Tag: Debt Ceiling

Obama’s Shock Doctrine

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In the “Shock Doctrine”, Naomi Klein describes disaster capitalism as “treating disasters as exciting market opportunities”. She also explains core economic philosophy of Milton Friedman, an American economist, statistician, academic, and author who taught at the University of Chicago. He was also economic advisor to President Ronald Reagan. What has now become known as the “shock doctrine” is Friedman’s lasting legacy. It is Friedman’s teaching that are at the core of the tactics being used by the Tea Party and the GOP in with the completely manufactured debt ceiling crisis.

Friedman observed in “Capitalism and Freedom:

Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depends in the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible  becomes the politically inevitable

This is precisely what has unfolded over the last 11 years since President George W. Bush cut taxes favoring the wealthy and corporations until today with the passage of the bill raising the debt ceiling and the creation of the new “super committee” that will inevitably slash Social Security, Medicare and any other social safety program while raising no revenues.

Friedman also noted that a new administration has a six to nine month window to achieve major changes and if it doesn’t seize the opportunity to act decisively in that period, it won’t get another chance. The Bush administration understood that along with controlling both houses of congress which facilitated the tax cuts, the passage of the Patriot Act and the trillions that were thrown at the wars and the banks in 2008 with TARP.

President Obama had the perfect opportunity to do do much of what he had promised in the first six months if 2009. The question is why didn’t he press his agenda with the Democratic majority controlled congress? If you look closely at his campaign speeches and interviews and his history in politics then the legislative and policy results of the last three years were quite predictable.

It was Rep. John Conyers (D-CA), angered at Obama during this debt ceiling negotiations, who pointed out that it was Obama who put the big three social safety programs on the table, not the Republicans. Republican were decimated in two electoral cycles partially based on the electorate fear that these programs would be thrown to the wolves of corporations and Wall St. Little did most voters realize that it would be a Democratic president and congress that would chisel away at those programs with “shock Doctrine” tactics of making them vulnerable with the ACA, which helped revive the Republicans, and the manufactured debt ceiling crisis.

Some Obama supporters, in attempts to explain his policy’s and what at first glance appears to be failure and leadership weakness, blame the obstructionist tactics of the GOP and feckless blue dogs in the Senate and the tea party. But it was Obama who created the deficit commission to look at ways to cut the deficit. It was Obama who appointed two deficit and anti-social security hawks to chair the commission. And who helped finance it? None other than octogenarian, billionaire Pete Peterson whose life’s goal has been to end Social Security and Medicare.

It was Obama who took single payer off the table even before talks on ACA began. He then proceeded to negotiate behind close doors with hospital executives, insurance and pharmaceutical industry to remove the public option and lower prescription drug costs.

It was Obama who failed to get a strong bank regulatory bill and prosecute the bankers for the fraud in the mortgage and housing collapse. It was Obama who agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for two more years worsening the deficit and cut payroll taxes making Social Security part of the deficit problem for the first time and actually raising taxes on households making less than $40,000 worsening their economic status. It was Obama who blocked cost of living raises for Social Security recipients and retires federal employees and froze pay for all federal employees.

Some critics are trying to explain away all these events as weakness either do not understand, or are just ignoring, that this latest “crisis” ws as much Obama’s making as it was the tea party’s.

Paul Krugman gets it now when he concluded that this is what Obama wants

Glenn Greenwald said “the President wanted tax revenues to be part of this deal.  But it is absolutely false that he did not want these brutal budget cuts and was simply forced — either by his own strategic “blunders” or the “weakness” of his office — into accepting them.  The evidence is overwhelming that Obama has long wanted exactly what he got: these severe domestic budget cuts and even ones well beyond these, including Social Security and Medicare, which he is likely to get with the Super-Committee created by this bill.”

At “Rolling Stone”, Matt Taibbi, on pondering Obama’s tack to starboard, thinks that Obama is doing what he is told

The Democrats, despite sitting in the White House, the most awesome repository of political power on the planet, didn’t fight at all. They made a show of a tussle for a good long time — as fixed fights go, you don’t see many that last into the 11th and 12th rounds, like this one did — but at the final hour, they let out a whimper and took a dive.

We probably need to start wondering why this keeps happening. Also, this: if the Democrats suck so bad at political combat, then how come they continue to be rewarded with such massive quantities of campaign contributions? When the final tally comes in for the 2012 presidential race, who among us wouldn’t bet that Barack Obama is going to beat his Republican opponent in the fundraising column very handily? At the very least, he won’t be out-funded, I can almost guarantee that.

