As you probably may know, Eric Cantor made the pundits shake when he declared that Obama got angry and left the debt ceiling talks. See, Eric Cantor has now replaced John Boehner as the GOP's spokesperson in this sick negotiation. Cantor bolted from bipartisan meetings earlier in the process, so now it seems obvious that he wanted a little payback from the media. All he had to do to rile up the press was to give them something they would consider juicy.
“He shoved back and said ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’ and walked out,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters in the Capitol after the meeting
And the Democrats are using Eric Cantor as their new symbol of Republican obstructionism.
The story from yesterday shows how much the media are begging for scraps, because quoting Cantor as a reliable source who attacks the President is pretty silly after all these days of negotiations. Cantor was the one who walked out of the Biden meetings, after all.
There's a schism in the Republican party between those who are being pushed by Wall Street to get a deal done -- who might even understand what would happen to the global economy if we default -- and those who are stooges of the Rupert Murdoch-generated Tea Party, who want the federal government to be destroyed. Moody's printed a story about the possible downgrade of our credit rating, which has upped the pressure on the GOP, excluding Michele Bachmann of course.
Asian stocks ended in mixed territory Thursday as Moody's Investors Service's review of U.S. credit ratings for a possible downgrade prompted caution, pressuring financial stocks and some exporters.
Resource-sector stocks propped up mainland Chinese stocks as some commodities got a boost after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke indicated the Fed may once again step in to support the economy.
"Bernanke's comments to the House of Representatives yesterday mooting further stimulus options for the economy may have buoyed sentiment on Wall Street somewhat early yesterday, but news that Moody's is reviewing the AAA credit rating for the USA has certainly rattled confidence since then," said Cameron Peacock, an analyst at IG Markets.
Yesterday the Huff Post reported this on the meeting:
"Eric, don't call my bluff. I'm going to the American people on this," the president said, according to both Cantor and another attendee. "This process is confirming what the American people think is the worst about Washington: that everyone is more interested in posturing, political positioning, and protecting their base, than in resolving real problems."
Democratic officials had a different interpretation. "The meeting ended with Cantor being dressed down while sitting in silence," one official said in an email. "[The president] said Cantor could not have it both ways of insisting on dollar-for-dollar and still not being open to revenues."
Lost in the rush to frame the dramatic conclusion of Wednesday meetings was word of the actual substance of the talks. According to several attendees, negotiations stalled from the onset over the same issues that have proved irresolvable. Working off of talks that had been spearheaded by Vice President Joseph Biden, the president said he would be comfortable signing off on northward of $1.5 trillion in discretionary spending and mandatory spending cuts. With additional negotiations, he added, he could move that figure up to $1.7 trillion, and with a willingness to consider revenue increases and tax loophole closures, lawmakers could get to over $2 trillion. His preference, he said, was to continue to push for the biggest package possible, so long as it was balanced.
It does appear that the White House is intent on trying to get the Grand Bargain. Via Digby, Ezra Klein writes about what he believes the administration's plans are all about, and he's pretty connected.
A lot of Democrats took one look at the McConnell plan, which would raise the debt ceiling without substantive fiscal concessions, and saw their way out of this mess. But not the White House. What’s come clear in recent weeks is that the Obama administration is much more intent on reaching a major deficit deal, and much less intent on making revenues a major part of it, than most observers assumed.
That’s led them to offer Republicans a deal that is not only much farther to the right than anyone had predicted, but also much farther to the right than most realize. In addition to the rise in the Medicare eligibility age and the cuts to Social Security and the minimal amount of revenues, it’d cut discretionary spending by $1.2 trillion, which is an absolutely massive attack on that category of spending.
This deal isn’t just a last-ditch effort to save the economy from the damage of a federal default. The White House would far prefer this deal to the McConnell plan, or to the $2 trillion deal that was under consideration during the Biden negotiations. So why are administration officials so committed to striking a deal composed of policies they've mostly opposed? Here’s their thinking:..read on
It's hard to know what is exactly true, but as more information leaks out, what do you think?
Digby analyzes it thus:
I still have a sneaking suspicion that the Republicans understand better than Obama that "the deficit" isn't what people care about and that hugely cutting spending won't help him be re-elected in 2012. (If they really believed that they would have done it themselves when they held the White House and the congress.) I think they'll sign on to a deal that massively cuts government spending and which only required concessions are something like Unemployment Insurance. Seriously, think about it.
Maybe they won't sign on out of sheer contrariness. In which case hurrah for them.
And they are threading a very fine needle on the electoral calculation. John Sides at the Monkey Cage games out the three scenarios...
My personal feeling is that it takes about 18 months for voters to feel the effects of a recovering economy and that window is rapidly closing. I think if they were less rigid about their re-election plan and able to adjust to current realities they might do things differently. But it's pretty clear that they've been counting on the Reagan Replay from the very beginning and changing circumstances just aren't going to sway them.
I can't cheer this even if the economy turns around and unemployment is way down by the time of the election. The level and type of spending cuts that the White House has already proposed is a betrayal of liberal ideology and economic reality to such a degree that I'm rooting for the McConnell proposal, which is just bizarre. But it's the most sane plan on the table.
Paul Krugman uses Nate Silver's information and charts to come to this conclusion.
What Obama has offered — and Republicans have refused to accept — is a deal in which less than 20 percent of the deficit reduction comes from new revenues. This puts him slightly to the right of the average Republican voter.
So we learn two things. First, Obama is extraordinarily eager to make concessions. Second, Republicans are incredibly unwilling to take yes for an answer — something for which progressives should be grateful.