Political Animal


July 31, 2011 2:00 PM Senate defeats Reid bill, preps for larger deal

By Steve Benen

It became pretty clear yesterday that congressional Republicans considered Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D) generous offer not quite generous enough. The House GOP was in a spiteful mood, while nearly all of the Senate GOP continued to demand more, holding out for a better deal.

As talks continued throughout the afternoon yesterday, and participants moved closer to an agreement, Reid’s alternative solution to this fiasco was quickly pushed aside. It would be a formality when the Majority Leader’s proposal was brought to the floor — there would be a filibuster, and Democrats wouldn’t be able to break it.

That’s exactly what transpired about an hour ago.

The Senate voted Sunday not to move forward with a Democratic debt plan as Congress prepared to take up a bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling as soon as it is reached this weekend.

The Democrat-controlled Senate voted 50 to 49 in favor of ending debate on the measure, but failed to get the necessary 60 votes required to move to a final vote.

This vote was, for all intents and purposes, irrelevant. The only proposal that matters right now — and in all likelihood, the only proposal that could prevent Tuesday’s catastrophe — is the agreement being reached with the White House, which isn’t quite done.

In case anyone’s curious, if I saw the roll call correctly, Sen. Scott Brown was the only Republican to break ranks and vote for Reid’s plan, while four members of the Democratic caucus voted against it: Joe Manchin and Ben Nelson (because it wasn’t quite conservative enough for them), Bernie Sanders (because it was far too conservative), and Harry Reid himself, who obviously supported his own compromise, but had to vote against it for procedural reasons.

The next step, of course, is waiting for the larger deal, which by all accounts, will be absolutely awful. Whether it’s awful enough to put Democratic votes in doubt, and put the entire agreement in jeopardy, remains to be seen, though it seems unlikely given the ticking clock.

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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  • Lee A. Arnold on July 31, 2011 2:05 PM:

    If the Congressional Democrats vote for this without tax revenues up front, the Democratic Party is over. It will factionalize, as the Republicans have done. An automatic trigger to increase revenues later is a stupid and complicated punt to save the skins of McConnell and Boehner. If President Obama signs this, he will not be re-elected. None of his supporters will ever believe another thing he says. I understand the President's general stance: as the first black President, he wants to be a centrist compromiser. I think that is smart and commendable. But at some point, he must stand publicly, for principle. Let the U.S. default for a couple of days, and make sure the Republicans own their horse manure, entirely. A complicated trigger deal is a Democratic deathwish.

  • dr. bloor on July 31, 2011 2:14 PM:

    I've pretty much lost count of the number of times Obama has switched tactics and hung Reid and Pelosi out to dry over the last few months.

    "Call your representatives and demand a balanced approach" is going to be Obama's "lower your thermostats and wear sweaters" moment.

    And as far as conventional wisdom will go, Obama now owns every cent of the debt, including the tab that Bush ran.


  • Memekiller on July 31, 2011 2:15 PM:

    I can be a participant of this. Put up a clean bill and let them default if they want.

  • ronbyers on July 31, 2011 2:23 PM:

    The numbers are such that no matter what "deal" the administration and the house and senate leadership think they have, they are going to need house democrats. The Republican suicide squad is implacible. That should give Obama some leverage.

    I was born in the greatest nation on earth. I guess I will die a member of some 2nd world country nobody cares about.

  • berttheclock on July 31, 2011 2:24 PM:

    Does not this set up the useage of the 14th Amendment? With both houses of Congress blocking legislation, does not this qualify as putting our nation in jeopardy, therefore, allowing the President to invoke the 14th?

  • Tired Liberal on July 31, 2011 2:25 PM:

    Why do all news reports refer to needing 60 votes as a "procedural matter" or some other euphemism? The need for 60 votes is to end a Republican filibuster. Now that corporations have special rights to free (and anonymous) speech the majority does not rule.

  • Holmes on July 31, 2011 2:26 PM:

    Has a debt ceiling raise ever been filibustered before today?

  • Vokoban on July 31, 2011 2:27 PM:

    The Repugs take the world economy hostage, the press plays along, and the Dems are cowardly avoiding to make a stand, while the Prez is negotiating himself into unelectability.

    America is toast. They should seriously think about ending the increasingly pathetic existence of the "union".

  • Obama on July 31, 2011 2:37 PM:

    Every liberal should want to support this to take spending off the table so we can focus on more stimulus and job creation.

  • CDW on July 31, 2011 2:46 PM:

    For all intents and purposes, the democratic party is irrelevant.

