Debt ceiling plan? What plan?
Apparently the responsibility to save the Republic’s financial ship has fallen to the First Mate, not the Captain. It appears that he and only he is required to come up with plans (this one Boehner is talking about now is the second after “Cap, Tax and Balance” was rejected by the Democratic Senate) so the Democrats and White House can reject them.
With Speaker Boehner lining up his second attempt (and this isn’t about whether or not the attempt is worthwhile, it’s about the narrative and reality) Sen. Democrats have again decided they’ll scuttle any plan he puts forward:
Fifty-three Democratic senators have signed a letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner saying they intend to vote against his plan for an increase in the debt ceiling, virtually assuring its defeat in the Senate even as the speaker lines up Republican votes to pass it in the House on Thursday.
Votes are not final until they are cast. But if the Democrats hold to their promise in the letter, Mr. Boehner’s plan for a six-month increase in borrowing authority will not make it to President Obama’s desk.
“We heard that in your caucus you said the Senate will support your bill,” the senators say in the letter. “We are writing to tell you that we will not support it, and give you the reasons why.”
In the letter, the senators argue that a short-term extension of the debt ceiling would “put America at risk” and “could be nearly as disastrous as a default.”
The Senate Democrats, like the president, have offered nothing in terms of a plan (heck, why would they offer a plan when they’ve never even acted on a budget for two years). Instead we get this – who again is the party who won’t say “yes”? And, as is obvious, the primary reason, hidden in this rhetoric, is not that a “short-term extension” of the debt ceiling would put “America at risk”, but that it would put Obama and the Democrats at risk politically since they’d have to act again prior to the 2012 election. The compromise they’re seeking here has nothing to do with the debt ceiling. It is mainly to have any extension of the debt ceiling at least fall on the other side of November 2012.
That said, again it should be emphasized that the only group among the players in this political theater who’ve actually offered anything of substance that can actually be scored by the CBO is the GOP.
That brings us to an interesting exchange between Ed Henry of Fox News and that huckster the White House uses as a front man, Jay Carney. This one followed a similar exchange the day before between NBC’s Chuck Todd and Carney:
Henry asked at the briefing when Obama’s plan might be submitted to the Congressional Budget Office.
"Ed, I understand, we can do this again, OK?" Carney said. "Has the speaker of the House shown you the positions he took in detail in the negotiations that were designed actually to achieve a compromise, as opposed to having a show vote?"
"We put forward a budget, we put forward a framework," Carney said.
Questions about Obama’s plan — where is it, what’s on it — are proving tricky for the White House, because the omission is suddenly getting traction.
"Both leaders, the senior-most Republican in the land, third in line, OK? A powerful figure with great authority sat on a room with the president of the United States and worked out a detailed compromise," Carney said.
"It is the nature of these kinds of difficult things that you do that in a way so that you agree on the tough choices, you come out together and announce them, and you begin to make the argument," he said. "A hard argument from each person to his party, that this is what we need to do for the sake of the country."
Carney’s explanation was once again that these deals have to be worked out in secret. But Henry pressed on — why not have a senator take up Obama’s detailed plan and introduce it as a bill?
"We are six days away," Henry said.
"Chuck — I mean Ed, you know, the speaker walked away from this deal," Carney said.
"You say it’s a great deal so put it out there," Henry said. "Let the American people – "
"I think I’ve answered the question," Carney said. "I mean, I know you’re creating a thing here for Fox…"
Henry, who hardly pulled punches when he sat a few seats over for CNN, chided Carney, "That’s not what I’m doing. You know better than that."
Note the final attempt to distract from the main point that there is no White House plan. Also note that Carney tries to lecture Henry about how the process works (apparently in secret with the WH offering only “frameworks”) and Henry rebutting with how it really works (a Senator takes the “framework” one supposes, puts it in writing and introduces it). Carney is reduced to taking a shot at Fox as a distraction from the fact that the White House still has not offered a plan.
Meanwhile the president is again seen as a spectator in the process:
Having already deployed the heavy weapons from the presidential arsenal, including a national address on Monday night and a veto threat, Mr. Obama is in danger of seeming a spectator at one of the most critical moments of his presidency. Having been unable to get the grand bargain he wanted — a debt limit increase and up to $4 trillion in debt-reduction through spending cuts and taxes — Mr. Obama’s challenge now is to reassert himself in a way that produces the next-best outcome, or at least one that does no harm to his re-election hopes.
Of course the New York Times piece claims that Obama’s “plan” is much more popular among the public than the Boehner plan. But again, there is no plan.
What the Times talks about is Obama’s $4 Trillion dollar “Grand Bargain” in which he essentially stated he’d trade some entitlement cuts for about $2 trillion in increased taxes. In the middle of a recession. And that’s popular? Only among the elite media and members of the public that don’t really know the details of his offer. The public has not endorsed raising taxes that I know of and certainly not to the extent Obama wanted.
So here we sit, six days away, the Speaker already on notice from Senate Dems that his bill will be DOA there, Harry Reid’s attempt yet to find its way to paper and Jay Carney trying to divert attention from the fact that there really is no White House plan and that’s not really as important as the supposed intransigence of Republicans and Fox trying to “create a thing”.
We’re being led by idiots folks. Well, that’s not true – the president isn’t leading at all. Never has and I think after almost 3 years it should be obvious we shouldn’t expect leadership from him (btw, the White House comms folks should pass along that petulant pressers where he whines about his inability to reach a compromise and speeches in which he attempts to shift the blame do not impress people that he’s much of a leader).