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Kochs Deny Role in Shutdown Plotted by Groups They Fund

12:05 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Shady Koch-funded groups helped push the government shutdown.

This is how you can tell the shutdown’s hurting the GOP — even the Koch brothers are trying to run away from it:

‘Koch believes that Obamacare will increase deficits, lead to an overall lowering of the standard of health care in America, and raise taxes,’ the letter said. ‘However, Koch has not taken a position on the legislative tactic of tying the continuing resolution to defunding Obamacare nor have we lobbied on legislative provisions defunding Obamacare.’

What the Koch flacks aren’t saying is that they give generous amounts of money to many if not most of the groups that started plotting this shutdown:

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. Included was $5 million to Generation Opportunity, which created a buzz last month with an Internet advertisement showing a menacing Uncle Sam figure popping up between a woman’s legs during a gynecological exam.

And yes, this was being plotted by the Republicans and their puppet masters ever since January:

Shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan.

Out of that session, held one morning in a location the members insist on keeping secret, came a little-noticed ‘blueprint to defunding Obamacare,’ signed by Mr. Meese and leaders of more than three dozen conservative groups.

It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government.

‘We felt very strongly at the start of this year that the House needed to use the power of the purse,’ said one coalition member, Michael A. Needham, who runs Heritage Action for America, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation. ‘At least at Heritage Action, we felt very strongly from the start that this was a fight that we were going to pick.’

The Kochs, by the way, are longtime Heritage Foundation backers, as shown here and here.

Sorry, Charles and David Koch. Your financial fingerprints are everywhere on this turkey, and no amount of letter writing will wash them away.

UPDATE: And looky here — now Heritage is trying to fake running away from their own shutdown!

But of course they really aren’t. Note the parts in bold:

Rather than try to hold the debt ceiling vote hostage to the defunding of Obamacare, [Heritage's Needham] said, the better ‘tactical’ course for Heritage and other key foes of the administration is to continue to focus on annual spending — and on allowing the full opening of government only if Obamacare is dismantled.

‘No, we should raise the debt limit,’ he said, though he added that he would oppose an increase that extends until after the 2014 election, which is Obama’s preferred outcome.

But with regards to the government shutdown, Needham insisted that his group would continue to oppose any continuing resolution — no matter how short in duration — that did not defund the health care law.

‘My tactic is to focus on the CR,’ he said.

Matt Kibbe, the president and CEO of the influential conservative group FreedomWorks, also said in a Wednesday interview with The Huffington Post that the debt ceiling should be raised in order to keep the Obamacare fight focused on the continuing resolution.

‘This is an emerging set of opinions that looks to be where everybody’s gravitating to,’ he said.

Heritage Action, funded by small donors, corporate allies and wealthy individuals Needham refused to name — other than the Koch Brothers, who he said had given $500,000 — has become a powerhouse in a new generation of conservative groups.

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Republicans Freaked Out That Obama’s Not Caving Anymore

12:47 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Greg Sargent’s reminding everyone of John Boehner’s promise never to allow a default on America’s debts (which means that there’s really no point in Democrats caving to any of his demands) must have set off the klaxons at GOP Messaging Central, because a few hours later Robert Costa was citing an unnamed source claiming that Boehner was reassuring his peeps by claiming that he was going to try to dangle the “Grand Bargain” in front of Obama’s eyes:

The revelation came quietly. Boehner called groups of members to his Capitol office all day, taking their temperature on the shutdown and the debt limit. It became clear, members say, that Boehner’s chief goal is conference unity as the debt limit nears, and he’s looking at potentially blending a government-spending deal and debt-limit agreement into a larger budget package

“It’s the return of the grand bargain,” says one House Republican, who requested anonymity to speak freely. “There weren’t a lot of specifics discussed, and the meetings were mostly about just checking in. But he’s looking hard at the debt limit as a place where we can do something big.”

That may be what Boehner’s telling his peeps, but if he thinks it’s going to get Obama or the Dems to cave, Obama’s speech today in Rockville, Maryland showed that this latest GOP ploy won’t work all that well:

If the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, simply let the bill get on the floor for an up or down vote [...] the shutdown would end today. The only thing that is keeping the government shut down, the only thing preventing people going back to work, and basic research starting back up, and farmers and small businesses getting their loans, the only thing that’s preventing all of that from happening right now, today, in the next five minutes, is that Speaker John Boehner won’t even let the bill get a yes or no vote.

And now Robert Costa is acknowledging that Obama’s standing firm. Costa tweeted this earlier this morning:

Just got my hands on Cantor’s Thurs memo to House Rs: “We are really in an unprecedented place,” he writes. O “refusing to actively engage”

And right before that, Costa retweeted this from Annie Lowrey:

Boehner might break the Hastert Rule for the debt ceiling. But the showdown continues, and markets get nervous:

And just in case this wasn’t totally clear, we have Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul caught unawares near an open mike last night admitting that the Democrats’ public and private messages are the same: They won’t cave.

Boehner may well have told his peeps that Obama’d bite on the Grand Bargain lure. Looks like he told them wrong. Quelle surprise.

