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July 19, 2011 3:00 PM Obama tries to box in House GOP

By Steve Benen

President Obama stopped by the White House briefing room, offering an update on the status of the debt-ceiling process. I’ve seen some reports suggesting the president endorsed the Gang of Six’s compromise, but that’s not quite what he said, and it seems to miss the point of Obama’s comments.

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In general, the president stuck to generalities, saying he’s seem “some progress” of late, and dismissing the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” charade out of hand.

Specifically on the Gang of Six, however, Obama said their apparent agreement is “broadly consistent” with the approach he’s pushed, and praised it for touching all the bases — it cuts spending while increasing revenues, as part of a larger, significant debt-reduction package. He added that he’d still need more details before evaluating it fully, but added, “I think that we’re on the same playing field. “

This, however, is what struck me as key:

“So here’s where we stand. We have a Democratic President and administration that is prepared to sign a tough package that includes both spending cuts, modifications to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare that would strengthen those systems and allow them to move forward, and would include a revenue component. We now have a bipartisan group of senators who agree with that balanced approach. And we’ve got the American people who agree with that balanced approach.”

The president wasn’t speaking from prepared remarks, so it’s possible this came together by accident, but it sounded to me like Obama was intentionally boxing in House Republicans. The point wasn’t to endorse the Gang of Six, per se, so much as to use the Gang of Six to make a larger point: the White House wants a balanced approach, a bipartisan group in the Senate wants a balanced approach, and the American mainstream wants a balanced approach. Now all we need is for the House majority to wake up and smell reality.

That, of course, won’t happen, but the point is to place the burden where it belongs — on those who are being irresponsible.

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.

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  • PEA on July 19, 2011 3:12 PM:

    Re the gang of 6: if they are cutting the AMT and marginal rates, where is the 1 tril in revenue coming from??? and will someone please remind me who the "6" are? thanks.

    ntrkent Antipholus = the new drug we will all have to take to swallow the new deal, whatever it is. call me and my paltry retirement fund "uncertain." (If business can be uncertain, so can we!) I hope independents will at least resent the Rs more than the Ds for any damage to their bank accounts.

  • DarkSyde on July 19, 2011 3:16 PM:

    That sounds like a reasonable analysis.

  • MuddyLee on July 19, 2011 3:17 PM:

    I would like for President Obama to ask the republicans who advocate the "cut spending only" approach if they are willing to start the process by drastically cutting the federal spending in their own states and house districts - set an example for the rest of the country until the Nov 2012 elections, then let "the American people" decide whether these spending cuts should be made on a national basis.

  • c u n d gulag on July 19, 2011 3:23 PM:

    At this point, I'm just going to wait.

    I'm so tired of this 'is he or isn't he,' will he or won't he,' should he or shouldn't he,' 'would he or wouldn't he,' that I'm about ready to stick my head in the sand until I find out what's what.

    He wouldn't do that to SS and Medicare, would he?

    THERE I GO AGAIN!!!

    AAAAAAAARRRRRRRG!!!

  • Ron Byers on July 19, 2011 3:44 PM:

    There are two ways to look at what Obama is trying to accomplish.

    First is the way Larry O'Donnell views the President's manuvers. He is moving the Republicans to give him a clean bill or at least the best Plan B possible. To do that he is pushing the line that he is bending over backwards to reduce the deficit. O'Donnell is pretty convincing when he says Obama's endgame is a clean bill, which was his first request.

    Second he really is trying to get a handle on the deficit in the out years. If that is the case only a balanced approach will work. If it doesn't include serious revenue enhancements it won't work. If it doesn't include some reforms to medicare and medicaid it won't work. If it doesn't include some defense cuts, it won't work.

    Why would Obama really be trying for overall deficit reduction? Well, some on this board would say Obama is a closet Republican who hates grandma, but actually he might be trying to do two things. First remove the issue from the national conversation going forward. Second put the economy in a position where it will be poised to start serious growth in 2013 or 2014.

    Krugman and Benen are right, current cuts are bad for the economy. We really need to spend more money short term. That won't happen if the Republicans keep beating America up with the deficit reduction issue. Long term Obama knows that the deficit will come back and bite us on the ass. why not get a handle on it now?

    I suspect social security isn't going to receive much of a trim but wouldn't rule out some serious program changes for medicare down the road, esepcially if he gets the revenue enhancments he wants. Don't look for much in the way of short term savings.

    Either way, Obama is driving this process from the center. The Republicans are being weakened badly with every passing day.

