July 29, 2011
— DrewM Without any debate, the World's Greatest Deliberative Body (heh) tabled the Boehner bill without any debate. The vote was 59-41. Several GOP Senators voted with Reid because they, well, they are PURE or afraid of a tea party primary challenge.
Reid then filed cloture (which requires a 2 day waiting period before the vote can happen) on his bill. Mitch McConnell then offered to waive the waiting period but Reid said...no. You see we are in such an emergency situation, where every minute counts, that Reid doesn't want to vote tonight. Reid also whined that it wasn't fair that the House got to have a majority vote while the Senate requires 60 votes. Of course this isn't news to Harry.
As Guy Benson points out, Harry wasn't such a fan of majority votes just a few minutes earlier when he refused to allow the Senate to hold up an up or down, majority wins vote on the House's bill.
Reid and the Democrats then immediately scheduled a press conference to charge the Republicans with filibustering the Reid bill and endanger the economy.
I seem to recall the Twitter Spammer in Chief saying the time for politics was over. I guess that doesn't apply to everyone.
Added: The House is going to introduce and hold a vote on the Reid bill tomorrow. It hasn't been voted on in the Senate but they have the text so the GOP is just going to introduce it themselves and kill it to show it's DOA.
That bill is going to be superseded by a major amendment Reid offered tonight. Not sure if the amended bill has a CBO score or not.
Reid/Durbin/Schumer are holding their presser and whining about the filibuster. Perhaps they should have reformed the filibuster in January like their base wanted them to. Oh well, sucks to be you.
Now they are saying McConnell won't negotiate with them and won't let any GOP Senators do it. One can only hope that's true.
HMMMM: I thought a lot of this was kabuki theater but Reid says they are "drawing a line in the sand" that there will be no trigger (aka 2nd vote) for more cuts without more taxes.
Reid just said Republicans should "move toward them" or vote for his bill. Heads they win, tales Republicans lose. How can anyone say no to that offer?
— Dave in Texas I'm thinkin it must be his "puffy week".
The only reasonable people in the room, Democrats, who are being more than fair even though he thinks they should stoppit already, keep negotiating with these stupid Republicans who are holding the nation hostage with their "demands" and "concerns" and massive wave of public support.
Damn them. (NYT link, no need to read, it's typically obtuse Krug)
The facts of the crisis over the debt ceiling arent complicated. Republicans have, in effect, taken America hostage, threatening to undermine the economy and disrupt the essential business of government unless they get policy concessions they would never have been able to enact through legislation. And Democrats who would have been justified in rejecting this extortion altogether have, in fact, gone a long way toward meeting those Republican demands.
The "long ways" include Presidential intransigence and petulant threats from Harry Reid about bills that are dead on arrival. This is how you go a long way toward meeting demands. By saying "hellsno" to all of them.
Incidentally, there's a buried joke in there. "concessions they would never have been able to enact through legislation". He's writing about a process we've been enduring and fussin about called "legislation". As if Republicans are trying to capture these so-called "concessions" through voodoo and mind-control.
Last time I checked, it's still legislation (ugly though it may be).
If only the Nobel committee had an award for "Whining Hyperbole".
via Monty, the only important Doomsayer on that stage.
Dear Senate RINOs: Please Get Ready To Be Primaried If You Vote Against the BBA
— Ace Update: It passed.
One of those things they like to claim they're in favor of, until it comes up for tangible proof of that -- like voting it into being -- at which point they'll start hemming and hawing.
What is the problem with the BBA? Or a BBA, since whatever BBA will become part of the final deal hasn't been written yet, meaning you can craft it as you like?
And yet many of the RINOs, who must be primaried, are considering voting for Reid's bill-- which would kill the BBA.
Here's the list of those the Democrats think they could get. Note that the Democrats may be engaging in wishful thinking on some of these; but Scott Brown has already said (through a spokesman) he's thinking about voting for Reid's no-strings bill.
Right now, Democrats are looking to about 11 gettable GOP votes: Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Corker (R-TN), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Scott Brown (R-MA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Tom Coburn (R-OK). The last three were the Republican members of the Gang of Six deficit reduction group.
