Don’t Panic, But They’re Making Sausage

UPDATE: House Speaker John Boehner walked out of bipartisan budget talks today. Just in case you were still wondering about which party had the adults in the room…



[A]ttention continues to swirl around the prospects of the $3 trillion compromise. The possible deal remains in limbo over a disagreement on whether to extend Bush-era tax cuts for families earning more than $250,000 a year, according to congressional aides who spoke on condition of not being identified.

If enacted, the deal would include spending cuts expected to total $1 trillion or more agreed to in earlier negotiations led by Vice President Joe Biden, the sources said. It would reform entitlement programs by changing the eligibility age for Medicare over time, and using a more restrictive inflation index for Social Security benefits, according to the sources.

On taxes, it would permanently extend the Bush tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 while allowing the cuts to expire at the end of 2012 for those with income above that, the aides said. At the same time, the deal would include a commitment to reform the tax code next year, which is expected to lower all tax rates and eliminate loopholes and subsidies, the sources said.


The White House was clearly taken aback by the stampede of press reports Thursday – coupled with the angry reaction from lawmakers…

Democratic officials familiar with the negotiations wouldn’t discuss the president’s private talks with congressional leaders Thursday evening but pushed back against the criticism from lawmakers that the president was somehow backtracking on a perceived pledge that changes in taxes would be locked in up front.

In fact Obama has said publicly, the officials pointed out, that the tax changes would not take place until 2013 and the same sort of staggered timetable would apply to the entitlement changes as well.

Okay, so, communication between the Democratic White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill could be, uh, better. At the same time, the House “Cut, Cap and Balance” alternative cuts-only plan died in the Senate this morning. With the pushback from fellow Democrats yesterday, it seems unlikely that the President can agree to a deal that doesn’t include the authentic new revenue he’s advocated up to now. Not to mention that ending the Bush tax cuts after 2012 does have less meaning if the deal includes a plan to cut rates and close loopholes before then–more information about how much revenue would be raised is needed, and the offsetting impact of health care reform on raising Medicare eligibility ages, etc., needs to be better understood.

Above all, it’s important to recognize that these negotiations are highly fluid. The “plan,” or plans, are changing faster than reporters in the Capitol and the White House can report on them. It would be foolish to predict what the final debt-ceiling compromise that passes Congress will look like, except that it’s been clear for some time, and clearer today after the draconian House “alternative” failed, the the limit will be raised via compromise in time to avert default by the federal government. Politically, what will emerge on the other side are defining principles–or lack thereof–that everybody involved will take to the voters for their judgment next fall. And that is what they are all positioning themselves for as the inevitable end of playtime approaches.


77 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Ellie says:

    heart disease, obesity… Oh it’s turkey sausage, you say.  Well then that’s a lot better for you. Not!

  2. sxp151 says:

    There were numerous press reports, anger from Democrats in Congress, flat denials from the White House, and then it was gone.

    Obama will give Republicans everything they want, plus several things they didn’t even know they wanted, once again.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      Don’t panic, my ass . . . If you’ve got any brains you’ll run, not walk, for the hills.

      This is the day the Koch’s have been waiting for.

    • reubenesp says:

      Obama still wants to pretend that he’s in charge of the negotiations by “summoning” Reid and Pelosi to the White House tomorrow.  Pathetic, but wise.  At least we’ll have two responsible adults in the room who have experience with something called legislative leadership.

      And leaks will show how much Obama was originally willing to give away under his “presidental leadership.”

  3. bjwilson83 says:

    “Democrats Are Hypocrites”

    This morning, they revealed their hypocrisy. House Republicans came up with a sensible compromise that gives each side what they want: the GOP gets a balanced budget amendment, and Democrats get a debt limit increase. Right?

    No, actually senate Democrats favor a balanced budget amendment too, so the plan basically bends over backwards to give Obama a debt limit increase:

    But did they vote that way? Heck no! They voted to kill the balanced budget amendment this morning. They’ll take partisan politics over saving the country any day. As long as they can provide cover for their president to blame the GOP for their failure to pass a bill (and someone please explain the logic of that one to me, but so says the media), they’ll be happy to shut down the government.