  • Chris on July 19, 2011 3:48 PM:

    President Obama continues to refer to the vote on the debt-ceiling as an "opportunity".

    With all due respect, this is standard execution of that strategy coined by Naomi Klein as the "Shock Doctrine". Under this strategy, a disaster is used, preferably a man-made disaster, to rush major legislation that the public is likely to accept out of fear. The notion being if the public had the time and resources to consider the legislation, they would likely reject it.

    In this case, the Republicans have executed the Shock Doctrine. No surprise there. But to my disappointment, my Democratic President has taken the baton and, rather than beating them over the head with it, he has chosen to run with it.

    This is coercion. This is our President and our Congress (note that many House Democrats voted against a clean bill to increase the debt limit....had a vote come up in the Senate, many Senate Democrats were prepared to do the same) putting the American people under emotional duress in order to get them to accept unnecessary draconian cuts.

    If I hear President Obama refer to this debate as an "opportunity" one more time, I'm going to puke.

  • Chris on July 19, 2011 3:55 PM:

    I disagree with Ron Byers that Obama is looking out for our interest by reducing deficits in the out years with cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. There are terrific options for strengthening these programs without cutting benefits. The suggestion that it's either cut benefits for these programs or leave them at risk is a false choice.

    In addition, benefit cuts to these programs only shift the costs of health care. They don't reduce or eliminate them. Yes, our taxes might be a little lower than they might otherwise have been. But we'll be paying a hell of lot more in health care costs, costs associated with the fact that more people are uninsured, lives crushed or lost,...

    To be sure, as part of the debt-ceiling deal, the President has proposed the Ryan privatization plan for seniors between the ages of 65 and 67. There's no excuse for that. None.

  • Elie on July 19, 2011 4:13 PM:

    Chris;

    Obama is in a negotiation -- his goal is to put himself in the strongest position to get what he wants. How should he do that in your opinion? He can't just say that making any changes to Medicare and Medicaid he would view as catastrophic, could he? This has nothing to do with what obama personally believes or values. Its using this process to get the best he can out of it and to do that he must using a variety of frames and negotiation tools. I am also sure that its not just Obama thinking these up, though he is plenty smart. Its safe to say that some pretty sharp people are literally laying awake nights modeling different scenarios and scenario responses from game theory all the way to whoknowswhat.

    Negotiation is not just saying what you want over and over and over. That just gets you locked in In this situation, he has to get the best he can in a very high risk situation "negotiating" with crazy people who can barely be trusted to own what they just said. You think if he just says straight out what he wants and what he fears, well, then presto, he gets it.

    Frankly, I wish it were that straightforward.

  • bigtuna on July 19, 2011 4:14 PM:

    My understanding of what the yahoos want is that starting Aug 3, we will work on a current accounts balance system. Ie, what we have in = what we can spend. Of course, no business does this - many carry short, intermediate, and long term debt; to meet payroll, a company will draw on lines of credit - sometimes borrowing for 1 day, 1 week, etc....

    So someone suggested we ask our congressmen what they want to cut. So I will ask Orrin, Mikey Lee, Jason Chaffetz, and Rob Bishop the following. Total Federal spending in UTah is about 20 bn/yr. That is about 55 mill/day. So, a number I have seen is that in August, we will have 40% deficit - that is, in Aug, the US will only take in 60% of what it is obligated to pay out in August.

    in my simple example, Mike, Orrin, Jason, and Rob: OF the direct 55 million /day spent in Utah - on Hill AFB; the national parks, the social security spending, medical spending, research grants, etc., what 10-20 million /day do you propose we cut?
    Every day.

    I will wait ....


  • Ron Byers on July 19, 2011 4:20 PM:

    I don't think I said cutting benefits. I don't recall Obama saying it either. There are lots of program reforms possible that don't result in cutting benefits. For example Medicare D is ripe for reform.

    So far none of us have seen the plan. I am willing to wait until I see it before jumping off the cliff. My great concern is a lot of us seem unable to learn. Obama is pretty good at getting the best deal possible. Let him do his job and then judge him later. Don't let our unsupported fears get in the way.

  • Stephen Stralka on July 19, 2011 4:27 PM:

    But to my disappointment, my Democratic President has taken the baton and, rather than beating them over the head with it, he has chosen to run with it.

    What exactly would he accomplish by beating the Republicans over the head here? The only thing I can think of is that it would make it even less likely that we're going to get anything done on the debt ceiling. If raising the debt ceiling is as critical as we keep hearing, we're going to need some Republican votes. You don't have to be an 11th dimensional chess master to see that.

