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Grand Bargain Circus — Red Clowns Wrangle

6:13 am in Uncategorized by joe shikspack

Jean-Léon_Gérôme_-_Duel_After_a_Masquerade_Ball
Greetings Circus fans! Welcome back to the Circus that, like rust, never sleeps. For the past couple of days the red clowns have separated into rival gang factions to fight out their final strategery. Watching clowns enter into public backbiting and recriminations is always amusing for the audience and the pie has been flying.

It seems that according to the folks at the Beltway Bigtop Office of Promotions that the Hot Potato of Blame has fallen into Boner T. Redclown’s Ring 1 and cannot be returned to Harry T. Blueclown’s Ring 3 due to a preponderance of audience belief.

The Beltway Bigtop Office of Promotions now says that this shutdown was planned, long in advance by a consortium of red clown groups and heavily funded by red clowns from the Koch Klowns organization:

The current budget brinkmanship is just the latest development in a well-financed, broad-based assault on the health law, Mr. Obama’s signature legislative initiative. Groups like Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks are all immersed in the fight, as is Club for Growth, a business-backed nonprofit organization. Some, like Generation Opportunity and Young Americans for Liberty, both aimed at young adults, are upstarts. Heritage Action is new, too, founded in 2010 to advance the policy prescriptions of its sister group, the Heritage Foundation.

The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, have been deeply involved with financing the overall effort. A group linked to the Kochs, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, disbursed more than $200 million last year to nonprofit organizations involved in the fight.

Great amusement for the audience has resulted! While the Koch Klowns have been climbing the rigging and shouting that Kochs are not to blame, the rank and file red clowns have been quite agitated at each other due to the fact that their gambit to force the Ringmaster and the blue clowns to capitulate has failed to be an early success. The blue clowns and much of the audience have had many a moment of amusement as the red clowns have piled into a clown bus and have been chasing Cruz T. Redclown around the arena:

Clown Bus by guthrieschroederRep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) on Monday echoed Peter King’s statement that the person to blame for the current government shutdown is Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

‘If I had to cast blame anywhere, I would say it was Sen. Cruz and those who insisted upon this tactic that we all knew was not going to succeed,’ Dent told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

‘What he did essentially, Sen. Cruz, basically, he took a lot of folks into the ditch. Now that we’re in the ditch, you can’t get out of the ditch, the senator has no plan to get out of the ditch, those of us who do have a plan to get out of the ditch and will vote to get out of the ditch will then be criticized by those who put us in the ditch in the first place.’

As one group of the red clowns played “chase the scapegoat,” other set to work on what the red clown leaders strategery:

Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, chairman of the Rules Committee, tells us Speaker John Boehner doesn’t yet have his debt-ceiling proposal finalized. For now, no legislation is headed toward his committee, and it’s all about messaging. … ‘I’d say if you ran the clock on it, 48 hours,’ Sessions adds, when asked how long it’ll take Boehner to unveil the leadership’s plan.

Scary Clowns at PDC2008 Party at Universal Studios by D.Begley
But even as Boner T. Redclown was busy juggling and formulating his strategery, out of a dark corner of Ring 1 came the nearly-famous Ryan T. Redclown who was once Mittens T. Redclown’s second in a clown duel with the Ringmaster. It appears that Ryan T. Redclown has been working on a little strategery of his own as he loaded the cannon with an op-ed from the Clown Street Journal which he fired off at the Ringmaster and the blue clowns in Ring 3.

In an editorial voice sweeter than the Circus’ cotton candy, Ryan T. Redclown turned away from the stage and projected his message at the audience in calm and reasonable tones. Why, his message was just like that of the Ringmaster:

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Grand Bargain Circus – Red Clowns Ready?

5:24 am in Uncategorized by joe shikspack

Jugglers_Circus_Amok_by_David_Shankbone

There’s a big deal brewing in the Beltway Bigtop that’s been years in the making. The Grand Bargain is now officially on the red clown leadership’s radar. But can they get their ducks in a row? Will the rank and file blue clowns have an attack of conscience? And what about the audience – will they meekly accept the shears as the Ringmaster and clowns together begin to fleece them? Or will they bombard the clowns with rotten tomatoes, imprecations, incantations and entreaties frightening them away from yet another of the Ringmaster’s big plans as they did with the Ringmaster’s recent plan to engage in yet another stupid and expensive war of choice?

Here’s a wrap up of the past couple of days under the Beltway Bigtop.

