Political Animal


July 31, 2011 9:15 PM Where things stand

By Steve Benen

The debt-reduction framework is no longer the subject of scuttlebutt and leaks; it’s out. It’s done. It’s a deal. That doesn’t mean passage is a sure thing — nothing in this process is ever a sure thing — but the relevant players are on board.

The final hurdle was Speaker Boehner, who fought to lower the ratio on the trigger, away from a 50-50 split on the trigger we talked about earlier. As it turns out, Boehner lost that fight, and the White House told him there would be movement on this point, and the Speaker conceded the point. (He’d already won on so many other points, this was a minor setback.)

Here’s President Obama’s four-minute statement the briefing room, presenting the framework, and conceding this isn’t the deal he would have preferred.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

And here (pdf), by the way, is the presentation Boehner made available to his caucus after endorsing the agreement. The Speaker clearly doesn’t love the plan, but in a hilarious twist, Boehner said failing to pass it would lead to a “job-killing default.” That would be the same default Boehner has been willing to pursue for the last several months.

The odds of passage in the Senate are much higher, though it’s unclear when that vote might occur and/or whether the Senate will wait for the House to act. The House remains a tougher lift, where a left-right coalition will make getting a majority very challenging.

I’ll have plenty of coverage and analysis starting in the morning. For now, I’m calling it a night and opening the floor for some discussion.

Update: To clarify something important, Boehner’s presentation gives the impression that new revenue is impossible under the bipartisan congressional commission. That’s false; new revenue is possible and will be a key goal of Democratic members. Whether the revenue is likely or not is a separate question, but for those who saw that and were concerned, Boehner’s claim is just factually wrong.

Second Update: The White House has released a relatively detailed fact sheet on the debt-reduction framework, intended, at least in part, to reassure progressive critics of the plan.

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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  • g. powell on July 31, 2011 9:27 PM:

    Fantastic, Mr. Obama. You will put your name on an agreement that will condemn this country to at least 15 years of sub-par growth and high unemployment.

    Well done sir. May I suggest that you rest on your laurels and sit the next four years out?

  • Anonymous on July 31, 2011 9:29 PM:

    This deal is awful.....It shreds the safety net and will not create jobs. With high unemployment maintained by this revolting "compromise" the Republicans and their tools will blame Obama and he will lose anyway. I can only hope that the Tea Party jerks will not vote for this piece of xxxxx and then Obama will be forces to grow a spine and invoke the 14th Amendment.

  • TT on July 31, 2011 9:30 PM:

    This is a genuinely terrible moment for our country. Just terrible. Apparently there is no price whatsoever to be paid for terrorism, extortion, and upending our Constitutional order.

    Obama's egotism is matched only by his cowardice. He has nobody to blame for this fiasco except himself. The GOP of 2011 is what it is; you might as well rage at the sun for rising in the east. But to have a Democratic president willingly create and enter into a hostage negotiation with them over a routine accounting function of government, and then willingly fork over the legacy of his own party as a ransom is simply grotesque.

    Bad things will come of this. The GOP smells blood. They will be back for more.

  • Ashamed of being a Kansasn on July 31, 2011 9:38 PM:

    Sold out!!!!!!! Most people want higher taxes on the rich. Most people want to save our social safety net, and PUT PEOPLE BACK TO WORK. This abomination does none of that. "Yes We Can" HA!!!!!!!. " "No We Can't"

  • Mimikatz on July 31, 2011 9:40 PM:

    This isn't the worst deal that has been floated. The initial cuts are ones that the Admin wanted to make. The trigger mechanism isn't as bad, in fact the defense cuts are a plus for Dems. Nothing is undoable. The real fights are postponed to 2013, and if petulant Dems refuse to support Obama and the Dems, we will see irrevocable cuts enacted by the victorious GOPsters will be far worse, especiallynfornthe really poor, than what is in this deal.

  • Smurf on July 31, 2011 9:41 PM:

    IT, you are so right.

  • withay on July 31, 2011 9:42 PM:

    The ONLY good thing is how well Steve Benen has kept us all informed. It has been way too painful to look at any MSM news, especially since there are not too many trustworthy sources there anymore. Thank you, Steve, for being so dedicated.

  • Bobfr on July 31, 2011 9:43 PM:

    I suspect a very large number of House Dems are going to vote no. At least 100 Rs will vote no.

    President Obama has been masterful, as always, in his efforts to govern democratically.

    However, the reality of the situation, as you and anyone paying attention knows, is that the Radical Republican Party has intentionally extorted by holding not just the American economy but America’s stature as their hostage. That is a precedent that must be squashed.

    What has also been obvious to anyone paying attention is that the Radical Republican Party is constantly overreaching. The President certainly knows it because he’s been dealing with these terrorists daily. My sense is that they will overreach one more time and Boehner has no way of containing the situation.

    Speaker Pelosi and the House Democratic Leadership are intentionally forcing Boehner to show his hand. No House Democratic member has any reason to vote yes if substantial numbers of Republicans vote No.

    That’s the scenario I consider most likely. The bill will fail in the House. The extortionists will be fully exposed. The President will enforce the Constitution. The extortionists will be crushed in 2012.

    Yes.We.Can. … DO.More.Together!

  • Athena on July 31, 2011 9:43 PM:

    We are screwed.

    captch: possible lationi. Yes, we are possibly turning into a latin nation, i.e. banana republic

  • sapient on July 31, 2011 9:45 PM:

    Mimikatz, you're absolutely right. I think that Obama-hating trolls are out in force. This deal is not that bad. If people don't like bad policies, they can't let t-partiers control the house in the next election.

