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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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Obama to Boehner Today: Put Down the Gun, THEN We’ll Talk. Maybe.

9:34 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Either some “senior White House officials” were putting out doomed trial-balloon rumors on Obama’s behalf over the weekend or some of them went rogue and were quickly reined in, because Obama seems to have made a point today of shooting down those rumors, and in effect showing the world that he’s not the same person he was in the fall of 2011:

Obama Calls John Boehner, Says He Still Won’t Negotiate

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama called the top Republican in the GOP-controlled House Tuesday, telling Speaker John Boehner once again that he won’t negotiate over reopening the government or must-pass legislation to prevent a U.S. default on its obligations.

In the second week of the partial government shutdown, Obama’s call, revealed by Boehner’s office, came as the speaker softened the tone of his rhetoric in remarks to the media and as Democrats controlling the Senate planned to move quickly toward a vote to allow the government to borrow more money by raising the statutory limit on the federal debt.

The White House confirmed the call and said Obama repeated to Boehner “what he told him when they met at the White House last week: the president is willing to negotiate with Republicans — after the threat of government shutdown and default have been removed — over policies that Republicans think would strengthen the country.”

Obama will have a news conference at 2 PM Eastern — about 45 minutes from now. Click here to watch it live.

Dear Mr. Kline…

5:07 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Representative John Kline

An open letter to John Kline

Dear Mr. John Kline:

I listened with great interest to your comments as played on NPR this morning. In them, you in essence joined your fellow John Birch Astroturfed Tea Partiers in Congress in denying that shutting down the government, or even defaulting on the debts you made it run up by backing the Bush tax cuts and wars, would hurt the US all that much.

It’s hard to tell whether you are serious or just spouting tough-guy jargon because you fear looking “weak.” But here are a few things that you and your fellow arsonists might not have taken into consideration – namely, around two million things, the approximate number of Federal government employees. This does not include troops of which we have another 1.4 million, so actually we’re looking at approximately 3.4 million things.

By the time you read this, John Kline, all Federal government employees and military troops will probably have been told something along the lines of the following sentence:”If the shutdown looks like it will last more than two weeks, apply for unemployment money.”

Do you realize what that means, Mr. Kline?

Do you?

Yes, yes, we know that the first bite of your insanity apple, the shutdown, will “only” affect 800,000 people. But the debt limit crisis is following in a few days, and that affects all Federal employees.

Subtracting the troops serving overseas, who you apparently want to suffer in place, that’s nearly three million people nationwide hitting unemployment offices, all at once.

Do you realize what that means to the state governments you and your colleagues have already worked to deprive of Federal aid?

Do you?

Furthermore, a lot of these people, like so many persons in what used to be America’s middle classes until you guys decided that cutting rich people’s taxes was more desirable than a healthy and sound country, are living paycheck to paycheck. What happens to them when they run out of options? Who do you think they are likeliest to blame?

I await your reply.

Read the rest of this entry →

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 →

Debt Limit Follies: China Learns Not to Trust Republicans

1:08 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

"Few Dare Call What I Did Treason"

Buried at the very bottom of this story about China’s reading the Riot Act to Boehner and Company over the debt limit (as in: Stop it already, morons!), we find this:

Yuan Gangming, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think tank, smelled some political wrangling behind the U.S. debt debate as the 2012 presidential election draws nearer and said Republicans “want to make things difficult for Obama.”

But with time running short before the U.S. Treasury exhausts its borrowing room, Yuan said default was a real risk.

“The possibility is quite high to see a default of the U.S. debt, which would harm many countries in the world, and China in particular,” he said.

Remember when Republicans like Mark Kirk (see photo above) were working to hamstring Obama on a bigger stimulus package by essentially telling the Chinese leadership not to loan the US any more money now that Obama was president because his budget numbers couldn’t be trusted? Even some conservatives reamed Kirk out for that move.

Have the Republicans totally forgotten that Kirk did this — and most of them approved? Do they think the Chinese are stupid? Now the Chinese are learning that it’s the Republicans whose word they shouldn’t be trusting when it comes to money.

By the way, why aren’t there any quotes in here from the anti-debt bond vigilantes and the Pete Peterson crowd talking about how a brief default will be totally worth it if it leads to less debt in the long run? I mean, isn’t that who the Republicans are doing this for?

(Crossposted at Renaissance Post and Mercury Rising.)