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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.

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”
@robertcostaNRO

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: http://t.co/JwpkXTRQaM

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.

Conservatives Blaming Romney’s Pre-Existing Stall (and Looming Loss) on Sandy

6:43 pm in 2012 election by Phoenix Woman

Median Electoral Vote Estimator by Princeton's Sam Wang indicates Ro-Mentum stalled out 3 weeks ago

It’s already starting: The Romney camp, as well as surrogates like Haley Barbour and Karl Rove, are pushing the excuse for Romney’s loss on Hurricane Sandy, which they claim stalled out the otherwise-unstoppable Mittmentum.

What they don’t mention is what Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium mentioned again today: Romney’s momentum stalled out three weeks ago.

Keep this bookmarked to throw in the face of anyone who dares say “And he would have won, too, if it weren’t for that meddling storm.”

That is all.

Obama Now Joined by Romney in Leftward Feint on Taxes

11:19 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

(image: 401k / flickr)

How can you tell when an idea is really popular across the political spectrum? When both the Democratic and Republican candidates for president feel they must give it at least lip service in order to attract voters. So it is with the idea that rich people should pay taxes.

First, on the Democratic side, President Obama:

“You can’t reduce the deficit unless you take a balanced approach that says, ‘We’ve got to make government leaner and more efficient,’” the president told CBS’s Scott Pelley. “But we’ve also got to ask people –like me or Gov. Romney, who have done better than anybody else over the course of the last decade, and whose taxes are just about lower than they’ve been in the last 50 years – to do a little bit more.”

Obama said he would be willing to make “some adjustments to Medicare and Medicaid that would strengthen the programs.” “The way to do that is to keep health care costs low. It’s not to ‘voucherize’ programs so that suddenly seniors are the ones who are finding their expenses much higher.”

That was a reference to Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan. The Republicans have proposed a plan that would transform Medicare by giving the elderly voucher-style payments they could use to purchase health insurance. They say it would rein in runaway health care costs. But Democrats — and the impartial Congressional Budget Office — say it would eventually shift much of the burden of health care costs to the elderly.

Even as Romney’s surrogates responded with a blistering reply, Romney himself was stating something that would have been unthinkable for him as recently as a month ago — namely, the notion that rich people should pay taxes:

Mitt Romney rejected claims by President Barack Obama that he would sign off on more tax breaks for the wealthy if elected president, but again declined to offer specifics on how exactly he would accomplish his goal of lowering taxes for other Americans while also balancing the budget.

In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Romney said he would offset his proposed 20 percent tax cut for all Americans by eliminating loopholes and deductions for high-income earners. He argued that his plan would in effect lower taxes for middle class Americans while keeping tax rates the same for wealthy Americans.

“People at the high end, high income taxpayers, are going to have fewer deductions and exemptions. Those numbers are going to come down. Otherwise they’d get a tax break,” Romney told NBC. “And I want to make sure people understand, despite what the Democrats said at their convention, I am not reducing taxes on high income taxpayers.”

This tells me two things: First, that Romney knows he can’t win from the Republican base alone. Second, that making rich people pay taxes is so universally popular that Romney feels he must blow off a huge chunk of his base in order to chase general-elections voters who like the idea of the rich paying taxes. Hoocouldanode?

Greece, France Send Austerity Jackals Packing

12:13 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Buh-bye, austerity jackal!

In Greece today:

Governing parties backing EU-mandated austerity in Greece are on course for a major drubbing as hard-hit voters, venting their fury in elections, defected in droves, according to exit polls.

In a major upset that will not be welcomed by the crisis-plagued country’s eurozone partners, the two forces that had agreed to enact unpopular belt-tightening in return for rescue funds appeared headed for a beating, with none being able to form a government.

After nearly 40 years of dominating the Greek political scene, the centre-right New Democracy and socialist Pasok saw support drop dramatically in favour of parties that had virulently opposed the tough austerity dictated by international creditors.

[...]

“That agreement now belongs to the past. It has been delegitimised,” said Panaghiotis Lafazanis, a prominent Syriza MP. “Our strong showing sends a message especially to Europe that Greeks have rejected austerity.”

In France today:

Socialist Francois Hollande has won a clear victory in France’s presidential election.

Mr Hollande – who got an estimated 52% of votes in Sunday’s run-off – said the French had chosen “change”.

[...]

The socialist candidate has promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than 1m euros a year.

He wants to raise the minimum wage, hire 60,000 more teachers and lower the retirement age from 62 to 60 for some workers.

Mr Hollande has also called for a renegotiation of a hard-won European treaty on budget discipline championed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mr Sarkozy.

Obama, are you listening?

Jonathan Chait Is a Moronic Tool: Reconciliation Edition

2:00 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Jonathan Chait is a typical Beltway-minded Very Serious Thinker, which means that in his crafting of an apologia for yet another cave-in by Obama to corporate America’s well-heeled (and campaign-contributing) titans, he likes to a) assume that Obama’s most prominent lefty critics have no idea how politics works in America when in fact they understand it better than he ever will, and b) play fast and loose with the truth. To that end, he’s come forth with a kinder, gentler sort of hippie-punching, but in essence all he’s doing is the graduate-level version of the “Paul Krugman is a political rookie” post of Deaniac83′s so lovingly spammed by OFA New Mexico head Ray Sandoval. Deaniac83′s veal-penner post was rightly mocked even by Beltway Villagers — as is fitting for anyone who thinks or says that a guy who’s given advice to both Republican and Democratic presidents over the past thirty years is a “political rookie” — but since Chait’s a much more mannered and clubbable sort of fellow, who knows all the secret handshakes and such, his piece will get a free pass from his Villager kith and kin.

For those of us who actually care about the truth and accurate descriptions of history, and love to whack away at the millionaire scribes doing billionaires’ biddings by spewing falsehoods like the business entities Obama courts for their campaign cash spew effluent, Chait’s piece is a target-rich environment. Blue Texan’s already corrected Chait’s revisionist history of the stimulus package. I’m going to take a whack at Chait’s revisionist history of Obama’s legislative powers as compared to Bush’s, and why Obama couldn’t pass a stimulus package big enough to actually do most Americans much good:

“Yes, Bush passed his tax cuts — by using a method called reconciliation, which can avoid a filibuster but can be used only on budget issues.”

Um, Jonathan? Read the rest of this entry →

Steve King on Impeachment, Then and Now

7:29 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Steve King’s for it now, but was against it in 2008 (see YouTube above). The difference? Currently, a black man who ran as a Democrat occupies the Oval Office — whereas in 2008, the very white WASP-y scion of America’s most powerful Republican political family was in the Oval Office.

Of course, Republicans have been pushing to impeach Obama almost before got into office. The debt ceiling is just the latest in a nearly-two-year-old string of pretexts-of-the-moment such as his opposition to DOMA, allegedly not being tough enough on undocumented workers, and as a way to keep the birth-certificate smear alive. The most recent effort revolved around Bruce Fein’s impeachment articles based on NATO and US involvement in Libya — which, ironically enough, even most Republicans are avoiding touching because they don’t want to look soft on war.

King’s stances then and now, truth be told, are equally incoherent — and his current one is, as is common with him, very likely imbued with that extra little touch of signaling-to-his-base racism that infects a large portion of his public commentary. But the rich and elite business interests that back and fund him aren’t interested in him sounding sane, they’re interested in never having to pay taxes if they can at all avoid it, even if it means crumbling infrastructure, so he likely will have his seat until he dies, unless he’s caught ravishing a goat or voting to increase corporate taxes. Read the rest of this entry →

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.)