Political Animal


July 20, 2011 3:50 PM House GOP Suicide Squad gets bigger

By Steve Benen

By late yesterday, the political world seemed to be feeling optimistic about the debt ceiling again. The Gang of Six had made a lot of senators happy; President Obama seemed upbeat causing a sudden spike on Wall Street; and the House was wrapping up work on a pointless vanity project, clearing the way for real work. Maybe, folks thought, we’ll avoid that catastrophe after all.

This afternoon, that optimism is evaporating again.

On Monday, Rep. Joe Walsh, a radical GOP freshman, began circulating a letter among his House Republican colleagues drawing a line in the sand: they won’t accept the McConnell/Reid plan. Period. Full stop.

Senate Republicans figured if the letter picked up no more than 50 signatures, the Senate’s “Plan B” could pick up some Democratic support, get through the House, and offer a way out of this mess. If Walsh’s effort picked up 100 signatures, we’re all in big trouble.

Greg Sargent reports today on the Suicide Squad’s progress. The news isn’t good.

…Some eighty House Republicans have now signed a letter calling on GOP leaders not to even let the McConnell plan get to the floor for a vote, a GOP aide tells me.

As I noted here yesterday, one key metric for judging whether the McConnell plan can get through the House is a letter that Tea Party-backed Rep. Joe Walsh is distributing among colleagues. He’s hoping to amass 100 members on the letter, which would be a strong statement of opposition that would call into question whether the McConnell plan has any chance of passing.

The GOP aide tells me he’s roughly 20 signatures away from that goal. The letter with final signatories will be released tonight.

Let’s do a little arithmetic. It will take 217 votes to pass a bill in the House right now (it would ordinarily be 218, but there are a couple of vacancies). There are 240 House Republicans. If 80 GOPers refuse to even consider the McConnell/Reid compromise, Plan B would need 57 House Democrats. That’s a pretty large number for a center-right agreement that includes zero new revenue.

If Walsh succeeds and the Suicide Squad reaches the 100-signature goal, Plan B would need 77 House Democratic votes for a bill Dems really aren’t going to like.

What about the Gang of Six plan? Even if it could be crafted and passed in the Senate quickly — I suspect that’s literally not possible — a growing number of House Republican leaders are concluding it’s just not right-wing enough to pass the lower chamber.

So, where does that leave us? The House won’t pass a clean bill; it won’t pass a Grand Bargain; it won’t pass the Gang of Six proposal; and at least 80 House Republicans are prepared to try to kill the Plan B compromise.

And the clock runs out in just 13 days.

Maybe someone can talk some sense into the Suicide Squad. Maybe there will be a temporary extension (there are some whispers to that effect coming out of the White House today). Maybe President Obama will give that “Constitutional Option” a second look after all.

But at this point, if you’re not nervous, you’re not paying attention.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • dr. bloor on July 20, 2011 4:01 PM:

    Maybe someone can talk some sense into the Suicide Squad.

    Good of you to inject some humor into an otherwise depressing post.

    Fourteenth Amendment, Mr. President.

  • Han's Solo on July 20, 2011 4:04 PM:

    "Maybe someone can talk some sense into the Suicide Squad. Maybe there will be a temporary extension (there are some whispers to that effect coming out of the White House today). Maybe President Obama will give that “Constitutional Option” a second look after all."

    Or maybe 60 non-teabagger Republican House members will throw their hands in the air, realize their party is full of nincompoops, understand that their country is more important than their political party and therefore switch parties from Republican to Independent or Democrat.

    Unlikely. Are there 60 non-teabagger Republicans in the House?

  • plex on July 20, 2011 4:06 PM:

    Good. Now if Boehner can be persuaded to put forward a truly clean bill it can pass the House and Senate without these hardcore conservatives.

  • bignose on July 20, 2011 4:07 PM:

    Because we live in opposite world, anything the president seems to agree with is DOA.

    So, Obama has said "Yes" (Or at least said he was open or not opposed to this idea or that idea).

    So, slowly, the GOP is bing boxed in by their own obstinance.

