Political Headlines February 21, 2013: Bob Woodward: Obama’s sequester deal-changer

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama’s sequester deal-changer

Source: Bob Woodward, WaPo, 2-23-13

Misunderstanding, misstatements and all the classic contortions of partisan message management surround the sequester, the term for the $85 billion in ugly and largely irrational federal spending cuts set by law to begin Friday.

What is the non-budget wonk to make of this? Who is responsible? What really happened?….READ MORE

History Buzz September 9, 2012: Bob Woodward’s new book on Obama & deficit-reduction talks “The Price of Politics” 5 telling moments

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Bob Woodward’s new book: 5 telling moments

Source: Politico, 9-9-12

Bob Woodward is shown here. | AP Photo

Bob woodward’s book offers new details of the 2011 debt-ceiling crisis. | AP Photo

Bob Woodward’s new book will be required reading in Washington for the precise reason the New York Times review was critical: its “granular telling … its almost blow-by-blow chronicle” of deficit-reduction talks during President Barack Obama’s first term.

Whether or not his reporting fundamentally changes Washington’s understanding of these years – in particular, the debt-ceiling negotiations of 2011 – the book offers essential color on the characters behind those talks.

The book, “The Price of Politics” (Simon & Schuster) is set for official release Tuesday.

Here are five telling moments….READ MORE

Full Text May 15, 2012: Speaker John Boehner Promises Election Year Debt Ceiling Limit Fight Unless there are Spending Cuts & Reforms in a Speech on the Economy at Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2012 Fiscal Summit

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in 2011.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS: SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER PROMISES ELECTION YEAR DEBT CEILING FIGHT UNLESS THERE ARE SPENDING CUTS & REFORMS

“When the time comes, I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase. This is the only avenue I see right now to force the elected leadership of this country to solve our structural fiscal imbalance. If that means we have to do a series of stop-gap measures, so be it – but that’s not the ideal. Let’s start solving the problem. We can make the bold cuts and reforms necessary to meet this principle, and we must.” — Speaker John Boehner

“The Ways & Means Committee will work out the details, but the bottom line is: if we do this right, this will be the last time we ever have to confront the uncertainty of expiring tax rates. We’ll have replaced the broken status quo with a tax code that maintains progressivity, taxes income once, and creates a fairer, simpler code.” — Speaker John Boehner

Republicans Pledge New Standoff on Debt Limit: Speaker John A. Boehner set the stage for a bruising election-year showdown on fiscal policy while Mitt Romney hit President Obama hard on his fiscal stewardship in a speech in Des Moines…. – NYT, 5-15-12

  • Boehner: Spending cuts must offset debt limit hike: House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that when Congress raises the nation’s borrowing cap he will again insist on spending cuts and budget reforms to offset the increase. In remarks prepared for a budget address Tuesday afternoo…. – BusinessWeek, 5-15-12
  • Boehner draws line in sand on debt ceiling: The Speaker of the House says any raise in the debt ceiling must be accompanied by steep cuts…. – CS Monitor, 5-15-12
  • Boehner threatens another debt-ceiling fight: Washington braced Tuesday for a replay of last summer’s tense battle over the burgeoning national debt as House Speaker John A. Boehner threatened again to block an increase in the federal debt ceiling without significant new cuts in spending…. – WaPo, 5-15-12
  • Boehner: No debt ceiling increase without cuts: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will not allow an increase in the debt ceiling to move through the House unless the amount of the increase includes an equal or greater amount of spending cuts…. – USA Today, 5-15-12
  • Speaker Boehner vows showdown on taxes, spending: House Speaker John Boehner set the stage Tuesday for another tense, partisan showdown over tax and spending policy later this year, as he vowed to insist on big spending cuts before he will agree to a new debt ceiling…. – San Francisco Chronicle, 5-15-12
  • John Boehner’s hard line on raising debt cap: Speaker John Boehner is once again promising that any increase in the nation’s borrowing limit will have to be accompanied by a greater amount of spending cuts.
    The Ohio Republican’s position, which will be announced at the Peter G. Peterson Fiscal Summit Tuesday in D.C., seems to mirror his stance during last year’s all-consuming debt ceiling standoff….
    Boehner will also announce a plan on taxes. During the fall, the House will vote on a bill to extend the current, lower income tax rates…. – Politico, 5-15-12
  • Democrats return fire after John Boehner’s opening debt-ceiling salvo: Democrats charge that John Boehner’s renewed call for spending cuts as a condition to raise the debt ceiling is ‘dangerous,’ recalling the standoff last summer that drove consumer confidence – and Congress’s approval rating – sharply down…. – CS Monitor, 5-16-12

FULL TEXT: Speaker Boehner’s Address on the Economy, Debt Limit, and American Jobs

Source: Speaker Boehner Press Office, 5-15-12

Following is the full text, as prepared for delivery, of House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) address to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2012 Fiscal Summit on efforts to put our nation back on a path to prosperity and economic growth by cutting government spending, preventing job-crushing tax hikes, and making long-term changes to entitlement programs.  In the address, Boehner renews his commitment to the principle that any increase in the nation’s debt limit must be accompanied by spending cuts and reforms larger than the amount of the debt limit hike.  Failing to again meet this standard – dubbed the “Boehner principle” by Stanford economist John B. Taylor – in conjunction with the next debt limit increase means pushing American prosperity and job growth farther away. 

It’s truly an honor to be with you in the historic Mellon Auditorium.  It was here in the spring of 1949 that the United States and our closest allies gathered to sign the North Atlantic Treaty, giving birth to NATO.

On that occasion, President Truman declared that people ‘with courage and vision can still determine their own destiny.  They can choose freedom or slavery.’

In our time, all of these great nations face a grave threat to freedom, one from within, and that is debt.  It is shackling our economies and smothering the opportunities that have blessed us with so much.   

Once again the world looks to the United States for what it always has: an example.  It is the example of a free people whose hard work and sacrifice make up the sum total of thriving towns and a vibrant economy.  It’s a humble government that lives within its means and unleashes the potential of first-rate ideas and world-class products.  It’s a nation never content with the status quo and always on the make. 

I got a glimpse of this example growing up working at my dad’s tavern just outside Cincinnati, and then lived a piece of it running my own small business. 

Instead of this shining example, what does the world now see?

A president on whose watch the United States lost its gold-plated triple-A rating for the first time in our history;

A Senate, controlled by the president’s party, that has not passed a budget in more than three years;

And, earlier this month, another unemployment report showing that the world’s greatest economy remains unable to generate enough jobs to spur strong and lasting growth.

If you should know one thing about me, it’s that I’m an optimist.

Yes, times are tough, but our future doesn’t need to be dark.   We don’t have to accept a new normal where the workplace looks more like a battlefield and families have to endure flat incomes, weak job prospects, and higher prices in their daily lives. 

We have every reason to believe we can come out of this freer and more prosperous than ever.   And we will, if we confront our challenges now while we still have the ability to do so.

For the solution to what ails our economy is not government – it’s the American people.  

The failure of ‘stimulus’ – a word people in Washington won’t even use anymore – has sparked a rebellion against overspending, overtaxation, and overregulation.

Americans, who take pride in living on a budget, recognize we can’t go on spending money we don’t have, and that our economy is stuck in large part because it’s stuck with debt. 

Nationwide, we’re seeing a groundswell of support for bold ideas that reject small politics, cast off big government, and return us to common sense and first principles – the kind of ideas that will restore prosperity and substantially improve the trajectory of our economy.

In March, as part of our Plan for America’s Job Creators, the House passed an honest budget with real spending cuts, pro-growth tax reform, and serious entitlement reform.   It’s a far-reaching effort to control government’s worst habits and capitalize on the American people’s best.  This budget gets our fiscal house in order AND promotes long-term growth.  Far from settling for stability, it offers a true path to prosperity. 

Various bipartisan commissions and coalitions have devised ambitious plans as well.  The math and the mix are different, but the goals are mainly the same. 

And of course, there are summits like these that bring together people who just get it.   Of course, while I’m happy to be here and I’m sure we all enjoy each other’s company, we can also agree that we’ve talked this problem to death. 

It’s about time we roll up our sleeves and get to work.

For all the focus on Election Day, another date looms large for every household and every business, and that’s January 1, 2013.

On that day, without action by Congress, a sudden and massive tax increase will be imposed on every American – by an average of $3,000 per household.  Rates go up, the child tax credit is cut in half, the AMT patches end, the estate tax returns to 2001 levels, and so on.

Now, it gets a little more complicated than that.  What will expire on January 1 is cause for concern – as is what will take effect.   That includes:

Indiscriminate spending cuts of $1.2 trillion – half of which would devastate our men and women in uniform and send a signal of weakness; 

Several tax increases from the health care law that is making it harder to hire new workers;

As well as a slate of energy and banking rules and regulations that will also increase the strain on the private sector.  

But … it gets even more complicated than that.

Sometime after the election, the federal government will near the statutory debt limit.

This end-of-the-year pileup, commonly called the ‘fiscal cliff,’ is a chance for us to bid farewell – permanently – to the era of so-called ‘timely, temporary, and targeted’ short-term government intervention. 

For years, Washington has force-fed our economy with a constant diet of meddling, micromanagement, and manipulation.  None of it has been a substitute for long-term economic investment, private initiative, and freedom

Previous Congresses have encountered lesser precipices with lower stakes, and made a beeline for the closest lame-duck escape hatch. 

Let me put your mind at ease.  This Congress will not follow that path, not if I have anything to do with it. 

Having run a business, I know that failing to plan is planning to fail.  The real pain comes from doing nothing … ‘austerity’ is what will become necessary if we do nothing now.   We’ll wake up one day without a choice in the matter. 

There’s also no salvation to be found in doing anything just to get by, just to get through this year. 

‘Nothing’ is not an option, and ‘anything’ is not a plan.  To get on the path to prosperity, we have to avoid the fiscal cliff, but we need to start today.  

To show my intentions are sincere, I’ll start with the stickiest issue, and that of course is the debt limit.

On several occasions in the past, the debt limit has been the catalyst for budget agreements.  Last year, however, the president requested a quote-unquote ‘clean’ debt limit increase – business as usual.  

Well I’ve run a business, and that’s no way to do it.  It’s certainly no way to run a government either, especially one that has run up a debt bigger than the entire economy.  Business as usual will no longer do. 

So last year around this time, I accepted an invitation to address the Economic Club of New York.   I went up there and said that in my view, the debt limit exists in statute precisely so that government is forced to address its fiscal issues. 

Yes, allowing America to default would be irresponsible. But it would be more irresponsible to raise the debt ceiling without taking dramatic steps to reduce spending and reform the budget process.

We shouldn’t dread the debt limit.  We should welcome it.  It’s an action-forcing event in a town that has become infamous for inaction. 

That night in New York City, I put forth the principle that we should not raise the debt ceiling without real spending cuts and reforms that exceed the amount of the debt limit increase.  

From all the way up in Midtown Manhattan, I could hear a great wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Over the next couple of months, I was asked again and again if I would yield on my ‘position,’ what it would take, if I would budge…

Each and every time, I said ‘no’ … because it isn’t a ‘position’ – it’s a principle.   Not just that – it’s the right thing to do.

When the time comes, I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase.  This is the only avenue I see right now to force the elected leadership of this country to solve our structural fiscal imbalance.

If that means we have to do a series of stop-gap measures, so be it – but that’s not the ideal.  Let’s start solving the problem.  We can make the bold cuts and reforms necessary to meet this principle, and we must.

Just so we’re clear, I’m talking about REAL cuts and reforms – not these tricks and gimmicks that have given Washington a pass on grappling with its spending problem.

Last year, in our negotiations with the White House, the president and his team put a number of gimmicks on the table.  Plenty of thought and creativity went into them – things like counting money that was never going to be spent as savings.

Maybe in another time, with another Speaker, gimmicks like these would be acceptable.

But, as a matter of simple arithmetic, they won’t work. 

They won’t work, and as I told the president, we’re not doing things that way anymore.

What also doesn’t count as ‘cuts and reforms’ are tax increases.  Tax hikes destroy jobs – especially an increase on the magnitude set for January 1st.   Small businesses need to plan.  We shouldn’t wait until New Year’s Eve to give American job creators the confidence that they aren’t going to get hit with a tax hike on New Year’s Day. 

Any sudden tax hike would hurt our economy, so this fall – before the election – the House of Representatives will vote to stop the largest tax increase in American history. 

This will give Congress time to work on broad-based tax reform that lowers rates for individuals and businesses while closing deductions, credits, and special carveouts.  

Eyebrows go up all over town whenever I talk about this, but when I say ‘broad-based’ tax reform, I mean it.  We need to do it all … deal with the whole code, personal and corporate it’s fairer and more productive for everyone.

That’s why our bill to stop the New Year’s Day tax increase will also establish an expedited process by which Congress would enact real tax reform in 2013.  This process would look something like how we handle Trade Promotion Authority, where you put in place a timeline for both houses to act.

The Ways & Means Committee will work out the details, but the bottom line is: if we do this right, we will never again have to deal with the uncertainty of expiring tax rates.

We’ll have replaced the broken status quo with a tax code that maintains progressivity, taxes income once, and creates a fairer, simpler code. 

And if we do THAT right, we will see increased revenue from more economic growth.

Again, change doesn’t need to be sudden or painful. 

Last fall, when I addressed the Economic Club of Washington, I said that making relatively small changes now can lead to huge dividends down the road in terms of debt reduction.  As we approach the issue of the debt limit again, we need to continue to bear this in mind.

As you know, we could eliminate all of the unfunded liabilities in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid tomorrow, and the effect within the Congressional Budget Office 10-year window could be minimal.

That’s because changes to these programs take time and are phased-in slowly. 

For example, when Congress last increased the retirement age for Social Security, the increase – a mere two years – was scheduled to fully take effect 40 years after the law was enacted.

Another example: take the House Budget Resolution and its assumptions for Medicare reform.  Those would not even begin until after 2022.

Smart and modest changes today mean huge dividends down the line.

Now, I can already hear the grumbles … partisans getting all worked up or people saying, eh, let’s wait until after the election.

We can’t wait.  Employers large and small are already bracing for the coming tax hikes and regulations, which freeze their plans.  The markets aren’t going to wait forever; eventually they’re going to start reacting.

We now know that we ignore these warnings at our own peril.

That’s why the House will do its part to ease the uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff.  And I hope the president will step up, bring his party’s Senate leaders along, and work with us.

Because if there’s one action-forcing event that trumps all the rest – even the debt limit – it’s presidential leadership. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe President Obama cares about this country and knows what the right thing to do is.  But knowing what’s right and doing what’s right are different things.  

The difference between knowing what’s right and doing what’s right is courage, and the president, I’m sorry to say, lost his.

He was willing to talk about the tough choices needed to preserve and strengthen our entitlement programs, but he wasn’t ready to take action.

As it turned out, he wouldn’t agree to even the most basic entitlement reform unless it was accompanied by tax increases on small business job creators.

We were on the verge of an agreement that would have reduced the deficit by trillions, by strengthening entitlement programs and reforming the tax code with permanently lower rates for all, laying the foundation for lasting growth.

But when the president saw his former colleagues in the Senate getting ready to press for tax hikes, he lost his nerve.  The political temptation was too great.  He moved the goalposts, changed his stance, and demanded tax hikes. 

We ended up enacting a package with cuts and reforms larger than the hike.  But it could have been so much more. 

The letdown was considerable.  And, in turn, our nation’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time.

Well it should also be the last time that happens, which is why I came here today. 

If the president continues to put politics before principle – or party before country, as he often accuses others of doing – our economy will suffer and we may well miss our last chance to solve this crisis on our own terms.

But if we have leaders who will lead … if we have leaders with the courage to make tough choices and the vision to pursue a future paved with growth, then we can heal our economy and again be the example for all to follow.

I’m ready, and I’ve been ready.  I’m not angling for higher office.  This is the last position in government I will hold.  I haven’t come this far to walk away. 

All my life, I’ve operated by a simple code: if you do the right thing for the reasons, good things will happen.  

Well, NOW is the time to do the right thing. 

Let’s do it for the right reasons – we don’t need to be dragged kicking and screaming.   That’s not the American way.  Let’s summon the courage and vision to choose freedom, to choose prosperity, and to determine our destiny.

Then we’ll not only have succeeded in solving this crisis – we’ll be worthy of that success.   

Thank you all.

Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown August 6, 2011: Washington Post Analysis — The Reasoning Behind the Republican Showdown in the Debt Crisis — “Origins of the Debt Showdown”

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

FEATURES:

For the GOP, the debt showdown was a ‘leverage moment':

Source: WaPo, 8-7-11

Origins of the debt showdown

The frantic showdown over the debt ceiling that played out in Washington, bringing the nation to the brink of default, looked like the haphazard escalation of a typical partisan standoff. It wasn’t.

Rather, it was the natural outgrowth of a years-long effort by GOP recruiters to build a new majority and reverse the party’s fortunes. That effort began before the economy collapsed in 2008, before the government bailouts that followed, before the tea party rose in response to push its anti-tax, anti-spending message.

The Washington Post reconstructs the Republican party’s transformation, and its impact on the nation’s economic course, through interviews with the leading participants during this summer’s drama and from earlier interviews, some of them recorded, at various points during the past 2 1/2 years….READ MORE

Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown August 3-5, 2011: Debt Ceiling Aftermath — Reactions, Fall Out & Poll Numbers — Low Marks for Congress, Speaker Boehner & President Obama

POLITICAL BUZZ

IN FOCUS: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN AFTERMATH: THE REACTIONS, FALLOUT, & POLL NUMBERS

“Never again will any president, from either party, be allowed to raise the debt ceiling without being held accountable for it by the American people and without having to engage in the kind of debate we’ve just come through….
This kind of discussion isn’t something to dread; it’s something to welcome,” Mr. McConnell said. “And while the president may not have particularly enjoyed this debate, it was a debate that Washington needed to have.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

“The debt ceiling should not be something that is used as a gun against the heads of the American people.” — President Barack Obama

“I don’t think it’ll have any impact because there’s no revenues, there’s nothing done to Social Security or Medicare.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told POLITICO Tuesday

“Who voted against it?… The extreme left, extreme right. Florida is not extreme in its politics.” — Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat whose seat is targeted in 2012.

“While deficit reduction is part of that agenda, it is not the whole agenda. Growing the economy isn’t just about cutting spending. That’s not how we’re going to get past this recession. We’re going to have to do more than that.” — President Barack Obama

The partisan battle to raise the government’s debt ceiling and cut trillions of dollars from its spending ended on Tuesday just hours before the nation’s borrowing authority was set to run out. The impact of such a divided government is now abundantly clear: The agenda of the 112th Congress will be dominated by continual fighting over spending priorities and regulations, with a high bar for big debates on foreign policy…. – NYT, 8-2-11

 

STATS & POLLS

Disapproval Rating of Congress at a Record 82 Percent, Poll Finds: The debate over raising the debt ceiling, which brought the nation to the brink of default, has sent disapproval of Congress to its highest level on record and left most Americans saying that creating jobs should now take priority over cutting spending, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
A record 82 percent of Americans now disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job — the most since The Times first began asking the question in 1977, and even more than after another political stalemate led to a shutdown of the federal government in 1995. More than four out of five people surveyed said that the recent debt ceiling debate was more about gaining political advantage than about doing what is best for the country. Nearly three-quarters said that the debate had harmed the image of the United States in the rest of the world…. – NYT, 8-4-11