  • Take Them at Their Turd on July 31, 2011 2:47 PM:

    Start spreading the word: Once the Tea Party/GOP have their way, they own the economy that results from their ridiculous demands. You can't impose your will like this and not take responsibility for the consequences. Once the economy goes (even deeper) into the tank, we all need to ensure that the GOP is held accountable for it.

    As Colin Powell said, you break it, you own it.

  • Obama on July 31, 2011 2:49 PM:

    Congress must act quickly so we can move on to the government shutdown.

  • CDW on July 31, 2011 2:49 PM:


    Please explain to me how there will be a new stimulus when spending is being cut? Do you know of some magical way to stimulate the economy without government spending?

  • Navigator on July 31, 2011 2:51 PM:

    Whatever this agreement turns out to be, absent a commitment to a BB Constitutional Amendment resolution, it will fail in the House. Then the President can declare it his 14th Amendment duty to raise the ceiling unilaterally, and the Teapeople can spend the remainder of their careers on a symbolic impeachment vote.

  • Nathan on July 31, 2011 2:52 PM:

    Shouldn't "Senate defeats" be "Senate filibusters"? I thought there had been an actual vote on the bill when I read it, not a vote for cloture that required a super majority. If it had been a vote, 50 to 49 would have passed.

  • martin on July 31, 2011 2:52 PM:

    Enough talk about punishing Obama (it's too easy and doesn't get us anything), how are we going to punish the Republicans?

  • Holmes on July 31, 2011 2:58 PM:

    @Nathan: That is what I was asking earlier in the thread. I don't think the debt ceiling raise has ever been filibustered before. McConnell pulling that shit in the 11th hour should be a big story, but the worthless media hasn't made a peep about it.

  • berttheclock on July 31, 2011 3:02 PM:

    @Holmes, yes, Senator William Proxmire (D-Wisc) filibustered over night in '81 against Reagan raising the debt ceiling. In addition, Senator Byrd fought Eisenhower, twice in '54 and again in '57 over raising the debt limit. In '53, when Congress wouldn't raise the debt ceiling, Eisenhower had Treasury issue more Gold Certificates.

  • c u n d gulag on July 31, 2011 3:03 PM:


    OK, so where do we hostages report to be shot?

    Or are they going to pick us off randomly, to maximize the fear?

    Fucking assholes.

    Not enough bad shit can happen to people like this.

    And sadly, not enought bad shit ever will...

  • c u n d gulag on July 31, 2011 3:06 PM:

    Ain't none of 'em 'perty.' Even the good lookin' ones have ugly souls.

    There, that's better!

  • Holmes on July 31, 2011 3:13 PM:

    @berttheclock: Aside from '53, that was just individual senators taking a stand. McConnell has repeatedly used the filibuster to basically shut down the Senate since they lost the majority in January of '07. Filibustering the debt ceiling is just a continuation of that strategy.

    Couple that with using the full faith and credit of the United States(while there are 100,000+ troops in Afghanistan/Iraq) as a bargaining chip should get the republicans skewered in the press. I won't hold my breath.

  • JM917 on July 31, 2011 3:13 PM:

    I speak as a mild-mannered, long-time supporter of President Obama.

    If he surrenders, we Democrats MUST find another presidential candidate--not, NOT some third-partier who will just split the vote and allow someone like Romney or Perry to walz into the White House--who will take the nomination away from Obama and lead a root-and-branch assault on the Tea Party and its regular-Republican running dogs.

    Franken? Whitehouse? Sherrod Brown? Pelosi? Hillary? (I'm open to suggestions and not giving any kind of a definitive wish list.) But somewhere there's got to be someone who will thank Barack Obama for his well-meaning service and ask/force him to step aside so a REAL Democrat can be the people's champion.

    Otherwise the right-wing counterrevolution is going to seize total power.

  • gone_west on July 31, 2011 3:14 PM:

    The dems need to find the crazy love for entitlement programs and discretionary spending that the repugs have for no new taxes. When dems learn to pat themselves on the back for expanding those programs and enhancing their financial foundations, rather than letting the repugs underfund them and undercut their moral and social role for the betterment of the American people, we'll be a better place again. But for now, as Pelosi pointed out, the dark side is winning.

    $3 trillion in cuts and no new revenues?

    Oh where have you gone Joe Dimaggio?

  • Anonymous on July 31, 2011 3:15 PM:

    I'm wondering if the democrats don't go for this, the president will pull out the 14th amendment? that would be a wonderful theatrical and very winning gesture for his team.

    but he is far too willing to work only with the GOP. As if they were a majority party.

    I still wonder why the Dems didn't kill the filibuster when they had the chance?

