WH: The Federal Government is the largest property owner in the United States. But some 14,000 of its properties sit unused and unneeded, costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year in operating and maintenance expenses. To cut down on this wasteful and inefficient spending, the Obama Administration has taken unprecedented steps to reduce this stock of unused property and is on track to save $3.5 billion by the end of Fiscal Year 2012.
Joe Biden: “Tonight the people of Ohio delivered a gigantic victory for the middle class with their overwhelming rejection of a Republican attempt to strip away collective bargaining rights. Fundamental fairness has prevailed. By standing with teachers and firefighters and cops, Ohio has sent a loud and clear message that will be heard all across the country: The middle class will no longer be trampled on. The people of Ohio are to be congratulated.”
Steve Benen: Going into Election Day 2011, the conventional wisdom said that voters would offer some clues about prevailing political attitudes and what’s to come in 2012. As the dust settles on last night’s results, if the conventional wisdom is right, Republican optimism about next year is badly misplaced.
From coast to coast, Democrats and progressive goals not only won, but in most instances, won big. Some of the highlights….
4:15: The President holds a bilateral meeting with President Silva of Portugal.
8:35 PM: Delivers remarks at the National Women’s Law Center’s annual awards dinner.
Father of the year Joe Walsh’s meltdown:
Bloomberg: The Senate President of Arizona and author of the state’s hard-line laws against illegal immigration lost a recall election seen as a bellwether on “extreme” politics.
Republican Russell Pearce, lost by 53 percent to 45 percent with all precincts reported, according to the Maricopa County Elections office. Pearce, 64, was defeated by Jerry Lewis, a Republican school administrator who has said he opposes Pearce’s enforcement-only approach to immigration policy.
“There is a deep dissatisfaction in Arizona for what is viewed as politics in the extreme,” said Earl de Berge of the Phoenix-based Behavior Research Center, a nonpartisan polling company. Pearce “symbolizes a very hard-nosed view on conservative policies.” The loss will show moderates that they can win in the state, de Berge said. “It is going to be a sea change in Arizona,” he said.
Steve Benen: …. Speaker Boehner’s budget proposal doesn’t have the votes. In the hopes of twisting a few arms, the House proceeded to take up a few measures related to — I kid you not — naming post offices. (Yes, five days before an economic catastrophe of Republicans’ making, they’re reduced to naming post offices on the House floor.)
Nearly two hours later, GOP leaders have said they still expect to hold a vote “tonight,” though that’s a time frame that could conceivably go into the morning. Democratic leaders also anticipate a vote this evening, and have told members not to leave Capitol Hill.
By most accounts, Boehner is a vote or two shy of what he needs to pass a bill … which everyone knows will then be promptly killed by the Senate. The Speaker’s argument to his caucus is that passage of his budget plan will give him greater leverage in the final round of talks, after this bill dies, but as it turns out, that’s not much of a rallying cry for a right-wing caucus that doesn’t like Boehner’s bill much anyway.
At this point, it’s also worth noting that Boehner’s hold on the Speaker’s gavel is weakening, and failure tonight, if there’s a vote, would be a stunning rebuke of his leadership by dozens of members of his own caucus.
Harry Reid’s communications director, meanwhile, explained about an hour ago, “The Senate stands ready to defeat the Boehner plan whenever House Republicans can get their act together.”
…. Update: At about 8:10 p.m., Eric Cantor’s spokesperson said the vote will occur “before tomorrow.”
Joe Klein (Time): Let us not put too fine a point on it: Thursday’s House vote on Speaker John Boehner’s debt ceiling proposal is a joke. If it passes the House, Harry Reid has said it is dead on arrival in the Senate. If it somehow passes the Senate, which it won’t, President Obama will veto it. It is, therefore, a symbolic act that is wasting precious time. It follows last week’s Republican theatrics, the passage of the Cut and Demolish Act (or whatever they called it), which also was a waste of time. These are the actions of a party that has completely lost track of reality – and of a leader, John Boehner, who has lost the support of his party.
…. This has been an exhausting process – one that might have resulted in an exhilarating triumph, if the Republican party were not led by nihilists like Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist. But one senses that the President is feeling the exhaustion and frustration. He is preparing himself for the worst of all possible scenarios: the uncertainty caused by the Republican anarchy has already damaged the economy, businesses are waiting to see what the interest rates will be and therefore delaying plans to expand. That uncertainty, added to the higher oil prices caused by Arab Spring, the European Debt crisis and the Japanese earthquake could well bring us a double-dip recession.
… And so, here we are. Our nation’s economy and international reputation as the world’s presiding grownup has already been badly damaged. It is a self-inflicted wound of monumental stupidity. I am usually willing to acknowledge that Democrats can be as silly, and hidebound, as Republicans–but not this time. There is zero equivalence here. The vast majority of Democrats have been more than reasonable….
The Republicans have been willing to concede nothing. Their stand means higher interest rates, fewer jobs created and more destroyed, a general weakening of this country’s standing in the world. Osama bin Laden, if he were still alive, could not have come up with a more clever strategy for strangling our nation.
President Obama talks with staff during a Domestic Policy Council meeting in the Oval Office, July 28 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Andrew Leonard (Salon): As I write these words, the U.S. House of Representatives is debating the appropriate name for a post office in Pasadena, Calif. Meanwhile, C-SPAN is running a crawl at the bottom of the screen that reads “Final Vote on Speaker Boehner’s Plan to Raise Debt Ceiling Postponed.”
And so, ludicrously, is history made. The Republican Party is on the cusp of one of the greatest self-inflicted disasters since a crack cadre of two-bit bumblers broke into the Watergate Hotel. Right now, John Boehner cannot count on enough Republican votes to pass his own debt ceiling bill….
…It is still, at this point, nearly inconceivable that Boehner’s bill could go down in flames. Because if it does, intransigent House conservatives will have handed President Obama one of the biggest victories of his term.
Here’s why: The Boehner bill is already a conservative bill that won’t pass the Senate. But if House Republicans can’t pass it on their own, they will have conclusively demonstrated that it will be impossible for them to come to agreement on any kind of compromise deal acceptable to both parties. They will have effectively declared themselves incapable of governing …. exposed as both irresponsible and incompetent.
… Washington will be a different town, and Boehner will be a neutered political leader. And those of us who lived through this period will wonder how in the world this man managed to hold the U.S. government hostage for so long, when he couldn’t even control his own party.