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July 19, 2011 12:36 AM UTC

GOP Seeks Face-Saving Exit From Debt Ceiling Debacle

  • by: Colorado Pols

Politico’s David Rogers updates:

President Barack Obama and the two top House Republican leaders held an unannounced meeting at the White House Sunday, trying to get debt talks back on track with just two weeks left before the threat of default.

Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor were both part of the discussions which come even as the House GOP has scheduled floor votes Tuesday on a newly revised debt ceiling bill that is remarkable for its total absence of compromise at this late date and represents a real shift to the right…

Republican insiders argue that the floor votes are a necessary step to establish a conservative record before compromises are made to get past the crisis. [Pols emphasis] In fact, at a meeting Friday with Obama’s chief of staff, Bill Daley, Boehner floated a new version of the $4 trillion compromise he has previously pursued with the president. Cantor was also in that meeting as the two Republican leaders try to avoid a repeat of the divisions that have plagued them in these talks.

But at this late hour, the House bill represents a major political escalation that risks undermining Boehner’s standing. And going into 2012, congressional Republicans seem focused on driving their conservative base, displaying little confidence that one of their presidential candidates will oust Obama.

The Republican drive for major spending cuts in exchange for a vote to raise the “debt ceiling” statutory borrowing limit has faltered around one key issue: raising government revenue in addition to cutting spending to arrive at a balanced solution. The GOP’s credibility on the issue of fiscal responsibility used to be their great strength; a few weeks later, the dogmatic rejection of any increase in revenue has become a fatal weakness. Polls show that the American people will blame Republicans, not the President, should the crisis fail to be resolved.

As we’ve noted, the same polling shows that 67% of the public–67%–wants tax increases to be a component of any long-term deficit fix. The “cuts only” demand from the GOP has not only failed to gain traction; it’s confirmed something very important philosophically about the two sides. One side fundamentally values institutions like Medicare as the public does; the other side does not. Republicans have succeeded in one part of their objective in the debt limit debate–they deserve credit for moving their all-consuming issue of spending and deficits into prominence with the public and with Democrats, albeit via hypocritical recriminations and questionable facts.

The trouble is, even if they can hog the spotlight, they don’t have a monopoly on the solution. And with the consequences spelled out in sharp relief thanks to the Medicare privatization budget eagerly approved by the GOP-controlled House, the voters can see more clearly than ever that the underlying philosophy Republicans are selling isn’t what they want.


46 thoughts on “GOP Seeks Face-Saving Exit From Debt Ceiling Debacle

  1. Hardball still proclaiming that he and his pledge represent the will of the American people. Apparently all or at least a clear majority of us. Not what the polls say? I guess besides IOKIYAR there is also PCWRSTC … Polls Count When Republicans Say They Count.

    1. The Pols are right about one, and only one thing while they demagogue this day after day. It’s a fundamental philosophical difference.

      The bedrock issue is whether we should have a larger and more expensive federal government. Over many years, federal spending has averaged about 20 percent of gross domestic product.

      The Obama Democrats have raised that to 24 or 25 percent. And the president’s budget projects that that percentage will stay the same or increase far into the future.

      In the process, the national debt as a percentage of gross domestic product has increased from a manageable 40 percent in 2008 to 62 percent this year and an estimated 72 percent in 2012. And it’s headed to the 90 percent level that economists Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart have identified as the danger point, when governments face fiscal collapse.

      This is a level of spending as a share of the economy Americans haven’t seen since World War II. It seems more like Europe than like the America we have known. (emphasis mine)

      President Obama insisted in his somber press conference Friday that he is willing to reduce federal spending from these levels. But he remained vague on specifics and intransigent in his demand that any debt-limit deal include “revenue,” which translated into English means tax increases.

      …But Republicans had a mandate from the voters in November 2010 to advance such policies. In contrast, it’s not at all clear that voters in November 2008 gave Obama and the Democrats a mandate to increase non-defense discretionary spending by 24 percent (84 percent if you count the stimulus package) in 2009 and 2010.

      Talk all you want to about the Republican philosophy of smaller government. But if you try to claim that Obama’s philosophy is any more radical you are lying. The Pols are right, this IS a fundamental disagreement, but the voters of 2010 have already delivered the people’s verdict.

