Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown, July 27, 2011: Speaker John Boehner Reigns in Conservative Republicans while Harry Reid Promises ALL Senate Democrats Will Vote Against House Debt Plan


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.


House Speaker John Boehner; photo by Tom Williams/Roll Call

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is questioned by reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday. Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call.


“I didn’t put my neck on the line and go toe to toe with Obama to not have an army behind me.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“There are only three possible outcomes in this battle: President Obama gets his blank check; America defaults; or we call the president’s bluff by coming together and passing a bill that cuts spending and can pass in the United States Senate. There is no other option.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“The fact is, Republicans have offered the only proposal at this point that attempts to get at the root of the problem, and which actually has a chance of getting to the president’s desk.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

“The bottom line is there’s only one bill in Congress that’s a true compromise. We’re running out of time, and it’s time to get serious about finding that compromise.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“Get your ass in line. I can’t do this job unless you’re behind me.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s letter to Speaker Boehner on Wednesday night, signed by all 51 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them, explaining that the bill is dead on arrival in the Senate. — Reid.Senate.gov, 7-27-11

  • Debt ceiling: How would investors react to a default?: As the Aug. 2 debt deadline approaches, investors can envision everything from the stock market dropping like a rock to the economy shrinking as government vendors lay off thousands of workers…. – CS Monitor, 7-27-11
  • Debt-ceiling plans face CBO fire: Does either cut as much as promised?: Added to the political question of whether either one of the competing debt-limit plans can pass Congress is a practical question from the nonpartisan CBO: How much will they cut the deficit?… – CS Monitor, 7-27-11
  • Boehner’s debt ceiling plan has no Democratic votes, says Harry Reid: Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Wednesday that no Democrat in the Senate would vote for Speaker John Boehner’s debt-ceiling plan should it pass the House, where it’s come under fire from conservatives groups and tea-party lawmakers for not going far enough to cut spending.
    The plan is a “big, wet kiss to the right wing,” Reid said at a packed Capitol Hill news conference. The entire 53-member Democratic caucus signed a letter opposing Boehner’s plan.
    Democratic leaders also signaled that a final deal will have to be worked out behind closed doors between leaders of the two parties, while Senate Republicans weighed whether to mount a filibuster against Reid’s rival proposal if it becomes the last option on the table to avert a catastrophic default before Tuesday’s deadline.
    Seeking to exploit fissures in Boehner’s caucus, Democrats repeatedly called on the Ohio Republican to scrap his plan to cut the deficit and hike the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit in two phases by next year. Reid’s plan would also slice the deficit but would raise the government’s borrowing limit through the 2012 elections…. – Politico, 7-27-11
  • On Boehner’s debt-ceiling bill, Democrats expecting few defectors: Few Democrats — if any — are expected to break ranks and vote for Speaker John Boehner’s debt-ceiling plan Thursday.
    House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer has been urging Democrats to oppose Boehner’s proposal, which would bump up the debt ceiling in two increments – a chief Democratic complaint. Two members of Hoyer’s whip team said Wednesday that they believe Democrats will stick together to oppose the plan, which could come up for a vote as early as Thursday.
    A Democratic leadership aide was more confident: “Hoyer has been whipping against the Boehner bill very hard. No Democrats will vote for it.”
    There were signs of the proposal gaining traction within House Republicans on Wednesday. After a blunt speech Wednesday morning in which he told his rank-and-file to “get your ass in line,” Boehner and House GOP leaders had gained several new “yes” votes for the plan. And freshmen appeared to be coalescing around it…. – Politico, 7-27-11
  • In Both Houses, Fortifying Support for Rival Plans: House Republicans and Senate Democrats gained substantial support on Wednesday within party ranks for their separate plans to resolve a looming debt crisis, but the momentum seemed to be pushing both sides further from a compromise.
    Tea Party activists have been adamant about deep budget cuts. A small group of them gathered June 27 on Capitol Hill.
    It was a day in which Capitol Hill seemed to operate in alternate realities: Republicans in the House sharing near universal belief that the Senate will eventually cave and accept their plan, and Senate Democrats assured that they will have the last word over the weekend and ultimately force the hand of the House.
    As the House headed for a vote on Thursday, Congressional officials suggested that Senate leaders from both parties were keeping an open line for a potential compromise they could both brook. So far no such agreement appeared likely, and the Senate moved toward its own series of votes that could run through the weekend and perhaps into Monday, just one day short of the Aug. 2 date that the White House has insisted is the deadline for extending the debt ceiling for paying the nation’s bills…. – NYT, 7-27-11
  • With G.O.P. Unity at Risk, Boehner Tries Tougher Style: Speaker John A. Boehner is a laid-back leader who likes to say that his role is to let the House work its will. But with the nation’s economic standing and his own political future at risk, Mr. Boehner jettisoned his usual laissez-faire approach on Wednesday.
    “I didn’t put my neck on the line and go toe to toe with Obama to not have an army behind me,” Mr. Boehner declared at a private party meeting, according to some House members. He demanded the fealty of conservatives who were threatening to sink his budget proposal and deny him the chance to confront the Senate with a take-it-or-leave offer on a debt ceiling increase.
    Mr. Boehner really had no choice but to go all out. A defeat of that plan — which seemed likely Tuesday night before its prospects improved Wednesday — would have been a disastrous repudiation, in effect a stinging vote of no confidence in him…. – NYT, 7-27-11
  • States nervously watch debt-ceiling impasse: The U.S. government’s stalemate over raising the debt limit is taking a growing toll on states as Tuesday’s deadline draws near, with some canceling bond sales and identifying roadwork and other expenditures that could be delayed.
    “As the deadline to Aug. 2 comes closer, people are really, really worried,” says Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers.
    A failure by Congress to raise the $14.3 trillion federal debt limit would lower the nation’s credit rating and raise borrowing costs for states as well as 7,000 cities, counties, universities and non-profits. That’s partly because many interest rates — for everything from municipal bonds to mortgages — are benchmarked to U.S. Treasuries…. – USA Today, 7-27-11
  • President revs up PR in debt-ceiling debate: As House Republicans slog toward a Thursday vote on raising the debt ceiling, President Obama and his staff have hit the airwaves in a massive, all-hands-on-deck public-relations effort to turn the tide of political opinion in their favor. All told, the president has addressed the press on five different occasions since July 11.
    He has also dispatched his top aides — from senior advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Plouffe to White House press secretary Jay Carney and economic adviser Gene Sperling — to appear on TV and make his case for a more balanced approach to deficit cutting…. – The Hill, 7-27-11
  • Debt ceiling talks between Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell: Taking square aim at the White House, Republicans prepared to bring to a House vote Thursday a two-step $2.5 trillion debt ceiling bill that will avert default next week but threatens more conflict — and renewed instability — in six months.
    Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell remain in conversation over how to defuse the building confrontation before the threat of default next week. But with stocks falling again Wednesday, the fight between Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama has become so personal that each side says the other needs to find some way to save face before reaching a deal.
    Fifty-three senators, 51 Democrats and two independents, signed a letter to Boehner on Wednesday vowing to oppose the House bill. But the speaker is unapologetic about his intentions to use the default crisis to try to jam the Senate. And at a GOP conference Wednesday morning, he enlisted conservatives to be his “army” after he had stood “toe to toe” with the president and put his “neck on the line” for them…. – Politico, 7-27-11
  • Boehner tries to tame GOP on debt ceiling plan: A dust up among a major House conservative bloc and the prospect of tens of billions of dollars in new spending cuts has Republican leadership feeling as if it quelled an uprising on the right after struggling to line up votes for much of the week.
    Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California and Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam of Illinois continued their hard sell of a two-step debt-limit package, meeting in Capitol offices to close the deal and avoid a default on the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt.
    In a closed-door Republican Conference meeting on Wednesday, Boehner demanded his wavering members “get your ass in line” to back his proposal, and some members obliged. Michigan Rep. Thad McCotter, who is running for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, switched from voting no to yes during the 90-minute session. Reps. Blake Farenthold of Texas, Billy Long of Missouri and Jeff Denham of California are now backing the speaker’s plan, as are Reps. Darrell Issa of California, Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, Nan Hayworth of New York and Dan Lungren of California. Lungren even got up during the meeting and likened Boehner to Ronald Reagan, the conservative icon who was president during Lungren’s first stint in the House. Other hard “no” voters have flipped to leaning no or even undecided.
    But despite having momentum on their side, Boehner and his top lieutenants don’t have a big margin for error. Few, if any, Democrats are expected to vote for the debt ceiling package, so Republicans must cobble together 217 votes on their own. They can lose just 23 lawmakers and still pass it. As of press time, at least a dozen lawmakers were whipping “no.”… – Politico, 7-27-11
  • Short-term debt deal poses severe political risks for Obama: Kicking the US deficit can down the road will solve the problem now, but could ruin Obama’s second term… – The Guardian UK, 7-28-11

Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown, July 27, 2011: Speaker John Boehner & Republican Congressional & Senate Leadership Try to Rally Rebellious Conservative Republicans into Supporting House Debt Plan


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.


Philip Scott Andrews/The New York Times

The scramble to pass a debt-ceiling plan represents a test of Speaker John A. Boehner’s ability to lead his restive caucus.


S.&P. 500-Stock Index Closes Down 2 Percent: Stocks fell sharply on Wall Street as the impasse over lifting the nation’s debt limit wore on in Washington. In addition, economic statistics were disappointing and some companies delivered corporate earnings fell short of expectations.
The broad stock market, as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, was down more than 2 percent, while the Dow Jones industrial average of 30 stocks lost nearly 200 points, or about 1.6 percent. During the trading session, the technology-heavy Nasdaq index fell as low as 3 percent but closed down 2.65 percent.

“This is the bill. I can’t do this job unless you’re behind me…. So get your ass in line.” — Speaker John Boehner told a private meeting of House Republicans, Politico.com reported.

“Members are rallying around the speaker’s plan, and we’re going forward.” — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

Eric Cantor: The House will cut spending. We will hold the line on taxes. With your help we will change Washington, and get government out of the way so America’s economy can grow.

“To hold out and say we won’t agree to raising the debt limit until we pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the constitution. It’s unfair, it’s bizarre. And maybe some people have only been in this body for six or seven months or so really believe that. Others know better.” — Senator John McCain’s, R-AZ

“Why are we voting on measures that have no chance of becoming law?” — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

“We’re running out of time. It’s time to get serious about finding a compromise…. It’s too bad his caucus is being run by such a small number of people. [House Republicans] are struggling to save a Tea Party bill… The way to resolve this crisis is to ignore the extremists and meet in the middle of the road.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“As we speak, Congressional staff are looking at options to adjust the legislation to meet our pledge. This is what can happen when you have an actual plan and submit it for independent review — which the Democrats who run Washington have refused to do.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“I am confident as of this morning that there are not 218 Republicans in support of the plan.” — Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio

  • Snapshot: Developments in debt talks: House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in the U.S. Congress, is reworking his deficit reduction proposal after some conservatives in his party rejected it and an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found it would save $350 billion less than the $1.2 trillion over 10 years he had claimed.
    House Republicans meet behind closed doors to discuss the emerging new Boehner plan. Some House Republicans who had been leaning against previous versions say they now are leaning in favor of a reworked Boehner plan that is to match any debt limit increase with an equal amount of spending cuts.
    A separate plan crafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, is being tweaked after a budget analysis found it would cut $2.2 trillion from deficits, about $500 billion less than claimed. Democrats want at least a $2.4 trillion debt limit hike to provide enough borrowing authority through the November 2012 elections. They are trying to match that number with an equal amount of deficit reduction, a key Republican demand…. – Reuters, 7-27-11
  • Boehner Debt-Limit Plan Gaining Support as Aug. 2 Deadline Nears: House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to raise the U.S. debt ceiling was gaining support among fellow Republicans as leaders reworked the legislation, while Senate Democrats said the measure won’t pass their chamber.
    Republican leaders are moving ahead with plans to vote on the measure tomorrow, less than week before a potential U.S. default Aug. 2, and sought to ease party members’ concerns that it wouldn’t do enough to cut spending.
    The urgency of the debate was reflected in rhetoric on Capitol Hill as well as market reaction to the appearance of what presidential adviser Gene Sperling termed a “stalemate.”… – Bloomberg, 7-27-11
  • GOPers blast Republican Study Committee staffer Paul Teller for undermining John Boehner debt plan: The GOP’s civil war over the debt limit exploded Wednesday, with rank-and-filers calling for the scalp of the Republican Study Committee’s top staffer.
    The aide, Paul Teller, was slammed for sending emails encouraging conservative groups to lobby against House Speaker John Boehner’s debt ceiling proposal, The Hill newspaper reported.
    Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the RSC, apologized for Teller’s emails in a closed-door meeting with other Republican congressmen.
    Some lawmakers began to chant, “fire him, fire him!,” in reference to Teller, the executive director of the RSC, Politico reported.
    Teller and other RSC aides had sent an email to outside groups urging them to “kill the Boehner deal.” It identified lawmakers for the conservative organizations to target.
    “We need statements coming up to the Hill every hour of the day in mounting opposition to the plan. If we keep this from ever coming to the floor, we have a greater chance of victory than defeating a vote on the floor,” the e-mail read.
    The RSC is a caucus of more than 170 Republican House members, and is widely known for its conservative politics…. – NY Daily News, 7-27-11
  • Democrats reject Boehner plan as Republicans try to build support for it: As Republicans in the House put more support behind a plan from Speaker John Boehner to solve the debt crisis, Senate Democrats and the White House are rejecting it as a non-starter and a waste of time.
    Republican leaders are working to line up support for Boehner’s proposal, which is being reworked after budget analysts found that it would cut spending by less than the $1.2 trillion that he estimated.
    GOP Congressman Mike Rogers says Republicans are gravitating toward it “in a big way.” Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell says it’s the only way to avoid default without raising taxes.
    But the plan is drawing fire from Democrats and from the right. Tea party activists are urging Boehner to reject any deal that doesn’t include steep spending cuts — even if the U.S. defaults. One tea party group is even calling on Boehner to step down.
    Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, whose rival proposal would deliver budget savings of more than $2 trillion, says he’ll wait and see what the House does before bringing his plan to a vote…. – AP, 7-27-11
  • Boehner Asks GOP for Unity on His Debt Plan: Faced with a conservative Republican rebellion, House Speaker John Boehner asked for Republican unity Wednesday, saying he needed “an army” standing behind him to support his plan to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit.
    Mr. Boehner made the plea during a closed meeting of House Republican lawmakers, a senior Republican aide said, a day after the speaker abruptly postponed a vote on the measure scheduled for Wednesday.
    Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) also defended Boehner’s plan, saying in the meeting that he was tired of hearing Republicans criticizing other Republicans on cable television. He told lawmakers “we all need to rally together,” the aide said. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) also endorsed the Boehner plan during a Senate floor speech.
    Several Republicans emerged from the Wednesday morning meeting saying they believed momentum has shifted toward Mr. Boehner’s plan. Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, had said Tuesday morning he was “confident” the Boehner bill would fail. On Wednesday, he declined to repeat that assertion. “I don’t know where the votes are today,”? Mr. Jordan said after the morning session. “I just know that I’m against the bill.”
    The delayed vote on the Boehner plan added further confusion less than a week before a possible government default. It was a setback for GOP leaders who had promoted Mr. Boehner’s plan as the best way to raise the debt ceiling while cutting the deficit. House Republican leaders said they hoped to bring Mr. Boehner’s plan to a vote on Thursday…. – WSJ, 7-27-11
  • CBO: Democrats’ debt bill tops GOP’s in spending cuts: The Senate Democratic debt-limit bill would cut future spending by $2.2 trillion over 10 years — much deeper than the House GOP alternative, according to figures Congress‘ chief scorekeeper released early Wednesday.
    The Congressional Budget Office said the plan by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would raise the government’s borrowing limit by $2.7 trillion, and cut $2.2 trillion from future spending, chiefly by limiting the amount of money spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    House Speaker John A. Boehner’s plan, meanwhile, would produce just $850 billion in savings, versus $900 billion in new debt authority, according to a CBO analysis released late Tuesday. That sent the Ohio Republican back to the drawing board to rewrite his bill to try to meet his own pledge of topping any debt increase dollar-for-dollar with new spending cuts.
    The CBO analysis could give momentum to Mr. Reid’s plan, though the GOP says spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was going to drop anyway, and so shouldn’t be considered as future savings.
    A Boehner aide said CBO also added in savings from future interest payments that would no longer need to be made on that “phantom” war-spending reduction.
    And the aide said Mr. Reid’s bill now violates the dollar-for-dollar goal Mr. Boehner laid out and that Mr. Reid said he accepted. CBO’s score shows that even including the war cost reductions, the cuts fall half a trillion dollars short of the $2.7 trillion debt increase…. – Washington Times, 7-27-11
  • War of words continues as debt limit deadline nears: With less than a week to go before the Obama administration’s August 2 deadline for raising the national debt limit, Democrats and Republicans continue to spar over the relative merits of two separate proposals – one Republican, one Democratic – and a bipartisan agreement appears far from the horizon.
    Leaders from both parties continued on Wednesday to push for their own plan while lambasting the other. Neither House Speaker John Boehner’s Republican proposal nor Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Democratic plan, however, appears to have the necessary votes to pass through Congress.
    In a press conference on Wednesday, Reid argued that the Democratic plan was the only “true compromise” on the table, and urged lawmakers to rally around it. “We’re running out of time,” he told reporters. “It’s time to get serious about finding a compromise.” The Boehner plan, Reid argued, did not qualify as anything more than a “big wet kiss” to the Tea Party – and he pledged that “every Democratic senator will vote against” it. “It’s too bad his caucus is being run by such a small number of people,” Reid said, of Boehner. “[House Republicans] are struggling to save a Tea Party bill… The way to resolve this crisis is to ignore the extremists and meet in the middle of the road.”
    Even as Democrats blast Boehner for putting forth a plan they say caters heavily to the Tea Party, the conservative movement is, in fact, speaking out against the GOP bill – and many believe Tea Party-oriented lawmakers could prevent its passage in the House.
    “I am confident as of this morning that there are not 218 Republicans in support of the plan,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said in a Tuesday morning press briefing…. – CBS News, 7-27-11
  • GOP Retools Plan as Congress Seeks Debt Fix: Six days away from a potentially calamitous government default, House Republicans appeared to be coalescing Wednesday around a work-in-progress plan by House Speaker John Boehner to increase the U.S. borrowing limit and chop $1 trillion in federal spending. But the measure got a thumbs-down from both Senate Democrats and tea party activists, a telling illustration of the difficult politics along the pathway to a deal.
