Boehner Shows Leadership in Debt Negotiations

July 11th, 2011 at 10:57 am | 120 Comments |

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Let’s have some genuine applause for John  Boehner’s leadership: his acknowledgement that a smaller debt deal makes sense does seem to allow a path to avoid default and, simultaneously, lets the Republican Party make the best of the politically disastrous decision to play with the debt limit.

The decision to bring up the debt issue in the first place was a no-win situation for the GOP. Under the initial plan, Republicans could either get real debt reduction by coming up with a plan that the administration and Senate Democrats want—modest spending cuts and big tax increases—or force default on the debt and thereby cause an even more serious recession. A modest plan that puts aside the “trillions” in cuts that Boehner once promised allows for a “plan C”: a package of spending cuts that can get Democratic votes and a Presidential signature in return for a short-term debt limit increase. Even better, from a rank-and-file point of view, such a plan could let many members stake out a position to the right of their own leadership and get away with it.

The real losers for real leadership may be Boehner and the rest of his leadership team. He’ll have to bring to the floor a package that, most likely, will pass only because Democrats will support it. The Democrats who support it will get kudos from the business community and, given the way such things work in Washington, whatever they want from the White House. (Want a regulation to benefit a big local employer? The President showing up at your next fundraiser? Some tax breaks for your friends? Senate consideration of a pet proposal? Step right up.)  Republicans will have many fewer favors to offer but will still have to twist arms. For every Republican “no” vote that pads his or her majority in a right-leaning “safe” seat and fends off a Tea Party challenge, another member in a less-safe Republican district will be stuck casting a “no right way” vote. Meanwhile, Democrats will get the credit for being the ones who favor a big-time deficit reduction package without actually having to vast a vote in favor of the painful choices it will involve. It seems quite possible that Boehner will face a semi-serious challenge to his leadership at some point: it probably won’t succeed but it could well lead him to decide to cut his career short.

Is this “Plan C” better for the GOP than any alternative currently on the table? Quite possibly.  Does Speaker Boehner prove his leadership bona fides by bringing it up? Yup. Is it a real political winner? Not at all. But, once the debt ceiling debate began, no Republican alternative ever was.

Recent Posts by Eli Lehrer



120 Comments so far ↓

  • Xunzi Washington

    It’s funny, but most folks are saying quite the opposite. See Klein for instance:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/2011/02/24/ABifXwI_page.html

  • Slide

    Does this article make sense to anybody? Anybody?

    Never mind the whole article, how about this sentence, “the real losers for real leadership may be Boehner and the rest of his leadership team.”

    huh?

    Maybe I just need more coffee this morning..

    • ottovbvs

      It’s the Headline which contradicts the substance of the article. I’d actually say in most respects Lehrer’s analysis is not far off the mark. Applauding Boehner’s leadership and indeed the entire Republican grand council for leadership would like applauding Lord Cardigan for leading the charge of the light brigade. “It is magnificent, but it is not war.” Lehrer says it all here:

      lets the Republican Party make the best of the politically disastrous decision to play with the debt limit. Quite simply, the decision to bring up the debt issue in the first place was a no-win situation for the GOP.

      Btw there now seems to be an emerging consensus as I suggested all along that the $4 trillion was a feint by Obama. Amazing how sharp our chattering classes are.

      • Solo4114

        “Into the Valley of Default rode the 242…”

        Yeah, it was foolish to play with fire on this one, and I think it has cost both the GOP and Boehner specifically. The GOP looks awful (if the Dems are smart enough to capitalize on the messaging potential here — which they probably aren’t, if past performance is any indicator) because it appears as the party of greedy rich guys. Boehner looks like he can’t captain his own ship and is merely the GOP spokesman. Or one of them, anyway.

        Is his move leadership, though? I don’t know that I’d say it is. It’s effective assessment of “Ok…now what?” when the bottom drops out of your original plan (which seemed to be actually trying to accomplish the “grand bargain”, else why bother entertaining talks at all), but it still doesn’t look like leadership to me. Quite the opposite, in fact. It looks like backpedaling after having one’s leadership challenged. It may be effective backpedaling that secures the GOP least-bad exit strategy, but I’m not sure I’d call that “leadership” when you allowed things to get that far off the rails in the first place.

        • pnumi2

          ““Into the Valley of Default rode the 242…”

          +1 for writing this + 1 for posting it (why didn’t I think of it?)

  • TerryF98

    Holding a gun to the county’s head is never a good idea, and the realization that the GOP has done that to protect the super rich has resonated with the non crazy part of the country.

  • dante

    Don’t look to the Democrats in the House to pass this…. They’ve already shown that they can just vote “present” and watch the Republicans crash and burn on their own ideology.

  • SteveThompson

    As shown in this article, the United States has added nearly $1 trillion or 7 percent to its debt in the last 9 months lone as shown here:

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2011/07/washingtons-books-for-june-2011-heading.html

    This simply cannot continue without the looming threat of default.

    • TerryF98

      Time for this.

      And this.

      • JimBob

        Terry we need more taxpayers not higher taxes. With the private sector hemorrhaging jobs fewer and fewer people are contributing to the treasury. That’s why taxes as a share of the economy are around 14.5. Some people say the lowest in 50 years.

      • Rockerbabe

        The GOP; the party of spend, spend, spend and “charge it” mentality. They are racing to see how fast they can take the American dream into the status of a 3rd world nation.

        I really like you graphics; very enlightenling!

        • chephren

          Rockerbabe –

          Another illuminating graphic (sorry, I don’t have time to cut and paste it): Google up a long-term chart of US federal debt-to-GDP.

          At the end of WW2, debt as a proportion of the total economy exceeded 100%. From 1945 to 1981, this ratio continually declined, all the way down to about 30%. Consider that this steep decline in relative debt happened in spite to the huge growth in the size, power and expense of government in the postwar period.

          This benign trend was instantly reversed by the Reagan tax cuts of 1981. As soon as Kemp-Roth passed, debt began to compound at TWICE the rate of economic growth, and this continued for 30 years. The chart trend goes exponential under Bush/Cheney. Federal debt now approaches the GDP of $15 Trillion.

          US debt-to-GDP is graphic evidence of the dishonesty and profligacy of neocon fiscal policy.