    The Bush tax cuts will still expire, and if this thing passes, the country will be saved in the meantime. Tick tock.

  • low-tech cyclist on July 31, 2011 9:45 PM:

    This is the deal the GOP has worked hard for. Make 'em own it, I say.

    I'd like to see not a single House Dem vote for this; if Boehner can't get his own caucus to vote for this, then no deal. In the Senate, free up Ben Nelson and Joe Loserman to vote for it, and let another three Dems vote 'present' so it can pass 49-48 with 47 GOP votes, one DINO vote, and one worthless scum vote.

    Then if it passes anyway, and if Obama can let it become law without his signature, he should do that. (Can't remember when a President's failure to sign means it becomes law, and when it has the same effect as a veto - and too lazy to look it up.)

    And if the House GOP won't support this bill, then it's time for Obama to order the minting of a $1 trillion platinum coin, or something equally audacious. (Still waiting for the promised audacity, dammit.)

  • AKS on July 31, 2011 9:49 PM:

    I read Boehner's PDF summary and saw this:

    "Requires baseline to be current law, effectively
    making it impossible for Joint Committee to
    increase taxes"

    What exactly does this mean? Is it correct --- taxes will be impossible to raise by the committee?

  • justmy2 on July 31, 2011 9:50 PM:

    That would be the same default Boehner has been willing to pursue for the last several months.


    Is this snark? He has repeatedly said "no default" Over and Over and Over and Over...

    and yet Democrats with the support of their consultants decided to go after a grand bargain and look like the adult in the room because they were afraid to call the bluff...

    the jig is up...stopping carrying water for Democratic Spelunking...they get the gold medal..

  • Old Uncle Dave on July 31, 2011 9:51 PM:

    Now that it's been proven that tax cuts do not create jobs, the Democratic members of both houses need to resolve to let the Bush tax cuts expire next year. I want to hear Pelosi and Reid say "The Bush tax cuts for the rich did NOT create jobs, so extending them is off the table. Non-negotiable. DOA. EOD."

  • TR on July 31, 2011 9:51 PM:

    Could the critics here explain what Obama should have done? Because I'm not seeing the easy way out that you all seem to believe lay there for the taking.

    The end result of all this is going to be cuts made only to the military and the go-betweens in Medicare, but nothing to SS, Medicaid or real benefits for Medicare, and that should be fine for liberals. And the other end point is the on-time end of the tax cuts for millionaires, which should be wonderful news for liberals.

    Show me a better plan that passes both houses of Congress. Go ahead.

  • godot on July 31, 2011 9:51 PM:

    I'm sort of a center-left person. I've stuck by this guy throughout. There is only one answer to this. Primary challenge.

  • TCinLA on July 31, 2011 9:52 PM:

    As Churchill put it on October 5, 1938, speaking of the Munich Agreement (and this is Obama's "Munich Agreement"):

    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.

    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.

    If anyone thinks I am wrong, wait till next month. The budget bill the House is sending forth de-funds enforcement of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency - and that's just for starters.

  • Brian R. on July 31, 2011 9:53 PM:

    If people don't like bad policies, they can't let t-partiers control the house in the next election.

    This. A thousand times this.

    If you're bitching about how Obama sold you out, let me ask you first -- did you work for a progressive House or Senate candidate in the last election? Did you volunteer? Did you call? Did you canvass?

    No? Then kindly shut the fuck up.

  • justmy2 on July 31, 2011 9:54 PM:

    What exactly does this mean? Is it correct --- taxes will be impossible to raise by the committee?
    It means you have just witnessed the world record for caving...never before has a party with 3/5 of one branch of government rolled the other party so spectacularly.

    You have witnessed history.

  • AKS on July 31, 2011 9:54 PM:

    One other thing, if somehow this doesn't pass and we end up passing Aug 2 without a deal (and thus effectively default) I say Obama and the dems scuttle this deal and become more hardline in their demands. After all, the major damage will already have been done and the republicans will no longer have leverage on their side. Obama and the dems could then bargain for a much better deal.

  • Marc on July 31, 2011 9:56 PM:

    "There is only one answer to this. Primary challenge."

    Right, because that worked out so well for us every single time we've tried it. RFK took on the heir apparent to LBJ in 1968, and we got Nixon in a squeaker. Ted Kennedy took on Carter in 1980 and we got Reagan. Nader stomped his feet in 2000 and we got Dubya.

    Unless the end result you're seeking is "President Bachmann," a primary challenge is not the answer.

  • sue on July 31, 2011 9:57 PM:

    Mimikatz is right. Nancy Smash got SS totally off the table, and Medicare limited to 3%. Defense is on the table. Boehner had a much better deal a few weeks ago. And now he has to eat this one or take the blame.

  • c4Logic on July 31, 2011 10:02 PM:

    This was the day that Democracy died--replaced by the leverage of Criminal Fiat. No different from Constantine ordering his soldiers to convert the people at swordpoint, and if they resist, kill the mothers where they stand and the babies in their cradles. This is Fascism, pure and simple. History will remember this day as the Day Republicans began to sell us into slavery and harvest our organs, or render our proteins for animal feed. May God Damn them to Hell.

  • Bobfr on July 31, 2011 10:04 PM:

    Sue - "Boehner had a much better deal a few weeks ago. And now he has to eat this one or take the blame."