  • Danp on July 20, 2011 4:08 PM:

    But at this point, if you’re not nervous, you’re not paying attention.

    I get more nervous at Harry Potter movies (OK, I've only seen one.) But this is theater. Even Steve King, arguably the dumbest critter in Congress, knows that not raising the limit is not an actual option. The problem now is who gets to vote no and pretend they really mean it, and who has to vote yes just to prevent a disaster. By amassing 100 or more of these pledges, the Republicans hope to force more Dems to sign a meaningless deal with the devil.

    Voting yes to a clean bill would do nothing to prevent the House from starving government. They still have a lot of control over the budget process. But what a collossal embarrassment it would be to do so, after convincing much of their base that the budget is Obama's problem, and that all they can hope to do is pass sensible limits. All the Dems have to do is "appear" to be reasonable and willing to make common sense concessions, none of which have been offered so far.

  • Vokoban on July 20, 2011 4:09 PM:

    "Unlikely. Are there 60 non-teabagger Republicans in the House?"

    95% of them signed the Norquist pledge. 'nuff said?

  • Han's Solo on July 20, 2011 4:12 PM:

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but couldn't Boehner bring up a clean bill if he wanted to? It's two sentences long, it could be passed in less than 20 minutes.

    The question is: does John Boehner have the guts to bring to the floor a bill nearly half his caucus will vote against? Wouldn't that probably be the end of his speakership?

    Good lord, if the country is relying on the courage of John Boehner we are SOL.

  • seems2me on July 20, 2011 4:12 PM:

    So they're telling the Senate not to even bring it up for a vote because it won't pass the House? But then they waste how much time voting on things in the House that have no chance of passing the Senate? I'm tired of this...

  • c u n d gulag on July 20, 2011 4:13 PM:

    Now that the Conservatives in the House have had their fun and passed “The Hack, Mutilate, and Bury America Act,” where they balance the budget on the backs of everyone except “The Job Creators” (the artists formally known as ‘the rich’), they are back to where they started, which is nowhere.

    Here are the options as I see them.
    First, there can be a few moments of sanity where they take a minute and write, “Pay the f*cking debt and raise the ceiling. We don’t want to be known as a ‘Deadbeat Nation.’” But that’s as likely to happen as Grover Norquisling marrying Nancy Pelosi and saying no to any tax exemptions for their children.

    Second, Obama can use the 14th Amendment, which will instantly turn him into the greatest threat to the Constitution since Islamofascism and the Sharia Laws that the Democrats look to base laws on instead of the 10 Commandments. This will also turn Obama into the greatest traitor of all time, making Benedict Arnold seem like a Founding Father.
    But, it’s at least an option.

    “The Gang of Six” is months too late. Can their bare-bone suggestions be written as a law and debated by the posturing, preening, and verbally flatulent prima donna’s and passed and in both houses in less than 2 weeks? Can Karl Rove’s fat ass pass through the eye of a needle? Even one bigger than “The Space Needle?”
    Maybe it’s possible. But if I was a betting man, I’d bet against.

    The McConnell-Reid – “Pass the Buck to Obama” bill, is the most likely solution. The Democrats get what they want – which is a still alive and, if barely, still funtioning America.
    And, with McConnell on board, and if Pelose gets behind it, and Boner can grab the few remaining members of his caucus who aren’t currently being measured for straight jackets by ‘Norquiststroms of DC,’ then maybe they can scratch up enough votes to get it past the House, the Republicans can get what they want. And that’s to put Obama in the bullseye of the target, and use the debt as a cudgel to beat the Democrats with in the hopes that the American people remain pig-ignorant and angry until at least November of 2012 – now that’s a bet I’d take!

    This also gives idiots in both parties in both houses time to go back to plotting how best to provide cover as they steal money from the old, the sick, the poor, the disabled, and women and children, and give it to people who don’t need it at all – you know, the aforementioned “Job Ceators” (the artist’s formerly known as “the rich)!

    PS: Why haven’t the Democrats been screaming about the Republicans in Congress being “Deadbeat Dad’s and Mom’s?” and telling people, “Look, don’t park America in your driveway after August 2nd, instead use a neighbors, or park it down the road, otherwise the repo men will come and get it if the ‘Deadbeat Republicans’ don’t raise the debt ceiling by then!”