  • Poll: Disapproval of U.S. Congress hits new high: Disapproval of Congress rose to an all-time high after weeks of rancorous partisan battles over raising the U.S. debt ceiling took the country to the brink of default, according a New York Times/CBS News public opinion poll published on Thursday.
    A record 82 percent of Americans now say they disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job, compared with 14 percent who approve, the poll found.
    The disapproval rating for Congress was the highest in the 34 years the question has been asked in the poll and up from the previous high of 77 percent set in May 2010…. – Reuters, 8-4-11
  • Polls: No one wins in debt ceiling deal: No one has emerged spotless from the debt-ceiling debate, according to a survey conducted in the aftermath of the agreement to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
    A CBS News/New York Times poll released Thursday revealed that eight in 10 Americans say they disapprove of how Congress is handling its job – the highest number in the poll’s history since 1977.
    A CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday echoes the nation’s displeasure with congressional leaders. Eighty-four percent of the nation disapproved of the way Congress is handling its job in the poll; only 14 percent approved.
    But the country is split over how the president is handling his responsibilities in the White House. Forty-eight percent said they approve of how President Barack Obama is handling his job and 47 percent disapprove in the CBS News/New York Times survey.
    When it comes to the debt-ceiling negotiations, 66 percent said they disapprove of how Democrats handled the talks and more – 72 percent – said they disapprove of the way Republicans negotiated to broker the deal…. – CNN, 8-4-11
  • New Poll a Warning for Congress as Battles Loom: Americans’ ire for Congress grew after the debt ceiling compromise, a New York Times/CBS poll finds in a sharp warning for legislators as another battle brews over long-term funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. And that’s just one issue among many that could mimic the debt debate theatrics.
    A full three quarters of those polled this week said most members of Congress deserve to get the boot in 2012. Eighty-two percent disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job overall, up from 70 percent in late June, and just 14 percent approve. [Read Walsh: Congress reverts to its customary bickering and backbiting.]
    Speaker of the House John Boehner also took a hit this year—a majority, 57 percent, now disapproves of his performance, compared to 41 percent in April, just after the government shutdown was narrowly averted. The change seems due to the increased public scrutiny he sustained during the debt ceiling debate, since the real change came from the “don’t know/not applicable” category, which dropped by more than half, from 27 to 13 percent, during the same period. His approval rating only decreased from 32 to 30 percent. Familiarity does indeed breed contempt…. – US News, 8-5-11
  • Poll: Thumbs down on the debt-ceiling deal: The hard-won, last-minute agreement to raise the debt ceiling and cut the deficit gets low ratings from Americans, who by more than 2-1 predict it will make the nation’s fragile economy worse rather than better.
    In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken hours after the Senate passed and President Obama signed the deal, 46% disapprove of the agreement; 39% approve, 41% of people polled said the deal will make the economy worse. Only one in five see it as a step forward in addressing the federal debt.
    The dyspeptic view may reflect less an assessment of the plan’s particulars than dismay at the edge-of-a-cliff negotiations to reach it.
    “Most people assume that whatever came out of this horrible process was pretty crappy,” says Joseph White, a political scientist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland who studies budget policy…. – USA Today, 8-3-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • Politics of 2012, clashes over policy pose huge obstacles as Congress seeks more deficit cuts: The special panel’s goal is lofty: concoct a deal both parties will embrace to slash federal deficits by a mammoth $1.5 trillion or more over the next decade.
    Yet from the moment House and Senate leaders appoint the 12 members until the 2012 elections, hurricane-force political pressures are going to make it tough to produce anything substantial.
    All sides will fiercely defend core priorities, Republicans opposing tax increases and defense cuts and Democrats protecting benefits for Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid recipients. Those happen to be exactly where nonpartisan analysts say savings must occur for any serious deficit-cutting package to emerge.
    The decisions — at least the next big ones — rest with the committee set up by the agreement that defused the debt-limit crisis this week.
    Every choice will have implications for President Barack Obama’s re-election, for Republican hopefuls jockeying to unseat him and for Democrats and Republicans struggling for control of the House and Senate.
    If the special committee of lawmakers fails to produce a savings plan by Thanksgiving or if Congress rejects it by Christmas, this week’s compromise debt limit accord between Obama and Congress will automatically trigger cuts of $1.2 trillion from much of the budget, with half from the military…. – WaPo, 8-4-11
  • Try as he might, Obama can’t shake Bush tax cuts: Time and again during his presidential campaign, Barack Obama was unequivocal: “We are going to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.” But when the chips were down, now-President Obama blinked and backed away.
    Twice in less than nine months, Obama has shelved his pledge in deadline-pressing negotiations with congressional Republicans. Obama insists he still is determined to find new revenue by making taxpayers who make more than $200,000 and big corporations pay more, but frustrated liberals say he has already missed key opportunities.
    Inaction on taxes and his willingness to consider structural changes to Medicare and Social Security, long-cherished Democratic programs, have strained relations with some Democratic lawmakers and liberal backers who complain Obama has been too willing to backtrack from his positions. The increasingly urgent twists and turns over raising the government’s debt ceiling placed Obama’s concessions in sharp relief.
    “It’s his wanting to be the reasonable guy and thinking this is the way to appeal to independent votes,” said Lawrence Mishel, president of the labor-leaning Economic Policy Institute. “I think he’s engaged in a fool’s game that ultimately won’t win him independent voters and will actually just hurt people and the economy.”… – AP, 8-4-11
  • Threatened Defense Cuts in Debt Deal Could Loom Over 2012 Race: The threat of $500 billion in future defense cuts codified in the new deficit-reduction law could sharpen a dispute between Republicans and Democrats over national security as the 2012 campaign intensifies.
    President Barack Obama and congressional Republican leaders designed the defense cuts — as well as reductions in all other areas of government, including Medicare — as a doomsday incentive to force Congress to enact a more targeted spending- cut package by year’s end.
    For the Defense Department, cuts ranging from substantial reductions in the military’s 1.43 million-strong force to eliminating subsidies for the Pentagon’s chain of subsidized grocery stores would likely be on the table under the worst-case scenario. Regardless of whether they materialize, the potential cuts to the military have become a political weapon for both sides…. – Bloomberg, 8-4-11
  • Debt Ceiling Votes Herded Without Carrots, Sticks: Speaker John Boehner was desperate in his search for votes from his party to prevent a first-ever government default. But despite what a GOP freshman called “hour by hour by hour” pressure from the Ohio Republican leader and his lieutenants, rank-and-file holdouts said they were neither offered carrots nor threatened with sticks to change their minds. That’s a major transformation from the not too distant past.
    There were no promises of new bridges or campaign help. No threats to boot members off coveted committees. And, if some of those tactics had been tried, it’s unlikely that many House Republican tea party supporters would have been swayed. They came to Washington disdainful of such wheeling and dealing and promising to fix what members of both parties had come to describe as a culture of corruption.
    Boehner, who has risen, fallen and risen again in the House GOP hierarchy, has long shunned earmarked “pet projects” and had no objection when more conservative deficit hawks succeeded in getting them banned…. – AP, 8-4-11
  • Debt-ceiling deal doesn’t end this argument: In the end, President Barack Obama got his longer debt-ceiling extension, and tea party Republicans succeeded in forcing more future spending cuts as the price.
    But assessment of the ultimate fallout from the agreement that ended the disheartening display of dysfunctional politics that preoccupied the capital and threatened government default is more complex. It depends on how its procedures affect future spending and the ultimate impact on the economy and the 2012 election.
    The bad news is that, despite Obama’s plea Tuesday for action on trade deals and other measures that could help the economy, Congress is likely to remain fixated on cutting spending, an essential long-term goal but one that might hamper efforts to create jobs and provide the economic boost voters demanded last fall…. – The Dallas Morning News, 8-4-11
  • After debt deal, Obama takes staff to lunch: What to do now that the debt crisis is over? President Barack Obama took some of his hard-working debt warriors out for lunch on Wednesday.
    The president rounded up a handful of staff members who have been working almost nonstop for months on the debt issue and headed to Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill.
    “It smells pretty good,” Obama said as he arrived at the restaurant. “Michelle eats here all the time.”
    Those who joined him at a rectangular wooden table included Jack Lew, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and White House Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors. Others in the group were White House Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy Ann DeParle and Gene Sperling, the head of the National Economic Council. Also included was Bruce Reed, chief of staff to Vice President Barack Obama…. – AP, 8-3-11
  • The real drama was in private as debt deal hatched: It played out on two tracks, the struggle to head off a national default. One was for show. The other was for real. That’s how most big things happen in Washington.
    The final votes were public, not even all that close in the end. But the crisis was genuine, and the real crisis management took place in private
    The tracks finally came together, in the nick of time, when the Senate granted final passage to legislation raising the U.S. debt ceiling, trimming spending and punting the most painful decisions on deficits down the road. President Barack Obama’s pen sealed the deal Tuesday afternoon.
    Anyone tuned to the capital’s ways just knew the negotiations for a debt deal would go down to the final hours and everything that unfolded before that in the public eye was theater, hollow suspense.
    The drama was behind the curtains. That’s where Republicans and Democrats up and down the chain of authority finally joined in a common cause to stave off a potentially catastrophic default on debt payments…. – AP, 8-3-11
  • Did debt-ceiling drama damage Obama?: The president is the most visible symbol of what voters see as a badly dysfunctional government. Some Democrats say he could have negotiated better….
    Administration officials concede the debate gave the public a look at government sausage-making at its worst. And White House officials also know that as president, Obama is the most visible symbol of a government that voters see as badly dysfunctional. The turmoil in Washington is not what voters signed up for when Obama was elected, officials say, acknowledging that as president, he absorbs a substantial share of voters’ unhappiness.
    Voters used words such as “disgusting” and “ridiculous” in summarizing their view of the debt fight, according to one poll released this week. And that unhappiness comes as Obama faces fresh signs that the economic recovery is stalled.
    Obama is hardly the only incumbent in trouble with voters. His approval ratings, which have dropped to the low 40s, still far exceed those of Congress. A Gallup poll last month showed that only 33% approved of congressional Democrats; 28% of Republicans. But congressional disapproval numbers are of limited comfort to a president facing a difficult reelection campaign.
    Moreover, many Democrats — including some ordinarily sympathetic to the president — feel part of the problem is of Obama’s own making…. – LAT, 8-3-11
  • Can the Debt Ceiling Genie Be Put Back in the Bottle?: If there was any doubt that Washington’s acrimonious debt fight created a new political reality, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky dashed it on Tuesday.
    The very real threat of forcing the nation into a first-ever financial default — along with the potential for economic calamity — will forever be a powerful tool used by lawmakers and presidents alike, the Senate’s top Republican predicted.
    President Obama had argued repeatedly during the last several weeks that holding up a debt ceiling increase amid partisan political bickering was the equivalent of a hostage-taking, with the global economy at stake…. – NYT, 8-3-11
  • Obama signs debt ceiling deal to avert default, eyes now turn to ‘supercommittee': President Obama signed the compromise deal to raise the debt ceiling and take the first steps toward deficit reduction after the Senate passed the measure Tuesday morning. As Paul Kane, Lori Montgomery and William Branigin reported:
    The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a plan to raise the federal debt limit and cut government spending, ending a bitter partisan stalemate that had threatened to plunge the nation into default and destabilize the world economy.
    One day after a climactic vote in the House, the Senate easily approved the measure, 74 to 26, with significant majorities of both parties supporting it. President Obama promptly signed the bill and submitted a formal request to Congress to lift the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, instantly giving Treasury $400 billion in additional borrowing power.
    With the immediate crisis averted, Obama and congressional leaders quickly turned their attention to the next front in the war over the federal budget: a new legislative committee that will have the job of developing a broader plan to control the government’s debt…. – WaPo, 8-3-11
  • The Problem is Too Much Debt: For the past two years or so, my prediction for the cumulative debt of the United States government over the next ten years has been in the $15 to $20 trillion range. This would more than double the current amount of government debt outstanding.
    Since the events of the past few days in Washington, D. C., my prediction for the cumulative debt of the United States government over the next ten years is still in the $15 to $20 trillion range.
    The most descriptive characterization of the “debt deal” that I have heard is that Congress (and the President) has just “kicked the can down the road.”… – Wall Street Pit, 8-3-11
  • In debt deal, the triumph of the old Washington: In the end, though, the bill sold itself. Instead of making the “hard choices” that both Obama and the new Republicans said they wanted, it put many of them off. It will be up to that bipartisan committee to determine where difficult cuts will come.
    It was an idea straight out of old Washington: To solve a crisis today, the bill created a crisis three months from now, when the committee’s report is due.
    And each party seemed willing to believe that the committee would do what they had wanted all along…. – WaPo, 8-2-11
  • Debt Fight Over, Obama Promises Action on Jobs: Having ceded considerable ground to Republicans in the debt ceiling fight, President Obama set out Tuesday to reclaim the initiative on the economy, promising a new effort to spur job creation while seeking to position himself as a proven voice of reason in an era of ideological overreach.
    After being cloistered in Washington for a month haggling with Congressional leaders, Mr. Obama will embark on a bus tour of the Midwest the week of Aug. 15 — a chance to show his commitment to reviving the economy in a region of important electoral battlegrounds, and to turn the page from the tangled, often toxic, debate in the capital.
    On the policy front, Mr. Obama shifted quickly to pushing Congress to adopt a raft of familiar measures to stimulate the flagging economy, including extending the payroll tax suspension for workers, beefing up benefits for the unemployed, approving trade agreements and investing in infrastructure projects.
    The debt ceiling plan, with its emphasis on cutting government spending, underscores the constrained atmosphere in which Mr. Obama is operating. While he promised on Tuesday to present new ideas to encourage companies to hire workers, a senior aide acknowledged that Mr. Obama had no “magic beads.”… – NYT, 8-2-11
  • What will debt-ceiling deal do to the fragile US economy?: The political deal to raise the debt ceiling averted a fiscal crisis, but a big question remains: Will the cuts in spending help or harm the economic recovery? So far the markets are unimpressed…. – CS Monitor, 8-2-11
  • Debt deal signed, so Dems try job agenda again: The debt ceiling crisis barely was averted Tuesday when President Barack Obama and other top Democrats were ready to change the subject.
    Obama offered little praise for the $2.1 trillion deficit package during a press conference at the Rose Garden, instead vowing to fight for “new jobs, higher wages and faster economic growth” in the coming months — an agenda he has tried to resurrect at least a half-dozen times in the past two years. Politico, 8-2-11
  • Debt ceiling compromise might not have political impact: But there were clear divisions between Republican and Democratic lawmakers who’ll face off in Senate races in Montana, Nevada and Missouri, and it remains to be seen whether the public accepts the deal as a credible budget plan. If it fails to control budget deficits, lawmakers who backed the plan could face outrage from tea party activists already disappointed by the deal. Or if the House-Senate committee created by the new law overhauls entitlements, the left may be furious.
    With 23 Democratic Senate seats in cycle, compared to just 10 for the GOP, Republicans believe that the public’s anger with Washington will hurt Democrats far more — while Democrats believe that the GOP will be blamed for causing an ugly fight that took the economy to the brink…. – Politico, 8-2-11
  • John Boehner reflects on debt ceiling debate:
    Speaking on Monday, House Speaker John Boehner reflected on the debate over raising the nation’s debt limit, saying the deal represents a victory for Republican lawmakers.
    “When you look at this final agreement that we came to with the White House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I’m pretty happy,” Mr. Boehner said in an interview with CBS News.
    “It really boiled down to two issues. President was insisting on more taxes. President never got serious about the kind of spending cuts that were necessary in order to get America back on a sound fiscal footing,” Mr. Boehner said…. – The State Column, 8-2-11

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown August 4, 2011: Facts Sheets on the Debt Ceiling Compromise & Congressional Super Committee

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN:

Myths and Facts About the Debt-Ceiling Compromise

Source: WH, 8-4-11

Debt Deal Graphic

The budget compromise removes the cloud of uncertainty over the economy, and takes important steps toward reducing our deficit. In that sense, it’s a win for all Americans. (A picture is worth a thousand words, so click here to see an infographic on exactly how this agreement will work going forward.)

Here at the Office of Public Engagement, we’ve been working overtime to help explain all the details of this deal – and why we think it’s a win for our shared agenda. We also know that in the rush to figure out exactly what the deal is all about, there has been a lot of inaccurate information and analysis.

Below, I’ve tried to address, head-on, some the most common misconceptions we’ve been hearing about the deal.

Myth: President Obama caved.

Fact: President Obama laid out key priorities that had to be part of any deal. Those priorities are reflected in this compromise. First, we avoided default which would have plunged the economy into a deep recession, imperiling the well-being of millions of Americans. Second, the initial down payment on deficit reductions does not cut low-income and safety-net programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Third, we set up a path forward that will put pressure on Congress to adopt a balanced approach. And finally, we raised the debt ceiling until 2013, ensuring that House Republicans could not use the threat of default in just a few months to force severe cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Myth: Republicans got everything they wanted

Fact: They won’t admit it publicly, but when push came to shove, Republicans backed down on their key demands. For months, Republicans called for a budget that would have ended Medicare as we know it, made catastrophic cuts to Medicaid, or cut investments in education by 25 percent, clean energy by 70 percent and infrastructure spending by 30 percent. As if that wasn’t enough, they also demanded that we repeat this debt-ceiling crisis, just a few months from now.

None of these of these demands made it into a final deal.

Myth: This deal cuts Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Fact:  There are no changes to these programs included in the initial phase of this agreement. In the second phase of the agreement, everything will be on the table – and the President has made clear that the committee must pursue a balanced approach where reforms to programs like Medicaid, Social Security or Medicare would only be acceptable if coupled with higher revenues from the most fortunate.

Myth: This deal reduces the deficit entirely on the backs of the middle class.

Fact: While the initial down payment on deficit reduction – about $1 trillion – will require belt-tightening, it still will allow us to invest in the programs and priorities we care about most. Moreover, hundreds of billions of this initial round of cuts will come from security spending.

As we negotiated the domestic side of the cuts, we protected our historic new investments in Pell Grants as part of the down payment. For the second phase, we made sure that  programs for the most vulnerable, like food stamps, Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit, would not be hit by the “trigger,” the automatic cuts that will go into place if Congress does not find an acceptable compromise.

Myth: The joint committee — the so-called “super committee” — makes it easier for Congress to cut the programs we care about.

Fact: The joint committee system puts pressure on Republicans to seek compromise. As we all know, in this round of deficit reduction, there wasn’t a lot of leverage bringing Republicans to the table. In round two, that changes.

If Republicans aren’t willing to compromise, then the joint committee will fail. This would automatically trigger an additional $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction designed to be painful for both sides, with half that coming from savings in the defense budget.

Myth: Since we weren’t able to raise revenues right now, we won’t be able to raise revenues in the future.

Fact: The deal lays out two paths for further reducing our deficit. Both of them include revenues. Option one is for the joint committee to develop a plan that is passed by both Houses of Congress, and signed by President Obama. The President has already said that he will only support a balanced approach involving shared sacrifice. That means raising revenue through steps such as closing loopholes for corporations, reforming our tax code, and asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share in taxes.

If the joint committee cannot develop a balanced compromise,that brings us to option two for raising revenues: the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. On January 1, 2013, President Obama can use his veto pen to end special tax breaks for high-income Americans if Congress votes to extend them.

President Barack Obama Signs The Budget Control Act Of 2011

President Barack Obama signs the Budget Control Act of 2011 in the Oval Office, Aug. 2, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Jon Carson is Deputy Assistant to President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement

All About the So-Called “Super Committee”

Source: WH, 8-3-11

Debt Deal Graphic

Tuesday’s budget compromise creates a joint committee of Congress, which you might have seen referred to as the “super committee.” This committee is responsible for developing a bipartisan plan for reducing our deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. (That’s on top of about $1 trillion from the down payment that was included in the first phase of the deal.)

At the White House Office of Public Engagement, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about exactly how the joint committee will work. We’ve created an infographic that illustrates the process, but I’d also like to answer a few of those questions below.

Q: Who’s on the joint committee?

A: Six Democrats, and six Republicans. Each of four party leaders in Congress will choose three members of the committee, so half will come from the House, and half from the Senate.

Q: As the joint committee comes up with a plan, what’s on the table?

A: Everything. The joint committee has no restrictions on where it can find ways to reduce our deficit. It can eliminate tax loopholes, just like it can cut spending. President Obama believes that the committee should listen to the vast majority of Americans who support a balanced approach that includes revenue.

Q: The first round of deficit reduction was made up entirely of spending cuts. Will the second round be as well?

A: The short answer is no. The Committee can look at the entire budget including revenue and entitlements. And the President has made it clear that he will only accept a balanced approach.

Q: Republicans have refused to support a balanced approach in the past. Why would they support one now?

A: The threat of allowing our nation to default gave Republicans a lot of leverage in the first round of negotiations. In the second round, that changes. First, if the joint committee doesn’t come up with the kind of approach both parties can support, it sets up a “trigger,” something Democrats and Republicans both want to avoid. (I’ll explain the trigger in more detail below.)

Second, the Bush high-income tax cuts are set to expire on January 1, 2013. This forces Congress to deal with this issue, and if Congress does vote to extend these special tax breaks, the President can use his veto pen to end them. This gives Republicans added incentive to compromise on an approach that balances spending reductions and closing tax loopholes.

Q: When the joint committee comes up with its plan, what happens next?

A: If seven out of the 12 members of the joint committee approve a plan, it moves to a straight up-or-down vote in Congress. No filibusters, no amendments, and no procedural tricks. If Congress approves the plan, and President Obama signs it, it goes into law.

Q: What happens if the joint committee can’t reach a deficit reduction agreement that passes Congress?

A: If the joint committee can’t come up with a plan that the Senate, the House, and President Obama can all approve by January 15, 2012, it automatically sets off what’s known as a “trigger.” This trigger puts pressure on both sides to compromise, because it would make cuts that would be painful for Democrats and Republicans alike – half the cuts would come from domestic programs, and half from defense.

However, President Obama made sure that Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare benefits would not be cut in the event that the trigger is set off. Neither would programs for the most vulnerable, such as food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Q: The President says he wants to see a balanced approach. What exactly does that look like?

A: A balanced approach means that everything is on the table, and everyone pays their fair share. This could include reforms to programs like Medicare, so they will be around for the next generation. But that would also require asking the most fortunate to do their part: closing loopholes in the tax code, ending wasteful subsidies to corporations, and asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.

Polls have consistently shown that the majority of Americans support the President’s call for balance and compromise.

Q: What can I do to make a difference?

A: During this debate, President Obama asked the American people to urgeWashington to put partisanship aside, and make the tough choices that are best for the country. Your voice made a huge difference in protecting programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security during the first stage of this deal.

If you agree with President Obama – if you support a balanced approach – don’t stay silent on this issue. If you want to see Washington compromise, put politics aside, and ask all Americans to pay their fair share – then make your voice heard.

And stay in touch with the Office of Public Engagement! Visit Whitehouse.gov/engage to learn how Americans from all over the country are changing the way Washington does business, both in this debate, and on a wide variety of other issues.

Related: Jon Carson addresses the myths and facts about the debt-ceiling compromise

Jon Carson is Deputy Assistant to President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown August 3, 2011: House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan’s Wall Street Journal Op-ed “Where’s Your Budget, Mr. President?” & White House Response

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN:

Where’s Your Budget, Mr. President?

Ever since they fudged the numbers to pass ObamaCare, Democrats have abandoned credible spending plans.

Source: WSJ, 8-3-11

By PAUL RYAN

During the negotiations over raising the debt ceiling, President Obama reportedly warned Republican leaders not to call his bluff by sending him a bill without tax increases. Republicans in Congress ignored this threat and passed a bill that cuts more than a dollar in spending for every dollar it increases the debt limit, without raising taxes.

Yesterday, Mr. Obama signed this bill into law. He was, as he said, bluffing.

House majority leader Eric Cantor and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan discuss the debt ceiling deal and the political fallout.

Nevertheless, the president still hasn’t shown us his cards. He still hasn’t put forward a credible plan to tackle the threat of ever-rising spending and debt, and his evasiveness is emblematic of the party he leads.

Ever since they abused the budget process to jam their health-care takeover through Congress last year, the Democrats have simply done away with serious budgeting altogether. The simplest explanation—and the president’s real bluff—is that they don’t want to commit publicly to the kind of tax increases and health-care rationing that would be required to sustain their archaic vision of government.

The president’s February budget deliberately dodged the tough choices necessary to confront the threat of runaway federal spending. It was rejected unanimously in a Senate controlled by his own party.

Since then he has offered a lot of rhetoric but no real plan to avoid a spending-driven debt crisis. His speeches and press conferences are no substitutes for actual budgets with specific numbers and independently verified projections of future deficits and debt. Meanwhile, it has been over two years since the Democrat-controlled Senate passed any budget at all. This is a historic failure to fulfill one of the most basic responsibilities of governing.

This leadership deficit has thrown the federal budget process into chaos at the worst possible time. Even though Congress has cut spending by a significant amount, it still hasn’t dealt with the drivers of our debt—primarily federal spending on health care.

The math is scary, yet simple: In the years ahead, spending on programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Democrats’ new health-care entitlements is projected to skyrocket relative to the size of the economy, even as federal spending on everything else is projected to decline (see the nearby chart).

