Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown, July 25, 2011: President Obama & Speaker John Boehner Each Address the Nation on Crisis & Competing Debt Ceiling Plans — Each Blames the Other

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

Pool photo by Jim Watson, left; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner each addressed the nation on Monday.

JULY 25, 2011: PRESIDENT OBAMA & SPEAKER BOEHNER ADDRESS NATION ON COMPETING DEBT CEILING PLANS

Obama urges Congress to reach deal on debt ceiling: President Obama said in a prime-time speech Monday night that, unless Congress agrees quickly to a long- term increase in the federal debt ceiling, “we would risk sparking a deep economic crisis, this one caused almost entirely by Washington.” He asked Americans to urge their lawmakers in Congress to strike a deal on the issue. He said he would not agree to a short-term increase, as proposed by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), saying it amounted to “kicking the can down the road.” He added: “We can’t allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington’s political warfare.”

Boehner: ‘The solution to this crisis is not complicated’: House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a prime-time address Monday night that he intends to continue pushing a short-term raise in the federal debt ceiling, despite President Obama’s objection that such a move does not solve the problem.
“The solution to this crisis is not complicated. … We are up to the task, and I hope President Obama will join us,” Boehner said. The speaker said that, in negotiations with Obama over a long-term debt deal, “I made a sincere effort to work with the president. … I gave it my all. Unfortunately, the president could not take yes for an answer.” He added: “The president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today,. This is not going to happen.”

President Obama Addresses the Nation on Debt Ceiling Crisis, Blames House Republicans, Suggests Raising Taxes

Speaker John Boehner’s Address to the Nation on the Republican’s (GOP) Plan for America’s Debt Crisis — Response Blames President Obama’s Inability to Agree on a Deal

 

  • Parties Head to Showdown as Obama Warns of a ‘Crisis’: The Democratic-led Senate and Republican-led House on Monday barreled toward a showdown on competing plans to cut spending and raise the debt limit as a resolution to the intensifying crisis remained farther from sight just one week before a possible federal default.
    With President Obama trying to employ the power of the presidency to force an agreement, House and Senate leaders said votes could occur as early as Wednesday on competing proposals to slash spending in exchange for increasing federal borrowing authority that the Treasury Department says will be exhausted Aug. 2, raising the prospect that federal bills will go unpaid.
    It was a day of legislative chess moves, back-to-back party caucuses and closed-door meetings that ended with a nationally televised presidential address and a rebuttal by the House speaker, John A. Boehner. Their separate speeches reflected that the two sides are farther apart than ever — just a week ago, the two men were in private negotiations on a “grand bargain” of spending cuts and additional revenue, what Mr. Obama called “a balanced approach.”
    “The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a different approach, a cuts-only approach — an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all,” Mr. Obama said in his address. “And because nothing is asked of those at the top of the income scales, such an approach would close the deficit only with more severe cuts to programs we all care about — cuts that place a greater burden on working families.”
    Even as he sought to set Republicans up for blame for any crisis, Mr. Obama offered assurance that a crisis would be averted. He called on Americans to contact their lawmakers in support of a compromise. “We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis — this one caused almost entirely by Washington,” he said. “Defaulting on our obligations is a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate.
    In response to Mr. Obama, Mr. Boehner said: “The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today. That is just not going to happen.”
    Mr. Boehner urged the president to sign a Republican plan to raise the debt limit. “If the president signs it,” he said, “the ‘crisis’ atmosphere he has created will simply disappear. The debt limit will be raised.”… – NYT, 7-25-11
  • Obama urges GOP to break ‘stalemate’ over debt talks: President Obama on Monday used a nationally televised address to urge House Republicans to stop standing in the way of a deal to tame the nation’s debt and raise the federal limit on borrowing, making his most direct appeal to the American people in the confrontation over the debt.
    Obama said failure to raise the debt ceiling within the next week “would risk sparking a deep economic crisis.” He said he would not be able to pay all of the government’s bills, including Social Security checks and veterans’ benefits.
    The president endorsed a Senate Democratic plan unveiled Monday that would save $2.7 trillion in spending over 10 years in exchange for raising the federal debt ceiling through 2012. He rejected a competing House Republican plan that could save up to $3 trillion while raising the debt ceiling in two stages — the first lasting six months.
    Obama reserved his harshest words for House Republicans as he called on them to join him in breaking a “stalemate” and forging a compromise that balances cuts in government spending with new tax revenues from the wealthy and corporations.
    “The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a cuts-only approach – an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all,” Obama said in the East Room of the White House.

    In a response following the president’s statement, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Republicans had fought to rein in the national debt, but that Obama had refused to compromise.
    “I want you to know I made a sincere effort to work with the president to identify a path forward,” Boehner said. “Unfortunately, the president would not take yes for an answer. Even when we thought we might be close on an agreement, the president’s demands changed.” “The president has often said we need a ‘balanced’ approach — which in Washington means: we spend more. . .you pay more,” the speaker said. “Having run a small business, I know those tax increases will destroy jobs.” “The United States cannot default on its debt obligations,” Boehner said.
    “The solution to this crisis is not complicated: If you’re spending more money than you’re taking in, you need to spend less of it,” he said. “I’ve always believed, the bigger [the] government, the smaller the people.”… – WaPo, 7-25-11

  • Debt ceiling speeches given by Obama, Boehner: President Barack Obama used a rare prime-time address Monday to rally support behind the Democratic plan for raising the debt limit, a high-stakes bid to isolate Republicans with only a week left to avert a government default.
    In a 15-minute speech from the White House, Obama made the case for compromise between Democrats and Republicans, saying it is the only way to prevent default that could be catastrophic to the economy.
    “Unfortunately, for the past several weeks, Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach,” Obama said. “If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills — bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.”
    Obama called for unity, on one hand, but he also bashed Republicans, arguing that their tactics “risk sparking a deep economic crisis — one caused almost entirely by Washington.”
    “Defaulting on our obligations is a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate,” Obama said. “And Republican leaders say that they agree we must avoid default. But the new approach that Speaker Boehner unveiled today, which would temporarily extend the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts, would force us to once again face the threat of default just six months from now. In other words, it doesn’t solve the problem.”
    In an extraordinary contrast, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) delivered a response only minutes later from the Capitol. The back-to-back speeches underscored the deep divide that remains between the two central figures in the debt-limit drama.
    “The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today,” Boehner said. “That is just not going to happen.”
    Obama decided to deliver the prime-time address after three days of little progress…. – Politico, 7-25-11
  • Obama Warns ‘World Is Watching’ as Boehner Says GOP’s Efforts on Debt Have Been Rejected: President Obama on Monday night urged a “balanced approach” in crafting a deal to raise the debt ceiling, saying a Republican proposal to temporarily extend the debt limit would lead the country back to the same arguments on spending and taxes in six months from now.
    “That is no way to run the greatest country on Earth. It is a dangerous game we’ve never played before, and we can’t afford to play it now. … We can’t allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington’s political warfare,” the president said in a televised address to the nation.
    Instead, Obama said he wants tax increases paired with spending reductions that will put the U.S. debate past the next election and keep the country from defaulting on its loans to creditors, set to come due on Aug. 2.
    “The entire world is watching. So let’s seize this moment to show why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth,” Obama said. “The debate right now isn’t about whether we need to make tough choices. Democrats and Republicans agree on the amount of deficit reduction we need. The debate is about how it should be done.”
    House Speaker John Boehner, delivering the Republican response after Obama spoke — the first such live response aside from the State of the Union in nearly four years — said Obama was looking for a “blank check” to fund his administration’s “spending binge.” He accused Obama of not negotiating in good faith…. – Fox News, 7-25-11
  • Obama urges Americans to back ‘balanced’ debt plan: President Obama asked Americans tonight to pressure congressional Republicans to accept a “balanced plan” to reduce the federal debt through taxes as well as budget cuts in order to stave off a government default that will kill jobs and slow the economy.
    “The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government,” Obama said during a prime-time speech at the White House.
    House Speaker John Boehner — who is promoting an alternative debt plan with no tax increases — said in a responding speech that Obama’s definition of balance means “we spend more and you pay more.”… – USA Today, 7-25-11
  • Obama takes debt case to American people: With just eight days left before a possible economic catastrophe, President Obama on Monday took his argument for a “balanced” debt limit agreement to the American people, arguing in a prime time address that voters should call their members of Congress in support of a deal that “asks everyone to give a little without requiring anyone to sacrifice too much.”
    Speaking from the White House, the president lambasted Republicans for what he cast as a refusal to compromise, arguing that the nation faces a possible “deep economic crisis- one caused almost entirely by Washington.”
    “Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach,” Mr. Obama said. “If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills – bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.”
    “It is a dangerous game we’ve never played before, and we can’t afford to play it now,” he warned. “People are fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word.”
    Mr. Obama continued to ask Republicans to accept revenue increases for the wealthiest Americans, saying they and large corporations should “give up some of their tax breaks and special deductions.”
    Arguing that Republican leaders were acting outside of the interests of their constituents, Mr. Obama called on voters to “make your voice heard.”
    “The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government,” he said. “So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your Member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.”… – CBS News, 7-25-11
  • Obama Speaks to Nation as Debt Talks Intensify; Boehner to Give GOP Response: President Obama, in a nationally televised address to the nation Monday, urged a “balanced approach” in crafting a deal to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the federal deficit ahead of the Treasury’s Aug. 2 deadline, when the country is said to risk default on its debt.
    “The entire world is watching. So let’s seize this moment to show why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth,” Obama said. “Not just because we can still keep our word and meet our obligations, but because we can still come together as one nation,”
    He said that, although some Democrats are reluctant to make deep cuts to domestic programs, “enough are willing to accept them if the burden is fairly shared,” rather than the “cuts-only” approach of the Republicans that Obama said would “place a greater burden on working families.”
    House Speaker John Boehner was scheduled to deliver the Republican response after Obama speaks.
    Republicans and Democrats outlined separate deficit-reduction proposals Monday afternoon, pushing ahead with bills that have a questionable chance of passing as the showdown over the debt ceiling intensified…. – Fox News, 7-25-11
  • A ‘Unique Opportunity’ on the Debt Ceiling, Lost: Leaders of both parties have said for months that the need to raise the nation’s borrowing limit offered a “unique opportunity” for a bipartisan deal that would constrain the mounting federal debt. Instead, it is shaping up to be a lost opportunity.
    Whatever deal Congress and President Obama devise in this final week to allow the government to keep paying its bills after Aug. 2 and avert an economy-rattling default, it almost certainly will fall short of the compromise that Mr. Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, nearly struck last week — before details of the negotiations leaked, opponents in both parties protested and Mr. Boehner left the table.
    The difference between that attempted “grand bargain” and what Congress is coming up with is not just a matter of dollars. Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner did tentatively agree to more than $3 trillion in savings over 10 years — at least hundreds of billions more than is called for in the fallback plans now bandied about in Congress to clear the way for a vote to increase the $14.3 trillion borrowing ceiling by next Tuesday.
    But the more significant difference is in where the savings would come from. The Congressional proposals mainly seek caps on annual spending for domestic and military programs and no additional revenues…. – NYT, 7-25-11
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Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown, July 25, 2011: Speaker John Boehner’s Address to the Nation on the Republican’s (GOP) Plan for America’s Debt Crisis — Response Blames President Obama’s Inability to Agree on a Deal

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

Speaker Boehner’s Address to the Nation on GOP Plan to Address America’s Debt Crisis

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) this evening addressed the nation regarding the Republican plan for addressing America’s debt crisis and creating a better environment for private-sector job growth. Following are Speaker Boehner’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Remarks by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) United States Capitol, Washington, DC As Prepared for Delivery July 25, 2011
Good evening. I’m John Boehner. I serve as Speaker of the whole House — of the members of both parties that you elect. These are difficult times in the life of our nation. Millions are looking for work, have been for some time, and the spending binge going on in Washington is a big part of the reason why. Before I served in Congress, I ran a small business in Ohio. I was amazed at how different Washington DC operated than every business in America. Where most American business make the hard choices to pay their bills and live within their means, in Washington more spending and more debt is business as usual.I’ve got news for Washington – those days are over.

President Obama came to Congress in January and requested business as usual — yet another routine increase in the national debt limit — we in the House said ‘not so fast.’ Here was the president, asking for the largest debt increase in American history, on the heels of the largest spending binge in American history.

Here’s what we got for that spending binge: a massive health care bill that most Americans never asked for. A ‘stimulus’ bill that was more effective in producing material for late-night comedians than it was in producing jobs. And a national debt that has gotten so out of hand it has sparked a crisis without precedent in my lifetime or yours.

The United States cannot default on its debt obligations. The jobs and savings of too many Americans are at stake.

What we told the president in January was this: the American people will not accept an increase in the debt limit without significant spending cuts and reforms.

And over the last six months, we’ve done our best to convince the president to partner with us to do something dramatic to change the fiscal trajectory of our country. . .something that will boost confidence in our economy, renew a measure of faith in our government, and help small businesses get back on track.

Last week, the House passed such a plan, and with bipartisan support. It’s called the ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance’ Act. It CUTS and CAPS government spending and paves the way for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which we believe is the best way to stop Washington from spending money it doesn’t have. Before we even passed the bill in the House, the President said he would veto it.

I want you to know I made a sincere effort to work with the president to identify a path forward that would implement the principles of Cut, Cap, & Balance in a manner that could secure bipartisan support and be signed into law. I gave it my all.

Unfortunately, the president would not take yes for an answer. Even when we thought we might be close on an agreement, the president’s demands changed.

The president has often said we need a ‘balanced’ approach — which in Washington means: we spend more. . .you pay more. Having run a small business, I know those tax increases will destroy jobs.

The president is adamant that we cannot make fundamental changes to our entitlement programs. As the father of two daughters, I know these programs won’t be there for them and their kids unless significant action is taken now.

The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today. That is just not going to happen.

You see, there is no stalemate in Congress. The House has passed a bill to raise the debt limit with bipartisan support. And this week, while the Senate is struggling to pass a bill filled with phony accounting and Washington gimmicks, we will pass another bill – one that was developed with the support of the bipartisan leadership of the U.S. Senate.

Obviously, I expect that bill can and will pass the Senate, and be sent to the President for his signature. If the President signs it, the ‘crisis’ atmosphere he has created will simply disappear. The debt limit will be raised. Spending will be cut by more than one trillion dollars, and a serious, bipartisan committee of the Congress will begin the hard but necessary work of dealing with the tough challenges our nation faces.

The individuals doing this work will not be outsiders, but elected representatives of the people, doing the job they were elected to do as outlined in the Constitution. Those decisions should be made based on how they will affect people who are struggling to get a job, not how they affect some politician’s chances of getting reelected.

This debate isn’t about President Obama and House Republicans … it isn’t about Congress and the White House … it’s about what’s standing between the American people and the future we seek for ourselves and our families.

You know, I’ve always believed, the bigger government, the smaller the people. And right now, we have a government so big and so expensive it’s sapping the drive of our people and keeping our economy from running at full capacity.

The solution to this crisis is not complicated: if you’re spending more money than you’re taking in, you need to spend less of it,

There is no symptom of big government more menacing than our debt. Break its grip, and we begin to liberate our economy and our future.

We are up to the task, and I hope President Obama will join us in this work.

God bless you and your families, and God bless America.

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown, July 25, 2011: President Obama Addresses the Nation on Debt Ceiling Crisis, Blames House Republicans, Suggests Raising Taxes

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

President Barack Obama delivers remarks to the Nation
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 7/25/11

President Obama Addresses the Nation: Both Parties Have a Responsibility to Solve the Debt Ceiling Problem

Source: WH, 7-25-11

With eight days until our nation faces an unprecedented financial crisis, the President addressed the nation on the consequences the stalemate in Congress could have on the stability of our economy.   A full video of the address will be posted here soon.

Here are some key passages from his remarks

The debate right now isn’t about whether we need to make tough choices.  Democrats and Republicans agree on the amount of deficit reduction we need. The debate is about how it should be done.  Most Americans, regardless of political party, don’t understand how we can ask a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare before we ask a corporate jet owner or the oil companies to give up tax breaks that other companies don’t get.  How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries?  How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for?

He also warned that we could be facing a  “deep economic crisis”

Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach.

If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills – bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.

For the first time in history, our country’s Triple A credit rating would be downgraded, leaving investors around the world to wonder whether the United States is still a good bet.  Interest rates would skyrocket on credit cards, on mortgages and on car loans, which amounts to a huge tax hike on the American people.  We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis – this one caused almost entirely by Washington.

The President stressed the need for a bipartisan solution and reminded Washington that compromise is not “a dirty word.” He spoke to the frustrations ordinary Americans feel with the political process.

They’re fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word.  They work all day long, many of them scraping by, just to put food on the table.  And when these Americans come home at night, bone-tired, and turn on the news, all they see is the same partisan three-ring circus here in Washington.  They see leaders who can’t seem to come together and do what it takes to make life just a little bit better for ordinary Americans.  They are offended by that. And they should be.

He also reminded Americans that history celebrates leaders who “put aside pride and party to form a more perfect union.”

We remember the Americans who put country above self, and set personal grievances aside for the greater good.  We remember the Americans who held this country together during its most difficult hours; who put aside pride and party to form a more perfect union.

That’s who we remember.  That’s who we need to be right now.  The entire world is watching.  So let’s seize this moment to show why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth – not just because we can still keep our word and meet our obligations, but because we can still come together as one nation.

Address by the President to the Nation

East Room

9:01 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Tonight, I want to talk about the debate we’ve been having in Washington over the national debt — a debate that directly affects the lives of all Americans.

For the last decade, we’ve spent more money than we take in.  In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus.  But instead of using it to pay off our debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our nation’s credit card.

As a result, the deficit was on track to top $1 trillion the year I took office.  To make matters worse, the recession meant that there was less money coming in, and it required us to spend even more -– on tax cuts for middle-class families to spur the economy; on unemployment insurance; on aid to states so we could prevent more teachers and firefighters and police officers from being laid off.  These emergency steps also added to the deficit.

Now, every family knows that a little credit card debt is manageable.  But if we stay on the current path, our growing debt could cost us jobs and do serious damage to the economy.  More of our tax dollars will go toward paying off the interest on our loans.  Businesses will be less likely to open up shop and hire workers in a country that can’t balance its books.  Interest rates could climb for everyone who borrows money -– the homeowner with a mortgage, the student with a college loan, the corner store that wants to expand.  And we won’t have enough money to make job-creating investments in things like education and infrastructure, or pay for vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Because neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this problem, both parties have a responsibility to solve it.  And over the last several months, that’s what we’ve been trying to do.  I won’t bore you with the details of every plan or proposal, but basically, the debate has centered around two different approaches.

The first approach says, let’s live within our means by making serious, historic cuts in government spending.  Let’s cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower was President.  Let’s cut defense spending at the Pentagon by hundreds of billions of dollars.  Let’s cut out waste and fraud in health care programs like Medicare — and at the same time, let’s make modest adjustments so that Medicare is still there for future generations.  Finally, let’s ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their breaks in the tax code and special deductions.

This balanced approach asks everyone to give a little without requiring anyone to sacrifice too much.  It would reduce the deficit by around $4 trillion and put us on a path to pay down our debt.  And the cuts wouldn’t happen so abruptly that they’d be a drag on our economy, or prevent us from helping small businesses and middle-class families get back on their feet right now.

This approach is also bipartisan.  While many in my own party aren’t happy with the painful cuts it makes, enough will be willing to accept them if the burden is fairly shared.  While Republicans might like to see deeper cuts and no revenue at all, there are many in the Senate who have said, “Yes, I’m willing to put politics aside and consider this approach because I care about solving the problem.”  And to his credit, this is the kind of approach the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was working on with me over the last several weeks.

The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a different approach — a cuts-only approach -– an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all.  And because nothing is asked of those at the top of the income scale, such an approach would close the deficit only with more severe cuts to programs we all care about –- cuts that place a greater burden on working families.

So the debate right now isn’t about whether we need to make tough choices.  Democrats and Republicans agree on the amount of deficit reduction we need.  The debate is about how it should be done.  Most Americans, regardless of political party, don’t understand how we can ask a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare before we ask a corporate jet owner or the oil companies to give up tax breaks that other companies don’t get.  How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries?  How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for?

That’s not right.  It’s not fair.  We all want a government that lives within its means, but there are still things we need to pay for as a country -– things like new roads and bridges; weather satellites and food inspection; services to veterans and medical research.

And keep in mind that under a balanced approach, the 98 percent of Americans who make under $250,000 would see no tax increases at all.  None.  In fact, I want to extend the payroll tax cut for working families.  What we’re talking about under a balanced approach is asking Americans whose incomes have gone up the most over the last decade -– millionaires and billionaires -– to share in the sacrifice everyone else has to make.  And I think these patriotic Americans are willing to pitch in.  In fact, over the last few decades, they’ve pitched in every time we passed a bipartisan deal to reduce the deficit.  The first time a deal was passed, a predecessor of mine made the case for a balanced approach by saying this:

“Would you rather reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share, or would you rather accept larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment?  And I think I know your answer.”

Those words were spoken by Ronald Reagan.  But today, many Republicans in the House refuse to consider this kind of balanced approach -– an approach that was pursued not only by President Reagan, but by the first President Bush, by President Clinton, by myself, and by many Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate.  So we’re left with a stalemate.

Now, what makes today’s stalemate so dangerous is that it has been tied to something known as the debt ceiling -– a term that most people outside of Washington have probably never heard of before.

Understand –- raising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money.  It simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up.  In the past, raising the debt ceiling was routine.  Since the 1950s, Congress has always passed it, and every President has signed it.  President Reagan did it 18 times.  George W. Bush did it seven times.  And we have to do it by next Tuesday, August 2nd, or else we won’t be able to pay all of our bills.

Unfortunately, for the past several weeks, Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach.

If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills -– bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.

For the first time in history, our country’s AAA credit rating would be downgraded, leaving investors around the world to wonder whether the United States is still a good bet.  Interest rates would skyrocket on credit cards, on mortgages and on car loans, which amounts to a huge tax hike on the American people.  We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis -– this one caused almost entirely by Washington.

