Thanks, GOP! We could default by mid-February, then watch sequestration kick in March 1st

Some examples of the backbone and courage that’s currently seated on the Republican side of Congress:

Politico: “The idea of allowing the country to default by refusing to increase the debt limit is getting more widespread and serious traction among House Republicans than people realize, though GOP leaders think shutting down the government is the much more likely outcome of the spending fights this winter. GOP officials said more than half of their members are prepared to allow default unless Obama agrees to dramatic cuts he has repeatedly said he opposes. Many more members, including some party leaders, are prepared to shut down the government to make their point.”

Think Progress: “Tea Party Congressman Steve King (R-IA) appeared on Fox News Tuesday morning to argue in favor of shutting down the federal government and breaching the debt ceiling if President Obama does not agree to drastic spending reductions. “We can start shutting down the appropriations. We can dig in,” King explained. “We must have cuts to go along with any debt increase. They must be substantial. There must be a line.” But when pressed for specific spending cuts the GOP could support by host Martha MacCallum, King demurred…” 

TPM: “House Republican leaders are weighing a proposal that would increase the debt limit for four years in exchange for substantial spending and entitlement cuts.”

Of course we already know the Republican / Teaparty House members won’t say what they want to cut, because it would have an effect all of their non-wealthy base-rubes.

  • President Obama’s acting budget director told agency heads Monday to step up their efforts to prepare for $85 billion in automatic spending cuts on March 1 by planning for furloughs, contract delays, hiring freezes, buyouts and other cost reductions.

From the budget director’s letter to agency heads:

House Republicans: dreaming of anarchy

House GOP eyes default, shutdown – POLITICO: “Republican leadership officials, in a series of private meetings and conversations this past week, warned that the White House, much less the broader public, doesn’t understand how hard it will be to talk restive conservatives off the fiscal ledge. To the vast majority of House Republicans, it is far riskier long term to pile up new debt than it is to test the market and economic reaction of default or closing down the government.

GOP officials said more than half of their members are prepared to allow default unless Obama agrees to dramatic cuts he has repeatedly said he opposes. Many more members, including some party leaders, are prepared to shut down the government to make their point. House Speaker John Boehner “may need a shutdown just to get it out of their system,” said a top GOP leadership adviser. “We might need to do that for member-management purposes — so they have an endgame and can show their constituents they’re fighting.”

The country would eventually default if House Republicans refuse to raise the debt limit, which the Treasury estimates will hit in late February or early March. The government would shut down if House Republicans instead were to refuse to extend the law funding current government operations on March 27.”

* * * * * * UPDATE

Appearing on MSNBC this morning, Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (TN) insisted that shutting down the government should be “on the table” as Congress and the Obama administration deal with passing a continuing resolution, raising the debt ceiling, and addressing the sequestration cuts.

CHRIS JANSING (HOST): [But are your constituents] willing to see the government shut down? Are you hearing that, Congresswoman?

BLACKBURN: Yes, they are. Yes, they are. But they want us to be thoughtful in what is done. And this is the good thing. You know, maybe it’s better to keep it open so we can keep cutting it. [...]

JANSING: Would you be willing if you don’t get the kind of cuts that you think are necessary, would you be willing to go into default or to shut down the government?

BLACKBURN: I think that there is a way to avoid default. If it requires shutting down certain portions of the government, let’s look at that. Let’s put these options on the table, be very thoughtful, but get this spending pattern broken. We cannot afford a $4 billion a day deficit and trillion dollar plus deficits every single year.

Sen. Pat Toomey’s dumbass payment priority plan

Think Progress: “Now that Congress has to raise the debt ceiling again in the next few months, Toomey is back with his bill

“[...] As ThinkProgress explained at the time, Toomey’s plan is unworkable and doesn’t prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its obligations. These charts from the Bipartisan Policy Center show why. Once the debt ceiling has been breached and Treasury has exhausted the extraordinary measures at its disposal to avoid default, the government will be limited to only the revenue that comes in each day. BPC lays out what happens:”


Congress is obligated to pay ALL the federal government’s bills — not just the ones that Republicans like the best.