Even well-intentioned proposals such as the one put forward by the Senate’s Gang of Six lacked specific reforms to curb the health-care spending. Actually, it took steps in the wrong direction by explicitly requiring policy makers to “maintain the basic structure” of government health-care programs. That structure is unsustainable.

Medicare reimburses all providers of care according to the same formula, even if the quality of the care they provide is poor and the cost is high. This top-down delivery system exacerbates waste, as none of the primary stakeholders has a strong incentive to deliver the best-quality care for the lowest cost. Medicaid has fallen victim to the same trend: an open-ended commitment that drives up costs, coupled with a flawed federal-state matching formula that is breaking state budgets.

Supporters of the Democrats’ new health-care law claim that the law will fix these problems. But we are already seeing evidence that its maze of mandates, dictates, controls and tax hikes will actually push costs even further in the wrong direction.

ryan
Getty Images

President Obama signing the Budget Control Act of 2011 in the Oval Office on Tuesday.

Even the president seems to understand that the status quo of these programs is unsustainable. As he put it during a press conference on July 11, “If you look at the numbers, then Medicare in particular will run out of money, and we will not be able to sustain that program no matter how much taxes go up.”

On this point, Mr. Obama and I couldn’t agree more. Where we disagree is over how best to confront this problem.

The president’s health-care law represents an attempt to double down on the failed policies of the past. Despite claims that new methods of reimbursing Medicare providers will tame costs, the fact is that the federal bureaucracy has tried most of the measures before, without any success.

Worse, the law would create a new 15-member board of bureaucrats empowered to bypass Congress to make deep cuts in payments to Medicare providers. Time and again, such provider cuts have had two consequences: Providers have either increased the volume of services they provide for each condition, or they have stopped accepting Medicare patients altogether.

There is a better way—structural reforms that empower patients with greater choices and increase the role of competition in the health-care marketplace. The budget passed by the House of Representatives in April, “The Path to Prosperity,” outlined the beginnings of such an approach by repealing the president’s health-care law and proposing reforms that would make Medicare and Medicaid stronger and solvent for current and future generations.

In other words, we’ve put our cards on the table: According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), our plan puts the federal budget on the path to balance without resorting to job-destroying tax hikes. It will eliminate the shadow of debt that is discouraging job creation while advancing pro-growth tax reforms to get the economy moving again.

By contrast, the president and his party’s leaders have refused to submit specific, credible budget plans that tackle health-care costs while restoring economic growth. Unwilling to reconsider their failed bureaucratic approaches to health and retirement security, the Democrats can only propose tax increases, and lots of them.

The CBO’s latest Long-Term Outlook in June estimated that total tax revenues would have to double by mid-century in order to finance our current spending path. Health-care costs rose about 8% in 2011 and are projected to rise by 8.5% in 2012. At this rate, taxes would have to rise again and again just to keep up with health-care spending. Is it any wonder that the president and his party are afraid to produce a budget that requires such ruinous levels of taxation?

The president tried to use the debt-ceiling negotiations to secure the first of many tax increases that his party needs to pay for its legacy of unfunded promises. He failed. Instead, Republicans won the policy debate by securing the first of many spending restraints we need to avoid a debt-driven economic calamity.

Much hard work remains. But this work will be harder still if leading Democrats remain unwilling to lay their cards on the table and give the American people the debate they deserve.

Mr. Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin, serves as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Responding To Representative Ryan

Source: WH, 8-3-11

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan offered an interesting take on the President’s leadership on dealing with our long-term debt and deficits the recent deficit reduction negotiations in today’s Wall Street Journal. Below are a few of Congressman Ryan’s claims along with our responses.

Claim: The President has failed to put forward a plan to tackle our long term debt and deficits.

  • Since the beginning of the current debate on the debt ceiling, the President has led with a comprehensive plan for deficit reduction.
  • In April, the President released a fiscal framework for $4 trillion in deficit reduction, which described the President’s plans for closing tax loopholes and for responsible reforms of Medicare and Medicaid so they are strengthened for future generations.
  • Beginning less than a week after he announced this Framework, the President led four separate efforts to negotiate a compromise on the debt limit – talks with Vice President Joe Biden, meetings with all eight Congressional leaders from both parties, and two rounds of negotiations directly with Speaker Boehner.
  • Throughout this process, the Administration put forward specific policy proposals with the goal of reaching an agreement on a $4 trillion package – an agreement which Speaker Boehner ultimately walked away from.

Claim: The GOP “won the policy debate” during the debt negotiations.

  • We believe that this agreement was not a victory for one party, but for the American people. If Congress did not act and allowed the United States to default on its obligations, the results would have been catastrophic for our economy and for millions of Americans still digging out from the last recession.
  • The debt agreement is consistent with the President’s commitment to protecting our nation from default and achieving significant deficit reduction through a balanced approach.  It represents an important down payment on reform of about $1 trillion and sets the stage for additional balanced deficit reduction by the end of the year.
  • In enacting this bill, the President held to his principles—and prevented Republicans from ending Medicare as we know it, slashing Medicaid, and threatening Social Security.
  • The President prevented Republicans from using the prospect of default as leverage again in six months by pushing any additional debt limit increases to 2013.
  • The cuts in the first phase are balanced between domestic and security spending, while protecting critical initiatives like aid for college students.
  • If the new Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction fails to act, the law includes a balanced enforcement mechanism—that divides automatic cuts 50-50 between defense and non-defense with low-income programs exempted.

Claim: The President “warned Republican leaders not to call his bluff by sending him a bill without tax increases.”

  • As the AP reported, President Obama warned Republicans not to call his bluff “by passing a short-term debt limit increase he has threatened to veto.”
  • The President stood firm and forced Republicans to back down, preventing them from using the prospect of default as leverage again in six months by ensuring that any additional debt limit increases will not be needed until 2013.

Claim: Spending on Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act is projected to skyrocket, while the House Republicans’ budget outlined a responsible approach to Medicare and Medicaid Reform.

  • The Affordable Care Act was fully paid for, and according to the CBO will reduce the deficit by $200 billion over the next 10 years and by more than $1 trillion in the next decade.
  • The Affordable Care Act will provide coverage to 34 million Americans and will extend the life of the Medicare trust fund.
  • The House Republican plan would convert Medicare into a voucher program; increasing seniors’ health costs by $6,400 annually starting in 2022; raise health insurance premiums for middle-class Americans and small businesses; and cut Federal Medicaid spending by one-third by the end of the decade, which would cause 50 million to lose coverage.

Claim: The House Republicans’ plan would put the budget on a path to balance without tax increases, while President Obama tried to use the debt ceiling negotiations to raise taxes.

  • The House Republicans’ plan would also put the nation on a path to end the guarantee of Medicare for our seniors while imposing deep spending cuts that would harm our economy to balance out tax cuts for the highest income earners.
  • Their approach locks in many of the irresponsible policies that brought us to the debt limit this week including tax cuts for the wealthy, big corporations and special interests.
  • In stark contrast, the President stands committed to a balanced approach with responsible entitlement reform, and comprehensive tax reform that produces a system which is fairer, has fewer loopholes, less complexity, and is not rigged in favor of those who can afford lawyers and accountants to game it.
Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior Advisor

Political Highlights: Debt Ceiling Showdown 2011 Recap — President Obama Signs the Bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2011 into Law Averting 1st Default in US History

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN 2011 RECAP: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/obamasigningdebtbill.jpg?w=500

IN FOCUS

Debt Ceiling Showdown All Posts; News, Quotes, Speeches, Press Conferences & Analysis on History Musings

Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown August 1-2, 2011: Debt Ceiling Crisis Averted House & Senate Pass Bipartisan Compromise Bill — President Obama Signs Budget Control Act of 2011 into Law — History Musings, 8-2-11

Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown July 25-31, 2011: Finally, a Deal! After Week of Partisan Votes in Congress — President Obama, White House, Republican & Democratic Leaders Agree to Debt Deal — Still Needs to Pass House & Senate Votes — History Musings, 8-1-11

Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown Recap July 18-24, 2011: 2 Plans, 8 Days No Debt Deal in Sight — Will the US Default on August 2, 2011? — History Musings, 7-25-11

Political Debt Ceiling Showdown Recap July 6-18, 2011: Bipartisan Senate Compromise Plan Emerges — Obama Sets New Deadline for Friday July 22, 2011 — History Musings, 7-18-11

Full Text of the Budget Control Act of 2011 — PDF

How the Senate voted: 74-26 roll call Tuesday — the Senate passed Budget Control Act of 2011 –

YES: 45 Democrats and 28 Republicans
NO: 6 Democrats and 19 Republicans

How the House of Representatives voted: 269-161 roll call Monday — the House passed Budget Control Act of 2011 –

YES: 95 Democrats and 174 Republicans
NO: 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans

Resources on the Debate About the National Debt — White House

  • Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell and the making of a debt dealPolitico, 8-2-11
  • Obama Approval Drops to New Low of 40% Similar to his approval rating for handling the debt ceiling negotiations: President Obama’s job approval rating is at a new low, averaging 40% in July 26-28 Gallup Daily tracking. His prior low rating of 41% occurred several times, the last of which was in April. As recently as June 7, Obama had 50% job approval…. – Gallop, 7-29-11
  • Majority of Americans surveyed believe Congressional leaders behaved like spoiled children: Congressional approval ratings fell to a dismal 14% in the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corp. Survey released Tuesday. It showed a whopping 77% of people felt elected officials in Washington behaved mostly like “spoiled children” in the run-up to the vote.
    Only 17% of people surveyed believed the pols behaved like “responsible adults,” with 4% saying it was a mixture of both…. – NY Daily News, 8-2-11
  • Snapshot: Obama signs debt limit bill: Just hours ahead of a deadline to avert an unprecedented default, President Barack Obama, without public ceremony, signs a bill that raises the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and sets in motion a plan to reduce U.S. deficits over 10 years…. – Reuters, 8-2-11Fact Sheet: Bipartisan Debt Deal: A Win for the Economy and Budget Discipline — White House, 7-31-11 Timeline of the Debt Ceiling Negotiations — NYT, 7-31-11

    SNAPSHOT-U.S. lawmakers close to deal on debt: Here is what is happening on Sunday as lawmakers and the White House race to broker a deal to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion borrowing cap by Tuesday’s deadline and avoid default on obligations…. – Reuters, 7-31-11

    FACTBOX-Key elements of possible U.S. debt deal: U.S. lawmakers were working furiously on Sunday to hammer out details of a deal to raise the U.S. borrowing limit and put in place a deficit-reduction plan to help avert a potentially catastrophic debt default.
    Lawmakers, administration officials and aides have made clear that they have yet to agree on the final deal. But they did provide the following details of how the deal is taking shape…. – Reuters, 7-31-11

    FACTBOX-What’s ahead in the U.S. debt limit fight — Reuters, 7-30-11

    How Different Types of Republicans Voted on the Revised Debt Plan: Analysis of how different Republican blocs voted on the revised debt plan… – NYT

    Interactive Graphic: House Roll Call: Boehner’s Short-Term Debt Ceiling Increase — NYT

    Interactive Graphic: Comparing Deficit-Reduction Plans — NYT

    Timeline: How U.S. debt talks spiraled into crisis: The United States drifted closer to a credit rating downgrade and default on Wednesday as President Barack Obama’s Democrats and their Republican rivals worked on competing plans to cut spending and raise the debt ceiling. Following is a timeline of the U.S. debt debate… – Reuters, 7-30-11

    Factbox: Details of competing debt limit plans: House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid are pushing rival plans to raise the government’s borrowing limit before an August 2 deadline. Reid could modify his plan to attract Republican support once Boehner’s bill fails in the Senate. Here are details of the two plans… – Reuters, 7-28-11

    Factbox: House factions influence debt/deficit vote: On any major piece of legislation that moves through Congress, various factions within the House of Representatives and Senate can influence chances of success or failure.
    That has been especially true in the debate over raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit by August 2 in order to avoid a U.S. government default. Here is a rundown of the various factions — many overlap — and how they shaped the debate and how they might influence the final vote:

    TEA PARTY HOUSE CAUCUS…
    HOUSE REPUBLICAN STUDY COMMITTEE…
    THE TUESDAY GROUP…
    BLUE DOG DEMOCRATS…
    THE CONGRESSIONAL PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS…
    REPUBLICAN SENATOR JIM DEMINT…

    - Reuters, 7-28-11

    Debt ceiling Q&A: How did we get here, what happens next?LAT, 7-28-11

    Debt ceiling poll: Voters with Obama: Most Americans would like to see a mix of spending cuts and tax increases be part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, a new poll finds, aligning the majority with President Barack Obama’s position. Of those surveyed for a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday, 56 percent said they want to see a mix of approaches used in an agreement to raise the debt ceiling. The poll was conducted overnight Monday, as Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) voiced their views on the impasse in negotiations in back-to-back televised primetime speeches.
    Just 19 percent of Americans said they favor a plan like Boehner’s, which would rely solely on spending cuts to existing programs to reduce the deficit. Twelve percent said they would prefer a plan to reduce the deficit only by raising taxes.
    Americans’ blame for the impasse is spread all around, though is particularly strong against congressional Republicans, with 31 percent of those surveyed saying they are responsible for it. Twenty-one percent blamed Obama and nine percent blamed congressional Democrats…. – Politico 7-26-11

    New polls confirm Obama’s Democratic base crumbles: …”More than a third of Americans now believe that President Obama’s policies are hurting the economy, and confidence in his ability to create jobs is sharply eroding among his base,” the Post reports.
    Strong support among liberal Democrats for Obama’s jobs record has plummeted 22 points from 53% down below a third. African Americans who believe the president’s measures helped the economy have plunged from 77% to barely half.
    Obama’s overall job approval on the economy has slid below 40% for the first time, with 57% disapproving. And strong disapprovers outnumber approvers by better than two-to-one. – LAT, 7-26-11

    INFOGRAPHIC: Where does our national debt come from?: One of the fundamental things to understand when considering the debate about reducing our national debt is how we accumulated so much in the first place.
    To explain the impact various policies have had over the past decade, shifting us from projected surpluses to actual deficits and, as a result, running up the national debt, the White House has developed a graphic for you to review and share. – WH, 7-26-11

  • Factbox: How the Obama/Boehner debt talks unraveled: President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner had agreed on the rough outlines of a far-reaching budget deal that would allow the United States to avert an imminent default before Boehner broke off talks on Friday.
    Here is a summary of what the two sides had agreed upon, where they had differed, and how things fell apart… – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • Timeline: How the debt talks spiraled into crisis: With financial markets on edge, White House officials and Republican leaders scrambled to reassure them that the United States will avert default and lift its $14.3 trillion borrowing limit before August 2. Following is a timeline of the U.S. debt debate…. – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • Debt Ceiling for Dummies: Why Compromise Is so NecessaryHuff Post, 7-24-11
  • SCENARIOS-Options for raising the U.S. debt limit: Democrats and Republicans in Congress, unable to compromise on how to cut budget deficits and raise U.S. borrowing authority, are now working on their own, competing bills. With nine days’ left until the United States runs out of money to pay all its bills after Aug. 2, the two parties were rushing to get their respective bills moving through Congress this week.
    Here are some scenarios for raising the debt limit by the early August deadline to avoid a potentially crippling government default:
    AN ALL SPENDING CUTS, NO REVENUES PLAN…
    A SHORT-TERM DEBT LIMIT INCREASE…
    BLEND THE TWO IDEAS?…
    MCCONNELL “FALLBACK” PLAN…
    TALKS RESUME…
    OBAMA INVOKES THE CONSTITUTION… – Reuters, 7-24-11President Obama USA Today Exclusive Op-ed: Go ‘big’ on debt deal: For years now, America has been spending more money than we take in. The result is that we have too much debt on our nation’s credit card — debt that will ultimately weaken our economy, lead to higher interest rates for all Americans, and leave us unable to invest in things like education, or protect vital programs like Medicare.
    Neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this debt, but both parties have a responsibility to come together and solve the problem. That’s what the American people expect of us. Every day, families are figuring out how to stretch their paychecks a little further, sacrifice what they can’t afford, and budget only for what’s truly important. It’s time for Washington to do the same…. – USA Today, 7-21-11
  • Poll: Sharp Partisan Divide Over Debt Ceiling Deal: With the deadline to broker a debt ceiling deal fast approaching, Americans are craving a solution but remain strongly divided along party lines over how to achieve it, according to a CNN/ORC poll released today.
    The poll finds 64% of Americans want a package that includes both spending cuts and tax increases, although the partisan divide is clear: 83% of Democrats and nearly two-thirds of independents support this combined approach, while only 37% of Republicans say they agree. A majority of Republicans and self-described tea party supporters support a plan that only includes spending cuts…. – NY Daily News, 7-21-11
  • ‘Cut, cap, and balance’ vs. ‘gang of six’ plan: Which for House GOP?: ‘Cut, cap, and balance’ legislation, which lays out a GOP plan to eliminate the US budget deficit, is set for a House vote late Tuesday. A symbolic move, the vote is nonetheless vital to Republicans. Here’s why…. – CS Monitor, 7-20-11
  • Latest developments in debt ceiling standoff: Congress has until Aug. 2 to raise the federal borrowing limit or the government will run out of money and possibly default on its debt. House Republicans say they won’t raise the debt limit without equal spending cuts. President Barack Obama and Democrats insist that higher revenues must be included.
    Monday’s developments: Obama says the two sides are “making progress” in negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says the Senate will meet each day until the issue is resolved.
    What’s Next: Republican House to vote Tuesday on bill to cut and cap spending and require that Congress pass a balanced budget amendment before the debt ceiling can be raised. While the bill is unlikely to pass the Democratic Senate, Obama threatens to veto it. – AP, 7-18-11
  • McConnell Offers Three-Stage Debt-Limit ‘Last Choice’ Option: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell proposed a “last choice option” for increasing the U.S. debt limit in three stages in case President Barack Obama and Congress can’t agree on a deficit-reduction plan.
    McConnell’s plan would let the president raise the limit, while accompanying it with offsetting spending cuts, unless Congress struck down his plan with a two-thirds majority. The debt-ceiling increase could occur without the companion spending cuts, McConnell said.
    Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said the plan would allow Obama to raise the debt limit while putting the onus on him and congressional Democrats for any failure to cut spending. At the same time, Republicans wouldn’t have to agree to tax increases.
    The proposal is “not my first choice,” McConnell said, adding that he wanted to show the financial markets that the U.S. will not default on its debts. He said he continues to seek a broader deal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit with congressional Democrats and the White House. “We’re certainly not going to send a signal to the markets and the American people that default is an option,” he said…. – Bloomberg, 7-12-11
  • Timeline: Debt debate, 7-11-11: President Barack Obama and top lawmakers will meet again Monday in search of a deal on slashing the U.S. budget deficit and raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling before the United States defaults.
    Obama wants to strike a deal well before August 2, when the Treasury Department says it will no longer be able to honor its obligations and issue new bonds without breaching the limit that Congress set on how much the United States can borrow.
    Republican and Democratic lawmakers say any increase must include measures to ensure the country’s debt remains at a sustainable level. The debt-reduction debate is a sharp shift for Washington, which less than a year ago was focused on additional deficit spending to lower the unemployment rate.
    Following is a timeline of the debate…. – Reuters, 7-11-11
  • Factbox: What’s on the table in debt talks: President Barack Obama and congressional leaders resume their White House talks on Monday to see if they have the makings of a deal to trim budget deficits and avert a looming default.
    The Treasury Department has warned it will run out of money to cover the country’s bills if Congress does not raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by August 2.
    Although Democrats and Republicans agree on the need for trillions of dollars in budget savings, they remain sharply divided about how to get there.
    Following is a summary of the debate… – Reuters, 7-11-11
  • Bruce Bartlett: Five myths about the debt ceiling: In recent months, the federal debt ceiling — last increased in February 2010 and now standing at $14.3 trillion — has become a matter of national debate and political hysteria. The ceiling must be raised by Aug. 2, Treasury says, or the government will run out of cash. Congressional Republicans counter that they won’t raise the debt limit unless Democrats agree to large budget cuts with no tax increases. President Obama insists that closing tax loopholes must be part of the package. Whom and what to believe in the great debt-limit debate? Here are some misconceptions that get to the heart of the battle….

    1. The debt limit is an effective way to control spending and deficits.
    2. Opposition to raising the debt limit is a partisan issue.
    3. Financial markets won’t care much if interest payments are just a few days late — a “technical default.”
    4. It’s worth risking default on the debt to prevent a tax increase, given the weak economy.
    5. Obama must accept GOP budget demands because he needs Republican support to raise the debt limit….

    - WaPo, 7-7-11

Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown August 1-2, 2011: Debt Ceiling Crisis Averted House & Senate Pass Bipartisan Compromise Bill — President Obama Signs Budget Control Act of 2011 into Law

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell are pictured. | AP Photo composite by POLITICO

IN FOCUS AUGUST 1-2, 2011: DEBT CEILING CRISIS AVERTED HOUSE & SENATE PASS BIPARTISAN COMPROMISE BILL — PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNS BUDGET CONTROL ACT OF 2011 INTO LAW

 

  • Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown August 1-2, 2011: Debt Ceiling Crisis Averted House & Senate Pass Bipartisan Compromise Bill — President Obama Signs Budget Control Act of 2011 into Law — History Musings, 8-2-11
  • Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown July 25-31, 2011: Finally, a Deal! After Week of Partisan Votes in Congress — President Obama, White House, Republican & Democratic Leaders Agree to Debt Deal — Still Needs to Pass House & Senate Votes — History Musings, 8-1-11
  • Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown Recap July 18-24, 2011: 2 Plans, 8 Days No Debt Deal in Sight — Will the US Default on August 2, 2011? — History Musings, 7-25-11
  • Full Text of the Budget Control Act of 2011 — PDFHow the Senate voted: 74-26 roll call Tuesday — the Senate passed Budget Control Act of 2011 –

    YES: 45 Democrats and 28 Republicans
    NO: 6 Democrats and 19 Republicans

    How the House of Representatives voted: 269-161 roll call Monday — the House passed Budget Control Act of 2011 –

    YES: 95 Democrats and 174 Republicans
    NO: 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans

    Resources on the Debate About the National Debt — White House

  • Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell and the making of a debt dealPolitico, 8-2-11
  • Obama Approval Drops to New Low of 40% Similar to his approval rating for handling the debt ceiling negotiations: President Obama’s job approval rating is at a new low, averaging 40% in July 26-28 Gallup Daily tracking. His prior low rating of 41% occurred several times, the last of which was in April. As recently as June 7, Obama had 50% job approval…. – Gallop, 7-29-11
  • Majority of Americans surveyed believe Congressional leaders behaved like spoiled children: Congressional approval ratings fell to a dismal 14% in the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corp. Survey released Tuesday. It showed a whopping 77% of people felt elected officials in Washington behaved mostly like “spoiled children” in the run-up to the vote.
    Only 17% of people surveyed believed the pols behaved like “responsible adults,” with 4% saying it was a mixture of both…. – NY Daily News, 8-2-11
  • Snapshot: Obama signs debt limit bill: Just hours ahead of a deadline to avert an unprecedented default, President Barack Obama, without public ceremony, signs a bill that raises the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and sets in motion a plan to reduce U.S. deficits over 10 years…. – Reuters, 8-2-11

SENATE VOTES ON DEBT DEAL — PRESIDENT OBAMA MAKES STATEMENT & SIGNS DEBT BILL INTO LAW RAISING THE DEBT CEILING

Obama signs debt-ceiling deal into law: President Obama has signed into law the bill raising the federal debt ceiling just hours before the Treasury said it could begin running out of money to pay the government’s bills, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.