  • Oldskool on July 31, 2011 3:16 PM:

    The Rise of the Third Reich is on the History Channel this afternoon. You can switch back and forth from it to the news channels and not lose any of the depressing creepiness.

  • TCinLA on July 31, 2011 3:16 PM:

    Posted elsewhere at this blog, but even more relevant here:

    I think it is now clear, looking back at the past seven months since the radical Republic majority took the House of Representatives, that we have been seeing our domestic politics play out the way international politics played in Europe between January 20, 1933, and October 1938.

    The fact is, Obama is our Neville Chamberlain, and this "debt agreement" is his Munich Agreement. And the Democratic Party is the equivalent of Chamberlain's Conservative Party, with the Republicans playing the role of Hitler, and the American people taking the role of Czechoslovakia. And Nancy Pelosi playing the role of Winston Churchill.

    And so I think it's appropriate to recall what Winston Churchill said about that agreement in the House of Commons in October, 1938, because it has some relevance to our situation today.

    October 5, 1938. House of Commons

    If I do not begin this afternoon by paying the usual, and indeed almost invariable, tributes to the Prime Minister for his handling of this crisis, it is certainly not from any lack of personal regard. We have always, over a great many years, had very pleasant relations, and I have deeply understood from personal experiences of my own in a similar crisis the stress and strain he has had to bear; but I am sure it is much better to say exactly what we think about public affairs, and this is certainly not the time when it is worth anyone's while to court political popularity.

    We had a shining example of firmness of character from the late First Lord of the Admiralty two days ago. He showed that firmness of character which is utterly unmoved by currents of opinion, however swift and violent they may be. My hon. Friend the Member for South-West Hull (Mr. Law), to whose compulsive speech the House listened on Monday, was quite right in reminding us that the Prime Minister has himself throughout his conduct of these matters shown a robust indifference to cheers or boos and to the alternations of criticism or applause. If that be so, such qualities and elevation of mind should make it possible for the most severe expressions of honest opinion to be interchanged in this House without rupturing personal relations, and for all points of view to receive the fullest possible expression.

    Having thus fortified myself by the example of others, I will proceed to emulate them. I will, therefore, begin by saying the most unpopular and most unwelcome thing. I will begin by saying what everybody would like to ignore or forget but which must nevertheless be stated, namely, that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat, ...

    The utmost my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has been able to secure by all his immense exertions, by all the great efforts and mobilisation which took place in this country, and by all the anguish and strain through which we have passed in this country, the utmost he has been able to gain for Czechoslovakia in the matters which were in dispute has been that the German dictator, instead of snatching the victuals from the table, has been content to have them served to him course by course.

    The Chancellor of the Exchequer [Sir John Simon] said it was the first time Herr Hitler had been made to retract - I think that was the word - in any degree. We really must not waste time after all this long Debate upon the difference between the positions reached at Berchtesgaden, at Godesberg and at Munich. They can be very simply epitomised, if the House will permit me to vary the metaphor. 1 was demanded at the pistol's point. When it was given, 2 were demanded at the pistol's point. Finally, the dictator consented to take 1 17s. 6d. and the rest in promises of goodwill for the future.

    Now I come to the point, which was mentioned to me just now from some quarters of the House, about the saving of peace. No one has been a more resolute and uncompromising struggler for peace than the Prime Minister. Everyone knows that. Never has there been such instance and undaunted determination to maintain and secure peace. That is quite true. Nevertheless, I am not quite clear why there was so much danger of Great Britain or France being involved in a war with Germany at this juncture if, in fact, they were ready all along to sacrifice Czechoslovakia.

    The terms which the Prime Minister brought back with him could easily have been agreed, I believe, through the ordinary diplomatic channels at any time during the summer. And I will say this, that I believe the Czechs, left to themselves and told they were going to get no help from the Western Powers, would have been able to make better terms than they have got after all this tremendous perturbation; they could hardly have had worse.

    There never can be any absolute certainty that there will be a fight if one side is determined that it will give way completely. When one reads the Munich terms, when one sees what is happening in Czechoslovakia from hour to hour, when one is sure, I will not say of Parliamentary approval but of Parliamentary acquiescence, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer makes a speech which at any rate tries to put in a very powerful and persuasive manner the fact that, after all, it was inevitable and indeed righteous: when we say all this, and everyone on this side of the House, including many members of the Conservative Party who are vigilant and careful guardians of the national interest, is quite clear that nothing vitally affecting us was at stake, it seems to me that one must ask, What was all the trouble and fuss about?

    ... When this resolve was taken and the course was followed - you may say it was wise or unwise, prudent or short-sighted - once it had been decided not to make the defence of Czechoslovakia a matter of war, then there was really no reason, if the matter had been handled during the summer in the ordinary way, to call into being all this formidable apparatus of crisis. I think that point should be considered.