    Democrats and Republicans alike tried to claim the moral high ground in a standoff that has put financial markets on edge. Stocks were falling again Wednesday.
    Boehner, R-Ohio, set out to retool his plan after nonpartisan analysts in the Congressional Budget Office said it would cut spending less than he had estimated — about $850 billion over 10 years rather than $1.2 trillion. GOP leaders planned a House vote Thursday on the reworked plan.
    “We’re moving in his direction in a big way today,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said of Boehner’s plan. Rogers and others cited changes being made in the bill to make sure spending cuts exceed added borrowing authority, and the fact that the House would soon vote on a balanced budget plan.
    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said only Boehner’s plan would resolve the crisis “in a way that will allow us to avoid default without raising taxes and to cut spending budget gimmicks.”
    But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., dismissed the speaker’s plan as a short-term measure that would leave the economy on shaky ground. He said it would not get one Democratic vote in the Senate, dooming it to failure and was merely “a big wet kiss for the right wing.” “It’s not Democrats who have asked for a long-term solution,” Reid said. “It’s the economy. The economy has demanded it.” Reid was asked if there was a “drop-dead date” for a deal to pass the House, be amended by the Senate and reach President Barack Obama in time to avoid default. “Magic things can happen here in Congress in a very short period of time under the right circumstances,” he said…. – AP, 7-27-11
  • John Boehner tries to rally Republicans to his debt plan: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appealed in unusually aggressive terms to his wavering GOP colleagues in a closed-door meeting on Wednesday morning with just a week left to go until the debt ceiling must be raised or the country will default on its obligations.
    At a meeting of GOP House members, the embattled Republican leader told his colleagues, many of whom had vowed to oppose his two-step bill to raise the debt limit that is expected hit the floor as soon as Thursday, to “get your ass in line.”
    The meeting came as Boehner scrambled to rewrite his legislation the morning after a Congressional Budget Office analysis showed his plan would cut the deficit less than advertised.
    In a closed-door meeting for the House GOP Conference in the basement of the Capitol, Boehner worked to rally support from skeptical conservatives, who have been subjected to intense pressure from tea party groups and others who say Boehner’s plan will not impose the kind of structural reform Republicans promised when they took control of the House in 2010.
    With few options on the table except the plan advanced by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), some of those conservatives now seem inclined to finally fall in line behind their leader.
    Republican leaders told the group that they need to stay united and rally around the bill. Boehner also said his bill will be rewritten to either cut more from the deficit or to raise the debt ceiling by less than the $900 billion he had proposed earlier this week…. – WaPo, 7-27-11
  • Boehner To Tea Party: ‘Get Your Ass In Line’: A frustrated House Speaker John Boehner had a blunt message Wednesday for his cavalier Tea Party colleagues: “Get your ass in line” behind the GOP’s debt ceiling plan.
    “This is the bill,” Boehner told a private meeting of House Republicans, Politico.com reported. “I can’t do this job unless you’re behind me.”
    Boehner believes Senate Democrats will cave if Republicans in the House can rally behind his nearly $1 trillion proposal to raise the nation’s debt limit ahead of an Aug. 2 deadline, when the Treasury will run out of money to pay all its bills. So “get your ass in line,” Boehner demanded.
    His spanking of rank-and-file Republicans came after it looked like an all-out war was erupting within the House GOP, which has nearly 100 Tea Party fiscal hawks. Many Tea Party-backed conservatives insist Boehner’s debt plan is too soft…. – NY Daily News, 7-27-11
  • Debt-ceiling plans face CBO fire: Does either cut as much as promised?: Added to the political question of whether either one of the competing debt-limit plans can pass Congress is a practical question from the nonpartisan CBO: How much will they cut the deficit?… – CS Monitor, 7-27-11
  • Democrats say Obama should invoke 14th Amendment: House Democrats said Wednesday that President Barack Obama should invoke a little-known constitutional provision to prevent the nation from going into default if Congress fails to come up with a plan to raise the debt ceiling.
    Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, a member of the Democratic leadership, said he told fellow Democrats that Obama should both veto any House GOP plan for a short-term extension of the debt ceiling and invoke the 14th amendment, which says that the validity of the nation’s public debt “shall not be questioned.”
    The White House has rejected resorting to this tactic to keep the nation from defaulting, questioning its legality, but Rep. John Larson of Connecticut, who chairs the Democratic caucus, said “we’re getting down to decision time” and “we have to have a failsafe mechanism and we believe that failsafe mechanism is the 14th Amendment and the president of the United States.”
    Larson said Clyburn’s proposal on the 14th Amendment was met with applause by other Democrats at their meeting…. – AP, 7-27-11
  • Administration: Aug. 2 remains critical deadline: Some private economists are suggesting the Treasury may have enough money on hand to pay the government’s bills for another two weeks beyond an early August deadline for Congress to raise the debt ceiling. But the Obama administration insisted on Tuesday that it will run out of maneuvering room after Aug. 2.
    The projection of private analysts is based on the fact that currently the government is sitting on a large amount of cash — $88.5 billion at the close of business on Monday.
    Many analysts believe that this money could be used to meet obligations that are coming due if Congress doesn’t raise the borrowing limit by the Aug. 2 deadline.
    Economists at several financial firms, including HSBC Securities and Wrightson Research, said that the government may have enough cash on hand to make it until Aug. 15, two weeks beyond the current deadline…. – AP, 7-26-11
  • Speaker Boehner’s unconventional sales pitch: More than two years later, Boehner has a new title, speaker of the House. But he has the same problem: He has defined himself as a leader who doesn’t twist arms, instead letting his rank-and-file follow their own consciences. But that strategy has left Boehner struggling to control his flock at the moments he needs it most.
    For Boehner, 61, the past week has likely been the hardest of his seven months as speaker. After leading Republicans into a battle over the national debt ceiling, he now seemingly cannot find a way out of that fight.
    On Wednesday, Boehner and other GOP leaders were furiously trying to persuade conservatives to support the speaker’s proposal to raise the debt ceiling while cutting spending. After a morning meeting — in which the speaker broke with his usual genial demeanor and told Republicans to “get your ass in line” — there were some signs that holdouts were being persuaded.
    Thursday’s vote, then, will be a key test of a political persona that Boehner has been cultivating over two decades in Congress…. – WaPo, 7-27-11
  • Q. and A. on the Debt Ceiling: For a time it seemed safe for many people going about their summers to try to ignore the debt ceiling drama playing out in Washington. If Wall Street so far has not seemed overly concerned that the United States was headed toward default, why should anyone else worry? And there is the long history of crying wolf in Washington: in April everyone finally got up to speed on the threatened shutdown of the federal government just in time to see it averted by an 11th-hour deal.
    But now, palms in Washington are beginning to get sweaty and President Obama is breaking into “The Bachelorette” to address the nation about the debt crisis. Perhaps the time has finally come for a crash course in all things debt ceiling…. – NYT, 7-27-11
  • Analysis: Obama’s leadership image on the line in debt saga: President Barack Obama’s credibility as a leader hangs in the balance along with America’s gold-plated credit rating as he strives to break a debt impasse with Republicans and avoid a ruinous default.
    Even if a deal to raise the debt limit emerges ahead of an August 2 deadline — just six days away — Obama faces a risk of being perceived as weak if he appears too willing to make concessions.
    The political fallout for Obama could be far greater if there is no agreement. A default and government-debt downgrade could send the U.S. economy into another recession, potentially dooming Obama’s prospects for re-election in 2012.
    That makes the crisis especially difficult for Obama to navigate and gives Republican lawmakers a fair amount of leverage as they push for steep spending cuts in exchange for raising the legal limit on the country’s borrowing.
    “When you’re running for re-election, you want to have a strong leadership image,” said Stephen Wayne, a professor of government at Georgetown University. “The longer there is no resolution, the weaker the president looks.” “He’s got to do something to get an agreement or to state his position so clearly that he can blame the opposition party for not adhering to it,” Wayne added.
    Obama could reap political gains if Republicans are perceived as overplaying their hand. Polls so far show a mixed impact of the crisis on Obama…. – Reuters, 7-27-11