    And, the only way he's not going to be forced to eat it is, because as I predict above, he is going to have way more than 100 Rs refuse to vote yes. And, for that reason, no House D should vote yes.

    Then, we get to the end game, which is either a 14th Amendment remedy or the Senate and House pass a 'clean bill' with alacrity. Because they all know they cannot allow the US to default.

    This one is far from over - irrespective of what the Asian markets think.

    Yes.We.Can. ... DO.More.Together!

  • Stephen LaBonne on July 31, 2011 10:08 PM:

    Let Boehner get his caucus to step up and pass this pile of crap- if he can. There should not be one solitary Democratic vote in favor in the House.

  • danimal on July 31, 2011 10:11 PM:

    I suspect this bill will squeak by in the Senate....and get crushed in the House (with an abundance of Republican Nos and quite a few Dem nos as well). Then an international panic will ensue as Wall Street finally figures out that we are governed by crazed nihilists.

    Then, and only then, we'll see a much scaled-back deal sail through both houses.

  • Cha on July 31, 2011 10:17 PM:

    Oh yeah, whine whine it's all President Obama's fault whine whine and whine some more. It's those who sat home and didn't vote in the 2010 midterms who are at fault and really don't even have a whining voice now.

  • sue on July 31, 2011 10:17 PM:

    "14th Amendment remedy"

    The problem with this is not the constitutional fight that would surely ensue. I think that could be won, but it would take time.

    The problem would come from skepticism of the legitimacy in the global markets. If there is a cloud over a new bond issue, buyers could (and probably would) shy away. It would be like buying a car without a title. That means we don't get the cash infusion needed to pay the bills, and so we would be back at Square One.

    The other thing remarkable about this deal is that while it does not raise any new revenue, it also does not take the Bush tax cuts off the table. They expire on December 31, 2012, PRIOR to a new congress and/or POTUS being sworn in.

    If liberals want to live to fight another day, we need to take the House back and preserve at least a one seat majority in the Senate. Keeping a Dem POTUS would be great as well, but we need the congress at a minimum.

  • Sean Scallon on July 31, 2011 10:26 PM:

    "where a left-right coalition will make getting a majority very challenging."

    If that happens it will be a new day in U.S. politics and about time.

  • Chris on July 31, 2011 10:27 PM:

    Just a quick comment to, once again, thank the blogosphere's smartest, hardest working, most prolific, and most informative political blogger for doing his thing over the course of this weekend.

    If we could recruit more folks to read this blog, then the world would be a better place.

    Steve Benen (aka: Carpetbagger) rules!

  • Memekiller on July 31, 2011 10:27 PM:

    The big question, for me, through this whole thing is whether this was the GOP holding Obama hostage, or the GOP and Obama holding the public hostage.

    There's a lot out there to suggest Obama was using this as much as Republicans to force changes to entitlements he could not have gotten without threat of default - particularly Medicare. Why, I don't know.

  • sue on July 31, 2011 10:27 PM:

    I suspect this bill will squeak by in the Senate

    I think it will get a healthy push out of the Senate. Mitch McConnell will make sure of it because he does not want the shit on his shoes.

    It's going to come down to Boehner. Pelosi will help if she has to, and you can see her fine hand in getting SS off the table and Medicare cuts limited to 3%.

  • me on July 31, 2011 10:28 PM:

    it seems to me that the dems can now use the expiration of the bush tax cuts to their advantage on the committee looking at possible tax expenditures. if the dems use the expiration of income, capital gains and estate tax rates as a hostage, they can extract some decent concessions to make the income system more progressive. and if the gop balks, the rates restore to 2000 levels. off the bat, i don't see a downside, especially if the negotiations are taking place in the fall of 2012.

  • russ on July 31, 2011 10:30 PM:

    Dear Marc - I seem to recall that even before Bobby Kennedy got into the 1968 race, that there was a challenge from Eugene McCarthy. It was a matter of principle of trying to stop a seemingly unending war in Vietnam, and as I recall McCarthy did well in New Hampshire - well enough to cause LBJ to not seek reelection.

    To blame the 1968 election outcome on Robert Kennedy seems mighty odd to me. I recall something about an assassination putting a possible damper on Bobby Kennedy's campaign.

    Under Carter, I recall that many of that Administration's cabinet members were involved with the Trilateral Commission, who believed that one of the serious problems this country faced was an "excess of democracy".

    A big mistake for the left to challenge that in your opinion? Oh well, there's always the Carter Doctrine to use military force to keep the oil flowing from the Middle East.

    How has that been working out lately, say in Iraq?

    As for Nader, well the guy was about 10 years ahead of his time. With the DLC, and all the Blue Dog Dems, the Dems sure have been kicking that corporate money and influence away with both feet, haven't they?

    Or maybe not.

    But actually, you're right. A primary challenge is not the answer.

    A move to a third party that tries to move beyond corporate puppet strings, and actually puts living, breathing people ahead of corporate "persons" is the answer.

  • peej01 on July 31, 2011 10:31 PM:

    From the pdf that was referenced in the update, it seems as if this is the best deal we are going to get under the extortionate circumstances that we've been saddled with. The Repukes should have taken some of the previous deals they were offered. It'll be interesting to see whether or not this passes in the House. If it does, the next big brouhaha will be the budget fight in a few months.

  • Memekiller on July 31, 2011 10:32 PM:

    The deal is almost irrelevant to me. I don't see any deal arrived at through extortion as legitimate. We never should have engaged in this process, and held an up or down vote on raising the ceiling when they were set five minutes short of default.