        • armstp

          Chep,

          If you are going to look at debt to GDP you also cannot forget the GDP or denominator part of the ratio. Obviously, the ratio is very high because of the low growth in GDP cause by the recession. As the economy recovers or the denominator/GDP grows the ratio will correct itself; ie. it will naturally shrink. In the next three years Debt per GDP could easy fall to 60-75%, particularly as the economy/GDP growths to $20 trillion.

  • Xunzi Washington

    JimBob

    And spending cuts will create jobs how, again? Look, it gets tiresome to listen to the way deficit reduction gets played off job creation. Raising taxes and cutting spending isn’t job creating. It’s deficit reducing.

    You want to create jobs? Forget all this austerity stuff and create job proposals. Debt reduction and job creation ain’t the same thing.

    You want to reduce the deficit? You do it through an equitable mix of taxes and cuts, done in the least harmful way. To pretend, however, that cuts are job-neutral or job-creating and taxes are job killing is just partisan hackery.

    • JimBob

      Slashing spending across the board would give the markets confidence we are finally serious about getting our fiscal house in order. It’s not taxes. Out of control spending by both political parties.

      • Xunzi Washington

        JimBob

        I’m not sure what planet you live on, but on Earth, businesses hire when there is a demand for product. Spending cuts create zero demand for anything. If anything, they cause job losses right off the bat and depress demand, causing MORE job loss.

        If you think companies will hire in the absence of demand – even a further decline of it – simply because they have an abstract sense that the debt has been lower, then you are completely, 100%, full out, NUTS and have been reading way, way too many RedState.com threads.

        Come back to Earth, Jim.

  • JimBob

    Eli, the one and only way we will default is if Obama instructs Tim Geithner not to pay the bond holders. With 200 billion a month coming into treasury and the interests on the bonds 20 billion a month it is up to Obama to see that we meet our obligations. If we don’t it is 100 percent his fault.

  • Rockerbabe

    Being obstinate is not leadership!

    Owning up to the misstakes of the past and how best to correct the problems is leadership.
    The GOP refuses to own up to the following:
    -Starting the Iraqi war and charging it on the country’s credit card.
    -Starting the Afghanistan war and charging it on the country’s credit card.
    -Developing and implementing the Part D Medicare Plan and not paying for the program.
    -Creating “No Child Left Behind”; a program that doesn’t work and has lead to massive cheating scandals, the one here in Atlanta, being the worst.
    -Tax breaks for gizzionaires, who did not create even one job with the extra money.
    -Lax regulation of the oil business and a subsequent oil leak in the Gulf that required billions to remedy and massive unemployment of citizens in the effected area.
    -The waging of the “war on women”, instead of creating jobs as the GOP promised in the last election cycle.
    -Spending all their time scaring the elderly and the sick and the retired about cuts to the programs that keep them from being sick, homeless and hungry.
    -Declining to seriously consider a number of other tax breaks that President Obama has proposed. Declining to consider the targeted spending cuts in the military, not that the wars [under his watch] are winding down.
    -Constant complaining about “big government”; but it is the GOP who started homeland security and gave it a massive budget used to terrorize the average citizen who travels.

    Leadership is a lot more than refusing to consider the options before you. President Obama is trying to negiotate with the GOP Mafia and I think they are not to be trusted as they lie and have no integrity as they do not keep their word.

  • Xunzi Washington

    @Hack JimBob

    Let’s assume (assume, I say) that payments on bonds can be met. Then sure, default on the BONDS will be avoided, sure. But when money is diverted from paychecks, contractors and payment for other services, this will be 100% Congress’s doing. And I’m sure that if it comes to it, and Obama ensures that the Chinese bondholders are paid while American workers don’t get paid, American services get slashed and American seniors find their soc sec checks missing and Medicare unfunded, he will remind people who decided that this be the case. As well, when then faith in the security of the American system is shaken, he will remind people about that too, while he continues to pay off foreign Chinese bond holders. That will play real well politically.

    If the Repubs want to act like Thugs, there will be consequences.

    • JimBob

      I’m sorry but services have got to be slashed. Government has promised more than it can deliver. If not we are going to end up with a very nasty generational war. Young vs old.

      • TerryF98

        Repeal the Bush tax cuts which have done nothing to generate jobs and you are half way to dealing with the deficit.

      • Xunzi Washington

        I love JimBobs reply. Basically it says

        “I’m sorry that (a) we created an 800B unfunded Medicare Part D, (b) that we fought two unfunded wars of choice and (c) gave out 1.4T in tax cuts during wartime, but services have got to be slashed.”

        It’s almost comic. Really.

  • pnumi2

    JimBob

    Interest Expense Fiscal Year 2011 (For 9 Mos.)
    June $110,536,850,221.63
    May $30,858,726,707.77
    April $28,895,123,159.28
    March $24,460,282,823.69
    February $21,759,253,957.26
    January $21,122,729,715.18
    December $104,700,174,845.03
    November $19,396,316,137.56
    October $24,142,491,931.22
    Fiscal Year Total $385,871,949,498.62

    Available Historical Data Fiscal Year End
    2010 $413,954,825,362.17
    2009 $383,071,060,815.42
    2008 $451,154,049,950.63
    2007 $429,977,998,108.20
    2006 $405,872,109,315.83
    2005 $352,350,252,507.90
    2004 $321,566,323,971.29

    $20 billion a month is a nice round figure, but a little off. I wonder if the rest of your argument isn’t just as erroneous.

    • TerryF98

      He went to a top school and is a gazzillionaire, according to him!

    • chephren

      pnumi2 –

      Consider also that if there is no debt deal before Aug. 2, rates on US debt are sure to go up – and the cost of interest payments will jump. Debt will grow ever faster as the government must borrow more to cover higher interest costs.

      The GOP is truly trying to cure a headache by playing Russian Roulette.

    • JimBob

      I’m talking about what we pay foreigners. And we pay around 20 billion a month in interest to our foreign creditors.

      Hope this helps.

  • dubmod

    Unbelievable. Can you really get paid for writing this crap?

  • TerryF98

    JimBob // Jul 11, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Jim bob covering his lie with obfuscation said.

