That’s twice now that the Democratically controlled Senate has rejected the GOP House’s plan on the debt ceiling and debt.
The onus, now, is on the Senate to do something. That means Democrats and Harry Reid.
Feeling all warm and fuzzy about that right now? After all, it’s been about 900 days since Senatorial Democrats have offered up a budget – one of the primary duties of Congress. In fact they’ve instead spent all their time rejecting Republican proposals and then tried to blame Republicans for inaction and intransigence. The irony, of course, apparently escapes them.
The 59-41 vote, on a motion to table the resolution passed by the House less than two hours before, ran mostly along party lines, easily reaching the simple majority required to sink legislation in the upper chamber.
Six Republicans joined Democrats to table the Boehner resolution: Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.), and David Vitter (La.).
Boehner’s office said the Senate’s refusal to take up the House plan puts the blame on Democrats if the U.S. defaults.
“For the second time, the House has passed a reasonable, common-sense plan to raise the debt limit and cut spending and, for the second time, Sen. [Harry] Reid [D-Nev.] has tabled it," spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement. "The responsibility to end this crisis is now entirely in the hands of Sen. Reid and President Obama.”
Hard to argue otherwise, wouldn’t you say?
Of course this isn’t the end game, but Senate Democrats have to pull a few Republicans into the game before they can execute it and escape blame:
Senate Democrats’ strategy is to send such a compromise vehicle back to the House on Tuesday, which would put intense pressure on House GOP leaders to accept it or risk a national default after Aug. 2.
If Reid can persuade at least seven Republicans to join the Democratic caucus in passing debt-limit legislation, it would give him the upper hand in the standoff with Boehner.
Chicken Politics … all bloody chicken politics. If 7 Republicans join Reid, they’ll have sold Boehner and the rest of the GOP down the river. If they don’t, Reid and Obama are going to try to blame Senatorial Republicans for any default.
I tend to agree with Charles Krauthammer’s immediate reaction after Obama’s speech last night:
Krauthammer astutely picked up on Obama’s use of the poll tested word “balanced” and it’s appeal to the middle. Unless you haven’t been following these negotiations at all, it might have had some effect. But his explanation or how he defined “balanced” is pretty political. First his claim is you can only define balanced one way – his way. Secondly, you can only achieve balance one way – again, his way. Of course neither is true. However, assuming you buy into his “my way or the highway” definition, he then tells you why the Republicans – the only group who have actually offered and voted on a plan ironically called “cut, cap and balance” – are working for the corporate jet owners (anyone tired of that line yet?).
Obama specifically calls for “compromise” yet then tells us he won’t accept a short term increase in the debt ceiling. He calls it “kicking the can down the road”. What it would actually mean is kicking this can into next year – an election year. So he obviously doesn’t feel inclined to “compromise” on what would obviously hurt him politically.
What I’d have also like to have heard is why Obama voted against a debt ceiling increase when he had a chance and now that Republicans are against it it’s the wrong thing to do. Some have said that he ought to have admitted he was wrong and the GOP is wrong now. I’m sorry, but I don’t think he was wrong then and I do think he’s wrong now.
Moving on, here’s a bit of misdirection in the Obama speech:
We all want a government that lives within its means, but there are still things we need to pay for as a country -– things like new roads and bridges; weather satellites and food inspection; services to veterans and medical research.
But? But that’s not what we’re talking about is it? This is the usual political spin – talk about what the public will lose that the politician is sure the public finds valuable – at a local level it is usually firefighters, police and teachers. Never talk about reducing bureaucracy, or the costly and wasteful redundancy, inefficiency or pure bloat found in government. Nope, pretend it takes government of this size to inspect food. And pretend only government has any hand in “medical research” and without that we’re all going to be left to die from preventable conditions.
And of course, the “compromise” being sought, the “balance” desired is really aimed at the ideological agenda item Democrats have been attempting for years – tax the rich:
And keep in mind that under a balanced approach, the 98 percent of Americans who make under $250,000 would see no tax increases at all. None. In fact, I want to extend the payroll tax cut for working families. What we’re talking about under a balanced approach is asking Americans whose incomes have gone up the most over the last decade – millionaires and billionaires – to share in the sacrifice everyone else has to make.
I won’t bore you again with the percentage the “rich” contribute now as their ‘share’ contributes to the profligacy that Obama would like to extend. But they already carry the lion’s share of the income tax burden. Obama want’s more because he claims they can afford it. Here’s a newsflash for the politicians – you don’t get to decide who can afford what, instead you need to find a way to live within the means provided by the present revenue stream, not claim you should have more. Obviously giving politicians “more” always ends up in the same place – “more” debt.
