Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dems come "clean"

Was it this obscure blog that made the difference?
House Democratic leaders on Wednesday called for a clean vote on raising the debt ceiling to prevent a government default.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Assistant Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (D-Conn.) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), the caucus vice chairman, are all pushing legislation to increase the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion — enough to see government spending through 2012.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), contains none of the deficit-reduction provisions Republicans are demanding as part of a larger debt-ceiling package. (from Dem leaders unite in call for clean debt-ceiling vote, Blog Briefing Room, July 27, 2011.)
I'd love to think my posts had something to do with this heartening development, but it so happens I'm not alone. After doing some Google searches yesterday, I discovered that others have also been calling for a clean bill over the last few weeks. E.g., here's what Matthew Yglesias had to say back on July 11:
Surveying the scene, perhaps everyone should take a deep breath and recall the traditional way the country has avoided default when the debt ceiling needs raising: Congress raises the debt ceiling.
It’s that simple. The same kind of “clean” debt ceiling increase that’s passed repeatedly over the past 100 years will allow the country to avoid default without tax increases, without defense cuts, and without slashing entitlement spending. . .
Right now . . . the only crisis we face is an entirely self-created one. House Republicans wanted to create a hostage situation to force President Obama to propose steep spending cuts. But when Obama came to the table with a proposal for steep cuts, it turned out that Republicans don’t actually want to sign a bipartisan deal. Which is fine. Don’t sign a deal! The absence of a deal in no way forces a crisis. Just raise the debt ceiling, fight the 2012 elections, and pick up the long-term budget issue then. 
Here's what Elizabeth Drew wrote last Monday, in Politico:
With the leaders of both chambers still noodling around in a search for what to add to the bill to raise the debt ceiling, with Obama having a long series of high-level meetings at the White House, with the public growing tired of the spectacle and worried about jobs, and the bond market getting antsy, the stock market poised to take a deep dive, foreign investors who prop up our debt having second thoughts and the president looking increasingly like a wuss there’s a simple step that Obama could – no, should – take. . .
. . . he should demand that the Congress get a clean bill raising the debt limit to his desk by Thursday. Moreover, he should state that he will veto any bill encumbered by amendments, and emphasize that if the Congress does not comply he will take the issue to the American people.

This would be no small threat. If I were a betting person I would hazard a very large sum that if the president stands up and says, “ENOUGH” — that he has tried and tried and tried to work out a compromise acceptable to the two major parties, but he hasn’t been able to and neither have they, that he is now demanding what he should have received in the first place, a bill unencumbered with Republican economic policy — he will be cheered throughout the land. Of course, a segment of Republicans would object. But that would just play into the president’s strategy of isolating the Republicans, of showing that they are far from the mainstream, are obstructionists and unreasonable.
I'm pleased to learn I'm not the only one out here in blogland who can see the obvious. The Republicans are not simply demanding steep budget cuts with no new taxes, they've been doing that for years. What's new is that the Tea Party is holding a gun to the heads of the American people and threatening to shoot unless they get exactly what they want. A "clean" bill at this late date will make the nature of their little scheme abundantly clear to all. If they are unwilling to shoot, they will be forced to lower their weapon. And if they decide to shoot, everyone will feel it and everyone will know where the shot came from. There will be no alternative, no more smoke and mirrors to hide behind.

And now some of our Democratic leaders have also figured it out, apparently. So far I haven't seen any reference to this development in the mainstream press, but I have a feeling the movement will gather strength over the next few days, since the possibility of a negotiated "deal" seems increasingly hopeless.

2 comments:

  1. Glad to see you posting again. You offer great insight into what is going on today in looneytown D.C. and beyond. I was curious what kind of "project" you were working on which limited your input lately, if you want 2 share. I agree with most of what you recently wrote, but the big sticking point seems to be this temporary fix or fix beyond the 2012 elections, so both sides are being political with it all, and threatening the elderly and poor and disabled. If this isn't settled by next Monday night, Obama should just do an Oval Office speech to the nation, and explain to all the apes out there WHY he's been forced to invoked the 14th amendment, and that's that. No need to compromise anymore, if he's ANYTHING like what we voted for. Fuck the republicans.

    What's that old saying, it's a blessing to live in interesting times? Time for you to shine or start your decline, Mr. President...

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  2. Thanks for asking, Anonymous. If you're curious about my latest pet project, you can check it out here: http://soundingthedepths.blogspot.com/

    If Obama actually had the guts to go for the 14th Amendment solution, I think that would be a great boost for his image, though naturally the Republicans would be crying "foul" at full voice. They'd have to be careful, however, because any attempt to challenge him would be the equivalent of taking pot shots at the world economy, hoping to shoot it down. Meanwhile, a great many -- including many of the fat cat supporters of the Tea Party -- would be in his debt. This could turn him into a national hero, the man who scored a touchdown while congress was fumbling.

    On the other hand, I still prefer the "clean bill" option, which as I see it would force the hand of the Tea Partiers and in fact take all the wind out of their sails. If that doesn't work, however, then sure, he should go for the 14th amendment, why not?

    As I see it, by the way, it IS a blessing and not a curse to live in "interesting times." The greatest enemy, above all else, as far as I'm concerned is: boredom. So I have to admit I'm grateful for all the free entertainment.

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