    ... What is the remaining position of Czechoslovakia? Not only are they politically mutilated, but, economically and financially, they are in complete confusion. Their banking, their railway arrangements, are severed and broken, their industries are curtailed, and the movement of their population is most cruel. The Sudeten miners, who are all Czechs and whose families have lived in that area for centuries, must now flee into an area where there are hardly any mines left for them to work. It is a tragedy which has occurred. There must always be the most profound regret and a sense of vexation in British hearts at the treatment and the misfortune which have overcome the Czechoslovakian Republic.

    They have not ended here. At any moment there may be a hitch in the programme. At any moment there may be an order for Herr Goebbels to start again his propaganda of calumny and lies; at any moment an incident may be provoked, and now that the fortress line is turned away what is there to stop the will of the conqueror? Obviously, we are not in a position to give them the slightest help at the present time, except what everyone is glad to know has been done, the financial aid which the Government have promptly produced.

    ... In my holiday I thought it was a chance to study the reign of King Ethelred the Unready. The House will remember that that was a period of great misfortune, in which, from the strong position which we had gained under the descendants of King Alfred, we fell very swiftly into chaos. It was the period of Danegeld and of foreign pressure. I must say that the rugged words of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, written a thousand years ago, seem to me apposite, at least as apposite as those quotations from Shakespeare with which we have been regaled by the last speaker from the Opposition Bench. Here is what the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle said, and I think the words apply very much to our treatment of Germany and our relations with her.

    "All these calamities fell upon us because of evil counsel, because tribute was not offered to them at the right time nor yet were they resisted; but when they had done the most evil, then was peace made with them."

    ... Whatever we may think of it, we must regard those steps as belonging to the category of affairs which are settled beyond recall. The past is no more, and one can only draw comfort if one feels that one has done one's best to advise rightly and wisely and in good time. I, therefore, turn to the future, and to our situation as it is to-day. Here, again, I am sure I shall have to say something which will not be at all welcome.

    We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude which has befallen Great Britain and France. Do not let us blind ourselves to that. It must now be accepted that all the countries of Central and Eastern Europe will make the best terms they can with the triumphant Nazi power. The system of alliances in Central Europe upon which France has relied for her safety has been swept away, and I can see no means by which it can be reconstituted. The road down the Danube Valleyto the Black Sea, the road which leads as far as Turkey, has been opened.

    ... and do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.

  • Memekiller on July 31, 2011 3:21 PM:

    At the absolute fucking least, Obama needs to at least have the decency not to try to sell this as a good deal. If he's going to giving in to the monstrosity, he should at least call it what it is: ransom, which he's ONLY paying to avoid a default because that would be worse than holding firm against extortion. I'm not sure that's the case, but he ought to make the argument.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on July 31, 2011 3:28 PM:

    Here's hoping Obama finds a new "cave" and makes it so odious that Dems can't support it. Go Obama!!

  • KC on July 31, 2011 3:30 PM:

    Word, Memekiller. This is going to be the ultimate shit sandwich. It's going to be impossible to vote for Obama after this. He has a D next to his name, but lets be honest, if he had an R next to his name we'd be rallying around SS and Medicare like none other. What an awful president.

  • david1234 on July 31, 2011 3:33 PM:

    I think a case can be made for House and Senate Democrats to reject the deal Obama makes with the Republicans. It would create a problem for Obama, but one that could be handled with a two trillion dollar coin. The plus side is that it would prevent cuts which hurt the economy, and send a message to Obama that they can play hardball too. If Obama will not stand up to extortion, others should step in.

  • Goldilocks on July 31, 2011 3:34 PM:

    America is transitioning to a multi-party system: Progressive Dems, Blue Dog Dems, GOP Rump and Tearrorists.

    It's ugly.

  • WhatObamaWon'tSay on July 31, 2011 3:34 PM:

    This bill sucks. This is the worst bill I will ever sign. It will not help our deficit, but increase it, puts entitlements at risk, and doesn't even end the uncertainty. It takes money out of the ecnomy at a time when we should be putting more in. And a lot of people are going to be hurt.

    But I am going to sign it. Not because it's a good bill - it's a budget no moral, reasonable person would ever sign in good conscience, and far to the right of what most Republicans want. I will sign it because as bad as this bill is - and believe me, it's a doozy - it's better than default. And that's the position the Republican Congress has put me in.