And what does that mean? Who spends hundreds of millions of dollars for what looks, on the outside, like rank incompetence?

It strains the imagination to think that the country’s smartest businessmen keep paying top dollar for such lousy performance. Is it possible that by “surrendering” at the 11th hour and signing off on a deal that presages deep cuts in spending for the middle class, but avoids tax increases for the rich, Obama is doing exactly what was expected of him?

Yes, that is exactly what he is doing. This was and is Obama’s plan.

h/t Vastleft for the graphic

Congressional Game of Chicken: Taking More Hostages

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The House of Representatives raised the debt ceiling by a vote of 269 to 161 and the bill moved to the Senate where it was expected to pass by unanimous consent passed by a vote of 72 – 26 and was signed into law by President Obama this afternoon. Besides raising the debt ceiling enough so that it won’t have to be considered again until 2013, well after the election, the bill contains budget cuts that will total over $2 trillion, part immediately, the rest over 10 years.  The bill was called “a sugar coated satan’s sandwich” by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus due to the rest of the bill’s proposals. House Speaker John Boehner spoke with the press gleefully stating that he got 98% of what he wanted. On the other side of the Capitol building, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell warning that there is more use of raw extortion as a negotiating tactic in the future:

: It set the template for the future. In the future, Neil, no president – in the near future, maybe in the distant future – is going to be able to get the debt ceiling increased without a re-ignition of the same discussion of how do we cut spending and get America headed in the right direction. I expect the next president, whoever that is, is going to be asking us to raise the debt ceiling again in 2013, so we’ll be doing it all over.

The bill includes the creation of an equally split “super committee” that abrogates the right of congressional parliamentary prerogatives to debate or amend bills that arise from any agreement and if there is no agreement on cuts, then automatic across the board cuts that include Medicare and military spending. Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment eviscerates the bill’s flaws and the consequences.

Transcript:

I close, as promised, with a Special Comment on the debt deal.

Our government has now given up the concept of right and wrong.

We have, in this deal, declared that we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all political incumbents are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Re-nomination, re-election, and the pursuit of hypocrisy.

We have, in this deal, gone from the Four Freedoms to the Four Great Hypocrisies.

We have superceded Congress to facilitate 750 billion dollars in domestic cuts including Medicare in order to end an artificially-induced political hostage crisis over debt, originating from the bills run up by a Republican president who funneled billions of taxpayer dollars to the military-industrial complex by unfunded, unnecessary, and unproductive wars, enabled in doing so by the very same Republican leaders who now cry for balanced budgets – and we have called it compromise. And those who defend it have called it a credit to a pragmatic president who wins some sort of political “points” because, having stood for almost nothing here, he gave away almost nothing for which he stood.

It would be comical if it were not tragic.

Either way, it is a signal moment in our history, in which both parties have agreed and codified that the political structure of this nation shall now based entirely on hypocrisy and political self-perpetuation.

Let us start with the first of the Great Hypocrisies: The Committee. The Republican dogs can run back to their corporate masters and say they have forced one-and-one-half trillion dollars in cuts and palmed off the responsibility for them on this nonsensical “Super Congress” committee.

For two-and-a-half brutal years we have listened to these Tea Party mountebanks screech about the Constitution of the United States as if it were the revealed word and not the product of other – albeit far better – politicians. They demand the repeal of Amendments they don’t like, and the strict interpretation of the ones they do, and the specific citation of authorization within the Constitution for every proposed act or expenditure or legislation.

Except this one.

Where does it say in the Constitution that the two houses of Congress can, in effect, create a third house to do its dirty work for it; to sacrifice a few Congressmen and Senators so the vast majority of incumbents can tell the voters they had nothing to do with this?

This leads to the second of the Great Hypocrisies: how, in the same breath, the Republicans can create an extra-Constitutional “Super Congress” and yet also demand a Constitutional Amendment to force the economic stupidity that would be a mandated balanced budget. Firstly: pick a side! Ignore the Constitution or adhere to it.

Firstly, pick a side, ignore the constitution or adhere to it. And of what value would this Mandated Balanced Budget be? Our own history proves that at a time of economic crisis, if the businesses aren’t spending, and the consumers aren’t spending, the government must. Our ancestors were the lab rats in the horrible experiments of the Hoover Administration that brought on the Great Depression, in which the government curled up into a ball while it simultaneously insisted the economy should heal itself, when, in times of crisis – then and now – the economy turns out to be comprised entirely of a bunch of rich people who will sit on their money no matter if the country starves.

