By Bonnie K. Goodman
Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.
THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to the media after a caucus meeting with Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill in Washington August 1, 2011. (Joshua Roberts, Reuters)
AUGUST 1, 2011: BIPARTISAN OPPOSITION TO DEBT DEAL — HOUSE FIRST TO VOTE ON DEBT DEAL THEN THE SENATE
Budget Office says debt deal will save at least $2.1 trillion: The Congressional Budget Office confirmed Monday that the debt-reduction deal struck by the White House and congressional leaders would cut deficits by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years, if lawmakers approve the plan later Monday.
The independent budget analysts reconfirmed that it contains up front savings of $917 billion, the same level as initially proposed in legislation offered by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) last week, and it credited President Obama and the leaders with at least $1.2 trillion in savings for the follow-on work to be done by a special committee.
“Despite what some Republicans have argued, I believe that we have to ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share by giving up tax breaks and special deductions. Despite what some in my own party have argued, I believe that we need to make some modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to ensure that they’re still around for future generations. That’s why the second part of this agreement is so important.” — President Barack Obama
“I am relieved to say that leaders from both parties have come together for the sake of our economy to reach a historic, bipartisan compromise that ends this dangerous standoff. The compromise we have agreed to is remarkable not only because of what it does, but because of what it prevents: a first-ever default on the full faith and credit of the United States.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
We got 98 percent of what we wanted… It would also guarantee the American people the vote they have been denied in both chambers on a balanced budget amendment, while creating, I think, some new incentives for past opponents of a BBA to support it.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner
Reid says debt limit vote in Senate by Tuesday: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that debt limit increase legislation would be completed in the Senate by Tuesday. “This vote could happen either tonight or tomorrow,” Reid said on the Senate floor. – Reuters, 8-1-11
- Several Steps Remain Before the Debt Ceiling Is Raised: During the next 60 hours, the legislative leaders who shook hands with each other must sell the deal to their wary members, something that could still pose a thorny political challenge.
And then — with the Tuesday deadline for a default looming — they must turn the “framework” into legislative language and pass it through both chambers of Congress — not an easy task for institutions, especially the Senate, which are not known for moving with haste…. – NYT, 8-1-11
- Pleasing Few, Debt Deal to Go to Vote: Democratic and Republican leaders in the Congress began making their final arguments on behalf of Sunday’s debt ceiling deal to skeptical members in advance of votes in both chambers that could come as early as Monday afternoon.
With only one day left before Tuesday’s looming deadline that carries the threat of a federal default, Vice President Joseph R. Biden arrived at the Capitol for back-to-back, closed-door meetings with Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate. Republicans in the House and Senate also huddled in advance of the votes.
The last-minute wrangling on Monday morning reflected the lack of enthusiasm for the debt deal as lawmakers, party activists and pundits expressed relief but little excitement for a compromise that appears to have left few partisans eagerly promoting the deal as the one that they wanted.
On the Senate floor on Monday, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said, “People on the right are upset. People on the left are upset. People in the middle are upset.” But he called it a “remarkable agreement which will protect the long-term health of our economy.”
Mr. Reid said that the Senate is likely to take a final vote on passage of the deal later today. Republican aides in the House said that voting could begin as early as 2 p.m., though neither chamber had yet told members exactly when to expect final votes on the legislation.
Most of the leading 2012 Republican presidential candidates weighed in Monday in opposition to the debt ceiling deal, saying that it does too little to address the nation’s spending problem. Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, said the deal “opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table..”… – NYT, 8-1-11
- House vote first test of debt-ceiling bill: The first test of legislation to raise the nation’s debt ceiling comes in the House, which plans to vote Monday evening on the plan agreed to by party leaders Sunday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would work to take up the plan Monday as well, though that would be a challenge given traditional delaying tactics that may be employed.
Passage in either chamber is far from assured. Some Republicans are objecting to the possibility of steep cuts in defense spending, while others continue to oppose any debt-ceiling increase. Liberal Democrats think the so-called compromise was more like a cave-in…. – LAT, 8-1-11
- House Debt Vote Expected Monday Afternoon: The House of Representatives could begin voting as early as 2 p.m., Eastern time, on the debt ceiling compromise announced by President Obama and Congressional leaders on Sunday night, a House leadership aide said.
In a brief message on Twitter, Erica Elliott, the press secretary for Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, the majority whip, announced the tentative schedule.
It was not immediately clear when the Senate might vote on Monday…. – NYT, 8-1-11
- Debt-Limit Deal to Get Congress Vote Today: Congressional leaders, leaving no extra time before a default threatened for tomorrow, are racing to push through a compromise sealed with President Barack Obama last night to raise the U.S. debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and slash government spending by $2.4 trillion or more. The House plans votes today and the Senate may follow suit to consider the agreement reached during a weekend of negotiations that capped a months-long struggle between Obama and Republicans over raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Megan Hughes reports on Bloomberg Television’s “First Look.” (Source: Bloomberg)
Congressional leaders, leaving no extra time before a default threatened for tomorrow, are racing to push through a compromise sealed with President Barack Obama last night to raise the U.S. debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and slash government spending by $2.4 trillion or more.