Without getting into the Purity/RINO thing, at some point we do in fact expect Republicans to vote Republican, such as on noncontroversial, broadly popular agenda items like cutting spending.
And we also expect them to vote with us tactically. This is all in furtherance of further negotiations, and to cut the House out of it for no reason is simply announcing you're an Independent, and should be treated as such.
Lose the seats in these cases; if you're not with us on the easy, no-brainer, lay-up votes, you're simply not with us, and it's better to go for longshot 1-in-10,000 chances of a decent replacement than to limp along with you.
The sad thing here is that Boehner's plan is squishy and weak. And even that might be too strong a brew for Scott Brown and his soon-to-be-ex-Republican Senators from the Northeast.
Jeff Flake, by the way, has a cute way to get the BBA on the agenda even if Reid blocks it.
— Ace I'm not sure if I think much of this column. Not that I object to name-calling Obama. I think that's fine. I just think her line of attack is wrong.
The line of attack that he's not a leader is an accurate one. Or that he is cowardly.
But a "loser"? I suppose, yes, but that's not the main problem.
And her assertion that "no one loves Obama"? Are you quite sure, Peggy?
The secret of Mr. Obama is that he isn't really very good at politics, and he isn't good at politics because he doesn't really get people....
Mr. Obama seemed brilliant at politics when he first emerged in 2004. He understood the nation's longing for unity. We're not divided into red states and blue, he said, we're Big Purple, we can solve our problems together. Four years later he read the lay of the land perfectlyreally, perfectly....
The fact is, he's good at dismantling. He's good at critiquing. He's good at not being the last guy, the one you didn't like. But he's not good at building, creating, calling into being. He was good at summoning hope, but he's not good at directing it and turning it into something concrete that answers a broad public desire.
And so his failures in the debt ceiling fight. He wasn't serious, he was only shrewdand shrewdness wasn't enough. He demagogued the issueno Social Security checksuntil he was called out, and then went on the hustings spouting inanities. He left conservatives scratching their heads: They could have made a better, more moving case for the liberal ideal as translated into the modern moment, than he did. He never offered a plan. In a crisis he was merely sly. And no one likes sly, no one respects it.
So he is losing a battle in which he had superior forcesthe presidency, the U.S. Senate. In the process he revealed that his foes have given him too much mystique. He is not a devil, an alien, a socialist. He is a loser. And this is America, where nobody loves a loser.
If you care, Mediaite has video of Noonan talking about this column on Scarborough.
I'm amused that Tommy Christopher tut-tuts her for her childishness...
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Friday morning, conservative columnist Peggy Noonan channeled her inner middle-schooler, calling President Obama a loser, and likening White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to a ferret with flop sweat.
... right before attempting to make a lame joke about that idiotic "Republicans watched The Town!" scandal that liberals apparently think is a pretty damn good talking point.
Tommy, if you want to play the grown up, act the grown up.
— Ace As VDH writes, whereas the armed forces once defended Turkey's constitutional guarantee of a secular government, they will now become the armed forces of an Islamist takeover.
— Ace Should go viral. People need to actually understand what we're talking about.
— Ace Liberals almost always immediately say "But Congress' approval is even lower!"
Yes, but people tend to like their own Congressman -- they tend to reflect the district's leanings, even if those diverge from the national average political leaning -- and so "Congess" is never on the ballot.
Just one Congressman is, who usually is more or less in tune with his district.
But Obama is on the ballot it in 2012. Not an abstraction called "The Executive Branch," but the actual person Barack Hussein Obama.
So if Obama's winning this debate, how come he's losing this debate?
President Obamas approval ratings have plummeted as the debt limit fight in Congress has dragged on. According to a Pew Research Center poll released today, Americans disapprove of Obamas handling of his job as president by a 48 44 margin. As recently as June 19th, Pew found that Americans actually approved of Obamas job as president by a 46 45 margin.