    Obama told us every progressive would want to pass this to take the issue off the table so we can move on to jobs and stimulus. If we don't, then I guess we got royally screwed.

  • Brenna on July 31, 2011 10:35 PM:

    As we've seen in Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, etc., the republicans have really gone off the rails. I don't hold Obama completely responsible. I think he did the best he could under extreme circumstances. Let's face it, he couldn't let the country or world default.

    We need to vote republicans out of office in 2012. We know their game plan: destroying the middle class and poor; they have to be stopped.

    I'm glad you clarified the tax issue that Boehner lied about. That concerned me.

    Thanks for the great coverage, Steve. Get some rest!

  • Marc on July 31, 2011 10:37 PM:

    Dear Marc - I seem to recall that even before Bobby Kennedy got into the 1968 race, that there was a challenge from Eugene McCarthy. It was a matter of principle of trying to stop a seemingly unending war in Vietnam

    And how did that war work out under President Nixon? Did he wind it down quickly? Or did he expand it into Laos and Cambodia?

    Nice job, primary challengers! You wanted to end the war and you helped escalate it.

    Under Carter, I recall that many of that Administration's cabinet members were involved with the Trilateral Commission, who believed that one of the serious problems this country faced was an "excess of democracy".

    The Trilateral Commission? Jesus Christ, seriously? OK, I was going to try and talk with you, but you are clearly batshit fucking insane.

    Take your meds or KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES!

  • sjw on July 31, 2011 10:38 PM:

    For a long time I have been critical of Obama's wimpiness and reluctance to lead. Indeed, I would say that these faults, along with a kumbaya naivete about the Republicans, have contributed significantly to the predicament in which the country found itself these last couple of months with respect to the debt ceiling as well as the lousy position of the Democrats in negotiations these past couple of weeks. The success of the Tea Party itself in the midterms owes something to Obama's numerous mistakes and flaws. Obama is, to put it bluntly, a piss-poor negotiator and a weak leader. With all of that said, this deal is pretty neutral and benign. Could it have been better? Quite probably. But it could have been worse; it could have been genuinely bad -- and it isn't.

  • neil b on July 31, 2011 10:39 PM:

    Lot's of people are tempted to be real hard on Obama, but let's not. The deal he got wasn't really awful AFAICT, when all the constraints are taken into account. Please remember, this had to *pass.* Considering what we and the national interest are up against, it was tolerable enough or so it looks and so I hope.

    One thing needs more attention: we keep hearing about how Republicans are holding the nation hostage, etc - and they are in this and many ways. But those rating agencies, they are suspicious and need scrutiny. They have been griping not just about whether we could get a debt extension deal at all, which is understandable, but whether the amount of cuts were as much as *they* wanted. Yes, they have been inserting themselves into what should be Congress' and the President's job to decide. Yes, these same agencies many of which behaved dishonestly during the big crash, and whose interests align with the plutocracy.

    For example, from a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/07/31/live-blog-the-u-s-debt-battle-2/">WSJ Blogs we see this:

    * 9:28 pm
    * New York: Questions For Ratings Agencies
    * by Michael Casey
    * Add a Comment

    With a deal all but done in the U.S. Congress to increase the Federal Government’s debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion over the next year-and-a-half, and to cut the deficit by the same amount over 10 years, attention now turns to three main ratings agencies. Even as it avoids a default, the U.S. could still lose its coveted “AAA” rating if the agencies--Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch--decide that the plan doesn’t go far enough to alleviate the long-term fiscal challenges that the government faces.

    Given the politics involved, the agencies may well withhold judgment on their ratings until after Thanksgiving, for example, to view the recommendations of a special bipartisan committee that the will be set up under the new agreement. But until now, all three have been quite outspoken about the process and have not been shy of sharing their opinions on how the U.S. government is handling this debt problem.

    I don't like the sound of that, do you? Maybe someone needs to reassess whether these agencies can be trusted, look into them, etc.

  • neil b on July 31, 2011 10:47 PM:

    Oh, complainers have points of course about this or that not being so great, but just remember: if everyone non-Republican had gotten out and voted in 2010, we could have kept the Rs out of House majority. This would all have been much easier, the deal would have been better. If you stayed home, this is *your* fault, not that of the "Obots" or whatever you're always complaining about.

    Captcha had "ho'ohaha" FWIW.

  • LRM on July 31, 2011 10:54 PM:

    neil b: Lot's of people are tempted to be real hard on Obama, but let's not. The deal he got wasn't really awful AFAICT, when all the constraints are taken into account. Please remember, this had to *pass.* Considering what we and the national interest are up against, it was tolerable enough or so it looks and so I hope.

    Exactly. I'm truly pissed, but my no. 1 objective is to get the extortionists out of power. If we sit home and get a Republican President AND if they control congress? We'll truly get what we deserve then.

  • russ on July 31, 2011 10:57 PM:

    Dear Marc - The Trilateral Commission? Oh heck, don't take my word for it.

    Try Noam Chomsky's instead.


    excerpt -

    "...Perhaps the most striking feature of the new Administration is the role played in it by the Trilateral Commission. The mass media had little to say about this matter during the Presidential campaign -- in fact, the connection of the Carter group to the Commission was recently selected as "the best censored news story of 1976" -- and it has not received the attention that it might have since the Administration took office. All of the top positions in the government -- the office of President, Vice-President, Secretary of State, Defense and Treasury -- are held by members of the Trilateral Commission, and the National Security Advisor was its director. Many lesser officials also came from this group. It is rare for such an easily identified private group to play such a prominent role in an American Administration..."