President Obama says work not done: After the Senate passed the debt deal and removed the threat of default the day the Treasury was expected to run out of funds, President Obama told the American people from the Rose Garden that “the next phase” of the process involved such things as entitlement and tax reform, extended unemployment benefits and middle-class tax cuts.
He urged Congress to tackle those issues when it returns from its August recess.
“Voters may have chosen divided government, but they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government,” Obama said. “They want us to solve problems.”
The president added “While deficit reduction is part of that agenda, it is not the whole agenda.”

Congress approves debt deal, averts U.S. default: The Senate approved a plan, 74 to 26, Tuesday that will increase the federal debt ceiling just hours before the Treasury said it could begin running out of money to pay the government’s bills.
The measure now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it shortly. The plan will cut the national debt by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years with no immediate provision for tax increases.

Senate begins vote on debt deal: Approval would send the measure to President Obama and immediately grant the Treasury $400 billion in additional borrowing authority, just hours before a midnight deadline.

 

  • Full Text of the Budget Control Act of 2011 — PDFHow the Senate voted: 74-26 roll call Tuesday — the Senate passed Budget Control Act of 2011 –

    YES: 45 Democrats and 28 Republicans
    NO: 6 Democrats and 19 Republicans

    How the House of Representatives voted: 269-161 roll call Monday — the House passed Budget Control Act of 2011 –

    YES: 95 Democrats and 174 Republicans
    NO: 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans

    “It was a long and contentious debate. And I want to thank the American people for keeping up the pressure on their elected officials to put politics aside and work together.” — President Barack Obama

    “We have seen in the past few days that Washington has the ability to focus when there is a timer ticking down and when there is a looming disaster. It shouldn’t take the risk of default, the risk of economic catastrophe, to get folks in this town to get together and do their jobs. Our economy didn’t need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse.” — President Barack Obama

    “It may have been messy. It might have appeared to some like their government wasn’t working. But, in fact, the opposite was true. The push and pull Americans saw in Washington these past few weeks was not gridlock. It was the will of the people working itself out in a political system that was never meant to be pretty…. It was a debate that Washington needed to have.” — — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    The bill passed by the House last night isn’t the bill we’d write if conservatives ran Washington, but it’s a step in the right direction. When I went to NY & said we wouldn’t pass a debt limit increase without spending cuts larger than the hike, skeptics said we were crazy. We’ve proven the skeptics wrong. When Americans stay engaged in their government, there’s no limit to what can get done. Keep up the fight. — Speaker of the House John Boehner

    “Never again will any president from either party be allowed to raise the debt ceiling without being held accountable for it by the American people. And in addition to that, without having to engage in the kind of debate we just went thorough. This kind of discussion isn’t something to dread. It’s something to welcome.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    “The American people want to see accountability and cooperation in Washington. And they want to see that we’re working to get our fiscal house in order. This legislation doesn’t get us there. But for the first time in a long time, I think we can say to the American people that we’re finally facing in the right direction.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    “It is the beginning of a process where we are going to change a system in this town. And it also, I think, sends a signal that we can work together to try and produce results.” — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

    “It’s hard to believe that we are putting our best foot forward with the legislation that comes before us today. I’m not happy with it, but I’m proud of some of the accomplishments contained in it.” — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

    “There is great incentive created in this committee to deal with tax reform. It is certainly our expectation that that product will include revenue as well as other areas of finding deficit reduction.” — Speaker of the House Jay Carney

    “I believe the joint select committee can in fact produce real cuts in spending.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

    Senator Tom Coburn: Why I voted against the debt deal”: “The real debt crisis is not a debate that has been imposed on Washington by Tea Party activists. It is a crisis Washington has imposed on the American people through laziness.” — WaPo, 8-2-11

  • Snapshot: Obama signs debt limit bill: Just hours ahead of a deadline to avert an unprecedented default, President Barack Obama, without public ceremony, signs a bill that raises the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and sets in motion a plan to reduce U.S. deficits over 10 years…. – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Debt Bill Becomes Law; Default Averted: The Senate voted Tuesday to raise the government’s debt ceiling and cut trillions of dollars from its spending, finally ending a fractious partisan battle just hours before the government’s borrowing authority was set to run out.
    The bill, which passed 74 to 26 after a short debate devoid of the oratorical passion that had echoed through both chambers of Congress for weeks, was signed by President Obama later on Tuesday.
    A few minutes after the vote, President Obama excoriated his Republican opposition for what he called a manufactured crisis that could have been avoided. “Voters may have chosen divided government,” he said, “but they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government…. – NYT, 8-2-11
  • Fitch: US Debt deal alone won’t sustain AAA rating: The bill to raise the country’s borrowing limit and prevent a possible U.S. debt default passed in Congress. But it not enough for the U.S. to maintain its coveted AAA debt rating, according to Fitch Ratings.
    On Tuesday, Fitch said the agreement was an important first step but “not the end of the process.” The rating agency wants to see a credible plan to reduce the budget deficit.
    David Riley, managing director at Fitch, told The Associated Press: “There’s more to be done in order to keep the rating in the medium-term.”… – AP, 8-2-11
  • Senate passes, Obama signs debt limit bill: President Obama signed a bill to raise the nation’s borrowing limit on Tuesday, just hours after the Senate voted 74-26 in favor of the deal that will cut government spending by trillions and effectively raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2012…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • President Obama Signs Debt Deal as Next Fight Looms: Hours before the U.S. faced a first-ever default, President Obama signed into law a compromise deal that averts a crisis by raising the debt limit, but signaled that he will not abandon his stalled efforts to raise taxes on the wealthy.
    “It’s an important first step to ensuring that as a nation we live within our means, yet it also allows us to keep making key investments in things like education and research that lead to new jobs and assures that we’re not cutting too abruptly while the economy’s still fragile,” Obama said in a statement from the White House Rose Garden before signing the bill.
    Moments before his remarks, senators voted 74 to 26 to pass the Budget Control Act, the last hurdle for the controversial measure that was first approved by the House Monday night, making a $2.4 trillion down-payment on the federal deficit over the next 10 years.
    Obama’s signature ends a bruising Washington-made crisis that has gripped the country and lifts what the administration has called a “cloud of uncertainty hanging over the economy.”… – ABC News, 8-2-11
  • With debt debate over, Obama urges focus on jobs: President Obama marked the end of the “long and contentious” debt-limit debate Tuesday afternoon, lamenting that the “manufactured crisis” has stunted the economic recovery and promising a return to a jobs-focused agenda.
    The president spoke from the Rose Garden moments after the Senate gave final approval to the deal by a vote of 74-26. The House had voted for it by a surprisingly comfortable 269-161 margin on Monday.
    Obama signed the measure more than an hour after the Senate vote, ensuring that the nation is able to continue borrowing money to pay its bills.
    The president called the deficit-reduction measures paired with the debt-limit increase an “important first step to ensuring that as a nation we continue living within our means.” But he also said he would continue to fight for a “balanced” approach when Congress continues the debate this fall.
    “I’ve said it before, I will say it again: We can’t balance the budget on the backs of the very people who have born the biggest brunt of this recession,” he said…. – LAT, 8-2-11
  • Obama says more needed to boost U.S. economy: President Barack Obama said on Tuesday a just-passed bill to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and cut spending was a first step toward ensuring the United States lives within its means but that more was needed to rebuild the world’s largest economy.
    Speaking at the White House, Obama made clear he expects tax reform to emerge from deliberations by a new committee of Democrats and Republicans to be established by the legislation and that a “balanced approach” in which the wealthier pay more taxes is needed for more deficit reduction.
    Obama, a Democrat, said uncertainty from the bitter debt debate had been an impediment to business but the economic recovery also suffered from unforeseen problems such as the Japan earthquake and tsunami.
    Obama urged Congress to pass stalled trade bills and said he wants tax cuts for the middle class and unemployment benefits extended.
    “Both parties share power in Washington. And both parties need to take responsibility for improving this economy,” Obama said shortly after the Senate passed the debt bill and sent it to him for signing into law.
    “I’ll be discussing additional ideas in the weeks ahead to help companies hire, invest and expand.”… – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Obama hails passage of debt limit compromise: President Obama hailed a hard-fought, last-minute deal to avert economic catastrophe Tuesday, saying a compromise to cut spending and increase the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit marked an “important first step to ensuring that as a nation we live within our means.”
    The bill, he said, was the outcome of a “long and contentious debate” to avoid a man-made economic disaster that he described as creating “unsettling” economic uncertainty. He said that while voters chose divided government, “they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government.”
    “It shouldn’t take the risk of default, the risk of economic catastrophe, to get folks in this town to get together and do their jobs,” the president said. He added: “Our economy didn’t need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse.”
    Mr. Obama plans to sign the legislation in a closed-door ceremony Tuesday afternoon. It will effectively increase the nation’s borrowing authority through the end of next year and promises more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years.
    Now that the debt limit fight is effectively over, Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats say they will pivot to a focus on jobs and the economy, which they say should be Congress’ top priority.
    “We’ve got to do everything in our power to grow this economy and put Americans back to work,” Mr. Obama said Tuesday. He called on Congress to extend middle class tax cuts and unemployment benefits, pass trade deals and plow money into infrastructure when it returns from its August recess…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Obama signs debt-limit bill into law: The Senate passed a landmark plan to raise the federal debt limit and reduce government spending Tuesday, ending a partisan stalemate that threatened to plunge the nation into default and destabilize the world economy.
    The measure was approved by a vote of 74 to 26. It promptly went to President Obama, who signed it into law, giving the government the money to pay its bills ahead of a midnight deadline.
    Speaking in the White House Rose Garden after the Senate vote, Obama called the legislation “an important first step” in ensuring that the nation lives within its means, and he said it avoids “cutting too abruptly while the economy is still fragile.” He vowed to keep working for a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction that includes “reforming our tax code so that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share.”
    The Senate vote came a day after the House voted 269 to 161 to pass the plan, as recalcitrant Republicans and disappointed Democrats rallied around calls to avert the nation’s first default and rein in ballooning deficits. The measure immediately grants the Treasury $400 billion in additional borrowing authority, with more to follow…. – WaPo, 8-2-11
  • Debt ceiling bill passes Senate, 74-26: Treasury won an immediate reprieve of $400 billion in new borrowing authority Tuesday, as the Senate gave final approval to a hotly contested debt and deficit-reduction agreement hammered out with the White House Sunday night.
    The bipartisan 74-26 roll call followed a 269-161 vote in the House Monday evening and the bill will be quickly signed by President Barack Obama, ending an unprecedented, hard-edged political struggle that pushed the nation to the brink of default.
    Indeed, the stakes were far larger than the April shutdown fight, and more than any single event this year, the debt ceiling fight captured all the power—and critics would say extreme risk-taking—of the anti-government backlash that fueled the GOP’s gains in the 2010 elections…. – Politico, 8-2-11
  • Done Deal Senate Passes Debt Ceiling Bill 74-26: Members of the Senate this afternoon approved a bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, narrowly avoiding the nation’s first-ever default.
    The bill garnered broad bipartisan support in today’s 74-26 vote. The House passed the measure yesterday by a vote of 269-to-161, with only two members of the city’s congressional delegation supporting it.
    The bill now heads straight to President Barack Obama’s desk for signing…. – NY1, 8-2-11
  • Senate Passes Debt Plan to Avert Default: The Senate put an end to months of partisan impasse on Tuesday, passing a landmark budget agreement to raise the debt ceiling and sending the measure to the White House for President Obama’s signature — just hours before the government’s borrowing authority was set to run out at midnight.
    The bipartisan vote was 74 to 26 , a margin that belied the intensity of a fight that has left both parties bruised and exhausted.
    With the ambivalent support of Congressional leaders in both parties and Mr. Obama, the compromise, which passed the House with bipartisan support on Monday night, averts a potential default on the government’s debt and provides for increases in the debt ceiling to be phased in, with compensating budget cuts, lasting beyond the 2012 elections. Enactment of the legislation would signal a pronounced shift in fiscal policy, from the heavy spending on economic stimulus and warfare of the past few years to a regime of steep spending cuts aimed at reducing the deficits — so far, without new revenues sought by the White House…. – NYT, 8-2-11
  • Senate passes debt deal: The Senate approved — and President Obama is likely to sign — $2.4 trillion in budget cuts and a roughly equal amount of additional debt capacity, ending months of gridlock.
    The 74-26 Senate vote came just in time to avoid an unprecedented default that Treasury officials predicted could happen if Congress didn’t raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit by today.
    The debt drama wasn’t a one-act play. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said it would be the “template” for all future debt limit increases…. – USA Today, 8-2-11
  • Senate approves bill to raise debt ceiling; sends to President Obama: The Senate voted on Tuesday to approve a deal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, voting 74-26 for a bill that would cut government spending by trillions and effectively raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2012. The bill will now be sent to President Obama, who is expected to sign it immediately.
    The bill was brokered Sunday night in last-minute negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders.
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a key player in the negotiations, and Majority Leader Harry Reid,D-Nev., both backed the bill – paving the way for its easy passage in the Senate.
    The six Democrats who voted against the measure on Tuesday were sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Tom Harkin (Ia.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.). Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who caucuses with Democrats, also voted against the measure.
    Nineteen Republican senators voted against the bill…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Debt battle set to draw to close, for now: The United States is poised to step back from the brink of economic disaster on Tuesday when a bitterly fought deal to cut the budget deficit is expected to clear its final hurdles.
    Just hours before the Treasury’s authority to borrow funds runs out — risking a damaging U.S. debt default — the Senate and President Barack Obama are expected to approve a deal to cut a bulging deficit and lift the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling enough to last beyond the November 2012 elections.
    The bill overcame its biggest obstacle late on Monday when the Republican-led House of Representatives passed the measure despite noisy opposition from both conservative Tea Party members, who wanted more spending cuts, and liberal Democrats angered by potential hits to programs for the poor.
    The vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate, due to take place at noon EDT, is expected to be less dramatic. If approved, Obama would sign the bill into law shortly afterward.
    That would mark the end of a fierce partisan battle that has paralyzed Washington for weeks and spooked investors already nervous about a weak U.S. economy and Europe’s sovereign debt woes…. – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Senate expected to vote in favor of debt-limit bill: The Senate is set to vote this afternoon on the bill to raise the debt limit that the House approved Monday. Senators are expected to approve it and then send the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature.
    With a strong backing from Democrats, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the House on Monday approved raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
    The Senate is expected to approve it at noon today, and President Barack Obama is prepared to sign it almost immediately, averting the prospect of an unprecedented default…. – AP, 8-2-11
  • House Approved Debt Bill Faces Final Hurdle: The Senate today is expected to sign off on a compromise bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and avoid the country’s first ever default on its bills.
    The House passed the measure yesterday by a vote of 269-to-161, with only two members of the city’s congressional delegation supporting it.
    Once approved, the bill will head straight to President Barack Obama’s desk for signing.
    The measure allows for a $2.4 trillion increase to the debt ceiling, but also slashes about $2 trillion from the federal budget. It also means Congress doesn’t have to deal with the debt ceiling again until 2013.
    Many Republicans say it still does not cut enough spending, while many Democrats slammed the deal because it does not include tax hikes…. – NY1, 8-2-11
  • Republicans Turn to Dealmaker McConnell for Compromise: While Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell stayed out of the spotlight during much of the negotiations over the U.S. debt limit, the deal that’s headed for approval by Congress today has his fingerprints all over it.
    Those who have worked with McConnell say that is typical of the lawmaker from Kentucky, a tight-lipped veteran of 26 years in the Senate who says little in public while wielding broad power behind closed doors.
    He “tends to be underestimated by the press, because they don’t see him doing things,” said former Senator Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican and longtime ally. “He’s not at the microphones all the time, so they underestimate his capacity to do things. And he’s the last person in the Senate you want to underestimate.”
    The deficit-reduction deal that is set for a Senate vote today is largely a product of direct negotiations among McConnell, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi…. – Bloomberg, 8-2-11
  • Senate to Vote on Debt-Ceiling Bill: The Senate is expected at noon Tuesday to sign off on a bipartisan agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling and cut as much as $2.4 trillion from budget deficits, after the House passed the measure 269-161 last night.
    The deal is the product of one of the most ferocious fights ever over government spending and political brinksmanship that caused economic uncertainty and continues to threaten the nation’s prized AAA credit rating. Its passage through the Senate makes it likely that Congress won’t break Tuesday’s deadline set by the Treasury Department after which the nation could run out of money to pay all of its bills.
    WSJ’s Alan Murray and Joe White join the News Hub panel to discuss Monday evening’s House vote to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, and look ahead to Tuesday’s vote in the Senate. WSJ Photo.
    Passage in the House came despite the opposition of both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, both of whom balked at the deal reached over the weekend between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders.
    However, the agreement was expected to obtain the 60 votes needed for it to pass the Senate, paving the way for Mr. Obama to sign it into law Tuesday afternoon…. – WSJ, 8-2-11
  • Senate poised to pass debt deal despite criticism from left, right: The Senate will vote at noon Tuesday to approve a bipartisan deal to raise the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and send it President Obama before the 11:59 p.m. deadline.
    The deal is expected to attract strong support from mainstream senators on both sides of the aisle while the chamber’s most liberal and conservative members will vote no.
    It passed the House easily Monday evening by a vote of 269 to 161.
    Wall Street, however, did not seem impressed by the deficit-reduction package, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 0.75 percent and the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell by 1 percent Tuesday morning.
    Senators from both parties lined up to praise and criticize the agreement…. – The Hill, 8-2-11
  • Obama, GOP brace for ‘Super Committee': It’s a bird … it’s a plane … It’s Super Committee!
    As President Obama prepares to sign the debt ceiling agreement later today, lawmakers are already positioning themselves for the special congressional committee that will be assigned to look for $1.5 trillion in debt reduction over the next ten years.
    Some observers are joking about whether members of so-called “Super Committee” will don capes and costumes with dollar sign logos, but the political parties are preparing another serious battle over the topics that dominated the debt ceiling debate: Taxes, spending, and the scope of government.
    Obama and aides said they will continue pushing the idea that any debt reduction plan must be “balanced,” including not only spending cuts but more taxes from the nation’s wealthiest Americans.
    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said “it’s going to be pretty hard” for the committee to recommend taxes, and suggested that GOP appointees would block such a move…. – USA Today, 8-2-11
  • Obama shifts to the right: President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks from White House briefing room, Sunday, July 31, 2011 in Washington, about a deal being reached to raise the debt limit. (AP)
    The most distressing outcome of the deficit hysteria gripping Washington may be what Barack Obama has revealed about himself. It was disconcerting to watch the president slip-slide so easily into voicing the fallacious economic arguments of the right. It was shocking when he betrayed core principles of the Democratic Party, portraying himself as high-minded and brave because he defied his loyal constituents. Supporters may hope this rightward shift was only a matter of political tactics, but I think Obama has at last revealed his sincere convictions. If he wins a second term, he will be free to strike a truly rotten “grand bargain” with Republicans—“pragmatic” compromises that will destroy the crown jewels of democratic reform.
    The president has done grievous damage to the most vulnerable by trying to fight the GOP on its ground—accepting the premise that deficits and debt should be a national priority. He made the choice more than a year ago to push aside the real problem—the vast loss and suffering generated by a failing economy…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Debt ceiling agreement a fair compromise?Politico Arena, 7-31-11
  • Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell and the making of a debt deal: Almost as abruptly, the compromise started coming together. What happened during a weekend of frenzied negotiations to salvage the deal is a tale of cataclysm narrowly averted, a historic debt-reduction plan that satisfies none of its signatories and a lesson on how even the most dysfunctional political system can be made functional through the injection of fear, finesse and Joe Biden’s old friendships…. – Politico, 8-2-11
  • Pols all ‘look like idiots’ during debt crisis, but President Obama takes biggest hit of them all: There are no real winners in the debt-crisis debacle, and in such moments the leader of the country absorbs a larger hit than most.
    The tawdry spectacle of governmental paralysis, engineered by take-no-prisoner Tea Party newbies and abetted by Republicans fearful of crossing them, is more reminiscent of a banana republic.
    “We all look like idiots,” a dismayed Democratic Party elder complained as Congress lurched toward sidestepping a financial meltdown. “The extremists have taken over the system. This is not a good omen for anyone.”
    President Obama, least of all.
    Obama got less than a half loaf, but came away with some positives from the shotgun-wedding compromise. He pushed back the next debt extension donnybrook to 2013, guaranteeing this summer’s legislative chaos won’t be rerun during next year’s campaign.
    He also averted an even bigger embarrassment – America didn’t, on his watch, default on its debt obligations for the first time in history.
    But even Obama loyalists on Capitol Hill privately say he didn’t exactly burnish his leadership credentials in this process. “At the end of the day, voters expect their President to bring people together,” one of them said. “He hasn’t been able to on this.”…. – NY Daily News, 8-2-11

AUGUST 1, 2011: HOUSE VOTES 269-161 FOR DEBT CEILING BILL — GABRIELLE GIFFORDS’S FIRST VOTE IN HOUSE SINCE BEING SHOT — SENATE VOTES NEXT — DEFAULT AVERTED

How they voted: The 269-161 roll call Monday by which the House passed the compromise bill to raise the debt ceiling and prevent a government default.