So defaulting on our obligations is a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate.  And Republican leaders say that they agree we must avoid default.  But the new approach that Speaker Boehner unveiled today, which would temporarily extend the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts, would force us to once again face the threat of default just six months from now.  In other words, it doesn’t solve the problem.

First of all, a six-month extension of the debt ceiling might not be enough to avoid a credit downgrade and the higher interest rates that all Americans would have to pay as a result.  We know what we have to do to reduce our deficits; there’s no point in putting the economy at risk by kicking the can further down the road.

But there’s an even greater danger to this approach.  Based on what we’ve seen these past few weeks, we know what to expect six months from now.  The House of Representatives will once again refuse to prevent default unless the rest of us accept their cuts-only approach.  Again, they will refuse to ask the wealthiest Americans to give up their tax cuts or deductions.  Again, they will demand harsh cuts to programs like Medicare.  And once again, the economy will be held captive unless they get their way.

This is no way to run the greatest country on Earth.  It’s a dangerous game that we’ve never played before, and we can’t afford to play it now.  Not when the jobs and livelihoods of so many families are at stake.  We can’t allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington’s political warfare.

Congress now has one week left to act, and there are still paths forward.  The Senate has introduced a plan to avoid default, which makes a down payment on deficit reduction and ensures that we don’t have to go through this again in six months.

I think that’s a much better approach, although serious deficit reduction would still require us to tackle the tough challenges of entitlement and tax reform.  Either way, I’ve told leaders of both parties that they must come up with a fair compromise in the next few days that can pass both houses of Congress -– and a compromise that I can sign.  I’m confident we can reach this compromise.  Despite our disagreements, Republican leaders and I have found common ground before.  And I believe that enough members of both parties will ultimately put politics aside and help us make progress.

Now, I realize that a lot of the new members of Congress and I don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues.  But we were each elected by some of the same Americans for some of the same reasons.  Yes, many want government to start living within its means.  And many are fed up with a system in which the deck seems stacked against middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthiest few.  But do you know what people are fed up with most of all?

They’re fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word.  They work all day long, many of them scraping by, just to put food on the table.  And when these Americans come home at night, bone-tired, and turn on the news, all they see is the same partisan three-ring circus here in Washington.  They see leaders who can’t seem to come together and do what it takes to make life just a little bit better for ordinary Americans.  They’re offended by that.  And they should be.

The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government.  So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard.  If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know.  If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.

America, after all, has always been a grand experiment in compromise.  As a democracy made up of every race and religion, where every belief and point of view is welcomed, we have put to the test time and again the proposition at the heart of our founding:  that out of many, we are one.  We’ve engaged in fierce and passionate debates about the issues of the day, but from slavery to war, from civil liberties to questions of economic justice, we have tried to live by the words that Jefferson once wrote:  “Every man cannot have his way in all things — without this mutual disposition, we are disjointed individuals, but not a society.”

History is scattered with the stories of those who held fast to rigid ideologies and refused to listen to those who disagreed.  But those are not the Americans we remember.  We remember the Americans who put country above self, and set personal grievances aside for the greater good.  We remember the Americans who held this country together during its most difficult hours; who put aside pride and party to form a more perfect union.

That’s who we remember.  That’s who we need to be right now.  The entire world is watching.  So let’s seize this moment to show why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth –- not just because we can still keep our word and meet our obligations, but because we can still come together as one nation.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

END
9:16 P.M. EDT

Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown, July 25, 2011: Reid & Boehner Unveil Debt Plans — Obama Supports Reid Plan — Addresses Nation at 9PM on Debt Crisis

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

https://i0.wp.com/www.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_606w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2011/06/21/Production/Blogs/2chambers/Images/Congress_Democrats_06b70-125.jpg

JULY 25, 2011: REID & BOEHNER UNVEIL DEBT PLANS — WHITE HOUSE SUPPORT REID PLAN — PRESIDENT OBAMA TO ADDRESS NATION AT 9PM

Obama to address nation on debt at 9 p.m. ET: President Obama will address the nation on the “stalemate over avoiding default and the best approach to cutting deficits” Monday at 9 p.m. ET, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced via Twitter.

White House: Obama backs a proposal by Sen. Harry Reid to cut spending by $2.7 trillion, raise debt limit through 2012.

House Leaders Call for Short-Term Rise in Debt Ceiling: House Republicans intend to push for a vote this week on a two-step plan that would allow the federal debt limit to immediately rise by about $1 trillion and tie a second increase next year to the ability of a new joint Congressional committee to produce more deficit reduction.
Top Republicans were to try to sell the proposal to their rank-and file in a crucial meeting Monday afternoon as House Republicans and Senate Democrats readied competing plans in an effort avoid a federal default next week.
The proposal would cut current spending and put legal limits on future spending, saving what Republicans estimate to be about $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The plan calls for no new revenue.

“We’re about to go over a cliff here.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV

“Speaker Boehner’s plan, no matter how he tries to dress it up, is simply a short-term plan, and is, therefore, a non-starter in the Senate and with the president.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“Republicans are more interested in trying to embarrass the president than trying to do what’s right for the country.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“Does anyone think it would be a good idea to do this all over again in six months? … This is an offer that Republicans can’t refuse.” Sen. Charles Schumer

“Senator Reid’s plan is a reasonable approach that should receive the support of both parties, and we hope the House Republicans will agree to this plan so that America can avoid defaulting on our obligations for the first time in our history. The ball is in their court.” — Press Secretary Jay Carney

“I know the president’s worried about his next election. But my God, shouldn’t we be worried about the country?” John Boehner on “Fox News Sunday”

Eric Cantor: The House plan will responsibly prevent default and meets the President’s request for a debt limit increase over time. The President’s reason for opposing this plan is to avoid an election year fight on spending and taxes.

Mitch McConnell: “Congressional leaders of both parties have shown they are willing to work in good faith. I would suggest that the President reconsider their offer rather than veto the country into default.”

Press Secretary Jay Carney’s Statement that the Obama White House Supports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Debt Plan

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Statement that Obama Should Reconsider the Bipartisan Debt Proposal to Prevent Default

  • Two proposals, but no clear path toward debt ceiling deal: The Republican leader in the House and Democratic leader of the Senate issued dueling proposals Monday to allow the federal debt ceiling to be raised – both with steep spending cuts, but neither with a clear route to ending the standoff over the government’s ability to pay its bills.
    Both plans will face key tests on Wednesday, when Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) each plan to bring their proposals to the floors of their respective chambers.
    In the House, the issue will be whether conservative Republicans will remain united behind Boehner even though his plan received mixed reviews from conservatives, with some influential Tea Party-affiliated lawmakers and groups denouncing it as too weak. In the Senate, the question will be whether Reid can attract the seven Republican votes he would need to cut off a threatened filibuster and claim bipartisan backing for his plan.
    President Obama was scheduled to address the nation at 6:30 Pacific about the importance of quickly resolving the impasse as the threat to the economy was imminent. Boehner will deliver the Republican response shortly after…. – LAT, 7-25-11
  • White House backs Reid debt plan: The White House on Monday endorsed a deficit reduction plan put forward by Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, saying it would remove the cloud of a possible default from the U.S. economy through 2012.
    “Senator Reid’s plan is a reasonable approach that should receive the support of both parties, and we hope the House Republicans will agree to this plan,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. “The ball is in their court.”…. – Reuters, 7-25-11
  • Senate and House Still Far Apart on Debt in 2 New Plans: The Democratic Senate and Republican House put themselves on a legislative collision course Monday as they moved forward with significantly different plans on how to raise the debt limit and avert a possible federal default next week.
    House Republican leaders pushed for a vote Wednesday on a two-step plan that would allow the federal debt limit to immediately be raised by about $1 trillion and tie a second increase next year to the ability of a new joint Congressional committee to produce more deficit reduction.
    But top Senate Democrats called the proposal a “non-starter” and said they would advance their own plan to reduce the deficit by $2.7 trillion and raise the debt ceiling until after next year’s elections, saying it met the conditions that Republicans had laid down during the ongoing debt fight….
    Hoping to beat the Senate to the punch, the House Republican leadership was trying to sell its plan to the party membership in the hopes of forcing it through the House by Wednesday…. – NYT, 7-25-11
  • Democrats offer debt plan they say GOP “can’t refuse”: Senate Democrats unveiled a plan to raise the debt ceiling Monday that abandoned President Obama’s call for revenue increases as part of a deal, putting forth a plan they said would cut spending by $2.7 trillion.
    The plan would include a $1.2 trillion reduction in both defense and non-defense discretionary spending. It also counts $1 trillion in spending cuts from winding down the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, something critics say should not count in the total savings.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, joined by Sen. Charles Schumer, unveiled the plan Monday afternoon in a combative news conference in which they ruled out a rival plan from Senate Republicans that would create a two-step process for a debt limit increase…. – CBS News, 7-25-11
  • House, Senate leaders unveil dueling debt-limit plans: House and Senate leaders formally unveiled dueling backup plans Monday afternoon to raise the federal debt limit after a weekend of intense negotiations failed Sunday to break a partisan impasse that threatens to throw the government into default next week.
    The White House promptly threw its support behind a Democratic plan advanced by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and heaped criticism on House Republicans, accusing them of intransigence in trying to balance the budget “on the backs of seniors and the middle class.”
    House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) proposed a two-step plan to cut spending by nearly $3 trillion, laying out the details to his rank-and-file Republicans in a closed-door meeting in the Capitol basement. Shortly afterward,Reid outlined a plan to slash $2.7 trillion.
    Rather than heading toward a compromise to meet the Aug. 2 deadline, however, the two leaders publicly dug in for a fight. Neither of their rival strategies appeared sure to win approval in their respective chambers, as opposition remained high in some quarters. The result was to leave Congress locked in bitter and messy legislative warfare, even as financial markets reopened Monday for the first time since Boehner abruptly abandoned debt-limit talks with the White House on Friday…. – WaPo, 7-25-11
  • John Boehner’s debt ceiling plan pushes even deeper spending cuts: Speaker John Boehner’s two-step plan to raise the debt ceiling by upwards of $2.5 trillion would require the White House to accept much deeper spending cuts than he was negotiating only last week with President Barack Obama.
    Unveiled Monday, the proposal appears to take back Boehner’s prior offers to allow an $800 billion increase in tax revenues but his new spending demands are significant in themselves and could amount to $600 billion more over 10 years when compared with the White House talks.
    Two installments on the debt increase are anticipated, according to a summary document released prior to a House Republican conference on the proposal…. – Politico, 7-25-11
  • Last-ditch GOP debt plan emerges: With skittish markets preparing for the possibility of economic catastrophe, lawmakers worked behind closed doors Monday to craft dueling plans that they hope could somehow, someway get a polarized Washington to pass an increase in the debt limit.
    House Speaker John Boehner, who walked out of negotiations with the White House Friday, planned to present his caucus Monday afternoon with a nearly $3 trillion package that broke the process into two parts.
    Senior GOP aides familiar with the negotiations said the deal would mandate immediate cuts and caps in discretionary spending, potentially saving $1.2 trillion over a decade. (The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has yet to score the proposal.) In exchange, the debt ceiling would be raised by less than $1 trillion, enough to last the nation through the end of the year. The as-yet-unspecified spending caps would trigger automatic across-the-board spending cuts if not met…. – CBS News, 7-25-11
  • GOP whip holds firm to balanced budget amendment: The man charged with rounding up Republican votes in the House said he expects that whatever debt-ceiling plan initially makes its way through that chamber will include some kind of balanced budget amendment — or a plan to implement one soon.
    “I think it will have some form,” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown.”
    “Maybe it has a balanced budget amendment right now, maybe it has some vote in the near future,” McCarthy added.
    The House majority whip said that Friday’s 51-46 party-line Senate vote to not move forward on the House-approved “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill doesn’t mean it’s over for that approach right now. “It did not get rejected; it got tabled,” he said…. – MSNBC, 7-25-11
  • Treasurys dip as debt ceiling debate continues: Treasury bond prices are edging lower as Washington continues to debate plans to raise the nation’s debt ceiling before an Aug. 2 deadline.
    A failure to raise the debt ceiling could lead the U.S. government to default on its bond payments. Treasury bonds are considered the safest and most liquid investments in the world…. – AP, 7-25-11
  • Obama still pushing deficit deal with tax revenue: President Barack Obama is reiterating his call for a deficit-cutting plan that cuts spending and that also increases tax revenue by making the wealthy and corporations pay more to help stabilize the long-term debt. The president made his comments to the National Council of La Raza on Monday as congressional leaders struggled against time to come up with a plan to meet an Aug. 2 deadline to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Obama said the wealthy and big corporations have to “pay their fair share, too.” And he alluded to the difficulty of cutting a deal, saying “compromise is becoming a dirty word.” – AP, 7-25-11
  • Analysis: The politics behind Boehner’s two-step debt hike: So many Americans are so sick of political acrimony over raising the U.S. debt limit that it might seem unfathomable to have to do it all over again early next year. But that is exactly what the top U.S. Republican, John Boehner, is proposing for some practical political reasons.
    If Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, prevails, President Barack Obama will sign legislation by August 2 to raise U.S. borrowing authority by about $1 trillion, or just enough to carry the government through March.
    That would set up a second tortured debt limit debate to avert default just as the U.S. presidential campaign heats up…. – Reuters, 7-25-11
  • Dueling debt-ceiling plans: Can either pass Congress?: House Republicans and Senate Democrats introduced their plans to resolve the debt-ceiling impasse before Aug. 2. But bipartisan hopes appear thin.

    With eight days before the US loses its authority to borrow funds, House and Senate leaders launched dueling plans to resolve the crisis.
    Both deliberately avoid calls to raise taxes – a nonstarter for Republicans that derailed previous bids at a solution. But neither plan can yet claim a clear or even likely path to a bipartisan majority.
    “What they have in common is that neither one is likely to pass – even its own house,” says Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. “Here’s a case where you really do need a bipartisan agreement, and there’s no bipartisanship left…. – CS Monitor, 7-25-11

  • Ezra Klein: Obvious compromise between Reid and Boehner debt plans: When it comes to cutting the national deficit, the plans proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner are much more similar than they are different. It’s on the issue of raising the debt ceiling that the consensus cracks.
    Both plans call for $1.2 trillion in reductions to discretionary spending. Both envision the formation of a bipartisan “supercommittee,” which would try to find consensus on a larger deficit-reduction package that, if it won a majority on the panel, would be immune to amendments and filibusters and be fast-tracked for an up-or-down vote in the House and the Senate…. – WaPo, 7-25-11
  • Emily Miller: Congress agrees: Keep spending Democratic and Republican leaders preserve status quo on Capitol Hill: Congressional Democrats and Republicans waged a war of words on Monday over their debt-ceiling plans, but their agendas amount to pretty much the same thing. Washington just can’t kick its spending habit.
    Both the blueprints cooked up by House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, claim 10-year domestic spending reductions equivalent to a bit over $1 trillion with the creation of new committees to find more spending reforms. Neither leader will provide hard numbers for budget reductions in 2012, the only enforceable year. That means borrowing is immediate and spending cuts delayed. Neither plan raises taxes. The primary distinction between them is that Mr. Boehner seeks a smaller debt-ceiling increase, forcing President Obama to come back hat-in-hand in 2012 for more borrowing authority…. – Washington Times, 7-25-11
  • Congress Can Learn From 1995-96 Debt-Ceiling Debate: Failure to raise the Federal debt ceiling limit could “roil the financial markets and cause severe economic problems,” “cause profound damage to our country,” and have “dire consequences.” So wrote the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and New York Times. But the year was 1995, not 2011.
    Other ills predicted during that contentious debate were rising unemployment, reduced GDP growth, and soaring interest rates. That was at a time when President Clinton and Democrats were fighting off attempts by Republicans to link cutting the deficit to the increase in the debt ceiling.
    Then as now, there was a widespread misperception that failure to increase the debt ceiling would produce a default: “congressional Republicans are threatening to provoke the nation’s first-ever default” (Washington Times). The Los Angeles Times reported: “the first real risk of a government default could occur November 15 [1995].” Even the then Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, warned that congressional Republicans should drop their efforts, declaring: “To default for the first time in the history of this nation is not something anyone should take in any tranquil manner.” … – Fox News, 7-25-11

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown, July 25, 2011: Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Statement that Obama Should Reconsider the Bipartisan Debt Proposal to Prevent Default

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: President Should Reconsider Bipartisan Proposal to Prevent Default

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement on the Senate floor Monday regarding a bipartisan proposal to avoid default and reduce Washington spending:

“I’d like to say a few words now about the ongoing debt ceiling discussions.

“I think the American people can be excused for being a little confused at this point as to what’s going on here in Washington, and a little bit frustrated. I am too, frankly.

“There is no reason in the world that the American people should have had to wake up this morning unsure of whether Washington was going to resolve this problem.

“Candidly, as of Saturday afternoon, I had no doubt that a solution was at hand.

“After the President’s performance on Friday, leaders from both parties in both houses got together and decided we needed to come up with a way forward on our own.

“And that’s just what we did.

“We came together in good faith and decided to do the right thing. Everyone agreed that default wasn’t an option, so we put together a responsible proposal that prevented default while reducing Washington spending.

“Republicans and yes, some Democrats, have been clear for months that tax hikes couldn’t be part of the package.  We’ve also been clear that serious cuts would have to part of any package.

“So taking all this into consideration, the responsible path forward was clear to everyone: a plan that avoided default and required additional savings before any further increase in the debt limit.

“Leaders from both parties in both houses agreed that this was the right path forward legislatively. The only thing to do at that point was to present this bipartisan solution to the President.

“And what was the President’s response: to demand the largest single debt limit increase in history, half a trillion more than the previous biggest increase Democrats approved two years ago when they controlled both Congress and the White House.

“And this was the President’s justification — as he put it on Friday, `The only bottom line I have is that we have to extend this debt ceiling through the next election, into 2013.’

“There is absolutely no economic justification for insisting on a debt-limit increase that brings us through the next election.

“It’s not the beginning of a fiscal year.

“It’s not the beginning of a calendar year.

“Based on his own words, it’s hard to conclude that this request has to do with anything, in fact, other than the President’s re-election.

“Look: Congress has raised the federal debt limit 63 times since 1972. The average length of an increase over that period is just over seven months. But now the President says it has to be nearly two years. Why? So he can continue to spend as he pleases.

“This weekend, we offered the President a bipartisan proposal to avoid default so we could have the time we need to put together a serious plan for getting our house in order, and he rejected it out of hand. Not for economic reasons. But, as he put it, `to extend this debt ceiling through the next election.’

“Time is running out. And with all due respect to the President, we have more important things to worry about than getting through the next election.

“A bipartisan plan to resolve this crisis was within reach this weekend.  The President has to know that this approach is the responsible path forward. It should be back on the table.

“Congressional leaders of both parties have shown they are willing to work in good faith. I would suggest that the President reconsider their offer rather than veto the country into default.”

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown, July 25, 2011: Press Secretary Jay Carney’s Statement that the Obama White House Supports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Debt Plan

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

Statement by the Press Secretary

The President has been advocating a balanced plan that would reduce our deficit by $4 trillion by making large cuts in domestic and Pentagon spending, reforming entitlement programs, and closing tax loopholes for corporations, millionaires and billionaires.  This sort of approach won support from Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, but the House Republicans walked away after insisting that the budget be balanced on the backs of seniors and the middle class.

Now, faced with the “my way or the highway,” short-term approach of the House Republicans, Senator Reid has put forward a responsible compromise that cuts spending in a way that protects critical investments and does not harm the economic recovery.  All the cuts put forward in this approach were previously agreed to by both parties through the process led by the Vice President.  Senator Reid’s plan also reduces the deficit more than enough to meet the contrived dollar-for-dollar criteria called for by House Republicans, and, most importantly, it removes the cloud of a possible default from our economy through 2012. The plan would make a meaningful down payment in addressing our fiscal challenge, and we could continue to work together to build on it with a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes additional spending reforms and closing tax loopholes for corporations, millionaires and billionaires.

Senator Reid’s plan is a reasonable approach that should receive the support of both parties, and we hope the House Republicans will agree to this plan so that America can avoid defaulting on our obligations for the first time in our history. The ball is in their court.

Phillip Caudill: Professor’s Passion for Texas History Evident in Award-Winning Book

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

Source: The Paper Magazine, 7-25-11 

Professor¹s Passion for Texas History Evident in Award-Winning Book

When it comes to the Civil War in Texas, Philip Caudill, an adjunct professor of history at Lone Star College-Montgomery, wrote the book—literally. And now his historical biography has been awarded the 2011 Summerfield G. Roberts Award, an honor presented by the Sons of the Republic of Texas, as the best book on the Civil War in Texas published in 2009.

It’s just one more accolade for Caudill, whose passion for Texas history is as deep as Texas is wide.

His book, “Moss Bluff Rebel: A Texas Pioneer in the Civil War” (Texas A&M University Press, 2009), has also been selected for the University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries 2010 annual collection; recommended by the American Association of School Librarians and the Public Library Association; included in the Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life by Texas A&M University Press; and praised by several noted historians and professors.

“It’s a great honor to have been able to help a Texas pioneer leave his legacy,” said Caudill, who holds two masters’ degrees—one in journalism, the other in history. “It’s also a blessing for me to have added to the body of knowledge in Texas history.”

“Moss Bluff Rebel” recounts the life of William Berry Duncan, a 19th century Texas pioneer, cattle drover, and twice-elected Liberty County sheriff, who after much prompting and peer pressure reluctantly joined the Confederate Army to fight in the Civil War. In the book, Caudill combines his 35-year international career in journalism and business, his fervor for history, and more than 50 primary and 250 secondary sources to share Duncan’s story.

“I literally ‘cold-called’ libraries across Texas asking if they held any primary resources related to the Civil War,” explained Caudill. “I got a lot of no’s, until one day, a librarian at the Sam Houston Regional Library in Liberty told me there were two boxes of letters and business diaries kept by a Confederate cavalry officer in their collection. I asked her what time the library closed and drove to Liberty right away.”