    "...Huntington, in a paper delivered before the AID-supported Council on Vietnamese Studies which he had headed, proposed various measures of political trickery and manipulation that might be used to achieve the domination of the U.S.-imposed government, though the discussants felt rather pessimistic about the prospects....

    In short, Huntington is well-qualified to discourse on the problems of democracy.

    The report argues that what is needed in the industrial democracies "is a greater degree of moderation in democracy" to overcome the "excess of democracy" of the past decade. "The effective operation of a democratic political system usually requires some measure of apathy and noninvolvement on the part of some individuals and groups." This recommendation recalls the analysis of Third World problems put forth by other political thinkers of the same persuasion, for example, Ithiel Pool (then chairman of the Department of Political Science at MIT), who explained some years ago that in Vietnam, the Congo, and the Dominican Republic, "order depends on somehow compelling newly mobilized strata to return to a measure of passivity and defeatism... At least temporarily the maintenance of order requires a lowering of newly acquired aspirations and levels of political activity." The Trilateral recommendations for the capitalist democracies are an application at home of the theories of "order" developed for subject societies of the Third World..."

    Bat shit insane, huh? Actually, I like it.

    Especially when I have the facts.

  • Werewolf on July 31, 2011 11:01 PM:

    @neil b:
    If everyone had voted in 2010, there would have been a Democratic majority in the House and there would have been NO deal. This wouldn't have been an issue at all. Thanks very f-ing much to everyone who A) didn't think midterms were important, B) thought that the Republicans weren't crazy radicals, or C) were pissed off because President Obama didn't clean up all of W's mess (and Reagan's and Poppy Bush's) in less than 2 years. Now, let's work on getting as many Democrats as possible into Congress in 2012, re-elect the President, and take our country back!

  • tonyroma on July 31, 2011 11:02 PM:

    In the immortal words of Pogo, "We have met the enemy... and he is us."

    Current House Republicans received a total of 30,799,391 votes in the 2010 midterm election. Barack Obama received more than twice that many, 69,498,215, in the 2008 presidential.

    The falloff between 2008 and 2010 was only slightly worse than usual. However in 2010, the people who turned out most intensely were Obama's right-wing opposition. Many of the young and working class voters who came out to cast ballots for Obama in 2008 didn't see any reason to vote in the 2010 mid-term. So Republicans are behaving as if they have a radical mandate that far outstrips the actual support for their tactics and policies.

  • cwolf on July 31, 2011 11:03 PM:

    When they pulled this austerity crap in the '30s,
    didn't that usher in the "Golden Age of Bank Robbing?"

  • J. Martinez on July 31, 2011 11:05 PM:

    Thanks Steve. I feel as though you've been holding my hand all of this long dreadful day.Not only are you wise, you always cut to the chase with wonderful clear insight.

    How very sad. I feel as though we're watching the death throes of Democracy in America, the last thrashing about of a system which no longer works.

  • Bobfr on July 31, 2011 11:08 PM:

    The following is a letter I just sent to Leader Reid and Leader Pelosi and then forwarded a copy to our dear President and Vice President:

    Dear Leader Reid and Leader Pelosi,

    At this point you and the President have done everything you possibly can given the Radical Republicans extortion tactics.

    Please realize that millions of Americans are grateful.

    Now, however, is the time to place the glaring light of accountability on the Radical Republicans.

    Please request that the members of your respective Senate and House Democratic Caucus hold their vote until every Republican is on record with their vote. If the majority of Republicans in the Senate and House, respectively, do not support the legislation then please urge every member of your respective Caucus to vote NO.

    If the Radical Republicans are not willing to overwhelmingly support the legislation they extorted then NO Democratic member of the House or Senate should support that legislation.

    President Obama, duty sworn to protect and serve the Constitution, can act decisively through the Section 4 of the 14th Amendment and, even more importantly by his enforcing 31 USC 3103, to avoid default and protect the credibility of the USA.

    But, under no circumstance, should the extortionists be allowed to prevail. If they are unwilling to overwhelmingly support the legislation their irresponsible actions forced to a vote, then no one should provide them any support.

    Thank you,

    Yes.We.Can. ... DO.More.Together!

  • Perspecticus on July 31, 2011 11:11 PM:

    "That’s false; new revenue is possible and will be a key goal of Democratic members. Whether the revenue is likely or not is a separate question, but for those who saw that and were concerned, Boehner’s claim is just factually wrong."

    As a newly, fully committed disillusioned defeatist, speaking from a perspective of having, I think, seen quite enough evIdence in which to formulate an educated and informed opinion, I have to say, "bullshit". Factually correct or not, I can see no instance I which new revenues are possibly possible as things exist today, or at any time in to the future, until we have completely bottomed out. I will vote and I will likely vote for Obama. However, I can certainly see him losing the next election and I have little difficulty imagining a period of time in which the extreme right wing has taken complete control of our government and turned us from a superpower into a third world oligarchy armed to the teeth with enough weaponry to end this world 17-times over.

  • cwolf on July 31, 2011 11:16 PM:

    A white House Fact Sheet. Huh?
    I read it. Can't tell yet if it's slick or just slimy.

    The White House has released a relatively detailed fact sheet on the debt-reduction framework, intended, at least in part, to reassure progressive critics of the plan.

    Either way,,, If the Tea-jeehadeez see that, Boner won't be able to get 40 of his reds to go with the plan.