      First we have to undo what Obama has already done, stope the NEW trillions he wants to spend. That is what the GOP majority was elected to do.

      1. they’re having a difficult time swallowing the facts that policy after policy from Team Obama has failed. They are a lazy and inexperienced lot who can’t justify to the media, with any basic facts, that their policies have. Made any improvement. In fact the Obama policies have driven unemployment higher.

          1. United…the site that promotes Hermain Cain’s latest racist and anti American rant – “People Have A “Right” to Ban Mosques”

            FAIL X2

          1. But didn’t the Obama administration make that chart? And didn’t unemployment actually go up far beyond those levels as the red dots show?

            What exactly about these charts is a “FAIL,” other than Obama’s economic policies?

            1. …some doofus with a blog that ‘tad loves to quote did.

              It would be in the legend on the lower right-hand side where it says “innocent”

              Now, THIS is from a legitimate website called “The Economist”

              The depression that might have been

                In a new paper, the economists argue that without the Wall Street bailout, the bank stress tests, the emergency lending and asset purchases by the Federal Reserve, and the Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus program, the nation’s gross domestic product would be about 6.5 percent lower this year.

                In addition, there would be about 8.5 million fewer jobs, on top of the more than 8 million already lost; and the economy would be experiencing deflation, instead of low inflation…

                Mr. Blinder and Mr. Zandi find that the financial stabilization measures – the Troubled Asset Relief Program, as the bailout is known, along with the bank stress tests and the Fed’s actions – have had a relatively greater impact than the stimulus program.

                If the fiscal stimulus alone had been enacted, and not the financial measures, they concluded, real G.D.P. would have fallen 5 percent last year, with 12 million jobs lost. But if only the financial measures had been enacted, and not the stimulus, real G.D.P. would have fallen nearly 4 percent, with 10 million jobs lost.


                1. The chart itself has no citation for data – and the website itself has been shut down for years.

                  I could draw a similar chart and post it on my website and it would probably be more accurate by accident.


                  1. do not wish to be confused by facts. Notice how they completely ignore polls showing that it definitely is not the will of the majority to cut programs the majority values while refusing to as roll back cuts and breaks for the wealthy? These are people who have a fanatic religious-like faith in an ideology that does double duty, functioning as theology as well.

                    I saw an interesting montage of numerous Fox talking heads, all parroting the same exact words.  For Obama it was the word “obsession” as in “He has an obsession with raising taxes”. One after another saying the exact same thing with the exact same words.  

                    For the GOPT the word was “job creator”.   The word has apparently come down from the Fox bosses that you can’t say “rich” anymore.  You can’t talk about the rich  being asked to pay a bit more in taxes. You must always call them job creators, never mind that they’ve shown no inclination toward using any of all the extra wealth and profit they’re already sitting on to create jobs.

                    You can’t have intelligent debates with people who buy that kind of propaganda and elevate and believe it with unquestioning religious fervor. It’s straight out of “1984”. If facts are irrelevant, what’s the basis for debate?  Maybe they think the facts are planted by God to test them, like the people who think dinosaur bones are planted by God as a test of their faith.  In any case they seem to take great pride in refusing to look at them.  

                    The good news from the polls is, the spell seems to be breaking, which doesn’t mean Dems won’t still find a way to blow it and roll over. Fingers crossed they won’t do it this time because the GOPT is really, truly, no hyperbole, bat shit crazy and if we don’t stop them now…

                    1. The other term is ‘the prosperity class”..

                      During the cold war, there were “listening posts” all up and down the Iron Curtain… was one way our intelligence kept track of what was happening in the Soviet Bloc.

                      I see talk radio in the same way.  Early warning system.

                      But it is way too late for the dems.  They do not have the votes, and they have failed to “frame” the message. The polls are mixed.  CNN reported last night that half the country does NOT want to raise the debt ceiling.

                      To toss out a paranoid thought:  If you wanted to destroy this country internally, wouldn’t the current economic crisis work?  Divide and conquer. Destroy the dollar, create havoc and render the President impotent?  Where are the hackers who could tell us exactly who funded the republican take-over last Fall????

                      At least the Koch brothers are Americans.