    The fact remains that the GOP is the only party in Washington who has put forward (and passed in the House) a sensible compromise to deal with our budget problems. Everybody else has punted and hopes that blaming the House GOP will cut it. It won’t.

    • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

      BJ. You have the parties backwards again. Go back to Civics 101 and come back when you know which is which. I know they’ve gotten so close to indistinguishable these days that it takes some doing, but it’s really an important aspect of political commentary.

      • bjwilson83 says:

        “ohferpetesake” is not a sensible budget strategy, although it does indeed seem to be Obama’s.

      • Gray in the mountains says:
        • Gray in the mountains says:

          a “balanced budget amendment” certainly sounds smart. But, it would not help. One that would be effective and useful would allow so many exceptions; in cases of war, famine, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc that it would not mean what the unthoughtful and uninformed want. A better approach is to say that revenue has to equal X of GDP (I’d suggest 21%) and expenses can not be more than X-1 without revenues being increased in cases of war, famine, tornadoes, etc.

    • snowrapids says:

      So just a few points.  First, the Democrats goal in life is NOT to raise the debt ceiling.  That’s what HAS to be done to KEEP AMERICA AFLOAT.  Their goal in these negotiations are to reduce the deficit in future years by not cutting the poorest off from essential services while giving the rich tax cuts.

      Second, your little video might have more weight if it actually contained what it said it did.  There were not 20 Democratic senators listed or shown.  There were several current members of the House in there, which do not count as Senators, and more than half of the video was taped in the early 90’s.

      One final thought is that if I so heavily edited statements to not include the qualifiers like “if properly written” etc, I’m sure Republicans would be in favor of runaway spending.  And several of those statements in the video were actually for a balanced budget, not an amendment, which the US actually had between 1996 and 2001.

      • The realist says:

        Republican debt run up during the Bush years — tax cuts for the wealthy were one of the biggest contributors to this, along with two wars not even on the books, plus unfunded Medicare Part D, etc, etc.  As Thom Hartmann says, the Republicans bought the car, drove it off the lot, and now they don’t want to pay for it.

        The ideological fracture within the Republican Party is being allowed to send our economy over a cliff.  Boehner walked away from a dialogue with the President because he cannot deliver the votes, cannot control the crazies.  


    • MADCO says:

      Is unconstitutional and foolish. Binding our grandchildren to our budget vision.

      I don’t blame the GOP.  I blame the GO(T)P.

      What they passed in the House was not a a sensible compromise it was political posturing.  

      Posturing  is ok, as long as people understand that’s all it is.

      A failure to raise the debt limit (which is unconstitutional anyway) will not lead to a shut down. It will lead to enormous expenses as the US defaults.

      • Car 31 says:

        More debt. That’s the ironic thing, by going into default because Rebuplicans don’t want more debt, we’ll create higher payments and more debt.

        The whole situation has gone bass akwards! I’m expecting to meet Alice and the Mad Hatter any moment. I’ll put a good word in for you.  

  4. dwyer says:

    I guess Boehner hasn’t read Colorado Pols.

    Wake me when it is okay to panic, kids.

    • DavidThi808 says:

      You can start to panic now.

      I was also figuring that the GOP would eventually agree to a compromise where they only got 80% of what they wanted. Their owners on Wall St. would insist.

      But I’m starting to worry that they have enough tea partiers who actually believe the B.S. they’ve been fed that the House cannot pass a compromise. There’s too many that won’t vote for it regardless and a larger group that figures they will get primaried and lose if they vote for it.

    • DaftPunk says:

      I just moved all my 401k money into interest only accounts for the next two weeks.  

    • SSG_Dan says:

      Let Sen Dorgan’s bill go forward on the Senate floor, with Sen McConnell’s debt ceiling BS on right afterward. Tell the repubs if they filibuster the spending bill, WE’LL LET THEM.

      Then the crazy–ass Teapublicans can have their 2-yr old moment on the House floor, and the adult repubs can decide to join them and destroy this country’s economy, or vote for something that makes sense.  