  • SYSPROG on July 31, 2011 11:20 PM:

    Whoa...revenues will go UP if we do nothing. The Bush tax cuts will expire and whether or not Obama is re-elected he will still be President at that time. So buck up and vote Democrat! They have won the skirmish but not the war. No matter WHAT the 'leaders' have done with this deal the country is not with either party. They will be happy the hostage situation is over, they will be educated over the next many months and they will VOTE in the next election. The GOP will only take over if the defeatists among us think it's better to stay home than vote for the person closest to their hopes and dreams. This is not the worse that this country has ever seen and we will NOT let them prevail.

  • Oldskool on July 31, 2011 11:26 PM:

    At least it wasn't as ugly or as drawn out as the health care bill. And it'll be old news in a month. The lesson is what happens when people don't vote in off years, and worse, what happens when "independents" switch their vovtes back and forth between a political party and a squadron of kamikazes.

  • cwolf on July 31, 2011 11:26 PM:

    Gee, If this deal passes congress
    Maybe Obama could sign it at Appomattox,
    He can keep his Constitutional Law Degree (but not his scrot) and,,,
    with luck, President Norquist won't drown anyone.

  • Patrick O'Grady on July 31, 2011 11:27 PM:

    Just for laughs, I searched the White House fact sheet for the word "job." The word appears once, under the URL www.thewhitehouse.gov, "Apply for a Job." No, thanks.

    Thanks to Steve for keeping us up to the minute on this. It's been heavy lifting, for sure, and there is more to be done.

  • Marc on July 31, 2011 11:28 PM:

    Try Noam Chomsky's instead.

    Oh, Christ. I love how you think that *improved* my opinion of you.

  • cwolf on July 31, 2011 11:28 PM:

    Gee, If this deal passes congress
    Maybe Obama could sign it at Appomattox,
    He can keep his Constitutional Law Degree (but not his scrot) and,,,
    with luck, President Norquist won't drown anyone.

  • FDRLincoln on July 31, 2011 11:38 PM:

    It all depends on what "programs for low-income families" means. I have to reserve judgment until I know what that means.

    This is not a great deal or even a good one. But it isn't as bad as some that are being floated.

    If I were dictator, I'd be jacking up taxes on the rich and funneling that money into infrastructure, education, and aid to the states. But I'm not dictator, and I've had to come to terms with the fact that most Americans, including the President, are not as far to the left as I am.

  • Josef K on July 31, 2011 11:39 PM:

    From cwolf @11:03PM:

    When they pulled this austerity crap in the '30s,
    didn't that usher in the "Golden Age of Bank Robbing?"

    A fair point, although these days 'bank robbery' is better accomplished via EFTs (electronic fund transfers) and mass identity theft.

    If there's any justice in the world, "John Andrew Boehner" and "Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr." will both be implicated in such shinnanigans in the near future.

  • FDRLincoln on July 31, 2011 11:42 PM:

    The fact of the matter: we have to do everything we can to defeat these tea party bastards in 2012, retake the House, and get Obama re-elected. I know a lot of people are disappointed in him, and he's more conservative than I am, but I'm really getting sick of people who think sitting on the sidelines (2010), voting Green (2000) or launching a primary challenge (1980) is going to help.

  • Danny on July 31, 2011 11:44 PM:

    I've argued before on this commentary section that we would ultimately prevail in these negotiations. Seeing the final result - what is known at this time - I have to concede that I honestly can't say we did, and as such this is a failure for congressional dems and the President.

    Having said that, I think the emo-proggers are way out of line, as usual. This is a setback, but it's no capitulation in the larger war.

    We have -90 Billion discretionary spending/year (2010 discretionary spending was $1.378 trillion). That's "balanced between defense and non-defense"; breakdown unclear atm. Key here for me is that those cuts are not front-loaded; that there are fewer cuts now, and more later - consistent with Keynesian policy.

    Then we have the committee. I'm not very satisfied with the trigger incentive which is supposed to represent fair breakdown of incentives for republicans and democrats to act in a bipartisan manner. I'm simply not convinced that republicans are as disinclined to allow 600B$ in additional defense cuts as we are to allow 600B$ in additional domestic discretionary spending cuts.

    I think that if in the end this works out to ~1 trillion in domestic discretionary spending cuts and ~1 trillion in defense cuts over 10 years thats gonna be not very good (though not catastrophic).

    I'll withhold final judgement until we see if the committee reach a deal that brings in some revenue and perhaps makes commonsense adjustments to entitlements.

    In summary: a bit of a stinker but not the end of the world.

    There's a silver lining though, if mainly a political one that may pay dividends in the future: the view of the Teaparty, congressional republicans and the Norquists tax pledge as unreasonable is now firmly established in the public discourse. I'd assume that that strengthens our hand to hold the line in the next showdown which is the next budget. But I'll expect the President and congressional dems to use it and do a better job with the end result then.

    Third party, though.... Not a chance. Are you crazy?

  • schmog on July 31, 2011 11:47 PM:

    Did you notice that the president proposed extending the payroll tax holiday but it didn't make it into the deal? So let me get this straight - no new taxes, except those hitting the middle class directly. Nice work.

  • Joe Friday on July 31, 2011 11:49 PM:

    Looks like Speaker Blubber will have to try and whip votes in the entire House on his own.

    Minority Leader Pelosi:

    "We all may not be able to support it, and maybe none of us will be able to support it."

