"In Washington more spending and more debt is business as usual," House Speaker John Boehner declared on Monday before warning, "I've got news for Washington - those days are over." The days, Boehner should have explained, before Barack Obama took the oath of office. As Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) rightly pointed on the Senate floor last year, "We would have none of this if it hadn't been for the Republican debt orgy that they went through." Which is exactly right. As a few handy charts show, Republican presidents and the current GOP leadership in Congress presided over that debt debauchery. And now they demand Democrats clean up their mess.
For their part, Republicans want to pretend history began on January 20, 2009. While Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling claimed Friday that for Republicans raising the debt ceiling is "contrary to our DNA," House Minority Leader Eric Cantor protested two weeks ago, "I don't think the White House understands is how difficult it is for fiscal conservatives to say they're going to vote for a debt ceiling increase."
As McClatchy showed, Republicans are as bad at genetics and history as they are at economics:
Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman warned Sunday that proposed spending cuts in a deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling would end up hurting the economy.
"From the perspective of a rational person, we shouldn't even be talking about spending cuts at all now," Krugman told ABC's Christiane Amanpour. "We have nine percent unemployment. These spending cuts are going to worsen unemployment... If you have a situation in which you are permanently going to raise the unemployment rate -- which is what this is going to do -- that's actually going to reduce future revenues."
"These spending cuts are even going to hurt the long-run fiscal position, let alone cause lots of misery. Then on top of that, we've got these budget cuts, which are entirely -- basically the Republicans [saying], 'We'll blow up the world economy unless you give us exactly what you want' and the president said, 'Okay.' That's what happened."
"We used to talk about the Japanese and their lost decade. We're going to look to them as a role model. They did better than we're doing," he added. "There is no light at the end of this tunnel. We're having a debate in Washington which is all about, 'Gee, we're going to make this economy worse, but are we going to make it worse on 90 percent the Republicans' terms or 100 percent the Republicans' terms?' The answer is 100 percent."
The man who headed the NSA and CIA under President George W. Bush suggested Friday that mercenaries were needed to deal with growing cyber threats.
Gen. Michael Hayden told the Aspen Security Forum that in the near future, the Department of Defense may have to allow the creation of a "digital Blackwater."
Private sector offense "might be one of those big new ideas in terms of how we have to conduct ourselves in this new cyber domain," Hayden explained. "You think back long enough in history and there are times when the private sector was responsible for its own defense."
"We may come to a point where defense is more actively and aggressively defined even for the private sector and what is permitted there is something that we would never let the private sector do in physical space... Let me really throw out a bumper sticker for you. How about a digital Blackwater?" he suggested.
"I mean, we have privatized certain defense activities even in physical space and now you've got a new domain in which we don't have any paths trampled down in the forest in terms of what it is we expect the government or will allow the government to do. In the past when that has happened, private sector expands to fill the empty space. I'm not quite an advocate for that, but these are the kinds of things that are going to be put into play here very, very soon."
Watch the entire Aspen Security Forum on cyber security here.
Fox News contributor Bill Kristol said Sunday that by not overselling the debt deal, Republicans could later use it to win the White House.
"Assuming [the deal] happens, I think Republicans will have to say to their constituents and the country, you negotiate the debt ceiling agreement with the president you have," he told Fox News' Bret Baier. "This is the best we could get and the responsible thing to do, but they should not oversell it."
"It is not a great deal in my opinion. It's an adequate deal, perhaps, if defense spending isn't cut too much. And it certainly doesn't fundamentally deal with the debt problem we have or the economic problems we have," Kristol added.
"So, I think Republicans should probably take the deal that is being negotiated today, but they should not make it seem as if this is some great victory. They need to say, we need a different president in 2013."
Not very many people seem to have caught the drift of this recent Glenn Beck rant, which was noted at Media Matters for its classic Beckian illogic, with the Mad Hatter declaring that if we can't use Hitler analogies in "logical conversation," then "We are going to be a society of gas chambers!"
What he and his sidekick were talking about, though, was comparing the Obama administration to Hitler and the Nazis in the event the president decides to simply invoke the 14th Amendment and raise the debt ceiling by executive order. Because then, you see, he would just be a dictator.
This is the narrative that's gradually building on the Right as a counter-narrative to the obvious point that if Obama uses the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling, it will be because Republicans in Congress failed to act. No, instead, it will be because he is intent on seizing dictatorial powers.
