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Republicans Will Win the Battle, But Will It Cost Them The War?

5:36 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

American Labour Representatives looking over battle-fields in France

American Labour Representatives looking over battle-fields in France

Will the Republican manufactured debt ceiling fight be resolved? Almost certainly, the signs are all there that there is a deal to be had. As long as various dumbasses (I’m looking at you Gang of Six and all 85 of the House Republican freshmen) stop sticking their fingers in the gears, that is.

But what happens afterwards? This is not a pick up game of stick ball, where when the final out is called all the teams break up and are reformed in a different configuration for the next one. The policy fight is not the only thing going on here.

On the policy fight side we can say without fear of contradiction that the Republicans won. Unless the Reason and Sanity Fairy gets of his ass and sprinkles a ton of fairy dust over the capital the final deal will include at least a trillion in real dollar spending reductions, and no reinvestment of our “peace dividend” for getting out of Iraq at the end of this year and whenever the hell we get out of Afghanistan (Remember Afghanistan?).

No matter what the final contours of the deal are, it will be in the Republican frame of all cuts and no revenue. Even if you are always and totally a partisan Democrat (not that there is anything wrong with that, stronger partisan Dems would have made this a very different fight) you will not be able to spin this as a win. At best it will be like a John LeCarre novel where there are no winners just survivors.

But not everyone is going to be a survivor and that might be the silver lining in this very gray cloud of staggeringly stupid and boneheaded policy. Certainly John Boehner is in his one and only term as Speaker of the House. Only the Weeper from Reading could make the third most powerful position in the nation (maybe second if you figure that the VP is mostly waiting around to be powerful) look so weak.

Appearances matter in politics and for the last 200 days all appearances have looked as though the Speaker was holding on the ears of a tiger, in the form of the Tea Party Freshmen in Congress. While it might look vaguely possible to steer a tiger by tugging on her ears, the reality is all you do is piss off the tiger more.
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Water Cooler – Cross the Speaker? Loose Your District

6:02 pm in jerks by Bill Egnor

Rep. Jim Jordan

Rep. Jim Jordan by republicanconference (waving good bye to his career)

There is one thing that Republicans do better than Democrats by a margin a mile wide. It is at once the source of their disproportionate power and the reason that they can’t be trusted with government. That is enforce discipline. If Democrats could be one tenth as disciplined as the Republicans, the world would be a very different place.

What has me singing the praises (and dangers) of Republican inter-party discipline? Oh nothing much, just the saga of Jim Jordan.

Rep. Jordan is from Ohio, in fact his district runs along side Speak Boehner. If the GOP Rep’s name seems familiar to you, that is because he has been in the news this week. You see he was the guy who, after the Speaker announced his plan, ran right out to the press and said:

I am confident that that Speaker does not have 218 votes at this time”

Which could only be seen as undermining the Orange Man From Ohio. But it gets better; Jordan is the Chair of the Republican Study Committee, the ultra-right wing of the Republican House caucus. It was as staffer for this group that got caught having sent out e-mails to conservative groups asking them to whip against the bill.

This pretty much commits the ultimate sin among Republicans, disloyalty. And now Jordan is going to pay for that sin. The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that Ohio State Party Republicans are at once pissed off and pleased with these events. You see, Ohio lost to Congressional seats and after sticking to Dennis Kucinich, they still needed to cut up another district. Guess who just went to the front of the line?

You got it in one! Jim Jordan. Take a look at these to quotes from separate anonymous Republicans:

“Jim Jordan’s boneheadedness has kind of informed everybody’s thinking,” said one of the sources, both of whom spoke only on condition of anonymity. “The easiest option for everybody has presented itself.”

And

“He doesn’t know it, but he solved a problem for Republican line-drawers by (figuratively) standing up and saying, ‘I’m a jerk and I deserve to be punished,’ ” said one of the sources.