    That right there is language even the morons in ‘What’s the Matter With Kansas, Iowa, South Carolina, MS, MI, MO, etc, etc, etc…’ can understand. What, the Democrats are afraid they’ll side with the repo men if they put it this way?

    How difficult is this sh*t to message?
    I mean, really…

  • Bob Currie on July 20, 2011 4:21 PM:

    “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellions SHALL NOT BE QUESTIONED. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.”

    I am at a loss to understand how these proceedings have been allowed to continue for so long. How much more clear can it be that it would be uncontitutional not to increase the debt ceiling. Can someone tell me otherwise?

  • Han's Solo on July 20, 2011 4:28 PM:

    WASHINGTON—Members of the U.S. Congress reported Wednesday they were continuing to carefully debate the issue of whether or not they should allow the country to descend into a roiling economic meltdown of historically dire proportions. "It is a question that, I think, is worthy of serious consideration: Should we take steps to avoid a crippling, decades-long depression that would lead to disastrous consequences on a worldwide scale? Or should we not do that?" asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), adding that arguments could be made for both sides, and that the debate over ensuring America’s financial solvency versus allowing the nation to default on its debt—which would torpedo stock markets, cause mortgage and interests rates to skyrocket, and decimate the value of the U.S. dollar—is “certainly a conversation worth having.” "Obviously, we don't want to rush to consensus on whether it is or isn't a good idea to save the American economy and all our respective livelihoods from certain peril until we've examined this thorny dilemma from every angle. And if we’re still discussing this matter on Aug. 2, well, then, so be it.” At press time, President Obama said he personally believed the country should not be economically ruined.


  • Ohioan on July 20, 2011 4:28 PM:

    To quote Taylor Marsh on the 14th amendment.

    "Love him or hate him, Pres. Bill Clinton knows a lot about playing chicken with lesser politicians who don’t have the country on their side."

  • bleh on July 20, 2011 4:37 PM:

    OR ... they bring McConnell / Reid MINUS the $1.5T cuts to the floor, because not enough Republicans will vote for it anyway, and not enough Dems will vote for it with the cuts, and EVERYONE gets to claim victory. I've been sorta wondering if this has become Obama's endgame for a while, since those $1.5T cuts seem to be awfully short on specifics, and there "just may not be time" to get them all nailed down.

    Whatever, I agree something almost certainly will pass in time. Wall Street has jerked the chain once and got a pretty good response. They'll jerk it again, good and hard, before August 2nd

  • Brenna on July 20, 2011 4:39 PM:

    The whole premise of the republican's stance is to NOT raise taxes. The irony is, if the U.S. defaults, the financial calamity and loss will be worse than a little higher taxes.

    It makes no sense.

  • T2 on July 20, 2011 4:42 PM:

    I'd like Obama to mention the 14th, and just say he'll invoke on Aug.1 if he needs to.
    Then offer to repeal the ObamaCare bill if the GOP will let the ceiling rise and eliminate tax cuts for the rich. That would make for a fun debate in the House, wouldn't it.

  • Kathryn on July 20, 2011 4:54 PM:

    Can you impeach congressmen? if so, Walsh needs to go along with Alan West and tomorrow would be good. Pardon me for the delusion but this is fricken insanity. As cund gulag writes, every Democrat should be bellowing from the roof tops until they're hoarse and replaced by another Democrat. A no nothing, cocky, piece of you know what nincompoop from Illinois is going to bring down the United States of America. And Boehner is the Speaker, we are so screwed.

    According to Rachel's Harvard Law professor guest last night, Pres. Obama can only use the 14th Amendment after default or if there's a severe collapse of financial markets being manifested, in which case he can act to save the Republic. There is something very wrong with a system that allows 80+ morons to destroy their county's struggling recovery and impact the world economy.

  • square1 on July 20, 2011 5:03 PM:

    With all due respect to Steve Benen, the "suicide squad" includes anyone who is pushing anything other than a clean bill at this point.