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown, July 27, 2011: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Statement Supporting Speaker Boehner’s Debt Plan


McConnell Offers Strong Support for Speaker’s Deficit Reduction Plan

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement on the Senate floor Wednesday regarding the Speaker’s plan to prevent default and reduce Washington spending:

“Yesterday afternoon the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy which said that when the legislation Speaker Boehner is now revising reaches the President’s desk, unnamed senior advisors will recommend that the President veto it.

“I have a question for these senior advisors: what about this legislation is so offensive that you’d rather see the nation default on its obligations than have the President sign it into law?

“From what I can tell, the only thing in this bill the President hasn’t already expressed his support for either publicly or privately is that it doesn’t get him through his election without having to engage in another national discussion about the debt crisis that’s brought us to this point.

“So I would ask these senior advisors whether that’s a position they want to put the President in. Do they really intend to suggest that he veto the nation into default for political reasons?

“That’s how I read the threat. And I think that’s how the rest of country would read it too.

“So this morning I would like to reiterate my strong support for Speaker Boehner, the House Republican leadership and this plan to prevent default and reduce Washington spending. I also want to commend the Speaker for his efforts and his determination.

“This hasn’t been an easy process, but I hope through it all the nation sees how hard the Speaker has worked to ensure our nation avoids calamity while safeguarding the American Dream.

“The nation’s had a chance to see the Speaker at his best over the past few days.

“Unlike the President, he not only put forward actual legislation to prevent this crisis, he’s keeping his promise to cut spending more than any increase in the debt limit – with no tax hikes.

“And what about the President’s plan?

“Well, when asked the President’s plan, his aides point to a speech and a veto threat.

“With all due respect, Congress can’t vote on a speech, and a veto threat won’t prevent default.

“The fact is, Republicans have offered the only proposal at this point that attempts to get at the root of the problem — and which actually has a chance of getting to the President’s desk.

“That’s why we’ll continue to press for the legislation Speaker Boehner has proposed.

“And that’s why we’ll fight against anything that pretends to solve the problem but doesn’t—including the bill from Senate Democrats that proposes the largest debt limit increase in history, while falling a half-trillion short on the ‘cuts’ it claims to provide.

“The crisis our nation faces at this moment has a very simple cause: Washington spends a lot more money every year than it takes in. Do that every year, and the debt piles up. And now, we’ve reached the point where our deficits and debts are so large they’re suffocating job growth, threatening the wider economy, and imperiling entitlements.

“It took more than two centuries for Washington to amass a debt of $10.6 trillion. But just two and a half years after President Obama swore the oath of office it’s higher by more than a third. And based on the President’s actual policies, the situation is expected to get much worse.

“In just five years time, under President Obama’s budget plan, the federal government will spend almost as much money just to cover the interest on its debts as it will on national defense. And over the next 10 years, the President’s policies will add more than $9 trillion to the debt.

“This is why S&P revised its long-term credit outlook for the U.S., not because we haven’t authorized the President to spend more money, but because he’s asking for so much of it.

“And yet, incredibly, the President’s budgets would do nothing to reverse this trend.

“So he can claim to be interested in a solution, but what he’s actually put on paper makes the problem worse.

“Right now the President is asking Congress to raise the debt ceiling by more than it’s ever been raised before, even as the nation is teetering on the edge of a crisis caused by debt.

“Let me repeat: our nation is facing a crisis because of the size of our debt. And the President of the United States, the man that Americans elect to be the steward of our economy, is threatening to veto any bill that doesn’t add more than $2 trillion to the debt ceiling, the largest increase in history.

“The President is not taking a stand on cuts. He’s not taking a stand on reforms to entitlements. He’s not insisting on reforms. Forget all that. What he wants more than anything else is more room under the debt ceiling to get him through the election. He’s said that’s his bottom line.

“So I remain as committed as ever to resolving this crisis in a way that will allow us to avoid default without raising taxes and to cut spending without budget gimmicks.

“There’s only one option that does that: and that’s the one Speaker Boehner has proposed, and that is being improved as we speak.

Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown, July 26, 2011: Boehner Delays Debt Plan Vote to Thursday — Rewriting Debt Plan to Gain Support of Opposing Conservative Republicans & Meet Congressional Budget Office Standards


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.


House Speaker John Boehner, (right) Ohio Republican, and Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (center), Texas Republican, listen as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, speaks July 26, 2011, during a news conference at the Republican National Committee on Capitol Hill. (Associated Press)

House Speaker John Boehner, (right) Ohio Republican, and Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (center), Texas Republican, listen as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, speaks July 26, 2011, during a news conference at the Republican National Committee on Capitol Hill. (Associated Press)


Boehner delays debt vote: House Republicans have delayed a vote on their bill to lift the debt ceiling as they scrambled Tuesday night to rewrite portions of the measure to ensure that accompanying spending cuts were large enough, according to three senior GOP aides. Budget analysts said hours earlier the plan would only create $850 billion in savings as opposed to the sought-after $1.2 trillion. Originally scheduled for Wednesday, the vote could now happen Thursday.

“As we speak, Congressional staff are looking at options to adjust the legislation to meet our pledge. This is what can happen when you have an actual plan and submit it for independent review — which the Democrats who run Washington have refused to do.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner in a Statement

Speaker Boehner on GOP Spending Cut Plan: “It’s Reasonable, It’s Responsible, It Can Pass”: At a press conference with Republican leaders today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) urged President Obama to support Republicans’ common-sense, two-step plan to cut spending and prevent a national default. Following are text and video of Speaker Boehner’s remarks:
“I think I made it pretty clear last night: the President is looking for a blank check. We have a bill that is a reasonable approach negotiated with the Senate leadership that really is commonsense. There’s more cuts in spending than you have an increase in the debt limit. There’s real caps and a real process for cutting spending before the end of this year. And it provides for – I think – the best effort to get a Balanced Budget Amendment enacted into the Constitution.
“It’s reasonable, it’s responsible, it can pass the House and it can pass the Senate – and I hope the President will consider signing it into law.”

“President Obama has run up a dangerous amount of debt since taking office, and I greatly appreciate Speaker Boehner for courageously leading the fight to stop him from running up even more. Speaker Boehner has now put forth two plans; that would be exactly two plans more than what the President has offered. The debt limit is a line in the sand where Republicans can force the tough decisions to fix our nation’s finances, and taxpayers cannot afford for us to back down now. I am for the plan that will cut spending, cap it, and pass a balanced budget amendment, but unfortunately this latest bill does not accomplish that.” — Tim Pawlenty now rejects John Boehner debt plan

Eric Cantor: The House plan is consistent with our commitment to change Washington, stop spending money we don’t have, and focus on growing America’s economy. The President has yet to offer a plan.