                    2. I think most folks want a balance.  Personally, I would prefer closing loopholes, vastly simplifying the tax code, but keeping or lowering capital gains and marginal tax rates.  I’m not rich.  I will probably never be in the top bracket.  Most of the things Obama has proposed tax-wise would probably aid me, but I think class warfare is morally wrong.

                      Here’s Gallup today:

                      Americans continue to express a strong desire that any agreement that is reached include plans for major cuts in future spending. Americans now by a 20-point margin — 55% vs. 35% — say they worry more that the government would raise the debt ceiling without plans for major spending cuts, than that the government would not raise the ceiling and an economic crisis would ensue.

                      [Emphasis Mine]

                      You’ve been pretty hostile to me lately, which is a bummer, but I’m wondering if I maybe, through my general snarky nature, haven’t explained where I’m really coming from on this.

                      Obama has been specific on how taxes would be raised, but very vague on what exactly would be cut in some sort of a ‘grand deal’.  This is a problem for me and other Republicans.  My view is that he has spent wildly, and now wants the Republicans to be complicit in being the taxman to pay for his spending.  That’s it.  That, IMO, is why you’re seeing some normally fairly rational R Congressmen absolutely toe the ‘no new taxes, period’ line.

                      I like discourse, and I can certainly be an ass, but the folks that know me here know it’s not done at anyone’s expense, it’s just me being snarky.  What I don’t like is being insulted every single time someone replies to a post of mine.  Look back over the posts and see if you can find one of me insulting you, BlueCat, telling you how ignorant, selfish, or stupid you are.  Actually, don’t waste your time.  You won’t find it.

                      For how often (every day) I read of Republican intolerance on this site, I sure see a lot more of it coming the other way toward any opinion that deviates from the liberal consensus here.

                      Anyway, just think about it.  I’m glad to be here, and I’ve made some fantastic friends on this board.

                    3. First off, you’ve been parroting the same dumbass rhetoric that ‘tad and the rest of the Repub nincompoops resort to on this site.

                      Since you’ve come onto this site (snicker) you’ve fallen off of your normal standard of posting to just going with the usual bumpersticker retorts. I get that it’s snark, but (at least in my case) I’m trying to have a serious discussion on the nuts and bolts of the issue, not the straight lines that Hannity is going to use on talk radio.

                      Second, you keep acting like all the lefties on this site want is tax and revenue increases with no spending cuts. That’s a nice bit of “class warfare” pretending to be butt-hurt for “the working man and woman” but I don’t buy it for a second. That ties back to point #1- based on your posts, it’s clear you could give a shit about the deficit – all you seem to want is tax cuts and smaller govt, and fuck the deficit. Repub magic will balance the budget, just like it did in 2001 when Dubya signed the millionaire tax cut into law.

                      I think pretty much everyone here on the left wants a combo of revenue increases and tax cuts. I know if you made me DoD Secy I could carve out a huge chunk of money out of short and long-term budget. There’s savings to be had at every Federal agency – a buddy who’s a GS-13 in DC has proposed that every Executive Branch head cut their agency’s budget 10% in 60 days.We should start taxing federal locality pay for GS 12’s and above, and make SEC exempt from those allowances.

                      Lastly, going back again to your passive-aggressive class warfare, it’s the Repubs engaged in it, and they’ve been winning for 10+ years. I probably won’t be a millionaire, but I was (briefly) in the upper bracket when I worked in Hollywood. I didn’t begrudge paying my fair share,and everyone else should as well.

                      If we use the original Obama plan for tax cuts, the top 1% still make out like bandits, and they’re free to not create jobs with it like they have for the last 10 years.

                      We tried it the Republican’t way, and it didn’t work. Well, it worked for the super-wealthy, as they laugh all the way to their offshore Cayman Island bank.

                      (and one more thing – I’ll stop blaming Dubya for this majority of the deficit when we finally pay it off….)

                    4. Can you be specific on the amount of spending cuts, and where they come from?  Can you equal the amount of the debt-ceiling-raise with cuts?

                      You can’t ignore the fact that the “corporate jet owners’ and the “millionaire and billionaire” shit is 100% populist class warfare.  That’s what we’re hearing now, and that’s why I brought it up.

                    5. When is it appropriate to raise taxes? tax rates? tax revenue?

                      The president can talk tax increases, and spending cuts all he wants – he can’t do it.  Congress has to.

