Greg Sargent is one of the more perceptive Beltway observers, and he thinks the Dems are going to hold their ground:
In another sign Dems may well hold firm and not let Republicans escape from this predicament on terms more favorable to them, there’s now serious talk among Democrats of not accepting a GOP budget offering unlessit also includes a debt limit hike if this shutdown crisis drags on.
Several Senate Democratic aides told me this morning that this is seriously being considered, confirming a report in Politico. As one put it to me: ”We are less than two weeks away from the deadline. If we were not having this shutdown fight, this is the week we would be moving a debt ceiling bill.”
A second said: “It doesn’t make much sense to do a short term CR only to have to turn around and do it again with the debt ceiling.”
Needless to say, if it comes to this, the stakes in this battle will escalate dramatically — and the pressure on Republicans will intensify. This also comes as two new polls show Dems with an advantage in the overall battle.
A new CNN poll finds that Americans say by 56-38 that not raising the debt limit would be bad for the country, and would blame Republicans over Obama by 53-31.
Greg Sargent has frequently made the case that liberals are going to have to choose between the sequester cuts and the Grand Bargain and therefore will need to make the affirmative case for why they are choosing the sequester. (I never get the sense that if they "choose" the Grand Bargain that anyone other than a bunch of loser liberals will demand an explanation.)
And Greg is probably right that if the Republicans are smart enough to take yes for an answer, the liberals in the House will face the wrath of their Party apparatus and the president (and the liberal establishment) if they end up voting against a Grand Bargain. But it is NOT like the health care vote in which they were faced with the choice of walking away from a plan that greatly expanded healthcare for the working poor or giving up a public plan they wanted. That was a choice between two positive outcomes --- nobody was going to lose something they already had.
This, on the other hand, is a choice between two negatives. Essentially, as before, the White House and the Democratic centrists are holding hostages but this time they're basically telling the progressives that a hostage is going to get shot no matter what: Head Start and food inspections today or the elderly, the sick and the veterans tomorrow and they have to choose which one. Why should progressives bear that responsibility? They didn't get us into this mess.
I say they should just say no. Republicans do it all the time and everybody just throws up their hands and says, "well, I guess we'd better figure out something else." They should hold fast and say "the sequester sucks and so does the Grand Bargain and we don't support either one." Most of the progressives didn't vote for the sequester in the first place and bear no responsibility for it. (And even those who did have no obligation to defend the monster that everyone assured them had no chance of ever becoming law.) This is a failure of the leadership of both parties and progressives are not required to betray their most fundamental values and defend any of these ridiculous cuts to anyone.
Just say no. The "sequester vs Grand Bargain" is a phony construct made by man, not God, and there's no reason on earth why any progressive should be forced to own either one. Find another way.
Presuming the Senate deal passes the House, what happened yesterday is that Democrats scored a victory on part two of that question — albeit only a partial one — while successfully deferring the epic, looming battle over the first part of it. Meanwhile, Republicans retained their leverage heading into round two, and thanks to the way things unfolded, they will likely walk into it more confident of winning major future concessions.
The good news is that for now, the basic social contract underlying the progressive reforms of the last century remains intact. Neither the rise in the Medicare eligibility age nor the Chained CPI for Social Security happened; Democrats have temporarily held off the GOP drive to cut the safety net. Meanwhile, Democrats finally broke the GOP’s opposition to the rich paying more in taxes — the party’s organizing principle for years now — successfully making the tax code somewhat more progressive. The short term big picture is that Dems won on two major fronts — no entitlements cuts, and tax hikes for the rich — which helps explain conservative rage over the deal.
So why are liberals also angry? Partly because this was only a partial Dem victory, since Dems agreed to a higher income threshold ($400,000 for individuals and $450,000) and made concessions on the estate tax. That didn’t have to happen, since doing nothing — and allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire — would have meant even more in revenues from the rich.
As Paul Krugman’s calculations show, this may not really have cost Dems all that much in new revenues. The more serious problem for liberals is what the outcome says about what comes next. Obama had repeatedly insisted he would not budge off his demand that taxes go up on all income over $250,000. That obviously didn’t happen. The risk is that this will set a bad precedent for the next round in this fight, in which Republicans will hold the debt ceiling hostage to extract the deep cuts to entitlements they want. It’s reasonable to worry that today’s outcome, by signaling Obama’s over-emphasis on getting a deal for its own sake, will set the stage for a cave later.
It’s on Obama to prove those worries unfounded. Obama has pledged to win more in new revenues from the rich via tax reform, has vowed not to agree to any deficit reduction that relies only on spending cuts, and continues to insist on a “balanced” approach. Only Obama, however, can ultimately define what he means by “balanced.” Liberals must continue to insist that this means that the sacrifice necessary to reducing the deficit will not borne by the poor or seniors who can’t afford it.