In the first diary he opened, Caudill read: “I was not willing, but finally agreed….” Those words, written by Duncan in 1862 on his decision to join the Confederacy, challenged Caudill to begin an 18-month journey of meticulous research and writing to create the biography of a previously unknown Anglo-Texas pioneer cattleman.

“I ‘walked the walk’ with Duncan,” said Caudill. “I even followed his cattle trail to New Orleans and crossed rivers where he drove his herds. No historian had ever done anything with his records, and now it turns out I’ve contributed something to society that Texans can enjoy forever.”

Caudill uses “Moss Bluff Rebel” as one of two supplemental reading assignments in his Texas History (HIST 2301) course, offered this fall semester at LSC-Montgomery on Tuesday and Thursday from 10-11:20 a.m.

“It’s a wonderful book,” said Susan Mayer, an LSC-Montgomery student who holds a 4.0 GPA. “Caudill adds texture to the story by talking about what was going on in America around that time. You get the impression that Caudill knew Duncan, and most certainly, that he grew to respect him greatly as he wrote the book.”

Mayer, who plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in either history or English, said Caudill was interesting and engaging and his passion for Texas came through in each class.

“Now I appreciate Texas so much more,” she said. “I’ll be driving around the state with my husband and be able to tell him, ‘Here is what I know about that.’”

When not in the classroom, Caudill enjoys kayaking the bayous and swamps along Texas rivers, cycling, and spending time with his two grandsons that “love their crazy granddad.”

“I’ve been very fortunate in my life—I’ve had wonderful friends, worked hard, taken some risks and survived a few,” he said. “Now, I’m a teacher, and I love it. Writing ‘Moss Bluff Rebel’ and teaching are special ways for me to give back. I’m a lucky guy.”

For more information about Caudill’s book, visit www.mossbluffrebel.org <http://www.mossbluffrebel.org&gt; .

Timothy Snyder: Neglecting the Lithuanian Holocaust

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

Source: NY Review of Books, 7-25-11

 

The desecrated memorial stone to the Jews murdered in 1941 at the Ponary Forest, Vilnius, Lithuania, July 2011. The graffiti reads “Hitler was right.”

In early July the words “Hitler was right” were painted on the memorial stone to the 72,000 Jews who were murdered at the Ponary Forest near Vilnius in Lithuania. On another monument close by, a vulgar reference was made to the compensation the Lithuanian government has made to the descendants of murdered Jews. No one seems to have noticed.

Vilnius, now the capital of Lithuania, was known for centuries as the “the Jerusalem of Lithuania” because of its centrality to medieval and early modern Jewish thought and politics. In the medieval Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the early modern Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Jews settled in Vilnius in considerable numbers from both west and east. Over centuries, Jews prospered under a regime that permitted them local autonomy. During the waning of the Commonwealth in the eighteenth century, Vilnius was home to scholars such as Elijah ben Solomon, the “Gaon of Vilne,” the great opponent of the Hasidic movement.

In the nineteenth century Vilnius was home to the Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment, in the Russian Empire. After World War I the city was incorporated by Poland, though it was claimed by Lithuania as its capital. There were far more Poles than Lithuanians in the city, but there were about as many Jews as Poles, roughly eighty thousand each in the 1920s. In interwar Vilnius, tensions between Poles and Jews and between Poles and Lithuanians were high, but relations between Lithuanians and Jews were relatively peaceful.

In 1939, as the World War II began, the Jews, Poles, and Lithuanians of Vilnius fell under Soviet power. By the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the alliance between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, eastern Poland (including Vilnius) came within the Soviet sphere of influence. The Soviets in 1939 gave Vilnius to Lithuania, then annexed the whole country in 1940. The NKVD, the Soviet secret police, then set about deporting Lithuania’s political and social elites—about 21,000 people in all, including many Jews. Thousands more were shot in NKVD prisons. This level of wartime terror was unprecedented, and its first perpetrators were Soviets rather then Nazis. We remember, for example, that the Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara saved several thousand Jews by issuing them transit visas from Lithuania in 1940; what is often overlooked is that these Jews were fleeing not the Holocaust, which had not yet begun, but the threat of Soviet deportations.

Meanwhile, the Germans prepared to betray their Soviet allies. Part of their planning for the invasion of the Soviet Union was the recruitment of local nationalists, who would help them spread their anti-Semitic message: Nazi rule was liberation from Soviet crimes, which were in fact the fault of local Jews. During the first few weeks of the German invasion, which first touched Lithuania and other lands that the Soviets had just annexed, local peoples took part in a few hundred extremely violent pogroms, killing some 24,000 Jews…READ MORE

History News: Time Travel is Impossible, Scientists Say

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

Source: Fox News, 7-25-11

Back to the Future

Universal
In the movie “Back to the Future,” Doc Brown builds a time machine into a Delorean.

By proving that even a single photon must obey Einstein’s theory that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, Hong Kong physicists believe they have debunked the idea of time travel once and for all.

A Hong Kong University of Science and Technology research team led by Du Shengwang said they had proved that a single photon, or unit of light, “obeys the traffic law of the universe.”

“Einstein claimed that the speed of light was the traffic law of the universe or in simple language, nothing can travel faster than light,” the university said on its website.

“Professor Du’s study demonstrates that a single photon, the fundamental quanta of light, also obeys the traffic law of the universe just like classical EM (electromagnetic) waves.”

PHOTOS: Top 5 Time Travel Methods From the Movies

The possibility of time travel was raised 10 years ago when scientists discovered superluminal — or faster-than-light — propagation of optical pulses in some specific medium, the team said.

If Shengwang and his team are correct, that possibility is now no more than ancient history…..Read the full story at Discover News

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?

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: JULY 18-24, 2011

  • 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, 7-24-11
  • 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

JULY 25, 2011: NO DEAL YET — BOEHNER & REID EACH DEVISING PLANS — BOEHNER WILL REVEAL UNLIATERAL PLAN IN THE PM FOR WEDNESDAY VOTE

  • Two Deals, No Time: It’s crunch time. Congressional leaders have at most two days to days to reach an agreement to raise the debt limit, and lawmakers have made little progress on preventing the unthinkable.
    On Sunday talks “broke down,” according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), a particularly troubling development at a point where every hour counts. While August 2nd may be the deadline, a deal must be reached no less than 5 days sooner to guarantee passage in time.
    The House of Representatives requires that bill be made available online for three calendar days before a vote. In the Senate, rules require that a cloture motion to end debate “ripen” for over a day, and even then 30 hours of debate are required.
    Democratic and Republican legislators are now set out to go it alone, with competing plans to cut the deficit and raise the debt limit, beginning a high-stakes game of chicken to see which side blinks first.
    Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) is expected to lay out a two-stage deficit reduction and debt limit package to GOP lawmakers at 2 p.m. today, and release make it available publicly this afternoon to allow for a Wednesday vote.
    The Republican plan would raise the debt limit in two tranches, requiring a second vote early next year after a deficit reduction commission exacts steep spending cuts…. – Business Insider, 7-25-11
  • Three GOP leaders with three ideas on the debt: For Republicans, the debt talks have shown three leaders calling three different plays, each trying to push and pull congressional Republicans in his direction. So far, all three have failed to find a plan that all of them can support.
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared on June 19 that there wasn’t enough time to approve any of the plans to raise the government’s debt ceiling by the Aug. 2 deadline. He proposed a short-term hike to buy more time.
    Two days later, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) declared short-term deals a non-starter and said “there are no votes” for any grand bargain including higher tax revenue.
    The next night, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) snuck into a secret meeting with President Obama to launch an effort for a “big deal” including hundreds of billions of dollars in new revenue.
    McConnell, Boehner and Cantor say they are on the same side and never publicly criticize one another. But for the past five weeks, each has appeared to play to different audiences inside the Grand Old Party, with different motivations, according to aides and Republican lawmakers…. – WaPo, 7-25-11

JULY 24, 2011: SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER PROMISES DEBT CEILING PLAN BY ENDS OF DAY — FORGES AHEAD ON TWO STAGE PROCESS PLAN

Boehner tells House GOP he will press ahead with his own plan for reducing the deficit: Speaker John Boehner said in a conference call with House Republicans that he would continue to pursue a two-stage strategy that would give the Treasury only about $1 trillion in additional borrowing authority, forcing another debt-limit battle early next year.
Hours before Asian financial markets were set to open Sunday evening, House and Senate leaders are now threatening to pursue two different approaches to averting a government default.

“There will be a two-stage process; it’s just not physically possible to do all of this in one step. I know the president is worried about his next election. But my God, shouldn’t he be worried about the country? We have got a budget deficit of $1.5 trillion. We’re borrowing 42 cents on every dollar we spend, we have $14.5 trillion national debt. It is time to get serious about stopping the spending here in Washington, D.C.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner on Fox News

Obama cannot raise debt ceiling on his own: Timothy Geithner on the ABC program “This Week”: “It is not a workable option. This is not a workable option to limit the damage to the American people that would come from Congress not acting to raise the — to avoid a default crisis.”

“If you’re the leader of the free world, would you please come to microphone and quit hiding in the basement about your proposals, and come on up and address the American people? Is he chicken?
Where’s the president of the United States on the most pressing financial challenges of our country on entitlement reform? Where is his specific Medicaid reform proposal? Where is his specific Medicare reform proposal? Where is his Social Security reform proposal?
The answer is he doesn’t have one. You can’t find him publicly talking about that. He’s ducking, he’s bobbing, he’s weaving. He’s not leading, and that’s not the kind of president we need, and that’s why he needs to be removed from office.” — GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“Now the President is outraged because the GOP House leadership called his bluff and ended discussions with him because they deemed him an obstruction to any real solution to the debt crisis. He has been deemed a lame duck president. And he is angry now because he is being treated as such.
His foreign policy strategy has been described as “leading from behind.” Well, that’s his domestic policy strategy as well. Why should he be surprised that he’s been left behind in the negotiations when he’s been leading from behind on this debt crisis? Thank you, GOP House leaders. Please don’t get wobbly on us now.” 2012 can’t come soon enough. — Sarah Palin on her Facebook Page

  • 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
  • No deal yet on debt crisis. How will Asian markets and Wall Street react?: Washington’s self-imposed deadline to do something credible on the debt crisis before the Asian financial markets opened on Sunday passed in silence. “There could be extreme turmoil in markets,” says one expert…. – CS Monitor, 7-24-11
  • Boehner, Reid seek own debt proposals: With just eight days left to raise the nation’s $14.2 trillion debt ceiling, President Obama and Republican congressional leaders failed Sunday to reach a bipartisan deal, leaving both sides to devise their own solutions.
    Democratic and Republican congressional leaders were working on separate plans to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion and avoid default. Both sides said they believed a compromise was still possible.
    Obama met for 66 minutes Sunday afternoon with Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the two Democratic congressional leaders, but they emerged with no plan or public comment….
    Without an agreement, Reid and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, are working on two, still hazily defined, proposals… – USA Today, 7-24-11
  • Boehner Moving Ahead With Short-Term Debt Plan: House Speaker John Boehner plans to press ahead with a shorter-term increase in the U.S. debt limit than President Barack Obama has requested, he told lawmakers today, defying a veto threat and signaling continued stalemate in the U.S. Congress as time runs short for a deal.
    Boehner told rank-and-file Republicans during a conference call this afternoon that they needed to pull together as a team to block Obama, who has asked for a $2.4 trillion borrowing boost in the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, from obtaining the money all at once, without any guarantees of spending cuts. His remarks were described on condition of anonymity by a person familiar with the discussion.
    The speaker said that no one is willing to default on the full faith and credit of the U.S., according to the person.
    The comments indicated that Boehner plans to force action on his plan to provide only a temporary borrowing boost of about $1 trillion accompanied by spending cuts of at least as much, tying the remainder of the debt-ceiling increase Obama has requested to further cuts in the future. The White House says Obama would veto such a measure…. – Bloomberg, 7-24-11
  • House GOP and Senate Democrats each prepare new debt plans: With world financial markets watching nervously, top Democrats and Republicans in Congress each scrambled Sunday to put together new proposals to avert a looming government debt default and a potential global financial crisis.
    Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada drafted a new plan that would allow a multi-year increase in the nation’s debt ceiling, offset by an equal or greater amount of spending cuts spread over the coming decade. Significantly, it would not include tax increases.
    House Speaker John Boehner planned to outline a new blueprint on Monday amid warnings from their leader that they must find a solution that can get through the Democratic Senate.
    They all failed to meet their own deadline for a bipartisan agreement before markets opened in Asia on Sunday evening U.S. time, the first markets to open since talks broke down at the White House Friday evening.
    Financial markets appeared to be watching cautiously, but initial trading made it clear that they were unshaken as yet.
    Market jitters are expected to rise each day from now on that the United States government fails to raise its $14.3 trillion legal limit for borrowing before its Aug. 2 deadline. If the ceiling isn’t lifted by then, that could force the government to stop paying paychecks or benefit checks — or to default for the first time in history by failing to pay bond holders debt already owed. That could panic financial markets and kick the weak U.S. economy back into recession…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 7-24-11
  • Obama, Congress fail to break debt deadlock: Lawmakers failed to achieve a budget breakthrough and instead worked on rival plans Sunday in a impasse that heightened prospects for a catastrophic debt fault.
    With time running out, Republican and Democratic lawmakers split into opposite camps and held talks among themselves. There were no signs of a deal emerging to head off a default in nine days that could trigger global economic calamity and downgrade America’s Triple-A credit rating.
    Lawmakers missed a self-imposed deadline of producing a deficit-reduction deal by the time Asian markets opened on Sunday, but planned to outline a proposal Monday. A deficit deal is needed to permit a vote to increase the $14.3 trillion U.S. debt ceiling by August 2.
    President Barack Obama heard details of a Senate Democratic plan that would rely on spending cuts, not new tax revenue, which would violate one of his key demands…. – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • No deal on debt ceiling: The day started with congressional leaders trying to resolve the dangerous impasse over the debt ceiling — and calm any anxiety markets may have when they reopened Monday.
    It ended in a continuing impasse, with each party sketching out their own plans and showing little common ground.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he is preparing a proposal to raise the ceiling through the end of 2012 and cut $2.7 trillion in debt. The measure would not call for any tax revenue increases.
    On the other side, House Speaker John Boehner told GOP lawmakers Sunday in a conference call that he wants a deal that sticks to the principles of the Cut, Cap and Balance bill that the House passed and Senate rejected last week, sources familiar with the call told CNN.
    A key sticking point remains how much to raise the debt ceiling: Democrats want it raised enough so the issue won’t come up again until after the November 2012 election. Boehner has said that is impossible; he wants it raised in two, smaller increments.
    It remains to be seen if the two sides can resolve their conflicts soon…. – CNN Money, 7-24-11
  • ‘World News’ Political Insights: Washington Dysfunction Hits New Low: The only problem with talk of compromise is that it doesn’t have a natural constituency. Until and unless, of course, it has a huge one.
    The stand-off on debt negotiations declared late Friday begins to have real repercussions this week, as a new political player with even crasser motivations than Democrats or Republicans emerges: financial markets.
    The market reaction injects an unpredictable element into a drama that’s actually been quite predictable. Neither side is willing to move off of core principles because both sides are convinced that they’re right and that the public backs them up on it.
    Three consecutive “change” elections — two favoring Democrats, one Republicans — has created divided government. It’s also exacerbated the divide in perceptions around public sentiment, making any middle ground even more elusive.
    It isn’t that politicians don’t know that voters are angry. It’s that both sides are convinced that they’re only angry with the other side…. – ABC News, 7-24-11
  • Boehner Said to Tell Republicans No Deal Yet as Obama to Meet Pelosi, Reid: House Speaker John Boehner is telling rank-and-file Republicans that there’s no agreement on a plan for raising the debt ceiling before a default threatened for Aug. 2, a sign of continuing stalemate in the U.S. Congress as time runs short for a deal.
    A Republican congressional official said Boehner, speaking by conference call to lawmakers, is reporting that discussions are continuing on such a plan.
    Boehner told his members yesterday that he wanted to send markets a positive sign by the time Asian markets began opening this afternoon that Congress would strike a deal to break the impasse over raising the $14.3 trillion borrowing limit.
    With no evidence that such compromise has been reached, President Barack Obama will meet at 6 p.m. at the White House with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi…. – Bloomberg, 7-24-11
  • Boehner presses ahead with unilateral debt plan: Hours before Asian financial markets were set to open Sunday evening, talks over the federal debt limit were at a standstill, and House and Senate leaders were threatening to pursue two different approaches to averting a government default in a messy legislative showdown.
    In a conference call with House Republicans, Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said he would press ahead with a two-stage strategy that would give the Treasury only about $1 trillion in additional borrowing authority, forcing another debt-limit battle early next year with the political parties in the heat of the 2012 presidential campaign.
    “If we stick together, we can win this for the American people,” Boehner told his troops, participants said.
    Boehner promoted that strategy on Fox News Sunday, telling host Chris Wallace that “there’s going to be a two-stage process. It’s not physically possible to do all of this in one step.” In a barbed aside, he added: “I know the president’s worried about his next election. But my God, shouldn’t we be worried about the country?”… – WaPo, 7-24-11
  • Boehner tells Republicans to stay united on debt deal: House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Sunday told his fellow Republicans that “there is a path” to cut U.S. spending and raise the debt ceiling, but it will require his party to accept sacrifices, according to two sources who heard his message.
    On a conference call, Boehner said he does not think it is possible to negotiate a large spending-cut deal directly with the White House, the sources said.
    He told Republicans he is drafting legislation that reflects the principles of a strict spending-cut bill that failed in the Democratic-controlled Senate last week, the sources said. – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • Reid Working on Backup Plan to Lift Ceiling, Cut Spending: Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid is working on a backup plan to increase the debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion and cut spending by the same amount in the event there is no further progress in talks between Democratic and Republican congressional leaders, a Senate Democratic aide said Sunday.
    The plan would have no new tax increases, the aide said. The $2.5 trillion increase in the debt limit would be enough to support federal spending through 2012, avoiding the need to revisit the issue next year.
    The Senate Democratic leader could brief some members of his caucus on the plan later Sunday evening, the aide said. More details of what would constitute the spending reductions would not be available until after that briefing occurred…. – WSJ, 7-24-11
  • John Boehner, GOP prepared to ‘move on their own’ to unveil debt ceiling plan Sunday: House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday he’s prepared to go it alone and unveil a plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling timed to calm the opening of the Asian markets.
    “I would prefer to have a bipartisan approach to solve this problem. If that’s not possible, I and my Republican colleagues in the House are prepared to move on their own…today,” Boehner told Fox News Sunday.
    The move comes amid a weekend of emergency meetings on Capitol Hill as lawmakers try to cut a path out of deadlock to calm investors before the Asian markets open later this afternoon.
    Boehner’s latest proposal is a two-phase plan that would raise the debt ceiling about $1 trillion through 2011 and be offset by an equal amount of savings.
    A second debt boost would be pegged to upwards of $3 trillion more in savings in 2012, with a bipartisan committee charged with coming up with a mix of spending cuts, revamped programs and tax overhauls. Such a plan – which would mean another debt debate in the middle of the 2012 election season – was a non-starter with Democrats and the administration…. – NY Daily News, 7-24-11
  • Developments in U.S. debt talks: U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner tells Fox News Sunday that House Republicans are prepared to push through their own deficit reduction package if congressional leaders fail to produce a bipartisan plan by Sunday afternoon. That would be just hours before financial markets open in Asia. With time running out, the Democratic-led Senate might have no choice but to accept what the Republican-led House passes this week.
    White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that any short-term deal to raise the debt limit would harm the economy because financial markets and business leaders would not have the certainty they need to make investment decisions. Democrats want a debt limit extension through the 2012 presidential election year…. – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • Boehner Writes a House Plan in Case Debt Deal Stalls: Speaker John A. Boehner said Sunday that the House would prepare its own deficit reduction package if Congress and the White House failed to agree on a bipartisan plan by Sunday afternoon, as lawmakers forged ahead in an increasingly grim standoff over whether to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
    Leaders of both parties continued to negotiate over the telephone, racing toward the opening of the Asian markets, which happens later on Sunday. That opening is widely feared to be the first real test of tangible financial market fallout from the impasse over the debt limit. It was far from clear that such a deal would or could be reached by that hour…. – NYT, 7-24-11
  • Boehner asks GOP lawmakers to embrace new plan: House Speaker John Boehner implored fellow House Republicans Sunday to get behind a measure to resolve the debt crisis that can pass both the House and Senate.
    In a conference call, Boehner told the House Republicans that some of them will have to make sacrifices as part of the deal. A person familiar with Boehner’s remarks said the speaker told lawmakers that both the House and Senate are ready to embrace significant spending reductions.
    Boehner, however, said he does not believe President Barack Obama will ever embrace a big package that does not include tax increases…. – AP, 7-24-11
  • US Republicans may present a proposal to Obama tonight: US Republicans may present a proposal to Obama tonight The impasse on Capitol Hill over how to reduce the United States´ budget deficit continues this weekend. Although it would seem that some progress has been made there is still, at least, and in the best of cases, some posturing coming from both sides and, at worst, the risk of miscalculations on either part.
    Thus, the House speaker, John Boehner, has told Republican lawmakers in a conference call that they need to provide a positive signal on a plan to avert default before Asian markets open, Republican congressional aides have said, according to Bloomberg News…. – Share Cast, 7-24-11
  • As deadline looms, Congress scrambles for debt limit deal: Despite ongoing efforts by congressional leaders to hammer out a deal on Sunday for raising the debt ceiling, all indications suggest that the two parties remain far apart on a viable bipartisan agreement just hours before the opening of the Asian financial markets.
    House Speaker John Boehner, who abandoned debt negotiations with the president on Friday, says he is working on the framework for a new deficit reduction proposal, which he hopes to unveil on Sunday. But his proposal is expected to include a two-part plan, with two debt limit increases – and Democrats have repeatedly vowed to fight a short-term package.
    Nevertheless, Boehner pledged on Sunday to move forward with a his proposal regardless of Democratic opposition. “The preferable path would be a bipartisan plan that involves all the leaders, but it is too early to decide whether that’s possible,” he said in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” “If that’s not possible, I and my Republican colleagues in the House are prepared to move on our own.”
    Boehner’s $3-4 trillion proposal is expected to include a short-term increase in the debt limit paired with cuts of equal or greater size, along with an agreement to increase the limit again later on – on that occasion paired with spending reforms. Entitlements and mandatory spending would be targeted for reforms and savings, which would be identified either by a commission or by congressional committees…. – BS News, 7-24-11
  • Geithner Calls Two-Stage Rise of Debt Ceiling ‘Nonstarter’: U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the latest “two-stage” proposal being considered by Republicans to lift the federal debt ceiling is a non-starter because it can’t garner enough Democratic support to pass Congress.
    Mr. Geithner, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said the GOP idea would be just a short-term solution to the current budget impasse and that President Barack Obama’s “preference, still” is to reach a bigger agreement to reduce the budget deficit and raise the government’s $14.29 trillion borrowing limit through 2012.
    The president is still in talks with House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) over how to lift the debt cap in time to avoid a government default, Mr. Geithner said.
    The latest Republican proposal would raise the debt limit in two phases, with a smaller increase of about $1 trillion immediately, which would carry the government through the end of this year, matched by a similar amount of spending cuts. The second increase would depend on a deficit-reduction commission’s recommendations.
    The commission would recommend a set of changes to safety-net programs and a tax overhaul in hopes of closing the deficit by as much as another $3 trillion. Once that package was adopted, the debt ceiling would be raised again in January 2012…. – WSJ, 7-24-11
  • The 14th Amendment, the Debt Ceiling and a Way Out: A few days ago, former President Bill Clinton identified a constitutional escape hatch should President Obama and Congress fail to come to terms on a deficit reduction plan before the government hits its borrowing ceiling. He pointed to an obscure provision in the 14th Amendment, saying he would unilaterally invoke it “without hesitation” to raise the debt ceiling “and force the courts to stop me.”
    On Friday, Mr. Obama rejected the idea, though not in categorical terms. “I have talked to my lawyers,” Mr. Obama said. “They are not persuaded that that is a winning argument.”
    Another element of uncertainty and possible court battles do not seem to appeal to the White House, and it is, in any event, not clear that the nation’s creditors would continue to lend it money were the president to take unilateral action. The provision in question, Section 4 of the amendment, was meant to ensure the payment of Union debts after the Civil War and to disavow Confederate ones. But it was written in broader terms.
    “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payments of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion,” the critical sentence says, “shall not be questioned.”
    The Supreme Court has said in passing that those words have outlived the historical moment that gave rise to them….. – NYT, 7-24-11
  • US House Speaker Boehner: last offer still on table: “The preferable path would be a bipartisan plan that involves all the leaders, but it is too early to decide whether that’s possible,” Boehner said on Fox News Sunday. “If that’s not possible, I and my Republican colleagues in the House are prepared to move on our own…. There is going to be a two-stage process. It is not physically possible to do all of this in one step.”
    Boehner said his offer that included some $800 billion in new tax revenue and massive spending cuts was never withdrawn. That plan was dubbed the “grand bargain” despite his decision to walk away from negotiations with Obama last week.
    “I don’t know, it may be pretty hard to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. My last offer is still out there. I’ve never taken my last offer off the table,” Boehner said, noting that the White House never has agreed to it. At the moment, however, Boehner said that the better path was working with his congressional colleagues “to put together a process” that is do-able…. – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • Democrats cool to Boehner’s two-step debt-ceiling plan: House Speaker John Boehner said he is still trying to unveil a bipartisan debt limit deal this afternoon, but acknowledged he doesn’t have Democrats onboard with a two-step proposal he has offered. “We’re not there yet,” the Republican said in a morning interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
    Boehner and Democrats in Congress are stuck on the structure of the deficit reduction plan needed to persuade rank-and-file Republicans to raise the debt limit.
    If the limit isn’t raised by Aug. 2 the government will not be able to pay its bills. Boehner said Saturday that he wanted to announce a breakthrough in talks before the financial markets opened in Asia on Sunday.
    As talks with congressional Democrats appeared stalled, both Boehner and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared to open the door to resuming direct discussions with the WH. The speaker pulled out those talks on Friday. Asked if that so-called “grand bargain” was dead, Boehner said, “It may be pretty hard to put Humpty Dumpty back together again,” he said. “My last offer is still out there.”
    The comments came as congressional Democrats appear to have drawn a hard line against two-step process Republicans are pushing…. – LAT, 7-24-11
  • Obama, lawmakers scramble to salvage US debt deal:

    Congress drafting legislation, wants plan by Monday
    Treasury out of money on Aug. 2; AAA rating at risk
    Default would raise interest rates, hit global growth
    Congress aims to show progress before Asian markets open

    Scolded by President Barack Obama, Congress scrambled on Saturday to produce a deficit plan within 48 hours that keeps the United States from a catastrophic debt default now days away.
    A day after talks collapsed in acrimony, Obama held an emergency meeting with congressional leaders at the White House and told them to find areas of agreement.
    Their goal: Seal a deficit-reduction package of spending cuts and perhaps tax increases that will allow a vote by the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the U.S. debt ceiling beyond $14.3 trillion and avoid economic calamity.
    A Republican leadership aide said lawmakers are working on a plan for $3 trillion to $4 trillion in savings over 10 years, but another high-ranking Republican official said no numbers had been settled. Republican leaders want “to show progress” by 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT) on Sunday, the aide said…. – Reuters, 7-24-11

  • Republicans Weigh Short-Term Debt Deal, Risking Obama Veto: Republicans prepared to force action on a shorter-term extension of the U.S. debt limit than President Barack Obama has requested, defying a veto threat amid warnings that continued stalemate risks roiling financial markets as soon as tonight.
    The president would veto a measure to raise the debt ceiling if it doesn’t extend the limit into 2013, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Daley warned that “markets around the world” would react negatively to a short-term measure offering less than $2.4 trillion in borrowing authority. “We’ve got to get past this debt-ceiling vote,” Daley said. “It’s time to get some certainty.”
    House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said while he’d prefer a compromise package, his party was “prepared to move on our own” if that proved impossible. He aims to announce a framework — bipartisan or not — later today to try to minimize uncertainty before Asian markets open, he said on Fox News. Boehner scheduled a 4:30 p.m. conference call with Republicans…. – Bloomberg, 7-24-11
  • Boehner tells GOP he will unveil new debt strategy: Congressional leaders raced Saturday to develop a new strategy for raising the federal debt limit that House Speaker John A. Boehner told his troops would include an ambitious plan to reduce future borrowing by as much as $4 trillion.
    Although his talks with President Obama over a “grand bargain” to restrain the national debt collapsed in acrimony Friday, Boehner (Ohio) said he is confident lawmakers will avert a historic U.S. default — a possibility just 10 days off.
    “Over this weekend, Congress will forge a responsible path forward,” Boehner said in a statement.
    The speaker and other leaders started their day at the White House, where Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner warned of possible trouble in the markets if policymakers don’t announce a viable plan for raising the debt limit before Asian exchanges open Sunday evening, according to people familiar with the meeting. Aides said Geithner’s warning lent fresh urgency to the negotiations, which continued throughout the day on Capitol Hill.
    By early evening, the outlines of a two-stage strategy were emerging. First, lawmakers would vote on a package to cut agency spending by as much as $1 trillion over the next decade and raise the debt limit, currently set at $14.3 trillion, by the same amount. That would give Geithner enough borrowing authority to cover the nation’s bills through the end of this year…. – WaPo, 7-23-11

JULY 23, 2011: OBAMA MEETS WITH CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS AT THE WHITE HOUSE — NO DEAL IN SIGHT

Boehner tells GOP he plans to unveil new debt strategy within 24 hours: House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told his troops Saturday that he hopes to roll out a two-step strategy within the next 24 hours for raising the federal debt limit and restraining the national debt to avoid roiling Asian financial markets when they open Sunday, according to a participant in the conference call.
In the call with his House GOP colleagues, Boehner said he still hopes to slice as much as $4 trillion out of the federal budget over the next decade, despite the collapse of talks with President Obama on Friday over a bipartisan “grand bargain” to reduce the government’s spiraling debt…. –

  • President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address: A Bipartisan Approach to Strengthening the EconomyWH, 7-23-11
  • Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) Delivers the Weekly Republican Address (VIDEO)GOP, 7-23-11“I’ve been left at the altar now a couple of times. And I think that one of the questions that the Republican Party is going to have to ask itself is, Can they say yes to anything?” — President Barack Obama“The President wanted to know that there was a plan for preventing national default. The bipartisan leadership in Congress is committed to working on new legislation that will prevent default while substantially reducing Washington spending.” — Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell

    “Congress should refrain from playing reckless political games with our economy. Instead, it should be responsible and do its job, avoiding default and cutting the deficit.” — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

    “This debate boils down to a simple choice. We can come together for the good of the country and reach a compromise or we can issue insults and demands and ultimatums at each other, withdraw to partisan corners, and achieve nothing. We know the right thing to do, and we know what the American people expect us to do.” — President Barack Obama in the July 23, 2011 Weekly Address

    “Our government has gotten so big, so expensive, it’s keeping our economy from recovering as it should. If we’re going to avoid any type of default and downgrade, if we’re going to resume job creation in America, the president and his allies need to listen to the people and work with Republicans to cut up the credit cards once and for all.” — House GOP Conference Chair Jeb Hensarling

    Obama/Boehner Talk Kicks Off With Light Banter: “I think everybody agrees it’s too hot to play golf today,” Obama told Boehner….
    Boehner responded to the president saying, “Yeah, I took a walk there this morning.” — ABC News, 7-23-11

    Giuliani: Obama Is Afraid to Lead on Budget: “If we default, 90 percent of the responsibility is on the president of the United States,” Giuliani told Sean Hannity on Fox News after a visit to New Hampshire that fueled speculation the he would seek the GOP nomination for president. “He is yet to outline a plan because he’s too darn afraid that he’s going to have to pay political [consequences]. And he’s pretending he wants to do all these big cuts; we know he doesn’t want to do cuts . . . He wants to do the minimum number of cuts and the maximum tax increases.”
    “I don’t want to do this just to run, I want to do it only because I have the best chance of winning,” he said. “And if I think someone else has a better chance of winning, I don’t want to spoil their chances.”
    “My objective is we cannot have President Obama after the next year,” he said. “I mean, look at what he’s put us through with this whole debt thing, and this because a president doesn’t lead. I mean, Republicans, Democrats fight with each other in the House, and the president has never outlined how he would do it . . . This is outrageous!”… – Newsmax, 7-23-11

  • Obama and congressional leaders hold grim Saturday meeting on debt crisis: President Obama convened an unusual Saturday meeting with Congressional leaders on the looming government default. The session lasted less than an hour, and the atmospherics appeared grim…. – CS Monitor, 7-23-11
  • Debt crisis: Deal sought to head off stock plunge: Precariously short of time, congressional leaders struggled in urgent, weekend-long talks to avert an unprecedented government default, desperate to show enough progress to head off a plunge in stock prices when Asian markets open ahead of the U.S. workweek.
    President Barack Obama met Saturday with Republican and Democratic leaders — but only briefly— the day after House Speaker John Boehner abruptly broke off his own once-promising compromise talks with the White House. Staff members kept up detailed efforts.
    The goal now is to produce at least a framework agreement to raise the nation’s debt limit by Monday, congressional officials said. Even that would allow scarcely enough time for the House and Senate to clear legislation in time for Obama’s signature by the Aug. 2 deadline, a week from Tuesday.
    House Speaker John Boehner told rank-and-file Republicans in a conference call after Saturday’s meeting that he hoped to be able to announce a “viable framework for progress” by 4 p.m. EDT on Sunday, before the stock markets open in Japan and elsewhere in Asia, according to two participants.
    Lawmakers fear a big drop in investor confidence in U.S. stocks and bonds could start in Asia and sweep toward Europe and the Americas, causing U.S. stock values to plunge on Monday…. – AP, 7-23-11
  • Congress Looks For New Debt Deal To Prevent Monday Panic: Lawmakers and President Barack Obama met at the White House Saturday, once again looking to renew talks to raise the debt limit and lower the deficit after a highly public breakdown.
    The tense scene in the Cabinet Room was described by the pool reporter as “a school principal’s office with a handful of sullen suspects sitting grimly downcast as the boss says: ‘OK, we’re going to sit here all day until I find out who shot that spitball.'”
    But a marathon session to iron out a deal before the end of the weekend it wasn’t — lasting just 50 minutes — and all signs point to a continued stalemate after Friday’s surprising events.
    An agreement that seemed within reach to Obama on Thursday was left on the table Friday by Speaker of the House John Boehner, spurring hours of recriminations over who killed the deal.
    In an hastily called press conference, Obama angrily claimed he had been “left at the altar” by Boehner for the second time in as many weeks. Boehner responded, accusing Obama of demanding new taxes at the last minute and saying “the White House moved the goalposts.”
    Both leaders made themselves vulnerable in the negotiations — Obama accepting cuts to entitlements that already were inflaming his base, and Boehner agreeing to $800 billion in revenue increases — and moved quickly to blame the other for failing to agree to a historic deficit reduction package.
    Obama appeared to be holding out hope Friday night that his deal with Boehner could be resurrected in some form, with an administration official saying “this offer is still available.”
    But according to congressional aides, Boehner insists negotiations resume anew in Congress on a plan with spending cuts and few, if any, revenue increases — and without Obama. Additionally, they are drafting the so-called “last ditch” plan put forth by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to allow Obama to unilaterally raise the debt limit, to be taken up if all else fails….. – Business Insider, 7-23-11
  • Debt crisis and market worries: Quick deficit-deal framework sought to head off stock sell-off: Precariously short of time, congressional leaders struggled in urgent, weekend-long talks to avert an unprecedented government default, desperate to show enough progress to head off a plunge in stock prices when Asian markets open ahead of the U.S. workweek. With the White House consigned to the periphery of negotiations, Republicans sought as much as $4 trillion in deficit cuts over a decade as a condition for raising the nation’s debt limit.
    But after hours of staff negotiations followed by a meeting of Congress’ top four leaders, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused GOP leaders of intransigence, adding he would not accept anything less than a deal that raised the debt limit through 2012. “Their unwillingness to compromise is pushing us to the brink of a default on the full faith and credit of the United States. We have run out of time for politics. Now is the time for cooperation,” he said in a sharply worded statement.
    A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, Michael Steel, responded mildly. “Like the President and the entire bipartisan, bicameral Congressional leadership, we continue to believe that defaulting on the full faith and credit of the United States is not an option,” he said in a written statement.
    Obama met earlier in the day with the Republican and Democratic leaders — but only briefly— the day after Boehner abruptly broke off his own once-promising compromise talks with the White House…. – WaPo, 7-23-11
  • White House says Obama wants long-term debt solution to protect US economy: The White House says President Barack Obama won’t accept a short-term extension of the nation’s debt limit because it would do more harm than good.
    Obama met with congressional leaders at the White House on Saturday for about an hour. In a written statement afterward, his spokesman said a temporary extension could hurt the U.S. credit rating and force Americans to pay higher interest rates on credit cards and other consumer debt. The White House said Congress shouldn’t be playing “reckless political games” with the economy.
    Obama wants a debt-ceiling extension that will last through the end of 2012. Republicans have talked of a shorter extension…. – AP, 7-23-11
  • Obama, congressional leaders gather at White House to try to save debt deal: Ahead of the Saturday talks, a House GOP aide signaled that the speaker’s most likely position would be to push for a shorter-term deal. Both sides have identified more than $1 trillion in cuts, and Boehner’s camp suggested that some of those reductions could be used to meet the Republican demand of lifting the debt ceiling by cutting more than the dollar value of that increase in borrowing authority.
    The president has repeatedly objected to any short-term deal, calling it “kicking the can down the road,” because there is a likelihood that the two sides would reach the same gridlock next year once such an extension was set to expire, and he did so again on Friday. But on Saturday morning, the GOP aide said Obama was just trying to avoid dealing with the issue next year, when he will face reelection.
    “Now, we do not know what size or shape a final package will take, but it would be terribly unfortunate if the president was willing to veto a debt-limit increase simply because its timing would not be ideal for his reelection campaign. “We want the most significant deficit-reduction possible, but linking the full faith and credit of the United States to presidential campaign politics is not a defensible position,” the aide added, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss Boehner’s strategy…. – WaPo, 7-23-11
  • Fight over raising the debt ceiling almost sure to lead to bad policy: It’s quite likely that any deal reached by lawmakers to stave off default is going to involve compromises that were unthinkable even a few short weeks ago…. – LAT, 7-23-11
  • Obama Calls For Leaders To Work Together On Debt ‘Neither Party Is Blameless,’ President Says: President Barack Obama called on Democratic and Republican leaders to come together and do “the right thing” to resolve the nation’s debt crisis Saturday in his weekly address.
    He warned that unless an agreement is reached to raise the amount of money the federal government is allowed to borrow, debt will “weaken our economy, cause higher interest rates for families, and force us to scale back things like education and Medicare.”
    The president summoned congressional leaders to the White House Saturday after House Speaker John Boehner announced Friday night he was pulling out of the debt-ceiling negotiations with the Obama administration.
    “Neither party is blameless,” Obama said of the nation’s debt. “Both parties have a responsibility to do something about it.” Envisioning a way forward, the president said, “We need to put aside our differences to do what’s right for the country. Everyone is going to have to be willing to compromise. Otherwise, we’ll never get anything done.” Obama advocated a “balanced approach” to cutting the deficit that “goes after waste” and “makes some serious cuts to worthy programs” that wouldn’t be made “under normal circumstances.”… – CNN, 7-23-11
  • Obama’s Weekly Address: There’s Still Time to Compromise on the Deficit: In a message that may be too little too late, President Obama used his weekly address to issue an urgent plea to Congress to compromise on a deal to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit.
    The morning after a deal to reduce the deficit broke down, Obama outlined his case for “a balanced approach to cutting the deficit” through spending cuts and revenue increases.
    “We need an approach that goes after waste in the budget and gets rid of pet projects that cost billions of dollars,” Obama said. “We need an approach that makes some serious cuts to worthy programs – cuts I wouldn’t make under normal circumstances. And we need an approach that asks everybody to do their part.”
    “There will be plenty of haggling over the details in the days ahead. But this debate boils down to a simple choice,” he said. “We can come together for the good of the country and reach a compromise; we can strengthen our economy and leave for our children a more secure future.
    “Or we can issue insults and demands and ultimatums at each another, withdraw to our partisan corners, and achieve nothing,” he said. “Well, we know the right thing to do. And we know what the American people expect us to do.”… – ABC News, 7-23-11
  • Debt Ceiling Talks Collapse as Boehner Walks Out: ….Republicans, though, said that the White House pushed for more revenue midway through the talks. “The White House moved the goal posts,” Mr. Boehner said in a news conference.
    In his weekly radio address on Saturday, Mr. Obama continued to press the idea that it was “not right to ask middle class families to pay more for college before we ask the biggest corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.” “This debate boils down to a simple choice,” the president said. We can come together for the good of the country and reach a compromise; we can strengthen our economy and leave for our children a more secure future. Or we can issue insults and demands and ultimatums at each another, withdraw to our partisan corners, and achieve nothing.”
    Representative Jeb Hensarling, Republican of Texas, pressed the idea that the deficit and government spending need to come down to help create jobs and bolster the economy. “If we’re going to avoid any type of default and downgrade — if we’re going to resume job creation in America _ the president and his allies need to listen to the people and work with Republicans to cut up the credit cards once and for all,” Mr. Hensarling said.
    This time, however, Mr. Obama had also faced a firestorm from within his party, because of the spending cuts he was considering with Mr. Boehner. NYT, 7-23-11
  • What Obama said in his 30-minute primal scream at the GOP: President Obama, clearly angry, let loose on House Republicans in what was, for him, an extraordinary fit of pique Friday night after talks with Speaker John Boehner broke down…. – CS Monitor, 7-23-11
  • Failure to reach a ‘grand bargain’ on debt makes 2012 harder for Obama: Sometime this spring, President Barack Obama shifted course on the budget and started pursuing a “Big Deal” to dramatically curb runaway deficits. On Friday chances for that deal disappeared, and with it perhaps his last chance to fundamentally change the course of the 2012 elections.
    Even a multitrillion-dollar package of spending cuts and tax increases would not have stopped the red ink. At best, the grand bargain being sought would have shaved about $4 trillion from deficits expected to total at least $8 trillion over the next 10 years. But it could have changed the storyline of the nation’s politics, if not its government. Obama would have been able to run for a second term claiming bipartisan success at fiscal restraint, a boast he hoped would help erase or at least blur the image of him as a tax-and-spend liberal.
    Instead, the apparent failure of Obama and congressional leaders to reach a big deal likely means the stage is largely set for the pivotal 2012 elections. The two major parties are unable to agree on how much government people want and who should pay for it. Voters – who went for Obama and the Democrats in 2008 and for the Republicans in 2010 – will have to decide between two rival visions of government.
    For Obama, who as the incumbent will be the centerpiece of the campaign, the big deal was something he came to cherish after first ignoring it…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 7-23-11
  • Deficit negotiations: Myths and realities: For the better part of 2011, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have been talking hypothetically — each from his own ideological perspective — about the potential fallout of their inability to reach a debt ceiling, deficit-cutting plan. The implications of their inability to get some deal done are about to become terrifyingly concrete — in the form of Monday’s skittish market opening and a potentially costly credit downgrade that will hike the price of everything from government borrowing to home mortgages. But that hasn’t stopped the spinning and posturing as each side seeks the most advantageous deal possible while selling the American public on the argument that it’s the other guy who is pushing the country over the abyss.
    With that in mind, here’s a guide to the reality behind the spin in the debt ceiling battle:
    Myth: Obama wins politically, no matter what happens…. Reality: That may have been true a week ago, but it’s less of a sure thing now.
    Myth: The talks collapsed over Obama’s demand for $400 billion more in revenue over 10 years…. Reality: Boehner didn’t have the votes.
    Myth: Obama could sell his end of the bargain to Democrats…. Reality: He probably could have.
    Myth: The GOP owns the deficit-reduction debate…. Reality: Bye-bye high ground.
    Myth: There are three branches of government…. Reality: Grover Norquist seems to have opened a fourth. And he says the McConnell-Reid compromise is the way to go, so don’t bet against everybody’s least favorite fallback. – Politico, 7-23-11
  • What’s Happened to Obama?: Scarcely a week goes by without one of the big three liberal economists — Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, and Joseph Stiglitz — lambasting the president. Recently New York Times columnist Krugman lamented that Obama’s campaign slogan “Yes, we can” had become “No, we won’t.”…
    What happened? Frank Rich complains about Obama’s “passivity.” Others grumble the supposedly great communicator has failed to control the political narrative — as is currently the case where the discussion in Washington centers on the Republican theme, “reduce the deficit,” when it should be on “increase the number of good jobs.” Writing in the New York Review, Yale Professor David Bromwich observed, “Obama has always preferred the symbolic authority of the grand utterance to the actual authority of a directed policy… protracted moods of extreme abstraction seem to alternate with spasmodic engagement.”
    Not surprisingly, there’s recently been a spate of articles “psychoanalyzing” the president. Writing in the New Yorker, George Packer observed that Obama “takes responsibility as an end in itself.” In his blog, Packer explained, “there something in Obama’s character that needs to be seen as reasonable — as the one grown-up — in the room — and that is deeper than any partisan policy views he might hold.”…. – Huff Post, 7-23-11

JULY 22, 2011: DEBT TALKS BREAK DOWN, BOEHNER WALKS AWAY FROM OBAMA AND WHITE HOUSE NEGOTIATIONS

Boehner blames Obama for collapse of debt talks: House Speaker John Boehner said the White House “moved the goal posts” by demanding an additional $400 billion in revenue during talks over a deal to avoid default. He said he was confident the U.S. will not default but said the White House has “refused to get serious” about spending cuts. “Dealing with the White House is like dealing with a bowl of Jell-O,” Boehner said.