    It no longer matters whether you think the "Gang of Six" plan, the Obama-Boehner plan, or the McConnell-Reid plan are good or not. It no longer matters because there is neither the time nor the votes for passage of any complicated piece of legislation.

    Thus, anyone who is pushing anything other than a straight up or down vote on the debt ceiling deserves to be lumped into the "suicide squad".

  • square1 on July 20, 2011 5:07 PM:

    Let me also say this: If the Obama administration fails to send out a single Social Security check, both Obama and Geithner deserve to be impeached.

  • JM917 on July 20, 2011 5:07 PM:

    The stars seem to bealigning for Obama to invoke the Fourteenth, on grounds that otherwise we default.

    If it comes to fighting this out at the Supreme Court, can the government not argue that the Fourteenth's categorical statement that the national debt "shall not be questioned" renders any debt ceiling law unconstitutional?

    I know, try to get that past Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy. But maybe Kennedy, at least, would support not letting the United States of America turn into a Third World basket case?

    I keep thinking that in the end only the Fourteenth is going to save us.

  • dalloway on July 20, 2011 5:12 PM:

    Yes, 80 Republicans in the House make a difference on a big deal if no Democrats are going to vote yes -- but there are 190 Democrats. There will be no big deal and Obama's known that for a long time. At the 11th hour, a clean debt ceiling bill will brought before the House and I guarantee all Democrats will vote for it. That means only 27 Republicans have to demonstrate sanity to pass it. I think Wall Street will produce those 27 Republicans or GOP money for the 2012 election will be showered on Democrats and even the Tea Party doesn't want that. If the GOP still balks, Obama can invoke the 14th Amendment, which will make him look like Superman to voters, even if he loses in court, which will cause the markets to tank and, again, a clean bill will have to get passed. Contra popular wisdom, I believe the Tea Party will be screwed here, not the country. Obama is Zen master at helping his enemies self-destruct.

  • Elie on July 20, 2011 5:31 PM:

    I'm with dalloway..

    To me, the biggest issue the last week for the Republicans has been and will be how to distract with chaos and misdirection, from the reality that they lost this big and how can they prevent complete loss of face. This is really hard to do since they walled themselves in pretty good but make no mistake, they are trying to make their very real political disaster into the country or preferrably, Obama's pain as well. It won't work. Oh yeah yeah yeah, they will still be pita -- but they lost this two weeks ago.

  • Elie on July 20, 2011 5:33 PM:

    I'm with dalloway..

    To me, the biggest issue the last week for the Republicans has been and will be how to distract with chaos and misdirection, from the reality that they lost this big and how can they prevent complete loss of face. This is really hard to do since they walled themselves in pretty good but make no mistake, they are trying to make their very real political disaster into the country or preferrably, Obama's pain as well. It won't work. Oh yeah yeah yeah, they will still be pita -- but they lost this two weeks ago.

  • Uncle Sam on July 20, 2011 5:34 PM:

    Unfortunately our current bit of Congressional legislative theater amounts to attempting to decide which mortal pill to feed the American Economy first.

    If history serves, in 1937, when the American economy has started recovering from the Depression, we decided to cut spending and raise taxes (either of which has the same economic effect in the short run), and immediately triggered a new recession....

    Perhaps while our congressmen were arguing about which version of the Constitution to read at the beginning of this session of Congress they should have been reading a bit of economic history.

    Just sayin'.

    And don't get me started on another asinine suggestion for a balanced budget amendment - when we have managed a budget surplus somewhere in the neighborhood of at best a couple dozen years in our history. I suspect no one in Congress ever read Abraham Lincoln's speech on that subject either.

  • Matt on July 20, 2011 5:35 PM:

    Default = Treason
    Plain & simple

  • Johnny Canuck on July 20, 2011 5:35 PM:

    Better Word Choice: (domestic terrorists)
    suicide squad- that's OK if they are just going to kill themselves; but they are planning to take action that will destroy the American economy. If they knew what they were doing you would call them terrorists; if they don't know, maybe we need a new word.

  • Elie on July 20, 2011 5:35 PM:

    This captha thing really isnt too good sometimes. For the second time in recent days, it tells me my comment didnt work but then enters it twice.