These findings echo Gallups Weekly Job Approval numbers which showed last week tied Obamas worst showing ever in that poll at 43 percent approve, 48 percent disapprove. As recently as June 19th Gallup found that Americans approved of Obamas job as president by a 47 to 45 margin.
Of course those Gallup numbers are now outdated; the new numbers are worse, 40/50.
But correlation isn't necessarily causation. Is there any evidence that it is Obama's refusal to cut spending which is partly driving his fall?
There is. Today's Gallup poll reported...
Forty percent of Americans approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president in Gallup's three-day rolling average for July 26-28, a new low for him by one percentage point. His overall approval rating essentially matches his recent rating for handling the debt ceiling negotiations.
I didn't know that. Did you know that? No one seems to be reporting this. For all the claims of "Republicans being blamed," you'd think someone would report that only 40% of the country approves of Obama's handling of this issue.
Given that this is hurting Obama, Trump and Dick Morris seem right in saying the Republican Establishment types (who I sided with yesterday, but am reconsidering) have more leverage than they are crediting themselves for.
Obama is basically flacking for the liberal Democrats in Congress right now. They want to run on ever-increasing government spending; they will not countenance a cut.
But Obama's political best play is not the same as theirs. These Congressional liberals come from blue states and super-liberal districts; they're not running in a national election, in a country that prioritizes spending cuts over most other agenda items.
In these circumstances, it may be best to do as the Tea Party Brinskmanship Brigade advises and just slow play this, letting Obama bleed and bleed, until he breaks with liberal Congressmen and starts negotiating something closer to the Republican position.
— Ace Dick Harpoolian is a nasty Democratic hack. He says things like calling Lindsey Graham light in the loafers, but of course the media never notices, because he's a Democrat, and he's doing it for a good reason.
He wants the world to know that Nikki Haley is lying when she says she's white. She's a dirty Indian, he needs you to know.
hat box should Gov. Nikki Haley check when it comes to her race?
The South Carolina Democratic Party tried Thursday to make Haley out as a liar for checking "white" as her race on her 2001 Lexington County voter registration application.
But the application had no specific option for "Indian." Her options were "white, black/African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American or other."
Dick Harpootlian, the Democratic Party chairman, said whether Haley listed her race as white or not doesn't matter to him. The point is, he said, that the governor has a pattern of twisting the truth.
"Haley has been appearing on television interviews where she calls herself a minority -- when it suits her," Harpootlian said. "When she registers to vote, she says she is white. She has developed a pattern of saying whatever is beneficial to her at the moment."
Well, let's note for the record there are several races which do not fall comfortably into the four-square White/Black/Hispanic/Asian grid, and Indians are one of them.
Indians are, as Hitler might remind him, "Aryans," an authoritative racial classification that should appeal to Dick Harpoolian, coming as it does from his role model.
Remind me again who the Yahoo Backwards Racialists are again?
When the parties realigned, all the racists went to the Republican party, right?
— Ace They seem to have the votes to do Boehner's two step plan, but now the second part of the plan involves
At NRO there are arguments over whether this is tactically helpful. Some say that it's not -- this bill will be DOA, it is said, and then the Reid plan will take center stage.
Others say that this will increase the odds of a better final deal, giving Democrats the choice of either passing a BBA, or agreeing to further cuts.
White House Blinks? Heard Obama had put out word he'd accept a very short term deal to allow details to be worked out.
Here's the thing: If he can accept a weeklong deal, or an 18 month deal, um, why can he not accept a six month deal?
— Ace Kasich is one of the more unpopular governors in the country, with a 35% approval rate, and 50% disapproving.
But he just balanced the budget -- having inherited an $8 billion deficit, the largest in the history of Ohio -- so maybe this will help some. (Video below the fold, or at that link.)
Ohio leans Republican. It shows the magnitude of the political problem we face when even a Republican-leaning state gets all crankypants about actual cuts, which they claim they want.
But he's put fiscal discipline into practice and has only been in office since January. Assuming this creates a better condition for job creation, he just might see those numbers reversing.