    So no, I'm not signing this budget. I'm signing to lift the debt ceiling and avoid a default in perilous economic times, and my focus from now until the next election - when the economy, because of this bill, in all likelihood will be even worse - will be in dismantling it and ensuring it never becomes law.

  • Oldskool on July 31, 2011 3:38 PM:

    I would like to pre-emptively point fingers ahead of 2012 to all the Dems who stay home because we have a president who acts like one. It would be more fun if he went full-Shrub and gave 10% the country the finger, but it just ain't realistic. Those 10% are suicidal and they have their finger on a global WMD.

  • Danny Gail McElrath on July 31, 2011 3:46 PM:

    I hate how all the news reports are talking breathlessly about we might get an agreement anytime, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Like if this deal can just be passed it will be hallelujah time, just what we should all be praying for. If there is such a thing as karma, the general run of "news" reporters, analysts, pundits, etc.have some hellacious punishment ahead. I would take default rather than this deal they are cooking up. I am praying there will be enough Democrats to say "no, enough, we will not be a party to this atrocity". But I don't have any hope this will be. None of the people who purport to be on our side have enough moral fiber. I really don't know what happened to moral fiber in the Democratic party. I know most of it was sold for thirty pieces but look like there would be a little left here and there. Don't want to hear Pelosi's name. She talks good, like someone else we know has done at times, but when it gets down to it she always knuckles under. I want the Democrats, especially that person in the White House but, really all of them to know I can't hear their words, their actions talk too loud. They are not my people. No more.

  • Kathryn on July 31, 2011 3:48 PM:

    Everyone who is able should support recall of Wisconsin Republicans with money and/or phone calls. Recall of Walker in January also must be our cause. It's an uphill fight because of corporate money, it's also the only chance to change the narrative.

    I'm with Oldskool, fight back.

  • JS on July 31, 2011 3:55 PM:

    I'm still waiting to see the final deal, because just about every time the breathless reporting turns into "that deal wasn't bad after all"...

    But if they think the Republicans will care about defense cuts compared to slashing entitlements, the deal makers on the left have contracted Stockholm syndrome. I'm not lefty enough to say that things like Medicare reform are sacrosanct, there are smart adjustments that can be made.

    But if they make a deal that ends in stalemate next year, resulting in "across the board" cuts? That's political suicide. Why not insist that the Medical 'Best Practices' board be funded and staffed in the deal? If you want to be smart...

    Did you know Congressional and White House phones aren't open other than M-F business hours? Not so much help when they're making a dumb deal over a weekend. Makes me think they'd better get this vote done tonight.

  • Memekiller on July 31, 2011 3:58 PM:

    I think raising taxes on the risk is a bigger deterent than cutting military spending.

  • JM917 on July 31, 2011 4:11 PM:

    @ goldilocks: No, in the America we have under our present Constititon, no multi-party system will work. With first-past-the-post electoral districts and the Electoral College, ONLY a two-party system can work. And don't bring up the Whigs--it was only when the Whigs collapsed and vanished with a poof of smoke that the Republicans were born as their successor (after the Know-Nothings rose and fell over about a 2-year span). All other third parties, from the Anti-Masons to the Liberty and Free Soil parties of the antebellum years and from the Greenbackers of thje 1870s to the Populists to the Progressives (in three interations) to the George Wallace and Ross Perot protest coalitions--all failed to gain traction.

    We progressives have no choice but to wage an INTERNAL struggle to reclaim the Democratic Party, which might very well mean replacing Obama with a new Democratic nominee in 2012.

    @ Danny Gail McElrath: We have to find a leader WITHIN the Democratic Party and support him/her for the presidency. If it's Nancy Pelosi, sign me up! And even poor Obama, if we can't replace him. The absolute WORST thing we can do is give up the struggle, holier-than-thou, and let the Republican villains back into the White House.

    @ Oldskool and David 1234: I'm with you 100%.

    @ What Obama Won't Say: Absolutely, this is what he's GOT to say if he has to--and then dedicate the rest of his present term to waging relentless war on the Republican/Tea Party conspiracy. If he does, I'll still support him (yes, little ol' measly nobody me out in the sticks). If he won't, then we desperately need to start finding a substitute candidate PRONTO. Like yesterday. Come back to life, Bobby Kennedy! Or someone who's got your spirit.

  • Trollop on July 31, 2011 4:19 PM:

    Let me guess, eliminate Social Security and Medicare? Obama = #$%king waste of a vote, can we bring back the pants-suit?
    Democrats = Party of dirty ass, useless? good for nothing? vacuous?
    Republicans = human fuel on the pyre

  • JM917 on July 31, 2011 4:19 PM:

    @ Kathryn, Memekiller, JS, KC, Disgustedwithitall, gone_west:

    Right on!