    Terry, labor force participation is at a 27 year low.

    Maybe that’s because during the Bush disaster we were loosing 700,000 jobs a month. You said “With the private sector hemorrhaging jobs” I proved the Private sector has been adding jobs for 14 months. Can’t you read an effing graph with your top school education? Idiot.

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/2011/07/obamanomics-drives-americans-out-work-force

    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-incredible-fall-in-labor-force-participation-2011-7

    • JimBob

      Grow up kid. Obama, Pelosi, and Reid own this economy. Bush is long gone. Obama didn’t get us out of the wars, he started two new ones. His stimulus didn’t stimulate a damn thing.

      • Xunzi Washington

        Jim

        Your childish thinking is what deserves the name “kid”. You don’t end inherited wars on a dime, especially when the opposition party demagogues the issue repeatedly. Moreover, stimulus prevented massive hikes in unemployment and stabilized the bleeding. Every non-hack economist agrees with this. A look at any chart displays this beyond the obvious.

        How many jobs were created by the 1.4T Bush tax cuts, by the way? Can you say, off hand?

      • TerryF98

        Which two wars would those be genius? If you cant win by facts and reason change the subject and lie again.

        Bush may be gone but his disaster lives on.

  • Xunzi Washington

    JimBob:

    “Slashing spending across the board would give the markets confidence we are finally serious about getting our fiscal house in order. It’s not taxes. Out of control spending by both political parties.”

    Jim, I’m not sure what planet you live on, but down here on Earth, businesses hire when there is a demand for their products. Spending cuts create zero demand for anything. If anything, they cause job losses right off the bat and then depress demand, causing MORE job loss. This may make sense with respect to deficit reduction, but it does nothing to stimulate demand, which creates jobs.

    If you think companies will hire in the absence of demand for their products – or even in the face of further declines of demand – simply because they have an abstract sense that the debt has been lowered, then you are completely, 100%, full out, NUTS and have been reading way, way too many RedState.com threads.

    Come back to Earth, Jim.

    • JimBob

      Lets go back through history one more time.

      The Forgotten Depression of 1920

      http://www.mmisi.org/ir/44_02/woods.pdf

      “The economic situation in 1920 was grim. By that year unemployment had jumped from 4 percent to nearly 12 percent, and GNP declined 17 percent. No wonder, then, that Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover — falsely characterized as a supporter of laissez-faire economics — urged President Harding to consider an array of interventions to turn the economy around. Hoover was ignored.

      Instead of “fiscal stimulus,” Harding cut the government’s budget nearly in half between 1920 and 1922. The rest of Harding’s approach was equally laissez-faire. Tax rates were slashed for all income groups. The national debt was reduced by one-third.

      The Federal Reserve’s activity, moreover, was hardly noticeable. As one economic historian puts it, “Despite the severity of the contraction, the Fed did not move to use its powers to turn the money supply around and fight the contraction.”[2] By the late summer of 1921, signs of recovery were already visible. The following year, unemployment was back down to 6.7 percent and it was only 2.4 percent by 1923.

      Now lets look at FDR and the spending model you want us to follow.

      “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.

      I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises.

      I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. … And an enormous debt to boot!

      Henry Morgenthau Jr. close friend, lunch companion, loyal secretary of the Treasury to President Franklin D. Roosevelt — and key architect of FDR’s New Deal”

      Obama has followed FDRs model. Thinking we can spend our way to prosperity. Don’t worry, we have the printing press. Just print up more money.

      • wileedog

        “Obama has followed FDRs model. Thinking we can spend our way to prosperity.”

        And the GOP is currently holding a gun to the country’s economic head unless everyone agrees to follow the Hoover model instead.

  • PracticalGirl

    US warmongering for the past decade or so has tripled our defense budget right along with our national debt. I fail to see how any party can talk seriously about cutting the deficit while continuing to spend trillions in foreign wars.

    • TerryF98

      The GOP just voted to add 18 Billion to the deficit by raising the military budget by that amount. They are not serious about the deficit.

    • Primrose

      Exactly practical girl. No other generation (at least that I heard of) has had wars without tax increases. It may not be comfortable but it is necessary. To follow a rif from Fareed Zakaria, if congress simply did nothing and let the Bush tax cuts expire, we would solve our most pressing debts. It would not be a long term solution, but it is a signficiant answer.

      When one is in personal financial straits, it is not always enough to cut spending, sometimes one has to get a second job. Waiting around for a promotion (the equivalent of waiting for more people to have jobs) isn’t an answer either.

      And there is no reason Hedge Fund Managers can’t be taxed as if their fee is a salary because it is. There is no reason the rich can not pay a little bit more.

      I find all the wailing and moaning from the very wealthy extremely distasteful. The only sacrifice they will have to make will be psychological, as paying more will not actually affect their lifestyle.

      And the very idea, that someone so supremely blessed financially, would wail about the unfairness of it all in a world of such economic disparity shows a complete absence of decency, sanity, proportion, or rationality.

      And to those who somehow think the rich are more deserving.

      Migrant farmworkers work the hardest.
      Theoretical scientists think the hardest (plus being some of the most irreplaceable)
      EMT’s, police, firefighters, air traffic controllers, emergency room personal , the secret service and soldiers have the most moment-to-moment, day to day, stress and responsibility.

      And none of these people are paid anything that would make them rich. Of the three only Scientists even have the possibility of being rich, and that is if they are also able to write a popular book.

      Even the President of the United States and the Speaker of the House, surely two high stress, high responsibility, high thought jobs with long, long hours, earn a capped amount., (400k and 223,500 respectively). That is nothing to sneeze at for most of us, but Hedge Fund Managers and Corporate execs earn more as bonuses.

      It was not worth but luck that designated wealthy’s fate and it is about time they recognized this truth (which of course some do, just not the ones that whine about tax increases).

  • Raskolnik

    JimBob,

    I like your style and I think you have some valid points, however, do you really think it is politically feasible for a sitting President to pay foreign debtors instead of the armed forces? How do you think that would play out in the media, mainstream or otherwise: “U.S. Avoids Default, Social Security to No Longer Exist”? Do you really envision anyone going for that?