Red States Clawing Way Out of Recession: This should help Kasich, too. The article is about job creation in several red states (and newly red states, like Michigan), but I'll highlight the Ohio bit.
Led by Governor John Kasich, Ohios January-June seasonally adjusted jobs pickup is the Buckeye States best performance since 1994. Not coincidentally, thats about when then-Governor George Voinovich stopped being even sort of conservative. Regardless of the party in charge, Ohio was governed like a blue state until Kasich came along. Even more impressive, in terms of what has actually occurred (i.e., the not seasonally adjusted figures), the state has added just over 200,000 private-sector jobs in the past five months, the best February-June total since 1999, when the national economy, largely due to Kasichs previous work on the federal budget as a congressman, was far stronger.
In March, Kasich and the General Assembly tentatively won a bitter battle with the states public-sector unions and passed SB5. As I noted several weeks ago, SB5 prohibits public employee strikes, limits the subjects of collective bargaining, requires public employees to pay 15% of their health insurance costs, and prohibits forced union contributions by nonunion public workers. In June, the governor signed a two-year budget which closed a projected $8 billion deficit dumped on the state by predecessor Ted Strickland without raising taxes and while keeping all-funds spending virtually flat. The Buckeye State reaped an almost immediate reward: Standard & Poors, which had downgraded the states debt rating just as Strickland departed in January, revised it to stable shortly after the budgets passage.
Something to bear in mind.
Corrected: The 40-50 is the New 3-Day Rolling Average
— Ace 40-50.
Correction: I incorrectly wrote that the 40-50 number was a one-day figure, whereas the three day average was 43-48.
That's incorrect. It was simply that the three day average hadn't been incorporated into the chart yet. The 40-50 is a new three day rolling average.
Could it get worse for Obama? Last night Hannity said a poll would be released today showing Obama down eight points to Romney. I don't know other details, and haven't found it yet.
— Ace I actually know this is a double-post, and that Drew mentioned it earlier.
But it's such a big thing I want it to have a headline.
Since I've been blogging I've noticed that all GDP estimates are biased towards the average. When the economy is growing, early estimates lowball the figure, and later estimates and final numbers put it higher; when the economy is faring poorly, early estimates highball the figure, and later estimates and final numbers put it lower.
Exception: When there is a huge growth spurt in one quarter, those estimates are usually overstated, highballed.
It's like there's some glitch in the algorithm that starts at a default rate of growth of 2.5%, and the algorithm resists deviations away from this.
Our first quarter growth rate was said to be 1.9%. Which is not good at all. Pretty damn bad, actually. But at least it's not 0%.
Well, it turns out it was pretty damn close to 0%.
Now, supposedly, the growth in Q2 was a pitiful 1.3%, which is awful, and is even lower than the 1.8% expectation by economists.
But how likely is it that 1.3% even holds up? Any bets it gets revised down to... less than zero?
First-quarter output was sharply revised down to a 0.4 percent pace from 1.9 percent.
Economists had expected the economy to expand at a 1.8 percent rate in the second quarter.
And 2010's fourth quarter was... yes, sharply revised down too, by almost a full percentage point.
In addition, fourth-quarter growth was revised down to a 2.3 percent pace from 3.1 percent, indicating that the economy had already started slowing before the high gasoline prices and supply chain disruptions from Japan hit.
The only thing here that comes close to helping Obama is the fact the recession turns out to have been worse than estimated, too:
Data released on Friday showed the 2007-2009 recession was much more severe than prior measures had found, with economic output declining a cumulative of 5.1 percent instead of 4.1 percent.
The economy needs to grow at a rate of 2.5 percent or better on a sustained basis to chip away at the nation's 9.2 percent unemployment rate.
But that doesn't really help him. For one thing, people are tired of excuses.
For another thing, a sharp downturn has usually been followed by a sharp upturn in the recovery phase -- the "V" shaped recovery people talk about (down sharply, then up sharply).
This is "L" shaped, down and then flat. It may in fact be a double-dip; we are on the verge of entering the Obama Recession. (BTW, Obama: Since you've proclaimed the recession ended two years ago, you really can't now claim this second recession is the same recession as the one you began with.)
