Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 20, 2011

BIG BUSINESS TO REPUBLICANS: STOP SCREWING AROUND.... In recent weeks, the financial industry and Wall Street executives have pressed Republican leaders on raising the debt ceiling. As far as the industry is concerned, the GOP not only has to step up and do the responsible thing very soon, Republicans shouldn't even talk about anything to the contrary.

As it turns out, Wall Street isn't the only natural Republican constituency urging the party to stop screwing around.

The Obama administration will likely have the support of major business groups as it works to round up Republican votes for raising the federal debt ceiling.

Groups such as the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) plan to step up their advocacy for a debt-limit increase as the deadline for congressional action draws closer.

Lobbyists for several major trade associations told The Hill that they have already had discussions with first-term House Republicans about the necessity of lifting the debt ceiling to avoid a default on U.S. debt.

For those who don't keep up on the world of D.C. lobbying, it's worth emphasizing that the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Manufacturers are some of Republicans' closest allies. These business powerhouse organizations tend to be staunch opponents of Democrats and the progressive agenda, and look at the GOP as a close ally, if not a partner.

And all of these business lobbying organizations are telling their Republican friends the same thing: raise the damn debt ceiling.

"We have been very upfront. We support an increase in the debt limit. We need to meet our obligations," said Dorothy Coleman, vice president of tax and domestic economy policy for the NAM. "There is a huge downside to default." [...]

Business lobbyists didn't mince words when describing what could happen to the economy if the country's debt ceiling isn't raised.

"This would be akin to a major international corporation just saying, 'We are not going pay our bills next week' -- but multiply it a thousand-fold, a million-fold," [NAW President Dirk Van Dongen] said.

It's unusual when we see this much unanimity about a controversial policy measure. How often do Democratic leaders, Republican leaders, the Federal Reserve, Treasury officials, economists of all stripes, Wall Street, and Big Business lobbying powerhouses all say they want the same thing at the same time?

With all of this agreement, a resolution should be easy. Indeed, given how infrequently all of these institutions endorse the same idea, this seems like the sort of thing that could be wrapped up in an afternoon.

But when dealing with today's congressional Republicans, nothing is ever easy. There's no firm head-count just yet, but by all appearances, a significant chunk of the House and Senate GOP are willing to ignore the collective judgment of sane, self-interested people everywhere, and instead listen to right-wing activists who don't really know what they're talking about.

Steve Benen 10:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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Comments

Anyone else getting some red flags when big business starts demanding things?

Posted by: orwell on April 20, 2011 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK


These Republican politicians are like mischievous children with matches in a gasoline supply depot.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 20, 2011 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

It doesn't surprise me that George Soros and other Wall Street liberals support BHO.

Posted by: Al on April 20, 2011 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Even if White House can find a couple dozen crossover GOP votes in the house, they'll still need Bhoehner to let a bill come to a vote. Expect to see his tears welling up, soon, in defense of throwing us into default.

Posted by: andrew on April 20, 2011 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Al ... It doesn't surprise me that you're really this stupid ... in fact, it's expected...

Posted by: Michael on April 20, 2011 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

My prediction--the debt ceiling will get increased with relatively little resistance. In the House, there will be a contingent of Republicans who will vote against it, but this won't be that big a deal. Same in the Senate.

Given the unanimous opposition of business, the Republicans will not use this bill as a forum to fight over the budget.

Posted by: DRF on April 20, 2011 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

I am starting to hate Obama's bipartisan rhetoric with a white-hot passion.

First off, no true liberal can look back on the social security deal that was cut in the 1980s as a great accomplishment. It was a lie, pure and simple. The deal was that taxes would be raised on the middle class and the extra revenue would be set aside for the needs of future beneficiaries. But now that future beneficiaries need the money, those that cut the deal -- including Alan Fucking Simpson -- now claim that the treasury bonds held by the trust fund are worthless.

It would be nice if someone in the media (and that includes Steve Benen and Washington Monthly) would call Alan Simpson and ask him why, if he doesn't believe that "IOUs" held in the trust fund have any value, he voted to raise taxes on Americans in the 1980s.

Second, the so-called Clinton surplus arose because the Democrats raised taxes on the wealthy in 1993 over the objections of the GOP. Not one Republican voted for the budget. Not one.