YES: 95 Democrats and 174 Republicans.
NO: 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans.

House approves raise in federal debt ceiling; bill goes to Senate: The House approved a bill Monday night that raises the federal debt limit and cuts discretionary spending by $1 trillion over the next 10 years, a key step toward averting a government default. The 269 to 161 vote sends the bill to the Senate, which is likely to consider the plan Tuesday — the day that the Treasury has said it would begin running short of cash to pay the nation’s bills. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords cast her first vote in the House since being shot in January, voting yes.

I would like to say this bill solves our problem. It doesn’t. It’s a solid first step.” — Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R) of Texas, the House Republican Conference chairman

“Although not perfect, [it] will begin to change the culture here in Washington.” — House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) Virginia

“Beginning to take steps toward fixing our fiscal problems will in fact provide more confidence for employers in America.” — Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio

“The Capitol looks beautiful, and I am honored to be at work tonight… I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy. I have closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what’s going on in Washington. After weeks of failed debate in Washington, I was pleased to see a solution to this crisis emerge.” — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona

“Gabby is voting to support the bipartisan debt-ceiling compromise. This is a huge step in her recovery, and an example of what we all know — she is determined to get better, and to serve CD8 and our nation. This vote — expected to be very close — was simply too important for her to miss.” — Gabrielle Gifford’s Facebook Page

“There isn’t a name that stirs more love, more admiration, more respect, more wishing for our daughters to be like her than the name of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Thank you, Gabby.” — Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader

“That’s why I’m here. Nancy [Pelosi] was kind enough to call me.”…
When I went up, she said, ‘Joe. I said, ‘Now we’re both members of the Cracked Head Club.’ You know, I had two craniotomies. For real. They literally took the top of my head off. Twice. Now, the wags in Delaware, when the second operation occurred, wrote and said, ‘Well, it’s because they couldn’t find a brain the first time!’
She and I just commiserated about the steps to recovery. Hers, much more consequential. But it scares the living devil out of you when you’re recovering from a serious operation or injury to your head. But it comes back. And knowing people who’ve been through it and came back was helpful, for me anyway. You know what I mean?
She’s remarkable. She’s remarkable. Will matters. Will matters. I tell you what, she’s the embodiment of a strong, strong woman. Think about what that woman has been through, and think about her determination.
It’s really good. Here I am hugging Gabby and Michele Bachmann. Seriously. I’m being literal. Sure! I like Michele Bachmann. For real. We’re all standing there around and Michele walks up to see Gabby because she cares about her… There is a basic humanity here, man. It matters, between people. I know that sounds corny.”…
He then recalled what he said was one of the most emotional moments he ever saw. Hubert Humphrey, the former vice president and US senator from Minnesota, was dying of cancer and made an appearance on the Senate floor. “He could hardly walk. He walked into the well. And Barry Goldwater got out of his seat, hugged him in the well, and the both embraced each other for a good three minutes, crying. These were arch, arch, arch ideological enemies. There’s a lot of humanity left here.” — Vice President Joe Biden Boston Globe, 8-1-11

House approves debt deal a day before deadline – Reuters, 8-1-11

 

  • WaPo, 8-2-11
  • House OKs debt; Giffords brings down the House: Crisis legislation to yank the nation past the threat of a historic financial default sped through the House Monday night, breaking weeks of deadlock. The rare moment of cooperation turned celebratory when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords strode in for the first time since she was shot in the head nearly seven months ago.
    The vote was 269-161, a scant day ahead of the deadline for action. But all eyes were on Giffords, who drew thunderous applause as she walked into the House chamber unannounced and cast her vote in favor of the bill.
    A final Senate sign-off for the measure is virtually assured on Tuesday. Aside from raising the debt limit, the bill would slice federal spending by at least $2.1 trillion, and perhaps much more.
    “If the bill were presented to the president, he would sign it,” the White House said, an understatement of enormous proportions…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • House Passes Deal to Avert Debt Crisis: After months of partisan impasse, the House on Monday approved a budget agreement intended to head off a potential government default, pushing Congress a big step closer to the conclusion of a bitter fight that has left both parties bruised and exhausted. Despite the tension and uncertainty that has surrounded efforts to raise the debt ceiling, the vote of 269 to 161 was relatively strong in support of the plan, which would cut more than $2.1 trillion in government spending over 10 years while extending the borrowing authority of the Treasury Department. It would also create a powerful new joint Congressional committee to recommend broad changes in spending — and possibly in tax policy — to reduce the deficit.
    Scores of Democrats initially held back from voting, to force Republicans to register their positions first. Then, as the time for voting wound down, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, returned to the floor for the first time since being shot in January and voted for the bill to jubilant applause and embraces from her colleagues. It provided an unexpected, unifying ending to a fierce standoff in the House.
    The Senate, where approval is considered likely, is scheduled to vote at noon on Tuesday and then send the measure to Mr. Obama less than 12 hours before the time when the Treasury Department has said it could become unable to meet all of its financial obligations…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Debt-ceiling bill clears House. Now, hopes that Round 2 will be better: With the House passing a debt-ceiling bill Monday, and end of the debt crisis is in sight. But more cutting lies ahead, and both sides are hopeful they’ll get more of what they want…. – CS Monitor, 8-1-11
  • Debt deal easily clears House, final passage likely: Congress was poised to send President Obama a compromise deficit-reduction package topping $2 trillion Tuesday, just hours before the nation could run out of borrowed money to pay its bills.
    After months of bitter partisan wrangling, the House on Monday easily approved the landmark measure raising the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit by a 269-161 vote. The Senate is expected to approve it at noon Tuesday, and Obama is prepared to sign it almost immediately, averting the prospect of an unprecedented default…..
    Republican leaders boasted that they got two-thirds of the spending cuts they sought, leading GOP House members to vote 174-66 in favor of the bill. Democrats who split 95-95 on the measure were left to highlight the cuts they averted…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
  • Debt deal clears House on 269-161 vote; Senate passage expected Tuesday: A bipartisan bill to increase the nation’s debt limit and cut as much as $2.4 trillion in government spending passed the House of Representatives, overcoming the key hurdle on the road to averting an unprecedented federal default.
    The legislation, which passed Monday evening by a relatively comfortable 269-161 margin, came after a weekend of tense meetings, exhausted staff discussions and, in the end, a compromise worked out at the highest levels of government. If passed by the Senate on Tuesday, which is widely expected, it will end a months-long standoff between a new Republican House majority, which refused to pass an increase without a deficit reduction package, and the Democratic majority in the Senate and President Barack Obama…. – Bellingham Herald, 8-1-11
  • House passes debt ceiling agreement; Senate vote expected Tuesday: The U.S. House on Monday passed the debt-ceiling deal worked out by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders, sending it to the Senate for consideration a day before the deadline for the government to face possible default.
    A Senate vote was expected Tuesday, according to multiple Senate leadership aides from each party…. – CNN, 8-1-11
  • Pelosi rallies Dems to help pass debt plan: House minority leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco provided 95 Democratic votes – half of her caucus – to approve a $2 trillion-plus, 10-year debt-reduction package Monday that helped make up for a slew of defections by Tea Party-backed Republicans.
    Pelosi urged Democrats to swallow hard on the package, which did not include new taxes as they had wanted, to save the nation from a potentially calamitous cash shortfall. The final vote was 269 to 161, with 66 Republicans voting no on grounds that the spending cuts did not go deep enough.
    Rep. Gabrielle Giffords,the Arizona Democrat shot in the head by a gunman in January, made a dramatic entrance onto the House floor to cast her vote for the deal…. – San Francisco Chronicle, 8-1-11
  • House Passes Compromise Debt Bill: 7:42 p.m. | Updated The House of Representatives approved the debt ceiling bargain negotiated over the weekend by President Obama and leaders from both parties, sending the measure to the Senate. Final approval that could come Tuesday.
    Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, told his colleagues that the Senate will take up the debt bill at noon on Tuesday, just hours before the midnight deadline when the nation’s borrowing authority will run out.
    The final vote was 269 to 161, with 66 Republicans and 95 Democrats voting no. Many Democratic lawmakers joined dozens of Tea Party-backed Republicans in calling it a bad deal for the country. But the complicated legislation to raise the debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion earned the support of members from both parties to win approval.
    Senators said they planned to take up the legislation as soon as Monday evening or Tuesday, hours before a deadline that might have led to a federal default.
    The passage came in dramatic fashion as Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, made her first appearance back in the chamber since she was shot in the head by an assailant during a meet and greet in her district. Members in both parties stood up for a long and enthusiastic standing ovation for Ms. Giffords, who entered dressed in a teal shirt and with her brown hair trimmed short. She has been recuperating since the shooting and it had been unclear when she would return…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Giffords Returns, as Does Unity, Briefly: With two minutes to go and roughly 20 votes needed to pass a bill to raise the nation’s debt limit, a smattering of applause rippled from a corner of the House chamber. After a few seconds of confusion, a flash of teal jacket could be seen almost floating among a sea of Democrats.
    There she was, Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, appearing unexpectedly Monday evening to cast one of the last votes needed to send the measure over the top.
    The full chamber erupted in loud applause as Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House whip, flicked his eyes from the vote board to Ms. Giffords. It was the first time she had been in the chamber since she was critically injured in an assassination attempt in January in Tucson…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Rep. Giffords casts debt-limit vote on House floor: As minutes remained on a critical vote to raise the debt limit, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords burst onto the House floor Monday and cast a “yes” vote, the first time the Arizona Democrat had voted since a gunman shot her in the head at a political event in Tucson seven months ago.
    Lawmakers, tense after weeks of contentious negotiations, erupted into applause as Giffords entered the chamber accompanied by her close friend and colleague Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and her husband, space shuttle astronaut Mark Kelly. Giffords waved and said, “Thank you” as her colleagues gave her a standing ovation.
    Giffords, who wore glasses and a teal blazer, turned to watch the tally as voting ended on the debt-ceiling compromise package….
    Vice President Biden said Pelosi told him earlier Monday that Giffords would return to the House. “That’s why I’m here,” Biden said…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
  • Julian Zelizer on House Debt Deal Vote: Many bills that eventually take on big issues start as a modest, first step, says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University, citing the 1957 civil rights bill, which disappointed most of its supporters for not going far enough to redress the nation’s record on civil rights.
    President “Lyndon Johnson pushed back against liberals saying, ‘If I can get Southerners to vote for something, you can do more down the road,’ ” he says.
    “The debt deal is trying to give some assurance that it’s a first step and will continue,” he adds. “The legislation is vague enough about this new committee that everyone can look at it and think that the committee will later give them what they want.”… – CS Monitor, 8-1-11
  • Deal Was Forged Over Choices and Chinese Food: Last Friday night, President Obama called Speaker John A. Boehner just after the Republican House leader had gotten his rebellious Republicans, on the third effort, to pass legislation to address the debt crisis.
    “Congratulations on finally getting your bill through,” Mr. Obama said, according to a Democrat familiar with the conversation. “You know you’re not going to get through the Senate, so now we need to focus on a solution.”
    Roughly 48 hours later, at 8:15 on Sunday night, the president again called Mr. Boehner from the Oval Office.
    “Do we have a deal?” Mr. Obama asked, then stopped abruptly. His senior advisers, standing nearby, gathered that Mr. Boehner had interrupted the president, and they braced for confirmation of the worst in Mr. Obama’s next words. Instead, there was relief.
    “Congratulations to you, too, John,” Mr. Obama finally said….. – NYT, 8-1-11

AUGUST 1, 2011: BIPARTISAN OPPOSITION TO DEBT DEAL — CONGRESS FIRST TO VOTE ON DEBT DEAL THEN THE SENATE

Budget Office says debt deal will save at least $2.1 trillion: The Congressional Budget Office confirmed Monday that the debt-reduction deal struck by the White House and congressional leaders would cut deficits by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years, if lawmakers approve the plan later Monday.
The independent budget analysts reconfirmed that it contains up front savings of $917 billion, the same level as initially proposed in legislation offered by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) last week, and it credited President Obama and the leaders with at least $1.2 trillion in savings for the follow-on work to be done by a special committee.

“Despite what some Republicans have argued, I believe that we have to ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share by giving up tax breaks and special deductions. Despite what some in my own party have argued, I believe that we need to make some modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to ensure that they’re still around for future generations. That’s why the second part of this agreement is so important.” — President Barack Obama

“I am relieved to say that leaders from both parties have come together for the sake of our economy to reach a historic, bipartisan compromise that ends this dangerous standoff. The compromise we have agreed to is remarkable not only because of what it does, but because of what it prevents: a first-ever default on the full faith and credit of the United States.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

We got 98 percent of what we wanted… It would also guarantee the American people the vote they have been denied in both chambers on a balanced budget amendment, while creating, I think, some new incentives for past opponents of a BBA to support it.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“There is nothing in this framework that violates our principles. It’s all spending cuts. The White House bid to raise taxes has been shut down…. Now listen, this isn’t the greatest deal in the world. But it shows how much we’ve changed the terms of the debate in this town.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“I became convinced that even though my friend, [majority leader Reid], and I would love to work this out, we can’t do it by ourselves. It has to have the only person who can sign something into law. There are 307 million Americans, but only one can sign something into law.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Reid says debt limit vote in Senate by Tuesday: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that debt limit increase legislation would be completed in the Senate by Tuesday. “This vote could happen either tonight or tomorrow,” Reid said on the Senate floor. – Reuters, 8-1-11

Highlights of the bipartisan debt-ceiling deal — LAT

 

  • For debt-ceiling deal to become law, what needs to happen by Tuesday: Selling the debt-ceiling deal to a critical mass of lawmakers is a formidable political reach. Many conservatives say the deal doesn’t go far enough, while some liberals say the richest Americans should have to pay more taxes…. – CS Monitor, 8-1-11
  • Several Steps Remain Before the Debt Ceiling Is Raised: During the next 60 hours, the legislative leaders who shook hands with each other must sell the deal to their wary members, something that could still pose a thorny political challenge.
    And then — with the Tuesday deadline for a default looming — they must turn the “framework” into legislative language and pass it through both chambers of Congress — not an easy task for institutions, especially the Senate, which are not known for moving with haste…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • House begins debate on debt limit compromise: Congress has started debating the debt limit compromise negotiated by President Barack Obama and Republican leaders.
    The GOP-run House began considering the bill less than a day after the White House and top lawmakers reached agreement on a dispute that had locked them in deadlock for months…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • House begins debate on debt limit compromise: Congress has started debating the debt limit compromise negotiated by President Barack Obama and Republican leaders.
    The GOP-run House began considering the bill less than a day after the White House and top lawmakers reached agreement on a dispute that had locked them in deadlock for months…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Pleasing Few, Debt Deal to Go to Vote: Democratic and Republican leaders in the Congress began making their final arguments on behalf of Sunday’s debt ceiling deal to skeptical members in advance of votes in both chambers that could come as early as Monday afternoon.
    With only one day left before Tuesday’s looming deadline that carries the threat of a federal default, Vice President Joseph R. Biden arrived at the Capitol for back-to-back, closed-door meetings with Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate. Republicans in the House and Senate also huddled in advance of the votes.
    The last-minute wrangling on Monday morning reflected the lack of enthusiasm for the debt deal as lawmakers, party activists and pundits expressed relief but little excitement for a compromise that appears to have left few partisans eagerly promoting the deal as the one that they wanted.
    On the Senate floor on Monday, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said, “People on the right are upset. People on the left are upset. People in the middle are upset.” But he called it a “remarkable agreement which will protect the long-term health of our economy.”
    Mr. Reid said that the Senate is likely to take a final vote on passage of the deal later today. Republican aides in the House said that voting could begin as early as 2 p.m., though neither chamber had yet told members exactly when to expect final votes on the legislation.
    Most of the leading 2012 Republican presidential candidates weighed in Monday in opposition to the debt ceiling deal, saying that it does too little to address the nation’s spending problem. Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, said the deal “opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table..”… – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Debt deal: $32.4 billion per page: The debt framework President Obama and congressional leaders reached Sunday night runs 74 pages long, and could authorize as much as $2.4 trillion in new debt — or $32.4 billion per page.
    That debt increase will get the country through the 2012 election, both sides said, but it does not bring to an end the sea of red ink that will continue to wash over the federal government for the foreseeable future.
    In the near term, the bill sets budget numbers for 2012 that would require a real cut of $7 billion in discretionary spending from 2011 levels, though that’s $25 billion less than projected spending would have been had it kept pace with inflation.
    Over the long term, the deal could lead to as much as $2.4 trillion in lower-than-projected spending over the next decade, which also works out to about $32.4 billion per page in lower spending — if all of the conditions are met. But during those 10 years, that still means the country could pile up another $10.4 trillion in new debt, which would leave the government well more than $20 trillion in debt by the end of the decade…. – Washington Times, 8-1-11
  • Obama: Debt debate will continue: President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign e-mailed a brief address from the president, describing the recent battle with Republicans as a phase in a long-running effort to forge a “balanced” debt reduction package that includes new tax revenue as well as budget cuts.
    “This chapter is over. That work and that debate continue. This has been a tense debate because the stakes were so high.”
    Though grateful that the agreement heads off a government default, Obama said the agreement is “far from satisfying” and he will urge a new special congressional committee to cut federal debt with taxes as well as less spendng. “The ultimate solution must be balanced,” Obama said…. USA Today, 8-1-11
  • House vote first test of debt-ceiling bill: The first test of legislation to raise the nation’s debt ceiling comes in the House, which plans to vote Monday evening on the plan agreed to by party leaders Sunday.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would work to take up the plan Monday as well, though that would be a challenge given traditional delaying tactics that may be employed.
    Passage in either chamber is far from assured. Some Republicans are objecting to the possibility of steep cuts in defense spending, while others continue to oppose any debt-ceiling increase. Liberal Democrats think the so-called compromise was more like a cave-in…. – LAT, 8-1-11
  • House Debt Vote Expected Monday Afternoon: The House of Representatives could begin voting as early as 2 p.m., Eastern time, on the debt ceiling compromise announced by President Obama and Congressional leaders on Sunday night, a House leadership aide said.
    In a brief message on Twitter, Erica Elliott, the press secretary for Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, the majority whip, announced the tentative schedule.
    It was not immediately clear when the Senate might vote on Monday…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Debt-Limit Deal to Get Congress Vote Today: Congressional leaders, leaving no extra time before a default threatened for tomorrow, are racing to push through a compromise sealed with President Barack Obama last night to raise the U.S. debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and slash government spending by $2.4 trillion or more. The House plans votes today and the Senate may follow suit to consider the agreement reached during a weekend of negotiations that capped a months-long struggle between Obama and Republicans over raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Megan Hughes reports on Bloomberg Television’s “First Look.” (Source: Bloomberg)
    Congressional leaders, leaving no extra time before a default threatened for tomorrow, are racing to push through a compromise sealed with President Barack Obama last night to raise the U.S. debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and slash government spending by $2.4 trillion or more.
    The House plans votes today and the Senate may follow suit to consider the agreement reached during a weekend of negotiations that capped a months-long struggle between Obama and Republicans over raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.
    Both parties were working to sell the deal to their rank and file — meeting resistance from social liberals who fault it for failing to increase taxes and from fiscal conservatives who say it’s insufficient to rein in the debt…. – Bloomberg, 8-1-11
  • House races toward Monday debt ceiling vote: The House is racing toward a Monday evening vote to raise the debt ceiling, as congressional leaders furiously round up the votes necessary to push the plan through before Tuesday’s deadline.
    Senate leaders plan to take up the bill shortly after, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says enough votes will be lined up for the bill to pass.
    House leaders are still gauging support for the measure. House Republicans will meet at 12:30 and House Democrats are caucusing with Vice President Joe Biden — who got a standing ovation when he walked into the meeting today.
    Biden laid out in candid terms what the White House had to do to get a deal.
    “Elections have consequences,” Biden told Senate Democrats, according to a senator in the room. The vice president characterized the fight as a hostage situation, saying Republicans have a “gun to their heads,” the source said…. – Politico, 8-1-11
  • Debt-ceiling compromise: Now, it’s time to find the votes: Vice President Joe Biden will meet Monday with the Senate and House Democratic caucuses while Republican leaders also huddle to gauge support for the debt-ceiling plan negotiators agreed to Sunday.
    The legislative path for the bill was still somewhat unclear as individual members study the details. No votes had been scheduled yet in either the House or Senate on Monday, but could be added once party leadership takes the temperature of their respective caucuses. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told members Sunday night that the bill would move quickly to the floor, perhaps as early as Monday afternoon…. – LAT, 8-1-11
  • House to vote before Senate on raising debt ceiling: The House of Representatives will vote before the Senate on the bipartisan plan to raise the debt ceiling, according to two House GOP leadership sources…. – CNN, 8-1-11
  • House vote could be squeaker: A Democratic official involved in the effort to secure the votes in the House and Senate for the debt deal says there is more concern about the vote tally in the House than the Senate, where it looks like it will get the 60 votes needed without much drama.
    In the House, Democrats who favor the deal are concerned about a very close vote – maybe a squeaker.
    Vice President Joe Biden will meet with the House Democratic caucus at noon to answer questions, soothe concerns, and help shore up reluctant Democrats.
    Even though Biden is coming over to meet with Democrats and has planned to come out to the media stakeout afterwards, it’s unclear from Democratic aides at this point how many of the Democratic leaders, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, will stand with Biden and say they will support the bill…. – CNN, 8-1-11
  • The debt ceiling battle at a glance:

    A compromise agreement to raise the nation’s borrowing limit has been reached The House and Senate are expected to vote today The House Speaker says the agreement does not violate Republican principles Some Senate Democrats are grumbling, an aide says, but the chamber is expected to approve the deal

    President Obama and congressional leaders have agreed to a plan that would lift the nation’s credit limit and avoid an unprecedented default on its debt, which could have widespread economic ramifications ranging from higher interest rates to a predicted stock market crash. Congress still must approve the deal by Tuesday. Here’s the situation at a glance… – CNN, 8-1-11