    Next year, in the election campaign, is when you really start beating the Republicans over the head with all this crap. Until then the House of Representatives is a madhouse with the ability to do a frightening amount of damage. I mean, I hate them to, but simply declaring that over and over isn't going to help limit the damage.

  • square1 on July 19, 2011 4:35 PM:

    House Republicans will vote for tax increases when Hell freezes over.

    If Benen and Obama want to blow through the debt ceiling and point the finger at the GOP, then I suppose the President's remarks were spot on.

    But if Benen and Obama want to avoid an economic disaster, then the only recourse is to pull back this insane idea that the President and the Senate can ram through a multi-trillion dollar "Grand Bargain". It ain't gonna happen. The President should admit that he was playing with fire, admit that it was a mistake, and simply ask for a clean vote. That is the ONLY sane option.

    President Obama is our enabler-in-chief.

  • zeitgeist on July 19, 2011 4:40 PM:

    What Stephen Stralka said is absolutely true, every bit of it. It is also why it is virtually impossible for the side of all that is good and just in the world to come out ahead.

    If our highest goal is to save the hostage, and the hostage taker doesn't give a damn about the hostage, the hostage taker always wins in the end. That goes double if the hostage taker is not entirely sane.

    What the rational actor who cares about the hostage taker always discounts, however, is that they may pay the ransom only to have the hostage taker still shoot the hostage, and the payer, and escape to commit more crimes. That is, alas, what is about to happen here.

    And if that is going to happen anyway, there is no actual downside to actions that put the hostage's life at risk - especially if they have potential long term upside regardless of the short-term fate of the hostage.

    For example, you don't pay the ransom, and better still you refuse to even negotiate. Best of all, once you've reached this conclusion, there is no downside to trying to shoot the hostage taker. If you are lucky, you kill him. There is also a chance he chickens out and releases the hostage and flees. Worst outcome is he shoots the hostage, but then it is almost certain that before he can fire again, you get a second shot.

    But if the hostage taker is nuts, there is very little point in devising a strategy based on your love of the hostage. It will only be taken advantage of as a weakness, and likely not improve the outcome.

  • Malcolm Johnson on July 19, 2011 4:41 PM:

    Doesn't your analysis depend on which Budget Fight we're talking about.

    In my mind, there are three budget fights for 2011. The first one was the averted Shutdown from earlier this year. The second is this Debt Ceiling Fight. The third is the Budget Fight for 2012.

    If your piece is put in the context of Budget Fight No. 2, then you're aces. But doesn't it seem to you that if the President is really talking about Budget Fight No. 3, then he means what he says?

  • desraye on July 19, 2011 4:42 PM:

    "President Obama is our enabler-in-chief."

    Really?

    "The President should admit that he was playing with fire, admit that it was a mistake, and simply ask for a clean vote."

    Umm...The President asked for a clean vote but the GOP rejected it.

  • Chris on July 19, 2011 4:46 PM:

    Elie,

    To answer your question, I wouldn't suggest that Obama accept Republican framing by using the bully pulpit to talk about the importance of reducing the deficit while 14 million people are out of work. In addition, I would never have characterized the debt-ceiling vote, as Republicans do, as an "opportunity".

    Language matters. Yes, President Obama is smart. Nevertheless, the language he's using is a mistake.

    On the other hand, I would have used the bully-pulpit to continue to demand a clean debt-ceiling vote, repeating the consequences of not raising the debt ceiling over and over and over again (as George W. Bush correctly realized, repetition is the mother of all learning). As we got closer to the day of reckoning, the pressure on the Republican caucus would likely overwhelm them to at least cobble enough votes to pass a clean bill in the House and prevent a filibuster in the Senate. (Yes, my approach is risky, but so is the current approach. However, under President Obama's approach, we lose even if the debt-ceiling is passed.)

    If the President's bully-pulpit didn't work to get the debt-ceiling raised, then as former President Clinton advocated, I would apply the 14th Amendment and continue to maintain the full faith and credit of the United States. Better to have this constitutional crisis than this economic crisis.

    The worst possible result would be what we saw in the 90s--partisan Republicans impeaching a Democratic president with no chance whatsoever of him actually being removed from office. They'd end up looking like assholes...again.

    As it is, we have no hope of getting a clean bill to raise the debt ceiling, and even with the negotiating, it still might not be raised. On the other hand, even if we win, we lose (thank you Shock Doctrine).