  • Johnny Canuck on July 20, 2011 5:43 PM:

    square1 on July 20, 2011 5:07 PM:Let me also say this: If the Obama administration fails to send out a single Social Security check, both Obama and Geithner deserve to be impeached.

    I'm sorry i don't understand. to issue cheques when you don't have any money in the bank is a crime in most countries. As I understand it, on Aug 3 when the social security checks are due to be sent out, an outlay of $23 billion there is projected to be only $12 billion of revenue coming in.
    It would seem to me that the impeachable offence would be to issue the checks.

  • bdop4 on July 20, 2011 5:47 PM:

    Clean bill or 14th Amendment solution.

    The G6 bill is a PIECE OF SHIT. I'm calling my rep. to demand that he not vote for it.

    In the words of Korben Dallas (Fifth Element): "You want to do it soft, we do it soft. You want to do hard, we do it hard."

  • Stephen LaBonne on July 20, 2011 5:49 PM:

    14th Amendment, bay-bee! Suck. On. That. Thugs.

  • square1 on July 20, 2011 5:51 PM:

    The problem with invoking the 14th Amendment is that it merely says that the debts of the U.S. shall not be questioned. It says nothing about HOW the U.S. shall pay its debts. And, absent the issuance of new debt, there is nothing stopping the Treasury from simply writing checks and creating money out of thin air.

    Yes, such a practice would be inflationary. And, yes, it is largely preferable to raise the debt ceiling, but if Congress leaves Obama no choice then he has no choice.

    My preference would be for a President to go on TV and tell the American people that the debt limit should be raised, as it has always been raised. That the nation's bills, already authorized by Congress, must be paid. And that the alternative is to print money.

    I would add that printing money to pay bills is inflationary and dangerous to a nation's economy. I would also add that the World believes America is great credit risk because we always pay our bills. And because of this, even if we have a large debt, the interest we pay is very low because the world knows that there is no safer place to put their money.

    Unfortunately, because Republicans in Congress refuse to raise the debt limit, I would point out that printing money is likely to quickly cause interest rates to rise. This not only means that the government will pay more interest on the debt, but every interest rate that Americans pay that is pegged to Treasury Bills will also rise.

    In other words, Americans may quickly find their monthly bills going up as the interest on their loans increases.

    I would sum up by pointing out that there is no reason for any of this. That the President is willing to work with Congress to lower debt over the long term, as long as it doesn't cost us jobs in the fragile economy. However, such a long term plan cannot be hammered out in less than 2 weeks. Therefore, Congress must act now to prevent a completely unnecessary financial crisis from striking.

  • bdop4 on July 20, 2011 5:56 PM:

    @ Dalloway and Elie:

    The only fly in the ointment would be if repubs came back at the 9th or 10th hour and said, "OK, we'll take your 'grand bargain.'"

    Then we're fucked.

  • Bill Mitchell on July 20, 2011 5:56 PM:

    You guys on the left just keep beating the drum don't you? You keep trying to tell us that Obama is winning the debt debate. You create polls based upon ridiculous party affiliation weightings to support your claims.

    And yet, on both Rasmussen and Gallup, Obama's poll #'s just keep sinking.

    You keep warning republicans that we need to get with the game and that we are out of the mainstream. I have news for you since you didn't get the message in 2010 - it is YOU who are out of the mainstream.

  • bigtuna on July 20, 2011 5:58 PM:

    Bob Currie - thanks for the text. I thought the 14th amendment bit was some offbeat deal, as I only really knew if for equal protection, etc. But the 4th section is pretty damn clear. However, you left off section5:

    Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

    So how do you deal with the problem of Section4 violation, in which section 5 gives congress the power, and congress is what is violating it? Is this what is meant by the president invoking it? Can someone explain what the president could plausibly do here?

    Has this ever been tested in court?

  • dalloway on July 20, 2011 6:03 PM:

    bdop4: They won't because Obama's line in the sand is that any grand bargain must include revenue. And their line in the sand is, no revenue, no way. So, no bargain.