Some of us have been telling you for a very long time that Obama wants to be the Democratic president who erodes the safety net. There's nothing as strong as a mobilized netroots to fight back -- but the part we didn't anticipate is that so many of you refused to believe it.
Well, I hope you believe it now. Obama is actually inviting a situation where he can be "forced" to cut Social Security and Medicare, under the self-created debt ceiling crisis. Why do I say self-created? Because Obama has other options. He can cite the 14th Amendment and simply ignore the House (the argument being that if Congress already appropriated an expenditure, the ability to execute debt to achieve it is inherent.)
The other alternative is to order the creation of platinum coins. He may not do either, because (as people like me and Digby have been trying to tell you), he really does want to cut Social Security and Medicare.
So here's what I'm saying. If we're right, it's important that, as Greg says, we are the ones who define what balance is; the poor and vulnerable are not the people who should be paying for this deficit hawkery, and you need to call your representatives and tell them so. (As Amato just pointed out, we shouldn't be playing this deficit reduction game in the first place.)
And if we're wrong, you don't lose a darned thing by calling your congress critters and raising holy hell. Just in case.
Mitt Romney was given at least two opportunities to walk back his "politics of envy" remarks from his New Hampshire speech last night, but instead chose to affirm it this morning on The Today Show. Here's what he said:
QUESTIONER: When you said that we already have a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy, I’m curious about the word envy. Did you suggest that anyone who questions the policies and practices of Wall Street and financial institutions, anyone who has questions about the distribution of wealth and power in this country, is envious? Is it about jealousy, or fairness?
ROMNEY: You know, I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare. When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on 99 percent versus one percent, and those people who have been most successful will be in the one percent, you have opened up a wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God. The American people, I believe in the final analysis, will reject it.
QUESTIONER: Are there no fair questions about the distribution of wealth without it being seen as envy, though?
ROMNEY: I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like. But the President has made it part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it will fail.
I realize that Mitt Romney has no clue what it might be like to have limited opportunity in this country, but the politics of envy? Really? I also realize he's trying to frame himself as the heir apparent for the nomination and run against the President now, but the fact is, people are really concerned about where we are, and the fact that the money boys control far too much wealth and opportunity in this society.
And then there are quiet rooms, where tax policy should be discussed, because clearly the common people shouldn't be concerning their precious selves over something like tax policy? Mitt Romney's problem is that he truly doesn't understand any perspective but his own.
Not a gaffe. It’s what he believes. Last week he said “productivity equals income.”
But the point is, it hasn’t for the typical American worker over the last three decades, and, particularly, over the last decade.
This is the central challenge of our time, and he doesn’t get it.
It appears as though the election is shaping up to contrast the messages of the 99 percent versus the 1 percent, provided, of course, we confine the tax policy to quiet rooms where the elite discuss tax policy.
And, as was noted in the clip above, by framing Barack Obama as the fomenter of envy-laden politics while also painting him as a European-style socialist, he gets to insinuate that the guy in the White House isn't a real American, like Romney is.
I somehow doubt this message will resonate with too many people as the campaign wears on. It's just difficult to imagine Mittens telling us he feels our pain while he's also telling us we envy others who have no pain.
With the spin war shifting to a battle over the meaning and implications of “reconciliation,” there will be more and more argument over what polls indicate about the public’s attitude toward the tactic.
Here’s some more fodder for this argument: A new batch of polls by the nonpartisan Research 2000 indicates that in key states, majorities are okay with the use of reconciliation — if the question is worded in a certain way.
If the Senate passes a health care reform bill that you consider to be beneficial to your family, would you object to the Senate’s use of “reconciliation” rules to pass that bill with a majority vote, or not?
In Nevada, 55% wouldn’t object; in Illinois, 67% wouldn’t object; in Washington state, 65% wouldn’t object; in Missouri, 58% wouldn’t object; in Virginia, 60% wouldn’t object; in Iowa, 66% wouldn’t object; and in North Dakota, 53% wouldn’t object.
The key here, obviously, is that the question casts the legislation as “beneficial to your family,” which of course makes it more likely that people will be okay with using reconciliation to pass it.
"The American people ... all they want is an up or down vote. They want to move on, have the vote, let's finish the debate. The American people say let the vote be held, let the majority rule and let's move on," Axelrod said.
What is this, the Mafia? What's the big frickin' secret? Via Greg Sargent at the Plumline:
White House aides have privately told Dem Congressional aides that the White House supports the House passing the Senate health reform bill with a reconciliation fix, something that could give a bit more momentum to that approach, according to two Congressional staffers familiar with the discussions.
