’t it?

I’m reminded of something Joe Klein said in April, after S&P first started making threats about this.

….. Hey, weren’t you the same guys who gave AAA ratings to the repackaged subprime mortgage-backed securities that, in truth, were utter dreck? And didn’t that help cause the 2008 economic collapse? And didn’t subsequent accounts reveal that you were in bed with the banks whose products you were supposed to be rating? I mean, you guys are still in business? Amazing.

Full post here

05
Aug
11

‘spouting policy vitriol from the comfy confines of an office at princeton’

Ben Heineman (The Atlantic): Many liberals are furious with President Obama over the policies in the debt ceiling deal. But, as usual, their critique – Paul Krugman’s is one example – ignores, or is naïve about, the hard realities of divided congressional politics.

When a “yes” vote was required to extend the ceiling, how should the president have negotiated with a Republican House which had been transformed by the 2010 election and which had a sizable number of ideologically driven republican members who wanted to say “no”? That is the key question.

… We are witnessing for the umpteenth time liberal criticism that ignores the diversity in our political system and the dispersion of power in our constitutional system. From time immemorial, Democratic presidents are harshly criticized by liberals for deviating from their “one true faith,” without much regard for politics. Invariably, they say, if the president had taken a principled public position, he would have mobilized the “base” and countered the forces of darkness (i.e.those with whom they don’t agree), but they don’t offer a cogent political analysis. As in this case. To repeat, how should Obama have negotiated with a transformed House of Representatives when he needed their assent?

…. many liberals don’t want to discuss the politics of this negotiation where one House of the Congress has a large majority and blocking power. Far easier, as always, to hurl ideological imprecations down upon the president (how about Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid folks?)…

To be sure, those on the Democratic side can have a spirited debate about the policies and the politics of Obama presidency, which came into office facing terrible conditions caused by the worst decade of public and private leadership in years…

But, one thing is for sure. Spouting policy vitriol from the comfy confines of an office at Princeton is not going to solve problems in a deeply divided country with strongly held views across the political spectrum. In our system, policy only become important when joined with the power of politics. And that power, ultimately, is in elections.

Liberals should be working every congressional and senatorial race, starting yesterday. Grassroots politics against conservatives, not Olympian op-eds against President Obama, is the best answer for liberal critics of the debt-ceiling deal.

Full article here

05
Aug
11

friday

02
Aug
11

behind the scenes

President Barack Obama meets with Speaker of the House John Boehner on the patio near the Oval Office, Sunday, July 3

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Oval Office to discuss ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to the debt limit and deficit reduction, July 20

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden walk around the South Lawn of the White House, Sunday, July 24

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are briefed by Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, during a meeting in Chief of Staff Bill Daley’s West Wing office at the White House to discuss ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to the debt limit and deficit reduction, Saturday, July 30

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden talk with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi following their meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Oval Office to discuss ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to the debt limit and deficit reduction, Saturday, July 30

President Barack Obama talks with senior advisors in the Oval Office to discuss ongoing efforts in the debt limit and deficit reduction talks, Sunday, July 31. Pictured, from left, are: Vice President Joe Biden; Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs; OMB Director Jack Lew; Pete Rouse, Counselor to the President; and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett

President Barack Obama talks on the phone with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Chief of Staff Bill Daley’s West Wing Office at the White House to discuss ongoing efforts in the debt limit and deficit reduction talks, Sunday, July 31, 2011. Chief of Staff Bill Daley, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden talk in a West Wing hallway at the White House in between meetings to discuss ongoing efforts in the debt limit and deficit reduction talks, Sunday, July 31

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden shake hands in the Oval Office following a phone call with House Speaker John Boehner securing a bipartisan deal to reduce the nation’s deficit and avoid default, Sunday, July 31

President Barack Obama signs the Budget Control Act of 2011 in the Oval Office, Aug. 2

All photos by Pete Souza – more here

01
Aug
11

ah, someone else for the firebaggers to hate…

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) issued the following statement about his position on the debt ceiling compromise:

“As I have said all along, the consequences of failing to raise the debt ceiling and defaulting on our debt would be disastrous to all Minnesotans.  Unfortunately, in a game of chicken, the player most concerned about protecting the full faith and credit of the United States is put in the most difficult position.

“As a result, the deal that has been struck is not balanced, as I would have preferred.  It does achieve the laudable goal of reducing the deficit, but does so with only cuts, even though a significant majority of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, favor closing loopholes for corporations and tax increases on the wealthiest Americans to make sure everyone is paying their fair share.

“Nevertheless, I will vote for this package, because defaulting would have grave economic consequences for my Minnesota constituents.  The deal does protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.  And it will erase some of the uncertainty confronting businesses and the markets.

“I hope now we can get back to our job, which is to facilitate the growth of our economy and create jobs by investing in innovation, in our infrastructure and workforce, and by making sure our children get a world-class education so they are prepared for a 21st century economy.”




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