Forgotten in the Republican Voodoo dance, dressed in the skins of the mythical Balanced Budget, triumphant over the severed head of short-term retrenchment that they can hold up to their moronic followers, are the long-term implications of the mandated Balanced Budget.

What happens if there’s ever another… war?

Or another… terrorist attack?

Or another… naturaldisaster?

Or any other emergency that requires A government to spend a dollar morethan it has? A Constitutional Amendment denying us the right to run a deficit, is madness, and it will be tested by catastrophe sooner than any of its authors with their under-developed imaginations that can count only contributions and votes, can contemplate.

And the third of the Great Hypocrisies is hidden inside the shell game that is the Super Congress. TheSuper Congress is supposed to cut evenly from domestic and defense spending, but if it cannot agree on those cuts, or Congress will not endorse them, there will be a “trigger” that automatically cuts a trillion-two or more – but those cuts will not necessarily come evenly from the Pentagon. We are presented with an agreement that seems to guarantee the gutting of every local sacred cow from the Defense Department. Except if the Congressmen and Senators to whom the cows are sacred, disagree, and overrule, or sabotage the Super Congress, or, except if for some reason a 12-member Committee split evenly along party lines can’t manage to avoid finishing every damned vote 6-to-6.

We’re cutting Defense. Unless we’re not.

The fourth of the Great Hypocrisies is the evident agreement to not add any revenues to the process of cutting. Not only is the impetus to make human budget sacrifices out of thepoor and dependent formalized… but the rich and the corporations are thus indemnified, again, and given more money not merely to spend on themselves and their own luxuries, but more vitally, they are given more money to spend on buying politicians, and legislatures, and courts, buying entire states, all of which can be directed like so many weapons, in the service of one cause and one cause alone: making bystatute and ruling, the further protection of the wealthy at the expense ofeverybody else, untouchable, inviolable – permanent.

The White House today boasted of loopholes to be closed and tax breaks to be rescinded — later.

By a committee.

A committee that has yet to be formed.

There are no new taxes. Except the stealth ones, enacted on 99 out of 100 Americans by this evil transaction. Every dollar cut from the Safety Net is another dollar added to the citizen’s cost for education, for security, for health, for life itself. It is another dollar he can’t spend on making a better life for himself, or atleast his children. It is another dollar he must spend instead on simply keeping himself alive.

Where is the outrage over these Great Hypocrisies? Do you expect it to come from a corrupt and corrupted media, for whom access is of greater importance than criticizing the failure of a political party or defending those who don’t buy newspapers or can’t leapwebsite paywalls or could not afford cable tv?

Do you expect it to comefrom a cynical and manipulative political structure? Do you expect it from those elected officials who no longer know anything of government or governance, but only perceive how to get elected, or how to pose in front of a camera and pretend to be leaders? Do you expect it from politicians themselves, who will merely calculate whether or not it’s right based on whether or not it will get them more contributions?

Do you expect it will come from the great middle ground of this country, with a population obsessed with entertainment, video games, socialmedia, sports, and trivia?

Where is the outrage to come from?

From you!

It will do no good to wait for the politicians to suddenly atone for their sins. They are too busy trying to keep their jobs, to do their jobs.

It will do no good to wait for the media to suddenly remember its origins as the ‘free press,’ the watchdog of democracy envisioned by Jefferson. They are too busy trying to get exclusive DETAILS about exactly how the bankrobbers emptied the public’s pockets, to give a damn about telling anybody what they looked like, or which way they went.

It will do no good to wait for the apolitical public to get a clue. They can’t hear the clue through all the chatter and scandal and diversion and delusion and illusion.

The betrayal of what this nation is supposed to be about did not begin with this deal and it surely will not end with this deal. There is a tide pushing back the rights of each of us, and it has been artificially induced by union-bashing and the sowing ofhatreds and fears, and now this ever-more-institutionalized economic battering of the average American. It will continue, and it will crush us, because those who created it are organized and unified and hell-bent.

And the only response is to be organized and unified and hell-bent in return. We must find again the energy and the purpose of the 1960’s and early 1970’s and we must protest this deal and all the God damn deals to come, in the streets. We must arise, non-violently but insistently. General strikes, boycotts, protests, sit-ins, non-cooperation take-overs – but modern versions of that resistance, facilitated and amplified, by a weapon our predecessors did not have: the glory that is instantaneous communication.