Obama says Boehner “walked away” from debt talks: President Obama said House Speaker John A. Boehner broke off talks over crafting a “big deal” that would avert a federal default. He called the deal the White House was offering “extraordinarily fair” and said that “if it was unbalanced it was unbalanced in the direction of not enough revenue.”
The president said he was summoning congressional leaders to the White House Saturday morning at 11 a.m. “We have run out of time and they are going to have to explain to me how it is that we are going to avoid default,” he said.

Talks in the effort to avert a government default have collapsed, GOP aides say: Negotiations between the White House and House Speaker John Boehner over an agreement to cut spending, overhaul the tax code and avert a government default have broken down, according to senior House Republican aides. Boehner planned to notify his caucus Friday night.

“In the end, we couldn’t connect. Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country.” — House Speaker John Boehner

“This was an extraordinarily fair deal. If it was unbalanced, it was unbalanced in the direction of not enough revenue. It is hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal.” — President Barack Obama

McConnell Statement on Debt Talks: U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement Friday regarding the announcement that Speaker Boehner will work with the Senate Leadership on deficit reduction legislation:
“It’s disappointing that the talks with the White House did not reach a favorable conclusion, and I appreciate the Speaker insisting on reduced spending and opposing the President’s call for higher taxes on American families and job creators. It is similarly disappointing that the White House has refused to join Republicans in our effort to cut Washington spending now, cap runaway spending in the future and save our entitlement programs and our country from bankruptcy by requiring the nation to balance its budget. Speaker Boehner has informed us that he will work on a new path forward with Leader Reid to develop a solution that will prevent default, without job killing tax hikes, while substantially reducing Washington spending.
“As I’ve said before, it’s time now for the debate to move out of a room in the White House and on to the House and Senate floors where we can debate the best approach to reducing the nation’s unsustainable debt.”

  • Boehner confident government won’t default: Speaking Friday evening after withdrawing from talks on a “grand bargain” for $4 trillion or so in deficit cuts over the coming decade, Boehner said Congress will have to step in to forge an agreement to lift the government’s borrowing cap.
    “We can work together here on Capitol Hill to forge an agreement and I’m hopeful the president will work with us,” Boehner said.
    Boehner accused Obama of “moving the goal posts” by demanding $400 billion in tax increases on top of about $800 billion in revenues that would have been reaped through a comprehensive rewrite of the tax code.
    “There was an agreement with the White House at $800 billion in revenue. It’s the president who walked away from his agreement and demanded more money at the last minute,” Boehner said. “And the only way to get that extra revenue was to raise taxes.” AP, 7-22-11
  • Debt talks break down; “We have run out of time”: “We have run out of time,” Mr. Obama said in acknowledging the breakdown.
    “It is hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal and frankly, if you look at the commentary out there, there are a lot of Republicans that are puzzled as to why it couldn’t get done,” he said. “In fact, there are a lot of Republican voters out there who are puzzled as to why it couldn’t get done.”
    Mr. Obama at one point suggested he “couldn’t get a phone call returned” from Boehner earlier in the day, and said that when it comes to a deal, “I’ve been left at the altar now a couple of times.” He said he was unable to guarantee that Social Security checks and other obligations would go out after the August 2 deadline, and said the blame falls on House Republicans who have been unwilling to compromise to get a deal done.
    Mr. Obama said he was calling Congressional leaders to the White House Saturday morning at 11:00 “to explain to me how we are going to avoid default,” acknowledging that discussions were basically back to square one.
    “What this came down to is there doesn’t seem to be a capacity for them to say yes,” Mr. Obama said.
    “I think the challenge really has to do with the seeming inability, particularly in the House of Representatives, to arrive at any kind of position that compromises any of their ideological preferences,” he said. “None. And you’ve heard it. I’m not making this up. I think there are a number of members of that caucus that have been very clear about that.”
    Asked what he would say to calm skittish markets, Mr. Obama said, “I remain confident that we will get an extension of the debt limit and we will not default,” but he was less confident that the GOP will step up and deal with underlying debt and deficits “in a way that is fair.” He said he would be willing to sign a debt limit increase that did not include deficit reduction measures if presented such a bill by Congress.
    The president acknowledged that the Democratic leadership in Congress had not signed off on the proposed deal. He said, however, that both he and the leadership “were willing to engage in serious negotiations despite a lot of heat from a lot of interest groups around the country in order to make sure that we actually dealt with this problem.”
    The proposed cuts to entitlements had angered many Democrats and interest groups, and in announcing that he had offered $650 million in cuts on that front over ten years, Mr. Obama said, “We believed that it was possible to shape those in a way that preserved the integrity of the system, made them available for the next generation and did not affect current beneficiaries in an adverse way.”
    “I was willing to try to persuade Democratic leadership as well as Democratic members of Congress that even a deal that is not as balanced as I think it should be, is better than no deal at all,” he said. “And I was willing to persuade Democrats that getting a handle on debt and deficit reduction is important to Democrats just as much as it’s important to Republicans. And frankly a lot of Democrats were persuaded by that.”… – CBS News, 7-22-11
  • Boehner abruptly withdraws from talks with Obama: House Speaker John Boehner abruptly broke off talks with President Barack Obama Friday night on a deal to cut federal spending and avert a threatened government default, sending compromise efforts into an instant crisis.
    Within minutes, an obviously peeved Obama virtually ordered congressional leaders to the White House for a Saturday meeting on raising the nation’s debt limit. “We’ve got to get it done. It is not an option not to do it,” he declared.
    For the first time since negotiations began, he declined to offer assurances, when asked, that default would be avoided. Moments later, however, he said he was confident of that outcome.
    At a news conference of his own a short while later, Boehner said, “I want to be entirely clear. No one wants default.”
    In a letter circulated earlier to the House Republican rank and file, said he had withdrawn from the talks with Obama because “in the end, we couldn’t connect.”
    He said the president wanted to raise taxes, and was reluctant to agree to cuts in benefit programs…. – AP, 7-22-11
  • Debt Ceiling Talks Collapse as Boehner Walks Out: An angry and frustrated President Obama accused Republican leaders on Friday night of walking away from “an extraordinarily fair deal” to raise the nation’s debt limit.
    In a hastily called news conference at the White house, a grim-faced Mr. Obama demanded that congressional leaders appear at the White House on Saturday.
    “I want them here at 11 a.m. tomorrow,” Mr. Obama told reporters. “They are going to have to explain to me how it is that we are going to avoid default.”
    The president spoke moments after House Speaker John A. Boehner, the Republican from Ohio, released a letter that he had sent to House colleagues, saying he was breaking off the budget negotiations because of differences over revenues and would instead try to strike an agreement with Senate leaders to raise the debt limit by Aug 2 and avoid sending the government into a potential default.
    “In the end, we couldn’t connect,” Mr. Boehner said. “Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country.”
    In his comments, Mr. Obama described a deal of spending cuts that he said was more generous than what the so-called Gang of Six had offered and said it was “hard to understand” why Mr. Boehner would walk away…. – NYT, 7-22-11
  • Boehner calls off debt talks with Obama: House Speaker John Boehner told President Obama tonight he is pulling out of debt negotiations to work directly with the Senate about a fall-back plan to lift the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by the Aug. 2 deadline.
    In response, Obama said he is summoning House and Senate leaders to the White House Saturday morning “to explain to me how we are going to avoid default.” “We are running out of time,” Obama said.
    The Treasury Department has said that if the debt ceiling is not lifted by Aug. 2 — a week from Tuesday — it will lose borrowing authority to pay the government’s bills and face default…. – USA Today, 7-22-11
  • Obama scolds GOP as debt talks break down: ‘Where’s the leadership?’: In an unusual display of emotion, President Obama angrily responded to House Speaker John A. Boehner’s abrupt withdrawal from talks on a debt ceiling increase, and summoned congressional leaders to the White House on Saturday for emergency talks to plot a new course before the Aug. 2 deadline.
    “We have run out of time,” the president said in a hastily-called news briefing, just moments after Boehner informed him of his decision.
    On Thursday, Obama and Boehner appeared to be closing in on a deal that would have raised the debt ceiling through 2013, combined with spending cuts and entitlement reforms to achieve $3 trillion in deficit reduction.
    But talks apparently broke down in a dispute over taxes. Obama, prodded by Democrats, insisted that any deal include new revenues in addition to spending cuts…. – LAT, 7-22-11
  • Boehner Pulls Out of Debt Talks: House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) has decided to no longer pursue a major deficit-reduction deal with the White House and informed President Barack Obama of his decision Friday night, House Republican leadership aides said late Friday.
    “In the end we couldn’t connect. Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country,” Mr. Boehner wrote in a letter to his colleagues. “I have decided to end discussions with the White House and begin conversations with the Senate in an effort to find a path forward.”
    The speaker’s office reached out to Senate leaders Friday to begin to figure out what the path forward is, Republican officials said. House and Senate negotiators will hold talks through the weekend to try to determine what kind of agreement they could reach to raise the government’s debt ceiling by Aug. 2 and prevent a government default.
    Senior Republican aides said they didn’t know what shape a deal would ultimately take, but they said they needed to present House members with an agreement by Monday to have time to pass legislation in both chambers by Aug. 2.
    “We know we have a short window of time here,” a senior Republican aide said.
    After a series of discussions between administration officials and the House leadership, it became clear, the GOP aides said, that the White House and Congress’s interests were not aligned…. – WSJ, 7-22-11
  • John Boehner walks away from debt talks: House Speaker John Boehner has walked away from negotiations with President Obama over a deal to raise the debt limit.
    “In the end, we couldn’t connect. Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country,” Boehner said in a letter to colleagues. He said Mr. Obama ” is emphatic that taxes have to be raised” and “adamant that we cannot make fundamental changes to our entitlement programs.”
    “For these reasons, I have decided to end discussions with the White House and begin conversations with the leaders of the Senate in an effort to find a path forward,” he said. (Read the letter here)
    House Republican leadership aides told CBS News that Boehner will work with the Senate leadership in an attempt to reach a deal that meets the GOP’s two central requirements: That spending cuts are equal to or greater than debt limit increase and that there are no new taxes…. – CBS New, 7-22-11
  • Obama-Boehner talks collapse; each side blames the other: Debt-reduction negotiations between President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner collapsed Friday, derailing an effort to reach a landmark agreement to cut spending, overhaul the tax code and avert a government default.
    In subsequent statements, both sides blamed the other for an impasse that threatens to plunge the nation into a fiscal crisis if the government fails to meet a looming deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling.
    Announcing the collapse, Boehner (R-Ohio) said he could not overcome disputes with Obama on taxes and entitlements.
    Appearing before reporters at the White House, Obama said he had been willing to agree to a deal that was more generous to Republican interests than to those of his fellow Democrats. “It’s hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal,” he said. “The vast majority of the American people believe we should have a balanced approach” between revenues and cuts.
    Saying that “we have now run out of time,” Obama summoned Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to the White House at 11 a.m. Saturday.
    “They’re going to have to explain to me how it is that we are going to avoid a default,” he said. He later said he was confident that a default could be avoided…. – WSJ, 7-22-11
  • Obama allows for possibility of default, saying ‘if’ instead of expressing confidence US won’t: President Barack Obama for the first time has allowed for the possibility that the U.S. may default on its financial obligations.
    At a hastily arranged White House appearance on Friday, Obama said: “If we default, then we’re going to have to make adjustments.”
    But minutes later, the president said he remained confident that the debt limit will be extended. Said Obama: “We will not default. I am confident of that.”… – Washingtn Post, 7-22-11
  • Debt talks break down; Volatility ahead: Shortly before the latest bust up in Washington, Kathy Lien Director, Global Research & Analysis at GFT wrote:

    Barack Obama’s Presidency and his chance of reelection could very well be defined by what happens over the next week. If the Senate fails to raise the debt ceiling either temporarily or permanently, panic selling of U.S. dollars could drive the greenback to fresh lows against all of the major currencies. The weakness of USD/JPY and USD/CHF confirms that investors are worried about the developments or the lack thereof in the coming week.

    Ultimately there are three scenarios, according to Lien:

    Scenario 1 – Watered Down Debt Deal Passed – Very Dollar Bullish Scenario 2 – Temporary Increase to Debt Ceiling – Mildly Dollar Bullish Scenario 3 – Throw Up their Hands and Let the U.S. Default – Very Dollar Bearish

    For not it appears we’ve moved closer to scenario 2…. – CBS Market Watch, 7-22-11

JULY 22, 2011: DEBT DEAL DEADLINE — OBAMA HOLDS TOWN HALL ON DEBT CRISIS — SENATE VOTES DOWN CUT, CAP, AND BALANCE

“Frankly, we are not close to an agreement. I would just suggest it is going to be a hot weekend here in Washington, D.C.” — House Speaker John Boehner

“I have talked to my lawyers. They are not persuaded that that is a winning argument. So, the challenge for me is to make sure that we do not default, but to do so in a way that is as balanced as possible and gets us at least a down payment on solving this problem.” President Obama said in response to a question about the Constitutional argument at a townhall at the University of Maryland.

“We’re going to dispose of this legislation as it needs to be, so that President Obama and the speaker can move forward on a [plan] that will have some revenue in it.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

“It’s a great opportunity for him to talk to young people, to students, about how this is really a debate about the economy and jobs and the need to stabilize the foundation of the economy and creating jobs and lessening the economic anxiety out there, felt by students.” — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday aboutr President Obama’s Town Hall at the University of Maryland

  • President Obama Discusses Debt Crisis at University of Maryland Town Hall – Transcript — WH, 7-22-11
  • Obama stresses need for more tax revenue; Senate rejects House debt plan: President Obama insisted Friday that any broad deficit-reduction plan must include new tax revenue in addition to large spending cuts, and the Senate rejected a bill from the Republican-controlled House that would have required a balanced budget amendment and massive cuts, but no tax hikes.
    Speaking at a town hall meeting at the University of Maryland in College Park, Obama told a largely supportive audience, “We can’t just close our deficit with spending cuts alone.” That would mean senior citizens would have to “pay a lot more for Medicare,” students would have trouble getting education loans, job training programs would be trimmed and there were be “devastating cuts” in medical and clean-energy research, he said.
    “If we only did it with cuts, if we did not get any revenue to help close this gap . . . then a lot of ordinary people would be hurt, and the country as a whole would be hurt,” Obama said. “And that doesn’t make any sense. It’s not fair. And that’s why I’ve said, if we’re going to reduce our deficit, then the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations should do their part as well.”
    “This idea of balance, this idea of shared sacrifice, of a deficit plan that includes tough spending cuts but also includes tax reform that raises more revenue, this isn’t just my position,” he said. “This isn’t just a Democratic position. This isn’t some wild-eyed socialist position.” Rather, it argued, it is a position taken in the past by presidents from both parties who have signed major deficit-reduction deals.
    “So we can pass a balanced plan like this,” Obama said. “The only people we have left to convince are some folks in the House of Representatives. We’re going to keep working on that.”… – WaPO, 7-22-11
  • Obama again presses GOP to move on taxes in debt deal: If President Obama is indeed pursuing a deal with House Speaker John Boehner that would lack an ironclad agreement to boost government receipts, he didn’t show his hand Friday.
    At a town-hall-style event at the University of Maryland, Obama again restated his long-standing position that any accord to raise the federal debt ceiling must combine spending cuts with revenue generators stemming from a rewrite of the tax code.
    “We can’t just close our deficit with spending cuts alone,” Obama said before a crowd in College Park, Md. “If we only do it with cuts … a lot of ordinary people would be hurt and the country as whole would be hurt.”… – LAT, 7-22-11
  • Senate Rejects House Budget Plan; Obama Calls for Deal: The Senate on Friday rejected a House plan to substantially cut government spending and raise the federal debt limit contingent on a balanced budget proposal, leaving Congress up in the air about how to resolve its impasse over the federal debt ceiling and avoid a government default.
    Senators voted 51 to 46 along party lines to set aside the measure, known as the “cut, cap and balance” bill, which was sent to the Senate by the House this week and seen by conservative House members as their preferred option for increasing the debt ceiling. For many House Republicans, the legislation was their best offer in the continuing standoff with President Obama and Congressional Democrats.
    After the vote, Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and majority leader, said the Senate was for the moment abandoning its fallback plan and would not immediately move ahead with a procedural maneuver proposed by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to increase the debt limit. He said the Senate would instead await the results of negotiations between Mr. Obama and the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, over a broad deficit reduction package.
    “The path to avert default now runs through the House of Representatives,” Mr. Reid said after Democrats voted against the House plan. He said that he was canceling plans to keep the Senate in session over the weekend and that lawmakers would instead reconvene Monday, just more than a week before the Aug. 2 deadline set by the Treasury Department for increasing the $14.3 trillion limit.
    Mr. Obama said at a town hall meeting where he was taking questions Friday morning that he was willing to agree to “historic” spending cuts in an effort to trim the nation’s budget deficit, and urged Congressional factions to come together and reach a deal. He said it was not conceivable that the United States would default on its debt.
    “This is a rare opportunity for both parties to come together and choose a path where we stop putting so much debt on our credit card,” Mr. Obama said…. – NYT, 7-22-11
  • Senate votes down GOP debt ceiling plan: The Senate on Friday defeated the Republican “Cut, Cap and Balance” proposal, a move that puts the onus on President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner to present a plan soon to raise the debt ceiling or risk a potentially catastrophic default.
    The procedural vote to kill the measure that was approved by the Republican-controlled House on Tuesday was along party lines in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
    “We’re going to dispose of this legislation as it needs to be, so that President Obama and the speaker can move forward on a [plan] that will have some revenue in it,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said just before the roll call began.
    Friday had been seen as a potentially critical date in the weeks-long budget debate. According to the Treasury Department, lawmakers must agree to a plan that raises the debt limit before Aug. 2 or the federal government could default on its obligations for the first time in the nation’s history…. – LAT, 7-22-11
  • John Boehner: Debt talks will make for a “hot weekend here in Washington”: “It’s going to be a hot weekend here in Washington, D.C.,” House Speaker John Boehner said today.
    Nevermind that the heat index for the District on Friday is 120 degrees — lawmakers will be sweating in their Washington offices as the clock ticks down toward a possible U.S. default.
    The Senate on Friday rejected a Republican plan that would have made raising the debt ceiling contingent on passing a balanced budget amendment. Democratic leaders blasted the plan as bad policy and hardly worthy of consideration. But Boehner said today it’s still the only plan to raise the debt ceiling that he supports.
    Calling himself a “happy warrior” on behalf of the GOP plan — dubbed “cut, cap and balance” — Boehner said, “The House has done its job.” The speaker refused to acknowledge the need for an alternative plan. “If [members of the Senate] don’t like our version of ‘cut, cap and balance’… then what’s their plan?” he asked. “They can make amendments and send it back over.”… – CBS News, 7-22-11
  • Boehner: ‘We are not close’ to reaching a debt deal with Obama: Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Friday assured House Republicans that he is not on the verge of striking a deal with the White House to raise the debt ceiling.
    “Frankly, we are not close to an agreement,” Boehner said. “I would just suggest it is going to be a hot weekend here in Washington, D.C.”
    Boehner told reporters there “never was an agreement” with the White House on a grand bargain.
    But he told the GOP conference that the House needs to be prepared to pass something related to the debt ceiling by next Wednesday, according to Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) Others in the meeting said Boehner was talking about fall-back options because it would be irresponsible not to.
    GOP members on Friday insisted the Senate should amend “Cut, Cap and Balance” and send an alternative back to the House. Boehner claimed two-thirds of the pubic supports the plan, which would cut at least $6 trillion in spending over a decade without revenue increases.
    “The House has done its job, and I hope the Senate will do theirs. And if they don’t our version of ‘Cut, Cap and Balance,’ guess what? That is what the legislative process if for. They can amend it, they can change it, they can send it back over to the House,” Boehner said…. – The Hill, 7-22-11
  • Democrats, divided (on the debt ceiling): For weeks, the dominant storyline in the ongoing (and ongoing and ongoing) debt limit negotiations has been the fissure between establishment Republicans and the tea party wing of the GOP.
    That all changed Thursday when reports began to surface that a deal that would include $3 trillion in spending cuts — including to entitlement programs — was being hashed out by the White House and House Republicans.
    Congressional Democrats — as expertly detailed by the Post’s Paul Kane — reacted angrily to the idea, insisting that such a deal would amount to declaring defeat (politically and otherwise) when victory was in sight.
    What the episode proves — for the billionth time in the history of politics — is that what’s good for the goose (Obama) is not always good for the gander (congressional Democrats).
    What Obama needs and wants out of this protracted debate about the country’s financial future is a deal…. – WaPo, 7-22-11
  • US Senate rejects House budget plan: The US Senate this morning rejected a House-backed budget and deficit plan, leaving Congress at a tense impasse over how to solve the nation’s looming debt limit problem before the US Treasury stops paying some of its bills on Aug. 2.
    The Senate, along a 51-to-46 party-line vote, used a procedural vote to dispatch with the House-passed “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan, which would cut current spending, cap future spending, and require a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget.
    Senator Scott Brown, the Massachusetts Republican, supported moving forward with the measure. Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat, was one of three senators who did not vote on it.
    His staff did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but he has railed against the House GOP plan previously.
    “ A balanced budget requirement is something we have in Massachusetts, and I think it would be good for the entire country at a time when we are $14.3 trillion dollars in debt and it is rising every day,” Brown said in a statement after the vote. “Now both parties need to come together on a plan that will allow us to avoid default, make substantial cuts in spending, which is reasonable and bipartisan and will have a chance of being signed into law.” “Let’s stop the negative politics and partisan bickering and get down to work,” he added. “Time is running short.”… – Boston Globe, 7-22-11
  • Debt Ceiling Uncertainty Puts States at Risk: The federal debt ceiling debate is already complicating life for state and local governments. States whose economies rely on the federal government — including Maryland and Virginia, home to many federal employees and contractors — are at the greatest risk if there is no agreement and Washington has to decide which payments to make and which to skip. They were among the states warned by Moody’s Investors Service this week that their credit ratings were being jeopardized by Washington — which would make it more expensive for them to borrow for costs like construction, through no fault of their own.
    Many state and local officials are still hoping that a deal will be reached, averting a situation in which federal payments to the states could start to be cut in August. But a number of states have begun preparing for the worst…. – NYT., 7-22-11
  • Obama to talk debt at U-Md. town hall: President Obama will host a town hall meeting at University of Maryland on Friday to make his case for why he is pushing Congress for a “grand bargain” solution, 12 days before the United States faces a potentially catastrophic financial default.
    Obama is set to appear at 11 a.m. at the 1,200-seat Ritchie Coliseum in College Park, in front of a mixed crowd of students, faculty and other locals. General admission seats were distributed within about 1 1 / 2 hours after the ticket booth opened, university spokesman Milree Williams said. A few dozen students camped out overnight.
    After weeks of intense negotiations with Congress, Obama will tell the audience that now is the time for a major deficit reduction package that includes a mix of spending cuts and tax increases…. – WaPo, 7-22-11
  • US debt talks begin critical phase: Efforts to avoid an unprecedented U.S. default enter crunch time on Friday, with President Barack Obama and top lawmakers engaged in a sometimes chaotic drive to strike a sweeping deficit-reduction deal.
    With the clock ticking toward an Aug. 2 deadline to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, Obama and the senior Republican in Congress, House Speaker John Boehner, worked toward a plan that could include up to $3 trillion in spending cuts but might leave tax reform for later, congressional aides said.
    The main obstacle remained the issue of tax increases that Obama’s Democrats demand and Republicans vehemently oppose. There were conflicting accounts of how and when higher revenue might kick in, and the White House vowed there would be no deal without this.
    Negotiations have whipsawed between competing and even conflicting options, and leaders on both sides face resistance within their own ranks to some ideas now gaining traction…. – Reuters, 7-22-11
  • Obama, Boehner Press for Broad Deficit Deal Amid Strife: President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, each facing strife within his own ranks and dwindling time to avert a U.S. default, pressed for a broad agreement to boost the debt limit while cutting spending by trillions of dollars and overhauling the tax code.
    Negotiators are “not close to an agreement,” the speaker told reporters after meeting with rank-and-file House Republicans today. “I would suggest it is going to be a hot weekend here in Washington.”
    Obama summoned top Democrats to the White House last night after Democrats balked at word of a potential deal between the president and Boehner that would reduce the long-term deficit by about $3 trillion over 10 years through deep spending cuts without an immediate increase in taxes. Democratic lawmakers said they feared the president was moving toward an agreement that undermined their party’s priorities…. – Bloomberg, 7-21-11