So what's changed now?
Ironic "More Cowbell" picture from The People's Cube.
— Ace I usually don't like these "coward!" screeds but this one is good.
The Democrats have to compromise. This idea is almost never mentioned in the media. The formulation is A credit downgrade would be disastrous, so the Republicans must cave.
Um, why? Granted that we'd sure like to avoid a downgrade, but why must the compromise come on the spending-cut side? By the polls, cutting spending is more popular than simply raising the debt ceiling (which is decidedly unpopular). In terms of electoral mandate, the Republicans ran expressly on cutting spending, and Obama and the Democrats did not expressly run on increasing spending 30% or raising taxes.
In addition, our mandate is much fresher. The "mandate" the Democrats may have had in 2008 seems all but repudiated.
So why is the onus on the Republicans?
BBA Trigger? Assuming the 2nd tranche of debt limit is preconditioned on the BBA passing Congress (I imagine), Flake would vote yes, he says.
I'm not clear on whether he demands a vote on it or demands passage. I'd sure rather have passage be the trigger.
— LauraW You know what? The current political drama is pluckin' my last nerve so much it sounds like bluegrass music. Need a little break.
Fun Video Friday
Is this something? more...
— DrewM Just starting to get word of the changes after the House GOP caucus but it sounds like the 2nd part of the hike would be tied to passage of a BBA.
With Flake saying he's a yes, it's likely that Boehner can get it through the House.
As much fun as this has been, it's nothing compared to what's going to happen when they try and pass whatever deal Boehner and Reid wind up cutting. Any final deal is going to lose something or somethings that conservatives want to vote yes. They'll be trading GOP votes for Democrat ones in the House. Should be a blast!
FWIW- Club for Growth will remove it's opposition if "Balanced" is put back in.
— DrewM A few minutes from now at the White House.
Why didn't he think of this sooner?
CNN says Harry Reid announced that he's filing cloture for his plan, so he can start moving that through the Senate early Sunday morning. It's been awhile since the Senate has actually done something, I wonder if they had to look up how to actually do this stuff in the rule book.
Meanwhile, GDP felt right the hell off the cliff.
GDP grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of just 1.3 percent in the second quarter, lower than expected, according to an advance estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis on Friday. U.S. stock futures fell after the estimate was released.
GDP growth for the first half of the year was the weakest since the recession ended, the Associated Press reported. Real GDP was revised sharply downward from 1.9 percent in the first quarter to 0.4 percent.
Say it with me kids....UNEXPECTEDLY.
BREAKING: Obama says it's now clear any solution must be bi-partisan and be able to pass both the House and the Senate.
This is why he was ConLaw
Comes out for some hybrid of Reid-McConnell.
Says he will support a smart and balanced (taxes!) mechanism to hold the government accountable. Is he signalling a shift on the two step increase in the debt ceiling?
— andy OK, so now that we're on the precipice of being on the precipice, let's revisit Obama's statement about granny's social security checks possibly being cut off next week if we don't increase the debt ceiling.
First, we actually hit the debt ceiling sometime back in May, and the August 2nd "deadline" is really the day Treasury thinks it will run out of accounting gimmicks to paper it over.
Look, we all know TurboTax Timmah is creative. I'm sure he'll think of something ... that's what these people do. But granny's social security check isn't on the table. Yet.
Why, you ask? Because of the oft-maligned social security trust fund (SSTF), that's why. Now, it's true that the SSTF just holds I.O.U.'s from the government (right pocket, meet left pocket) but those IOUs are included in the debt subject to the debt ceiling.
Look here at the (PDF) Daily Treasury Statement. Scroll down. No, further.
Stop! Table III-C "Debt Subject To Limit" ... see that $9.7 trillion (mf'ing dollars ... how did we get to this place?) of debt held by the public? Well that's way less than the $14.3 trillion statutory debt limit at the bottom, right? The big difference is that thing called "Intergovernmental Holdings" ... $4.5 trillion, give or take.