It is from an old and almost clich├ęd motion picture that the wisdom comes: First, you’ve got to get mad.

I cannot say to you, meethere or there at this hour or that one, and we will peacefully break the back of government that now exists merely to get its functionaries re-elected. But I can say that the time is coming when the window for us to restore the control of our government to our selves will close, and we had damn well better act before then.

Because this deal is more than a tipping point in which the government goes from defending the safety net to gutting it. This is wrong, and while our government has now declared that it has given up the concept of right-and-wrong, you and I… have not, and will not, do so.

Good night, and good luck.

On Speaking To Power, Or, When Sanity’s Gone, There’s Always Satire

So everybody’s hearing the news, right?

There is a tentative debt ceiling deal, and this Administration and Congressional Democrats seem to have won everything they wanted: Republicans get to have multiple “we don’t approve” votes before 2012 on raising the debt ceiling, there won’t be any new revenue, there’s going to be another “hostage-taking” event around Christmastime, for many Democrats the issue of the Ryan Budget and the dismantling of Medicare is likely off the table for the 2012 electoral cycle, and the Administration seems to have figured out a way to not involve itself in shaping the way that entitlement reform will work out.

All in all, it’s some pretty slick negotiating, and I’m sure this Administration and Democratic Congressional leaders must be very proud.

Even on bad days, however, you gotta have some fun, and that’s why I’m encouraging everyone to take a minute today to say #thanksalot.

Congressional Game of Chicken: Countdown to Default (Up Date x 3)

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Boehner bill on raising the debt ceiling barely passed the House on a strict partisan line with a vote of 218 to 210. Not one Democrat voted for the bill, 22 Republicans voted against it and 5 Democrats were not present to vote. The bill was essential dead on arrival in the Senate where it was quickly table in a bipartisan vote of 59 to 41.

This is what’s next but it won’t happen until very late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. Why because Sen. Mitch McConnell says so. McConnell is refusing to even negotiate with Reid

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid’s proposed bill is no prize either but at least it moves the debt ceiling limit to past the 2012 election into 2013 and a new congressional session. (I think Reid is betting on taking back the House.) Reid also said that he is open to tweaking but it’s up to Republicans

At a late Friday press conference, Reid suggested that the door is still open to further tweak his proposal, including by adding failsafes to assure future entitlement and tax reforms — but it’s up to Republicans to offer up their votes.

“We have a closet full of triggers, people have suggested dozens of them but even though earlier this week, I was sitting talking to Jack Lew about triggers for an hour and a half and we can’t get Republicans to move on any trigger. We’re not going to have cuts on more programs without some revenue – that is a line we’ve drawn in the sand,” Reid said. “It’s up to the Republicans, right now we have a proposal…we are waiting for them to do something, anything, move toward us.”

How The Revised Reid Amendment Compares To The Revised Boehner Bill

h/t David Dayen @ FDL and Brian Buetler @ TPM

Up Date, 12:22 PM EDT: House Speaker John Boehner has said that the Reid bill is “dead in the water” and is refusing to meet or compromise with the Democrats. The Senate will vote for cloture on the bill at 1 AM Sunday morning. Boehner plans to hold a symbolic vote on the bill this afternoon to reject the plan preemptively.

Reid’s plan which cuts more without new revenue and creates the “super commission” only differs in the length of time for considering raising the debt ceiling again. The bi[artisan Senate plan extends the debt ceiling through 2012 while the tea party plan wants it rehashed in 5 months with guarantees that a “cut, cap and destroy” constitutional amendment is passed. Boehner is probably the worst house speaker since Newt Gingrich and even he knew how to get his ducks in a row and conpromise.

Up Date: 15:35 EDT The House has voted to reject the Reid bill before it even gets to a vote in the Senate. All of the Republicans votes nay along with a few Democrats. The voter was 173 – 246.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Reid are on their way to the White House to meet with the President to presumably to discuss options and the next move.

This is what you get for negotiating with terrorists.