Republican negotiation strategy: government shutdown or default

Jamelle Bouie’s take on the hostage situation (emphasis below is mine):

“[..] in the House, Republicans are pressing Speaker John Boehner to take a stand on the debt ceiling. Here’s Politico: In a marked shift, Boehner allies are urging him — publicly and privately — to do something he never has before: be willing to shut down the government or default on the nation’s debt to extract compromises from the White House.

To reiterate a point from last week, it’s worth clarifying what Republicans mean when they commit to refusing to raise the debt ceiling: The United States would be unable to pay its full obligations as mandated by Congress, and would have to forgo payments to bondholders, employees, contractors, and anyone else who receives money from the federal government. Refusing to raise the limit is an act of astounding irresponsibility, and Republicans are threatening it unless President Obama implements policies that voters rejected at the polls two months ago.

It should be said that this isn’t a negotiation. If Obama does decide to support cuts to retirement programs, Republicans won’t have conceded anything other than their permission to allow the government to operate and pay its debts. In other words, when liberals describe the current scenario as a hostage situation, they aren’t exaggerating.”

Obviously rightwing extremists still have a lot of sway with GOP leadership. None of this is what any reasonable person would consider “conservative.”

Standing applause of the day: “As far as I’m concerned — the Tea Party can go straight to Hell.”

— Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, speaking to her constituents at a town hall event over the weekend.

THANK YOU, Rep. Waters! Someone had to say it. Here’s why:

  • Via Joe Romm | Think Progress: If you’re anti-science (like the Tea Party), you’re anti-jobs. “I think this is an important message to deliver.  I would have said it’s important message for progressives to deliver, but the fact is it is an important message for everybody not in the extreme anti-science crowd to repeat.  Indeed, “moderate” conservative GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman said this weekend that being anti-science is as counterproductive for the nation as it and self-destructive it is for his party.”
  • If you’re anti-eduction (like the Tea Party), you’re anti-future, anti-reality, anti-science, and anti-jobs: As a state senator in 2002, [Michele] Bachmann produced a bizarre film called Guinea Pigs II, which compared Minnesota’s Profile of Learning curriculum standards—instituted in 1998 by Republican Gov. Arne Carlson—to Nazism and communism. As Tim Murphy of Mother Jones wrote of Bachmann last week, “She was Tea Party before the Tea party was cool. In 2002, with a Republican president in the White House and the Tea Party a full seven years away, she cited the 9th and 10th amendments while railing against No Child Left Behind as an unconstitutional abuse of power.” [...] These Christian right organizations lobbied against curriculum standards and state and federal regulation of home-schoolers, and recruited thousands of school board candidates—many of them churchgoing moms like Bachmann—in an attempt to wield influence over curricula and textbooks. The movement paid special attention to how public schools dealt with issues such as homosexuality, contraception, and abortion, but also sought to promote an uber-nationalist view of American history, in which the evils of slavery and the genocide of Native Americans were downplayed or sometimes totally whitewashed.
  • Only in the Tea Party could famegoblins like Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin be venerated for making ignorant statements on a regular basis and for their divisive, fundamentalist ideology — which at times is in direct opposition to the Constitution — and be seriously considered as candidates for President of the United States.
  • Only the Tea Party base wanted to see the U.S. default by not raising the debt ceiling — for ideology that is based entirely on Obama being a one-term president, and tax cuts that, at this point, only benefit the wealthy and already profitable corporations.
  1. have a low regard for immigrants and blacks (*ahem* racist?!),
  2. are disproportionately social conservatives,
  3. have a desire to see religion play a prominent role in politics
  4. seek deeply religious elected officials
  5. approve of religious leaders engaging in politics
  6. want religion brought into political debates
  • Only the Tea Party base (and their benefactors) are not in favor of higher taxes and higher spending on federal programs and services. Actual survey data:

  • You only hear the Tea Party treating labor unions and public employees (at ALL levels) as Public Enemy #1: such as the Tea Party GOP Wisconsin Senate who voted to strip collective bargaining rights from state employees without any Democrats present.

The Tea Party isn’t popular, they don’t have large numbers, yet with the media and Congress they are over-represented when it comes to their demands and ideology that affect all of us. We need to ask why and demand accountability and equal time from DC and the mainstream media. And those who didn’t vote in 2010 need to realize how they helped push this non-party into such a prominent position in our country’s political discussions. Pure apathy gave them all this power. That needs to be corrected.