  • pnumi2

    “Eli, the one and only way we will default is if Obama instructs Tim Geithner not to pay the bond holders”

    So, JimBob, only if bond holders don’t get their interest payments is there a default.

    If everybody else gets sodomized, that’s okie dokie with you and the Republicans.

  • ottovbvs

    Apparently our MBA from one of the best schools thinks we only have to pay interest on debt held by foreigners, tough shit for all those American holders of US debt who hold about half of it. Don’t waste time arguing with this dope, just sit back and enjoy the schadenfreude of watching the Republicans in full retreat after all the threats and bluster.

  • pnumi2

    JimBob

    “Grow up kid. Obama, Pelosi, and Reid own this economy. Bush is long gone. Obama didn’t get us out of the wars, he started two new ones. His stimulus didn’t stimulate a damn thing.”

    If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times: Newton’s First Law of Motion. An object in motion (Bush’s Economy) will stay in motion unless a force is acted on it. Obama proposed a force to arrest the vector from heading towards where it is today,BUT THE GANG OF 41 IN THE U.S. SENATE PREVENTED HIM FROM DOING SO.

    Republicans prevented the proper force from being applied.

    They are responsible for the creation of the monster.

    They are responsible for not destroying it.

    Why can’t you understand it this? Is it not Dick and Jane enough for you?

  • cryptozoologist

    looking at this characterization of the current framework:”modest spending cuts and big tax increases” makes me wonder what planet this guy is living on. if every dollar of cuts was matched with a dollar of tax increases then that would be “balanced spending cuts and tax increases” but since there will likely be $3-$4 in cuts for every dollar in enhanced revenues a fairer characterization would be “big spending cuts and modest tax increases”

    i look forward to the author’s retraction.

  • armstp

    I would say the Boehner’s leadership has been horrible.

    1) why did he push for a deal and not just have a straight vote.

    2) will he be able to get his colleagues to vote for anything? questionable.

    3) apparently during the golf game it was Boehner who suggested the “grand bargain” and now he is back tracking.

    I don’t think Boehner knows what he wants.

    • ottovbvs

      apparently during the golf game it was Boehner who suggested the “grand bargain” and now he is back tracking.

      Spin dear boy…from some evil intentioned Democrat…this came from the admin to up the ante for Boehner.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    come on people, we all know Jimbob is an utter moron, just ignore his insanity. Don’t let them twit drag you down.

    And I am with otto on this, this is a good post by Eli (terrible headline though)

    The US not being able to roll over debt would be a cataclysm of epic proportions. Idiots like Jimboob say…look at Greece. Well, look at how afraid people are of a little country like Greece defaulting and then magnify that by a thousand.

    So Jimboob, are you willing to give up your medicare (for your alzheimers) and Social Security?
    There is simply no way the US can cut 38% of our spending without sending the world into a depression. If we stopped all discretionary spending, we would not even get to half of what we would have to cut, so that means no more social security as well until the debt level is raised.
    And you notice morons like Jimboob don’t even do the basic math.

    I don’t know what it is today, but the stupid is really out in force. I guess after a weekend of drinking bathtub gin Jimboob is even stupider than usual.

  • pnumi2

    armstp

    Of course Boehner knows what he wants: he wants to continue to be Speakewr and apparently there are enough votes to deny him that position is he doesn’t do all the stupid things that the stupid tea party people want him to do. How would you like to have to give up the big office with the fire place?

    I don’t think so.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    hey jimboob, show us your college transcript. Freaking fraud. He is an MBA from a top university like I am Pope Benedict.

  • bdtex

    If “plan C” is a package of Medicare,SS and Medicaid cuts only with no closing of any tax loopholes,Boehner can’t expect many Dem votes.

  • pnumi2

    Frumple

    Are you sure Eli is being genuine here: “The decision to bring up the debt issue in the first place was a no-win situation for the GOP.”

    Didn’t they expect Obama to cave before it reached this pass?

    • ottovbvs

      Didn’t they expect Obama to cave before it reached this pass?

      Of course they did. Lehrer is admitting they made a serious tactical miscalculation. To be fair he has been saying this was an over reach for some time.

  • nickthap

    Actually, JimBob having that MBA from a top school would provide a very satisfactory explanation for the RE bubble…

    As for Republicans and deficit spending, this story, “GOP balks at defense cuts” (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0711/58661_Page2.html) pretty much proves what they do when they have a chance–increase the deficit, like they did last time they ran things. They are even against cutting defense when the SecDef, himself a Republican, says that it must be cut. Proves that they love pork just as much as the next guy.

  • think4yourself

    So an interesting game of chicken.

    Obama was hoping that Boehner had the stones to agree to a 4T deal that included some tax cuts (Otto, I still believe it was a real offer and not a negotiating ploy by Obama) but Boehner failed.

    Here’s the question on a 1-2T deal. Since the math doesn’t work to get to 2T without big cuts in S.S., medicare and defense (giving the Dem’s a huge issue to beat them with), will the GOP take a 1T deal? Will the President agree to any deal that doesn’t include tax cuts?

    I don’t see an endgame here. The GOP has made anything that generates revenue (taxes, closing loopholes, etc.) off the table. Any revenue means a revolt and Tea Party primary challenge. Any deal without revenue means a liberal revolt for the President. Where does the deal work?

    I think politically a default favors the Dems (but we all lose).

    • ottovbvs

      (Otto, I still believe it was a real offer and not a negotiating ploy by Obama)

      Well as Ezra Klein pointed out in a link provided above several members of the pundit class have come around to my view. I don’t know if you ever got around to answering my basic question about how real it was. Were the Republicans EVER going to agree to any deal that involved closing tax loopholes or a modest increase in taxes? Yes or no?

      • think4yourself

        I don’t think I ignored your question and not intentionally.

        I was hopeful that the GOP would consider it. Maybe foolishly on my part. To change position, someone needs a reason to do so. I think Boehner would if he thought he could get 100 Republican votes. Then he could say:

        “in light of the new situation… a chance for a path for a balanced budget, we agreed to closing spending loopholes – which aren’t really tax hikes anyways… we stood on our principles and got 5-1 real budget cuts”, etc. etc.