    Captcha: boredom: oxcerc. Would that we were oxerc'd into boredom, but I'm afraid not today...

  • ameshall on July 31, 2011 4:23 PM:

    No one should be shocked that the Republicans will get what they want out of this. They had something the Democrats never had: a willingness to drive the U.S. economy off a cliff and kill the global economy. The only path to a "balanced approach" was for Boehner to chuck his own political future and forge a moderate deal that would have been supported by what's left of the sanity wing of his own party, plus Democrats. Boehner opted to protect his own skin and give the country one more push toward the cliff.

    The Republicans always knew that in the end the Democrats would never allow a default that would kill the American economy. The truly sad part is that (assuming some horrible deal is struck) the public will move on, blissfully unaware of how close the GOP came to destroying their lives, and the Republicans will strut around like peacocks, crowing that they stopped Obama's reckless spending. And rank-and-file Democrats will blame Obama and vow not to vote for him in 2012. Karl Rove couldn't have engineered a better outcome.

  • knightphoenix2 on July 31, 2011 4:27 PM:

    @JM917, 3:13 PM (EDT);


    Just NO. If Obama gets successfully primaried, the Republicans DEFINITELY get the White House. In all of our history, only one candidate who successfully primaried a sitting President went on to win the election: James Buchanan. Who ranks as one of the worst presidents ever.

    Aim your wrath at the people who are REALLY responsible for this mess: The REPUBLICANS.

    The Republicans who have totally rejected the legitimacy of ANY Democrat, and EVERYONE ELSE who isn't them. The Republicans who willfully abuse and sabotage their priviliges in the Senate and the House to ram their agenda down the throats of all Americans. The Republicans who have been on a forty-year campaign to destroy the social safety net - and will succeed.


    *I* WON'T. I will vote, as I always have, and I will educate my friends and neighbors, and get them to vote Democratic as well. And, if all you Progressives who are on this blog complaining about the President's "capitulation" (which, btw, we HAVEN'T seen yet), need to face up to the reality that the only way to save the country is to re-activate our numbers game that we had in 2008. AND, if you didn't VOTE Democratic in 2010 because you couldn't get EVERYTHING you wanted, you need to face up to your responsibility in enabling the Republicans to grab hold of the Nation's purse.

    So, don't give me any of the bullcrap about punishing Obama, because he has to work with the hand and House that was dealt to him. Punish the Republicans, and get everybody else on board to save our country!


    Grant llyRea?!! Really?

  • n b on July 31, 2011 4:36 PM:

    One thing that confuses many people and is not covered with clarity in the media: we hear, the GOP got "no revenue" in the forming deal, but the extension of "Bush tax cuts" is only two more years, still (?) scheduled to run out after 2012 tax year unless a bill is *passed* to extend them - which whoever is President then could veto. So does that mean the Rs really only get two years more of what they want, or that some trick is in place to keep the current expiration (as I understand it) from going through if no action?

  • Reality Bites on July 31, 2011 4:36 PM:

    Get ready folks, this is just the beginning. Social Security and Medicare come next... Eat you peas!

  • buckyblue on July 31, 2011 4:45 PM:

    I want a Progressive asshole in the WH. I want someone who knows how to do this. Hillary would have been MUCH, MUCH better. Watched a lot of MSNBC and Rendell would have been great. Shit, watching Maher and listening to Spitzer eviscerate some cute repug 'strategist' and some side-burned teahadist was sweet. Take him and keep him out of the cat-houses. Our best option is to vote down the deal, let the deadline pass for a week. Watch all hell break loose, and then drop the 14th Amendment on their ass. Play hardball and dare them to do something. All they'll do is run to Fox and whine.

  • Memekiller on July 31, 2011 5:05 PM:

    I don't care what eventually passes; it is illigitimate ransom paid under extortion. It needs to be dismantled and gutted immediately like finance reform. Passing that didn't stop the GOP from neutering it.

  • JS on July 31, 2011 5:06 PM:

    n b @4:36 -

    Actually there would need to be an affirmative deal to extend the Bush tax cuts any longer, as happened in Obama's deal to extend unemployment and food stamps (plus the tax cuts have some small, positive stimulative value at a time there was no other deal to be made).

    The question is (a) Does Obama win re-election? A Republican president will certainly push to make those cuts permanent. and (b) Does Obama really want to extend the cuts on just those making over $250,000? He's been reported willing to deal the cuts on middle class families away.

    This was not such a big f'n deal until now, after twi years where all the deals have been "spending cuts only". To keep funding the programs we want, every penny of that $3.8T or so needs to go back into the treasury. Without that revenue, there's no way to balance a non-wingnut budget, much less address long-term debt reduction.