(Crossposted at Mercury Rising.)

Is Obama Considering Invoking The Fourteenth Amendment?

10:51 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Is President Obama considering invoking the Fourteenth Amendment to avoid a catastrophic default on our debts and other obligations?

Apparently both Tim Kaine and Rachel Maddow — the former a friend of and often a surrogate for Obama, the latter someone known for transmitting Obama talking points — think so: “However, last night [Thursday] Rachel mentioned the section of the Constitution (14th amendment) that says the US has to pay it’s bills, meaning the President can act alone if the Congress can’t do it. This morning [Friday], Sen Tim Kaine, good bud of the pres, quoted the same portion. I now think the President plans to use that and raise the ceiling himself. At this point, it seems the shutdown is inevitable though.”

Here’s the link from Rachel Maddow’s show. The mention of Obama possibly invoking the 14th starts at 6:19 into the segment.

Why No Platinum Coin? Probably Because Republicans Used It to Distract from Debt Ceiling Issues

2:11 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

So it’s official – neither the Mint nor the Treasury will do the Platinum Coin Option:

The U.S. Treasury Department will not mint a high-value platinum coin to avert the debt ceiling, according to an official statement from the Obama administration obtained by the Huffington Post on Saturday.

“Neither the Treasury Department nor the Federal Reserve believes that the law can or should be used to facilitate the production of platinum coins for the purpose of avoiding an increase in the debt limit,” the statement reads.

Well, that settles that. Since using the 14th Amendment gambit was rejected by the White House back in December, this leaves no “easy out” from the debt limit standoff.

I suspect that it was discovered that Billmon et al were right about the political optics of this: The platinum coin is something the GOP can use to mock Obama and the Dems and to perhaps fire up the base for a replay of 2010 next year. In fact, they were already doing so. Removing the Platinum Coin from the picture deprives the GOP of their efforts to repaint the picture from the hostage-taking scenario that will cause the Republicans to lose big in 2014 should they actually pull the trigger.

The Republicans know this and are frantically trying to argue around this by pretending that they really aren’t holding anything hostage. But as David Weigel points out, this isn’t working:

After all, if you nab some 12-year old scion of a millionaire, and threaten to do something bad to them unless you get $1 million, you’re taking a hostage. The fact that the 12-year old will eventually age and die of natural causes doesn’t mean you’re not forcing somebody’s hand. But Republicans realize that they’re blamed when they demand these cuts, so they’re trying to shift the Overton Window and claim that whiny Democrats are just pitching a fit. The reframing is not working so far.

Let’s just hope now that the political wonks are right and the Republicans can be made by their Wall Street patrons to back off. Otherwise, we’re doomed.

How Do We Know The $1T Coin Option Is Legal? Republicans Want To Outlaw It.

7:08 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

HuffPo's front page, January 7, 2013In the midst of the increasingly heated discussion over the Platinum Coin Option, a big fat data point has appeared favoring the option’s legality and feasibility — namely, at least one congressional Republican is desperate to ban it before Obama can use it:

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) is introducing legislation that would ban President Barack Obama and the U.S. Treasury from minting platinum coins to avert the debt ceiling standoff.

Walden’s defense of his bill is somewhat bizarre: He claims that it’s a way to protect the debt ceiling and thus keep the government from avoiding paying down its debts, when in fact the existence of the debt ceiling means that the government would be forced not to pay its debts and obligations, and therefore is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Even worse for Walden and his fellow Republicans, his legislation does something that the Republicans have taken great pains to avoid doing, which is to tacitly admit that the Platinum Coin Option is both legal and possible. Walden’s bill would make excellent court-of-law ammunition in defense of the legality of the Platinum Coin Option.

To paraphrase Paul Krugman: Release the Kraken Mint the Coin!

Even Larry Tribe Now Agrees: Fourteenth Amendment is a Viable Option. So Why Won’t Obama Use It?

1:16 pm in banality of evil, Financial Crisis by Phoenix Woman

Is the much-touted “Fourteenth Amendment option” a viable end run around the debt-ceiling nonsense that threatens to destroy the world?

Charles Grassley thinks so. Bruce Bartlett thinks so. Former president Bill Clinton definitely thinks so: He’s said he’d do it “without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me”.

As for whether the courts or anyone else would or could try to stop Obama should he invoke the Fourteenth, even Laurence Tribe, who is known to be close to the Obama administration — close enough to carry its water, as he blatantly did with his pronouncement earlier this month that the Fourteenth Amendment didn’t trump the debt ceiling legislation — has admitted that this is highly unlikely: “This is not a circumstance in which the courts have any plausible point of entry.” Tribe even went so far as to dismiss the threat of impeachment as “not politically a very plausible scenario.”

So, knowing all of this, and with so much on the line — why, then, won’t President Obama admit that this is an option? Why, instead, is he pushing to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block — and getting various liberal “Veal Pen” groups to echo his call for cutting Social Security?

Could it be it’s because he’s been planning to attack Social Security and Medicare — and whatever else is left of the New Deal and the Great Society — all along?

It sure looks like it. As Glenn Greenwald says: Read the rest of this entry →