In contrast, the budget battle between Clinton and Gingrich was not resolved in a way that significantly cut the deficit.

Why the fuck Obama would give the GOP one single ounce of credit for contributing to the surplus is completely beyond me. For Obama, bipartisanship is a goal in of itself. If there is a choice between two policies, A and B and A is objectively superior, Obama will still prefer B if A can only be passed with Democratic support and B will get GOP votes.

Posted by: square1 on April 20, 2011 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Yesss! The collision of tea-party fringers and the "sober" business establishment! Not that we should trust the latter, it's just good to have them smushing each other.

BTW, the below comment about Donald Trump at Sabine Hossenfelder's "Backreaction" blog was so way out there, and both cute and scary, I had to share. http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2011/04/robert-koch-foundation-seven-points-to.html#c362939674660498845

Posted by: Neil B on April 20, 2011 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

"I feel your pain", square 1, but Obama knows that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, and he needs every damn fly he can catch!

Still, I'd love to see him start pulling the wings off SOME flies. . .

Posted by: DAY on April 20, 2011 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry. The above post was meant for the prior thread.

In any event, surely the White House will leverage the fear of the business community by insisting that higher taxes on business be on the table for any "unclean" budget deal that is tied to raising the debt limit.

Posted by: square1 on April 20, 2011 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

"It's unusual when we see this much unanimity about a controversial policy measure."

It's only controversial with a small group of economically illiterate fools. Unfortunately, that group is disproportionately well represented in Congress at the moment.

Of course, there's the second group that understands the need for raising the debt limit but, when circumstances allow, are willing to take advantage of a free "no" vote to do a little grandstanding. That President Obama was one of those people during his time in the Senate does him no credit.

Posted by: drkrick on April 20, 2011 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

"How often do Democratic leaders, Republican leaders, the Federal Reserve, Treasury officials, economists of all stripes, Wall Street, and Big Business lobbying powerhouses all say they want the same thing at the same time?"

Keyword = say.

Posted by: sadly on April 20, 2011 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

@Day: While Benen and other just love to blast average Americans for being ignorant, the reality is that there are very, very few elected Democrats who take the time to try to set the record straight. It shouldn't be a surprise that many Americans don't know what is going on when the GOP relentlessly spins history and then DEMOCRATS repeat the GOP's talking points.

Posted by: square1 on April 20, 2011 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

If all these Big Business groups will simply tell the Republicans to raise the debt ceiling or we won't give you any more money, the Reps will listen. Otherwise forget it.

Unless they're getting so much money from other sources that they just don't care about Big Business anymore, either. In which case the question becomes, "Who exactly do the Republican's listen to today?"

It's not the drooling minions of their so-called "base" who collectively don't have the intellect to flip a light switch without instructions. So who really pulls the Republicans' strings these days? The American people really need to know. All of them.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on April 20, 2011 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

"This would be akin to a major international corporation just saying, 'We are not going pay our bills next week' -- but multiply it a thousand-fold, a million-fold," [NAW President Dirk Van Dongen] said.

And I'm sure our diligent media will step up to the plate, do their jobs and inform the public of the disastrous consequences of childish, irresponsible Republican extremism, right? Right?

Posted by: John on April 20, 2011 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Correction to my comment above: "And I'm sure our diligent media will stop swooning over Donald Trump long enough to step up to the plate..."

Posted by: John on April 20, 2011 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Dems have every conceivable ounce of leverage on their side on this issue.

Any concession AT ALL to get them to vote is a complete fail politically. Let them cook in their own juices.

Posted by: bdop4 on April 20, 2011 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

But the Democrats will pee all over themselves trying to compromise with the threats of the Republicans. The Republicans nuclear weapon is: "We don't care if the ship sinks."

Posted by: E L on April 20, 2011 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

I call bullsh*t on the business lobbyists. They can talk about how they support raising the debt limit all they want.

But I don't hear "We will direct funds to the democratic-party opponent of any republican who votes against raising the debt ceiling." Until they say that, they're just trying to seem reasonable while still supporting unreasonable people.

Posted by: paul on April 20, 2011 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK
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