    And Bill Mitchell might want to check who's weighting what. Rasmussen is a house organ, an apt term if ever there was one, of the Republican party. Their samples are heavily weighted for Republicans. We'll see whose polls are right in 2012.

  • Jjm on July 20, 2011 6:29 PM:

    The very fact that the debt in question, whose ceiling needs to be raised in order to make payments on it, was incurred by GEORGE W BUSH, REPUBLICAN is what galls me the most.

    Look at Think Progress this morning: they highlighted that it was ten years ago this coming Aug 1 that Bush started BORROWING BILLIONS TO GIVE OUT TAX REFUNDS THE COUNTRY COULDN"T AFFORD.

    So people, you got your $600. And a country on the verge of default for the GOP created debt -- only because your party hacks don't want to own up to the fact that it is their debt needing to be serviced.

    Why doesn't this get everyone in the country hopping mad?

  • John I on July 20, 2011 6:34 PM:

    I am nervous. Maybe Obama needs to hit them with the constitutional option right now. The ceiling gets raised, the right winger's try to impeach him. It goes to the Supreme Court and the court decides for Obama, et ali.

  • nynick on July 20, 2011 6:35 PM:

    Republicans have a couple of built-in advantages on this debate.
    1). Most of the electorate is just plain dumb. They believe what they are told to believe. If Rush and Beck say it, they believe it 2). The press it too lazy and compromised separate fact from fiction. This allows Republicans avoid comparisons between what they say and what their record indicates. Republicans have been in control before and their record is not one of fiscal responsibility. In fact, when they were running up the very debt they are crying wolf about now, their retort was deficits don't matter.
    3). They know in the end Obama will compromise to get a deal done. We all know that. They won't budge because they've learned from experience that in the end, Obama will retreat

  • square1 on July 20, 2011 6:38 PM:

    Johnny Canuck:

    I'm sorry i don't understand. to issue cheques when you don't have any money in the bank is a crime in most countries.

    There are two reasons for your confusion.

    First, the United States is not like an individual that is required to have money "in the bank" in order to issue a check. The Treasury creates money by pushing a button on a computer keyboard. Voila! New money! The downside to this is that when you simply "print" more money, you are devaluing the dollar, which creates inflation. But that doesn't mean that there is anything illegal or improper about the practice.

    Second, the way that Social Security is paid is that the trust fund tells the Treasury Dept. who the beneficiaries are and how much they are entitled to. In order to pay for the transactions the trust fund sells Treasury Bonds back to the Treasury Dept. In order to raise funds to buy the bonds from the trust fund, Treasury then sells bonds to the public.

    However, during the series of transactions, the total debt never changes. For example, if $100M in social security payments needed to be made, before the payments the government owes the trust fund $100M, after the payments owes public bondholders $100M. However the total debt never really changes. The money is simply being passed through the Treasury Department.

    Because of this, it makes no sense to say that "we don't have the money to pay social security checks" because the money isn't coming from the general fund.

    Nor does it make sense to say that the process truly adds to the national debt, because it doesn't. If it appears so it is only because of the accounting smoke and mirrors that Congress employs.

  • Bill Mitchell on July 20, 2011 6:39 PM:


    You people really think that if we don't raise the debt ceiling that we will actually DEFAULT on our interest payments on the 3rd of August? Really?

    With current revenues we will EASILY cover our debt service. There is ZERO chance of default. Unless of course Obama just chooses not to pay the bill.

    You are being lied to by this administration and you are buying it hook lie and sinker.

  • Bill Mitchell on July 20, 2011 6:45 PM:

    dalloway: Rasmussen heavily weights his polls to favor Republicans? Really? Prove it. He is currently weighting his polls with a a very small Democrat advantage based upon thousands of interviews over a 3 month period.

    Question: Who was the most accurate pollster in 2008? Answer: Rasmussen. Who was the most accurate pollster in 2010? Answer: Rasmussen.

    And how about Gallup? Are you going to say they are a tool of the right as well? Gallup had Obama at 42% today and 8 points behind a generic Republican in a presidential poll.

    Meanwhile, an BC poll today showing Obama 3 points ahead on that score polled 14% more Democrats than Republicans.

