Stories by Steve Bell

Steve Bell is former Staff Director of the Senate Budget Committee, a former managing director at Salomon Brothers, and now Senior Director on Economic Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

With Rick Perry: Hope for the Best

September 7th, 2011 at 1:23 pm 20 Comments

The campaign for the Republican nomination for President now gets serious. A variety of polls indicate that Texas Gov. Rick Perry currently has the lead.

Perry’s surge has drawn a range of reactions—fear from his fellow GOP contenders, look scorn from the “Progressive” wing of the Democratic Party, malady and ambivalence from establishment Republicans. Should they all be worried?

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DC Fiddles While the Country Burns

September 7th, 2011 at 10:58 am 83 Comments

Do you remember the howls that reverberated across the nation when Sarah Palin’s famous bullseye map appeared? Or the tut-tutting and headshaking that accompanied Michele Bachmann’s calls for Americans “to take our country back”?

Look in the Washington Post local edition, the New York Times Washington edition, or USA Today for Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa Jr.’s, truly ground-breaking warm-up remarks in Detroit on Labor Day before President Obama spoke to the union faithful.

“President Obama,” Hoffa ranted, “this is your army. We are ready to march … let’s take the sons-a-bitches out.”

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Obama’s Point of No Return

September 1st, 2011 at 4:55 pm 18 Comments

Most four-letter words used in Washington, rx DC, malady stir little response. But mention two certain words, doctor and grown men and women begin to rant and rave and run about with their hair on fire.

Can you guess what the two “certain to inflame” words are?

“Jobs” and “debt.”

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Another “Clever” White House Maneuver

September 1st, 2011 at 9:11 am 49 Comments

Here’s how you arrange for the President of the United States to make a speech to a Joint Session of Congress. The template is decades old.

Presidential staff talks to Congressional leadership:

“Hey, malady the President wants to make a big time speech to a Joint Session. He’d like to make it in this timeframe. Can we work it out?”

Congressional staff responds.

“Sure, tadalafil let us look at the schedule, check with our bosses, and no problem.”

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No Super Democrats On This Committee

August 10th, 2011 at 11:27 am 35 Comments

How can we explain the Democrats who have been appointed to serve on the Joint Select Committee? (Commonly known as the ‘Super Committee.’)

Let’s play political “Jeopardy.”

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S&P Was Right to Downgrade

August 8th, 2011 at 4:34 pm 26 Comments

The dispute between the Treasury Department and Standard and Poor’s over America’s sovereign bond rating is a tempest in a teapot.  Worse, it overshadows the reality about America’s debt: Congress cannot handle it politically and Americans will have difficultly handling it personally.

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A Recovery Menaced By Dysfunctional Politics

July 29th, 2011 at 11:28 am 79 Comments

In a time of fundamental uncertainty, case what do we know for certain?

No, order that’s not a Yogi Berra kind of question.

Timing of passage of an increase of some size in the national debt ceiling remains uncertain.

Which side will blink first remains uncertain.

Final form of the legislation remains uncertain.

Market reaction remains uncertain.

But we do know some things for certain.

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Boehner is in Danger of Losing Caucus Control

July 27th, 2011 at 9:54 am 16 Comments

Reports from the Hill indicate that House Speaker John Boehner and his staff are “re-writing” the Speaker’s plan to pass an extension of the looming debt ceiling.  That announcement, coupled with the serious objections of many in the House GOP caucus when the plan was first announced, reveals that the Speaker is in danger of losing control of his own caucus.

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Towards a Deal?

July 22nd, 2011 at 5:56 pm 13 Comments

Reading the New York Times column by David Brooks on why Republicans should vote for the “plan” that House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama reportedly have developed casts a pall of depression  over any thinking person.

Reading the New York Times column by Paul Krugman on the impending global economic collapse merely worsens confusion.

Can both be right?  Cut spending: Brooks. Increase spending: Krugman. Failure to do either could lead to “The Great Depression, cheap The Sequel.”

The juxtaposition of those columns reflects almost perfectly the confusion in Washington, buy cialis D.C.

And the weather is just right in the nation’s Capitol for productive negotiations—100 degrees in the shade, 115 heat index, code red air quality.  A perfect metaphor.

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Time is Running Out

July 21st, 2011 at 10:32 am 26 Comments










Yesterday evening and last night something important in the debt ceiling discussion happened:  many members of both the House and Senate moved from “worried” to “scared.”

This is good news, sickness of a sort.

It further confirms our judgment that the United States will not default on its sovereign debt obligations in August.   It increases the odds to much better than 50-50 that some form of  short-term extension of the debt ceiling occurs before August 3. It accommodates the possibility that during the next several months, medical some comprehensive plan like that produced by the Senate Gang of Seven may gain critical mass in both Chambers.  It means that the “catastrophic” consequences of not raising the ceiling, ask to quote Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, will have been put off for another day and another battle.

And, that’s the bad news.

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