        BTW, I think if Boehner had done that, he would have gotten enough moderate GOP votes. But, he would have faced a Tea Party revolt that might have cost him the speakership and maybe his seat in Congress. He would have been persona non grata on conservative talk show radio. He also would have been at least as important as Pelosi was with ACA.

    • pnumi2

      The best thing about endgames is you don’t get to see them in advance. And when their time has come, you should be at the table when they’re played out. It’s fun to see the loser’s face.

  • Raskolnik

    Were the Republicans EVER going to agree to any deal that involved closing tax loopholes

    IIRC Boehner (in particular) singled out ethanol subsidies, and was willing to talk about agriculture more generally…

    • ottovbvs

      IIRC Boehner (in particular) singled out ethanol subsidies

      This the best you can do? A majority of the senate voted against ethanol subsidies. This is like being opposed to alchoholism. Ooooh the Republicans were willing to talk about ag loopholes.

  • Xunzi Washington

    Have you read Cantor’s latest statement? In response to Obama’s claim that all sides must make sacrifices, his rejoinder was that merely _showing up_ to negotiations to raise the debt limit is sufficient sacrifice on their part. Basically, they don’t need to actually make any concessions at all. Merely showing up is all they can be expected to do.

    There are two things I find sickening about this:

    1. The R position here strikes me as borderline treasonous to begin with, but this sort of flippant arrogance is just outright stunning.
    2. The Ds will have no success in making any hay of a statement like that. If Nancy Pelosi ever made a statement like that, the Rs would effectively and quickly hang her in the public media.

    • ottovbvs

      The Ds will have no success in making any hay of a statement like that.

      Why is it Democrats have this overwhelming desire to diss their own side? At the moment Obama is winning this thing hands down as both Lehrer and Frum (who remember are Republican shills) are essentially gloomily admitting. The sheer asininity of this comment by Cantor speaks for itself. When your opponent is busy hanging himself the last thing you want to do is get between him and the rope.

  • LFC

    Xunzi, to paraphrase Chris Rock…

    Republicans always want credit for some s**t they supposed to do. A Republican will brag about some s**t a normal Congressman just does. A Republican will say some s**t like, “I showed up for negotiations.” You’re supposed to, you dumb motherf***er! What kind of ignorant s**t is that?

  • LFC

    I’m starting to wonder if Obama’s Plan B is to let the Bush tax cuts expire. Heck, it might be his primary plan. With or without a debt reduction deal and the Republican demand that all new spending be paid for even in a hideous jobs market (except, it seems, defense spending), he could easily stand there and say “if you want to reduce revenues by a projected $xT, how do you propose we pay for it?” They’ll trot out their usual line about tax cuts paying for themselves, but that won’t sell with anybody except their base. The poll Bartlett quoted said 61% of the country was willing to put up with increased taxes if it was used to reduce the deficit.

    • ottovbvs

      I’m starting to wonder if Obama’s Plan B is to let the Bush tax cuts expire.

      No that’s plan A. He’ll go through a kabuki act trying to defend the middle class bits, fail as the Republicans defend those for the wealthy , and the responsibility for ALL of them expiring will be laid on the Republicans. Duh.

      • think4yourself

        Could be the case. And that battle will make the last two look like two little girls fighting.

        Obama already gave up on allowing the tax cuts to expire once. He can’t do it again if he plans to have any integrity with the liberals that provide the foot soldiers in an election. The GOP has made any tax increases their line in the sand. They can’t give up either.

        Actually the only solution I see is reform the tax code, remove loopholes, lower rates and have both sides declare victory. But then you have all the special interests that benefit from the loopholes weigh in.

        Should be interesting.

        • LFC

          Obama would completely have the upper hand in the Bush tax cut debate. He could make any demand and if they refused to deal, the tax cuts expire using the very mechanism designed by Republicans themselves. He could make a simple statement to the country of “I tried to negotiate, but the Republicans refused to present a way to pay for THEIR tax cuts that didn’t involve stealing dedicated Medicare and Social Security tax dollars.” Followed up by “they threw us into continual deficits in 2001, and I won’t let them do it again” it would be political gold. And, unlike the political crap Republicans have offered us, it would actually be good for the country.

        • ottovbvs

          Obama already gave up on allowing the tax cuts to expire once. He can’t do it again if he plans to have any integrity with the liberals that provide the foot soldiers in an election.

          He didn’t give up. It was let them be extended for the top taxpayers or lose them across the board and the extension of unemployment insurance. It wasn’t a bad deal from his point of view and most liberals approved it. And you’re wrong about a huge fight in the tail end of 2012. Obama just has to let matters take their course. My contention is he’s quite happy to see them all expire although he’ll make a bit of show of trying to protect those for the middle class. This time he won’t need to be held hostage and the Republicans will take the rap for them ALL expiring.

  • Raskolnik

    Otto,

    You asked! Not defending the House Caucus, at all, but you did ask if any R’s were open to closing loopholes as part of a deal. I’m with think4yourself: Obama’s move wasn’t a feint, or at least not merely so. He made a genuine offer that he genuinely thought might be accepted, but that would also make the Republicans look really stupid/disingenuous/etc. if they caved to Tea Party pressure not to make any deals. Like in chess, when you position your piece so your opponent has to choose whether he’d rather lose a bishop or a rook.

    Also, where did the “Obama is weak” meme go, and can we start a “Boehner is weak” one to replace it now that the cards are down, the White House holds a flush and Boehner may or may not have a pair of twos?

    • ottovbvs

      Not defending the House Caucus, at all, but you did ask if any R’s were open to closing loopholes as part of a deal.

      So your considered opinion is that the answer to my question is YES, Boehner did have the votes in his caucus to pass a grand bargain that included closing a slew of real tax loopholes like carried interest and some modest increases in taxes. I’m not going to comment on the acuity of this belief but will let it speak for itself. You then seem to be agreeing with me that it was at least 50% a maneuver to make the Republican look etc etc.

  • armstp

    I don’t think any deal is going to get done. I think this country is heading for a default. I just hope my stock portfolio does not get killed too much.