The House plans votes today and the Senate may follow suit to consider the agreement reached during a weekend of negotiations that capped a months-long struggle between Obama and Republicans over raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.
Both parties were working to sell the deal to their rank and file — meeting resistance from social liberals who fault it for failing to increase taxes and from fiscal conservatives who say it’s insufficient to rein in the debt…. – Bloomberg, 8-1-11
- House races toward Monday debt ceiling vote: The House is racing toward a Monday evening vote to raise the debt ceiling, as congressional leaders furiously round up the votes necessary to push the plan through before Tuesday’s deadline.
Senate leaders plan to take up the bill shortly after, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says enough votes will be lined up for the bill to pass.
House leaders are still gauging support for the measure. House Republicans will meet at 12:30 and House Democrats are caucusing with Vice President Joe Biden — who got a standing ovation when he walked into the meeting today.
Biden laid out in candid terms what the White House had to do to get a deal.
“Elections have consequences,” Biden told Senate Democrats, according to a senator in the room. The vice president characterized the fight as a hostage situation, saying Republicans have a “gun to their heads,” the source said…. – Politico, 8-1-11
- Debt-ceiling compromise: Now, it’s time to find the votes: Vice President Joe Biden will meet Monday with the Senate and House Democratic caucuses while Republican leaders also huddle to gauge support for the debt-ceiling plan negotiators agreed to Sunday.
The legislative path for the bill was still somewhat unclear as individual members study the details. No votes had been scheduled yet in either the House or Senate on Monday, but could be added once party leadership takes the temperature of their respective caucuses. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told members Sunday night that the bill would move quickly to the floor, perhaps as early as Monday afternoon…. – LAT, 8-1-11
- House to vote before Senate on raising debt ceiling: The House of Representatives will vote before the Senate on the bipartisan plan to raise the debt ceiling, according to two House GOP leadership sources…. – CNN, 8-1-11
- House vote could be squeaker: A Democratic official involved in the effort to secure the votes in the House and Senate for the debt deal says there is more concern about the vote tally in the House than the Senate, where it looks like it will get the 60 votes needed without much drama.
In the House, Democrats who favor the deal are concerned about a very close vote – maybe a squeaker.
Vice President Joe Biden will meet with the House Democratic caucus at noon to answer questions, soothe concerns, and help shore up reluctant Democrats.
Even though Biden is coming over to meet with Democrats and has planned to come out to the media stakeout afterwards, it’s unclear from Democratic aides at this point how many of the Democratic leaders, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, will stand with Biden and say they will support the bill…. – CNN, 8-1-11
- The debt ceiling battle at a glance:
A compromise agreement to raise the nation’s borrowing limit has been reached The House and Senate are expected to vote today The House Speaker says the agreement does not violate Republican principles Some Senate Democrats are grumbling, an aide says, but the chamber is expected to approve the deal
President Obama and congressional leaders have agreed to a plan that would lift the nation’s credit limit and avoid an unprecedented default on its debt, which could have widespread economic ramifications ranging from higher interest rates to a predicted stock market crash. Congress still must approve the deal by Tuesday. Here’s the situation at a glance… – CNN, 8-1-11
- Debt Deal: Some Read It and Weep, Others Swallow Hard and Nod: Liberals and conservatives woke up on Monday morning and began assessing the last-minute debt ceiling deal reached by leaders in Washington over the weekend.
Many liberals are grousing about President Obama’s willingness to abandon some of the things he had demanded. Some conservatives are griping that the deal doesn’t do enough to cut spending. And some members of both parties are declaring the deal good enough, if not exactly great…. – NYT, 8-1-11
- McCain says he’ll ‘swallow hard’ and support deal: Sen. John McCain says he’ll vote for compromise legislation averting a government default, although “I will probably have to swallow hard.”
The Arizona Republican who lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election says he’s concerned about the impact of the deficit-reduction deal on defense spending.
But McCain also tells CBS’s “The Early Show” that officials in Washington realized “we were not going to let the government shut down.”… – AP, 8-1-11
- Sen. Marco Rubio will vote against debt ceiling deal: The South Florida Congressional delegation says it will likely approve the tentative deal struck Sunday night to raise the debt ceiling but Sen. Marco Rubio is a holdout…. – Miami Herald, 8-1-11
- GOP presidential hopefuls unhappy with debt-ceiling deal: Some of the Republicans who want to kick President Obama out of office next year are sounding off today with their opposition to a deal the White House reached with congressional leaders to raise the debt ceiling…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
- Romney opposes debt deal: Mitt Romney said Monday he opposes the compromise to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, becoming the second Republican presidential contender to oppose a deal backed by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders in both parties.
The plan, which supporters say is needed to avert a looming fiscal crisis, opens the door to tax increases and defense cuts, the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement.