Bigtop Blame-a-Rama – Juggling the Hot Potato of Blame

The lights have been doused under the Beltway Bigtop as the red clowns and blue clowns could not come to agreement over how best to rob the audience. The blue clowns adamantly protected the Ringleader’s plan to demand tribute of the audience for his donor cronies in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries in return for health care insurance products of dubious utility. The red clowns would not give up their demands to kill the Ringleader’s program as well as demands for a smorgasbord of environmental destruction, means-testing for medicare, limitation of court awards for medical malpractice, repeal of taxes on some of their cronies and a contraceptive-free dessert bar.

Killer-Klowns-from-Outer-Space-pies

As the sun came up on the Beltway Bigtop Tuesday morning there were lines of circus employees leaving the parking lot as the tall order of the day began – the search for a scapegoat.

While both the red clowns and the blue clowns stayed up until the wee hours juggling the hot potato of blame back and forth between the red clown-controlled Ring 1 and the blue clown-controlled Ring 3, the Ringmaster called the red clowns “irresponsible” and upbraided them for their, “ideological crusade.”

The US government shut down early Tuesday for the first time since 1996 after lawmakers divided over Obamacare failed to reach an agreement to fund federal agencies through the next fiscal year.

President Barack Obama called it the ‘height of irresponsibility.’

Speaking Tuesday afternoon, Obama slammed Republicans for shutting down the government as part of an “ideological crusade” designed to kill his signature health care law.

‘I urge House Republicans to reopen the government,’ Obama said at the White House Rose Garden, while surrounded by Americans he said would benefit from the Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile one of the red clowns’ leaders, Boner T. Redclown, did impressions of the Ringmaster over in Ring 1 as he passed juggling potatoes back and forth with Harry T. Blueclown over in Ring 3. Harry T. Blueclown, for his part, returned the relentless hail of hot potatoes with all of the speed and bravado he could muster.

House Speaker John Boehner imitated the president on the House floor as he described their ultimately fruitless conversation Monday evening in the hours before a U.S. government shutdown.

‘I talked to the president earlier tonight,’ the Ohio Republican said before dropping his voice to sound more like President Barack Obama. ‘I’m not gonna negotiate. I’m not gonna negotiate. We’re not gonna do this.’ Well, I would say to the president, ‘This is not about me. This is not about Republicans here in Congress. It’s about fairness for the American people.’

House Republicans repeatedly sent bills that would have temporarily funded the federal government but cut funding or delayed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate’s Democratic majority repeatedly stripped those bills of their anti-Obamacare provisions and sent them back to the House for approval, setting up the impasse that led to the first U.S. government shutdown in 17 years.

Audience reaction was mixed to the impressions and the rapid-fire juggling spectacle, however, the Beltway Bigtop Office of Promotions was quick to assign responsibility for Boner T. Redclown’s performance to a subset of the most effusive and animated of the red clowns. Some in the Beltway Bigtop’s Office of Promotions claim that a conspiracy is afoot amongst some of the red clowns to force Boner T. Redclown into his behavior, while others claim that Boner T. Redclown and his leadership group held a meeting outside of the Bigtop and stole the schtick of the more animated red clowns.

Bozos_Circus_postcard_1960sMonday was a frantic day on Capitol Hill, though all the activity ultimately came to nought: A flurry of last-minute legislative feints failed to prevent the government from shutting down at midnight. But in the process, House Republicans’ total crackup was on full, public display.

The breaking point was Speaker John Boehner’s penultimate proposal, a bill that would have funded the government — and Obamacare — while delaying the health-care law’s individual mandate and canceling congressional staffers’ insurance subsidies. To Boehner, this was a major concession from the House’s previous offering — a delay of the entire law. To the White House and Senate Democrats, it was just as unacceptable and no concession at all.

But within the GOP, it provoked a freakout on both Boehner’s right and left flanks. Moderate Republicans, long silent for fear of the party’s angry base, correctly viewed the proposal as inexorably leading to shutdown, and threatened to rise up and block it. ‘This is going nowhere,’ New York Representative Peter King told National Review. He claimed to have 25 members on his side and demanded that Boehner instead put a ‘clean’ government-funding bill — one that didn’t touch health care — on the floor of the House.

Meanwhile, conservatives were also in revolt. The Senate Conservatives Fund sent an email to its supporters denouncing “the Republican establishment in Washington” for telling ‘lies to help them fund Obamacare.’ It accused GOP leaders of using the mandate delay as cover to disguise the fact that they were allowing the rest of the law to go into effect — something the group called unacceptable.

Many in the Beltway Bigtop Office of Promotions are eager to sell the narrative that the clowns have cracked up and become completely dysfunctional, creating new norms for governance.