    I 100% blame this on the Republicans. They should have had a clean vote on the debt ceiling and instead Boehner and leadership opened up a can of worms and now Boehner has no idea what to do. He has backed himself into a corner. The voters really got to give it to the GOP. In some ways Obama may have an out on the economy. He may be able to say that it is the GOP that has continued to hold the economy down. They should make this point over and over again. Say the GOP caused this economic mess with Bush and they are also holding the economy down.

    • ottovbvs

      I don’t think any deal is going to get done.

      All a matter of opinion of course but I disagree. The Republicans are f***** and they know it. The ceiling will be raised for some largely empty committments that make Obama look good and Boehner will parade as a fig leaf for a huge political miscalculation.

      • think4yourself

        Otto – Assuming that 4T can’t happen do you think a 1-2T deal will? Obama has said that revenue needs to be a part of any deal and the Republicans have said they’ll never do a deal with revenue. Who do you think will give? They both have to appeases their base.

        • LFC

          Dems: “We’ll negotiate about $1T-$4T in spending cuts.”

          Repubs: “We refuse to accept even one penny of increased revenue.”

          Any questions? Were there ever any?

        • ottovbvs

          Obama has said that revenue needs to be a part of any deal

          Any deal? Would you have a reference for where he’s said that revenue has to be part of ANY deal? I think the debt ceiling will be raised on the basis of some fairly small change committments to contain spending over the next ten years. These certainly won’t make any major dings in the major social programs. As Douhat points out in today’s NYT’s tax increases are inevitable both as a consequence of allowing the ALL the Bush cuts to expire and some further closing of loopholes. Interestingly the Senate Republicans are starting to show distinct signs of nervousness because they comprehend what a catastrophe this could turn into. We have basically ten days before the admin has start pulling levers to prepare for a default and once that starts to happen most Americans are going to in a state of shock at the consequences for the country.

        • Kevin B

          Obama has said that revenue needs to be a part of any deal and the Republicans have said they’ll never do a deal with revenue. Who do you think will give?

          Obama will give, because he can get the revenue after 2012 anyway with the sunsetting of the Bush/Obama tax cuts.

          If revenue were the only issue, then Republicans would appear to win. If a Balanced Budget Amendment were the only issue, then Republicans would appear to lose. The real, pressing issue is the debt ceiling.

          Spending cuts are a bonus win for fiscal conservatives on both sides. Obama wins because a “Socialist” would never put Medicare on the table.

        • ottovbvs

          Obama has said that revenue needs to be a part of any deal

          Kevin do you have a ref where Obama has said revenue has to be part of ANY deal. Obviously it all depends on the nature of the cuts being demanded by the other side. You guys as ever are turning a snapshot into a motion picture.

  • medinnus

    One way or another, I think Boehner is going to end up being the GOP sacrificial goat on this. I can just see Cantor rubbing his little weasel hands as he pushes Boehner into the mine shaft.

  • armstp

    Earth to Washington, DC: ordinary Americans do not care about the almighty debt ceiling. Most of us are more concerned about the roofs over our heads. As the politicians and the pundits writhe in contrived agony about the Big Deal Deficit, ordinary Americans are agonizing about being one job loss or one illness away from foreclosure and homelessness.

    Probably the most ham-handed and unintentionally honest remark came from White House Advisor David Plouffe last week: “The average American does not view the economy through the prism of GDP or unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers,” he told Bloomberg News.”People won’t vote based on the unemployment rate, they’re going to vote based on: ‘How do I feel about my own situation? Do I believe the president makes decisions based on me and my family?’”

    Since the unemployed and the underemployed do not have a powerful lobby, the Beltway Bozos in government and media don’t seem to realize that at least 20 percent of these struggling people will in fact be voting based on their own situations. Beyond that, most of us have at least one family member, close friend or neighbor who has hit rock bottom in this recession/depression. Many American homes have at least one foreclosure on the block, leading to lower property values and infrastructure degradation. So yes, personal situations will be a factor.

    Of course, the Republicans are nihilists whose sole aim to seize even more of the national treasury for their rich friends. That a Democratic president is even talking to them is not only a mystery, it’s a disgrace.

    The only Senator denouncing the proposed cuts in our safety net is a Socialist. In FDR’s administration, it was the socialists who pushed him left, toward Social Security and employment programs. Time to start rehabilitating socialism’s undeserved bad rep, and facing the fact that the Democrats are Republicans and the Republicans are treasonous terrorists.

    From NYT comments.

  • Jose Chung

    Negotiating with terrorists. Republicans are holding Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security hostage over 400 families.

    Tea Party = Hamas

  • ottovbvs

    [i]we stood on our principles and got 5-1 real budget cuts”, etc. etc.

    BTW, I think if Boehner had done that, he would have gotten enough moderate GOP votes. But, he would have faced a Tea Party revolt that might have cost him the speakership and maybe his seat in Congress. He would have been persona non grata on conservative talk show radio. He also would have been at least as important as Pelosi was with ACA.[/i]

    Actually it was 3:1 cuts/revenue….and you just laid out why there wasn’t ever the faintest chance that Boehner could have found a majority of his caucus to vote for such a proposal. Because anyone, not just Boehner, that signed on for this was going to find his position under attack.

    • think4yourself

      I know it’s 3:1 now. I was betting Boehner could negotiate a better deal to take to his caucus like 5:1. I also don’t think he needed all of his caucus or even a majority. If Obama delivered 150 Dems and Boehner could produce 68 Republicans you get 218 and can claim a pretty bi-partisan bill, one that should also get passed in the Senate (except for that darned fillibuster and Rand Paul has already promised to do so). I don’t think it would go 192 Dems and 26 GOP because Obama will lose some of the Dems due to changes in S.S.

      And, yes I think there are enough moderate GOP that Boehner could have produced 60 – 70 GOP if he gave them enough cover. But he won’t.

      As you say, the end game could be just increase the debt and then Obama declines to act on the expiring tax cuts. I’m not sure that he would do that because their would be pressure from both liberals and conservatives that it’s “a tax increase” on the working class and a political problem for the President in an election year.

  • Southern Populist

    The claim that the GOP is playing games with the debt ceiling has never made any sense. Obama can sign a deal any time he wants to, but, just like the GOP, he has refused to do so because he wants to sign a deal on his terms.

    John Boehner may not have the stomach to be Speaker of the House. Cantor might be better for that role.