“President Obama’s leadership failure has pushed the economy to the brink at the eleventh hour and 59th minute,” Romney said. “While I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama’s lack of leadership has placed Republican members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal.”
The statement represents the most substantive comment to date from Romney, the early frontrunner in the Republican presidential field, who has largely avoided weighing in on daily developments in the high-stakes debate. The issue, as the nation’s economy in general, is likely to dominate the 2012 contest…. – AP, 8-1-11
- Debt and budget bill saves more than $2T: A new study says the debt and budget bill backed by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders would save taxpayers at least $2.1 trillion over the coming decade.
The Congressional Budget Office analysis says the initial down payment of spending cuts — tight “caps” on the operating budgets of Cabinet agencies like the departments of Defense and Education — would produce more than $900 billion in savings over 10 years…. – AP, 8-1-11
- Congressional Leaders to Pitch Debt-Reduction Compromise to Caucuses: Democratic and Republican leaders in both chambers of Congress will meet with their caucuses Monday for a hard sell of a compromise debt-reduction package that gives President Obama up to a $2.5 trillion hike in the debt limit as long as lawmakers can find an equal or greater amount in spending cuts.
But even if they can’t come up with solutions, the cuts will be found for them.
Obama announced Sunday night that leaders of both parties in both chambers reached an agreement on a debt-reduction deal that will “lift the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over our economy” and prevent the nation from potentially defaulting on the U.S.’s financial obligations…. – Fox News, 8-1-11
- Congress moving quickly on debt and spending deal: Congress is moving quickly on an agreement to avert a potentially devastating default on U.S. obligations, with legislation that mixes a record increase in the government’s borrowing cap with the promise of more than $2 trillion in spending cuts.
After a tense weekend of bargaining, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders announced the agreement Sunday night, providing an instant boost to Asian financial markets and a huge dose of relief to an administration and Congress frazzled by months of partisan warfare and the chance that a default could send the still-fragile economy into recession.
The Senate seems likely to vote first on the measure while House GOP leaders work to assemble support for it. Democratic votes are certain to be needed to pass the measure in the Republican-dominated House, just as Republicans will be needed to clear the measure through the Democratic Senate. Liberal Democrats were already carping that Obama had given away too much to GOP leaders…. – AP, 8-1-11
- Obama announces budget deal: President Barack Obama, addressing the nation Sunday, announced a bipartisan, bicameral deal to end a dangerous impasse over raising the debt ceiling, marking the start of a process to avert a catastrophic national default on Tuesday.
A somber Obama — decrying a process that has been “messy” and has “taken far too long” — made his announcement moments before House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) took the two-part package of $2.5 trillion in cuts to a skeptical GOP conference. The agreement came after a day of frenzied negotiations over “triggers” that will be used to determine the make-up of the final $1.5 trillion in cuts.
“We’re not done yet,” Obama told a smattering of reporters gathered in the White House briefing room. “Despite what some Republicans have argued I believe we have to ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share … and despite what some in my own party have argued I believe that we need to make some modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to assure that they’re still around for future generations,” he said, acknowledging the opposition of tea party conservatives and liberal Democrats…. – Politico, 8-1-11
- Analysis: Bipartisan debt-limit deal means bipartisan opposition for Obama, Boehner: The newly struck debt-ceiling compromise between President Barack Obama and the Republican leaders of Congress represents a historic accomplishment of divided government, with all the disappointment that implies for the most ardent partisans inside the two major parties and out.
But it marks an accomplishment nonetheless between a Democratic president elected in 2008 and the Republicans who, Obama memorably said, handed his party a “shellacking” at the polls two years later.
The tea party conservatives won’t like it, regretting it doesn’t cut spending by more. “Someone has to say no, I will,” Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said in a statement emailed from Iowa Sunday night, where she was courting Republicans for her 2012 presidential bid.
Neither will the liberal Democrats, unhappy that it cuts at all. “This deal weakens the Democratic Party as badly as it weakens the country. We have given much and received nothing in return,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Which means that Obama and his principal Republican antagonist, Speaker John Boehner, will share responsibility for passing it in the House…. – AP, 8-1-11
- US debt limit really doesn’t limit debt: The federal debt limit is a triumph of false advertising. It doesn’t really limit the national debt. Whenever the false ceiling has been reached, it has been raised — forcing unpopular votes in Congress, but not the really hard ones it would take to cut spending, raise revenues and balance budgets.
Ranting about the debt is easier than taming it. So the same political theatrics are played over and over again. The debt limit has been raised 78 times since 1960. The current hassle over No. 79 is more contentious and divisive than the previous rounds because of hardened lines in Congress, not only between Democrats and Republicans but within their rosters, especially on the GOP side where about 80 freshmen sent by tea party voters consider compromise a crime.
The hypocrisy of the whole process was summed up by an expert witness, Barack Obama, now the president championing a debt limit increase, when he tried to explain his own vote as junior senator from Illinois to oppose the raise then-President George W. Bush sought…. – AP, 8-1-11