Josh Marshall: what exactly is everyone complaining about? (Especially those who didn’t vote in 2010)

Josh Marshall’s take on the arguments over the budget / debt deal:

From TPM Reader RW

Let me get this straight. The President kept revenues on the table, did not touch the sunset provisions in the Bush tax cuts, ensured that military cuts keep the GOP honest, protected Medicare by adding in only provider cuts in the trigger, made the reduction apparently enough to stave off a debt downgrade, got the debt ceiling raised, wounded Boehner by demonstrating to the world that he is controlled by the Tea Party caucus, took out the requirement that a BBA be passed and sent to the states and got the extension through 2012? What exactly is wrong with this deal?

The fact that there are cuts? If people don’t like that, why in God’s name didn’t they turn out to vote and bring back our Congressional majority? Once these nut jobs were in there, it was inevitable that this crap was going to happen. Whether or not it is advisable to cut spending, what exactly was going to stop this from happening? My experience is that the primary factor in all negotiations are the facts on the ground. The complaints center on a ridiculous notion that if the President had only said “no” harder, that these guys would have caved in. This isn’t negotiating over who gets the side of the bed near the A/C. This is a complex matter involving 3,000 members and staffers. Negotiations in these situations don’t work like this. That’s why I’m irked by the constant parade of people comparing the negotiations to movies and card games. These comparisons obscure more than they reveal.

Read more…

It’s the single-payer health reform argument all over again. It’s not perfectly progressive, so it’s a “shit sandwich.” OBAMA IS JUST LIKE BUSH.

Ezra Klein explains the budget ceiling deal: the deal that doesn’t require making a deal

This is less of a deal and more of an agreement to a process and ‘triggers.’ Some highlights (emphasis mine):

The deficit-reduction side includes $1 trillion in cuts now, $1.5 trillion (or more) in deficit reduction later, and a vote on a balanced budget amendment. Meanwhile, it raises the debt ceiling by $900 billion immediately, and either $1.5 trillion (if the second deficit reduction package or a balanced budget amendment passes) or $1.2 trillion (if neither pass) later. Either way, the Treasury should have plenty of borrowing authority to get us to 2013.

Behind the deal is a creative way out of the impasse that’s held up the negotiations: how do you get “balanced approach” if Republicans refused to consider revenues? The solution that both sides seem to have settled on is to substitute defense cuts where taxes would otherwise have gone.

[...] If Congress doesn’t pass a second round of deficit reduction, the trigger cuts $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Fully half of that comes from defense spending. And note that I didn’t say “security spending.” The Pentagon takes the full hit if the trigger goes off.

The other half of the trigger comes from domestic spending. But Social Security, Medicaid and a few other programs for the poor are exempted. So the trigger is effectively treating defense spending like it comprises more than half of all federal spending. If it goes off, the cuts to that sector will be tremendous — particularly given that they will come on top of the initial round of cuts….

[...] Those cuts are meant to be so brutal that neither party will risk refusing a deal. But a deal means taxes, or at least is supposed to mean taxes. And Speaker John Boehner is already promising that taxes are off the table.

[...] Boehner is misleading his members to make them think taxes are impossible under this deal. But make no mistake: The Joint Committee could raise taxes in any number of ways. It could close loopholes and cap tax expenditures. It could impose a value-added tax, or even a tax on carbon. The Congressional Budget Office would score all of this as reducing the deficit under a current-law baseline. The only thing that wouldn’t reduce the deficit is going after part of the Bush tax cuts. That means they’re likely to go untouched in this deal.

That’s actually good news for…people who want to raise taxes. The Bush tax cuts will still be set to expire in 2012, which means that if Democrats get some revenue as part of this deal, they’ll be able to get more revenue if Congress gridlocks over the Bush tax cuts in 2012.

But that’s really a technicality. Boehner is promising that he’ll oppose any deal that includes revenue, and unless he decides to break his promise next year, that means the House is unlikely to pass any deal that includes revenue. So that leaves us with three options: 1) there’s no deal and the trigger goes off, 2) the Democrats agree to $1.5 trillion in further spending cuts alongside zero dollars in tax increases, or 3) Republicans agree to revenues.