Guess what's in there. Granny's damned social security check, that's what! (among other things).
The SSTF (just from memory) is roughly $2.5 trillion of the balance of Intergovernmental Holdings. So when Douglas Holtz-Eakin is absorbing all "mandatory spending" in current income, that's not exactly right. We can issue $4.5 trillion more of treasuries (presuming someone will buy them) and not broach the debt ceiling to service payments from these funds, including (again, IIRC) $2.5 trillion of social security payments.
So don't worry, oldsters. You'll continue to get paid and I'll continue to pay into the Ponzi scheme while we work this little impasse out. You can thank me later, but you should apologize to your grandkids in the same breath.
More, courtesy of the WaPo:
Older Americans do not intend to ruin America, but as a group, thats
what theyre about. On average, the federal government supports each
American 65 and over by about $26,000 a year (about $14,000 through
Social Security, $12,000 through Medicare). At 65, the average
American will live almost 20 more years. Should these sizable annual
subsidies begin later and be less for some? Its hard to discuss the
budget realistically if you ignore most of what the budget does.
Welcome to your health and welfare benefit plan with an army, folks. For as long as it can afford the army, anyway.
(Consider this the DOOM! post. Monty doesn't do DOOM! on Fridays, but DOOM! doesn't hew to a schedule)
— Gabriel Malor Yesterday presidential candidate Jon Huntsman spoke to the enviroconservative group 'Republicans for Environmental Protection.' Huntsman was vague on specifics, but he sounded an awful lot like he was on the other side of this issue from most Republicans:
"Conservation is conservative."
"We will be judged by how well we were stewards of those (natural) resources," said Huntsman, a veteran of three Republican administrations who until this spring was President Barack Obama's ambassador to China.
"Conservation is conservative. I'm not ashamed to be a conservationist. I also believe that science should be driving our discussions on climate change," he added.
These aren't controversial remarks. If Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry and said them, we probably wouldn't think much of it. If they said they want science to drive the "climate change" discussion we would all hear a clear subtext: "Real science, not the ever-collapsing and ever-rebutted "science" of alarmists whose models do not actually model reality."
But for a candidate who already has the far Left of the Republican field staked out, a demand to respect "the science" sound an awful lot like what we hear every day from global warming researchers facing investigations for scientific misconduct. It's not likely to help Huntsman pick up votes. Which leads one to wonder why he said it.
Thanks to rdbrewer.
— Gabriel Malor One person can make a difference. But most of the time they probably shouldn't.
July 28, 2011
— Open Blogger Some background info the budget process relevant to the pathetic little near term cuts Boehner is talking about.
Foster lays it out.
... the main reason the cuts are back-loaded isn’t political per se, it’s mathematical. Current law assumes that spending on program x will increase at rate y every year for the next ten years. If you freeze spending on program x or even retard its growth, the real dollar value of the cut is thus greater in the out years. It’s as simple as that.
If a program is spending a billion dollars then it's assumed that it will grow x% (Truman North recently said 7% is assumed) a year. So if you cut that program $10 million you also save $10,700,000 the next year and $11,449,000 the year after that. Cutting $10 million NOW results in $32 million less spending over 3 years.I remember this from the Reagan defense buildup. They talked about the expense of new weapon programs over the years. It was like a ship moving through the ocean. You had a bow wave and a stern wave. The bow wave represented research, development, fixing bugs and buying the new stuff. Like the wave from a boat, it got bigger each year. The stern wave (often overlooked) was operating and repairing the equipment. It didn't kick in until after the new stuff was bought but then it too got bigger each year - pretty quickly.Cutting spending is like that in reverse.Hey. I'm not happy about the level of Federal spending. But if you think we're going to cut 40% out of the budget in ONE YEAR... Getting rid of the annual deficit over the next 6-10 years (with the right guys in office) is more plausible - then we can start nibbling or slashing away at the outstanding debt.And there's no point in arguing with me on this. I've exhausted all my expertise and will sit passively by and let your points roll over me unrefuted! (Red Eye comes on in 18 minutes)
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