  • zeitgeist on July 19, 2011 4:47 PM:

    Umm...The President asked for a clean vote but the GOP rejected it.

    and?

    As regular readers know, I'm not some Obama basher or Firebagger. But it simply cannot be the case that we make one run at an idea, and whenever the GOP rejects it we say "ok, off the table, you win."

    these asshats control one chamber of one branch of government, and the public rejects their approach. we aren't coming from a position of weakness here, so why do we keep acting like it?

    geez, if Obama really wants to put the House GOP in a box, let me suggest one with steel walls and a set of sliding bars behind razor wire in someplace like Leavenworth. where traitors should be.

  • John B. on July 19, 2011 4:48 PM:

    Ron Byers knows no more what's truly in Obama's heart and mind than anyone else. The only way to discern the current president's core beliefs is to assess what he does, not what he says or even what some of his supporters imagine.

    If Byers' speculation were correct and Obama really is trying to pave the route to the future for liberalism, then why did he kill the public option for health care with such obviously faint, lame, and late praise? If ever a genuine national health care program was to pass Congress -- and rescue us from the long-term problem mounting problem of Medicare costs -- it was when Democrats held 60 seats in the Senate and a Pelosi-led majority in the House.

    All that was needed was LBJ-style arm-twisting of blue dog Democrats in Congress. With that, Democrats could have gone to the voters in 2010 and explained easily what all of us know to be the case -- Medicare for All is the cheapest, best LONG TERM solution to the difficult but vital task of providing quality, affordable health care for all.

    But when the opportunity was presented to do "something big" -- really big -- in national health care and safety net politics, Obama either blinked or, as I believe, at bottom he really didn't want it. He favored, as usual, an incremental approach that relies too heavily on greasing the palms of an important industry source of campaign funds.

    Instead of Medicare for All or the "public option" Obama pushed a complex, expensive, difficult-to-explain plan. At that, implementation will take three or fours years. The plan, it might be remembered, was once-upon-a-time advanced by a Republican president (thank you, Richard Nixon 1973). Not incidentally, with this plan Obama handed the health insurance industry a huge windfall.

    The elections of 2010 largely turned out the way they did because of public confusion and disappointment over what Obama claimed was a singular victory of his administration. If he now finds his liberal self stymied and doesn't like it, he has only himself to blame. If he doesn't really have a liberal self, then we who voted for him should be blaming ourselves.

  • Stephen Stralka on July 19, 2011 4:49 PM:

    The President should admit that he was playing with fire, admit that it was a mistake, and simply ask for a clean vote. That is the ONLY sane option.

    The House already voted on a clean debt ceiling bill. They voted No, just to make a point. That doesn't mean Obama couldn't ask for another clean vote, but most likely the result would be the same. Then what?

    I don't know, maybe he could submit a bill that is mostly a clean bill to raise the debt ceiling, but does include a provision stating that Barack Obama is a poopyhead. Maybe that's all it really takes to appease these nitwits.

  • zeitgeist on July 19, 2011 4:58 PM:

    but does include a provision stating that Barack Obama is a poopyhead. Maybe that's all it really takes to appease these nitwits.

    i was having a good chuckle at this, and then i realized it really can't be ruled out. part of me thinks it might actually be what they are after more than anything else.

  • Chris on July 19, 2011 5:20 PM:

    Not only did the House vote down a clean debt-ceiling bill, but they did so with the help of a significant number of Democrats. At the same time, Harry Reid didn't bring a clean bill to the floor of the Senate because he knew it wouldn't pass thanks to, in part, many Democrats.

    But remember that these bills have always been voted on at the last possible minute because raising the debt-ceiling is unpopular since people mistakenly think of it like a credit card limit. Votes have historically been held at the last minute specifically to avoid giving partisans time to use their vote as leverage---knowing that any delays would be catastrophic (Senator Obama knew what the vote count was when he voted against raising the debt ceiling).

    Here's my point. There's no reason to believe that Obama's negotiations are more likely to lead to having the debt ceiling raised than if he had continued to use the bully-pulpit to demand a clean debt-ceiling increase, explaining to the American people why raising it is necessary. As is happening now, the business community, the media, and others would definitely have joined the chorus to raise the debt ceiling.

    Under the approach that I would have preferred where only a clean debt ceiling increase is acceptable, the best case scenario is that we move on with our lives with no harm done and the worst case scenario is that we get a constitutional crisis that would likely hurt Republicans even more.