                      Now- he can try and lead. But the line item veto is illegal. SCOTUS said so.

                      He can talk about spending limits on discretionary spending, and say he’ll support a deficit failsafe.  But Congress has the actual task.

                      So the “never, ever raise taxes” crowd has resorted to making shit up – foolish, demonstrably false shit like “lower tax rates always increase tax revenue.” (Tell it to Ireland)

                      And in the current environment (context) the GO(T)P has resorted to just looking for ways to embarrass the president in a weird, but predictable, political move to spin him into one term.

                      President Reagan was serious about the cold war – and did what had to be done to win (the B1 is, was and will always be inferior to the B52 – but it won the cold war.)

                      President Reagan was serious about deficit reduction – and he advocated for raised taxes.

                      President Reagan was serious about stabilizing the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and advocated for increased taxes.

                      When is it appropriate to raise taxes? tax rates? tax revenue?

                      I’ll agree to a “fail safe deficit trigger” (which I’m pretty sure would require amending the Constitution) if we can agree that sometimes raising taxes is the right move.  

                      Incidentally -Fortune, Bloomberg, WSJ, Financial TImes, and The Economist has reported that the Obama Plan is about $3 of spending reduction for $1 of revenue increase.

                    6. Are they really still standing behind their dismantling of Medicare? In this current debate, neither side has publicly offered specifics on spending cuts.  

                      Also, “populist class warfare”?

                      And what about GOPs focus on “Death Panels”, Obama’s citizenship, calling the President a communist and fascist in the same sentence, etc. Don’t just point the finger at the President and Democrats. The Republicans have been “demogoguing” (GOP’s new favorite word) this President from day one.  

                    7. America, “most people”, want.  Based on what?  Mainly, it would seem, a religious like faith that your side represents the real America and nothing more. What you think most people want is more like what you think most people ought to want.

                    8. See the May 25, 2011, article “How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory” in Rolling Stone.

                2. Libertad is NOT someone who ever presents credible data.

                  I’ve concluded that you are interested in real discussion here, and I respect that. But Libby is not. I’m sure you agree with him in general, but he is not someone you want allied with you if legitimate debate is what you’re after.

              1. Seriously, thanks for the link and excerpt.  It is beyond amazing that the Repubs have painted themselves into such a tight circle of lies that they have nowhere to go but to extremist sources that just make up data, charts, facts.

      2. Assuming the NR’s percentages are correct, the real question is why has the government share of GDP risen. It isn’t because of the Dmeocrats. Its because the economy shrank but government expenditures (TARP and ARRA) did not. Without TARP and ARRA the economy would be in much worse shape.

        The Republican’s were not given a mandate to cut spending in the 2010 election. They were given a mandate to redirect the attention of the government to jobs and the economy. They have failed to do that. Instead, they have focused on simply trying to defeat President Obama regardless of the fate of our jobs.

        Regardless of the so called “philosophical (i.e ideological) differences,” the real issue here is a practical one. We can’t let the country default on our debt obligations or other pending budget obligations. I’ve said it before. It doesn’t matter who ran up the balance on the naitonal credit card (all of us did that) and it doesn’t matter who holds the House or the Senate or the White House at the moment. We, the people, elected the politicians who ran up the debt and its up to us to stop them but we aren’t going to get out of this through budget cuts alone. Tax increases are going to have to be part of the solution. The Republican position that we can do this through budget cuts alone, after running the country on the credit card for fifty years, is utter nonsense. The Republican position is simply we gut the budget and everything is going to be alright. We need to begin paying down the debt and that means tax increases. We put the country on the credit card for two wars and a medicare drug benefit (both Republicans and Democrats voted for those expenditures) without increasing revenues to pay for it. We have the moral obligaiton to pay for it, not our children.

        The Republican position, bolstered by the false theory, proven wrong by actual history over the past thirty years, that tax increases always cause economic decline is put forth simply to stall any grand compromise. By stopping any compromise, the Republicans are cynically promoting additional anxiety and underming the confidence of the public which will then negatively impact the economy. It is a cynical game that deserves its just reward in 2012.

        If the Republicans were true conservatives, they would follow the mandate of Edmund Burke, one of the greatest conservative politicians of all time:

        A disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together, would be my standard of a statesman.