  • JS on July 31, 2011 5:14 PM:

    And sorry to all the disappointed out there, Hillary would not have been any better. 80% of the reason she didn't win the nomination is that she surrounded herself with the "Big Dawg All Stars" campaign team - guys like Mark Penn who didn't understand rules like "You mean Texas has a primary *and a caucus?"

    An parallel-Earth Hillary presidency would have meant those clowns would have won the nomination on Super Tuesday, and been considered geniuses. The Dems still win '08 because of the economy collapsing.

    But don't try and tell me it wouldn't have been two and a half years right out of Bill's Triangulation Playbook. Obama may have taken too many Clinton people on, but those are who we have with Executive branch experience. The alternative was picking a bunch of Washington neophytes who may really have deserved comparisons to Carter.

    I'm struggling to see any good in what's happening this weekend, but President Hillary wouldn't be doing any better. We might feel better, but we'd have gotten less done, IMHO.

  • ChicagoRob on July 31, 2011 5:23 PM:


    I decided over a year ago that I wasn't going to vote for Obama in 2012, and the events of the last two weeks have only reinforced my resolve.

    All my life I've been voting for the lesser of two evils under the threat that it could be "much, much" worse.

    Gore didn't get in office even though he won the vote and the election was stolen. Hell, he would've been president if he'd won his own state of Tennessee. Or if he had vigorously contested the ENTIRE STATE of Florda (which he didn't).

    Obama did not vigorously advocate for universal health care and getting us out of draining, endless wars of empire. Instead, he upped the ante in the wars and did not really fix the health care situation. He has consistently understimated the Republicans burn-and-pillage mentality, just like Gore did.

    Y'know what? I'M DONE WITH THAT.

    I am no middle aged and I've voted Democrat for President. No more.

    I'm voting for candidates, parties and platforms that actually reflect what I believe in and what this country needs. For me, that's The Green Party.

    If I (and we) never start voting for and building a serious political movement ... we'll never get there. So starting now, I'm investing myself politically and civically in The Green Party.


    I repeat: I'm done with the two wings of The Money Party at the presidential level. It ain't gonna happen. Obama put the final nail in the coffin for me.

  • bob h on July 31, 2011 5:40 PM:

    Before we belittle Obama any more about this, we liberals ought to own up to being partly responsible for this fiasco. Too many shallow, immature bandwagon Democrats who supported him in 2008 couldn't be bothered to show up in 2010, opening the door to the Tea Party. If more Democrats had understood that he had to have sustained support, the Republicans would not have been in position to extort this deal.

  • Josef K on July 31, 2011 6:02 PM:

    So this is it? This is the best this White House can extract?

    Fine. I should have listened to my own caution back in '09 when I noted that Barrack Obama was not a paragon of virtue or such. He's a politician, and as such will play 'the game' as best he can in service of ends he feels strongest about.

    Pity those ends don't help the majority of his countrymen, but what do you expect?

  • Anonymous on July 31, 2011 6:17 PM:

    @ knightphoenix:

    Just to be clear, I will vote for (and contribute to, and work for) Obama in 2012 if he's the nominee, because the overwhelming need is to elect a Democratic president who will let the goddamned Bush tax cuts expire in 2013 and won't fill the SCOTUS with more right-wing ideologues.

    But that doesn't mean I don't want to see Obama challenged in the primaries by another Democrat, the way LBJ was challenged--and pushed out--by McCarthy in 1968. If he hadn't been assassinated, Bobby would have won the nomination and the presidency. We're in that kind of situation now, with every working person and "entitlement" holder getting screwed over.

    Obama is a wonderful man, but I'm afraid that he just doesn't have enough fight in him to really stand up to the Republican terrorists/hostage-takers who are now in the ascendant.

    And by the way, I worked damned hard for him in 2008, and in 2010 I worked damned hard to elect a progressive Democratic congressional candidate. I was disgusted at the lousy turnout we got from students, liberals, and minorities, which resulted in an awful Republican getting in. I have no use for holier-than-thou liberals who "sit out" elections or go for third-party will-'o-the-wisps.

    OK, let's wait a few more hours and see what's in the deal that Harry Reid has just signed onto. And let's see whether the Tea Party fanatics in the House will accept a deal that probably gives them 95% of what they demanded. Maybe Obama will still be in a position to invoke the 14th and bring down the hammer on the GOP. But I'm preparing now for a capitulation--and for the hope that a strong, true Democrat can take over the job of running for president.