  • Democrats seem to end up on short end of the deal: The deal struck by the White House and congressional leaders to raise the nation’s debt ceiling has the feel of a classic compromise, full of give and take.
    There is no requirement for a balanced budget amendment, no second showdown over the nation’s borrowing limit before the 2012 elections and, according to some conservatives, not nearly enough in cuts.
    But for weeks and months Republicans have warned Democrats they would only accept a deal that cut spending without raising taxes.
    And the deal that faces a final congressional vote Monday does exactly that. The deal includes $1 trillion in cuts over 10 years. It sets up a congressional committee that could consider tax reform as it seeks a strategy for deeper debt reduction. On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office confirmed that the deal would cut deficits by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years…. – WaPo, 8-1-11
  • Obama, Boehner Suffering ‘Monday Morning Hangover': President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, did something most considered a long shot – they agreed on a budget deal and the talking points that go with it.
    But the Monday morning hangover plaguing Obama and Boehner as a result of Sunday night’s celebration may last longer and produce bigger headaches than either anticipated.
    Vice President Joe Biden was dispatched to the Capitol early Monday to meet with Democratic lawmakers in both the House and Senate to convince lawmakers the latest deal is the way to go. Republicans were also huddling to see if they have enough votes for a Monday afternoon roll call.
    Reid took to the senate floor Monday morning, calling the weekend deal a “remarkable agreement which will protect the long-term health of our economy.”
    “People on the right are upset. People on the left are upset. People in the middle are upset,” said Reid in his remarks.
    President Obama, seemingly tired and frustrated after a tense round of negotiations, called reporters together saying the compromise “allows us to avoid default and end the crisis that Washington imposed on the rest of America.”… – Christian Post, 8-1-11
  • Debt Deal: Some Read It and Weep, Others Swallow Hard and Nod: Liberals and conservatives woke up on Monday morning and began assessing the last-minute debt ceiling deal reached by leaders in Washington over the weekend.
    Many liberals are grousing about President Obama’s willingness to abandon some of the things he had demanded. Some conservatives are griping that the deal doesn’t do enough to cut spending. And some members of both parties are declaring the deal good enough, if not exactly great…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • McCain says he’ll ‘swallow hard’ and support deal: Sen. John McCain says he’ll vote for compromise legislation averting a government default, although “I will probably have to swallow hard.”
    The Arizona Republican who lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election says he’s concerned about the impact of the deficit-reduction deal on defense spending.
    But McCain also tells CBS’s “The Early Show” that officials in Washington realized “we were not going to let the government shut down.”… – AP, 8-1-11
  • Sen. Marco Rubio will vote against debt ceiling deal: The South Florida Congressional delegation says it will likely approve the tentative deal struck Sunday night to raise the debt ceiling but Sen. Marco Rubio is a holdout…. – Miami Herald, 8-1-11
  • GOP presidential hopefuls unhappy with debt-ceiling deal: Some of the Republicans who want to kick President Obama out of office next year are sounding off today with their opposition to a deal the White House reached with congressional leaders to raise the debt ceiling…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
  • Romney opposes debt deal: Mitt Romney said Monday he opposes the compromise to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, becoming the second Republican presidential contender to oppose a deal backed by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders in both parties.
    The plan, which supporters say is needed to avert a looming fiscal crisis, opens the door to tax increases and defense cuts, the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement.
    “President Obama’s leadership failure has pushed the economy to the brink at the eleventh hour and 59th minute,” Romney said. “While I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama’s lack of leadership has placed Republican members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal.”
    The statement represents the most substantive comment to date from Romney, the early frontrunner in the Republican presidential field, who has largely avoided weighing in on daily developments in the high-stakes debate. The issue, as the nation’s economy in general, is likely to dominate the 2012 contest…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Debt and budget bill saves more than $2T: A new study says the debt and budget bill backed by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders would save taxpayers at least $2.1 trillion over the coming decade.
    The Congressional Budget Office analysis says the initial down payment of spending cuts — tight “caps” on the operating budgets of Cabinet agencies like the departments of Defense and Education — would produce more than $900 billion in savings over 10 years…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Congressional Leaders to Pitch Debt-Reduction Compromise to Caucuses: Democratic and Republican leaders in both chambers of Congress will meet with their caucuses Monday for a hard sell of a compromise debt-reduction package that gives President Obama up to a $2.5 trillion hike in the debt limit as long as lawmakers can find an equal or greater amount in spending cuts.
    But even if they can’t come up with solutions, the cuts will be found for them.
    Obama announced Sunday night that leaders of both parties in both chambers reached an agreement on a debt-reduction deal that will “lift the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over our economy” and prevent the nation from potentially defaulting on the U.S.’s financial obligations…. – Fox News, 8-1-11
  • Congress moving quickly on debt and spending deal: Congress is moving quickly on an agreement to avert a potentially devastating default on U.S. obligations, with legislation that mixes a record increase in the government’s borrowing cap with the promise of more than $2 trillion in spending cuts.
    After a tense weekend of bargaining, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders announced the agreement Sunday night, providing an instant boost to Asian financial markets and a huge dose of relief to an administration and Congress frazzled by months of partisan warfare and the chance that a default could send the still-fragile economy into recession.
    The Senate seems likely to vote first on the measure while House GOP leaders work to assemble support for it. Democratic votes are certain to be needed to pass the measure in the Republican-dominated House, just as Republicans will be needed to clear the measure through the Democratic Senate. Liberal Democrats were already carping that Obama had given away too much to GOP leaders…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Obama announces budget deal: President Barack Obama, addressing the nation Sunday, announced a bipartisan, bicameral deal to end a dangerous impasse over raising the debt ceiling, marking the start of a process to avert a catastrophic national default on Tuesday.
    A somber Obama — decrying a process that has been “messy” and has “taken far too long” — made his announcement moments before House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) took the two-part package of $2.5 trillion in cuts to a skeptical GOP conference. The agreement came after a day of frenzied negotiations over “triggers” that will be used to determine the make-up of the final $1.5 trillion in cuts.
    “We’re not done yet,” Obama told a smattering of reporters gathered in the White House briefing room. “Despite what some Republicans have argued I believe we have to ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share … and despite what some in my own party have argued I believe that we need to make some modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to assure that they’re still around for future generations,” he said, acknowledging the opposition of tea party conservatives and liberal Democrats…. – Politico, 8-1-11
  • Analysis: Bipartisan debt-limit deal means bipartisan opposition for Obama, Boehner: The newly struck debt-ceiling compromise between President Barack Obama and the Republican leaders of Congress represents a historic accomplishment of divided government, with all the disappointment that implies for the most ardent partisans inside the two major parties and out.
    But it marks an accomplishment nonetheless between a Democratic president elected in 2008 and the Republicans who, Obama memorably said, handed his party a “shellacking” at the polls two years later.
    The tea party conservatives won’t like it, regretting it doesn’t cut spending by more. “Someone has to say no, I will,” Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said in a statement emailed from Iowa Sunday night, where she was courting Republicans for her 2012 presidential bid.
    Neither will the liberal Democrats, unhappy that it cuts at all. “This deal weakens the Democratic Party as badly as it weakens the country. We have given much and received nothing in return,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
    Which means that Obama and his principal Republican antagonist, Speaker John Boehner, will share responsibility for passing it in the House…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • US debt limit really doesn’t limit debt: The federal debt limit is a triumph of false advertising. It doesn’t really limit the national debt. Whenever the false ceiling has been reached, it has been raised — forcing unpopular votes in Congress, but not the really hard ones it would take to cut spending, raise revenues and balance budgets.
    Ranting about the debt is easier than taming it. So the same political theatrics are played over and over again. The debt limit has been raised 78 times since 1960. The current hassle over No. 79 is more contentious and divisive than the previous rounds because of hardened lines in Congress, not only between Democrats and Republicans but within their rosters, especially on the GOP side where about 80 freshmen sent by tea party voters consider compromise a crime.
    The hypocrisy of the whole process was summed up by an expert witness, Barack Obama, now the president championing a debt limit increase, when he tried to explain his own vote as junior senator from Illinois to oppose the raise then-President George W. Bush sought…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Obama: We have a deal: The nation’s top lawmakers and President Obama announced late Sunday they have reached a deal to raise the debt ceiling and dramatically curb federal spending.
    “I want to announce that the leaders of both parties, in both chambers, have reached an agreement that will reduce the deficit and avoid default,” Obama said Sunday night.
    Obama said that while the process was messy, and had taken far too long, the nation would, in the end, avoid a costly default and economic catastrophe.
    A short time before Obama spoke, Sens. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell said that a framework had been agreed to…. – CNN Money, 8-1-11

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown August 2, 2011: President Obama’s Statement on Congress Passing the Compromise Debt Ceiling Bill — The Budget Control Act of 2011

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

Putting Americans Back to Work: President Obama Speaks on the Debt Compromise

President Obama delivers remarks

President Obama spoke from the Rose Garden after the Senate vote on the debt ceiling bill on Tuesday. More Photos »

Source: WH, 8-2-11

Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (81MB) | mp3 (8MB)

 

This afternoon, Congress approved a compromise to reduce the deficit and avert a default that would have devastated the economy. Speaking from the Rose Garden,  President Obama thanked the American people for reaching out to their elected officials during the debate, and stressed that this compromise guarantees more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction, and will ensure that as a nation we live within our means, while still making key investments in things that lead to new jobs, like education and research.

The President noted that this is just the first step, and that both parties must work together on a larger plan for the long-term health of our economy:

And since you can’t close the deficit with just spending cuts, we’ll need a balanced approach where everything is on the table.  Yes, that means making some adjustments to protect health care programs like Medicare so they’re there for future generations. It also means reforming our tax code so that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share. And it means getting rid of taxpayer subsidies to oil and gas companies, and tax loopholes that help billionaires pay a lower tax rate than teachers and nurses.

I’ve said it before; I will say it again: We can’t balance the budget on the backs of the very people who have borne the biggest brunt of this recession.  We can’t make it tougher for young people to go to college, or ask seniors to pay more for health care, or ask scientists to give up on promising medical research because we couldn’t close a tax shelter for the most fortunate among us.  Everyone is going to have to chip in.  It’s only fair.  That’s the principle I’ll be fighting for during the next phase of this process.

President Barack Obama makes a statement in the Rose Garden after passage of the debt ceiling billPresident Barack Obama makes a statement to the media in the Rose Garden of the White House after House and Senate passage of the debt ceiling bill, Aug. 2, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

In the coming months, President Obama will continue to fight for what matters most to the American people: new jobs, higher wages and faster economic growth. And when Congress gets back from recess, the President will urge them to take bipartisan, common-sense steps to help put Americans back to work.

So, we’ve seen in the past few days that Washington has the ability to focus when there’s a timer ticking down, and when there’s a looming disaster.  It shouldn’t take the risk of default -– the risk of economic catastrophe -– to get folks in this town to work together and do their jobs.  Because there’s already a quiet crisis going on in the lives of a lot of families, in a lot of communities, all across the country.  They’re looking for work, and they have been for a while; or they’re making do with fewer hours or fewer customers; or they’re just trying to make ends meet.  That ought to compel Washington to cooperate.  That ought to compel Washington to compromise, and it ought to compel Washington to act.  That ought to be enough to get all of us in this town to do the jobs we were sent here to do.  We’ve got to do everything in our power to grow this economy and put America back to work.

Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown August 2, 2011: D-Day, Done Deal — Senate Passes Debt Bill 74-26 — President Obama Makes Statement to the Nation & Signs Debt Bill into Law Raising the Debt Ceiling Limit

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

IN FOCUS

President Obama speaks from the Rose Garden at the White House after final passage of a debt-ceiling increase in Congress on Tuesday.

President Obama speaks from the Rose Garden at the White House after final passage of a debt-ceiling increase in Congress on Tuesday. (Jim Watson / AFP/Getty Images)

SENATE PASSES DEBT DEAL 74-26 — PRESIDENT OBAMA MAKES STATEMENT & SIGNS DEBT BILL INTO LAW RAISING THE DEBT CEILING

This video image provided by Senate Television shows the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, after the Senate has approved an emergency bill to avert a first-ever government default with just hours to spare. | AP Photo

Obama signs debt-ceiling deal into law: President Obama has signed into law the bill raising the federal debt ceiling just hours before the Treasury said it could begin running out of money to pay the government’s bills, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.

President Obama says work not done: After the Senate passed the debt deal and removed the threat of default the day the Treasury was expected to run out of funds, President Obama told the American people from the Rose Garden that “the next phase” of the process involved such things as entitlement and tax reform, extended unemployment benefits and middle-class tax cuts.
He urged Congress to tackle those issues when it returns from its August recess.
“Voters may have chosen divided government, but they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government,” Obama said. “They want us to solve problems.”
The president added “While deficit reduction is part of that agenda, it is not the whole agenda.”

Congress approves debt deal, averts U.S. default: The Senate approved a plan, 74 to 26, Tuesday that will increase the federal debt ceiling just hours before the Treasury said it could begin running out of money to pay the government’s bills.
The measure now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it shortly. The plan will cut the national debt by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years with no immediate provision for tax increases.

Senate begins vote on debt deal: Approval would send the measure to President Obama and immediately grant the Treasury $400 billion in additional borrowing authority, just hours before a midnight deadline.

 

  • Full Text of the Budget Control Act of 2011 — PDFHow the Senate voted: 74-26 roll call Tuesday — the Senate passed Budget Control Act of 2011 –

    YES: 45 Democrats and 28 Republicans
    NO: 6 Democrats and 19 Republicans

    How the House of Representatives voted: 269-161 roll call Monday — the House passed Budget Control Act of 2011 –

    YES: 95 Democrats and 174 Republicans
    NO: 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans

    “It was a long and contentious debate. And I want to thank the American people for keeping up the pressure on their elected officials to put politics aside and work together.” — President Barack Obama

    “We have seen in the past few days that Washington has the ability to focus when there is a timer ticking down and when there is a looming disaster. It shouldn’t take the risk of default, the risk of economic catastrophe, to get folks in this town to get together and do their jobs. Our economy didn’t need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse.” — President Barack Obama

    “It may have been messy. It might have appeared to some like their government wasn’t working. But, in fact, the opposite was true. The push and pull Americans saw in Washington these past few weeks was not gridlock. It was the will of the people working itself out in a political system that was never meant to be pretty…. It was a debate that Washington needed to have.” — — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    The bill passed by the House last night isn’t the bill we’d write if conservatives ran Washington, but it’s a step in the right direction. When I went to NY & said we wouldn’t pass a debt limit increase without spending cuts larger than the hike, skeptics said we were crazy. We’ve proven the skeptics wrong. When Americans stay engaged in their government, there’s no limit to what can get done. Keep up the fight. — Speaker of the House John Boehner

    “Never again will any president from either party be allowed to raise the debt ceiling without being held accountable for it by the American people. And in addition to that, without having to engage in the kind of debate we just went thorough. This kind of discussion isn’t something to dread. It’s something to welcome.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    “The American people want to see accountability and cooperation in Washington. And they want to see that we’re working to get our fiscal house in order. This legislation doesn’t get us there. But for the first time in a long time, I think we can say to the American people that we’re finally facing in the right direction.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    “It is the beginning of a process where we are going to change a system in this town. And it also, I think, sends a signal that we can work together to try and produce results.” — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

    “It’s hard to believe that we are putting our best foot forward with the legislation that comes before us today. I’m not happy with it, but I’m proud of some of the accomplishments contained in it.” — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

    “There is great incentive created in this committee to deal with tax reform. It is certainly our expectation that that product will include revenue as well as other areas of finding deficit reduction.” — Speaker of the House Jay Carney

    “I believe the joint select committee can in fact produce real cuts in spending.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

    Senator Tom Coburn: Why I voted against the debt deal”: “The real debt crisis is not a debate that has been imposed on Washington by Tea Party activists. It is a crisis Washington has imposed on the American people through laziness.” — WaPo, 8-2-11