That is pretty cut and dried, even for unnamed sources. But what really made me laugh (okay, laugh more) was the Speakers statement about all of this:

“Jim Jordan and I may not always agree on strategy, but we are friends and allies, and the word retribution is not in my vocabulary,” Boehner said. “I look forward to continuing to serve with him in the U.S. House after the redistricting process in Ohio is complete.

Just one question, if retribution is not in Rep. Boehner’s vocabulary, did he have to look it up?
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Debt Ceiling Fight Has Me Thinking of Gallipoli

5:59 am in banality of evil by Bill Egnor

Gallipoli 100

Gallipoli 100 by Britrob

I am a big movie fan. As part of the deal that brought cable to the town I grew up in (Ypsilanti represent!) and one of the very few perks of Dad’s time as City Attorney, we were one of the first homes in town to get cable. So I was exposed to a huge range of films as a early teen and later.

One of the ones that always got to me was a Mel Gibson flick called Gallipoli. It is the story of two Australian runners who enlist in WWI and are sent to that disastrous campaign. At the end of the movie the troops are in their trenches, and they are about to be ordered to charge a hill controlled by Ottoman machine guns.

Mel Gibson’s character is a orders runner. He has been given the order that will stop the attack that will certainly lead to the slaughter of the troops, which the other runner is part of. He fails to get there in time and the men go over the top, into the teeth of the machine gun fire.

The other runner has been saying the mantra that he recited before a race and when the whistles blow he goes over the top, and starts to run to the enemy lines, eventually dropping his gun and being shot down. It is a horrible and wonderful statement about war and futility and courage.

What the hell does all of this have to do with politics? I am so glad you asked, gentle reader! I have been feeling more and more like that runner in Gallipoli lately. Specifically in regards to the completely manufactured debt ceiling crisis and the “solutions” that are coming out of it.

There are a lot of folks to slather blame on. One of them who is not getting a lot of play is Chicago Mayor Rham Emanuel. He is the guy who made “a crisis is an opportunity that should not be wasted” a White House article of faith.

Of course that would not be too bad if it were not for the President’s willingness to use a dangerous game by the Republicans to try to achieve a so-called ‘grand bargain” on a wide range of contentious issues. The major failure on the President’s part in this was assuming, against evidence and the fact that there are 85 hard right Republican House Freshmen, that he would have rational actors to negotiate with.
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Republicans – A Party Full of Charlie Sheens

5:40 am in banality of evil by Bill Egnor

Tiger's Blood?

Tiger's Blood? by katrina.elizabeth

Has the Republican Party been infected with Charlie Sheen-ism? Stick with me a little on this.

Obviously the Republican’s aren’t doing bricks of cocaine over the weekend (at least we don’t think they are) and folks like Sen. David Vitter aside they are not engaging in wild sex parties (though, come to think of it, things might be better if they were. At a minimum they’d be more relaxed) but they are engaging in the hyperactive belief that they are “winning”.

There seems to be zero awareness of reality amongst the House Republican caucus of what is really going on here. There are 6 days, a mere 144 or so hours before we run our happy asses off the economic cliff.

Yet these gals and guys seem to think they have all the time in the world for crap that will never fly. Take “Cut, Cap and Balance” for instance. All of last week was taken up in the House by this plan that not only was never going to have a chance of passing, but would be so horrible that even the old gold standard for draconian cuts, the Ryan budget, would not fit under its rubric.

The centerpiece of this craptastic piece of legislation is the Balanced Budget Amendment. Even though it requires 2/3 of both Houses of Congress to pass, there are Republicans out there saying they 100% sure that it would get the votes needed in both Houses. This, of course, ignores the fact that this Republican plan could not even command 2/3 of the House where it passed.

They ran around toting the “bi-partisan” passing of this bit of legislative malpractice because they managed to peel of exactly five Blue Dog (morons) Democrats to vote for it. A little under 2.5% of the Democratic caucus supported this thing. It is not what I would call bipartisan, since the Blue Dogs can be counted on to vote for dumb laws if it cuts taxes or spending.