Many of the contributing media outlets in the Beltway Bigtop’s Office of Promotion apparently can’t seem to remember previous government shutdowns as they swoon from the vapors from their, “discovery” of the, “new governing norms.”

In the past the blue clowns have been quite willing to press their advantage as a majority to protect their constituency just as the red clowns are doing now:

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Grand Bargain Circus – Midnight on the Highwire

2:29 pm in Uncategorized by joe shikspack

tight rope bike

Welcome back circus fans! The drama under the Beltway Bigtop is rising ever higher as the antics of the red clowns have captured the show. The clowns are still refusing to get in their car and leave the stage.

The red clowns have continued adding demands of the Ringmaster to their list and the Ringmaster is still refusing to negotiate. If the clowns can’t resolve the issue amongst themselves by midnight tonight, the lights will be turned out on the audience, many of the circus employees will either be sent home or their paychecks will be suspended. Many audience services will be disrupted, but the ticket booth will continue billing the audience as usual.

While the audience will be left in the dark, many key services will continue, for example, the sneaky clowns (a division of the Killer Klowns) will keep spying on the audience continue to back up audience cellphone data.

Midnight Showdown: Government Shutdown Imminent

The back and forth between the House and Senate over a stop-gap budget bill to avoid a government shutdown continued on Monday, with the ball left in the Senate’s court to pass a bill that both sides might agree on before a midnight deadline.

House Republicans continued on Sunday to insist any budget bill that passes must include a provision that does away with funding for the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act. They passed their version of a bill on Sunday that goes beyond gutting Obamacare to include a host of other Republican-flavored mandates, including a provision that would give US employers permission to opt out of contraceptive coverage for employees. Senate leaders have vowed that this bill will never pass through their chamber. …

If a bill is not passed by midnight tonight, multiple government agencies and programs will shut down for the first time in 17 years forcing more than a million federal employees out of work for an indefinite period and many U.S. residents with major delays in social and public services.

 

uno elefante by Jessie Pearl, on FlickrThe red clowns seem quite determined to drive the Ringmaster into making key concessions. Red clowns disagree about the consequences of inconveniencing the audience, some red clowns have been warming up for another trick. The red clowns leadership would prefer, rather than inconveniencing the audience with a temporary shutdown of key circus services, to burn down the tent:

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and their allies are instead privately urging rank and file to forgo a clash over government funding — and a possible government shutdown — and instead dig in against Obama and the Democratic Senate when the debt ceiling needs to be lifted sometime next month.

Threatening to burn down the tent has worked well for the red clowns before. Last round, the red clowns got major concessions in the form of the sequester, which the Ringmaster was at pains to describe as a big win. The red clowns almost got the Grand Bargain, in which the Ringmaster offered to slowly rob the audience of their old age security and other things that the audience has paid for. Only the red clowns’ greed for even greater concessions saved the audience from that robbery.

The red clowns still want more and they have a plan to get it odds are they will get concessions from the Ringmaster, but what? Stay tuned

As Shutdown, Default Loom What Might Obama Give Away?

These dual and competing threats by the Republican lawmakers, however—and the legislative processes and machinations of Washington, DC politics that many in the media are focused on—tend to miss out on asking one of the key questions at the center of this latest episode in what has become the “new normal” of lawmaking during the his presidency: Will Obama cave?

Though the president has repeatedly said he will “not negotiate” under these circumstances, it’s clear from GOP lawmakers that their reading of history shows that if they push enough, take hostages, and make belligerent demands for the sun, that the president might at least give them the moon.

Will the red clowns get the moon from the Ringmaster? The blue clowns and the Ringmaster are circling the wagons in the center ring to protect the Ringmaster’s solitary achievement, passing legislation to reward the insurance and pharmaceutical industries a health insurance mandate for everyone, except the millions who will fall through the cracks. Can the blue clowns and the Ringmaster save his acheivement from the depredations of the red clowns?

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The Grand Bargain Circus Is Back In Town!

7:52 am in Uncategorized by joe shikspack

Circus Sign

Under The Big Top

Hey looky, the circus is back in town – and here come the two lead clowns, one red clown and one blue clown – specially chosen by the Ringmaster:

Like harbingers of a hard winter, anti-entitlement spokesmen Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles have returned to the nation’s capital. These constituentless advocates for a widely disliked set of policies were given their usual unwarranted level of press coverage. Somewhat messianically, Simpson told Politico that ‘we have to be in reserve’ in case politicians ‘put their country at risk’ – by failing to impose the destructive austerity policies favored by Bowles and Simpson’s backers.