JULY 21, 2011: OBAMA & BOEHNER NEAR DEBT DEAL AGREEMENT?

President 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

“In order for us to solve the debt and deficit problems, we’ve got to cut spending that we don’t need. We have to eliminate programs that may not be working. We’ve got to make some tough decisions around things like defense spending as well as domestic spending.
But we’re also going to have to have more revenues and we can do that in a way that is not hurting the economy — [and] in fact could potentially help the economy by closing up some loopholes that distort the economy.” — President Obama NPR’s Tell Me More

“There is no deal. We are not close to a deal.” — Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary

“While we are keeping the lines of communication open, there is no ‘deal’ and no progress to report.” — Kevin Smith, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner

“Frankly, I think it would be irresponsible on behalf of the Congress and the president not to be looking at backup strategies for how to solve this problem. At the end of the day, we have a responsibility to act.” — Speaker John Boehner R-Ohio

“I only know what you know about the agreement — the potential agreement. What I have to say is this: The president always talked about balance. That there had to be some fairness in this. That this can’t be all cuts. There has to be a balance. There has to be some revenue.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

“In case Senator Reid didn’t notice, a bipartisan ‘Gang of 234’ just sent him the way forward. It’s called the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act. This is the only plan that can fundamentally solve our debt problem, and it is waiting for Senator Reid to bring up on the Senate floor for an up-or-down vote. The House made its position in the debt debate crystal clear. It’s Cut, Cap, and Balance. — Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Chairman of the House Republican Study Committee

Obama and Boehner Close to Major Budget Deal, Officials Say: The Obama administration has informed Democratic Congressional leaders that President Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner were starting to close in on a major budget deal that would enact substantial spending cuts and seek future revenues through a tax overhaul, Congressional officials said Thursday.
With the government staring at a potential default in less than two weeks, the officials said the administration on Wednesday night notified top members of Congress that a bargain with Mr. Boehner could be imminent. The Congressional leaders, whose help Mr. Obama would need to bring a compromise forward, were told that the new revenue tied to the looming agreement to increase the debt limit by Aug. 2 would be produced in 2012 through a tax code rewrite that would lower individual and corporate rates, close loopholes, end tax breaks and make other adjustments to produce revenue gains.

  • 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
  • CNN Poll: Strong partisan divide on debt ceiling: Eighteen percent of people questioned say that if the debt ceiling is not raised, it would cause a crisis, with another 43 percent saying it would create major problems for the country. Three in ten say a failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause only minor problems and six percent say no problems would occur.
    As expected, there’s a partisan divide. “Democrats and independents predict that not raising the debt ceiling will create a crisis or major problems in the U.S.” adds Holland. “Roughly half of all Republicans think that will create only minor problems or no problems at all.”
    The survey is the sixth poll released over the past week to indicate that a solid majority of the public want any agreement to raise the debt ceiling to include both spending cuts and tax increases. Sixty-four percent of people questioned in the CNN/ORC survey say they want a budget plan with both spending cuts and tax hikes for businesses and higher-income Americans.
    Again, there’s a partisan divide, with 83 percent of Democrats and nearly two-thirds of independents but just 37 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of self described tea party movement supports saying they prefer a combined approach. A majority of Republicans and tea party supporters prefer a plan that only includes spending cuts…. – CNN, 7-21-11
  • 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.
    Thursday’s developments: House Speaker John Boehner predicted a majority of House Republicans will end up supporting some kind of compromise to avoid a government default. Democrats insisted higher tax revenue be part of a deal. And both sides disputed reports that Obama and Boehner were near an agreement on a grand bargain. Hopes for a compromise ran into renewed resistance from Republicans opposed to higher taxes and Democrats hesitant to cut Medicare and other benefit programs. A new backup plan that would cut spending by $1 trillion or slightly more immediately and raise the debt limit by a similar amount appeared to be gaining momentum…. – AP, 7-21-11
  • Administration, GOP downplay reports of deal: With time running short to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit, President Obama and congressional leaders worked through another tumultuous day of negotiations Thursday with little public progress for weeks of work to reach a compromise that would let the government to keep borrowing money while cutting spending and, perhaps, increasing taxes.
    Democratic sources close to the negotiations said the potential agreements discussed by the White House and Republicans include up to $3 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years and a tax code rewrite by the end of 2012 that would bring in up to $1 trillion, also over the course of a decade. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
    However, administration officials and congressional Republicans spent much of the day downplaying such reports.
    “There is no progress to report,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters just 12 days before the Aug. 2 deadline set by the Treasury Department to raise the debt limit or face a first-ever government default on its loans — and, economists and Obama have warned, economic catastrophe…. – USA Today, 7-21-11
  • Obama and Boehner close in on plan with savings of $3 trillion: President Barack Obama and the Republican House speaker, John Boehner, once again struggled against resistance from their respective parties Thursday as they tried to shape a sweeping deficit-reduction agreement that could avert a government default in less than two weeks.
    Congressional and administration officials said that the two men, who had abandoned earlier talks toward a deal when leaks provoked Republicans’ protests, were closing in on a package calling for as much as $3 trillion in savings from substantial spending cuts and future revenue produced by a tax code overhaul. If it could be sold to Congress, the plan could clear the way for a vote to increase the federal debt ceiling before an Aug. 2 deadline.
    But the initial reaction to the still-unfinished proposal hardly suggested a quick resolution. This time, the blowback came mostly from senior congressional Democrats, who are angry at some of Obama’s concessions and at being excluded from the talks.
    The president worked to ease concerns from members of his party, inviting Democratic leaders to a nearly two-hour White House meeting Thursday evening.
    Obama and Boehner had maintained tight secrecy to prevent a recurrence of the rebellion that stymied their effort earlier this month. With only a few top advisers involved, the news that they were nearing an accord broke after administration officials told Democratic congressional leaders Wednesday night about
    the outlines of talks earlier in the day between the president, Boehner and Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 House Republican…. – NYT, 7-21-11
  • Obama, Boehner’s $3T debt deal bid takes fire from all sides: White House debt talks were described at the “fish-or-cut-bait” stage Thursday night, as President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner sought to keep alive an estimated $3 trillion deficit-reduction package already taking fire from the left and right.
    Budget director Jack Lew received a fierce, angry, even screaming reception at the Senate Democratic Caucus, and Democratic congressional leaders were called to the White House to meet with the president for nearly two hours Thursday evening.
    At the same time, Boehner felt compelled to go on “The Rush Limbaugh Show” to deny any deal, and the timing is doubly sensitive for the speaker because the Senate is slated to vote Friday on a much tougher House-passed bill that would require Obama to accept twice the spending cuts in return for raising the debt ceiling on Aug. 2.
    The Cut, Cap and Balance measure has become a cause célèbre for tea party forces, and Boehner was almost abject in his denials to Limbaugh even as the speaker and the president are desperate for a settlement to avert default.
    “Well, Rush, there is no deal,” Boehner told the radio host. “No deal publicly, no deal privately; there is absolutely no deal.”
    That’s not to say they aren’t trying…. – Politico, 7-21-11
  • Debt-limit talks: As Obama, Boehner rush to strike deal, Democrats are left fuming: President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner rushed Thursday to strike agreement on a far-reaching plan to reduce the national debt but faced a revolt from Democrats furious that the accord appeared to include no immediate provision to raise taxes.
    With 12 days left until the Treasury begins to run short of cash, Obama and Boehner (R-Ohio) were still pursuing the most ambitious plan to restrain the national debt in at least 20 years. Talks focused on sharp cuts in agency spending and politically painful changes to cherished health and retirement programs aimed at saving roughly $3 trillion over the next decade.
    More savings would be generated through an overhaul of the tax code that would lower personal and corporate income tax rates while eliminating or reducing an array of popular tax breaks, such as the deduction for home mortgage interest. But the talks envisioned no specific tax increases as part of legislation to lift the debt limit, and the tax rewrite would be postponed until next year.
    Democrats reacted with outrage as word filtered to Capitol Hill, saying the emerging agreement appeared to violate their pledge not to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits as well as Obama’s promise not to make deep cuts in programs for the poor without extracting some tax concessions from the rich.
    When “we heard these reports of these mega-trillion-dollar cuts with no revenues, it was like Mount Vesuvius. . . . Many of us were volcanic,” said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.).
    White House budget director Jacob J. Lew denied that a deal without taxes was in the works. “We’ve been clear revenues have to be part of any agreement,” he told reporters…. – WaPo, 7-21-11
  • Democrats erupt over latest plan on debt ceiling: Many worry that Obama might retreat from his demand that revenue increases, opposed by Republicans, be part of any plan to slash the federal deficit…. – LAT, 7-21-11
  • Obama, Boehner — Deal? No deal?: There’s a report that President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are “close” to a debt deal, but the principals deny it.
    After The New York Times posted a headline that said “Obama and Boehner Close to Major Budget Deal, Congressional Leaders Are Told,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, tweeted: “False.”
    At the White House, Obama spokesman Jay Carney said bulletins are “incorrect — there is no deal, we are not close to a deal.”
    Carney said there are no meetings scheduled between Obama and any other congressional leaders, but that could change. “As you know,”‘ Carney said, “this is a fluid situation.”
    The Times reported that “the Obama administration has informed Democratic Congressional leaders that President Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner were starting to close in on a major budget deal that would enact substantial spending cuts and seek future revenues through a tax overhaul, Congressional officials said Thursday.”
    White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted: “Anyone reporting a $3 trillion deal without revenues is incorrect. POTUS believes we need a balanced approach that includes revenues.”
    In his tweet, Boehner urged the Senate to sign off on the House Republican plan known as “cut, cap and balance.”… – USA Today, 7-21-11
  • Boehner and Obama Nearing Budget Deal, Leaders Told: The Obama administration has informed Democratic Congressional leaders that President Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner were starting to close in on a major budget deal that would enact substantial spending cuts and seek future revenues through a tax overhaul, Congressional officials said Thursday.
    With the government staring at a potential default in less than two weeks, the officials said the administration on Wednesday night notified top members of Congress that an agreement between the president and Mr. Boehner could be imminent. The Congressional leaders, whose help Mr. Obama would need to bring a compromise forward, were told that the new revenue tied to the looming agreement to increase the debt limit by Aug. 2 would be produced in 2012 through a tax code rewrite that would lower individual and corporate rates, close loopholes, end tax breaks and make other adjustments to produce revenue gains.
    Officials knowledgeable about the conversations between the administration and Congressional leaders said the details of the potential package remained unknown but they presumed it would include cuts and adjustments in most federal programs, including Medicare.
    However, officials on all sides of the tense negotiations warned that no firm deal was in hand yet, and tried to play down the progress — if only to stave off attempts to block it or influence its shape by hardliners on both sides of the debate on taxes and spending.
    “While we are keeping the lines of communication open, there is no ‘deal’ and no progress to report,” said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner.
    The White House denied that any deal is imminent. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said that “there is no deal. We are not close to a deal.”… – NYT, 7-21-11
  • Obama: Time to do ‘something big and meaningful’: President Barack Obama insists the negotiations to raise the nation’s debt limit gives him and Congress “the opportunity to do something big and meaningful” to reduce the government’s long-term deficits.
    Obama says he is willing to cut “historic amounts of spending” and says that should be coupled with more revenue from “fundamental tax reform.” The president expressed himself in an opinion piece that appeared Thursday evening on USA Today’s website…. – AP, 7-21-11
  • No debt ceiling deal, White House says: Talks between President Obama and congressional leaders are focusing on a possible $3 trillion deficit reduction deal that would accompany a debt ceiling increase, congressional aides told CNN on Thursday.
    The aides, who spoke on condition of not being identified, said the possible deal remained in limbo over disagreement on whether to extend Bush-era tax cuts for families earning more than $250,000 a year, and nothing has been agreed to yet.
    The possible deal would include spending cuts expected to total $1 trillion or more that were agreed to in earlier negotiations led by Vice President Joe Biden, the sources said. It also would reform entitlement programs by changing the eligibility age for Medicare over time and using a more restrictive inflation index for Social Security benefits, according to the sources.
    On taxes, it would permanently extend the Bush era tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 while allowing the cuts to expire at the end of 2012 for those earning more than that, the aides said. At the same time, the deal would include a commitment to reform the tax code next year, which is expected to lower all tax rates and eliminate loopholes and subsidies, the sources said…. – CNN, 7-21-11
  • White House and House Speaker shoot down report that debt deal reached: Both the White House and House Speaker John Boehner shot down a report from the New York Times today that lawmakers in Washington are close to reaching a significant deal for raising the debt ceiling and reducing the deficit.
    “There is no deal, we are not close to a deal,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today. “The fact is there is no progress to report,” but President Obama and congressional leaders are still working on “getting the most significant deal possible.”
    Lawmakers have until August 2 to raise the legal limit the U.S. government is allowed to borrow — which currently stands at $14.3 trillion — before the U.S. risks defaulting on its loans.
    While he said they’re not close to a deal, Carney said the White House is “absolutely confident that the debt ceiling will be raised.”… – CBS News, 7-21-11
  • Boehner: House will compromise on debt limit: House Speaker John Boehner predicted Thursday that a majority of House Republicans will end up supporting some kind of compromise to avoid a government default. Democrats insisted that higher tax revenue be part of a deal.
    White House budget chief Jacob Lew told reporters at the Capitol that “I’m unaware of a deal” between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans and he repeated that “we’ve made clear revenues have to be included.”
    All sides pushed against media reports that Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, were near an agreement on a grand bargain trading $3 trillion or so in spending cuts and a promise of $1 trillion in tax revenues through a later overhaul of the tax code as part of a deal to extend the government’s borrowing authority…. – AP, 7-21-11
  • Obama, Boehner discuss possible $3 trillion in cuts: aide: President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are discussing a possible deal that would include $3 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years to avert an unprecedented U.S. default, a senior Democratic congressional aide said Thursday.
    Their potential agreement would include a promise of tax reform in 2012, the aide said…. – AP, 7-21-11
  • ‘Gang of Six’ Debt Ceiling Plan is DOA in House: The so-called “Gang of Six” plan has hit the U.S. House of Representatives with a resounding “thud.” There are a number of problems with it, the least of which is that it is not really a plan at all. Rather, it is an outline of a framework of a concept of a deal, one that would raise taxes considerably without doing very much, if anything, to bring spending under control.
    The problem with deals of this sort, and we’ve seen them before, is that the new taxes, new revenues, and new spending all seem to kick in right away while the promised spending cuts, which always are set to go into effect in the so-called “out years” never seem to go into effect at all. [Read the U.S. News debate: Should Congress raise the debt limit?]
    Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who really hasn’t proposed much of anything up to now, asked his colleagues in the U.S. House Wednesday to send him a “path forward” in the debt debate.
    Reid is playing political games—which he can do since he alone controls the Senate floor, where it is unlikely he will bring the Senate version of “Cut, Cap, and Balance” up for a vote, lest it pass…. – US News, 7-21-11
  • Obama’s birthday wish: ‘A debt ceiling deal’: President Obama, who will turn 50 on Aug. 4, says he wants a special birthday present: “a debt ceiling deal.”
    Obama told NPR’s Tell Me More program in an interview to be broadcast Friday that a proposal by the Senate’s “Gang of Six” underscores the value of a “balanced” approach to debt reduction.
    The $3.7 trillion deal features “Republican senators acknowledging that revenues need to be part of a balanced package,” Obama told NPR’s Michel Martin. “And you had Democratic senators acknowledge that we’re going to have to make some difficult spending cuts.”… – USA Today, 7-21-11
  • She’s b-a-a-c-k! GOP may need Nancy Pelosi to pass debt-ceiling deal: At times she has looked to be an afterthought, a relic of a bygone era. Republicans haven’t bothered to court her. And the White House, at times, has appeared to ignore her. But now they’re going to need Nancy Pelosi.
    As the clock ticks down toward a possible government default, it appears to be less and less likely that a package can be crafted that will appease the large bloc of House conservatives who either oppose raising the debt ceiling on principle or won’t vote to hike it without massive cuts in federal spending. That means that Pelosi, the former speaker who presides over a shrunken Democratic minority in the House, likely will come into play. Any plan that passes the Senate, be it the fallback option by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell or a more ambitious proposal like the one being crafted by the so-called Gang of Six, will only be able to pass the House if Democratic votes push it over the finish line.
    So there Pelosi was Thursday, at a news conference at the Capitol, taking questions, mixing it up, almost like the old days had returned. She seemed to be in good spirits and enjoying the moment, even taking a few cracks at the George W. Bush administration for good measure. “We all have an obligation to prevent our country from going into default,” Pelosi said.
    The Californian hasn’t been in this position very often this year. The Republican rout last November crippled Democrats in the House. She surprised many by deciding to stay on as minority leader, choosing to remain a lonely progressive voice in a chamber swept by “tea party” fever. The large GOP majority means that Democrats are rarely a legislative factor — and Pelosi has lost her status as conservatives’ Public Enemy No. 1.
    That also has meant that the White House hasn’t had much use for her either. Earlier this month, she appeared blindsided by reports that President Obama was considering tinkering with Medicare and Social Security as a means of reaching a deficit-reduction deal with Speaker John Boehner. But she quickly became a ringing voice on the left pushing back on the proposal.
    Most of the talks at the White House have been built around the dynamic between Obama and Boehner, with Senate leaders Harry Reid and McConnell serving in supporting roles. Pelosi, while present, didn’t seem to have a card to play.
    Now she does. The GOP holds 241 seats in the House; it takes 218 to pass a bill. Already, 80 or so Republicans have signed off on a letter condemning the McConnell plan, which employs a procedural maneuver that allows the debt ceiling to be raised while giving Republicans a chance to vote against it with no consequences…. – LAT, 7-21-11
  • Pressure mounts for debt deal, talk of progress: A possible deal was on the table to save the United States from an unprecedented debt default, congressional aides said on Thursday as Republicans came under mounting pressure to make concessions.
    Two senior Democratic congressional aides said President Barack Obama and the top Republican in Congress, John Boehner, were working on a deal that would include $3 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years but leave tax reform for later.
    Obama, in an interview with National Public Radio, said any deal must include some tax increases alongside defense and other spending cuts. “We’re also going to have to have more revenues and we can do that in a way that is not hurting the economy (and) in fact could potentially help the economy by closing up some loopholes that distort the economy,” Obama said in excerpts of the interview released by NPR…. – Reuters, 7-21-11
  • Debt talks have senators angry about being left out: The White House faced a near rebellion from senators who were blindsided by word of a possible deal between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, with Democrats worried the president would cave on taxes while Republicans complained about being left in the dark on a potentially historic deficit plan.
    Furious Democrats directed their ire squarely at Obama’s budget director, Jack Lew, at a closed-door lunch meeting, while Republicans peppered their leaders with questions about the possibility of being jammed into a multitrillion-dollar bill with virtually no time for review.
    The frustration was evident in virtually all corners of the Senate on Thursday as it became increasingly possible that the body where landmark deals are usually made could effectively be left out of this one…. – Politico, 7-21-11
  • President’s debt offer: risky but could be win-win: It’s hard to know which is more surprising: a Democratic president pushing historic cuts in spending, including Social Security and Medicare. Or a Republican-controlled House refusing to accept the deal and declare a huge victory for long-sought GOP goals.
    Political orthodoxy has been turned on its head ever since President Barack Obama stepped up his call for a bipartisan “grand bargain” to raise the national debt ceiling and avert a default on U.S. obligations. The deal would include $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years, mainly through steep spending cuts but also including up to $1 trillion in new federal revenue.
    Those are far bigger targets than typical budget negotiations. And the spending cuts would seem more appropriate for a Republican president than a Democrat.
    Some pundits and political insiders say Republicans should leap at the offer. But there’s a hitch: The new revenue — mainly from overhauling the tax code and lowering rates by eliminating or limiting a broad swath of loopholes, deductions and tax breaks — presumably would violate a no-net-tax-hike pledge that scores of Republican lawmakers have signed.
    Mostly for that reason, House Republicans so far have rejected Obama’s overture, despite the interest shown by Speaker John Boehner. Some pro-Republican analysts seem bewildered.
    Obama’s offer of big spending cuts would have “brutally fractured the Democratic Party,” and congressional Republicans probably “will come to regret this missed opportunity,” wrote David Brooks, a moderate-to-conservative columnist for The New York Times…. – AP, 7-21-11
  • Obama, House Republicans in endgame in debt talks: In secretive endgame negotiations, President Barack Obama and House Republican leaders reached anew on Thursday for an elusive “grand bargain” deal to cut deficits by $4 trillion or more and prevent a government default, officials said.
    House Speaker John Boehner declared that his rank and file generally stood ready to compromise in order to reach an agreement as a way of “getting our economy going again and growing jobs.” Obama, in a newspaper opinion piece, said the talks provided an “opportunity to do something big and meaningful.”
    Still, 12 days before the default deadline, officials stressed that no compromise appeared imminent and that significant differences remained. And new hope of one ran instantly into old resistance: from Republicans opposed to higher taxes and Democrats loath to cut Medicare and other benefit programs…. – AP, 7-21-11
  • WaPo, 7-21-11
  • WaPo, 7-21-11