The Reid bill will still come to a vote late tonight at 1 AM EDT

Up Date 1430 EDT: The Reid bill failed to reach cloture this afternoon it is now back to the drawing board

Congressional Game of Chicken: “Super Congress”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The bills that have been proposed by Republican and Democratic leadership to raise the debt ceiling putting an an to this wholly manufactured crisis, differ little and both will be devastating to most Americans. One of the commonalities is the creation of a bipartisan commission of 12 that on first glance seems innocuous but on looking closer, it is quite toxic and may even be unconstitutional. This “super committee” will be equally comprised of Democrats and Republicans members of congress. Who and how they will be selected is unclear but considering the current corporate owned, deficit hawk nature of both sides, I suspect it will be their worst conservative “cut spending/no revenue ghouls”.

At first glance, this sounds like the President’s Deficit Commission that couldn’t produce recommendations even 14 of the 18 members could agree. The co-chairs, former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) and former Clinton Chief of Staff and South Carolina businessman, Erskine Bowles wrote there own recommendations and ran it up the flagpole. Needless to say President Obama saluted and embraced the draconian principles that it enshrined, such as decimating Medicare and Medicaid and drastic cuts to Social Security. The “Catfood Commission”, however, had no “teeth”, everything that was suggested would have to be passed as a bill. This new commission is another game and will have the force of law behind it.

Ryan Grimm at Huffington Post has the best description of how this “new congress” will function and just how powerful it will be:

Legislation approved by the Super Congress — which some on Capitol Hill are calling the “super committee” — would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn’t be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who’d have the ability only to cast an up or down vote. With the weight of both leaderships behind it, a product originated by the Super Congress would have a strong chance of moving through the little Congress and quickly becoming law. A Super Congress would be less accountable than the system that exists today, and would find it easier to strip the public of popular benefits. Negotiators are currently considering cutting the mortgage deduction and tax credits for retirement savings, for instance, extremely popular policies that would be difficult to slice up using the traditional legislative process.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has made a Super Congress a central part of his last-minute proposal, multiple news reports and people familiar with his plan say. A picture of Boehner’s proposal began to come into focus Saturday evening: The debt ceiling would be raised for a short-term period and coupled with an equal dollar figure of cuts, somewhere in the vicinity of a trillion dollars over ten years. A second increase in the debt ceiling would be tied to the creation of a Super Congress that would be required to find a minimum amount of spending cuts. Because the elevated panel would need at least one Democratic vote, its plan would presumably include at least some revenue, though if it’s anything like the deals on the table today, it would likely be heavily slanted toward spending cuts.

The tea party Republicans in the House have informed Speaker John Boehner that the commission is totally unacceptable to them. There main objection is they feel it could lead to tax increases. Other critics from the right like Eric Erickson of Red State are opposed mostly because it just ads another costly layer to the bureaucracy that won’t work. From the left, Rep Barney Frank (D-MA) and MoveOn.org expressed concerns that it would cut the big three social safety nets and the idea that it would supersede congress’s parliamentary power.

The ratings agencies have said that the Boehner bill will result in a ratings downgrade since it only raised the debt ceiling by $1 trillion which will require another cap raise in 5 months, creating uncertainty in the bond market. The White House has embraced the Reid version which would move the need raising the ceiling again past 2012 which is more acceptable to the ratings agencies who think the ceiling should just be removed entirely.

This is going to the wire with both sides deadlocked and hamstrung by a small loud and incredibly stupid minority and ineffective leaderchip on both sides.

Congressional Game of Chicken: “Super Congress”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The bills that have been proposed by Republican and Democratic leadership to raise the debt ceiling putting an an to this wholly manufactured crisis, differ little and both will be devastating to most Americans. One of the commonalities is the creation of a bipartisan commission of 12 that on first glance seems innocuous but on looking closer, it is quite toxic and may even be unconstitutional. This “super committee” will be equally comprised of Democrats and Republicans members of congress. Who and how they will be selected is unclear but considering the current corporate owned, deficit hawk nature of both sides, I suspect it will be their worst conservative “cut spending/no revenue ghouls”.

At first glance, this sounds like the President’s Deficit Commission that couldn’t produce recommendations even 14 of the 18 members could agree. The co-chairs, former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) and former Clinton Chief of Staff and South Carolina businessman, Erskine Bowles wrote there own recommendations and ran it up the flagpole. Needless to say President Obama saluted and embraced the draconian principles that it enshrined, such as decimating Medicare and Medicaid and drastic cuts to Social Security. The “Catfood Commission”, however, had no “teeth”, everything that was suggested would have to be passed as a bill. This new commission is another game and will have the force of law behind it.