    Also, I’m not sure it matters very much what Boehner does or does not think anyway. If there are not enough votes in the House to pass a deal with tax increases — oops I mean “new revenues” — then are not enough votes with or without Boehner.

    From a tactical standpoint, it seems to me the House GOP should ignore Obama’s posturing and just pass a short-term, limited deal with no tax increases. This would force Obama to veto a deal raising the debt ceiling and averting the catastrophe he has been talking about, or force the Democrat Senate to kill it. In this scenario, Obama or the Senate Democrats would be responsible for any default that might occur.

    Contrary to the conventional wisdom, I’d say the House GOP has the high cards if they are willing to play them.

    - DSP

    • ottovbvs

      Obama can sign a deal any time he wants to

      Er….no….the house first has to pass the legislation which then has to go the senate for approval before Obama signs anything. Since you don’t appear to even understand the process I don’t think we need to pay too much attention to this assertion:

      “Contrary to the conventional wisdom, I’d say the House GOP has the high cards if they are willing to play them.”

      [/u]

      • indy

        Er….no….the house first has to pass the legislation which then has to go the senate for approval before Obama signs anything.

        And of course the senate gets to make whatever changes they want to…

        • Southern Populist

          My point is that the House GOP is in control here. They have the votes to pass legislation without tax increases and send it to the Senate. The Senate can then kill it or send to Obama, and he can kill it. In this scenario, Obama or the Senate Democrats would be responsible for any default.

          - DSP

        • indy

          It seems most likely that senate procedures would be used in such a way as to make the senate republicans filibuster even bringing a vote. Everybody would point fingers at each other and Obama, with the biggest megaphone, would make it clear where the blame lies.

        • shediac

          Please let the Republicans lead, they have the house they write the bills. They could be interesting. Republicans are proposing cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security but to their credit they will protect tax breaks for corporate jets and $1,000 ‘business lunches’. So yes based on the facts Republicans will look like winners…to the corporate crowd!

      • Southern Populist

        Let me use this more precise langauge instead: Obama can agree to sign a deal any time he wants to, but, just like the GOP, he has refused to do so because he wants to sign a deal on his terms.

        - DSP

        • ottovbvs

          Obama can agree

          And thereby you demonstrate again you don’t understand the process. Obama doesn’t have to AGREE to anything until some legislation is on his desk. Here’s a little 101. The responsibility for raising the debt ceiling rests with the house. Not Obama. If they don’t raise it we will default. Period. Thus the onus is on the Republicans to act or not to act. All that’s going on at the moment is the house is attempting blackmail the president into taking certain fiscal steps in return for raising the ceiling. He’s simply refusing to pay extortion money. None of this eliminates the onus on the house to raise the ceiling. Clear?

        • Southern Populist

          “Thus the onus is on the Republicans to act or not to act”

          Of course. Again, I am proposing the House GOP take a tactical path whereby they DO ACT by sending a limited deal with no tax increases to the Democrat Senate. At that point, they will have acted. They will done their part. Where such legislation would go from there would be up to the Senate Democrats and Obama.

        • indy

          So how does the house have the high cards again then? Obama has the senate for cover.

        • Southern Populist

          The Democrats control the Senate. If the Senate kills a deal with no tax increases, Obama’s party will be responsible. It seems to me the at least some if not all of the blame for that would fall on Obama. You are probably right that it would shield him to some extent.

  • ottovbvs

    If the Senate kills a deal with no tax increases

    What you’re suggesting is the house sends a bill to senate that would have to spell out the savings which would be attached as a rider to the bill. Otherwise it’s a clean bill. Once they’ve broken cover on what they want to save then they’ve created an elephant to shoot at because a lot of oxes will get gored. Obama would be quite happy to sign a bill with no tax loophole closures and just a debt ceiling rise. You seem to have forgotten completely the savings side of the equation. The tax adjustments are purely a counter to proposed savings from the Republicans. Jeez.

  • pnumi2

    Southern Populist

    “Obama can agree to sign a deal any time he wants to, but, just like the GOP, he has refused to do so because he wants to sign a deal on his terms;”

    The man with the gun at the little girl’s head and the hostage negotiator can each agree to the other’s terms, but both are holding out for his own. One has moral authority for holding out; the other doesn’t. One has precedents for holding out; the other doesn’t.

    Given the facts as laid out by otto, why wouldn’t Obama want to and expect to sign a deal on his terms?

  • indy

    You know DSP that the senate, either republican or democrat, would never agree to a procedure that would potentially put them on the hook like you suggest. It make sense, right, that the house can’t just point to the senate and say ‘it’s all their fault!’ Similarly, the house wouldn’t agree to rules that would allow the obverse on bills that originate in the senate.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    DSP, how about if the Senate passes the bill with nothing but tax increases and sends it to the House, does the House then have to pass it?

    Otto, I simply can’t believe how little DSP knows of the government. The House can pass a bill, then the Senate passes its own bill, then it goes to Conference committee where both sides hash out the differences, and then it goes back to the House and back to the Senate for final passage before it goes to Obama’s desk.

    It is like I should send DSP that old kids video on school house rocks about bills.

    To somehow make it then Obama’s fault is to completely ignore the Senate and its own rights.

    Hey DSP, you want a bill that you like, then Republicans should have had a 2/3rds majority in both the House and Senate and then they would override any Obama veto. They don’t have that. Therefore they have to negotiate in good faith.
    That means compromise.

    • pnumi2

      Frump

      Don’t forget that the Conference Committee can actually remove things from the original bill when they vote out the conference report. Things that some members considered important when they voted for the bill.

    • ottovbvs

      Otto, I simply can’t believe how little DSP knows of the government.

      Ignorant or disingenuous? The senate doesn’t have to do a thing it can just sit on it hands because the house has technically to start the process. Notionally they could produce a bill first but why the heck would a Democratic controlled senate do that? What’s going on is completely clear. The house is demanding danegeld for fulfilling their constitutional duty to pass a debt ceiling bill. Obama is refusing to pay it. When we run out of sufficient funds to cover operating costs we default if it’s not raised. By some weird alchemy DSP thinks the president gets the blame for the house not doing it’s job. I’m sure that’s going be very convincing to seniors and govt contractors when the government stops signing (what was it) 80 million checks a month? Perhaps DSP could man the phone banks explaining how it’s all Obama’s fault.