The private communications will lend a bit of cheer to those who had hoped the White House would use its heft to help Congress break its logjam by endorsing a specific route to getting reform done.
Obama and the White House have not publicly stated a preference on how they’d like Congressional Dems to proceed. But White House aides have privately made it clear to the Dem leadership that they support the approach many Dems are coalescing behind: The House passing the Senate bill, with fixes made by the Senate via reconciliation, the sources say.
“In staff level discussions, the White House has made it clear that it supports making changes to the Senate bill through reconciliation because that is the only way to pass comprehensive health care reform,” one of the Dem Congressional aides familiar with ongoing talks tells me.
Greg Sargent reports that House liberals are refusing to support the Senate healthcare reform bill, which sets a whole new dynamic in play. Good for them! I, for one, am tired of the House members being treated as minor players in such important legislation:
In a private meeting in the Capitol just now, a dozen or more House liberals bluntly told Nancy Pelosi that there was no chance that they would vote to pass the Senate bill in its current form — making it all but certain that House Dems won’t opt for this approach, a top House liberal tells me.
“We cannot support the Senate bill — period,” is the message that liberals delivered to the Speaker, Dem Rep Raul Grijalva told me in an interview just now.
Some had hoped Pelosi would push liberals to get in line behind this approach, in hopes of expediting reform, but that didn’t appear to happen in this meeting. Pelosi mostly listened, Grijalva said, adding: “We didn’t get any declarative statement from her.”
The meeting, which was polite but blunt in tone, underscores the degree to which Dems are scrambling to figure out a way forward on health care in the wake of last night’s loss. The unwillingness of liberals, and some in labor, to support passing the Senate bill means House Dem leaders need to find another way forward — fast — and leadership aides are scouring procedural rules as we speak.
Tellingly, House liberals also urged Pelosi to consider passing individual pieces of reform through the House as individual bills, and sending them to the Senate to challenge the upper chamber to reject them, Grijalva tells me. Liberals said this approach would be preferable to passing the Senate bill.
For instance, Grijalva said, why not send the Senate individual bills that would, among other things, nix the “Cadillac” tax or close the donut hole, pressuring the Senate to deal with each provision separately?
“If the Senate chooses not to close the donut hole, that’s their damn problem,” Grijalva said. “They’ve had it too easy. One vote controls everything. Collectively, we’re tired of that.”
He's asking MA'ers to tell us if they see any more. You can bet that if it was reversed, FOX News would have non stop coverage about it---Beck would be blaming ACORN and the other networks would follow their lead.
One month after the September 11th attacks, Scott Brown was one of only three Massachusetts State Representatives to vote against a bill to provide financial assistance to Red Cross workers who had volunteered with 9/11 recovery efforts, we’ve learned.
The Brown campaign acknowledged the vote to us, claiming the measure would have taxed already-strained state finances.
The 9/11 attacks flared as an issue in the Massachusetts race today. The NRSC sharply criticized Democrat Martha Coaxley over a DSCC ad, first reported by Politico, that flashed an image of the Twin Towers. Rudy Giuliani, who stumped for Brown today, also slammed Coakley over the ad, saying it was “unthinkable” and “offensive.”
On October 17th, 2001, Brown voted against a bill that would authorize “leaves of absence for certain Red Cross employees participating in Red Cross emergencies.” The bill gave 15 days of paid leave each year to state workers called up by the Red Cross to respond to disasters. At the time, state workers called for such emergencies were required to use sick and vacation days.
The bill was initially filed before 9/11, and after the attacks, it was made retroactive to 9/11, covering the time spent by state workers who’d assisted with 9/11 recovery work for the Red Cross. Brown’s vote against the measure came a little more than a month after the attack.
Brown spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom justified the vote by pointing to the state’s fiscal straits. “At the time, the state was in a fiscal crisis and facing a deficit, and there was no money to spend on additional pay and benefits for state employees,” Fehrnstrom emailed.
Um, I don't seem to remember any other politician crying poverty in the weeks after 9/11. And, the vote was 148 - 3. Brown was one of those three. Classy guy. He'd fit right in with Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint and David Vitter. He can't win on Tuesday.
So in the aftermath of worst terror attack in American history, Scott Brown put his right-wing vision of fiscal austerity ahead of helping the nation's recovery efforts. That's pretty much the definition of radical conservativism -- and it reflects the exact opposite of the values that Ted Kennedy fought for his entire life.
...it's a broad indictment of the Bush administration that argues that all-pervasive partisanship, not incompetence, is the common thread linking all of the administration's manifold failings. Take a look....read on...