Ryan Grimm at Huffington Post has the best description of how this “new congress” will function and just how powerful it will be:

Legislation approved by the Super Congress — which some on Capitol Hill are calling the “super committee” — would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn’t be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who’d have the ability only to cast an up or down vote. With the weight of both leaderships behind it, a product originated by the Super Congress would have a strong chance of moving through the little Congress and quickly becoming law. A Super Congress would be less accountable than the system that exists today, and would find it easier to strip the public of popular benefits. Negotiators are currently considering cutting the mortgage deduction and tax credits for retirement savings, for instance, extremely popular policies that would be difficult to slice up using the traditional legislative process.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has made a Super Congress a central part of his last-minute proposal, multiple news reports and people familiar with his plan say. A picture of Boehner’s proposal began to come into focus Saturday evening: The debt ceiling would be raised for a short-term period and coupled with an equal dollar figure of cuts, somewhere in the vicinity of a trillion dollars over ten years. A second increase in the debt ceiling would be tied to the creation of a Super Congress that would be required to find a minimum amount of spending cuts. Because the elevated panel would need at least one Democratic vote, its plan would presumably include at least some revenue, though if it’s anything like the deals on the table today, it would likely be heavily slanted toward spending cuts.

The tea party Republicans in the House have informed Speaker John Boehner that the commission is totally unacceptable to them. There main objection is they feel it could lead to tax increases. Other critics from the right like Eric Erickson of Red State are opposed mostly because it just ads another costly layer to the bureaucracy that won’t work. From the left, Rep Barney Frank (D-MA) and MoveOn.org expressed concerns that it would cut the big three social safety nets and the idea that it would supersede congress’s parliamentary power.

The ratings agencies have said that the Boehner bill will result in a ratings downgrade since it only raised the debt ceiling by $1 trillion which will require another cap raise in 5 months, creating uncertainty in the bond market. The White House has embraced the Reid version which would move the need raising the ceiling again past 2012 which is more acceptable to the ratings agencies who think the ceiling should just be removed entirely.

This is going to the wire with both sides deadlocked and hamstrung by a small loud and incredibly stupid minority and ineffective leaderchip on both sides.

Congressional Game of Chicken: Dueling Debt Plans

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

As we move closer to the debt ceiling limit and defaulting on the debt, two proposals have been put forward by opposing sides. The Republicans have put a bill together that will come up for a vote on Wednesday that calls for a two-step plan that would allow the debt limit to be raised by $1 trillion and create “a “Super Congress,” composed of members of both chambers and both parties, isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but would be granted extraordinary new powers.”

From the Democrats, House Majority Leader Harry Reid has proposed $2.7 trillion in spending cuts and raising the debt ceiling through 2012 with no revenue increases but would not touch any of the big three social safety nets. It does include the proposed “super congress”:

“made up of 12 members, to present options for future deficit reduction. The committee’s recommendations will be guaranteed an up-or-down Senate vote, without amendments, by the end of 2011.”

There are a few problems though. The first problem is the neither bill will pass both houses. The other obstacle two-fold. Reid’s bill will need 60 votes for cloture. It is unlikely that Reid can convince four Republicans to vote for it. He may get able to convince Sen, Olympia Snowe (R-VT) and Sen. Collins (R-ME) but he also must get the blue dogs to fall in-line. The only way I can see Reid getting this bill to the floor for a vote is to use the “Cheney nuclear option” and call bull shit on the filibuster. They don’t have the guts for that.

House Speaker John Boehner has similar problems. He needs 217 votes to pass. With 89 tea party Republicans many who signed a letter refusing to raise the debt ceiling no matter what the deal, Boehner would need to convince at least 23 to 50 Democrats. That won’t happen either. Some of the tea party crew may break tier “oath” since they are taking heat from their constituents at home. The House bill stands a better chance of suvival.

If both bills by some miracle pass, then it goes to reconciliation and both bills have to be voted on again. This isn’t going to happen in less than a week. If only the House bill makes it, the Senate probably reject it. That is the most probable scenario.

That leaves one option and it falls back to the White House to use the 14th Amendment, Article 4. Obama has already rejected this option but as it gets closer to August 2 and default, given the choice of a constitutional crisis versus a global economic melt down, let hope Obama put his “big boy pants on” and starts acting like a responsible adult who has to make a decision not everyone is going to like.

Buy Obama’s Chief of Staff a Clue

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

President Obama’s Chief of Staff Bill Daley, former bankster and Third Way board member, thinks that it is “the deficit is a serious drag on the economy.” You would think that the Tea Party Republicans had taken over the White House. Oh, wait, they have.