‘But don’t use our names,’ adds Simpson, ‘because that might be too volatile. We’re both on the witness protection program now.’ …

It’s all part of a wider Washington offensive. As another recent Politico news item reported, ‘Fix the Debt is ramping back up its lobbying efforts as government funding fights become the topic du jour on Capitol Hill.’ Politico listed a group of Republican and Democratic politicians who ‘met Monday with Maya MacGuineas, head of the campaign, and members of the group’s CEO council and small business members.’

The Ringmaster is busy as hell trying to pack all of the clowns into the car. The red clowns and the blue clowns keep complaining about each others flatulence while in the car and continuously stream in and out of it. The clowns all agree that they want to get into the car and get on with the show, but the Ringmaster needs to come up with the correct enticement. The Ringmaster proposes to rob the audience and distribute the proceeds amongst the clowns and their cronies; the clowns don’t trust the Ringmaster to take enough from the audience to make it worth their while.

GOP-White House ‘Grand Bargain’ Talks Collapse:

Senior Republican US senators say talks with the White House about a sequester-addressing fiscal deal have broken down, and they say any future talks must include Democratic members.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., was the first among a group of GOP senators with whom senior White House officials had been talking all summer about a ‘grand bargain’ fiscal deal to reveal those talks had stalled. Corker told reporters the White House has lost credibility with Republican senators on several issues, including pursuit of a big fiscal deal. …

Several participants confirmed efforts with the White House to strike a deal that lessens or voids sequestration have been scuttled, and signs of hope for a Pentagon and defense sector eager to avoid more cuts to planned military spending began to recede. …

Democrats from states with a large defense-sector presence are eager to find a way to turn off the next round of cuts to planned defense spending.

The clowns all agree that the audience hasn’t brought enough stuff with them into the tent to make it worth their while. The Ringmaster has proposed to steal their retirement securities. Will he now agree to drop his demand for taxes on the clowns and their cronies to sweeten the deal? Stay tuned…

“All the cuts they need are there to avoid a possible shutdown:”

It’s impossible to know what will happen in a fluid situation like this, of course. But it pays to be a bit paranoid. When you find yourself in a position of counting on your enemies to be so stupid as to keep saving you from your friends, you are in a precarious position. …

[I]t’s important to remember that the earlier deals didn’t fail to materialize because the two sides disagreed on cutting Social Security. They didn’t. It failed because the president refused to give up on some sort of tax hike in exchange. … Republicans have added another demand: defund Obamacare. If they want to come up with some sort of agreement in which the GOP saves face, to me the logical way to do that would be for the Democrats to agree to drop their demand for tax hikes if the Republicans drop their demand for defunding Obamacare. What’s left of the deal? You guessed it.

Special Bonus – What Happened Last Time The Circus Was In Town

Remember the last time the circus was here? Yes, that’s right, you got fleeced by a bunch of carnies! One of the big clowns, Pete Peterson, paid a couple of academic con-persons to shill for austerity and the Ringmaster got away with the con. Take a look at what it cost you last time. Are you ready to let the Ringmaster do it again?

Once again, the Beltway fell for cherry-picked data—and you paid the price:

So what has austerity cost us in the United States? The full price is hard to calculate, but the Congressional Budget Office figures that sequestration alone has cut GDP growth by about 0.8 percentage points. Since sequestration accounts for less than half of total belt-tightening over the past couple of years, a rough guess suggests that our austerity binge has cut economic growth by something like 2 percentage points—about half the total growth we might normally expect following a recession. Ironically, this means that we have indeed suffered the halving of economic growth that Reinhart and Rogoff estimated we’d get from running up the national debt above 90 percent. But we got it from not running up the debt. …

The obvious question at this point is: Why? It’s not as if we needed the skills of Nostradamus to predict the consequences of austerity. It’s pretty much textbook economics. … Reinhart and Rogoff were pushing on an open door. There were lots of powerful actors—Pete Peterson, Grover Norquist, the Washington Post editorial page—ready to leap at the chance to pretend that their pursuit of austerity was motivated not by politics or self-interest, but merely by a virtuous desire for economic growth. The 90 percent paper provided them that cover.

So have we learned our lesson from all this? Of course not. No further stimulus is even remotely on the table, either in the United States or in Europe, and Republicans are already promising another debt ceiling crisis unless Obama agrees to yet more spending cuts. The inmates took over the asylum three years ago, and they show no sign of leaving.

Austerity is working out fine for the 1 percent: Their jobs are safe, their investments are growing, and their taxes are low. But the rest of us are paying a high price in the form of slow growth, high unemployment, and stagnant wages for years to come. All things considered, we’ve been remarkably tolerant of our fate. The folks who run the world might do well to ponder how long that’s going to last.

Photo by Jackie under Creative Commons license