TPM: … TPM readers identified the two likeminded conservatives with whom Paul Ryan shared two pricey $350 bottles of Pinot Noir Wednesday night (original story here)
….(they) were Cliff Asness and John Cochrane. Both men have doctorate degrees in economics and are well-known in the conservative media world as die-hard proponents of the free market’s ability to right itself without government bailouts when the crisis hit in late 2008.
Asness, who ordered the wine and who, according to Feinberg was the one who said “Fuck her,” is better known as a high-profile hedge fund manager. Asness founded and runs AQR Capital, which manages an estimated $26 billion in a variety of traditional products and hedge funds, and his life story has been the subject of numerous books and articles about the rise and fall of Wall Street. He’s also grabbed headlines for being one of the most voluble opponents of President Obama’s economic policies.
ABC’s Jake Tapper ran an illuminating piece on Asness in May of 2009 after he wrote an angry open letter to Obama – “Unafraid in Greenwich, Connecticut” – in which he blasted the President’s attacks on hedge fund owners refusing to go along with his administration’s plans for Chrysler.
“Who came up with the title for the letter?” Tapper asked parenthetically in his piece. “Axelrod? Perhaps ‘Bold and on My Yacht’ was too subtle.”
….In May 2009, Asness served as a guest host on CNBC’s Squawk Box and defended the $450 million in bonuses AIG executives received, arguing that President Obama and the Congress are responsible for the economic crisis and should pay the execs the bonuses themselves…..
Campaignmoney: Asness is more than just an angry millionaire – he’s a major conservative political player.
Asness was listed as an attendee at retreats held by the billionaire conservative Koch Brothers, according to the document obtained by ThinkProgess last year. Charles and David Koch bring people together at these events to “review strategies for combating the multitude of public policies that threaten to destroy America as we know it”. In January, Ryan spoke at the Koch’s California retreat….
Daily Beast: The president will quietly toughen regulations in the wake of the Gabby Giffords shooting, despite opposition from the NRA.
…. Attorney General Eric Holder sent a memo that escaped much public notice but left federal prosecutors with an unmistakable message. People who buy guns at U.S. shops with the intent of secretly transferring them to someone else – a tactic known as “straw buying” that is at the heart of the Mexican border violence – should face new, stiffer prison sentences…
…It was one of several quiet efforts by the Obama administration to toughen current gun regulations through administrative processes …. starting as early as next week, Obama will begin a series of changes designed to tighten regulations and penalties under current laws – bypassing a fight in Congress with the pro-gun National Rifle Association in the process.
The changes will include:
A national electronic system designed to make background checks for handgun buyers simpler and faster, leaving an electronic paper trail….
A new reporting requirement that federally licensed gun shops report any person who tries to buy two long-arm weapons near the Mexican border over a five-day period.
Des Moines Register: Better Homes and Gardens will feature First Lady Michelle Obama on the cover of its August issue — the first public figure to grace the magazine’s cover in 48 years.
Obama will be the focus of an article on healty eating for children. The issue will hit newsstands July 19.
Editors from the magazine, which is owned by Des Moines-based Meredith Corp., and the first lady co-hosted a picnic in May for D.C. fifth-graders. The magazine features photos of the picnic and an interview with Obama about her efforts to promote healthful habits.
Stephen Stromberg (Washington Post): … the central message that President Obama delivered at his Monday press conference on negotiations to raise the federal debt ceiling was exactly right: “If not now, when?”
…. Obama called out Republicans, informing them that they will need to give on something to get an agreement… “I’m prepared to take on significant heat from my party to get something done,” Obama said. Will Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell develop the spines to take heat from their base, too?
…. Is Obama just making a play for the middle? Possibly. But outside of conservative circles – in which raising a nickel of federal revenue anywhere, anytime is apostasy and federal budgeting is too often an exercise in ideological fantasy – the president sounded measured, diplomatic and fair. If he reaps political benefits from that, he should.
Business Insider: …. Federal government spending has risen under President Obama, mostly because of the $800 billion stimulus designed to offset the massive recession he inherited from President Bush. But the increase in federal spending under Obama is dwarfed by the colossal increase under President Bush.
Don’t believe it? Here’s Federal Expenditures from 2000-2011:
As you can see, from 2000 to 2008, under President Bush, Federal spending rose by $1.3 trillion, from $1.9 trillion a year to $3.2 trillion a year.
From 2009 to 2011, meanwhile, under President Obama, federal spending has risen by $600 billion, from $3.2 trillion a year to $3.8 trillion a year. It has also now begun to decline.
In other words, federal government spending under President Bush increased 2X as much as it has under President Obama.
So, who’s responsible for the explosion in federal spending?
Steve Benen: … let’s note two broader truths. The first is that Republicans don’t really give a damn about debt reduction. They care about taxes and shielding the wealthy from having to pay a little more. The parties, then, are talking past one another — Dems think they’re involved in a good-faith effort to reduce the budget shortfall with a sensible, balanced approach to bring the budget closer to balance. Republicans think they’re involved in an effort to cut spending — not because of the deficit, but because it’s what they like to do anyway — and protect tax giveaways.
… The second is that Republicans, as is their new nature, simply can’t bring themselves to even consider compromise. Americans elected a Democratic president, a Democratic Senate, and a Republican House. Given these circumstances, GOP leaders are absolutely convinced that the only fair resolution is that Republicans get everything they want, and Dems simply go along. And if Dems balk, Republicans will crash the economy on purpose.
It’s nothing short of insane.
Talks will resume today, and are scheduled to continue, literally every day, until there’s an agreement.
Jonathan Cohn (TNR): Does anything matter to Republicans more than protecting tax cuts for the very wealthy? Developments of the last 18 hours suggest very strongly that the answer is no.
… Such a large deal would have required Republicans to agree to new revenue, in some form. And at least some of that money would have come from higher taxes (in terms of total collections, if not rates) on the very wealthy. Boehner hinted that might be acceptable, as part of a compromise….
But other Republican leaders, like Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and certain conservative agitators, like the writers of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, made very clear they disagreed. No matter how big the Democratic concessions, no matter how risky the prospect of postponing a deal on the debt ceiling, they were not willing to embrace a package that meant higher taxes, particularly taxes on the wealthy. And according to reports in this morning’s papers, those voices finally prevailed.
…. as the skeptics, like my colleague Jonathan Chait, were predicting all along, Boehner isn’t really in charge of the House Republican caucus. The lunatics are. And it looks like they’ve won.
Ezra Klein: The more I hear about the breakdown of the debt deal, the more this seems to have been a straightforward humbling of John Boehner. Here’s how a Democratic aide described the talks to Politico’s Mike Allen:
A number of folks in the room were struck by the fact that Cantor did virtually all of the talking for House Republicans, while Boehner basically just sat there.
Think that’s just Democratic spin? Here’s how a top Republican lawmaker described it to John Bresnahan, Jonathan Allen and Jake Sherman:
“It’s crazy to think the speaker was considering a trillion [dollars] in tax increases. After all, we’re the anti-tax party,” said one veteran Republican lawmaker close to leadership. “Cantor brought him, the economy and our party back from the abyss. Cantor is strengthened, clearly. And it’s another example of the speaker almost slipping beyond the will of the GOP conference.”