        The Republican drive to rip the institutions of society apart (i.e. medicare, social security, educational insititutions) without any idea how those services are replaced isn’t a prescription for the future. It’s a formula, based on a cynical thirst for power, that will leave the average voter without an education, medical services and simply lower our standard of living and quality of life.  

        1. The Republican drive to rip the institutions of society apart (i.e. medicare, social security, educational insititutions) without any idea how those services are replaced isn’t a prescription for the future. It’s a formula, based on a cynical thirst for power, that will leave the average voter without an education, medical services and simply lower our standard of living and quality of life.

          My personal desire is not to rip these things apart, but to realize that the first two are insolvent, and we need to find an alternative to insolvency.

          The third (ed) is by any measure, completely broken, and has become a fundraising wing of one political party as its main goal, above educating.  Of the three, I’d like to see education completely reformed and de-politicized, because that politicization has obviously contributed to its downfall.

          There’s a reason education is the most powerful lobby in the country and arguably the least competent government service.

          1. Social Security’s funding problems can be solved relatively easily by extending the retirment age and means testing among other things.

            Medicare’s basic problem rests in the fact the average American pays into the system $150,000 and then takes our about $450,000 in benefits. That is clearly unsustainable. So how do we fix it. First, about 50% of a person’s health care costs are incurred during their final illness. Many of those costs can be avoided. Physicians are trained to cure people and keep them alive but there are circumstances where it is better to keep the person comfortable and let them pass on rather than perform additional medical treatment that will have no other affect than to keep the person alive a few weeks or months longer. I think family members should be given more information about where potental treatment options really lead and then they can act as they see fit. This is what Gov. Palin called a “death panel” but having lived through these situations with both my Mom and my Dad, I now wish the doctors would have provided more information. For example, in my Mom’s case the doctor recommended surgery and we went along. She lived for a few (miserable) months and then passed away. She was in her nineties and on medicare and the treatment plus nursing home cost the taxpayers in the neighborhood of $200,000. We should have been advised that hospice was an option because it would have caused her far less suffering and the taxpayers far less in treatment expenses. In my scenario the family would still make the ultimate decision but there definitely needs to be more options put before family members.

            Education is a very complicated issue and my views would take more time than I have this afternoon to express so those will have to wait for another day but the above is a start on the other two issues.  

      3. That is what the GOP majority was elected to do.

        The GOP majority was elected to create jobs. They haven’t delivered, because they can’t deliver. Tax cuts don’t create jobs. Neither do spending cuts. Investment does. Republicans don’t believe in government investment. Proof? Look at their budget.

      4. 95% of the current deficit is carryover from the Bush administration…happily approved by many of the same shrieking idiots in the Republican’t party’s current delusional chorus:

        Republicans try to blame Obama for increasing the National Debt, even though it’s only gone up 25% since he was in office, and it went up 75% under Bush, with Republican support. They also fail to mention that 95% of Obama’s budget deficit is carryover spending from the Bush Administration’s policies.

        National Debt Increased by 75% under Bush and 25% under Obama:

        2001 – $5.871 trillion

        2008 – $10.640 trillion

        National Debt Increased 25% Under Obama:

        Jan 31st 2009 = $10.569-trillion

        Jan 31st 2011 = $14.131-trВ­В­illionBut of the $3.56-trilВ­В­lion increase, 98% was carry over from Bush programs:

        Bush: $910-billiВ­В­on = Interest on Debt 2009/2011

        Bush: $360-billiВ­В­on = Iraq War Spending 2009/2011

        Bush: $319-billiВ­В­on = TARP/BailoВ­В­ut Balance from 2008 (as of May 2010)

        Bush: $419-billiВ­В­on = Bush Recession Caused Drop in taxes

        Bush: $190-billiВ­В­on = Bush Medicare Drug Program 2009/2011

        Bush: $211-billiВ­В­on = Bush Meicare Part-D 2009/2011

        Bush: $771-billiВ­В­on = Bush Tax Cuts 2009/2011

        Bush’s contributiВ­В­on:

        2001 to 2008: $4.769-triВ­В­llion

        2009 to 2010: $3.181-triВ­В­llion

        Total: $7.950-triВ­В­llion

        Increase Since 2001 = $14.131 – $5.871 = $8.26-trilВ­В­lion

        Bush’s contributiВ­В­on: $7.950-triВ­В­llion / $8.26-trilВ­В­lion = 96%

        Increase caused By Bush’s Programs: 96%

        Increase caused by Obama’s Programs: 4%

            1. Just kidding.

              How long is Bush going to be blamed for an economy that this crew obviously has zero idea how to aid?