  • Snapshot: Obama signs debt limit bill: Just hours ahead of a deadline to avert an unprecedented default, President Barack Obama, without public ceremony, signs a bill that raises the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and sets in motion a plan to reduce U.S. deficits over 10 years…. – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Debt Bill Becomes Law; Default Averted: The Senate voted Tuesday to raise the government’s debt ceiling and cut trillions of dollars from its spending, finally ending a fractious partisan battle just hours before the government’s borrowing authority was set to run out.
    The bill, which passed 74 to 26 after a short debate devoid of the oratorical passion that had echoed through both chambers of Congress for weeks, was signed by President Obama later on Tuesday.
    A few minutes after the vote, President Obama excoriated his Republican opposition for what he called a manufactured crisis that could have been avoided. “Voters may have chosen divided government,” he said, “but they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government…. – NYT, 8-2-11
  • Fitch: US Debt deal alone won’t sustain AAA rating: The bill to raise the country’s borrowing limit and prevent a possible U.S. debt default passed in Congress. But it not enough for the U.S. to maintain its coveted AAA debt rating, according to Fitch Ratings.
    On Tuesday, Fitch said the agreement was an important first step but “not the end of the process.” The rating agency wants to see a credible plan to reduce the budget deficit.
    David Riley, managing director at Fitch, told The Associated Press: “There’s more to be done in order to keep the rating in the medium-term.”… – AP, 8-2-11
  • Senate passes, Obama signs debt limit bill: President Obama signed a bill to raise the nation’s borrowing limit on Tuesday, just hours after the Senate voted 74-26 in favor of the deal that will cut government spending by trillions and effectively raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2012…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • President Obama Signs Debt Deal as Next Fight Looms: Hours before the U.S. faced a first-ever default, President Obama signed into law a compromise deal that averts a crisis by raising the debt limit, but signaled that he will not abandon his stalled efforts to raise taxes on the wealthy.
    “It’s an important first step to ensuring that as a nation we live within our means, yet it also allows us to keep making key investments in things like education and research that lead to new jobs and assures that we’re not cutting too abruptly while the economy’s still fragile,” Obama said in a statement from the White House Rose Garden before signing the bill.
    Moments before his remarks, senators voted 74 to 26 to pass the Budget Control Act, the last hurdle for the controversial measure that was first approved by the House Monday night, making a $2.4 trillion down-payment on the federal deficit over the next 10 years.
    Obama’s signature ends a bruising Washington-made crisis that has gripped the country and lifts what the administration has called a “cloud of uncertainty hanging over the economy.”… – ABC News, 8-2-11
  • With debt debate over, Obama urges focus on jobs: President Obama marked the end of the “long and contentious” debt-limit debate Tuesday afternoon, lamenting that the “manufactured crisis” has stunted the economic recovery and promising a return to a jobs-focused agenda.
    The president spoke from the Rose Garden moments after the Senate gave final approval to the deal by a vote of 74-26. The House had voted for it by a surprisingly comfortable 269-161 margin on Monday.
    Obama signed the measure more than an hour after the Senate vote, ensuring that the nation is able to continue borrowing money to pay its bills.
    The president called the deficit-reduction measures paired with the debt-limit increase an “important first step to ensuring that as a nation we continue living within our means.” But he also said he would continue to fight for a “balanced” approach when Congress continues the debate this fall.
    “I’ve said it before, I will say it again: We can’t balance the budget on the backs of the very people who have born the biggest brunt of this recession,” he said…. – LAT, 8-2-11
  • Obama says more needed to boost U.S. economy: President Barack Obama said on Tuesday a just-passed bill to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and cut spending was a first step toward ensuring the United States lives within its means but that more was needed to rebuild the world’s largest economy.
    Speaking at the White House, Obama made clear he expects tax reform to emerge from deliberations by a new committee of Democrats and Republicans to be established by the legislation and that a “balanced approach” in which the wealthier pay more taxes is needed for more deficit reduction.
    Obama, a Democrat, said uncertainty from the bitter debt debate had been an impediment to business but the economic recovery also suffered from unforeseen problems such as the Japan earthquake and tsunami.
    Obama urged Congress to pass stalled trade bills and said he wants tax cuts for the middle class and unemployment benefits extended.
    “Both parties share power in Washington. And both parties need to take responsibility for improving this economy,” Obama said shortly after the Senate passed the debt bill and sent it to him for signing into law.
    “I’ll be discussing additional ideas in the weeks ahead to help companies hire, invest and expand.”… – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Obama hails passage of debt limit compromise: President Obama hailed a hard-fought, last-minute deal to avert economic catastrophe Tuesday, saying a compromise to cut spending and increase the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit marked an “important first step to ensuring that as a nation we live within our means.”
    The bill, he said, was the outcome of a “long and contentious debate” to avoid a man-made economic disaster that he described as creating “unsettling” economic uncertainty. He said that while voters chose divided government, “they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government.”
    “It shouldn’t take the risk of default, the risk of economic catastrophe, to get folks in this town to get together and do their jobs,” the president said. He added: “Our economy didn’t need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse.”
    Mr. Obama plans to sign the legislation in a closed-door ceremony Tuesday afternoon. It will effectively increase the nation’s borrowing authority through the end of next year and promises more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years.
    Now that the debt limit fight is effectively over, Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats say they will pivot to a focus on jobs and the economy, which they say should be Congress’ top priority.
    “We’ve got to do everything in our power to grow this economy and put Americans back to work,” Mr. Obama said Tuesday. He called on Congress to extend middle class tax cuts and unemployment benefits, pass trade deals and plow money into infrastructure when it returns from its August recess…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Obama signs debt-limit bill into law: The Senate passed a landmark plan to raise the federal debt limit and reduce government spending Tuesday, ending a partisan stalemate that threatened to plunge the nation into default and destabilize the world economy.
    The measure was approved by a vote of 74 to 26. It promptly went to President Obama, who signed it into law, giving the government the money to pay its bills ahead of a midnight deadline.
    Speaking in the White House Rose Garden after the Senate vote, Obama called the legislation “an important first step” in ensuring that the nation lives within its means, and he said it avoids “cutting too abruptly while the economy is still fragile.” He vowed to keep working for a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction that includes “reforming our tax code so that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share.”
    The Senate vote came a day after the House voted 269 to 161 to pass the plan, as recalcitrant Republicans and disappointed Democrats rallied around calls to avert the nation’s first default and rein in ballooning deficits. The measure immediately grants the Treasury $400 billion in additional borrowing authority, with more to follow…. – WaPo, 8-2-11
  • Debt ceiling bill passes Senate, 74-26: Treasury won an immediate reprieve of $400 billion in new borrowing authority Tuesday, as the Senate gave final approval to a hotly contested debt and deficit-reduction agreement hammered out with the White House Sunday night.
    The bipartisan 74-26 roll call followed a 269-161 vote in the House Monday evening and the bill will be quickly signed by President Barack Obama, ending an unprecedented, hard-edged political struggle that pushed the nation to the brink of default.
    Indeed, the stakes were far larger than the April shutdown fight, and more than any single event this year, the debt ceiling fight captured all the power—and critics would say extreme risk-taking—of the anti-government backlash that fueled the GOP’s gains in the 2010 elections…. – Politico, 8-2-11
  • Done Deal Senate Passes Debt Ceiling Bill 74-26: Members of the Senate this afternoon approved a bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, narrowly avoiding the nation’s first-ever default.
    The bill garnered broad bipartisan support in today’s 74-26 vote. The House passed the measure yesterday by a vote of 269-to-161, with only two members of the city’s congressional delegation supporting it.
    The bill now heads straight to President Barack Obama’s desk for signing…. – NY1, 8-2-11
  • Senate Passes Debt Plan to Avert Default: The Senate put an end to months of partisan impasse on Tuesday, passing a landmark budget agreement to raise the debt ceiling and sending the measure to the White House for President Obama’s signature — just hours before the government’s borrowing authority was set to run out at midnight.
    The bipartisan vote was 74 to 26 , a margin that belied the intensity of a fight that has left both parties bruised and exhausted.
    With the ambivalent support of Congressional leaders in both parties and Mr. Obama, the compromise, which passed the House with bipartisan support on Monday night, averts a potential default on the government’s debt and provides for increases in the debt ceiling to be phased in, with compensating budget cuts, lasting beyond the 2012 elections. Enactment of the legislation would signal a pronounced shift in fiscal policy, from the heavy spending on economic stimulus and warfare of the past few years to a regime of steep spending cuts aimed at reducing the deficits — so far, without new revenues sought by the White House…. – NYT, 8-2-11
  • Senate passes debt deal: The Senate approved — and President Obama is likely to sign — $2.4 trillion in budget cuts and a roughly equal amount of additional debt capacity, ending months of gridlock.
    The 74-26 Senate vote came just in time to avoid an unprecedented default that Treasury officials predicted could happen if Congress didn’t raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit by today.
    The debt drama wasn’t a one-act play. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said it would be the “template” for all future debt limit increases…. – USA Today, 8-2-11
  • Senate approves bill to raise debt ceiling; sends to President Obama: The Senate voted on Tuesday to approve a deal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, voting 74-26 for a bill that would cut government spending by trillions and effectively raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2012. The bill will now be sent to President Obama, who is expected to sign it immediately.
    The bill was brokered Sunday night in last-minute negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders.
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a key player in the negotiations, and Majority Leader Harry Reid,D-Nev., both backed the bill – paving the way for its easy passage in the Senate.
    The six Democrats who voted against the measure on Tuesday were sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Tom Harkin (Ia.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.). Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who caucuses with Democrats, also voted against the measure.
    Nineteen Republican senators voted against the bill…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Debt battle set to draw to close, for now: The United States is poised to step back from the brink of economic disaster on Tuesday when a bitterly fought deal to cut the budget deficit is expected to clear its final hurdles.
    Just hours before the Treasury’s authority to borrow funds runs out — risking a damaging U.S. debt default — the Senate and President Barack Obama are expected to approve a deal to cut a bulging deficit and lift the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling enough to last beyond the November 2012 elections.
    The bill overcame its biggest obstacle late on Monday when the Republican-led House of Representatives passed the measure despite noisy opposition from both conservative Tea Party members, who wanted more spending cuts, and liberal Democrats angered by potential hits to programs for the poor.
    The vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate, due to take place at noon EDT, is expected to be less dramatic. If approved, Obama would sign the bill into law shortly afterward.
    That would mark the end of a fierce partisan battle that has paralyzed Washington for weeks and spooked investors already nervous about a weak U.S. economy and Europe’s sovereign debt woes…. – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Senate expected to vote in favor of debt-limit bill: The Senate is set to vote this afternoon on the bill to raise the debt limit that the House approved Monday. Senators are expected to approve it and then send the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature.
    With a strong backing from Democrats, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the House on Monday approved raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
    The Senate is expected to approve it at noon today, and President Barack Obama is prepared to sign it almost immediately, averting the prospect of an unprecedented default…. – AP, 8-2-11
  • House Approved Debt Bill Faces Final Hurdle: The Senate today is expected to sign off on a compromise bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and avoid the country’s first ever default on its bills.
    The House passed the measure yesterday by a vote of 269-to-161, with only two members of the city’s congressional delegation supporting it.
    Once approved, the bill will head straight to President Barack Obama’s desk for signing.
    The measure allows for a $2.4 trillion increase to the debt ceiling, but also slashes about $2 trillion from the federal budget. It also means Congress doesn’t have to deal with the debt ceiling again until 2013.
    Many Republicans say it still does not cut enough spending, while many Democrats slammed the deal because it does not include tax hikes…. – NY1, 8-2-11
  • Republicans Turn to Dealmaker McConnell for Compromise: While Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell stayed out of the spotlight during much of the negotiations over the U.S. debt limit, the deal that’s headed for approval by Congress today has his fingerprints all over it.
    Those who have worked with McConnell say that is typical of the lawmaker from Kentucky, a tight-lipped veteran of 26 years in the Senate who says little in public while wielding broad power behind closed doors.
    He “tends to be underestimated by the press, because they don’t see him doing things,” said former Senator Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican and longtime ally. “He’s not at the microphones all the time, so they underestimate his capacity to do things. And he’s the last person in the Senate you want to underestimate.”
    The deficit-reduction deal that is set for a Senate vote today is largely a product of direct negotiations among McConnell, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi…. – Bloomberg, 8-2-11
  • Senate to Vote on Debt-Ceiling Bill: The Senate is expected at noon Tuesday to sign off on a bipartisan agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling and cut as much as $2.4 trillion from budget deficits, after the House passed the measure 269-161 last night.
    The deal is the product of one of the most ferocious fights ever over government spending and political brinksmanship that caused economic uncertainty and continues to threaten the nation’s prized AAA credit rating. Its passage through the Senate makes it likely that Congress won’t break Tuesday’s deadline set by the Treasury Department after which the nation could run out of money to pay all of its bills.
    WSJ’s Alan Murray and Joe White join the News Hub panel to discuss Monday evening’s House vote to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, and look ahead to Tuesday’s vote in the Senate. WSJ Photo.
    Passage in the House came despite the opposition of both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, both of whom balked at the deal reached over the weekend between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders.
    However, the agreement was expected to obtain the 60 votes needed for it to pass the Senate, paving the way for Mr. Obama to sign it into law Tuesday afternoon…. – WSJ, 8-2-11
  • Senate poised to pass debt deal despite criticism from left, right: The Senate will vote at noon Tuesday to approve a bipartisan deal to raise the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and send it President Obama before the 11:59 p.m. deadline.
    The deal is expected to attract strong support from mainstream senators on both sides of the aisle while the chamber’s most liberal and conservative members will vote no.
    It passed the House easily Monday evening by a vote of 269 to 161.
    Wall Street, however, did not seem impressed by the deficit-reduction package, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 0.75 percent and the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell by 1 percent Tuesday morning.
    Senators from both parties lined up to praise and criticize the agreement…. – The Hill, 8-2-11
  • Obama, GOP brace for ‘Super Committee': It’s a bird … it’s a plane … It’s Super Committee!
    As President Obama prepares to sign the debt ceiling agreement later today, lawmakers are already positioning themselves for the special congressional committee that will be assigned to look for $1.5 trillion in debt reduction over the next ten years.
    Some observers are joking about whether members of so-called “Super Committee” will don capes and costumes with dollar sign logos, but the political parties are preparing another serious battle over the topics that dominated the debt ceiling debate: Taxes, spending, and the scope of government.
    Obama and aides said they will continue pushing the idea that any debt reduction plan must be “balanced,” including not only spending cuts but more taxes from the nation’s wealthiest Americans.
    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said “it’s going to be pretty hard” for the committee to recommend taxes, and suggested that GOP appointees would block such a move…. – USA Today, 8-2-11
  • Obama shifts to the right: President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks from White House briefing room, Sunday, July 31, 2011 in Washington, about a deal being reached to raise the debt limit. (AP)
    The most distressing outcome of the deficit hysteria gripping Washington may be what Barack Obama has revealed about himself. It was disconcerting to watch the president slip-slide so easily into voicing the fallacious economic arguments of the right. It was shocking when he betrayed core principles of the Democratic Party, portraying himself as high-minded and brave because he defied his loyal constituents. Supporters may hope this rightward shift was only a matter of political tactics, but I think Obama has at last revealed his sincere convictions. If he wins a second term, he will be free to strike a truly rotten “grand bargain” with Republicans—“pragmatic” compromises that will destroy the crown jewels of democratic reform.
    The president has done grievous damage to the most vulnerable by trying to fight the GOP on its ground—accepting the premise that deficits and debt should be a national priority. He made the choice more than a year ago to push aside the real problem—the vast loss and suffering generated by a failing economy…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Debt ceiling agreement a fair compromise?Politico Arena, 7-31-11
  • Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell and the making of a debt deal: Almost as abruptly, the compromise started coming together. What happened during a weekend of frenzied negotiations to salvage the deal is a tale of cataclysm narrowly averted, a historic debt-reduction plan that satisfies none of its signatories and a lesson on how even the most dysfunctional political system can be made functional through the injection of fear, finesse and Joe Biden’s old friendships…. – Politico, 8-2-11
  • Pols all ‘look like idiots’ during debt crisis, but President Obama takes biggest hit of them all: There are no real winners in the debt-crisis debacle, and in such moments the leader of the country absorbs a larger hit than most.
    The tawdry spectacle of governmental paralysis, engineered by take-no-prisoner Tea Party newbies and abetted by Republicans fearful of crossing them, is more reminiscent of a banana republic.
    “We all look like idiots,” a dismayed Democratic Party elder complained as Congress lurched toward sidestepping a financial meltdown. “The extremists have taken over the system. This is not a good omen for anyone.”
    President Obama, least of all.
    Obama got less than a half loaf, but came away with some positives from the shotgun-wedding compromise. He pushed back the next debt extension donnybrook to 2013, guaranteeing this summer’s legislative chaos won’t be rerun during next year’s campaign.
    He also averted an even bigger embarrassment – America didn’t, on his watch, default on its debt obligations for the first time in history.
    But even Obama loyalists on Capitol Hill privately say he didn’t exactly burnish his leadership credentials in this process. “At the end of the day, voters expect their President to bring people together,” one of them said. “He hasn’t been able to on this.”…. – NY Daily News, 8-2-11

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown August 2, 2011: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Senate Floor — Bipartisan Debt Ceiling Bill Will Slow Down ‘Big Government Freight Train’

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

McConnell: Bipartisan Agreement Will Slow Down the “Big Government Freight Train’

Source: McConnell.Senate.gov, 8-2-11

Aug 02 2011

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement on the Senate floor Tuesday regarding the Senate vote on the Budget Control Act that will prevent default, cut Washington spending:

“Over the past few weeks, Congress been engaged in a very important debate. It may have been messy. It might have appeared to some like their government wasn’t working.

“But, in fact, the opposite was true.

“The push and pull Americans saw in Washington these past few weeks was not gridlock. It was the will of the people working itself out in a political system that was never meant to be pretty.

“You see, one reason America isn’t already facing the kind of crises we see in Europe is that presidents and majority parties here can’t just bring about change on a dime, as much as they might like to from time to time. That’s what checks and balances is all about. And that’s the kind of balance Americans voted for in November.

“The American people sent a wave of new lawmakers to Congress in last November’s election with a very clear mandate: to put our nation’s fiscal house in order. Those of us who’d been fighting the big-government policies of Democrat majorities in Congress welcomed them into our ranks. Together we’ve held the line. And slowly but surely, we’ve started turning things around.

“That’s why those who think that no problem is too big or too small for government to solve are worried right now. They’re afraid the American people may actually win the larger debate we’ve been having around here about the size and scope of government; and that the spending spree may actually be coming to an end. They can’t believe that those who’ve stood up for limited government and accountability have actually changed the terms of the debate in Washington.

“But today, they have no choice but to admit it.

“Now, I know that for some of my colleagues reform isn’t coming as fast as they would like. I understand their frustration. I too wish we could stand here today enacting something much more ambitious. But I’m encouraged by the thought that these new leaders will help lead this fight until we finish the job. And I want to assure you today that although you may not see it this way, you’ve won this debate.

“In a few minutes, the Senate will vote on legislation that represents a new way of doing business in Washington.

“First, it creates an entirely new template for raising the nation’s debt limit. One of the most important things about this legislation is the fact that never again will any President, from either party, be allowed to raise the debt ceiling without being held accountable for it by the American people and without having to engage in the kind of debate we’ve just come through.

“This kind of discussion isn’t something to dread; it’s something to welcome. And while the President may not have particularly enjoyed this debate, it was a debate that Washington needed to have.

“As for the particulars, this legislation caps spending over the next 10 years, with a mechanism that ensures that these cuts stick. It protects the American people from a government default that would have affected every single one of them in one way or another. It puts in place a committee that will recommend further cuts and much-needed reforms. It doesn’t include a dime in job-killing tax hikes at a moment when our economy can least afford them. And, crucially, it ensures the debate over a balanced budget amendment continues, and that it gets a vote.

“This is no small feat when you consider that just last week the President was still demanding tax hikes as a part of any debt ceiling increase, and that as recently as May, the President’s top economic advisor said it was `insane’ for anybody to even consider tying the debt ceiling to spending cuts. It’s worth noting that two and a half months later, that advisor is no longer working at the White House and the President is now agreeing, as a condition of raising the debt ceiling, to trillions of dollars in spending cuts.

“Let me be clear: the legislation the Senate is about to vote on is just a first step. But it’s a crucial step toward fiscal sanity, and it’s a potentially remarkable achievement given the lengths to which some in Washington have gone to ensure a status quo that’s suffocating growth, crippling the economy, and imperiling entitlements.

“We’ve had to settle for less than we wanted, but what we’ve achieved is in no way insignificant. And we did it because we had something Democrats didn’t. Republicans may only control one half of one third of the government in Washington. But the American people agreed with us on the nature of the problem. They know that government didn’t accumulate $14.5 trillion in debt because it didn’t tax enough.

“And if you’re spending yourself into oblivion, the solution isn’t to spend more, it’s to spend less.

“Neither side got everything it wanted in these negotiations. But I think it was the view of those in my party that we’d try to get as much spending cuts as we could from a government we didn’t control. And that’s what we’ve done with this bipartisan agreement.

“This is not the deficit reduction package I would have written. The fact that we’re on pace to add another $7 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years is nothing to celebrate. But getting it there from more than $9 trillion the President continued to defend until recently, is no defeat either. And slowing down the big-government freight train from its current trajectory will give us the time we need to work toward a real solution, or give the American people the time they need to have their voices heard.

“So much more work remains. And to that end, our first step will be to make sure that the Republicans who sit on the powerful cost-cutting committee are serious people who put the best interests of the American people, and the principles that we’ve fought for throughout this debate, first.

“But before we move on to the next steps, I would like to say a word about some of those who made today’s vote possible.

“I’ll start with Speaker Boehner.

“It should be noted that he helped set the terms of this debate by insisting early on that he’d oppose any debt limit that didn’t include cuts that were greater than the amount the debt limit would be raised. And he stuck to his guns. The Speaker and I have worked shoulder to shoulder over the past few months, and it’s been a pleasure. He’s been a real partner. We wouldn’t be here without him.

“So I want to thank the Speaker and the entire Republican Leadership in the House for standing on principle, and I want to thank my Republican colleagues in the Senate for their determination and their ideas and their support. We wouldn’t be here without them either. And I want to thank my friend, the Majority Leader, for his work in getting this agreement over the finish line. We may disagree a lot, but I hope everyone realizes it’s never personal. And I think today we can prove that when it comes down to it we’ll come together when a larger good is at stake.

“I also want to thank the President, the Vice President, and everyone on their staffs who believed, as we did, that despite our many differences, we could all agree that America would not default on its obligations. It’s a testament to the good will of those on both sides that we were able to reach this agreement in time. Neither side wanted to see a government default. I’m pleased we were able to work together to avoid it.

“This bill does not solve the problem. But it forces Washington to admit that it has one. And it puts us on the path to recovery. We’re nowhere near where we need to be in terms of restoring balance. But there should be absolutely no doubt about this: we have changed the debate. We’re headed in the right direction.

“How’d it happen? Because the American people demanded it.

“So, in the end, we’re back to where we started. The only reason we’re talking about passing legislation that reins in the size of Washington instead of growing it is because the American people believed that they could have a real impact on the direction of their government. They spoke out, and we heard them. And it’s only through their continued participation in this process, and lawmakers who are willing to listen to them, that we’ll complete the work we’ve begun. As Winston Churchill once said, `Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; [and] courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.’

“I can’t think of a better way to sum up this last year and, in particular, these last few months, in Washington than that.

“The American people want to see accountability and cooperation in Washington. And they want to see that we’re working to get our fiscal house in order. This legislation doesn’t get us there. But for the first time in a long time, I think we can say to the American people that we’re finally facing in the right direction. And for that, we have them to thank.”

Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown August 1, 2011: House Bipartisan Vote 269-161 for Debt Ceiling Bill — Gabrielle Giffords First Vote Since Being Shot — Senate Votes Tuesday

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in January, appeared on the floor of the House of Representatives after the vote.

House Television, via Associated PressRepresentative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in January, appeared on the floor of the House of Representatives after the vote.

IN FOCUS

AUGUST 1, 2011: HOUSE VOTES 269-161 FOR DEBT CEILING BILL — GABRIELLE GIFFORDS’S FIRST VOTE IN HOUSE SINCE BEING SHOT — SENATE VOTES NEXT — DEFAULT AVERTED

House approves raise in federal debt ceiling; bill goes to Senate: The House approved a bill Monday night that raises the federal debt limit and cuts discretionary spending by $1 trillion over the next 10 years, a key step toward averting a government default. The 269 to 161 vote sends the bill to the Senate, which is likely to consider the plan Tuesday — the day that the Treasury has said it would begin running short of cash to pay the nation’s bills. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords cast her first vote in the House since being shot in January, voting yes.

I would like to say this bill solves our problem. It doesn’t. It’s a solid first step.” — Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R) of Texas, the House Republican Conference chairman

“Although not perfect, [it] will begin to change the culture here in Washington.” — House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) Virginia

“Beginning to take steps toward fixing our fiscal problems will in fact provide more confidence for employers in America.” — Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio

“The Capitol looks beautiful, and I am honored to be at work tonight… I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy. I have closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what’s going on in Washington. After weeks of failed debate in Washington, I was pleased to see a solution to this crisis emerge.” — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona

“Gabby is voting to support the bipartisan debt-ceiling compromise. This is a huge step in her recovery, and an example of what we all know — she is determined to get better, and to serve CD8 and our nation. This vote — expected to be very close — was simply too important for her to miss.” — Gabrielle Gifford’s Facebook Page

“There isn’t a name that stirs more love, more admiration, more respect, more wishing for our daughters to be like her than the name of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Thank you, Gabby.” — Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader

“That’s why I’m here. Nancy [Pelosi] was kind enough to call me.”…
When I went up, she said, ‘Joe.’ I said, ‘Now we’re both members of the Cracked Head Club.’ You know, I had two craniotomies. For real. They literally took the top of my head off. Twice. Now, the wags in Delaware, when the second operation occurred, wrote and said, ‘Well, it’s because they couldn’t find a brain the first time!’
She and I just commiserated about the steps to recovery. Hers, much more consequential. But it scares the living devil out of you when you’re recovering from a serious operation or injury to your head. But it comes back. And knowing people who’ve been through it and came back was helpful, for me anyway. You know what I mean?
She’s remarkable. She’s remarkable. Will matters. Will matters. I tell you what, she’s the embodiment of a strong, strong woman. Think about what that woman has been through, and think about her determination.
It’s really good. Here I am hugging Gabby and Michele Bachmann. Seriously. I’m being literal. Sure! I like Michele Bachmann. For real. We’re all standing there around and Michele walks up to see Gabby because she cares about her… There is a basic humanity here, man. It matters, between people. I know that sounds corny.”…
He then recalled what he said was one of the most emotional moments he ever saw. Hubert Humphrey, the former vice president and US senator from Minnesota, was dying of cancer and made an appearance on the Senate floor. “He could hardly walk. He walked into the well. And Barry Goldwater got out of his seat, hugged him in the well, and the both embraced each other for a good three minutes, crying. These were arch, arch, arch ideological enemies. There’s a lot of humanity left here.” — Vice President Joe Biden Boston Globe, 8-1-11