  5. dwyer says:

    The repubs could not capitulate to a black man’s ultimatum.

    • Geithner pretty much noted that Treasury can’t just turn on a dime; it would take about 12 days to turn any legislation into a fully functioning Treasury reaction.

      As of tonight, there will (according to Geithner) be at least some minor consequences for not passing a debt ceiling increase.  I’m assuming that every additional day that passes will bring additional trouble for a few days after August 2.

      • dwyer says:

        But, the President announced it and reinforced the date for the reasons you cite.  Publicly, it was perceived  as the President’s mandate.

        The observation I made came from a long standing memory based on two sources.  The first, that I cannot locate, but will continue to search for was from a US senator from the South who said that the reason so many of the  South”s “good ole boys” dodged the draft in the 60s was because the military was integrated and black men were in positions of authority and “white boys don’t take orders from black boys.”

        The second source is from a friend of mine, also from the 60s, who very carefully explained the very same thing to me.

        Now, many poor white boys from the South were drafted.

        But, the senator, as I recall, was trying to explain why so many “patriotic” southern elected officials dodged the draft during the 60s and still proclaimed their belief in the military values, love of country, etc.

        It was if they were saying that they really wanted to serve and fight their countries enemies in Vietnam, but unfortunately, actions of the hated federal government made that impossible.

  6. Ellie says:

    Refreshing.  We will all pause for a second to feel sorry for Boehner…he’s got a caucus full of raving, flaming idiots.  His attack on Obama justifying his walking out on talks with the White House was even weak.

    • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

      I’m pretty sure that was the guy I voted for, just now. I haven’t seen him for a while–maybe a glimpse or two, and the occasional rumor that we was still in the White House somewhere–but I think that was his first speech in a number of months, maybe years.

      Well, Chicago Obama, welcome the Hell back. Stick around this time.

      • BlueCat says:

        If he’d shown up in 2009 we wouldn’t have lost the House in 2010.  But he’s here now so maybe, just maybe, this won’t be the same old story.  Boehner says he walked out because he and Obama nave different visions for America.  Republicans and Dems always have different visions for America but in our previously functioning two party system they made deals in which both sides have had give up some stuff that matters to them to keep other stuff and get stuff done.

        The battle cry was never “No Compromise”.  Governing was all about compromise. Deals were made that sometimes may have been just a little more that 50% for one side, a little less for the other.  In a world where 75/25, 80/20 or even 99/1 for your side isn’t good enough, only the single party dictatorship model can function

        I just hope that this time, for a change, the Dems say screw blinking first.  Let the GOP filibuster their little brains out if they want to, on live feed, until their Wall Street overlords pull the plug. This time, if we all have to go down in flames let’s make sure the GOP goes first and everyone knows who dragged us down with them. But I don’t think the corporate Masters of the Universe are going to let the Tea Party imbeciles do it to them

        • Pam Bennett says:

          Maybe signing off on DADT repeal and the sky didn’t fall gave him the brass to finally start, this has to be only the start, of using the damned Bully Pulpit he owns.

          He should be calling a daily presser to keep America up to date on the progress or failure of Congress sending him something to sign.

        • DavidThi808 says:

          We still have way too many people insisting on no increase in debt, no new taxes, and don’t you dare take away my services. This is where that impossible wish meets reality.

          If we have the stock market tank, the bond market jump, half the government shut down, and reduced checks being delivered – then you’ll suddenly have everyone facing reality. And when they realize the impact of not raising the ceiling, it will be the GOP and especially the tea baggers who will get the brunt of the blame.

          In one sense it’s ironic – if the tea partiers get their wish it will mean the end of them as a movement.

          • BlueCat says:

            Obama might go for the 14th amendment solution as last, before we go over the cliff, resort and raise the debt ceiling himself to avoid default, independent of any economic deal. Especially if Wall Street and the rest of the real financial power structure freaks and begs him to and he gets something major from them in return.