  • SW on July 31, 2011 6:28 PM:

    I see as distressing tendency to blame Barack Obama for what has just been done to our country. I admit that as an emotional response to the magnitude of the disaster, I have felt like blaming him as well. But it is a mistake. I think that disappointment is appropriate. It is deeply disappointing that he seems to have miscalculated the character of the people he has been dealing with. That he expected a certain level of responsibility from senior leadership at the level of people like Boehner and McConnel that in the end they would put the well being of the country above party and faction. Yet for those of us who have been following the modern Republican Party over the past ten years, this has seemed like an incredibly naive assumption. So, watching this unfold, with so much at stake has been like watching a slow train wreck. Barrack Obama did not create this mess. It is not his fault. It would have been a good thing had we had a President who understood from the very beginning that the Republicans were not interested in bargaining in good faith. That they were perfectly willing to blow up the process to get their way. That they would never agree to any concessions. That they were convinced that you were going to fold if they simply refused to budge. And that it was up to you to find a work around rather than wasting any time in a fake negotiation phase.. But Mr. Obama was not that President and I don't believe that given is SOP he could have been. So we are where we are. Because the Republicans were willing to practice economic terrorism. Obama paid the ransom. If we are going to punish I'm for that so be it. Or maybe he should have tried the snipers with the 14th amendment. But it seems to me that once the dynamic was set up those were the only choices. Pay the ransom, use the snipers or lose the hostage. Looks like we are paying the ransom.

  • sapient on July 31, 2011 6:30 PM:

    I wish that people insisting that Obama is a coward unless he "invokes" the 14th Amendment would give us some details about what the country will look like under the "invocation." Basically, what they're asking for is that Obama become a temporary (?) dictator. Now, I don't mind Obama being a temporary dictator, because I think he is benevolent and intelligent. But do we really want to encourage dictatorship? What would happen down the road of a dictatorship? A crappy deal? A good deal?

    If he does it, I'll support him. But I can fully see why this is a dangerous road to go down. It wouldn't really take long before some people would start "invoking" their 2nd Amendment rights against the dictatorship. Unfortunately, much as I love the idea of the "fight," I don't actually own a gun.

  • knightphoenix2 on July 31, 2011 6:34 PM:

    @ChicagoRob, 5:23 PM (EDT)

    First, it's *knightphoenix2*.

    Second, I sympathize with your frustration. But, you're letting it lead you down the WRONG PATH.

    Third, because THAT'S what the REPUBLICANS *WANT* you to do. Drain off any lukewarm support for DEMOCRATS into an UNPRODUCTIVE channel. Which the Green Party is, like it or not.

    Fourth, *YOU* and a LOT of other FRUSTRATED FOLKS *REFUSE* to face-up to ONE *ESSENTIAL* fact.


    Do you *honestly* think for ONE MINUTE that if the Democrats had kept the House, we'd be discussing this?!

    If you DO, then you need my glasses far more than I do.
    (And, I *really* need my eyeglasses.)

    Fifth, if you REALLY want to save this country, you have to do it the hard way. By supporting Progressive Democrats at the local primary levels, and supporting them until they get to the TOP. We're facing the end-stage of a forty-year coup d'etat. It's probably going take another forty years to defeat it. Unless you want a hot "Civil War"...

    Let's start RIGHT NOW.


    rchihts Second?!

  • knightphoenix2 on July 31, 2011 6:50 PM:

    Edit to my previous comment:


    Sorry for the all caps. But, it's so frustrating to see normally rational people go around scapegoating one of the best progressive presidents ever!


    iseato called?!! Sure did!

  • JM917 on July 31, 2011 7:00 PM:

    According to what's being reported over at TPM, the deal that Reid and Obama are offering may not be as horrible as has been rumored throughout the day. Lots still in flux, and who sits on the "Super Congress" and recommends further cuts is crucial. It doesn't screw the poor and the entitlement-holders as badly as had been feared, and down-the-road abolition of the Bush tax cuts is still in play. There's no bullshit about a Balanced Budget Amendment, congressional "votes of disapproval" will be meaningless hot air--and the debt ceiling gets raised through the end of Obama's first term. Defense is in for serious budget-cutting.

    How this will go down with the Teabagger House, and whether it'll be filibustered by the Republicans in the Senate, are $64K questions. Who knows, we might be back in 14th Amendment country in the next day or two.

    Let's hold our collective horses.

    Captcha: YHWH wheyer. G-d must be intervening. About time.

  • Old Uncle Dave on July 31, 2011 8:23 PM:

    The President can take the nation to war without a congressional vote (despite the Constitution saying he can't), but he can't raise the debt limit?
    We are well and truly in Bizarro world!