  • N.Wells on July 31, 2011 11:52 PM:

    The problem in 2010 was not ordinarily involved dems staying home (because most of them did drag themselves to the polls and vote), as much as ordinarily motivated dems spending their time bitching and moaning instead. A lot of people don't really pay attention to politics and instead take their clues from trusted friends, co-workers, and family members who they consider to be knowledgeable and trustworthy about politics, so if one side is enthusiastic and confident, and the other side is whining & moping, guess which side looks more attractive. We lost the multiplier effect, and those are the people that didn't show up to vote.

    When you get a small fraction of a loaf (which is what usually happens in American politics, even when you win*), cheer for the achievement and start talking up the next round of improvements. That's a positive way to shift the Overton window your way, if you don't want to do the whole Republican / dark side route. In American politics the most powerful wins are usually bandwagons that everyone wants to be part of*, and it's pretty difficult to get one of those started when the people already on board aren't projecting confidence and fervor.

    (*yes, current R's are an exception, and **yes, Bush built a powerful win out of a win that was anything but a bandwagon.)

  • Ron Byers on July 31, 2011 11:57 PM:

    Listening to Emanual Cleaver, the head of the black caucus, the Republicans should be parting in the streets tonight. They got every thing they wanted. The Democrats got shit. I guess that tells me all I need to know about Barack Obama. He is spineless.

    Is there some way to primary his ass. Maybe we can talk Hillary into running. At least she has balls.

  • alki on July 31, 2011 11:59 PM:

    @ Bobfr......I agree with you. Rs are complaining just as loudly as the Dems. However, the Rs don't think default is all that bad so I suspect they won't vote for the bill......and then Obama will have to step in and fall back on the 14th amendment. When that happens, there will be a howl from the Rs that will be heard round the world. It should be fun.

  • Sean Scallon on August 01, 2011 12:04 AM:

    "Maybe we can talk Hillary into running."

    Hilary Clinton would have signed on to freakin' deal. Did you all forget who her husband is? How many Clintonite centrist "deals" did you bitch about in the 1990s.

    Did it occur to anyone around here the reason Obama is probably leans to the center than originally thought was the fact so many Clintonites took position in the government? Did ever it occur to anyone around here the long, drawn out primary battle between Clinton and Obama had real implications for how the Obama Administration has played itself out so far?

  • Ron Byers on August 01, 2011 12:11 AM:

    Something to keep in mind. When the Romans first encountered Attila the Hun they paid him a ransom. He figured threatening Rome was a great way to make a living. Well Romans, what the hell have we just done. Think the Republicans aren't as smart as Attila the Hun?
    To paraphrase a Republican "they will be back."

  • exlibra on August 01, 2011 12:32 AM:

    I don't have much to say except: I hate -- with a black, burning, choking hatred -- those poisonous Republican toadstools. Both the ones in Congress and the ones who put them there. And, if I ever get a chance to play dirty by them, I will.

    "rsecomp not" Compromise? My arse!

  • samsa on August 01, 2011 12:33 AM:

    Perhaps Obama has been stung by Zeno. So mindful of Zeno's travails, he first goes 1/2 way even before the negotiations start, then he goes another 2/2 way, and then another 3/2 way and so on, till the New Deal has been completely dismantled, and Republicans are going whoa! is he really that stupid?

  • Memekiller on August 01, 2011 1:16 AM:

    I'm sure we'll do much better during the government shutdown.

  • zeitgeist on August 01, 2011 1:45 AM:

    near as i can tell, months of being threatened with having both legs gnawed off by rabid animals has resulted in half of the commenters here being grateful that in the end only one leg was gnawed off by rabid animals.

    um, newsflash: you still got one leg gnawed off by rabid animals. this is not a win.

  • Schtick on August 01, 2011 2:06 AM:

    I would so like to move out of this country. This is not the USA I grew up in and it makes me sick to see what these supposedly educated jerks with no common sense have done to this country and are continuing to do. What a freaking zoo.

    crapchat....mintsn logarithms....I don't care anymore.

  • samsa on August 01, 2011 2:25 AM:

    Mr. Bennen would have saved a lot of time by writing the short but descriptive online post:

    Boehner wins. Obama caves. Again.

  • bardgal on August 01, 2011 2:56 AM:

    It's remarkable how many time-traveling whiners that read this blog.

    Nothing has passed. ZERO votes have been cast at this point. My frakkinggods - how about wait and see if ANYTHING happens? But that's not fun is it?

    Whining to emoprogs is meat and drink. It's their breath of life. If Obama walked on water, you'd say he was lazy for not swimming.

    STFU until something actually HAPPENS. The Bush Tax Cuts will expire with or without this bill currently coming to a vote, and that is still EPIC WIN. Unless, of course, the PL get their dream of President Bachmann - so they can really ratchet up their volume.

    My money is still on a clean bill. If this passes I'll be shocked. The Teaspoons still have time to figure out Bonehead is lying about the revenues, and I don't see them going with anything like a Super Committee that takes any desicion making out of their greedy ignorant hands.

    captcha - aincerida ΩBG - seriously it a Ω symbol. Thankfully, I'm on a Mac.

  • CaliCat on August 01, 2011 2:58 AM:

    samsa - what did you want Mr. Obama to do?

    I know, invoke the 14th Amendment. Hahaha. You'd love to see him impeached wouldn't you? Didn't happen so the joke's on you. I hope you enjoy watching the president's poll numbers go up and up beginning tomorrow.

    Sweet dreams!