“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 solvethis problem through compromise, send that message.” -– President Obama

    • Debt ceiling poll: Voters with Obama: Most Americans would like to see a mix of spending cuts and tax increases be part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, a new poll finds, aligning the majority with President Barack Obama’s position. Of those surveyed for a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday, 56 percent said they want to see a mix of approaches used in an agreement to raise the debt ceiling. The poll was conducted overnight Monday, as Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) voiced their views on the impasse in negotiations in back-to-back televised primetime speeches.
      Just 19 percent of Americans said they favor a plan like Boehner’s, which would rely solely on spending cuts to existing programs to reduce the deficit. Twelve percent said they would prefer a plan to reduce the deficit only by raising taxes.
      Americans’ blame for the impasse is spread all around, though is particularly strong against congressional Republicans, with 31 percent of those surveyed saying they are responsible for it. Twenty-one percent blamed Obama and nine percent blamed congressional Democrats…. – Politico 7-26-11
    • New polls confirm Obama’s Democratic base crumbles: …”More than a third of Americans now believe that President Obama’s policies are hurting the economy, and confidence in his ability to create jobs is sharply eroding among his base,” the Post reports.
      Strong support among liberal Democrats for Obama’s jobs record has plummeted 22 points from 53% down below a third. African Americans who believe the president’s measures helped the economy have plunged from 77% to barely half.
      Obama’s overall job approval on the economy has slid below 40% for the first time, with 57% disapproving. And strong disapprovers outnumber approvers by better than two-to-one. – LAT, 7-26-11

Congressional Budget Office — Plan would cut spending by $850 billion during the next decade — about $150 billion less than the $1 trillion increase proposed for the debt ceiling