And for that, they will then argue, he must be impeached.
Here's the scenario. The House GOP pushes for completely unserious Boehner plan (including a balanced budget amendment) that they know will be vetoed; they then filibuster the Reid plan in the Senate, forcing Obama to invoke a 14th Amendment executive prerogative, which they will then turn around and impeach him for.
Far-fetched? I hope so. But every time you think you have reached the end of Republican extremism, they manage to move further out of the solar system.
If Barack Obama attempts to destroy the Separation of Powers doctrine, if he intends to seize Congressional power when it comes to borrowing and spending despite the plain wording of Article 1 Section 8 Clause 2. In other words if he’s going to violate his oath of office…then he needs to be impeached.
Should he attempt to seize explicit Congressional power, we’ve got to make a case that we don’t like dictators in this country and that we will not accept dictators in this country. There’s not even a colorable argument that can be made that justifies the President of the United States seizing for himself the authority to “borrow money on the credit of the United States.” And should Chuck Schumer continue to urge this and should the President do it, then Chuck Schumer should be expelled from the United States Senate when the Republicans take it back over as they will.
The Tea Party "patriots" and political apostles of Pope Grover are really shooting themselves in the foot on this one, and they're just too dumb to realize it. There just isn't that much discretionary spending left to cut -- which means it will come from state budgets, where the pain will be amplified on the local level. It will be interesting to watch all these Republican governors and state legislators try to explain away the eventual steep rise in state and local taxes, trying desperately to distance themselves from the consequences of their "cut cut cut" rhetoric. Wait until all those Medicare-loving tea lovers find out their spouses who need nursing home care will no longer be eligible -- because the Medicaid funds aren't there anymore.
Among the biggest items on the chopping block in Congress are education and Medicaid spending — federal dollars that make up the largest parts of most states’ budgets. Nearly every state government has already set its budget for the next year — some for the next two years — under the assumption that federal spending would remain more or less consistent. If such money is abruptly pulled, states won’t suddenly be able to change their spending obligations or raise taxes.
“They’re going to have to eat that in some way, and many will pass [the cuts] onto local governments,” said Frank Shaforth, director of the Center for State and Local Government Leadership at George Mason University.
Amid the recession and dropping revenues, there’s already been an uptick of bankruptcy filings by cities, towns and rural districts across the country over the past two months and there could be more if Washington follows through on its promise to slash spending as soon as possible.
“The cities and counties that already in bad shape — they’re the first ones to go,” White said.
Even if state governments hold special sessions to cut spending further, their cuts will still “filter through to the local government,” he added. “Public-sector workers get laid off. There’s higher employment and lower spending.”
Local governments will try to raise property taxes to raise revenue, which could be yet another drag on a housing market that’s yet to recover. Those who fail to meet their fiscal obligations could see their credit downgraded, making it even harder for them to borrow money to build basic local infrastructure, while both the president and the GOP have threatened to pull funds for state infrastructure. What was once an ideological abstraction — “austerity” — will have very real effects on everyday life for average Americans.
Some state and local officials are already bracing for the worst. As the Pew Center on the States notes, Virginia’s Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has proposed borrowing money fromthe state treasury to cover federal Medicaid funds, and the California state treasurer is considering a Wall Street loan to help the state make ends meet in August.
With state and local voices largely absent from the Washington debate, officials and advocates are struggling to make their concerns heard — and remind Congress that slashing federal spending could have a massive, unanticipated ripple effect on every level of government.
Meeting with Sen. Mark Warner (R-Va.) on Tuesday, Shaforth told the ex-governor, “I want you to put your governor hat back on…This is the United States — this is not just the federal government.”
Here's a song for everyone holding a stock portfolio.
David Plouffe is going to be all over your tube today, along with White House economic adviser Gene Sperling. Hm. Wonder what they'll be talking about.
Meet the Press: White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe; Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO); Sen. John Thune (R-SD); Roundtable: Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D), Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), Jim Cramer (CNBC) and Tom Brokaw (NBC News).
Face the Nation: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
This Week: White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe; Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); CEO of PIMCO Dr. Mohamed El-Erian; New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly; Roundtable: George Stephanopoulos (ABC News), George Will (Washington Post), Paul Krugman (New York Times) and Grover Norquist (Americans for Tax Reform).