It seems that the Republicans need a lot of votes to make themselves feel good about things. After all CCB was the second vote they took on a plan that would not pass the Senate and would not be signed by the President. We were told both times that once they got it out of their systems they would be able to be more reasonable, since they were on record for the maximalist position but would hold their noses for something less. Read the rest of this entry →

Mirror Image Speeches, Both Bad

5:49 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Mirror Image

Mirror Image by cosygreeneyes

I watched both speeches last night on the debt ceiling. I have to say that this whole thing makes me crazed. It is a dumb time to talk about pulling trillions out of the economy, especially when we are talking about a policy that is supposed to be a decade long. All I see from the debt reduction right now is a slow growth of jobs because we never addressed the underlying problem of demand.

Be that as it may, there was plenty to be unhappy about from both the President and Speaker Boehner. President Obama is pitching us on the idea that cutting spending, and cutting it on social safety net programs is somehow going to bring the confidence and jobs fairies out of their coma and everything will be Moring in America again (I am not keen in any fashion on how much this President, this Democratic President grooves on Ronald Regan).

I understand that he is standing on the bridge of the Titanic and watching the Republicans push and iceberg into the path of the national and planetary economy. At this point I am not at all sure that there is much different he could have done, but that does not let him off the hook for granting the legitimacy of the deficit reduction by hostage taking (call it Disaster Legislating) in the first place.

He had the bully pulpit and could have been hammering it for months if he chose to do so. It is entirely possible that things would have been different, but it is water under the bridge now.

Last nights speech was kind of a primer for those (unlike you and me) who have not been paying attention and don’t have a the history of debt ceiling fights on the tip of our tongues. Still he was far too easy on the Republicans in terms of who is at fault for our massive debt. Five trillion (that is 5 million, million for those how don’t do big numbers well) was added to our debt in the 8 years of the Bush administration. That is more than 1/3 of the total.
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Water Cooler – Tea Partiers On Boehners Debt Plan: Plttthhht!

6:01 pm in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

John Boehner - Caricature

John Boehner - Caricature by DonkeyHotey

It must be a sign of the Apocalypse but I am in agreement with a bunch of Tea Party members and groups. What we agree on is that Speaker John Boehner’s newest deficit reduction plan stinks on ice.

The areas where the Tea Party folks and I see eye to eye are the Balanced Budget Amendment and the extra-Constitutional Congressional Commission. Of course the reason that we think these are horrible ideas diverges a lot, but sometimes when you go far enough Right you wind up Left.

Anyone who thinks that a Balanced Budget Amendment is a good idea has not really thought it through. They will say things like “Families and States have to balance their budgets, why shouldn’t the Federal Government?”. It is a fair question, but the fact of the matter is that neither the States nor families really run balanced budgets.

For the States it is the Federal government that allows them to balance their budgets. They get differing levels of money from the government but they all get some and it is used to pay for things that they would have to raise taxes to pay for or do without under their balanced budget requirements.

Families are even worse. Families borrow money all the time for major expenses. I’ve know of exactly three people who could and did pay for cars and houses with a check in my whole life. There maybe more but then again there may not. When you borrow several hundred thousand dollars for a house, you are not in a balance budget, even if you can afford the payments. You’re running a debt that you eventually intend to pay off, same thing with the Federal Government.

The reason the Teahadists are all in a lather is they know that the vote proposed by Speaker Boehner is going to be a symbolic one. Which makes them both smarter and dumber than I thought they were. They understand that there is no chance that such a thing will pass the Senate, yet they think that it is okay to use the coming default as a reason to force such a thing. I don’t know what these people are thinking but there is a real disconnect when it comes to understanding the current created crisis and why it is a crisis.