      • pnumi2

        otto

        The bottom line is that the American People never held Obama and the Democrats responsible for the bubble or the economy. They became impatient when he couldn’t fix it as quickly as they wanted. They always blamed the Republicans.

        Now the Republicans are back, not with a bubble, but a sovereign default.

        Maybe El Gipper will be right and the markets will open normally on August 3rd. Whether they do or not, there will be some dislocation and the Republicans will be blamed.

        Obama won’t cave. Boehner will.

  • ottovbvs

    Maybe El Gipper will be right and the markets will open normally on August 3rd

    And the 80 million checks that aren’t getting signed? The notion that half govt expenditure ceases and the bond and equity markets don’t react tells you how much El Gipper knows about ANYTHING. I’ve seen estimates that it could reduce monthly GDP by 10%. I basically agree the Republicans will cave for some illusory savings. Then an enormous row is going to break out in the GOP.

  • Rabiner

    How is Boehner leading? He can’t bring his own caucus to a compromised position like Obama can. This will not be averted until Republicans can understand that in a divided government compromise wins the day, not a smaller version of your minimalist position.

  • Telly Davidson

    As to those 80 million checks, and Boehner’s end game: What about the other “line-in-the-sand” as TalkingPointsMemo put it — ergo, Nancy Pelosi’s position on Social Security and Medicare??

    Let’s suppose Boehner offers an 11th hour deal more-or-less acceptable to Obama (Obama already said — in direct contradiction to Pelosi’s crew — that SS/Medi is “on the table” as far as he’s concerned). But its SS/Medicare position is completely unacceptable to House Dems. Then, it’s the liberal Democrats who vote “no” or “present” on the bill, unwilling to support the cuts to the senior programs.

    Personally, I think that’s Boehner’s end game — he’s hoping that he can come up with a bill that would force the House Democrats to join with the most radical Tea Partiers to defeat it — and then he’ll turn around and (try to) blame “too liberal” Dems for the default.

    • indy

      The plan is to come up with a bill that won’t pass a vote with an overwhelming majority in the house and then blame the minority party for blocking it? Sounds like a winner.

  • greg_barton

    Actually this whole thing is DSP’s fault. See, he hasn’t sent a bill over to the House yet that they’ll accept.

    Sound silly? Well, DSP has as much Constitutional authority to “send a bill over to the House” as Obama has, since they both have none. Zip. Zero. Nada.

    So, by his own logic, this is all DSP’s fault.

  • Telly Davidson

    I agre with the sarcasm 100% Indy — but can you think of any other strategy where Boehner gets to keep his job?

    (If it’s only Republicans, and a couple of extreme-left Sanders/Kucinich/Marcy Kaptur Dems voting against it, then he gets 100% of the public blame and loses his job, a la Gingrich after Impeachment. If Boehner forces a pro-Obama bill down the throats of the House Repubs, Cantor is calling the U-Haul trucks for Boehner’s office. But if a large amount of Dems vote no/present because of SS/Medicare, he *might* have a *chance* of staying in office)

  • Southern Populist

    ottovbvs:

    “And thereby you demonstrate again you don’t understand the process. Obama doesn’t have to AGREE to anything until some legislation is on his desk.”

    I said Obama CAN agree to sign a bill any time he wants not that he HAS to agree on anything.

    How, exactly, is Obama’s insistence on tax increases not holding up the process in the same way as the House GOPs insistence on the reverse – no tax increases?

    Also, why should the House GOP be blamed for “refusing to compromise” when Barack Obama is equally guilty of not compromising?

    He is being just as stubborn on this matter as the House GOP.

    Frumple: “Otto, I simply can’t believe how little DSP knows of the government”

    Dude come on; I know how a bill becomes law.

    When I said Obama can sign a bill “any time he wants,” I meant “Obama can informally agree to sign a bill any time he wants, and then formally sign the bill into law if that bill reaches his desk after passing both the House and Senate.”

    I didn’t think I had to spell that out.

    All the House GOP needs to do to control this process is send a bill to the Senate raising the debt ceiling but without tax increases. That will fulfill their obligation. Then Obama’s Senate can decide what to do with it.

    - DSP

    • sweatyb

      All the House GOP needs to do to control this process is send a bill to the Senate raising the debt ceiling but without tax increases. That will fulfill their obligation.

      DSP, I know it’s confusing because most of the time politics pretty much plays out as a sporting event. The two teams play, there’s a lot of entertaining back and forth, one team wins the other loses (or it’s a tie) but nothing really seems to happen. After the game, everything goes on the way it was.

      This is a special case where the sporting event analogy fails. When it comes to the debt ceiling, Congress has one obligation: make sure the government has enough money to pay its bills. The spending is already authorized.

      The debt ceiling needs to be passed. It is their job. The Republicans are failing what is basically their only duty.

  • Xunzi Washington

    “He is being just as stubborn as the House GOP.”

    Really? Obama has already offered up 4T in cuts and placed Social Security and Medicare on the table. Moreover, he’s offered a 6 to 1 ratio of cuts to taxes, causing his left base to go ballistic given the fact that historically Dems have been considered reamed when they went for 3 to 1 ratios.

    What have the Republicans offered in return for this absolute wet dream of conservative legislation?

    Zero. They don’t want 6 to 1. They just want cuts.

    But you already know this, so I have no idea what you are asking.

    Oh, and I forgot – according to Cantor today, the Republicans – merely by showing up to the meeting — have already sacrificed.

  • steven08817

    The GOP are walking right into a trap. Obama called their bluff by putting Medicare and social security on the table. Obama knows that the GOP cannot support any tax without facing a revolt. Now Obama looks like the sensible leader standing up to the reckless and extreme GOP. This is exactly what happened in 1995 with Clinton and Gingrich.

    The problem is the GOP has lied to it’s supporters for so long that it cannot govern. Everything the GOP does when leading the country is a disaster. They inherited surplus in 2000 and buried the country in debt with reckless wars and tax cuts. The inherited a strong economy and led the country into the worst recession since the 1930s. now they are leading the country into default.