[...] And that gets to the truth of this deal, and perhaps of Washington in this age: it’s all about lowest-common denominator lawmaking. There are no taxes. No entitlement cuts. No stimulus. No infrastructure. Less in actual, specific deficit reduction than there was in the Simpson-Bowles, Ryan, or Obama plans, and even than there was in the Biden/Cantor or Obama/Boehner talks. The two sides didn’t concede more in order to get more. They conceded almost nothing in order to get a trigger and a process, not to mention avoid a financial catastrophe.

[...] Perhaps this deal signals the end of the need to actually reach an agreement, however. If the Joint Committee fails, the trigger begins cutting spending. If negotiations over taxes fail, the Bush tax cuts expire and revenues rise by $3.6 trillion. Neither scenario is anyone’s first choice on policy grounds. But you can get to both scenarios without Republicans explicitly conceding to higher taxes or Democrats explicitly conceding to entitlement cuts in the absence of higher taxes.

Of course, the worst thing about this deal is that the teaparty Republicans get their way in spending cuts in an already faltering economy. And I haven’t yet heard a good explanation from them as to how that’s supposed to help the economy or create any jobs… anyone? But at least there might not be a default and, most of all, the rich and powerful are in a safe place right now.

World reacts to Debt Ceiling debacle: USA is #1!! (to be mocked)

World Reacts To Debt Ceiling Debacle: ‘Irresponsible,’ ‘Worst Kind Of Absurd Theatrics,’ U.S. Politicians A ‘Laughing Stock’

Conservative German Die Welt: “[T]here are few signs of self-doubt or self-awareness in the U.S. … [The Tea Party movement] sees the other side as their enemy. Negotiations with the Democrats, whether it’s about appointing a judge or the insolvency of the United States, are only successful if the enemy is defeated. Compromise, they feel, is a sign of weakness and cowardice.”

The German mass-circulation Bild: “What America is currently exhibiting is the worst kind of absurd theatrics and the whole world is being held hostage… Most importantly, the Republicans have turned a dispute over a technicality into a religious war, which no longer has any relation to a reasonable dispute between the elected government and the opposition.”

French newspaper Le Monde: ”The American politicians supposed to lead the most powerful nation in the world are becoming a laughing stock.”

Chinese state-owned newspaper Xinhua: “Given the United States’ status as the world’s largest economy and the issuer of the dominant international reserve currency, such political brinksmanship in Washington is dangerously irresponsible.”

via: zeitgeistmovement

Or as Bob Cesca commented: “it wouldn’t shock me if China just staged a massive amphibious landing all along the west coast and marched right on in — with mobile tactical nukes aimed at our chubby stupid faces.
image: BobCesca


Flashback: the debt ceiling vote in the Republican-led 2003 Congress as opposed to NOW

“Understand –- raising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money. It simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up. In the past, raising the debt ceiling was routine.  Since the 1950s, Congress has always passed it, and every President has signed it. President Reagan did it 18 times. George W. Bush did it seven times. And we have to do it by next Tuesday, August 2nd, or else we won’t be able to pay all of our bills.” – President Obama, address to the nation on July 25, 2011, rated as TRUE by

How about raise the debt ceiling and discuss spending cuts and tax revenues afterwards? One page, one sentence, we’re good to go.

What? The teaparty would never allow such a simple process to be performed as it has numerous times in the past several decades? I guess it must be because Obama is in the White House…

A stroll down memory lane with Steve Benen (emphasis mine):

Let’s look back at how the Republican-led Congress dealt with the debt-ceiling increase in 2003 — a year before George W. Bush would seek a second term.

Here’s an article the Washington Post ran in May 2003:

Just hours after passing one of the biggest tax cuts in history, the Senate approved an unprecedented increase of nearly $ 1 trillion in the statutory limit on government debt, prompting Democrats to try to embarrass Republicans by linking the two milestones.

The bill, approved 53-44, goes to the White House in time to be signed into law before the administration runs out of maneuvers to avoid the risk of another first-ever event: financial default by the U.S. government. […]

After the vote, Treasury Secretary John W. Snow hailed the Senate action, saying, “today’s action prevents uncertainty that would adversely impact our economic recovery.”