The other thing they hate is the Congressional Commission. But unlike me they don’t see it as an extra-constitutional maneuver that gives way too much power to way too few Representatives and Senators, thus setting a precedent that weak willed politicians can abdicate their Constitutional power to a small group whenever they want to avoid tough votes.

Rather than try to explain it let me just quote one of the Teahadists. From the HuffPo article:

“History has shown that such commissions, while well-intentioned, make it easier to raise taxes than to institute enduring budget reforms

Yep that’s right, these supposedly staunch Constitutionalists are not worried about the creation of a Super Congress, nah not them. They are worried that such a body would not automatically give them the outcome they are demanding. The Founders would be so proud, that is if they were not puking over the edge of Heaven at the mere thought of such a thing in their Republic.

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Are There Any Rational Actors Left Among Republicans?

5:47 am in banality of evil by Bill Egnor

Insane Asylum

Insane Asylum by simonk

Steve Benen at Political Animal managed to reach back a couple of years to find just the right quote form John Cole about dealing with the Republicans in Congress:

I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.

I know that I have a spent a lot of time hammering Republicans for being dumbasses and nitwits over the last couple of years, but this whole fight with the debt ceiling really is showing what happens when conspicuously uncurious people who only listen to their own ideological outlets get into power.

The Conventional Wisdom (including mine) keeps saying that we will get some kind of deal to avoid a real potential disaster. And things certainly look that way. After all the rumors are that Majority Leader Reid is going to unveil a plan that cuts 2.5 trillion (2,500 billion) from the budget over 10 years in ways that Democrats can get behind. A major feature of this plan is that we’d say 1.5 trillion by ending our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It would have no increased revenue and it would have no cuts to entitlements.

All of this is to the good (if you can call anything about Republican made mess good) in that the Democrats have offered the Republicans everything they insisted on, cuts that equal the increase the debt ceiling and no new revenue. In any sane world that would be that, a total acquiescence’s to the hostage conditions and an end the crisis.

The problem is that it is unclear that Republicans can take a solution that does not only meet their stated goals but lets them stick it to the people they have decided that they don’t like. It is no mystery that the GOP really does not like the “average” people of the nation. They have been showing their disdain for the millions of unemployed people for a very long time, call them lazy and wanting to subject them to random drug screenings merely for being victims of the economy they helped to engineer.
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Water Cooler – Club for Growth’s Chocola – Don’t Vote for Hybrid McConnell

5:28 pm in banality of evil, jerks by Bill Egnor

Count Chocula, what have they done to you!?

Count Chocula, what have they done to you!? by phil dokas

I’ve written a lot about the fact that Democrats have a hard row to hoe in the debt ceiling negotiation in that they don’t have rational actors to negotiation with. To be fair to the Republicans (and the gods know I hate to be fair to Republicans) it is not just the yahoos inside their caucus that are nuts, there are the outside groups as well.

 

It seems that the (Hair) Club for Growth is actually pushing Republicans to vote against the only plan that seems to have any chance a this point, the “Hybrid McConnell”. Now you all being rational and informed folks understand what that means, that’s right the Club for Growth is actually telling Republicans to hold out for a default.

Now, it seems to me that they have just abandoned their name, after all there will not be growth if we default on our debt, in fact there will be the opposite of it.

What they want instead is the crazed “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan, listen to what (H)CfG president Chris Chocola had to say today, from the article at TMP:

“Cut, Cap, and Balance will fix our fiscal mess. The McConnell-Reid plan does not,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in a statement accompanying an alert that these votes will be counted on the group’s scorecard. “McConnell-Reid simply punts our budget problem further down the road and is everything that’s wrong with Washington. Congress has proven that they are unable to balance the budget without reform. Cut, Cap and Balance is the only plan that permanently handcuffs politicians from spending more money than they take in.”

Now Count Chocola is not just some random nut. He is the president of a group that has exactly no qualms about supporting far right candidates against sitting Republicans. It was their own Pat Toomey that ran Arlen Specter out of the Republican Party by being so far to his right as to make the so-called moderate Republican look like Noam Chomsky (sorry Noam).