    You've been pwned.

  • Bill Mitchell on July 20, 2011 6:47 PM:

    Meanwhile, an BC poll today showing Obama 3 points ahead on that score polled 14% more Democrats than Republicans.

  • DNS on July 20, 2011 7:01 PM:

    We should call this Freshman class of GOP Representatives the Jonestown Republicans.

  • DanF on July 20, 2011 7:24 PM:

    Rasmussen did fine near the election in 2008 (not that he didn't issue a ton of opinion polls that were thinly veiled push-polls - but horse questions he was good). In 2010, he was a joke: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/04/rasmussen-polls-were-biased-and-inaccurate-quinnipiac-surveyusa-performed-strongly/

  • Doug on July 20, 2011 7:36 PM:

    square1, according to the Constitution, Congress is the one with the authority to "print" money (Article I, Section 8, para. 5: "To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin...").
    Even though the Treasury Department, part of the Executive branch, is where money is actually printed, are you saying Congress doesn't retain ANY control over the AMOUNT of currency in circulation? I find it very difficult to believe that Congress wouldn't require an authorization vote, at least, in order to increase the currency supply. I could be mistaken, but I seem to recall requests by the Executive branch to Congress to increase the amount of currency in circulation and that says, or at least implies, that President Obama would have to go to Congress to REQUEST aithorization to increase the amount of currency in circulation. Which would leave us right back where we are now...
    Since first mentioning it several months ago, President Obama hasn't, thankfully, "pushed" a clean bill and has even recently mentioned it's his least preferred option. Personally, I believe that, having spent two or three months trying to craft a "Grand Bargain", Mr. Obama WOULD prefer such an outcome. I also believe that he fully recognizes that whatever he supports, Republican/Teabaggers will reflexively oppose.
    Which might very well explain his failure to "push" a clean bill...

  • pseudonymous in nc on July 20, 2011 7:37 PM:

    Bilbo Mitch seems not to have noticed that the congressional GOP's approval on this issue is in the toilet. Funny how if you behave like a pack of nutjobs, people think you're a pack of nutjobs.

  • lambert strether on July 20, 2011 8:30 PM:

  • liberal on July 20, 2011 8:32 PM:

    square1 wrote,

    The Treasury creates money by pushing a button on a computer keyboard. Voila! New money!

    I could be wrong, but ISTR that it's the Fed, not the Treasury, that can do that.

  • liberal on July 20, 2011 8:36 PM:

    Doug wrote,

    I find it very difficult to believe that Congress wouldn't require an authorization vote, at least, in order to increase the currency supply.

    While I dont' think the Treasury can create electronic funds out of nothign the way the Fed can, the Treasury is authorized by a previously existing statute to create coinage, etc, and in fact is specifically authorized by statute to create platinum coins of any denomination. Hence, Treasury can legally get around the debt limit by creating a multi-trillion dollar platinum coin, taking it to the Fed, and buying back trillions worth of Treasury bonds. Leaving the debt ceiling as is, but the nominal debt that much lower.

    Gimmicky, yes, but then again the whole debt-ceiling-hostage-taking exerise has been one big (evil) gimmick.

  • liberal on July 20, 2011 8:38 PM:

    Bill Mitchell blithered,

    With current revenues we will EASILY cover our debt service. There is ZERO chance of default.

    Of course there's no chance we won't be able to service the debt for now, per se. But some parties (whether you like it or not) consider not paying obligations as a partial default.

    That's all besides the point, because the moment they start sending IOUs to SS recipients and military contractors, there'll be hell to pay.

  • AKS on July 20, 2011 8:48 PM:

    So if we do end up not passing the debt ceiling extension in time and Obama has to prioritize who to pay and who not to, could we stop making government payments to any person or business located within the congressional districts of the "GOP suicide squad" members? That ought to put some serious pressure on them to pass something.

  • Joe Buck on July 20, 2011 9:00 PM:

    If there are 60 House Republicans who have pledged never ever ever to raise the debt ceiling, then there are only 180 available Republican votes, and 193 available Democratic votes.