  • House OKs debt; Giffords brings down the House: Crisis legislation to yank the nation past the threat of a historic financial default sped through the House Monday night, breaking weeks of deadlock. The rare moment of cooperation turned celebratory when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords strode in for the first time since she was shot in the head nearly seven months ago.
    The vote was 269-161, a scant day ahead of the deadline for action. But all eyes were on Giffords, who drew thunderous applause as she walked into the House chamber unannounced and cast her vote in favor of the bill.
    A final Senate sign-off for the measure is virtually assured on Tuesday. Aside from raising the debt limit, the bill would slice federal spending by at least $2.1 trillion, and perhaps much more.
    “If the bill were presented to the president, he would sign it,” the White House said, an understatement of enormous proportions…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • House Passes Deal to Avert Debt Crisis: After months of partisan impasse, the House on Monday approved a budget agreement intended to head off a potential government default, pushing Congress a big step closer to the conclusion of a bitter fight that has left both parties bruised and exhausted. Despite the tension and uncertainty that has surrounded efforts to raise the debt ceiling, the vote of 269 to 161 was relatively strong in support of the plan, which would cut more than $2.1 trillion in government spending over 10 years while extending the borrowing authority of the Treasury Department. It would also create a powerful new joint Congressional committee to recommend broad changes in spending — and possibly in tax policy — to reduce the deficit.
    Scores of Democrats initially held back from voting, to force Republicans to register their positions first. Then, as the time for voting wound down, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, returned to the floor for the first time since being shot in January and voted for the bill to jubilant applause and embraces from her colleagues. It provided an unexpected, unifying ending to a fierce standoff in the House.
    The Senate, where approval is considered likely, is scheduled to vote at noon on Tuesday and then send the measure to Mr. Obama less than 12 hours before the time when the Treasury Department has said it could become unable to meet all of its financial obligations…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Debt-ceiling bill clears House. Now, hopes that Round 2 will be better: With the House passing a debt-ceiling bill Monday, and end of the debt crisis is in sight. But more cutting lies ahead, and both sides are hopeful they’ll get more of what they want…. – CS Monitor, 8-1-11
  • Debt deal easily clears House, final passage likely: Congress was poised to send President Obama a compromise deficit-reduction package topping $2 trillion Tuesday, just hours before the nation could run out of borrowed money to pay its bills.
    After months of bitter partisan wrangling, the House on Monday easily approved the landmark measure raising the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit by a 269-161 vote. The Senate is expected to approve it at noon Tuesday, and Obama is prepared to sign it almost immediately, averting the prospect of an unprecedented default…..
    Republican leaders boasted that they got two-thirds of the spending cuts they sought, leading GOP House members to vote 174-66 in favor of the bill. Democrats who split 95-95 on the measure were left to highlight the cuts they averted…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
  • Debt deal clears House on 269-161 vote; Senate passage expected Tuesday: A bipartisan bill to increase the nation’s debt limit and cut as much as $2.4 trillion in government spending passed the House of Representatives, overcoming the key hurdle on the road to averting an unprecedented federal default.
    The legislation, which passed Monday evening by a relatively comfortable 269-161 margin, came after a weekend of tense meetings, exhausted staff discussions and, in the end, a compromise worked out at the highest levels of government. If passed by the Senate on Tuesday, which is widely expected, it will end a months-long standoff between a new Republican House majority, which refused to pass an increase without a deficit reduction package, and the Democratic majority in the Senate and President Barack Obama…. – Bellingham Herald, 8-1-11
  • House passes debt ceiling agreement; Senate vote expected Tuesday: The U.S. House on Monday passed the debt-ceiling deal worked out by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders, sending it to the Senate for consideration a day before the deadline for the government to face possible default.
    A Senate vote was expected Tuesday, according to multiple Senate leadership aides from each party…. – CNN, 8-1-11
  • Pelosi rallies Dems to help pass debt plan: House minority leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco provided 95 Democratic votes – half of her caucus – to approve a $2 trillion-plus, 10-year debt-reduction package Monday that helped make up for a slew of defections by Tea Party-backed Republicans.
    Pelosi urged Democrats to swallow hard on the package, which did not include new taxes as they had wanted, to save the nation from a potentially calamitous cash shortfall. The final vote was 269 to 161, with 66 Republicans voting no on grounds that the spending cuts did not go deep enough.
    Rep. Gabrielle Giffords,the Arizona Democrat shot in the head by a gunman in January, made a dramatic entrance onto the House floor to cast her vote for the deal…. – San Francisco Chronicle, 8-1-11
  • House Passes Compromise Debt Bill: 7:42 p.m. | Updated The House of Representatives approved the debt ceiling bargain negotiated over the weekend by President Obama and leaders from both parties, sending the measure to the Senate. Final approval that could come Tuesday.
    Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, told his colleagues that the Senate will take up the debt bill at noon on Tuesday, just hours before the midnight deadline when the nation’s borrowing authority will run out.
    The final vote was 269 to 161, with 66 Republicans and 95 Democrats voting no. Many Democratic lawmakers joined dozens of Tea Party-backed Republicans in calling it a bad deal for the country. But the complicated legislation to raise the debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion earned the support of members from both parties to win approval.
    Senators said they planned to take up the legislation as soon as Monday evening or Tuesday, hours before a deadline that might have led to a federal default.
    The passage came in dramatic fashion as Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, made her first appearance back in the chamber since she was shot in the head by an assailant during a meet and greet in her district. Members in both parties stood up for a long and enthusiastic standing ovation for Ms. Giffords, who entered dressed in a teal shirt and with her brown hair trimmed short. She has been recuperating since the shooting and it had been unclear when she would return…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Giffords Returns, as Does Unity, Briefly: With two minutes to go and roughly 20 votes needed to pass a bill to raise the nation’s debt limit, a smattering of applause rippled from a corner of the House chamber. After a few seconds of confusion, a flash of teal jacket could be seen almost floating among a sea of Democrats.
    There she was, Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, appearing unexpectedly Monday evening to cast one of the last votes needed to send the measure over the top.
    The full chamber erupted in loud applause as Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House whip, flicked his eyes from the vote board to Ms. Giffords. It was the first time she had been in the chamber since she was critically injured in an assassination attempt in January in Tucson…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Rep. Giffords casts debt-limit vote on House floor: As minutes remained on a critical vote to raise the debt limit, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords burst onto the House floor Monday and cast a “yes” vote, the first time the Arizona Democrat had voted since a gunman shot her in the head at a political event in Tucson seven months ago.
    Lawmakers, tense after weeks of contentious negotiations, erupted into applause as Giffords entered the chamber accompanied by her close friend and colleague Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and her husband, space shuttle astronaut Mark Kelly. Giffords waved and said, “Thank you” as her colleagues gave her a standing ovation.
    Giffords, who wore glasses and a teal blazer, turned to watch the tally as voting ended on the debt-ceiling compromise package….
    Vice President Biden said Pelosi told him earlier Monday that Giffords would return to the House. “That’s why I’m here,” Biden said…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
  • Julian Zelizer on House Debt Deal Vote: Many bills that eventually take on big issues start as a modest, first step, says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University, citing the 1957 civil rights bill, which disappointed most of its supporters for not going far enough to redress the nation’s record on civil rights.
    President “Lyndon Johnson pushed back against liberals saying, ‘If I can get Southerners to vote for something, you can do more down the road,’ ” he says.
    “The debt deal is trying to give some assurance that it’s a first step and will continue,” he adds. “The legislation is vague enough about this new committee that everyone can look at it and think that the committee will later give them what they want.”… – CS Monitor, 8-1-11

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown August 1, 2011: Majority Leader Harry Reid on Senate Floor on Debt Ceiling Bill as a Bipartisan Compromise & Step Forward

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN:OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

Reid: Bipartisan Compromise, A Step Forward

Source: Reid.Senate.gov, 8-1-11

August 1, 2011

Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor:

Mr. President, the eyes of America and the world were on Washington this week.

They witnessed some of the worst political wrangling Congress has seen in years.

But after weeks spent facing off across a partisan divide that seemed too broad to cross, patriots from both parties reach a historic, bipartisan agreement that revived America’s faith in our Democracy.

Americans voted for a divided government, and it’s not always easy for two sides at odds to reach consensus. But I believe reasonable Republicans and Democrats alike understood that in this case, without compromise, our country faced disaster.

If the United States had defaulted on its debt for the first time in history, it would have put our economy and the world’s economy at great risk.

I was satisfied last night when Congressional leaders from both parties agreed on a long-term solution to avert that default, reduce the deficit by trillions of dollars and provide our economy with the stability it desperately needs.

We have sent a message to Americans from each state we represent and to citizens of every country in the world that today this great Democracy is moving forward in the name of progress.

There is still work to do. Shortly I will present to the Senate Democratic Caucus the agreement bipartisan, bicameral leaders have reached.

The agreement protects the long-term health of our economy. And it establishes a committee that will look at every option for reducing future spending – no matter how painful to either party.

The support of Democrats and Republicans from both houses of Congress will be essential to passing this accord. Neither party can do it alone in either the House or Senate.

The Irish statesman Edmund Burke said that “All government – indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act – is founded on compromise.”

Congress has a unique opportunity – and responsibility – to show the world what we can achieve when we work together.

Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown August 1, 2011: House Votes First on Brokered Debt Deal — Bipartisan Opposition by Democrats & Republicans in House, Senate & Nation

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to the media after a caucus meeting with Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill in Washington August 1, 2011.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to the media after a caucus meeting with Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill in Washington August 1, 2011. (Joshua Roberts, Reuters)

 

IN FOCUS

AUGUST 1, 2011: BIPARTISAN OPPOSITION TO DEBT DEAL — HOUSE FIRST TO VOTE ON DEBT DEAL THEN THE SENATE

Budget Office says debt deal will save at least $2.1 trillion: The Congressional Budget Office confirmed Monday that the debt-reduction deal struck by the White House and congressional leaders would cut deficits by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years, if lawmakers approve the plan later Monday.
The independent budget analysts reconfirmed that it contains up front savings of $917 billion, the same level as initially proposed in legislation offered by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) last week, and it credited President Obama and the leaders with at least $1.2 trillion in savings for the follow-on work to be done by a special committee.

“Despite what some Republicans have argued, I believe that we have to ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share by giving up tax breaks and special deductions. Despite what some in my own party have argued, I believe that we need to make some modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to ensure that they’re still around for future generations. That’s why the second part of this agreement is so important.” — President Barack Obama

“I am relieved to say that leaders from both parties have come together for the sake of our economy to reach a historic, bipartisan compromise that ends this dangerous standoff. The compromise we have agreed to is remarkable not only because of what it does, but because of what it prevents: a first-ever default on the full faith and credit of the United States.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

We got 98 percent of what we wanted… It would also guarantee the American people the vote they have been denied in both chambers on a balanced budget amendment, while creating, I think, some new incentives for past opponents of a BBA to support it.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

Reid says debt limit vote in Senate by Tuesday: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that debt limit increase legislation would be completed in the Senate by Tuesday. “This vote could happen either tonight or tomorrow,” Reid said on the Senate floor. – Reuters, 8-1-11

  • Several Steps Remain Before the Debt Ceiling Is Raised: During the next 60 hours, the legislative leaders who shook hands with each other must sell the deal to their wary members, something that could still pose a thorny political challenge.
    And then — with the Tuesday deadline for a default looming — they must turn the “framework” into legislative language and pass it through both chambers of Congress — not an easy task for institutions, especially the Senate, which are not known for moving with haste…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Pleasing Few, Debt Deal to Go to Vote: Democratic and Republican leaders in the Congress began making their final arguments on behalf of Sunday’s debt ceiling deal to skeptical members in advance of votes in both chambers that could come as early as Monday afternoon.
    With only one day left before Tuesday’s looming deadline that carries the threat of a federal default, Vice President Joseph R. Biden arrived at the Capitol for back-to-back, closed-door meetings with Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate. Republicans in the House and Senate also huddled in advance of the votes.
    The last-minute wrangling on Monday morning reflected the lack of enthusiasm for the debt deal as lawmakers, party activists and pundits expressed relief but little excitement for a compromise that appears to have left few partisans eagerly promoting the deal as the one that they wanted.
    On the Senate floor on Monday, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said, “People on the right are upset. People on the left are upset. People in the middle are upset.” But he called it a “remarkable agreement which will protect the long-term health of our economy.”
    Mr. Reid said that the Senate is likely to take a final vote on passage of the deal later today. Republican aides in the House said that voting could begin as early as 2 p.m., though neither chamber had yet told members exactly when to expect final votes on the legislation.
    Most of the leading 2012 Republican presidential candidates weighed in Monday in opposition to the debt ceiling deal, saying that it does too little to address the nation’s spending problem. Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, said the deal “opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table..”… – NYT, 8-1-11
  • House vote first test of debt-ceiling bill: The first test of legislation to raise the nation’s debt ceiling comes in the House, which plans to vote Monday evening on the plan agreed to by party leaders Sunday.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would work to take up the plan Monday as well, though that would be a challenge given traditional delaying tactics that may be employed.
    Passage in either chamber is far from assured. Some Republicans are objecting to the possibility of steep cuts in defense spending, while others continue to oppose any debt-ceiling increase. Liberal Democrats think the so-called compromise was more like a cave-in…. – LAT, 8-1-11
  • House Debt Vote Expected Monday Afternoon: The House of Representatives could begin voting as early as 2 p.m., Eastern time, on the debt ceiling compromise announced by President Obama and Congressional leaders on Sunday night, a House leadership aide said.
    In a brief message on Twitter, Erica Elliott, the press secretary for Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, the majority whip, announced the tentative schedule.
    It was not immediately clear when the Senate might vote on Monday…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Debt-Limit Deal to Get Congress Vote Today: Congressional leaders, leaving no extra time before a default threatened for tomorrow, are racing to push through a compromise sealed with President Barack Obama last night to raise the U.S. debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and slash government spending by $2.4 trillion or more. The House plans votes today and the Senate may follow suit to consider the agreement reached during a weekend of negotiations that capped a months-long struggle between Obama and Republicans over raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Megan Hughes reports on Bloomberg Television’s “First Look.” (Source: Bloomberg)
    Congressional leaders, leaving no extra time before a default threatened for tomorrow, are racing to push through a compromise sealed with President Barack Obama last night to raise the U.S. debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and slash government spending by $2.4 trillion or more.
    The House plans votes today and the Senate may follow suit to consider the agreement reached during a weekend of negotiations that capped a months-long struggle between Obama and Republicans over raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.
    Both parties were working to sell the deal to their rank and file — meeting resistance from social liberals who fault it for failing to increase taxes and from fiscal conservatives who say it’s insufficient to rein in the debt…. – Bloomberg, 8-1-11
  • House races toward Monday debt ceiling vote: The House is racing toward a Monday evening vote to raise the debt ceiling, as congressional leaders furiously round up the votes necessary to push the plan through before Tuesday’s deadline.
    Senate leaders plan to take up the bill shortly after, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says enough votes will be lined up for the bill to pass.
    House leaders are still gauging support for the measure. House Republicans will meet at 12:30 and House Democrats are caucusing with Vice President Joe Biden — who got a standing ovation when he walked into the meeting today.
    Biden laid out in candid terms what the White House had to do to get a deal.
    “Elections have consequences,” Biden told Senate Democrats, according to a senator in the room. The vice president characterized the fight as a hostage situation, saying Republicans have a “gun to their heads,” the source said…. – Politico, 8-1-11
  • Debt-ceiling compromise: Now, it’s time to find the votes: Vice President Joe Biden will meet Monday with the Senate and House Democratic caucuses while Republican leaders also huddle to gauge support for the debt-ceiling plan negotiators agreed to Sunday.
    The legislative path for the bill was still somewhat unclear as individual members study the details. No votes had been scheduled yet in either the House or Senate on Monday, but could be added once party leadership takes the temperature of their respective caucuses. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told members Sunday night that the bill would move quickly to the floor, perhaps as early as Monday afternoon…. – LAT, 8-1-11
  • House to vote before Senate on raising debt ceiling: The House of Representatives will vote before the Senate on the bipartisan plan to raise the debt ceiling, according to two House GOP leadership sources…. – CNN, 8-1-11
  • House vote could be squeaker: A Democratic official involved in the effort to secure the votes in the House and Senate for the debt deal says there is more concern about the vote tally in the House than the Senate, where it looks like it will get the 60 votes needed without much drama.
    In the House, Democrats who favor the deal are concerned about a very close vote – maybe a squeaker.
    Vice President Joe Biden will meet with the House Democratic caucus at noon to answer questions, soothe concerns, and help shore up reluctant Democrats.
    Even though Biden is coming over to meet with Democrats and has planned to come out to the media stakeout afterwards, it’s unclear from Democratic aides at this point how many of the Democratic leaders, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, will stand with Biden and say they will support the bill…. – CNN, 8-1-11
  • The debt ceiling battle at a glance:

    A compromise agreement to raise the nation’s borrowing limit has been reached The House and Senate are expected to vote today The House Speaker says the agreement does not violate Republican principles Some Senate Democrats are grumbling, an aide says, but the chamber is expected to approve the deal

    President Obama and congressional leaders have agreed to a plan that would lift the nation’s credit limit and avoid an unprecedented default on its debt, which could have widespread economic ramifications ranging from higher interest rates to a predicted stock market crash. Congress still must approve the deal by Tuesday. Here’s the situation at a glance… – CNN, 8-1-11

  • Debt Deal: Some Read It and Weep, Others Swallow Hard and Nod: Liberals and conservatives woke up on Monday morning and began assessing the last-minute debt ceiling deal reached by leaders in Washington over the weekend.
    Many liberals are grousing about President Obama’s willingness to abandon some of the things he had demanded. Some conservatives are griping that the deal doesn’t do enough to cut spending. And some members of both parties are declaring the deal good enough, if not exactly great…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • McCain says he’ll ‘swallow hard’ and support deal: Sen. John McCain says he’ll vote for compromise legislation averting a government default, although “I will probably have to swallow hard.”
    The Arizona Republican who lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election says he’s concerned about the impact of the deficit-reduction deal on defense spending.
    But McCain also tells CBS’s “The Early Show” that officials in Washington realized “we were not going to let the government shut down.”… – AP, 8-1-11
  • Sen. Marco Rubio will vote against debt ceiling deal: The South Florida Congressional delegation says it will likely approve the tentative deal struck Sunday night to raise the debt ceiling but Sen. Marco Rubio is a holdout…. – Miami Herald, 8-1-11
  • GOP presidential hopefuls unhappy with debt-ceiling deal: Some of the Republicans who want to kick President Obama out of office next year are sounding off today with their opposition to a deal the White House reached with congressional leaders to raise the debt ceiling…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
  • Romney opposes debt deal: Mitt Romney said Monday he opposes the compromise to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, becoming the second Republican presidential contender to oppose a deal backed by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders in both parties.
    The plan, which supporters say is needed to avert a looming fiscal crisis, opens the door to tax increases and defense cuts, the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement.
    “President Obama’s leadership failure has pushed the economy to the brink at the eleventh hour and 59th minute,” Romney said. “While I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama’s lack of leadership has placed Republican members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal.”
    The statement represents the most substantive comment to date from Romney, the early frontrunner in the Republican presidential field, who has largely avoided weighing in on daily developments in the high-stakes debate. The issue, as the nation’s economy in general, is likely to dominate the 2012 contest…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Debt and budget bill saves more than $2T: A new study says the debt and budget bill backed by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders would save taxpayers at least $2.1 trillion over the coming decade.
    The Congressional Budget Office analysis says the initial down payment of spending cuts — tight “caps” on the operating budgets of Cabinet agencies like the departments of Defense and Education — would produce more than $900 billion in savings over 10 years…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Congressional Leaders to Pitch Debt-Reduction Compromise to Caucuses: Democratic and Republican leaders in both chambers of Congress will meet with their caucuses Monday for a hard sell of a compromise debt-reduction package that gives President Obama up to a $2.5 trillion hike in the debt limit as long as lawmakers can find an equal or greater amount in spending cuts.
    But even if they can’t come up with solutions, the cuts will be found for them.
    Obama announced Sunday night that leaders of both parties in both chambers reached an agreement on a debt-reduction deal that will “lift the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over our economy” and prevent the nation from potentially defaulting on the U.S.’s financial obligations…. – Fox News, 8-1-11
  • Congress moving quickly on debt and spending deal: Congress is moving quickly on an agreement to avert a potentially devastating default on U.S. obligations, with legislation that mixes a record increase in the government’s borrowing cap with the promise of more than $2 trillion in spending cuts.
    After a tense weekend of bargaining, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders announced the agreement Sunday night, providing an instant boost to Asian financial markets and a huge dose of relief to an administration and Congress frazzled by months of partisan warfare and the chance that a default could send the still-fragile economy into recession.
    The Senate seems likely to vote first on the measure while House GOP leaders work to assemble support for it. Democratic votes are certain to be needed to pass the measure in the Republican-dominated House, just as Republicans will be needed to clear the measure through the Democratic Senate. Liberal Democrats were already carping that Obama had given away too much to GOP leaders…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Obama announces budget deal: President Barack Obama, addressing the nation Sunday, announced a bipartisan, bicameral deal to end a dangerous impasse over raising the debt ceiling, marking the start of a process to avert a catastrophic national default on Tuesday.
    A somber Obama — decrying a process that has been “messy” and has “taken far too long” — made his announcement moments before House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) took the two-part package of $2.5 trillion in cuts to a skeptical GOP conference. The agreement came after a day of frenzied negotiations over “triggers” that will be used to determine the make-up of the final $1.5 trillion in cuts.
    “We’re not done yet,” Obama told a smattering of reporters gathered in the White House briefing room. “Despite what some Republicans have argued I believe we have to ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share … and despite what some in my own party have argued I believe that we need to make some modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to assure that they’re still around for future generations,” he said, acknowledging the opposition of tea party conservatives and liberal Democrats…. – Politico, 8-1-11
  • Analysis: Bipartisan debt-limit deal means bipartisan opposition for Obama, Boehner: The newly struck debt-ceiling compromise between President Barack Obama and the Republican leaders of Congress represents a historic accomplishment of divided government, with all the disappointment that implies for the most ardent partisans inside the two major parties and out.
    But it marks an accomplishment nonetheless between a Democratic president elected in 2008 and the Republicans who, Obama memorably said, handed his party a “shellacking” at the polls two years later.
    The tea party conservatives won’t like it, regretting it doesn’t cut spending by more. “Someone has to say no, I will,” Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said in a statement emailed from Iowa Sunday night, where she was courting Republicans for her 2012 presidential bid.
    Neither will the liberal Democrats, unhappy that it cuts at all. “This deal weakens the Democratic Party as badly as it weakens the country. We have given much and received nothing in return,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
    Which means that Obama and his principal Republican antagonist, Speaker John Boehner, will share responsibility for passing it in the House…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • US debt limit really doesn’t limit debt: The federal debt limit is a triumph of false advertising. It doesn’t really limit the national debt. Whenever the false ceiling has been reached, it has been raised — forcing unpopular votes in Congress, but not the really hard ones it would take to cut spending, raise revenues and balance budgets.
    Ranting about the debt is easier than taming it. So the same political theatrics are played over and over again. The debt limit has been raised 78 times since 1960. The current hassle over No. 79 is more contentious and divisive than the previous rounds because of hardened lines in Congress, not only between Democrats and Republicans but within their rosters, especially on the GOP side where about 80 freshmen sent by tea party voters consider compromise a crime.
    The hypocrisy of the whole process was summed up by an expert witness, Barack Obama, now the president championing a debt limit increase, when he tried to explain his own vote as junior senator from Illinois to oppose the raise then-President George W. Bush sought…. – AP, 8-1-11
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