When the Count speaks, Republicans tend to listen. After all it one thing for a bunch of dirty hippies to tell you what you should be doing, but when the guy who runs the group which has been instrumental in purging your party of any moderate voice tells you that if you vote rationally on an issue it will count against you on their score card, well you have to think twice if this is the issue you want to end your political career over.

Personally, this seems like the one. We have seen a slow break with Grover Norquist on raising revenues by some Republican Senators. Given that if we don’t raise the debt ceiling the consquences are going to be dire for everyone, this is probably the time to get a back bone.

But beyond that there is this meme that you are going to hear a lot of over the next week, namely that politicians have proved they can’t be trusted to curb spending so we need to in the words of Count Chocola “handcuff them permanently”. I don’t know about you but this would make me pretty mad if I were serving in the Congress.
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Even if the Debt Ceiling Goes Up, There is Damage Done

5:46 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

One of the things about this whole ginned up debt ceiling fight (and we can call it nothing else when the debt ceiling has been raised, albeit with objections from the minority party at the time, without preconditions 89 times) is that it is not just defaulting that can damage the US economy and credit.

It is true that if we reach the end of our borrowing power, there are going to be severe consequences. Even if we used the incoming revenue from taxes to try to keep paying the interest on our debt, or pay our military or pay retirees their Social Security, there will still be little matter of needing to cut all other spending by 44%, and do it right then, to keep under the need to borrow any more money to pay commitments we have already made.

That is what happens if we default, but other things will happen just because we are having this hostage drama play out. The credit worthiness of nations is based on more than just the fact that they are paying their bills, it is also based on the amount of surety a bond buyer can have that they will pay in the future.

What the Republicans have done, and the White House with its desire of a “Grand Bargain of the Republic” deal has abetted, is show that there is some doubt that the U.S will pay its bills going forward. Right now we are not seeing a risk premium on our bonds, because we’ve built up 230 plus years of confidence. We’ve never even come close to default and bond buyers are still using that past performance to judge the safety of our Treasury bonds.

However, once this crisis is over, assuming the ideological madness of the Republicans does not drive our and the world economy over a cliff, there will still be the knowledge that one party in the United States not only was willing to play chicken with the debt ceiling but that they had large groups within that party who do not believe that there will be dire consequences if it is not raised as needed.
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Will Republican Moron Caucus Break The Ecomomy

5:41 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Moron

Moron by ettermag

What does it take to break a delusional political party? After all we have seen the Republicans accept (at least tacitly) without a whit of proof that there was something fishy with where the President was born. We have witnessed this Party deny science at every turn but especially where climate change is concerned.

The big Kahuna is, of course, the lies that were told and still are believed about there being any connection between Saddam Hussien and Al Qaeda, and that he had weapons of mass destruction prior to the Iraq war.

We’ve been brought to this point by a lot of factors, the growth of Fox “News”, the efficacy to the Koch Brothers and other Rightwing financial fat cats of having total morons who will spout any BS they are told to by their handlers; and the general Republican war on expertise.

This brings us to where we stand today, 19 days before we run out of emergency measures that have kept our nation out of default. It no longer the leaders of the Republican Party that are holding things up. It is the rank and file morons like Louise Gohmert, Michele Bachmann and Steve King, who yesterday took to the air waves to say that the whole issue of the debt ceiling and a possible default was a “misnomer”.

Leaving aside the fact that I am pretty sure that Rep. Bachmann can’t define misnomer (it is an interpretation of data that is known not to be true, i.e. what James Inhofe says about climate change being a hoax is a misnomer) there is a massive logical inconsistency here.

You see the Republicans are the ones who looked at the debt ceiling and said “We know this has to happen, it is better than unemployment benefits extensions! Let’s put the screws to the Democrats to get things that we never could under any other circumstances!”
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