Fox News Sunday: Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling; House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA); Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL); Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ); Roundtable: Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard), Charles Lane (Washington Post), Steve Hayes (Weekly Standard) and Juan Williams (Fox News).
State of the Union: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY); Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling; Chief Economist at Moody's Analytics Mark Zandi; Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R); Reliable Sources: Jonathan Martin (Politico); Nancy Cordes (CBS News); Michael Shear (New York Times).
The Chris Matthews Show: Andrea Mitchell (NBC News); Howard Fineman (Huffington Post); Michael Duffy (TIME); Nia-Malika Henderson (Washington Post).
Fareed Zakaria GPS: IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde; GM Chairman Daniel Akerson.
CNN's Don Lemon bragged about how he and his network are going to make an effort to not allow politicians to come on their shows and just repeat talking points instead of answering direct questions by their reporters. Well, that's all well and good, but if Lemon thinks this interview with Rand Paul was some example of what we should expect from those that want to call themselves journalists in our media, he's going to have to do a better job than he did with Rand Paul here.
While I agree that it's a good thing that anyone in our media doesn't want to allow any politician to come on their show and just filibuster the interview with talking points, and that definitely is a step in the right direction, it's also pretty worthless if when they do answer your question and lie, that they're not called out for that lie.
It's also worthless when your network continues to paint the "tea party" as some actual third party, instead of just the right wing of the Republican Party and to continues to do the lazy "both sides" false equivalencies as was done here by Don Lemon. Sorry Don, but there are not two parties unwilling to compromise to make government work. And the "middle" of our political spectrum does not lie between "compromising" on lifting our debt ceiling and crashing our country and our world's economy if one side does not get everything they want with destroying our social safety nets.
Lemon got onto Rand Paul for not answering his questions, but he did not let his viewers know that the Republican Party has gone completely off the cliff with the crazy train with electing extremists like Rand Paul and that the Democratic Party has moved way too far to the right, other than the members of the House progressive caucus who are about the only ones out there actually looking out for everyday working Americans and their interests these days. They're given no voice or very little in our corporate media with the usual exceptions which are some of the prime time shows on MSNBC.
The full interview with Rand Paul is below the fold and I hate to break it to Don Lemon, but if he thinks this represents some sort of hardball interview with Rand Paul and holding him accountable for how he's behaved since he's been elected with pushing his extreme right wing or Libertarian views on the rest of us and for lying about how their balanced budget amendment being included in debt ceiling negotiations that has zero to no chance of being passed through Congress with the clock is ticking is somehow either "rational" or a "compromise", I'd like to have some of what Don Lemon has been smoking.
Senator Bernie Sanders spoke during a rare Saturday session. He made case for President Obama lifting the debt ceiling on his own by invoking a provision of the 14th Amendment. "The Constitution is very clear in saying that the debts of the United States ‘shall not be questioned,' Sanders said. "The president swears an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and many constitutional scholars believe that the 14th Amendment gives the president the authority and responsibility to pay our debts regardless of the dysfunction in Congress. I think that's just what he should do if he is left with no other way to protect the full faith and credit of the United States." The idea is backed by leading legal scholars and by President Bill Clinton. He said that if he were still in the White House, he would use the amendment and "force the courts to stop me."
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is calling on President Barack Obama to unilaterally lift the debt ceiling by invoking the 14th Amendment.
Section 4 of the amendment states that, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”
Sanders, an independent, isn’t fazed by the possibility that using the amendment to bypass Congress on the debt limit could lead to an impeachment vote. He says Americans would thank Obama for dealing with the crisis.
“I suppose if you use the 14th Amendment and Republicans try to impeach him, that’s their right,” he said. “But I would suspect that the average American would say, ‘Given the options, thank you, Mr. President, for making sure that I at least get my Social Security check, that our soldiers get paid, that Medicare continues to function and that interest rates do not go way up.’”
Current law requires congressional approval for raising the debt limit. But former President Bill Clinton has said that if he were still in the White House, he would use the amendment and “force the courts to stop me.”
“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 in a July 18 interview with The National Memo.
But Obama has said he does not believe invoking the amendment is a viable option. “I have talked to my lawyers,” he said on July 22. “They are not persuaded that that is a winning argument.”
Sanders said other options for action on the debt limit are “dismal.” He blamed “right-wing extremism” among House Republicans and their “refusal to look at anything that resembles a fair and sensible and balanced approach.”