    Time for a new plan: 193 Democrats plus 24 Republicans makes 217. Call in Wall Street; anyone invested heavily in bonds will be in serious pain if there's a default. Have them twist enough arms to get 24 votes; focus on those Republicans who plan to retire. Pelosi knows how to deliver her side.

  • Jon on July 20, 2011 9:09 PM:

    I've been saying since the start, sooner or later Boehner is going to have to come knocking on Pelosi's door. The GOP and the media have grossly miscalculated the balance of power in all this.

  • That's RACIST! on July 20, 2011 10:35 PM:

    Of course, if Emperor Golden Dancer hadn't quadrupled the size of our debt, none of this would be happening.

    But at least we got the economy moving again. That "Recovery Summer" was something, wasn't it?

  • Werewolf on July 21, 2011 12:06 AM:

    By the Emperor, you presumably mean the one with no clothes, Arbustus Dubious Maximus. He was the one who doubled the debt with unfunded tax cuts and unfunded wars. The deficit, OTOH, *has* gone up under President Obama-partly because he put Iraq and Afghanistan in the budget, instead of fighting them outside the budget (the Busheviks' doing so left the deficit smaller, but definitely jacked up the debt).
    Oh, and BTW? "Dawn take you, and be stone to you!" (If you don't get that, read "The Hobbit")

  • burro on July 21, 2011 12:40 AM:

    Brenna @ 4:39 PM:

    "The whole premise of the republican's stance is to NOT raise taxes. The irony is, if the U.S. defaults, the financial calamity and loss will be worse than a little higher taxes."

    "It makes no sense."

    They see themselves, like shrubwit, standing on the pile of rubble from the great disaster, and believe that they will be seen as heroes, and gratitude will fall down on them like stardust.

    They are demented and delusional freaks, and it makes sense to them.

  • simon on July 21, 2011 2:29 AM:

    can we balance the budget by cutting all fed funding to districts represented by these morons? let the electorate learn from the consequences of their vote?

  • dsfsdf on July 21, 2011 5:53 AM:

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  • bornagaindem on July 21, 2011 8:50 AM:

    We are much better off if there is no deal and we just do a clean debt ceiling vote as has been offered to Obambi but he doesn't want to take it because he wants to cut social security and medicare.

    The time for this bargaining was when they extended the Bush Tax cuts. Obama shoudl have said I will let them all expire unless you raise the debt ceiling or he got some other concessions. But he didn't. Why? Because he wants to use the excuse of the republican opposition to cut social security and medicare.

    Wake up Obama is not a freind to the middle class and the sooner he gone the better.

  • Neo on July 21, 2011 10:50 AM:

    The waters for this debt deal are so poluted, that "all the king's horse and all the king's men" at the EPA, couldn't put a deal together again.

    If you recall, back in March, as part of the price to pass a ginormous omnibus spending bill for the remainder of FY 2011, the republicans asked for $38 billion in cuts. After much yelling, screaming and gnashing of teeth, the Democrats/President offered $6.5 billion in cuts, and the federal government was at peace.
    Then came the headlines, "Democrats’ “$6.5 Billion” in Spending Cuts Actually $4.7 Billion," followed by shrinking numbers. And finally, when the dust settled, the budget cuts, we were told, were really only worth $352 million.

    There is this old adage .. "fool me once, shame on you. fool me twice, shame on me."

  • Charlie Potts on July 21, 2011 11:41 AM:

    Is it too late to move back to Europe? I'm a sixth generation German-American and I've had enough!

  • Unashamed Liberal on July 21, 2011 4:07 PM:

    Many Republicans are secretly hoping for the Constitutional Option- they don't have to vote for a bill that will likely anger a segment of their most rabid constituents, the government stays open, and they can still vilify Obama. Win win for Repugs.

    The reason Obama has waited so long to this point is a. the markets aren't panicking yet b. He may be able to get rid of the Bush tax cuts a year early.

    I think this charade will go on until the Dow falls 400 in a morning- that afternoon a one-line bill will pass both houses. Party leaders will say this is "only temporary" but it won't be. Fake GOP manufactured crisis averted.