              Does that mean I can blame FDR and Johnson for bankrupting us?

              1. Always takes a lot more time, effort, and expense than what it took to drive it in there. And once pulled out, it then needs to be repaired to get it back to the original condition.

                With that said, the Dems have done a crappy job of fixing things. But at least they’re not trying to drive the car back into the ditch as the Repubs propose.

              2. Forever for causing this destruction of the U.S. And his minions are still working hard to prevent any recovery for America. There is a reason it is called the Bush Recession. There is still the Hoover Depression aka the Great Depression. OBTW the Bush Recession is also called the Great Recession.

                1. That saves Obama from actually doing anything constructive toward fixing the economy in his first and only term!  Now I see how it works!


                  Hope you’re well out there on the east coast.  Take care of yourself.

                  1. but it didn’t. We tried to put two wars on the credit card, we passed a law that was corporate welfare for big pharma and called it Medicare reform, and cut taxes for millionaires and borrowed the money from China to pay for it.

                    The snark about Obama has been addressed by me so many times I refuse to post it again.

                    May the metal dog by your office come to life and shit aluminum foil all over your car.

          1. Speaking truth, but it’s a foreign language to liberal Democrats. The idea that money originally belonged to someone besides the government, who bestows all upon its children, profoundly upsets their apple cart.


            1. This simpleton argument may make Conservatives feel alright after they switch off talk radio, but it’s pure frogwash.

              I’ll try and make this easy:

              *The things that governments do cost money.

              *We pay taxes and fees so that government can do stuff.

              *Without the government doing stuff, we would not make as much money as we do now. (things like copyright protection, regulation of lenders, etc.)

              *We all pay these taxes and fees based on a number of factors, including the amount of money we make in various ways.

              *All of your money you make or earn does belong to you, but you agree to pay for the stuff the government does so you can live in this country and get the benefit of the stuff the government does.

              If you think that this doesn’t work for you, I can recommend some nice neighborhoods in Mogadishu that you can relocate to. (The area close to the airport by the abandoned cannery is close to the beach.)

              Somalia doesn’t collect taxes from you, but it doesn’t do anything for you either.

              Enjoy your newfound terrifying life.

              1. When the government spends money taxpayers are in essence agreeing to pay for that expense at some point. So, when taxes are cut without cutting spending as we’ve seen over the last 30 years, we are simply pushing that expense on to future taxpayers.  

      5. Those same People also retained a Democratic majority in the Senate in 2010. Those same People elected Barack Obama as their President in 2008. The GOP wins a majority in half of just one branch of government and thinks they have some sort of mandate? Give me a break.

        Explain this to me. Why is it that Republicans are calling for a balanced budget amendment that caps spending at 18% of GDP while at the same timed refusing to increase taxes that in FY2010 raised revenue at less than 15% of GDP?

        If 18% GDP is the ideal spending level for Republicans, shouldn’t they support collecting enough revenue to cover that spending? At current tax rates, their plan wouldn’t balance the budget, it would still run a deficit.

      6. Many times I do agree with you on the fundamental difference argument.In fact, I do believe you applauded my effort to point this out on another diary. And by god I would stand and argue on the right of Americans to have ideological differences any and every day of the week.

        However, I am having a rather large problem with the fact that the GOP doesn’t seem to want to compromise! They seem to be forgetting that their fundamental viewpoint is not the only one that exists.

        At this point, stamping their heels into the ground and saying “no tax increases, no, no, NO!” while the President offered up the sacred cows of the Democratic party in order to find a compromise seems just plain stupid and awfully childish.

        A good compromise is accomplished when no party is really happy, but each is a little better off by what the other party had to lose, don’t you agree?

  2. Will the president do a deal without revenue increases?  Will he cave?  The real issue is will the president ultimately accept “serious” cuts to the Big 3 social safety net programs.  

    Whatever the outcome, the president will be seen as the responsible adult willing to do a debt ceiling deal.

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