Mr. Daley appeared on Meet the Press with corporate shill, David Gregory

As Scarecrow at FDL points out

Apparently, the man closest to the President of the United States, and on whom the President relies for political and economy advice, does not know that the only reason the terrible unemployment numbers that may end his President’s re-election hopes are at 9.2 percent and not 11 or 12 percent or higher is because of the increased federal deficit spending of the last two years.

And the only thing that can keep unemployment from reaching higher levels in 2012 is continued federal spending, which they will cover via more deficits. If Mr. Daley’s diagnosis were translated into policy – and that seems to be what’s happening – he and his President will need new jobs in 2013.

Mr. Daley and the completely useless David Gregory totally ignore the real causes for current economic disaster:

On the debt reduction negotiations, David Gregory asked Mr. Daley what he must have thought was a gotcha now question. He showed Mr. Daley a graphic showing the increase in the total debt since Obama took office, with the debt going from $10 trillion to $14 trillion or so, and projected to rise another $2 trillion.

Then Gregory smuggly concluded, “can’t you [Mr. Daley] see the logic of those who argue that given this huge increase in the debt, it makes sense that we reduce that only with spending cuts and not tax increases?”

The correct response to a question that jaw-droppingly stupid would have been to award Gregory the Douglas Feith Award and terminate his contract with NBC. Daley may not get the allusion and couldn’t say that in any event.

But in responding, Daley couldn’t even remember to remind viewers that the bulk of that debt increase was entirely the result of the recession: fallen tax revenues and increased safety-net spending, plus the stimulus, all responding to the recession Mr. Obama inherited. Instead, he left us with the lecture on how the debt or deficit was a serious drag on the economy, so our President was really focused on that.

Scarecrow is so right that “there are no more adults in this conversation.”

 

What to do, what to do!

Amidst the problems of attempts by the Fiduciary (the government) to “STEAL” our Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid Trust Funds and our efforts to thwart theirs, there are so many behind the scene efforts, the same for which is owed $2.6 trillion by our Treasury.

I have been and am in a banking situation, which was a “carryover” from many years ago, from which I am gradually trying to extricate myself for reasons we should all know and, frankly, do! I had been wanting to do some changes for quite some time, but I needed to do some “shopping” around, not to say that there is a vast difference here or there, but, just, maybe, a little more concern.

In the meantime, this month has brought notifications (“warnings” concerning any brokerage accounts) that the “Bank” has chosen another clearing house, one which is within its own “family.”  And unless or until you remove such accounts (as you may wish), from their entity before July 29, 2011, thereafter, on August 5, 2011, you will be charged $75.00, for removal of any and each such account to any entity outside their brokerage.  What?  Do you get it?  In other words, the Bank will charge its customers, after August 5, 2011, for, first of all, a decision it made to transfer your “assets” over to their “decision” should you not withdraw your funds on or before July 29, 2011.

Now, that’s not enough?  No, today, I receive notification that I must accept/reject a new Banking Resolution by Sept. 15, 2011.  

Quote that information here!

First, now, I have to look up that banking resolution, but not only that, I now need to find out what are the current charges vis a vis the Bank’s ultimatim.

Strikes me a form of enforcement!

By now, I think the message is quite clear!  The least fortunate of us, despite our hard work, earnest beliefs, love of our fellow human beings, have become prey to our “elitist” predators, who would sooner be rid of us, unless they can use us, i.e., take note of our corporations in the Asian countries, China, for example, child labor, no OSHA laws, no benefits, $0.50 an hour?  All of this while, first of all, being an American corporation(s), and paying NO taxes to the country in which they were incorporated — and it goes on and on!

This needs much work!

 

Congressional Game of Chicken: Invoke the 14th Amendment Option

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

I have no idea what President Obama is thinking. What I do know is that he is partly responsible for the brinkmanship that is being played out as the debt ceiling looms putting the US credit rating on the line and many Americans at dire financial risk. Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars says she thinks  former President Bill Clinton may know what Obama is thinking as the deadline to raise the debt ceiling nears. What ever Obama is thinking, Pres. Clinton offers some very audacious advice. In an interview with columnist Joe Conason, he said:

{} he would invoke the so-called constitutional option to raise the nation’s debt ceiling “without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me” in order to prevent a default, should Congress and the President fail to achieve agreement before the August 2 deadline.