“Balance” has nothing to do with the approach, it has to do with the result. And that should include massive spending cuts. If any “sacrifice” is to be made, it should be made by government, not the people. Even Obama admits that there is only one class of citizen responsible for this mess:
Because neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this problem, both parties have a responsibility to solve it.
That’s right. The only totally true statement in the entire speech. Note it wasn’t the “corporate jet owners” who got us in this condition, it was the politicians. So the only "sacrifice” I see necessary is politicians sacrificing their spending, not the public. It’s time both parties realize the spending spree is over. At least one of them seems to have gotten that message. They’re actually offering solutions that concentrate in the necessary area – spending cuts.
This is a problem of and by politicians. It’s fairly simple to understand – they’ve used their powers to ignore spending limits and now they’ve found themselves in deep, deep trouble. One side’s solution is to cut back on the spending and balance future spending to revenue and paying down the horrendous debt they’ve piled up. The other’s solution is to continue to try to put a claim on the earnings of others so they don’t have to cut as much and, frankly, can continue to spend on programs we can’t afford. Obama has been very clear on this saying on at least two occasions that savings in defense spending could be spent on other programs – such as food stamps.
Compromise? The reason we’re in this position now is we’ve compromised for decades and run up a debt that is now threatening our very well-being. This hasn’t been done by the “rich”. It hasn’t been done by the “corporate jet owners”. It hasn’t been done by anyone but compromising politicians eager to use their power to spend to buy votes.
While we may survive this particular crisis, the problem remains systemic and only promises repeats unless someone or some party actually takes a stand, says “enough” and actually enacts enforceable laws which won’t allow this to happen again.
“Balance” and “compromise” are two poll tested words that Obama is sure will appeal to the big middle and, he hopes, will sway them to his class warfare agenda and tax increases which will enable Obama to push this past his re-election attempt in 2012. He is the consummate can kicker – he just wants to kick the can further down the road than does the GOP (who also has political motives behind their “short term debt limit increase” plan).
Bottom line – stipulated there are all sorts of politics being played here, but … the GOP needs to stand firm on its principle that this crisis isn’t a problem created by too little revenue, but instead one created by profligate spending, none more profligate than that in which this particular administration has engaged. Therefore, the solution – the balanced solution – is to reduce spending (and that includes debt service) to revenue levels, not the other way around.
That’s the only “compromise” I’m interested in seeing.
If you don’t have any principles it’s pretty easy to “get things done”. You just compromise on everything, never take a stand and presto, you have a mess of epic proportions.
That seems to be exactly what this latest astroturf project called “No Labels” is all about. No more “hyperpartisanship”. “Let’s get things done!”
On display at their roll out was the “Who’s Who” of the mushy middle:
And its speakers—who ranged from Republican moderates like ex-Virginia Rep. Tom Davis to liberal Democrats like New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand—sang the praises of cooperation and compromise.
But the only Republicans present at Columbia University’s modern, square Alfred Lerner Hall seemed to be those who had recently lost primary races, such as South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis and Delaware Rep. Mike Castle, or former Republicans like Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. No other senior elected Republican officials were in attendance, though a range of Democrats were present, some of them seeming a bit mystified by the bipartisan cast of the event, like the reliably liberal Gillibrand, and others whose clashes with unions – like Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Newark Mayor Cory Booker – have put some distance between them and their parties.
One little ironic note – one of the co-founders, John Avlon is the author of a book called "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America." Most who’ve spent more than a day in the blogosphere know that "wingnuts" is a lefty euphemism for just about anyone on the right they disagree with. The right uses "moonbats" in the same way. I’m sure Mr. Avalon, who was a Rudi Giuliani staffer, was just using the term, uh, "interchangeably" (*cough, cough*). And if so, one can only assume he’s referring to the fringe which actually believes in something enough to fight for it messing up the "No Labels" group’s "compromise till you drop/let’s get things done" mantra. Or is it "compromise till we’re broke". Oh, wait …
And, as the POLITICO notes, what few Republicans were there were losers in their most recent attempt at gaining public office.
Any guess as to why?
Last and certainly not least (well, except in most rating books) the event was hosted by MSNBC which has been looking for its own sort of "tea party" org to which it can hitch it’s wagon.
The events were moderated by MSNBC personalities Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Dylan Ratigan, and Michael Smerconish. If Fox News seemed to be associated with the Tea Party, then No Labels was an MSNBC affair.
Bingo. If you can’t beat them at the same game, play the game on astroturf.
Yup – in today’s world standing and fighting for your principles is called "hyperpartisanship" and the mushy middle just isn’t going to stand for it anymore. And if you don’t quit it, they’re just going to have to call you names, stomp their feet and hold their breath. Oh, and sing their new anthem at you.
Meanwhile some t-shirt designs shown at the opening rally appear to have been ripped off without permission. Compromise that.
In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Obama Tax Compromise, and its repercussions this week.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.