JULY 20, 2011: PRESIDENT OBAMA OPEN TO SHORT TERM DEBT EXTENSION AGREEMENT & DEBT CAP DEAL

“The president has been clear that he will not support a short-term extension of the debt ceiling. What we mean by that is we would not support a short-term extension absent an agreement to a larger deal. That’s not acceptable. Obviously, if both sides agree to something significant, we will support the measures needed to finalize the details of that.” — White House spokesman Jay Carney

Washington Post-ABC News Poll: Obama and GOP (low) approval on economy, deficit and taxes: Obama’s ratings are slightly higher than Republicans – but by no means good – on each issue. He outpolls Republicans on handling the economy by 39 to 28 percent. He tops the Republicans on the deficit by 38 to 27 percent. And on perhaps the most contentious point in the debt ceiling negotiations, Obama’s approval on taxes is higher by a more significant 45 to 31 percent. – WaPo, 7-20-11

  • Is Obama winning over Americans in debt-ceiling standoff?: Recent polls show that Americans are coming to agree with Obama’s position: that Congress must raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit by a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts…. – CS Monitor, 7-20-11
  • Obama open to short-term deal on debt ceiling. Here are five ideas: The scramble on Capitol Hill to come up with a solution to the nation’s debt crisis produced a surprise announcement from the White House Wednesday: Contrary to previous statements, President Obama would support a short-term deal to raise the debt ceiling.
    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney added an important caveat, however. The president would only sign the short-term deal if it was a means to buy time to finalize a longer-term deal without running afoul of the Aug. 2 deadline.
    Suddenly, Washington is awash in prospects for short term deals. Here are five…. – 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.
    Wednesday’s developments: Obama signaled he might be open to a short-term debt solution if a larger, long-term deal was in place. The president called Democratic and Republican leaders back to the White House for separate negotiations. The key question with time running short: What will it take to muster enough votes from both parties to muscle legislation through the House and Senate and raise the national debt limit?… – AP, 7-20-11
  • If debt deal near, Obama would OK stopgap measure: Running out of time, President Barack Obama softened his stand and signaled Wednesday he would back a short-term deal to prevent a disastrous financial default on Aug. 2, but only if a larger and still elusive deficit-cutting agreement was essentially in place. He called lawmakers to the White House in a scramble to find enough votes from both Republicans and his own party.
    Obama met with the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, and then separately with House Speaker John Boehner and his deputy, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, in hopes of cobbling together a big compromise. All signs pointed to a legislative fight that would play out to the end…. – AP, 7-20-11
  • Obama Open to Debt-Cap Deal: The White House encouraged congressional leaders to reach a major deficit-reduction deal by offering them a little more time, as they scrambled to find a way to prevent a government default in less than two weeks.
    President Barack Obama would accept a short-term increase in the federal government’s $14.29 trillion borrowing limit if congressional leaders reach agreement on a “significant” deficit-reduction plan before Aug. 2 but need more time to pass legislation, a White House spokesman said Wednesday.
    The move reflects Mr. Obama’s desire to keep alive hopes that Democrats and Republicans can achieve a far-reaching agreement. Mr. Obama has made clear his desire for the largest deal possible, perhaps along the lines of a new proposal to shrink the deficit by $3.7 trillion over 10 years that was unveiled this week by a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Six.”
    Mr. Obama’s willingness to entertain a short-term extension also suggests rising doubt in the White House that Democrats and Republicans can agree on and pass such a sweeping deficit-reduction plan by the Aug. 2 deadline.
    President Obama is open to a short-term deal to raise the debt ceiling, but only if it is used as a bridge to a larger agreement to cut the budget deficit. Jerry Seib has details from Washington.
    “If both sides agree to something concretely significant, we will support the measures needed to finalize the details,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said, later clarifying that he meant a “very” short-term extension, such as a few days. “We believe a short-term extension, absent an agreement to a larger deal, is unacceptable,” Mr. Carney said…. – WSJ, 7-20-11
  • Obama, lawmakers meet; president would OK short-term deal to avoid default if big pact close: Running out of time, President Barack Obama softened his stand and signaled Wednesday he would back a short-term deal to prevent a disastrous financial default on Aug. 2, but only if a larger and still elusive deficit-cutting agreement was essentially in place. He called lawmakers to the White House in a scramble to find enough votes from both Republicans and his own party.
    Obama met with the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, and then separately with House Speaker John Boehner and his deputy, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, in hopes of cobbling together a big compromise. All signs pointed to a legislative fight that would play out to the end…. – AP, 7-20-11
  • Obama: ‘Some progress’ being made in debt talks: President Barack Obama says there has been “some progress” in negotiations with bipartisan lawmakers over raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
    But Obama says lawmakers are nearing the “11th hour” as an Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling nears. He praised a proposal from leaders of the bipartisan “Gang of Six” who say they’re nearing agreement on a major plan to cut the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the coming decade.
    The president’s remarks come as House Republicans move toward a vote on legislation that would raise the nation’s debt limit in exchange for trillions of dollars in federal spending cuts and congressional approval of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. Democratic opposition means it has no chance of clearing the Senate, and even if it did, Obama has vowed a veto…. – Businessweek, 7-20-11
  • Debt Compromise Pressure Intensifies, Obama to Resume Talks: A bipartisan Senate proposal for a $3.7 trillion debt-cutting plan praised by President Barack Obama faces resistance from House Republicans, as lawmakers intensify efforts for a compromise on government spending less than two weeks before a threatened default.
    Obama said he will renew talks at the White House this week with congressional leaders as the Democratic-led Senate and Republican House pursue divergent paths toward ending the stalemate over lifting the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit.
    “The problem we have now is we’re in the 11th hour and we don’t have a lot more time left,” Obama said yesterday, referring to an Aug. 2 deadline officials have set for raising the debt cap. The president, in remarks at the White House, said he will urge congressional leaders “to start talking turkey” and get “down to the hard business of crafting a plan that can move this forward.”
    House Republicans last night passed their debt-reduction plan 234-190 — legislation that stands little chance of passing the Senate and that Obama has said he would veto if it did. The measure would cut and cap government spending and allow the debt ceiling to be raised by $2.4 trillion only if Congress approves a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution…. – Bloomberg, 7-20-11
  • White House signals openness to short-term debt extension if tied to ‘larger deal’: President Obama would consider a short-term measure aimed at raising the nation’s debt ceiling and avoiding a default by Aug. 2 if Congress agrees to a larger, long-term deficit-reduction and debt-ceiling deal and needs “a few days” to finalize the legislation, his spokesman said Wednesday.
    With time running out for reaching such a deal, Obama called House and Senate Democratic leaders to a White House meeting Wednesday as he sought to shore up his party’s support for a compromise deficit-reduction plan that could help break a political impasse over the debt limit and avert a U.S. default.
    Later, Obama was scheduled to confer at the White House with the top two House Republicans: Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.)…. – WaPo, 7-20-11
  • Push for Broad Budget Deal Intensifies Among Leaders: With the clock ticking down, President Obama and Congressional leaders began a final effort to forge a broad deficit-reduction plan even as new cracks appeared among House Republicans over how to proceed.
    The White House suggested for the first time that Mr. Obama might be willing to agree to extend by a few days the Aug. 2 deadline for legislation to increase the government’s debt ceiling if a deal was in sight, stepping up the pressure on the two parties to come to terms.
    Mr. Obama met separately at the White House with Republican and Democratic leaders. But neither side reported any substantive progress as they searched for a formula that would include deep spending cuts, cost-saving changes to entitlement programs and an overhaul of the tax code that would increase revenues by closing certain tax breaks and eliminating deductions but also lower some tax rates.
    Politically, the main question remained whether House Republicans would be willing to negotiate over any package that could be construed as raising taxes, and throughout the day there were signs of internal debate among party leaders.
    Speaker John A. Boehner has shown continued interest in a deal if it can be done in a way that emphasizes lower tax rates…. – NYT, 7-20-11
  • Obama Backs Latest Bargain: President Barack Obama, in a last-ditch bid for a bipartisan “grand bargain” on the budget, threw his weight Tuesday behind a $3.7 trillion deficit-reduction plan unveiled by six Republican and Democratic senators.
    President Obama backed a $3.7 trillion deficit-reduction plan from the “Gang of Six” as “a very significant step” after it gained fresh momentum from a bipartisan group in the Senate. Nell Henderson has details from Washington.
    The plan, which would span a decade, has scant chance of passing intact as the solution to the current debate over raising the government’s borrowing limit. Some Republicans were wary of the plan’s changes in tax rules. Democrats said it would be near impossible to draft legislative language and pass it quickly.
    Still, some elements from the so-called Gang of Six senators could be incorporated into a final deal to shrink the deficit and raise the government’s $14.29 trillion debt cap by Aug. 2. That’s when the Treasury Department says the government will run out of cash to pay all its bills without an increase in borrowing authority.
    Even House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R.,Va.), one of the party’s most combative conservatives, didn’t dismiss the plan out of hand. “While there are still portions that are unclear and need more detail, this bipartisan plan does seem to include some constructive ideas to deal with our debt.”
    Mr. Obama and top congressional Democratic leaders were scheduled to meet at the White House Wednesday afternoon to discuss the path forward. It remains unclear how Mr. Obama and the congressional leaders will proceed on legislation to increase the statutory borrowing limit, although back-channel talks between leaders in the House and Senate are expected to accelerate in the coming days…. – WSJ, 7-20-11
  • ‘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
  • Obama to talk debt ceiling in TV interviews: President Barack Obama continues his push for an agreement to raise the debt ceiling by sitting down this morning for more broadcast interviews. He’ll talk with TV stations from Columbus, Ohio (WBNS), Los Angeles (KABC) and Kansas City, Mo. (KMBC).
    Yesterday, after a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Six” offered the framework of a deal that includes spending cuts and higher taxes, Obama said he hopes congressional leaders can now “start talking turkey.”
    Earlier Wednesday, the president and Vice President Joe Biden get their daily briefing, and Obama meets with senior advisers. In the afternoon, the president and vice president meet with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta…. – AP, 7-20-11
  • ‘Gang of Six’ plan takes center stage as debt deadline nears:

    President Obama, some conservative Republicans back the Gang of Six plan Sen. Reid says there isn’t time to pass the Gang of Six plan by August 2 The House votes 234-190 to approve the “cut, cap and balance” plan The United States must raise its $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by August 2 or risk a default

    Top administration and congressional officials continued focusing on a new bipartisan $3.7 trillion debt reduction plan Wednesday — the latest effort to avoid a potentially catastrophic default next month on the federal government’s financial obligations.
    President Barack Obama offered strong praise for the initiative on Tuesday, calling it “broadly consistent” with his own approach to the current debt ceiling crisis because it mixes tax changes, entitlement reforms and spending reductions.
    Senate Democratic leaders, however, expressed skepticism that they will be able to increase the debt limit and pass the plan — drafted by members of the chamber’s so-called “Gang of Six” — by the August 2 deadline…. – CNN, 7-20-11

  • The White House case against ‘Cut, Cap, Balance’: I just got off a conference call with White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer and deputy NEC director Jason Furman, in which they elaborated on the administration’s opposition to the “Cut, Cap, Balance” plan that the House is voting on Tuesday. The White House put out a statement Monday afternoon saying in no uncertain terms, “If the President were presented this bill for signature, he would veto it.”
    The rhetoric on the call was unusually heated. In a prepared statement, Furman called CCB a “extreme, radical, unprecedented” proposal, and Pfeiffer described it as “the Ryan plan on steroids”, noting that it would require much deeper cuts than Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal. To be specific, Furman alleged that the balanced budget amendment included in the CCB plan would force $400 billion in yearly cuts on top of the cuts in Ryan’s budget. If defense spending is exempted, that amounts to a 12 percent across-the-board spending cut that includes Medicare and Social Security. It would involve a 70 percent reduction in clean energy funding, $6,000 in extra annual costs for the average senior due to Medicare and Social Security cuts, and a one third cut to infrastructure spending, he said. These cuts, Furman said, are “essentially historically unparalleled.”… – WaPo, 7-20-11
  • Debt ceiling stalemate is Tea Party’s fault: GOP base refuses to compromise: The possibility is more real than ever that Aug. 2 will come and go without a deal to extend the debt ceiling, unleashing potentially catastrophic economic consequences. If this comes to pass, the blame – all of it – will belong to one group: The rabidly anti-Obama Tea Partyers who make up the base of today’s Republican Party.
    It is because of this compromise-allergic base that the House spent yesterday debating a radical deficit reduction plan – “cut, cap and balance,” they call it – that has absolutely zero chance of moving through the Senate, much less earning President Obama’s signature. But conservative ideologues love it, so this is how Congress must spend its time as the default deadline draws nearer.
    In theory, there’s a purpose to this lunacy. GOP leaders in the House and Senate seem close to a deal with Obama that would permit the President to raise the ceiling three times in the next year in exchange for some substantial concessions. Right now, it has no chance of passing muster with the GOP purists in the House. But maybe they’ll be persuaded when they see the futility of “cut, cap and balance” – and when Wall Street sends out a few more frantic pleas to avoid a default. Or maybe they won’t be…. – NY Daily News, 7-20-11
  • House Republicans pass symbolic measure on debt ceiling: The legislation calls for a cap on spending and a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. It is likely to die in the Senate. President Obama says time is running out for ‘actually solving this problem.’… – LAT, 7-20-11
  • House OKs debt plan, defying Obama, Senate: Defying a veto threat, the Republican-controlled U.S. House voted Tuesday night to slice federal spending by $6 trillion and require a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget to be sent to the states in exchange for averting a threatened Aug. 2 government default.
    The 234-190 vote marked the power of deeply conservative first-term Republicans, and it stood in contrast to rising support at the White House and in the U.S. Senate for a late stab at bipartisanship to solve the nation’s looming debt crisis.
    President Barack Obama and a surprising number of Republican senators lauded a deficit-reduction plan put forward earlier in the day that would include $1 trillion in what sponsors delicately called “additional revenue” and some critics swiftly labeled as higher taxes.
    The president said he hoped congressional leaders would “start talking turkey” on a deal to reduce deficits and raise the $14.3-trillion debt limit as soon as Wednesday, using the plan by the so-called Gang of Six as a road map…. – AP, 7-20-11
  • Bachmann: ‘I Won’t Vote to Raise Debt Ceiling’: Rep. Michele Bachmann is doubling down on her position that the debt ceiling should not be raised — under any circumstances. Her stance, underscored in a new ad, comes even as polls show Americans want a debt-ceiling deal, and shows that the tea-party favorite is betting her presidential campaign entirely on the anti-big-government crowd.
    The Minnesota Republican who hopes to make a strong showing in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential nominating contest, went up with an ad Wednesday in the Hawkeye State, once again stating: “I will not vote to increase the debt ceiling.” An increase, she says, “goes completely contrary to common sense and how I grew up in Iowa.” Ms. Bachmann released a similar ad earlier this month.
    On Tuesday night, Ms. Bachmann was one of nine House Republicans to vote against a debt-ceiling package pushed by conservative Republicans. The measure, which passed the GOP-controlled House, would slash federal expenditures by more than $100 billion in fiscal 2012, limit federal spending to a percentage of GDP and start the process of passing a balanced budget amendment. The congresswoman’s take on the House bill: It’s not enough.
    “The motion does not go far enough in fundamentally restructuring the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars,” she said in a written statement Tuesday night. “Along with cutting spending, putting in place enforceable spending caps that put us on a path to balance and passing a balanced budget amendment, we must also repeal and defund ObamaCare.”… – WSJ, 7-20-11
  • Room for Debate: What Will the Debt Debate Mean for 2012?: The standoff on the debt crisis is being portrayed as mostly political, with attempts by Republicans and Democrats to position themselves for next year’s elections. The voters say they are fed up but at the same time confident — as are the players in Washington — that in the end some compromise will be reached. Indeed, for voters the debt standoff seems a sideshow to what they really care about: jobs.
    If the public is at best apathetic and at worst exasperated by the political gamesmanship in Washington, what are the risks to Republicans and to President Obama and the Democrats as they gear up for the campaign of 2012? Even if one party is blamed more than another for the impasse this summer, will it matter in November of next year? …

    Blame to Go Around — Kristen Soltis, pollster
    Voters Care About Jobs — Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary
    Fighting the Real Crisis — Jamal Simmons, communications consultant
    End-Game Negotiations Work — Norman J. Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute —

    NYT, 7-19-11

JULY 19, 2011: CONGRESS VOTES ON & PASSES DEBT PLAN — SENATE GANG OF SIX’S COMPROMISE PLAN

Obama calls new Senate plan a ‘very significant step’ in debt talks: President Obama on Tuesday praised a new bipartisan plan emerging in the Senate, calling it “broadly consistent” with the White House’s approach to raising the debt limit and describing it as a “very significant step.” “We’re in the same playing field,” he said.

“The framework that they put forward is broadly consistent with the approach that I’ve urged.” — President Barack Obama to reporters, understating his satisfaction at the credibility the bipartisan proposal lent to his plan.

Mitch McConnell: Republicans have tried to persuade the President of the need for a serious course correction, but weeks of negotiations have shown that his commitment to big government is simply too great to lead to the kind of long-term reforms we need to put us on a path to balance and economic growth. So we’ve decided to bring our case to the American people.

Washington Post-ABC News poll: Obama, Republicans viewed as not willing enough to compromise on debt ceiling: Majorities of Americans see both President Obama and congressional Republicans as not being willing enough to compromise in their stalemated budget negotiations, but the public sees the GOP leaders as particularly intransigent, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News Poll. There is also growing dissatisfaction among Republicans with the hard-line stance of their congressional representatives: 58 percent now say their leaders are not doing enough to strike a deal, up from 42 percent in March.