            What he should not do is take McConnell’s pissy you get to raise it a few months at a time so we can you beat you up for it on a regular basis deal. If they won’t give anything, they should get nothing. Less than nothing. No matter what.  It’s the only way to drive the stake into the heart of this GOPT insanity.

          • ScottP says:

            They would dance up and down and point at the left shouting “See what they did! This is what happens when a government spends!”

            Then we’d all look at them dumbfounded because responding to that kind of stupidity is useless and futile and they’d take our silence as proof that they’re right and dance and point and yell more.

              • BlueCat says:

                Remember they aren’t politicians.  They’re fanatic believers. If they combine forcing candidates that can’t win a general on the GOP with putting up protest candidates that take 10% or more away from the GOP where they can’t manage to force their way, Dems can’t lose. When they become more of a pain in the ass than asset to the GOP’s corporate overlords, we’ll see how long the GOP can keep passing the Tea Party purity test and winning elections at the same time.  

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      (and what isn’t anymore?) we may actually wind up owing the orange man a debt of gratitude . . . right after he is finished getting his ass kicked.

  7. Ray Springfield says:

    We are all screwed.

    • Worst case scenario isn’t that the tea party defaults.  Come somewhere around noon August 1, the Democrats will cave completely rather than allow the country (and the world) to go down in a spectacular flaming crash.

      IMHO that’s what this is now reduced to – legislating through hostage-taking and ransom demands.

      • DavidThi808 says:

        Last December we should have also called their bluff and let the Bush tax cuts expire. The deficit would be lower, we would not be facing this vote yet, and we would go into the vote with the Repubs knowing the Dems will call their bluff.

        The problem with previously capitulating when the Repubs held the economy hostage is they assume they can do it again and succeed.

        • is that if we don’t pass something by August 2, our credit rating will be downgraded.  And like your own credit rating, the ratings agencies won’t just magically restore it once your short-term crisis is averted.

          If we lose AAA rating, it’s likely gone for decades – the ratings agencies will have lost trust in us as a country, and they’re already whining about our fiscal health as it is.  We will be stuck with the consequences of this single decision for the rest of our lives, and it won’t be pretty.

          • cdsmith says:

            Credit rating agencies know exactly what’s going on.  It’s not like consumer credit where they have to guess based on your past loan payment what your financial situation is.

            If the deadline is missed, and the Tea Party goes down in flames and the U.S. passes a comprehensive plan including some very significant increases in revenue, I don’t see why there’d be a long term problem with the U.S. credit rating.  (On the other hand, if we barely scrape by with a last-minute bill to raise the ceiling and nothing else, we won’t necessarily avert that crisis…)

            • DavidThi808 says:

              It may not be that big a deal for the markets if we don’t raise the limit. While treasury is not saying, almost certainly payments on the debt will be continued in full. That means the big hit will be to our economy as people don’t receive paychecks, social security checks, medicare payments, etc.

              But the world economy is being driven by other countries now and we’re already a drag on that. This will hurt the U.S. a lot but it may not have much impact world-wide.

          • Irish Patti says:

            Jimmy Carter. We defaulted for a few days, then sanity was restored. The Repubs are playing from the same playbook as they did with Carter.  

            • thiokuutoo says:

              I don’t remember Carter offering to kill Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

              • DavidThi808 says:

                I think Obama views himself as the honest broker trying to find the middle ground between Democrats & Republicans.

                • BlueCat says:

                  “kill” social security, medicare and medicaid and I do recall his insisting on a revenue side to the deal.  No need for hysterical exaggeration.  It’s bad enough as is. And you David, accusing a Dem of not being a real Dem is pretty rich. Oops, sorry Fox, I mean pretty job creator.

                  • DavidThi808 says:

                    Is it supporting elected Dem officials regardless of what they do? Or is it supporting the ideals of the Democratic party? Is it supporting old tired obsolete policies of the past? Or is it finding new ways to achieve our ideals that will work well in our rapidly changing world? Do we respond to the effects or do we address the causes?

              • Irish Patti says:

                I would love if in this negotiation Medicare part B and Medicare Advantage were stripped out. You know the way W let privatized insurance into Medicare.