The key detail, however, is the duration of the extension Republicans approved in May 2003. Knowing that an election year was coming up, GOP lawmakers passed an 18-month extension, raising the debt limit to $7.4 trillion, long enough to make sure another increase wouldn’t be necessary until after the November 2004 elections.

This, Republicans said at the time, would reduce economic “uncertainty” — a concept GOP officials took very seriously up until about a month ago.

And who voted for this extension, covering the nation until after the next election cycle? In the House, Eric Cantor was one of 216 members to vote to raise the debt ceiling. In the Senate, 53 Republicans approved the same move, 20 of whom who are still in the chamber, including Mitch McConnell, Jon Kyl, John Cornyn, John McCain, Orrin Hatch, and Dick Lugar. In fact,every Republican senator who was serving then and still serving now voted for this increase to raise the limit beyond the 2004 race.

Got that? Every Republican senator who was serving then and still serving now voted for this increase to raise the limit beyond the 2004 race.

The rules are always, always different for the GOP — they think. I guess someday they might realize that the rest of us don’t agree with that kind of shit-headery.

Boehner passed his stupid bill and then, as expected, the Senate killed it 2 hours later

What else is there to say? Your tax dollars at work. No reason for the Republican Congress to make Boehner’s stupid bill any more compromising or bipartisan, right? They passed it, huzzah! KNOWING that the Senate would reject it. What an accomplishment.

Brian Beutler reports:

The final vote was 218 in favor to 210 against. Zero Democrats joined the majority, and only 22 Republicans voted with the Democrats.

[...] What [Boehner] came up with — a plan that would have forced Congress to accept deep entitlement cuts in the month ahead under the threat of yet another default — unified Democrats in opposition, and left him with the unenviable task of finding 217 Republicans who support a plan that lacked the radical provisions they’ve long demanded.

He couldn’t put it together. That left him to choose between admitting total defeat, or throwing his caucus more red meat and passing yet another symbolic measure. He chose the latter. At this point his bill’s only substantive purpose may be to serve as a vehicle for Senate Democrats and Republicans to pass a viable, bipartisan debt limit bill.

The NYT Caucus blog just posted last night:

The United States Senate quickly dispatched the debt ceiling bill passed by the House Friday evening, tabling the Republican bill indefinitely and moving quickly to start consideration of a Democratic plan that would avoid default on Tuesday.

Less than two hours after House Speaker John A. Boehner pushed his bill through the House over the strenuous objections of nearly two dozen of his own Republican members, the Democratic leadership in the Senate followed through on their promise to kill his legislation.

Are the teaparty Republican Congressmen aware that — by a majority of votes in 2008 and 2010 — the Senate and the White House are Democratic? For that matter, are the teabaggers aware of that fact?

JK! We all know they’re aware of that fact — their ‘job’ is to do nothing and make sure nothing gets done through November 2012! Wouldn’t it be great to draw a paycheck* + benefits for doing nothing (i.e. writing outlandish bills that would never, ever be approved by the Senate or the President)?

*The current salary for all Senators and Members is $174,000. The salary for the Speaker is $223,500 and the salary for the Majority and Minority Leaders is $193,400.

What are Republicans willing to sacrifice to save Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy?

Apparently, our entire f*cking country.

Republicans walk out of budget talks over taxes

Negotiators had reached tentative agreement on more than $2 trillion in cuts covering wide swaths of the federal budget, according to an aide familiar with the talks, affecting health programs, annual spending, benefits like farm subsidies and tuition aid, and automatic limits on future spending. But Democrats would not relent on taxes, the aide said.

Republicans have said from the outset that any tax increases will not pass the House. Democrats saw an opening, though, after many Senate Republicans supported a move to repeal a tax break for ethanol last week over the objections of anti-tax activists.

In recent sessions, Democrats had pressed to close a wide range of tax breaks, from oil and gas subsidies to breaks that benefit wealthy individuals.

CognitiveDissonance observes:

That’s right, kids. Democrats are offering to sacrifice the poor on the altar of ideology in exchange for teeny sacrifices from the rich and corporations in the form of their taxes going back to rates from the Clinton era. You know, before the temporary Bush tax cut package. The GOP is willing to risk US default over this. Remember this in 2012.