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

  • Another Chart for Your Debt Ceiling Discussions: Here is another chart to the same effect, released this afternoon by the White House. It is a more comprehensive accounting of the forces that turned the large projected federal surplus as of 2001 into the large structural deficits that are dominating our politics as of 2011. Thus it attempts to explain a $12.7 trillion negative swing in public finance — from the $2.3 trillion surplus forecast by Bill Clinton ten years ago, to the $10.4 trillion total debt Barack Obama encounters now.
    The chart is more comprehensive in including not just policy changes — deliberate adoption and extension of tax cuts, spending on TARP and other programs — but also the effects of external pressures and shocks, mainly the recession starting in 2008. See for yourself, and click for a more detailed view…. – The Atlantic, 7-26-11
  • Boehner rewriting debt limit plan as clock ticks: Neither the House nor the Senate has a clear path forward for must-pass legislation to allow the government to continue to borrow to pay its bills, putting lawmakers and financial markets alike on edge less than a week before the deadline for heading off the nation’s first-ever default.
    House Speaker John Boehner was forced late Tuesday to postpone a floor vote on his plan, which originally had been scheduled for Wednesday, after nonpartisan congressional scorekeepers said the proposal would cut spending less than advertised. He promised to rewrite the measure, but the move means the House can’t vote on it until Thursday at the earliest.
    Boehner, R-Ohio, needs to do more than pump up the legislation. He needs to shore up his standing with tea party-backed conservatives demanding deeper spending cuts to accompany an almost $1 trillion increase in the government’s borrowing cap. Many conservatives already had promised to oppose it…. – AP, 7-27-11
  • GOP headwinds delay House budget-debt vote: House leaders delayed a vote on a Republican U.S. debt reduction plan after congressional budget officials said it would save $150 billion less than advertised.
    The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said House Speaker John Boehner’s plan would cut spending $850 billion over a decade, not $1 trillion as he said it would.
    The budget office conclusion Tuesday night capped a day in which the Ohio Republican’s plan faced a barrage of conservative criticism that the cuts were not nearly deep enough.
    Four Republican senators with Tea Party links wrote to their House colleagues urging them to vote against the measure. The Club for Growth — which advocates limited government, lower taxes and less government spending, while scoring lawmakers on their fiscally conservative votes — also came out against the plan.
    So did other conservative groups including the Heritage Foundation and a national coalition of Tea Party groups, The New York Times reported.
    In addition, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called it “dead on arrival in the Senate, if they get it out of the House.” And the White House said President Barack Obama would veto the bill if it reached his desk.
    Boehner’s congressional staffers planned to work through the night to rework the measure to achieve the amount of cuts originally pledged, Boehner’s office said Tuesday night…. – UPI, 7-27-11
  • Vote on Boehner Plan Delayed Amid Opposition: House Republican leaders were forced on Tuesday night to delay a vote scheduled on their plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, as conservative lawmakers expressed skepticism and Congressional budget officials said the plan did not deliver the promised savings.
    The pushback on the bill was the latest chaotic twist in the fiscal fracas on Capitol Hill, as the clock ticked closer to Aug. 2, when the Obama administration has warned that the nation risks defaulting on its bills. The scramble to come up with a plan that could be put to a vote, now moved from Wednesday to Thursday, represents a test of Speaker John A. Boehner’s ability to lead his restive caucus. The expected showdown over the legislation is the culmination of months of efforts by Tea Party-allied freshmen and fellow conservatives to demand a fundamentally smaller government in exchange for raising the federal borrowing limit.
    Mr. Boehner rolled out a two-stage plan on Monday that would allow the $14.3 trillion federal debt limit to rise immediately by about $1 trillion in exchange for $1.2 trillion in spending cuts. The plan tied a second increase early next year to the ability of a new bipartisan Congressional committee to produce more reductions.
    The plan was met with skepticism — and in many cases outright rejection — by several conservative House members who said its savings did not go far enough. President Obama and most Congressional Democrats also have rejected the proposal, saying it is only a short-term solution and could lead to market uncertainty and instability.
    Mr. Boehner’s troubles piled up late Tuesday afternoon when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said his plan would cut spending by $850 billion during the next decade — about $150 billion less than the $1 trillion increase proposed for the debt ceiling.
    Mr. Boehner was forced to quickly retreat from the bill. Republican leaders said they would probably rework it to in a way that would reflect the decreased savings by raising the debt limit by less than $850 billion. Such a change would mean that the Obama administration would need to make another request for an increase in a matter of months, making the deal even less palatable to Democrats…. – NYT, 7-26-11
  • Boehner, Reid scramble to build support for rival debt-limit plans: Washington barreled closer to crisis Tuesday as House Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid scrambled to build support for rival plans to control the national debt, but both appeared doomed without significant bipartisan modifications.
    House Republicans delayed a vote on Boehner’s bill, which had been set for Wednesday, after congressional budget analysts dealt the legislation a potentially devastating setback by saying it would save far less over the next decade than the $1.2 trillion advertised. The Congressional Budget Office projected that the spending cuts would save only about $850 billion over that period.
    The news from the CBO alarmed conservatives, who were already balking at what they considered timid spending reductions. It also meant Boehner’s bill would not meet his own demand that the cuts exceed the size of the $900 billion debt-limit increase.
    House Republicans were racing Tuesday night to rewrite portions of the measure to bring the numbers into line. The vote could now come Thursday…. – WaPo, 7-26-11
  • Analysis: Little by little, the sides are budging in debt debate: The differences are narrowing, not widening, as the U.S. government struggles to avoid a financial default that neither President Barack Obama nor the leaders of Congress say they want.
    That helps explain why day-old legislation unveiled by the House Republican leadership pulled off something of a political trifecta Tuesday before being scrapped.
    Several rank-and-file GOP conservatives in Speaker John Boehner of Ohio’s own party attacked it.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada labeled it “dead on arrival” in his Democratic-controlled chamber.
    Then the White House said that if the measure cleared Congress, “the president’s senior advisers would recommend that he veto this bill.”
    Yet the legislation also represented significant movement from a bill the House passed last week, such as roughly half of its mandated spending cuts, just as Reid no longer insists on tax increases as part of any plan to cut deficits. “We have a bill that is reasonable and responsible,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said earlier…. – AP, 7-27-11
  • Republican debt plan struggles in House: Speaker John Boehner and other party leaders push into overdrive to try to rescue the measure, even as an independent analysis challenges its figures.
    A go-it-alone House Republican plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling teetered on the edge of failure late Tuesday as leaders struggled to rally reluctant lawmakers and to make last-minute changes to curry conservative support.
    Leaders postponed a planned Wednesday vote in the House, an indication of the problems besetting the effort. Even if the plan passes this week, it would face an uncertain fate in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and White House officials said they would recommend President Obama veto it.
    The uphill task, led by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), grew more difficult when an independent analysis posed a new challenge to the figures used in the plan, saying its projected savings would be less than initially estimated.
    Boehner’s challenge arrived at a pivotal moment for both the Republican Party and the country, after months of political deadlock. Just days remain before the federal government hits the $14.3-trillion limit on how much it can borrow, after which it could be unable to pay all of its bills and obligations.
    In proposing their own plan, House Republicans aimed to demonstrate that they could lead the nation away from the brink of economic disaster. But on Tuesday, they largely showed off the deep divisions that have dogged the GOP and Boehner’s leadership all year.
    GOP leaders pushed into overdrive to try to rescue the measure, using arguments, empathy, sweeteners and even a tough-guy movie clip — yes, a movie clip — to rally support.
    To push a plan through the House, Boehner must amass 217 votes. There are 240 Republicans in the House, and few, if any, Democrats are expected to support his plan. So Boehner can afford to lose no more than about 23 members of his party — a difficult task given the opposition of many conservatives to any increase in the nation’s debt limit under any circumstances…. – LAT, 7-27-11
  • Boehner plan runs into GOP rebellion CBO scoring necessitates reworking: Facing a growing revolt in their own ranks, House Republican leaders said Tuesday they are rewriting their debt-limit increase bill after the Congressional Budget Office said Speaker John A. Boehner’s plan does not save as much money as he had claimed.
    The vote had been scheduled for Wednesday, but CBO’s numbers sent the Republicans scrambling to make changes, fouling up the schedule and pushing Congress ever closer to the Aug. 2 date when the government bumps up against its borrowing limit.
    “We’re here to change Washington — no more smoke and mirrors, no more ‘phantom cuts,’ ” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement to reporters. “We promised that we will cut spending more than we increase the debt limit, with no tax hikes, and we will keep that promise.”
    The CBO said Mr. Boehner’s reductions in future spending would save only $850 billion over the next decade, which is less than the $900 billion increase in the debt ceiling he is proposing. That discrepancy meant the bill violated his pledge to have cuts exceed the dollar amount of the debt increase.
    The delay could also give the party’s leaders time to twist arms among conservative lawmakers, many of whom said Tuesday they cannot vote for the plan, and which one influential lawmaker said is short of the support needed.
    “There are not 218 Republicans in support of this plan,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, who heads the powerful conservative caucus in the House and who said he’s voting against the measure.
    Democratic leaders said Mr. Boehner was unlikely to get much support from them.
    “Very few. I don’t want to give a number on it, but I would think very few,” said the House Democrats’ chief nose counter, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland.
    Whenever it occurs, the vote is shaping up as a key test of Mr. Boehner’s leadership. If successful, it would give momentum to a two-step debt increase that also would ensure votes on a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
    But if unsuccessful, it could give the edge to Senate Democrats’ plan, which immediately would raise the debt limit by $2.7 trillion, reduce future new discretionary spending by $1.2 trillion and create a commission to recommend other budget fixes…. – Washington Times, 7-26-11
  • House GOP revolts against Boehner plan: House Republicans do not have enough support to pass their debt-ceiling increase plan on their own, a top conservative said Tuesday as his party’s leaders tried to cobble together a coalition of Republicans and Democrats to put the bill over the top.
    “There are not 218 Republicans in support of this plan,” Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican who heads the powerful conservative caucus in the House, told reporters Tuesday morning.
    If Mr. Jordan is right, that would mean Speaker John A. Boehner would have to rely on Democrats to pass the $1.2 trillion spending cuts plan — support Democrats’ top vote-counter said he’ll be hard-pressed to gain. Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said “very few” Democrats will vote for the Boehner plan, though he acknowledged there could be some.
    A vote in the House is expected Wednesday, and Republican leaders are trying to round up enough support to pass their version. They hope that if it can pass the House, that will pressure Senate Democrats to drop their alternative and accept the GOP’s plan.
    Mr. Boehner’s bill would reduce future discretionary spending by $1.2 trillion, grant an immediate debt increase of $1 trillion, and set up a committee to work on trillions of dollars in future deficit reduction either through more spending cuts or tax increases, which would then earn another future debt increase. It would also require both the House and Senate to hold votes on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution…. – Washington Times, 7-26-11
  • CBO: John Boehner’s debt bill comes up short: New cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office could pose a problem for Speaker John Boehner as he tries to rally conservative support for his two-step plan to raise the federal debt ceiling and avert default next week.
    The first installment of $900 billion is contingent on enacting 10 year caps on annual appropriations which the leadership had hoped would save well over $1 trillion. But CBO late Tuesday came back with a report showing the legislation would reduce deficits by $850 billion when measured against the agency’s most current projections for spending.
    At one level, Boehner is the victim of his own success, since that same baseline is $122 billion lower in direct spending because of concessions the speaker won in the April government shutdown fight. But that won’t help him much with restless conservatives and this could force him now to readjust the bill with tighter caps to meet his goals…. – Politico, 7-26-11
  • Tea Party Warns GOP: A Vote for Boehner’s Debt Plan Violates Our Pledge: The Tea Party is causing more headaches for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) over his debt proposal. A coalition of several hundred Tea Party chapters declared Tuesday that a vote for Boehner’s debt plan constitutes a violation of its pledge, which 51 Republican lawmakers have signed. The group, known as the Cut, Cap and Balance Coalition, notified its members of its position in a Tuesday memo entitled, “Clarification of the CCB Coalition Stance on the Speaker’s Proposal.”
    “The greatest concern to the Cut, Cap and Balance Coalition is the integrity of the Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge that was signed by 39 House Members and 12 Senators, and whether voting for the proposed deal constitutes a Pledge violation,” reads the memo.” “We hold that is does violate the pledge, on several grounds.”… – Huff Post, 7-26-11
  • Perry: Obama debt ceiling speech was condescending: Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he thought President Barack Obama’s speech on the debt ceiling debate was condescending, saying he heard the president tell Americans they “just wouldn’t understand” the issue. The potential Republican presidential candidate spoke Tuesday at a ceremonial bill signing in Amarillo.
    Perry says he was stunned Obama “would think that Americans aren’t paying attention” to the debate. In his speech, Obama said the term “debt ceiling” is one most people outside of Washington have probably never heard of before…. – AP, 7-26-11
  • Michele Bachmann opposes House GOP debt limit plan: Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann says she opposes GOP House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to increase the federal borrowing authority.
    Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman, is telling Iowans that she will vote against any measure in Congress to raise the debt ceiling. The three-term House member says blocking the increase will force Congress to cut spending…. – AP, 7-26-11
  • Debt-irked voters shut down Congress’ websites, phones: President Barack Obama asked Americans to reach out to Congress to make their voices heard on the debt ceiling debate – and so they did.
    Thousands of callers flooded the Capitol switchboard Tuesday, and email traffic swamped congressional servers. The website of Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., crashed briefly, as did those of did Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Reps. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., and Frederica Wilson, D-Fla.
    “It’s been pretty busy today,” said Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. “The poor interns are having a good time.”
    The Capitol, which typically handles 20,000 calls per hour, saw spikes of up to 40,000 Tuesday, rivaling the 50,000-an-hour rate of the health care debate.
    “Congress and Capitol Hill have been flooded, with emails and phones, switchboards are jammed, servers going down. So it’s clear the American people are frustrated by the lack of compromise in Washington,” said David Plouffe, the president’s senior adviser, who was clearly getting exactly the response the White House had sought when the president on Monday called Washington a town “where compromise has become a dirty word.”… – McClatchy Newspapers, 7-26-11
  • Debt-ceiling showdown: The legal battleground: President Barack Obama says he will not bypass Congress and cite an obscure part of the Constitution to prevent a government debt default, but legal experts say it would prove difficult to challenge him in court should he change his mind.
    Former President Bill Clinton argued last week that the 14th Amendment that states the “validity” of government debt “shall not be questioned” means that Obama could simply ignore the congressionally imposed debt ceiling and go on borrowing.
    Obama has indicated he considered the possibility, but on Tuesday his spokesman, Jay Carney, appeared to rule it out.
    “The Constitution makes clear that Congress has the authority, not the president, to borrow money and only Congress can increase the statutory debt ceiling. That is just a reality,” Carney told reporters.
    But if the country is about to go into default, the temptation to act to avert calamity will grow. Legal experts say if the president were tempted to act unilaterally he might escape without his actions being overturned in court.
    Regardless of how controversial a 14th Amendment maneuver might be, a legal challenge would be very hard to mount and so far, no one has stepped forward to say they would challenge him in court.
    Nor has anyone said they would sue him if he took the alternative, equally controversial, step of using his broad authorities as guardian of the constitutional order to unilaterally raise the borrowing threshold.
    Theoretically, there are aggrieved parties who might consider legal action, including Congress, individual citizens or interest groups, and investors such as foreign governments…. – Reuters, 7-26-11
  • Abolish the Debt Ceiling: James Surowiecki, in The New Yorker, has a strong article out arguing that the debt ceiling shouldn’t exist at all. He writes:

    The truth is that the United States doesn’t need, and shouldn’t have, a debt ceiling. Every other democratic country, with the exception of Denmark, does fine without one. There’s no debt limit in the Constitution. And, if Congress really wants to hold down government debt, it already has a way to do so that doesn’t risk economic chaos—namely, the annual budgeting process. The only reason we need to lift the debt ceiling, after all, is to pay for spending that Congress has already authorized. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, we’ll face an absurd scenario in which Congress will have ordered the President to execute two laws that are flatly at odds with each other. If he obeys the debt ceiling, he cannot spend the money that Congress has told him to spend, which is why most government functions will be shut down. Yet if he spends the money as Congress has authorized him to he’ll end up violating the debt ceiling.

    He adds that the ceiling is an artifact of a time when it was useful for reining in the president, because before 1974 Congress didn’t pass a comprehensive budget, and the president had much more freedom over spending. So why does it live on?

    Advocates of the ceiling like the way it turns the national debt into front-page news, focussing the minds of voters and politicians; they think it fosters accountability, straight talk, transparency. In reality, debt-ceiling votes merely perpetuate the illusion that balancing the budget is easy. That’s why politicians like the debt ceiling: it allows them to rail against borrowing more money (which voters hate) without having to vote to cut any specific programs or raise taxes (which voters also hate).

    And, Surowiecki says—and current events certainly confirm—”by turning dealmaking into a game of chicken, the debt ceiling favors fanaticism.” That is the most painful part of the present mess: that fanaticism appears to be prepared to bring down the national economy…. – Forbes, 7-26-11

  • Patricia Campion: Debt Ceiling Crisis Doubles as Countdown to Obama’s Political Armageddon: By definition, default is a failure to meet an obligation. In one week, if Obama and Congress cannot reach a debt ceiling agreement, the United States of America faces sovereign default for the first time in our history. In the event of a nuclear economic meltdown, as president, Obama knows he will be standing at ground zero.
    Economists say interest rates will skyrocket and the stock market will plummet, sending ripples through the global economy. Moody’s is threatening to lower the U.S. credit rating and, because the interest rates consumers pay are tied to what the federal government pays, interest rates for consumers will also rise. And the wheels on the bus go round and round …
    Flashback: While facing default on their $24 billion deficit in 2009, California Democrats refused to allow budget cuts to solve the state debt crisis. The Republicans wouldn’t allow tax increases. Sound familiar?
    When Obama revealed his FY2012 plan in February, it became clear he planned to tax his way out of debt. Offering only $1 trillion in spending cuts, he proposed 43 tax hikes to gouge an additional $1.5 trillion from Americans over the next decade.
    Perhaps someone should inform the fiscally naive president that California’s record tax increase of $13 billion didn’t solve that state’s economic problem.
    Obama gave another speech from the White House Monday saying that Republicans want “an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all.” He forgets that the top 10 percent already pay 70 percent of the nation’s revenue, according to The Heritage Foundation, and American businesses already pay the highest corporate taxes on the planet, per the Daily Caller…. – Associated Content, 7-26-11
  • Analysis: Debt differences narrowing, despite talk: Pitched partisan rhetoric aside, the differences are narrowing, not widening, as the divided U.S. government struggles to avert a financial default that neither President Barack Obama nor the leaders of Congress say they want.
    Which helps explain why day-old legislation unveiled by the House Republican leadership pulled off something of a political trifecta on Tuesday.
    Several rank-and-file conservatives in Speaker John Boehner’s Republican party attacked it from the right.
    From other points on the political spectrum, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid labeled it “dead on arrival” in his Democratic-controlled chamber. And moments later the White House said if the measure somehow managed to clear Congress, “the president’s senior advisers would recommend that he veto this bill.”
    Yet the legislation also represents significant movement from a bill the House passed last week, roughly half of its mandated spending cuts, for example. Just as Reid no longer is insisting on having tax increases as part of any plan to cut deficits. “We have a bill that is reasonable and responsible,” said Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel.
    Clearly, not everyone sees it that way. So the crisis continues, and efforts to avoid a market-shattering default could yet falter in the run-up to an Aug. 2 deadline…. – AP, 7-26-11
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