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Unhappy About the Debt Ceiling Deal? Don’t Complain, Act

5:27 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Election night crowd, Wellington, 1931

The people, united, will never be defeated!

So, are you unhappy? Odd are good that if you are a political junkie, if you are a follower of politics or if you have ever heard the word politics that you are in some form of discontent this morning. The plan that has been put forward as a “deal” has all the appeal of being told that you get to live, but you’ve had your left leg cut off and sometime later this year we’ll know how much of your right leg gets cut off as well.

It is getting late in the day but there still are ways that you can affect the outcome. You see this thing is not going to get out of the House without Democratic support. And a significant amount of it.

It could easily fail if Speaker Boehner’s “institutional” Republicans fear a primary more than they fear bucking their weak and oft confused leader. But there is a flip side of this, there is the Democratic 90 to 100 votes that are going to be needed to make it all happen.

Right now the leaders of both the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus are saying they are extremely unhappy with the plan and at least a couple of them are saying they will not support it. While there is some cross over between the two caucuses, between they have enough members to make passage much harder, if they all stick together to vote no.

At this point I am not sure what the President would do if faced with a last minute collapse of this, to quote the leader of the CBC, “Sugar coated Satan sandwich”. There is a lot of talk about the 14th Amendment, or the specifically reserved right to mint platinum coins or even the fact that there is a Homeland Security directive that seems to allow the president to take all kinds of unilateral action in the event of a wide range of emergency conditions including, specifically, economic turmoil.

I am pretty damned unhappy with President Obama, but even at the depths of my frustration I know that he is a smart guy and that smart folks don’t put all their eggs in one basket, even if they are saying they do. So, with that assumption of competence we can have some hope that if Progressives did derail this craptastic deal there would be something other than default in our future.

So what is there for someone who is seeing red to do? Quite a lot actually. The vote in the Senate is going to be first. It is a lock. It is going to happen and it is going to pass. There is no point in working there. However given the numbers of voices saying they are unhappy with the deal in the House there is a chance to push for rejection of a bad deal.
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Water Cooler: Does Boehner Have The Votes? Fear of a Primary Might Mean No

6:04 pm in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Fear - Graffiti

Fear - Graffiti by Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha

So, the leaders of both parties in both Houses of Congress and president have come up with a plan. It is probably good enough for Minority Leader Pelosi to strong arm the 90-100 votes that are being promised to the Republicans on this.

The question is, can Speaker Boehner really deliver the other 116 -126 votes need to really get it through. Chuck Todd has been on MSNBC insisting that there are still Moderate Republicans in the House, the Tuesday Group. I have my doubts that they would fall into the category of moderate on any scale that did not include the Tea Party extremists, but lets give him the benefit of the doubt.

There are 40 or so of these “moderates”. And there are about 30 Republican Representatives who have said they would not vote to raise the debt ceiling under any circumstance. That leave about 170 of whom 84, nearly half, have to vote for this plan (assuming the numbers of Democrats who will vote for this is accurate.)

Todd has been calling these people “Institutional” Republicans, meaning that they have been around, they know how Washington works and will bend when they are getting 90-95% of everything they want. This is real common CW but is it accurate in this particular time and place?

It should be, but here is the thing. The Tea Party Republicans have shown that they are not above trying to take down anyone who is insufficiently conservative in their judgment. It is what has made them a real power in the Republican Party. They have ousted, in primaries or the threat of primaries, big name Senators and even some sitting House members.
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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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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 – Going The Wrong Way; Ending Medicare Turns Out To Be A Loser

6:00 pm in jerks by Bill Egnor

Wrong way

Wrong way by Crystl, on Flickr

What do you do when you’ve completely overreached? Well if you are the Republicans you cave and hope like hell that the voters don’t remember in 18 months that’s what you do.

What am I talking about? The whole ‘privatize Medicare” plan that was one of the central pieces of Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, of course. You see after two weeks of getting one elderly person beat down after another it seems that the Republican leadership have figured out that just because you say the American people are behind your plan over and over does not make it true.

It is not like it should have been a surprise , after all the Republicans owe part of their House majority to the fact that they claimed that the Democrats were cutting Medicare as part of the ACA. It was the kind of thing that senior citizens don’t like to hear and remember when they go to vote (and they do vote unlike younger voters, especially in midterm elections).

Though it does seem to have caught the House Republicans flatfooted that the when they actually propose the plan they have been using a boogeyman for two years that seniors don’t just fall in line and let them screw the country out of one of the most popular entitlement programs of all time.

Today, the fourth day back from a two week recess, so Committee Chairs, Senators and the Speaker of the House himself basically saying that this plan was dead. After all when the House Ways and Means Committee Chair says that he is done laying down markers and his committee won’t take action on it, any plan is dead.

What is so startling is that the Republicans had to know that this plan was going nowhere. It was never going to get past the Senate, and it sure has hell was never going to be signed by this President. At best it was a political statement. Which is all well and good, but the House Republican Leadership didn’t just let it go at making a statement they introduced it and made their members vote for it.
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Goverment Shut Down Looms, Time To End The GOP Hostage Habit

5:14 am in banality of evil, jerks by Bill Egnor

GOP Ostrich

GOP Ostrich by stormbear, on Flickr

There are many ways to fall into bad habits, but the easiest is when one tries a vice and then is rewarded for having done so. This is where the nation is with the Congressional Republicans. Their vice has been economic hostage taking, and like all successful hostage takers, when they want something they look around of the nearest economic crisis to grab a hold of and insist that they get their way.

Which is exactly where we are with the impending, and probably inevitable, government shut down; their least reasonable members, newly elected (thanks midterm voters) have been signaling for months that if they did not get every little mean spirited and economically moronic thing they wanted, they would shutter the Federal Government.

Now with Speaker Boehner (Putz-OH) reneging on his privately agreed to cuts, there is little chance that there will be an agreement and a vote. In fact there would have to be a bill published today in order to be able to follow the new House rule of 72 hours before a vote, for there to be anything to vote on by the deadline on Friday.

It is not like the Republicans think that the public is going to be kind to them on this issue. Their leadership remembers how it played out in 1995 and they don’t want to go into another presidential election with weak candidates and a sour taste for their party in the mouths of the electorate.

Which is why they are trying to do everything they can to pin this on the Democrats. Too bad the facts are all against them. Today they are going to introduce another Continuing Resolution that would extend spending for another week. Sounds good until you hear what the price tag is.

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