  • Hannah on August 01, 2011 3:45 AM:

    I guess I'm resigned to whatever comes from this, but I'd love to see a clean bill passed rather than see the domestic terrorists get their way. What about the 14th amendment... or those $1T coins?

    What strikes me from reading the WH summary: twice it mentions student loans. Great, I'm all for kids attending college, but what happens when they get out? NO JOBS. Or stupid jobs if they can find one. I have two kids in that situation.

    Would love to hear the Dems plaster the airwaves to complain about this Repub-manufactured crisis and how the Rs have gone against public opinion to get their way. Pelosi has more balls than any of the men in either the WH or Congress.

    Well, I guess I should get some sleep since I have to work in the morning. Honest work, for a non-profit, for which I'm underpaid, I might add. But I don't mind the low pay, and do you know why? The people who are part of that non-profit are generous to those in need and tolerant and accepting of everyone. Even Republicans.

  • bob h on August 01, 2011 6:13 AM:

    Boehner presumably is relying on Democrats' greater sense of public responsibility to pass this thing in the House.
    But Pelosi ought to insist that the majority of votes for it be from Republicans, since it is their bill.

  • Danny Gail McElrath on August 01, 2011 6:16 AM:

    Trying to hope the House Dems will stand against this. Obama has secured his place in history for sure but not the one he wants. Will be known forever for this betrayal.

  • Live Free or Die on August 01, 2011 6:41 AM:

    I will try to defend Obama. How many people believed last December that the teabaggers were going to strap a nuke on the US economy?

  • SeattleGirl on August 01, 2011 6:54 AM:

    Jeebus please us, but the level of crying, whining, and caterwauling I'm reading here and on other sites is astounding! "It's all Obama's fault! He sold us out! He gave away SS, Medicare and Medicaid! He's a traitor! Whaaaaaaaa!!!"

    So, Obama is the only person in the entire government? Obama is, what, a dictator? A king?

    How about putting a lot of the blame for the things you think are so terrible where they belong: the Republicans, the Teapublicans, and, on Democrats who didn't vote in 2010 to "show Obama." How's that not-votey-thingy workin' out for ya?

  • Josef K on August 01, 2011 7:05 AM:

    From bob h at 6:13am:

    Boehner presumably is relying on Democrats' greater sense of public responsibility to pass this thing in the House.

    But Pelosi ought to insist that the majority of votes for it be from Republicans, since it is their bill.

    What happens if the House GOP doesn't muster a majority, and the Democrats make them own the bill? I suspect that scenario has a 50/50 chance of playing out.

    What then?

  • Goldilocks on August 01, 2011 7:26 AM:

    There are very few voices on this thread that recognize realpolitik. What were the options?

    1) No deal = default.

    2) A rotten deal = no default + opportunities in the future to redress the damage.

    Obama, correctly in my opinion, went to option 2.

    Of course, there's many a slip twixt cup and lip, and it remains to be seen how the House behaves. Seriously, I cannot imagine any better option to what is now on the table.

    Bear in mind, however, that America has been gorging itself on the world's resources for the last century, more or less, to attain a wealth way far beyond what most other peoples enjoy or can ever hope to attain. Just as the wealthy in America should be paying their fair share, so should America be paying its fair share within the global economy.

  • david1234 on August 01, 2011 7:55 AM:

    If the platinum coin option is legal, American can pay its bills without a debt limit increase. The 14h Amendment clearly says the government must pay its bills if it can. (BTW, that is not an option, it is a requirement.) It seems to me refusing to raise the debt limit is actually a demand by Congress to use platinum coins. With the 9% unemployment, low interest and low inflation, this would be better option even if it was possible to get a clean debt limit increase. Thank you Tea Party for making this possible.

  • iiams on August 01, 2011 8:51 AM:

    Republican leadership did act childishly during the debt ceiling weirdness (hardly a debate), making Obama look like the adult by comparison, *but* it turns out he's an unexpectedly bad one. He told the kids "no" (no cuts without revenues), but gave in when they cried and stamped their feet. Now they've been taught that he doesn't mean what he says and that throwing a fit is a winning tactic. All he taught them was to igore his threats in the future. Really the worst kind of parent. Since he doesn't command the kids' respect, and he let's them hurt the other kids (the juvenile American public), I don't want him to lead the next four-year play date.

    I was a strong supporter during the last election cycle (my mom was even on the front page of the Des Moines register giving him a big hug and whispering her support in his ear). But I'll vote against him in the primary (even if not *for* a challenger), and I'll vote "present" in the general election. Since my large, extended family are Iowans, our votes do, in fact, matter.

  • neil b on August 01, 2011 8:54 AM:

    @Perspecticus - as many noted - correctly? - the tax cuts still are set to expire after 2012 if "we do nothing" so there is room for getting more revenue. That may or may not be true, but I expect complainers to *address* that issue and not just vent in a vacuum.

    "I have little difficulty imagining a period of time in which the extreme right wing has taken complete control of our government and turned us from a superpower into a third world oligarchy" - I can imagine too, if unlike you, many other sulkers don't vote. Folks, the time to "do something" is all before any election, never on election day except in severely radical circumstances.

  • neil b' on August 01, 2011 8:58 AM:

    PS: I keep reminding people like iiams that Obama needed to get something *passed*. All these childish fantasies of playing brinkmanship until literally the last minute, the pretense there was an easy (albeit even if "possible") route by A14, etc, are indeed not what adults know they can accomplish. And iiams, if Obama loses to Bachmann (vote as you wish in a *primary*), then I know that *you* personally are one we can blame for that!