    Under Obama's approach, the best case scenario includes conditions, agreed to under duress, that no liberal or progressive would otherwise accept (Shock Doctrine). And, since President Obama has taken the Constitutional option off the table, the worst case scenario is a world-wide economic depression.

  • bardgal on July 19, 2011 5:22 PM:

    Chris - Can you please link the video where Obama said this: "To be sure, as part of the debt-ceiling deal, the President has proposed the Ryan privatization plan for seniors between the ages of 65 and 67."

    Why on earth should Obama say he made a mistake if he ends up getting exactly what he wanted - a clean bill? How is that a mistake?

    John B - Obama never had 60 Magical votes for single payer, so why waste time? They still ended up spending a year on it. If Single Payer was the line in the sand, it would have been buried by now.

    HCR is only going to get BETTER, as it morphs into Single Payer � which WILL HAPPEN.

    2014 � non-profits come online which will offer BETTER plans for LESS, (no $12million +bonus annual CEOs to feed), which will drive the Cartels to adapt or die. The NPs will merge across state lines to offer larger risk pools which will mean even cheaper, better plans�. eventually morphing into single payer.

    VISION PEOPLE. Get some!

    It's also very easy to understand if you know how to READ and are capable of understanding multi-syllabic words. Of course, if you can't navigate the simplest website, you're doomed.
    http://www.healthcare.gov/law/introduction/index.html

  • Elie on July 19, 2011 5:25 PM:

    Chris:

    As you said, even if he follows your exact instruction, Obama still might be at the place of the 14th amendment decision. You offer no clear path that would absolutely not lead to that possibility, nor could you. You, me and everyone else on this commentariat are speculating on what he knows, doesnt know, what the republicans will and won't do and a bunch of other stuff. That's cool. Its interesting to discuss and examine the situation for all its possibilities, as long as we seriously recognize that we are not in the position of the President and may have much less or different information. You project a future result that may or may not happen. Again, that is cool as long as you recognize the hypothetical.

    What bothers me about your comment however, is that there is a judgement of Obama based on your speculation and what ifs -- as though your speculation is fact. It is not. Respect that, Chris. Its just what Chris thinks.

  • square1 on July 19, 2011 5:28 PM:

    @Stephen Stralka:

    I don't claim to be the best negotiator in the world. But it happens to be something that I do on a daily basis. And when you do a lot of negotiating, you learn fairly quickly that it is common for people to say "absolutely not, under no circumstances" right up until they agree. And just because someone takes a position early on in a negotiation, doesn't mean that they won't come off of it later on.

    The House already voted on a clean debt ceiling bill. They voted No, just to make a point.

    And what exactly do you think that point was? There was no NEED for the GOP to even take that vote. The GOP leadership WANTED that vote. Why do you think that is?

    The experienced observer will note that Republicans like to take votes of principle so that, if they subsequently vote for a compromise bill later, they can point to their earlier vote as an indication of their true values.

    There were three important things to take away from the clean bill vote.

    First, the Republicans were planning to eventually vote to raise the ceiling and wanted a vote against a clean bill to bring back to their base as proof that the House Republicans wouldn't have voted for an increase without concessions on spending. Indeed, they likely sought short-term extensions that could be repeated over and over between now and November 2012, each time extracting more and more spending concessions from Democrats.

    Second, the fact that Republicans were planning to eventually compromise was further proof that Republicans understood that failing to raise the ceiling would be a very bad thing. In other words, it was all a massive bluff. If Republicans didn't want to raise the debt ceiling they wouldn't have to do anything and there wouldn't be any negotiations. Boehner and Cantor wouldn't be going to the White House. McConnell wouldn't be dreaming up "Plan B".

    Republican goals are painfully transparent: Make the Democrats vote for all the painful, unpopular legislation that needs to get passed. Where Republicans votes are absolutely necessary, Republicans want to make it look like a few Republicans voted under protest and extracted some good-government concession from Democrats in exchange.

    Third, it was pain-free. When Republicans voted against it, everyone knew that there were still months until the limit was hit. So Republicans could afford to turn the vote into theater. You provide no proof for your assumption that all Republicans would vote the same way now, at the 11th hour, when they would know that a failure to pass the bill would plunge the country into an economic crisis.

    Ultimately, Republicans are either going to screw the country over the debt limit or they won't. If they won't, then there was no reason for Democrats to offer them anything in exchange for their vote. And if Republicans will, then there still is no reason to offer them anything, because it won't stop them from screwing the country.