                There was never a proposal to “kill” Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  

  8. ScottP says:

    Except their doing it wrong. I wish I could find the quote online that I heard on KOA earlier today. It was along the lines of…

    Republican so-and-so says they at least came up with a plan. If the Dems are going to say “No” then they need to come up with a plan…. that doesn’t include raising taxes.

    So-and-so almost had it right…almost.

    • We’ve already seen Obama’s plan – all zillion of them offered one after another as Boehner and Cantor shot them down.

      And we’ve seen (barely – wish it would get more coverage) the Progressive Caucus plan, which is the only plan on the table that would actually balance the budget.

      And we’ve seen the bi-partisan Gang of Six plan.

      And Harry Reid has apparently signed on with Mitch McConnell to give us the McConnell-Reid plan.

      That’s at least a zillion and three Democratic plans in my book.  And only one of them is as partisan (and smarter in being so) as the Republican plan that was rightfully shot down in the Senate this morning.  The rest of them fall somewhere between sane (McConnell-Reid) and “give away the farm to the GOP”.

      • ArapaGOP says:

        He’s just posturing around the fact that Republicans won’t go along with any demand to raise taxes. And they should not.

        • cdsmith says:

          you agree that the middle class, elderly, and poor should be the only ones making sacrifices as we try to balance the budget?

          The American people do not agree.  And if your party destroys our economy to protect their wealthy banker and lawyer friends, polls are quite clear about who the American people will blame.

        • SSG_Dan says:

          You don’t get to throw out the “job-killed taxes” dumbasery in your answer – show me SOMETHING that shows that the Millionaire Tax Cut created jobs and helped the middle class earn more and expand their quality of living.

          No Heritage Foundation, and none of the Repub jerk-off sites that ‘tad loves to quote. SHOW ME WHERE THIS LATEST TAX CUT CREATED SUBSTANTIAL JOB GROWTH.

          Because if you can’t, please STFU on this issue.

        • BlueCat says:

          non-parliamentary, divided power system has ever worked in the past and to call for such nonsense, ArapG, is to call for an end to our system of government which can’t possibly function unless those with competing ideologies are willing to make deals. Nothing could be less patriotic and more anti-American than the Tea Party “No compromise” ethos.

          I hope those who believe that Dems will again cave for the good of the country are wrong.  It may be for the immediate good,  just as in all terrorist hostage taking situations, but the only way to end the madness and get us back on the road toward returning our country to function and sanity is to refuse to give in to the extortionists demands instead of proving them right yet again in trusting to their bullying and Dem  weakness in the face of it.

          Anything that happens as a result of Dem refusal to give in to the extortionists will be worth the price compared to the price of continuing to let the extortion succeed. Giving in has already brought us to a recession that refuses to end for the overwhelming majority.  More of the same GOPT crazy policies will plunge us into deepening depression.

  9. DavidThi808 says:

    Note that Obama’s term so far has been a steady increase in Democratic unfavorables and only recently has the Republican party also gone back on an upward trend. I think on the Democratic side this is due to a couple of things.

    First, what does the Democratic party market itself as standing for? All we hear is no changes – not compelling when the economy sucks. And when we do hear of changes, usually it’s trying to minimize proposed changes from the Republicans. Nothing about significant Democratic changes to address the changes that have occured in the world.

    Second, our main message is “we suck less.” True but when someone holds their nose when casting a vote that comes out as an unfavorable (and often as why bother voting).

    Third, after the first 6 months Obama and Congress basically ignored the economy. Yes there was the occasional speech about how they needed to do something – but never any substantive action.

    Fourth, everyone knows both parties are owned by the large corporations and the rich. As Dems we expect that of the Republican legislators but we hope for better from our Democratic legislators.

  10. DavidThi808 says:

    Congress “nutters” risk global finance: UK minister

    “The irony of the situation at the moment, with markets opening tomorrow morning, is that the biggest threat to the world financial system comes from a few right-wing nutters in the American congress rather than the euro zone,” he told BBC television.

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