Sharply criticizing Congressional Republicans in an exclusive Monday evening interview with The National Memo, Clinton said, “I think the Constitution is clear and I think this idea that the Congress gets to vote twice on whether to pay for [expenditures] it has appropriated is crazy.”

Lifting the debt ceiling “is necessary to pay for appropriations already made,” he added, “so you can’t say, ‘Well, we won the last election and we didn’t vote for some of that stuff, so we’re going to throw the whole country’s credit into arrears.”

Having faced down the Republican House leadership during two government shutdowns when he was president — and having brought the country’s budget from the deep deficits left by Republican presidents to a projected surplus — Clinton is unimpressed by the GOP’s sudden enthusiasm for balanced budgets. But he never considered invoking the Fourteenth Amendment — which says “the validity of the US public debt shall not be questioned” – because the Republicans led by then-Speaker Newt Gingrich didn’t threaten to use the debt ceiling as a weapon in their budget struggles with him.

I am fairly certain that Clinton would do just that. Would that President Obama had that courage.

Starving the Beast: Cut, Cap and Balance

cross-posted from Main Street Insider

The debt limit is a largely symbolic check on excessive borrowing which in the past has been frequently raised with little to no controversy. Such periodic increases are necessary to keep the government running and paying its bills, regardless of ideology.

However, Congressional Republicans are now demanding that certain conditions must be met in order to win their approval of a debt ceiling increase. They have termed their list of demands Cut, Cap and Balance, and claim it is a necessary measure in order to keep the government debt from spiraling out of control, and thus keep the country functioning.

Yet the Cut, Cap and Balance Act scheduled to reach the House floor this week is anything but necessary to keep the country functioning in its . Rather, it is the crown jewel, the final step of conservatives’ long-pursued “Starve the Beast” strategy to downsize government. It would radically limit the flexibility of the federal government to provide a social safety net, buttress the economy in tough times and respond to great national challenges, now and into the future.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out this week’s 90 Second Summary and decide for yourself:

The Quote of the Day

Posted, in a slightly different form, at Daily Kos.

This morning on Brian Lerher the topic was Deductions and Loopholes. Peter in Armonk called in and said;

I’m a small business owner and have been one for thirty-five years, employed between eighty-five and one hundred and ten people at various points in time. I never understood why, some of the deductions that I was allowed to take, I take a customer to play golf, I get a fifty percent deduction. And the number of deductions as a business person that I can take compared to an individual or an individual wage earner is just, to me, extraordinary.

I also want to say that during all those years when I was, I guess a so called job creator, I never once, once considered taxes or the tax rate in a decision to hire or fire a person.  

We either had so much business that we needed more employees to do the business or we didn’t have enough business and we needed to make cutbacks or cutback through attrition. But I never said “Oh my God, taxes are going up. I’m going to fire people.” Never.

David Cay Johnston, author of the forthcoming book The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use “Plain English” and Other Tricks to Rob You Blind, had this answer.  

Oh I think it’s incredibly common and you know I’m chairman of the board of a little company with twenty-five workers. I agree exactly. We hire more workers when we have demand for our services and that’s the only reason we do so. Every business person I know operates on a different theory than you’re hearing from people on Capital Hill. You have customers, you need work done, you hire people. You don’t make these decisions based on taxes.

Now, here we are the lowly wage earners getting the squeeze for decades and now our social safety net and our basic tax deductions are on the table? As pointed out “Every business person I know operates on a different theory than you’re hearing from people on Capital Hill.” But that is more like every small and large business person in the nation. Still we keep hearing Republican claiming that the business owners who can get away with deducting almost everything, those business owners need the assistance of government, with little to no reality coming from the Democrats. Still they get away with claiming that almost all business owners file individual claims with little to no reality from the Democrats.

And still so many Democratic supporters continue to try to blame the Republicans for owning the debate or the media for not stepping up where the Democrats should. It’s like being forced to watch a really bad movie over and over. But while the Democrats continue to hide Peter in Armonk called in and said what the President of the United States should have been saying for years.

I also want to say that during all those years when I was, I guess a so called job creator, I never once, once considered taxes or the tax rate in a decision to hire or fire a person.  

We either had so much business that we needed more employees to do the business or we didn’t have enough business and we needed to make cutbacks or cutback through attrition. But I never said “Oh my God, taxes are going up. I’m going to fire people.” Never.

You can listen to the entire interview here.  

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