    By attempting to pass a "Grand Bargain", Obama has completely clouded the issue. He has destroyed the argument that no conditions should be attached to raising the debt limit, since Obama himself wants it to be part of a massive fiscal package, and has threatened to veto bills that don't meet his approved criteria.

    In other words, Obama has taken a non-partisan issue (permitting the Treasury to pay the bills) and turned it into a partisan one: Everyone agrees that deficit-reduction is a good thing, but if you are a liberal, you will side more with Obama, and if you are conservative, you will side more with the House Republican plan.

  • Chris on July 19, 2011 5:49 PM:

    Elie,

    Fact: Obama is using the bully-pulpit to frame these negotiations as an "opportunity" for long-term deficit reduction.

    Fact: Every moment that Obama is talking about deficit reduction, he's not talking about job growth.

    Fact: Obama could have continued to demand a clean debt-ceiling vote, but chose not to.

    Fact: If a clean debt-ceiling vote would have passed, then nothing bad to our economy would happen and there would be no constitutional crisis.

    Fact: If a clean debt-ceiling vote did not pass, Obama, at his discretion, could pay America's bills. In this instance, the worst case scenario is a constitutional battle instead of an economic battle.

    Fact: Obama has clearly stated that he will not pay America's bills if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling.

    Fact: If the debt-ceiling is raised, progressive and liberals will be forced to accept conditions that, under ordinary circumstances they would not accept (see, for example, the Gang of Six proposal, link below, which includes revenue enhancers exchanged for rate cuts plus spending caps plus a 67 vote super-majority needed to run deficits).

    You're mistaken when you assert that my judgment of Obama is based on speculation. My judgment of Obama's performance on this issue is based entirely on facts.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/r/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2011/07/19/National-Politics/Graphics/Gang_of_Six_Document.pdf

  • bardgal on July 19, 2011 5:58 PM:

    square1- I disagree that Obama has clouded the issue.

    He has brought the debt ceiling onto center stage, and by doing so, more Americans understand what the frak it is, and are clearly seeing that no matter what Obama offers, the GOP can't say yes to HIM. They want to intentionally crash the US economy to score more power. That they put their party above the country and the American people themselves, and that they care nothing about deficit reduction, only about giving more tax welfare to their rich and corporate masters, and following King Norquist's marching orders.

    It's also caused their loyalty pledge to King Norquist to finally get some ink - not nearly enough yet to my liking, but any is better than none - which really shows them off to be the greedy, seditious corporate puppets most sane people who pay attention already know them to be.

    I think it's been a Masterful Professorial moment.

    The PL still wants him to be the Black version of LBJ, and the GOPMEDIA would be screaming about what an out of control, scary, Angry Black Man Obama is..... "we need someone in the White House who can keep their cool." Look what happened when he invoke Reagan and gave Cantor a LOOK last week. They all peed their pants.

  • Chris on July 19, 2011 6:01 PM:

    bardgal,

    Huffington Post: "According to five separate sources with knowledge of negotiations -- including both Republicans and Democrats -- the president offered an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare, from 65 to 67, in exchange for Republican movement on increasing tax revenues."

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/11/obama-medicare-eligibility-age_n_894833.html

    In other words, Obama proposed that future seniors who would otherwise be eligible for Medicare, 65 and 66, would have to buy insurance on the private market. Actually, for that age group, without vouchers, Obama's proposal is worse than the Ryan plan.

    If Obama gets a clean bill, bardgal, then he didn't make a mistake. But Obama isn't going to get a clean bill...if he gets one at all. (I'll be ecstatic if I turn out to be wrong.)

  • gdb on July 19, 2011 6:06 PM:

    Most of you don't accept that Obama is as much of the current problem as are the House Republicans-- and that his two year policy record suggests he occasionally talks Progressive, then proposes a moderate Republican compromise-- then negotiates to a yet-more Hooverian solution.

    That game is again being played on the debt-ceiling crisus. The ecomomy is in a Great Recession and BHO's proposals, if accepted in full, would deepen the recession. Best bet that to avoid a debt-limit crisis on 8/2, any BHO-approved solution is indeed a yet-further Hooverian budget balancing/economic depression. THAT only guarantees an economic crisis in 6-12 months, rather than now. Now is better, given those choices.

  • Elie on July 19, 2011 6:14 PM:


    Fact: Chris, you of course have no sense that you might not have all the answers. There is no humility. You know best of course and Obama, who just doesnt know ANYTHING, just doesnt use that freakin bully pulpit or beat people over the head like you, President Chris would do. And you would be so successful. We KNOW that for sure.