  • President Obama on Deficit Talks: “We’re in the 11th Hour”WH, 7-19-11
  • House approves GOP debt reduction bill: The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a Republican-backed plan to extend the nation’s borrowing capacity in return for a cap on future government spending and a balanced budget amendment.
    The proposal would cut spending by $111 billion in 2012 and cap future outlays to 19.9% of the nation’s gross domestic output. It also would require that Congress send a balanced-budget constitutional amendment to the states for ratification, a lengthy process.
    Some Republicans who voted no did so because they oppose any increase in the debt ceiling, even with spending cuts…. – LAT, 7-19-11
  • ‘Gang of Six’ revives hope for big deal in stalled debt-ceiling talks: President Obama’s hopes for a ‘grand bargain’ both to raise the debt ceiling and rein in the deficit got a boost Tuesday when the Senate’s ‘Gang of Six’ proposed $3.7 trillion in deficit reductions…. – CS Monitor, 7-19-11
  • ‘Gang of Six’ plan hailed as debt-ceiling breakthrough. What’s in it?: The proposal by the ‘Gang of Six’ senators Tuesday draws on ideas from the deficit commission. The middle-of-the-road plan will have to overcome partisan concerns and a lack of time…. – CS Monitor, 7-19-11
  • 6 senators push bipartisan plan to cut deficit: The bipartisan “Gang of Six” senators on Tuesday offered a major plan to cut the deficit by almost $4 trillion over the coming decade, but whether it can break through the budget debate will depend on whether Republican lawmakers can find a way to endorse more than $1 trillion in new tax revenues reaped as Congress overhauls the loophole-choked U.S. tax code.
    The plan would also repeal a new long-term care program established under last year’s health overhaul and force an additional $500 billion in cuts from federal health care programs over the upcoming decade, according to documents provided to senators but not publicly released.
    The Gang of Six plan is separate from a politically freighted effort to lift the nation’s borrowing cap and avoid a first-ever default on U.S. obligations. President Barack Obama and Capitol Hill Republicans, however, have failed to reach an accord on what kind of spending cuts to pair with any increase in the borrowing cap.
    The six senators are Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Mark Warner, D-Va., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
    Their plan calls for an immediate $500 billion “down payment” on cutting the deficit as the starting point toward cuts of more than $4 trillion over the coming decade that would be finalized in a second piece of legislation. Most of those savings would come from four years of caps imposed on the day-to-day budgets of Cabinet agencies set by the annual appropriations bills.
    Depending on how one keeps score, the measure would save between $3.7 trillion and $4.7 trillion over the coming decade. The lower figure is measured against a lower spending “baseline” based on a fiscal 2011 budget law enacted earlier this year. But if measured against Obama’s request for the current 2011 budget year — the standard used by the fiscal commission — the plan would save the higher figure…. – AP, 7-19-11
  • Bipartisan Plan for Budget Deal Buoys President: President Obama seized on the re-emergence of an ambitious bipartisan budget plan in the Senate on Tuesday to invigorate his push for a big debt-reduction deal, and he summoned Congressional leaders back to the bargaining table this week to “start talking turkey.”
    The bipartisan proposal from the so-called Gang of Six senators to reduce deficits by nearly $4 trillion over the coming decade — and its warm reception from 43 other senators of both parties — renewed hopes for a deal days after talks between Mr. Obama and Congressional leaders had reached an impasse.
    Financial markets rallied on the news. And with time running out before the deadline of Aug. 2 to raise the government’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, Mr. Obama’s quick embrace of the plan left House Republicans at greater risk of being politically isolated on the issue if they continue to rule out any compromise that includes higher tax revenues.
    Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader who has led opposition to any deal including tax increases, later issued a statement saying the bipartisan Senate plan includes “some constructive ideas to deal with our debt.”…. – NYT, 7-20-11
  • Gang of Six back from the brink: Tom Coburn reveals his ‘Back in Black’ plan to reduce the federal deficit, Monday, July 18, 2011, during a news conference. | AP Photo Coburn told the group that he was ‘back,’ which prompted a round of applause.
    The once moribund Senate “Gang of Six” gained new life Tuesday after Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn unexpectedly rejoined the group and President Barack Obama praised a new effort to cut the debt by as much as $3.7 trillion over the next decade.
    Speaking at the White House Tuesday afternoon, Obama gave the Gang of Six a big boost, saying its proposals were “roughly” in line with his negotiations during the stalled debt-ceiling talks. But he said there would need to be broader buy-in to the proposal and he said Congress needed to have “fail-safe” plan, being drafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to avert a default. “I think we’re now seeing a potential for a bipartisan consensus,” Obama told reporters.
    Other top senators are also getting behind the plan, including Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the No. 3 Senate Republican, who told a group of senators Tuesday he would back the Gang of Six’s proposal, sources say. The fast-moving developments mean that elements of the proposal could influence the stalled talks to raise the debt-limit before the Aug. 2 deadline.
    The Republican led House, which is on the verge of voting on the conservative “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan that has little chance of passing the Senate, remains a tough sell on the Gang of Six.
    The House Republican leadership staff is reviewing the Gang of Six proposal, but has several concerns, according to aides….. – Politico, 7-20-11
  • Short-term debt limit extension an option, Obama says: President Barack Obama would support a short-term extension of the debt limit if Democrats and Republicans reach agreement on a broader deficit-cutting deal but need more time to move it through Congress, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday.
    “If both sides agree to something significant, we will support the measures needed to finalize details,” Carney said.
    By loosening the president’s opposition to a short-term extension, the White House ups the pressure on Congress to seriously consider a bipartisan Senate proposal released Tuesday.
    The $3.7 trillion plan offered by the “Gang of Six” received largely positive reviews from both parties, but Senate leaders questioned whether there is enough time before the Aug. 2 deadline to put the framework into legislative language, receive a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office and round up support.
    Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have never been enthused by the Gang of Six, concerned that rank-and-file members would cut a budget deal that muddied their respective party’s 2012 campaign strategies. For Republicans, the “Gang of Six” plan would mean a package that included new revenues, and for Democrats, a willingness to make serious changes to entitlement programs.
    Obama spoke by phone Tuesday night with House and Senate leaders, and he’s scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon with Democratic leaders. It is unclear when he will sit down again with Republicans…. – Politico, 7-20-11
  • Republicans and Democrats praise ‘Gang of Six’ debt reduction plan: On Tuesday morning the so-called “Gang of Six” unveiled a revamped version of their debt-reduction plan, which could become the breakthrough Congress has been waiting for. The group, which began working on debt talks weeks ago, also welcomed back Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Coburn quit the group in May.
    The new plan offered by the Gang reduces the federal deficit by $3.7 trillion over the next decade, and increases revenues by $1 trillion through reforms in the tax code.
    Coburn praised the plan on Tuesday, saying it has a good chance of garnering the support of at least 60 Senators.
    The plan was negotiated by the Gang, sans Coburn: Democrat Sens. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Mark Warner of Virginia, and Dick Durbin of Illinois, and Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Mike Crapo of Idaho.
    The group presented the plan during a meeting where more than 50 Senators were in attendance. Afterward, both Republicans and Democrats alike praised the proposal…. – The Daily Caller, 7-19-11
  • Boehner considers alternatives to GOP debt plan: House Speaker John Boehner says he is considering alternative budget plans even as the House takes up a GOP proposal to cap spending and eventually require a balanced budget.
    Speaking at a Tuesday press conference, Boehner said his preference is to pass the House GOP plan, which would increase the government’s ability to borrow but only after Congress passes a balanced budget constitutional amendment.
    The House is scheduled to vote on the plan Tuesday. But, Boehner said, “I do think it’s responsible for us to look at what Plan B would look like.”… – AP, 7-19-11
  • Bill Clinton: I Would Use 14th Amendment To Raise The Debt Ceiling: With the deadline to raise the debt ceiling just two weeks away, former President Bill Clinton said that if he were in President Obama’s shoes, he would use the 14th amendment to raise the debt ceiling “without hesitation.” Clinton told The National Memo’s Joe Conason that he would invoke the constitutional option and “force the courts to stop me” if “it came to that” and a deal could not be reached with Congress.
    “I think the Constitution is clear and I think this idea that the Congress gets to vote twice on whether to pay for [expenditures] it has appropriated is crazy,” Clinton said.
    Clinton said lifting the debt ceiling “is necessary to pay for appropriations already made” by Congress. “You can’t say, ‘Well, we won the last election and we didn’t vote for some of that stuff, so we’re going to throw the whole country’s credit into arrears,” he added.
    Despite saying he would raise the debt ceiling without congressional legislation, Clinton thinks the issue will be resolved by the August 2 deadline. “It looks to me like they’re going to make an agreement, and that’s smart,” he said. – ABC News, 7-19-11
  • House set to vote on GOP debt cutting measure:

    The House is to vote Tuesday on a “cut, cap, and balance” plan favored by conservatives
    Members of the “Gang of Six” are to present their own debt reduction plan Tuesday
    Leaders are working on a fallback plan initially proposed by the Senate minority leader
    The United States must raise its $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by August 2 or risk a default

    The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is set to vote Tuesday on a measure that would impose strict caps on all future federal spending while making it significantly tougher to raise taxes — the solution favored by hard-line conservatives to the current debt ceiling crisis.
    The so-called “cut, cap and balance” plan has virtually no chance of clearing the Democratic-controlled Senate or overcoming a promised presidential veto. It would, however, allow Republicans to clearly demonstrate their preference for steps favored by many in the tea party movement even as their leadership seeks a middle ground with Democrats.
    Top administration and congressional officials have been actively exploring a fallback plan proposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, that would raise the debt ceiling by up to $2.5 trillion through the 2012 election and avoid a potentially devastating default next month.
    At the same time, a bipartisan group of senators who worked for months to forge an agreement is scheduled Tuesday to unveil their plan to slash trillions of dollars off the debt over the next decade. The “Gang of Six” members will reveal their plan privately to a group of 40 to 50 senators…. – CNN, 7-19-11

  • Symbolic House vote on debt ceiling approaches: The Republican proposal calls for deep spending cuts. Negotiations to avert a federal default continue behind the scenes.
    The House prepared to vote on a Republican proposal to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for steep spending cuts, in defiance of President Obama’s vow to veto the bill if it passed both chambers of Congress.
    The standoff underscored the largely symbolic nature of the Republican measure amid ongoing behind-the scenes negotiations to avert a federal default.
    The talks revolved around a Senate-led plan to let Obama act alone to increase the debt ceiling through 2012. The plan also would include as much as $1.5 trillion in budget cuts identified by Republican and Democratic negotiators after weeks of closed-door debate…. – LAT, 7-19-11
  • GOP’s Plan for Debt Reform: Win in 2012, Senate GOP Doesn’t Believe Obama on Big Debt Deal:

    “There’s only one thing that is going to change the long-term trajectory on debt and spending in the federal government: the next election.” — Aide to a Senate Republican leader to Power Play on the way forward on debt-ceiling negotiation

    As the chances for a big deal on debt and deficits evaporate in the heat of deadline negotiations, fiscal hawks are growing increasingly frustrated.
    Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is releasing his “Back in Black” plan for massive debt reduction and four of his former compadres from the Gang of Six are rolling out their less-ambitious deficit plan.
    House Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing through the conservative-backed proposal for deep cuts now, spending caps later and a balanced budget amendment farther down the road.
    None of these big-ticket items seem to be going anywhere before a projected government shutdown begins sometime in the next few weeks, so why bring them up now?
    Part of it is the hope for a miraculous ending to this months-long debate in which a very liberal president and very conservative members of Congress decide to ditch their dogmas in the name of bipartisan compromise. It’s never happened before, but hey, there’s a first time for everything, right?
    Part of it is the desire to be able to say “I told you so” when the grubby, short-sighted final product is produced. By putting a plan out now, lawmakers can take the high ground later on. “My plan would have tripled the [cuts/taxes on millionaires and billionaires/savings/etc.] compared to the compromise package.”… – Fox News, 7-19-11

  • Analysis: McConnell plan may be reckoning for Republicans: Senator Mitch McConnell’s plan to avert an imminent U.S. debt default could lead to a day of reckoning for his Republicans as they weigh the prospect of fiscal disaster against the demands of Tea Party activists. With other efforts to raise the federal government’s debt ceiling at a standstill, McConnell’s “Plan B” to avoid default is increasingly seen as “Plan A” in Washington.
    The proposal by the top Republican in the Senate would dump the task into the laps of President Barack Obama and his Democrats, forcing them to back a $2.4 trillion increase in borrowing before the November 2012 elections as recession-weary voters worry about the country’s growing mountain of debt. Pinning the debt increase on Obama and the Democrats could help McConnell pick up the four seats needed to win Republican control of the Senate and further his stated goal of making Obama a one-term president. It also may ensure his party avoids getting blamed for an August 2 default that could push the United States back into recession and upend financial markets across the globe.
    Surprisingly, Democrats have embraced the plan as the best possible way to get an increase in the debt ceiling through a divided Congress. Obama could also turn the situation to his advantage. “Obama’s answer (could be) that Republicans in Congress didn’t step up and deal with this so I’m making the tough decisions and showing leadership,” said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst with the Cook Political Report.
    The Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to pass the McConnell measure if it comes up for a vote this week, but prospects are less certain in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives…. – Reuters, 7-19-11
  • Group of House Republicans Aim to Stop McConnell Debt-Ceiling Plan: A group of House Republicans is moving to try and upend an effort by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) to give President Barack Obama more power to raise the government’s borrowing authority, complicating efforts by the White House to broker a deal before the government begins defaulting on its obligations after Aug. 2.
    Rep. Joe Walsh (R., Ill.) circulated a letter to other House Republicans Monday that urges House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.) not to bring Mr. McConnell’s proposal to the House floor for a vote…. – WSJ, 7-19-11
  • Reed demands Obama produce deficit plan: Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, today led several dozen House Republicans in demanding that President Obama release a detailed deficit reduction plan as the nation moves perilously closer to reaching its debt ceiling on Aug. 2.
    “Because you have not presented any written detailed proposal to raise the debt ceiling, our constituents are left in the dark as to what specific cuts you propose as well as what taxes you are planning to raise,” Reed wrote in the letter to the president, which 64 other members of Congress co-signed.
    “It is regrettable that we have reached this point, but the time for blame is long past,” Reed said. “This is not a partisan crisis. It is a national crisis. However, we remain optimistic that the current negotiations give us an unusual opportunity to ensure we put our country on a path to fiscal solvency once and for all.”… – Buffalo News, 7-19-11
  • Developments in U.S. debt talks: The House of Representatives is set to vote on the Republican “cut, cap and balance” plan that calls for immediate spending cuts and capping the level of federal spending at a percentage of the economy — 18 percent by 2021. The largely symbolic measure sets the stage for the Republican-controlled House to consider a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.
    House Speaker John Boehner and other House Republican leaders will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) to discuss the debt limit after a closed-door meeting of Republican members of the House.
    House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer is likely to discuss the status of debt negotiations at a weekly news briefing after a closed-door meeting of House Democrats. The news conference is set for 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 GMT)…. – Reuters, 7-19-11
  • Congress to vote on plans to cut, balance budget: Congress plans two largely symbolic but politically significant votes starting today on proposals that conservative groups vow will be remembered during the 2012 elections: a plan to slash federal spending and a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
    But the real action continues to be behind the scenes, where the White House and congressional leaders are frantically trying to work out a deal that will raise the federal debt limit while cutting future federal budget deficits. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday that until a deal is done, the Senate will stay at work seven days a week. “The Senate will stay in session every day, including Saturdays and Sundays, from now until Congress passes legislation that prevents the United States from defaulting on our obligations,” he said.
    Meanwhile, the coming two votes are significant for a couple of reasons – one political, one tactical. Supporters will feel a strong political wind at their backs: A well-funded network of conservative groups is spotlighting the votes as defining ones…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 7-19-11
  • In Debt Crisis, a Legislative Trick Up the Sleeve: With Republicans and Democrats still deeply divided over how to shrink the budget deficit and the national debt, the only way for them to avoid a financial crisis at this late date may be to perform a legislative magic trick. The idea, conjured by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, would allow Republicans to accede to an increase in the government’s debt limit without actually voting for it or giving in to President Obama’s demand for tax increases as part of any deal. It would give the White House a way out of the box that it is in and avert a potential deeper blow to the economy. And it would allow Democrats to head into an election year having backed substantial spending cuts without having, so far, buckled to pressure to bite into the entitlement programs that represent core values to many liberal voters.
    That, at least, is the goal of the approach offered last week by Mr. McConnell, who continued to work with Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, on Monday to refine their fallback proposal even as the parties exchanged fire leading up to coming floor fights in the House and Senate over a Republican deficit-reduction plan. The Senate leaders are developing cuts and other deficit-reduction provisions to provide some lubricant to pass the measure, which has been ridiculed by many Republicans as a slick effort to dodge accountability.
    While negotiations continued, House and Senate Republicans plan to focus their energy this week on the so-called cut, cap and balance proposal embraced by conservatives. It would reduce spending next year by more than $100 billion, cap future spending based as a percentage of the economy and require a balanced-budget amendment to be approved by Congress and sent to the states for ratification before the debt limit could be increased.
    Before the House debate scheduled for Tuesday even began, the administration issued a veto threat on behalf of Mr. Obama, who on Sunday had a private meeting at the White House with the two top House Republicans — Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader.
    “The bill would undercut the federal government’s ability to meet its core commitments to seniors, middle-class families and the most vulnerable, while reducing our ability to invest in our future,” the White House said in a statement. It said the measure “would set unrealistic spending caps that could result in significant cuts to education, research and development, and other programs critical to growing our economy and winning the future.”… – NYT, 7-18-11

JULY 18, 2011: BIPARTISAN SENATE DEBT PLAN EMERGES

“We’re making progress. We can’t let politics stand in the way of doing the right thing.” — President Barack Obama

  • USA Today/Gallop Poll: Low ratings for Obama, Congress on debt talks: Half of Americans surveyed in a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll say President Obama and Congress are doing a worse job than their predecessors in dealing with the nation’s problems. Four in 10 call it the worst they’ve seen in their lifetimes.
    At least two-thirds say congressional Republicans and Democrats put their own political interests ahead of the country’s best interests. Just 7% see both sides as negotiating in good faith.
    Obama fares better on that question, though he scores only an even split between those who say he’s protecting his own interests and those who say he’s looking out for the nation…. – USA Today, 7-18-11
  • CBS News Poll: Support for debt ceiling increase doubles: Support for increasing the debt ceiling has risen 22 points from last month, from 24 percent to 46 percent. Opposition has fallen 20 points in that period, from 69 percent to 49 percent. (See graphic at left.)
    The poll found that the more one follows the debt ceiling debate, the more likely he or she is to support an increase: 51 percent of those who are following the debate very closely think the debt ceiling should be raised, compared to just 29 percent of those who are not following it closely.
    The shift toward more support for an increase can be seen across the political spectrum. Last month, 54 percent of Democrats opposed raising the debt ceiling. Now 61 percent support increasing it. And while a majority of Republicans and independents oppose an increase, it’s by a narrower margin than last month. Thirty-three percent of Republicans now say the debt ceiling should be raised, up from 16 percent last month; 40 percent of independents say it should be raised, up from 21 percent last month.
    Two thirds of Americans back the Obama administration position that a deal to increase the debt ceiling should include both spending cuts and tax increases, while just 28 percent back the Republican position of only spending cuts. Three in four say an agreement they do not fully support would be preferable to having the U.S. default on its debts…. – CBS News, 7-18-11
  • 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
  • Boehner, Cantor met with Obama on Sunday: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) met Sunday with President Obama at the White House to discuss the path forward on raising the debt ceiling.
    Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, confirmed the Sunday morning meeting and said that while the lines of communication “are being kept open,” there remains “nothing to report in terms of an agreement or process.” News of the meeting was first reported by Politico.
    “We believe cut, cap and balance represents the best path forward, and we are looking forward to the House vote on it tomorrow,” Steel said, referring to the chamber’s planned vote on a measure that would call for any increase in the debt limit to be accompanied by significant spending cuts, statutory spending caps and congressional passage of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution…. – WaPo, 7-19-11
  • Senate debt plan emerges Members seem likely to raise limit; outcome in House more iffy: A bipartisan effort in the Senate to allow President Barack Obama to raise the federal debt ceiling in exchange for about $1.5 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years gained momentum Sunday, as leaders agreed they would have to act in the next two weeks to avert a potential default by the U.S. government.
    The growing sentiment for raising the federal limit on U.S. borrowing sets the stage for a week of largely scripted actions on Capitol Hill, where leaders in both chambers are looking to build support for the plan being crafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
    Republican leaders will first push forward in the House and the Senate with a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget. The measure is virtually certain to fail in the Senate, which will then take up the debt limit proposal by midweek.
    If that clears the Senate, the House is expected to revise the measure, adding a proposal to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years — savings that will come through cuts to domestic programs and not cuts to entitlement or new taxes.
    The plan would also create a new congressional panel that would, by the end of the year, seek to come up with a way of reducing the deficit by another $2.5 trillion or more through cuts in entitlements and other steps.
    Although the debt-limit plan has broad support in the Senate, the prospects in the House are less clear and rely largely on whether House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, will bring the proposal up for a vote and how many House Democrats would support it since few Republicans are expected to get behind it…. – WaPo, 7-18-11
  • Talks continue over debt ceiling: The White House and congressional leaders exchange possible proposals through the weekend. No immediate breakthrough is apparent.
    Hoping to break the impasse over the nation’s debt limit, White House and congressional leaders and aides continued their private discussions Sunday to exchange possible proposals to keep the government from defaulting on its bills.
    Senate leaders have shaped the outline of a compromise that would attach as much as $1.5 trillion largely in spending reductions to a debt ceiling increase, and establish a new congressional committee to present further cuts for a vote by year’s end. Other ideas also were being considered.
    No signs emerged that the negotiations were as contentious as last week, when tempers sometimes flared. But no immediate breakthrough was apparent.
    “There have been a lot of conversations going on, and they will continue,” Jacob Lew, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Congress has been “figuring out what it could do,” Lew added on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “That will continue over the next day or so.” President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden participated in the private discussions, which took place all weekend, the White House said…. – LAT, 7-18-11
  • Reid to keep Senate in session until debt ceiling raised: Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Monday the Senate will remain in session every day — including weekends — until Congress approves an increase to the nation’s debt ceiling.
    “The Senate has no more important task than making sure the United States does not fail to pay our bills for pre-existing obligations like Social Security for the first time in our history,” Reid said in a statement. “To ensure that we meet this responsibility, the Senate will stay in session every day, including Saturdays and Sundays, from now until Congress passes legislation that prevents the United States from defaulting on our obligations.”… – Politico, 7-18-11
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