    Well, I did not vote for you and I disagree with your conclusions or that you know anything about negotiating anything -- beyond pounding on your bully pulpit meme.

  • Nonie on July 19, 2011 6:19 PM:

    President obama is playing the GOP like SUCKERS!!

    The Democrats got so much ammunition to bury these MF'ers than the NAVY team that took out Osama. He got more dirt on them that he can coast to victory in 2012 but the progressives need to see the chess game he is playing.

    Look President Obama wants to fix the big 3 because we have to be honest with ourselves that all the programs needs tweaking for it to be solvent. Not CUTTING, but modifying so that they wont go broke. President obama is not willing to GUT the programs like the Republicans and that is I think whats missing with some of these progressives and their outrage at HOW DARE HE PUT THE BIG 3 ON THE TABLE!!! He wants to do minor fixing so that it won't go bankrupt or affect current seniors and he is going to need a DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS AND SENATE to do that. (hint hint) One way or the other they have to be fixed and the question you have to ask yourselves is do you want President Obama to fix it our President Bachmann?

    Now let me tell you what I see happening this week. The GOP is about to get a lesson on their my way or the highway shenanigans. They should have called the president bluff, now they are going to get the real taste of what's is like governing in a divided congress and not having their way, no matter how many temper tantrums or names they call the president or threats. They are not going to get any budget bill passed in the house regardless on who writes the bill. The gang of 6, Simpson Bowles, President Obama's, The Black Caucas, the tea party, McConnell/Reid. NOTHING!!! You have at least 100 GOP saying they will not raise the debt ceiling NO MATTER WHAT"S IN THE BILL, so Boerner will not have any choice but to ask democrats to help raise the debt ceiling and they have already said they are not going to help boerner unless its a balance package. We all know that ain't going to happen, so watch a clean bill hit the floor to raise the debt ceiling with no strings by the end of the week or next.

    Then the real party begins. President Obama can go around the country and say that the GOP are nothing but FRAUDS in their quest for deficit reduction. He and the democrats stood strong against the huge deficits and was willing to put the big 3 on the table. 4 TRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLION dollars in cuts and they walked and got NOTHING!!!! They were willing to tank the economy, gut medicare and turn it into a voucher program, cut medicaid, and slash SS all to give big tax cuts to the rich and the well connected, then sitting down as honest brokes to get a BALANCED BILL DONE to solving these problem and because they could n't get 100% of what they wanted they walked and now got NOTHING, ZERO, NADA!!

    How do you think will play with moderate republicans and indepenedents? On top of all the other shit they have done in the past 7 months with the fact that not 1 jobs bill have hit the floor?

    Lets' just say I smell a 2012 Japanese Tsunami for the GOP

  • Anonymous on July 19, 2011 6:30 PM:

    Britney Spears: "Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision he makes and should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens."

    Elie,

    I'm sorry that you find my views on how this issue should have been handled so offensive (and my confidence in those views).

    I, on the other hand, find the Britney Spears approach to citizenship offensive...Trust the President. He has the facts that we don't have. He's smarter. He's the one we elected.

    No, thank you. I see the Shock Doctrine being played out yet again, and I'm calling it as I see it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shock_Doctrine

  • Chris on July 19, 2011 6:33 PM:

    I submitted the Anonymous comment at 6:30.

    Sorry, I forgot to enter my name.

  • Anonymous on July 19, 2011 6:41 PM:

    Chris - Huffington Post: "According to five separate sources with knowledge of negotiations -- including both Republicans and Democrats -- the president offered an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare, from 65 to 67, in exchange for Republican movement on increasing tax revenues."

    That is 100% completely unsourced.

    I have "knowledge of negotiations", I know they're negotiating.

    Sorry - but that is completely lame, and that it's from HuffPO, even more so.

    At least you didn't link Jane Hamster - she's going nowhere on that little wheel of hers...

    But let's PRETEND it's true. What use would the Ryan plan have when in 2014 EVERYONE, no matter what, will have access to affordable health insurance? If the GOP thought - "oh goodie!" to that offer, they're even bigger idiots than even I give them credit for, and makes Obama even more of a master negotiator.

  • Chris on July 19, 2011 6:54 PM:

    Unsourced? That suggests that HuffPost just made it up. I'm usually as big a skeptic as the next guy, but you've got me beat on this one.

    I'm sorry, but I don't understand your question. The Ryan plan would repeal the Affordable Care Act.

    However, let's pretend that it doesn't repeal ACA. If you're suggesting the ACA would drive premiums down to the point where seniors would be better off purchasing private insurance via ACA government run exchanges than they are would be under Medicare in its current form, then I'm afraid that you don't have your facts straight.

    I'm an ACA supporter, but it's no substitute for Medicare--which is why I support Medicare for All.

  • bardgal on July 19, 2011 7:17 PM:

    Chris -

    So you're saying Obama would repeal the ACA only for those 65-67?? HAAAA! Stop you're killing me! As if he would repeal ANY part of ACA, EVER. That's delusional.

    Yes, ACA will be changed - FOR THE BETTER. That door is open and there is no way to close it unless the GOP steal another election, and the emoprogs all stay home in a snit.

    Non-profits are going to compete with Medicare - which is non-profit. They're all going to be regulated, and YES - it will be single payer/Medicare for all/Universal care - whatever you want to call it. Call it **BE HEALTHY WITH BOWS ON**. It doesn't matter. It's what has been set up, and the only way it can be sustainable in the long run.

    The only part of Medicare that you get for free is part A - Hospitalization. You have to buy part B (sliding scale depending on your income) and part D ($-$$$ depending on which plan you take.)

    Medicare itself will be tweaked (like getting rid of part D and stopping that ridiculous graft from PHARMA), and hopefully getting rid of the contribution cap so EVERYONE pays the same % of earnings even the rich. Medicare will be very close to, or be incorporated into that single payer system - because AGAIN - it's the only thing that's sustainable in the long run, and makes everyone healthy, and is best for the economy.

    Of course, the GOP will have collectively imploded by then too. Good times!

  • Elie on July 19, 2011 7:23 PM:


    Well, tell you what Chris, I am not going to swallow your opinions as fact. HA! Me as Britney Spears, unquestioning the President? Nope. I was questioning what YOU think... why should I take one word you say as anything but unsourced opinion? You seem to think that you have all the answers -- a sure sign you have few answers.

    You just have your own ax to grind and know little about grinding axes at that...

    Hey, you know so much, why you sending in comments on a blog? You are just some Joe, just like I am some Jane. Sure, I have my thoughts, my opinions and experiences but I have no illusion that I may not be in a position to know every single detail of what is going on...unlike YOU of course who without any sense of your limitations, think you can run the show -- from your bully pulpit, that is (sheesh, can't you think of another term -- you are so stale with using that)

  • bardgal on July 19, 2011 7:37 PM:

    Chris apparently reads minds and can time-travel to the future and back.

  • Stephen Stralka on July 19, 2011 9:08 PM:

    You provide no proof for your assumption that all Republicans would vote the same way now, at the 11th hour, when they would know that a failure to pass the bill would plunge the country into an economic crisis.

    True, but then I did say "most likely." You, meanwhile, provide no proof for your assumption that the Republicans have been intending to compromise all along.

    Not to mention, your argument that "If Republicans didn't want to raise the debt ceiling they wouldn't have to do anything and there wouldn't be any negotiations" misses the whole point of the debate--it's not that they don't want to raise the debt ceiling so much as they're willing to not raise it. For them, the point of the negotiations is that they saw this as a chance to gut the federal government and destroy Obama's presidency in the process. That should be fairly obvious.

    Of course I don't know if they'd really follow through on their threat, and you don't either. I do know that the Republicans are capable of passing a clean debt ceiling bill in the House, regardless of what Obama says.

    And I also know we're talking about people here who are actively working against any serious action on climate change, among numerous other urgent issues, so I really don't see any limit to their rejection of reality and their capacity for self-destruction.

  • Bill Mitchell on July 20, 2011 11:15 AM:

    Obama's Strategy:

    1) Lead from behind.
    2) Suggest broad sweeping generalities while offering no specifics.
    3) Wait for everyone else to do the heavy lifting all the while claiming to be the adult in the room.
    4) Count on the MSM to push this "adult in the room" meme at every opportunity.
    5) Hint that you are open to entitlement cuts that your own party will be angry with all the while offering no specifics on any of them.
    6) After a solution is finally reached, wait and see how it goes. If it succeeds claim it was your idea all along and take credit. If it fails, blame the Republicans.

    Of course, all of this would be completely impossible if the MSM was actually doing their job instead of acting like an arm of the DNC.

    To paraphrase, the White House just today told us that "The essence of leadership is to let everyone else do all the work, take all the risks and suffer all the consequences."

  • TimPundit on July 20, 2011 1:34 PM:

    This is so unfair.

    The President is playing the Republicans like fools...and I dont' even think they know it yet.

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