Jed Lewison links to Ezra Klein describing the latest in a pattern of miscalculations by the Obama Administration in its negotiations with the Republicans. Ezra writes:

The White House proposed a balanced trigger in April: It would have automatically [increase] taxes and [cut] spending if America wasn’t on a path to balanced budgets by 2014. [. . . ] But privately, they’re less concerned about a spending-only trigger, which was seriously considered during their negotiations with Boehner. They point out that Republicans might want to cut spending, but they don’t want the blame for automatic, untargeted spending cuts that slash away at Social Security, Medicare and defense during an election year.

This is a monumental miscalculation. I'll explain why on the flip.

First, it seems to me that the likely iteration of such a trigger would require immediate spending cuts, not cuts after 2014. That is by far the worst result possible in the debt ceiling negotiations.

But it also reveals a fundamental miscalculation of what motivates Republican bargaining - which is taxes. As Jim Orney of CBPP explains to Ezra:

Jim Horney, a budget expert at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, thinks that a spending-only trigger misses the point of these devices. Horney, who worked on the budget deals in the 1980s and 1990s, argues that the point of these mechanisms is “to force both sides to negotiate sensibly.”

Take the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act, he says. “They figured that Democrats cared about spending programs. So half the cuts would come from domestic programs. and they realized that what Ronald Reagan cared about wasn’t taxes so much as defense. So half the cuts came from defense. But what gets the attention of Republicans today is not defense. It’s taxes. So if you’re going to use the basic idea sequestration had in its original incarnation, it has to include revenues to bring them to the table.”

(Emphasis supplied.) It is preferable to go through another debt ceiling negotiation than agree to automatically triggered spending cuts. Indeed, it is bizarre that the White House thinks the GOP would get the blame for automatic spending cuts. The only way to pin the blame for such cuts on Republicans is to make them argue for low taxes for the rich financed by cuts in Social Security and Medicare.i The only way to do that is to make them negotiate for spending cuts, not have them occur automatically.

In 1998, when involved in a similar political battle with Republicans, who as always wanted to cuts taxes for the rich, President Bill Clinton argued for Social Security first:

Now if we balance the budget for next year, it is projected that we'll then have a sizable surplus in the years that immediately follow. What should we do with this projected surplus? I have a simple, four-word answer: Save Social Security first.

Tonight I propose that we reserve 100 percent of the surplus, that's every penny of any surplus, until we have taken all the necessary measures to strengthen the Social Security system for the 21st century. Let us say -- let us say to all Americans watching tonight -- whether you're 70 or 50 or whether you just started paying into the system -- Social Security will be there when you need it.

Let us make this commitment Social Security first. Let's do that -- together.

If you read the entire speech, you will see many nods to fiscal restraint, deficit cutting and smaller government. But it retained a firm commitment to Social Security, echoing President Clinton's earlier resolve in his battle against Republican attempts to slash Medicare and Medicaid (these battles led to the government shutdowns of 1995.)

Automatic spending cuts destroy any attempts at contrast (as the attempted Grand Bargain would have.)

The potency of this issue is not to be underestimated. Today I received from a senior hard line conservative Republican the following e-mail that is being passed around in his circle:

This has nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats, it is about most Senators and Congressmen. In Washington. The idea is to keep us dope partisans, occupied fighting and blaming each other while they empty the US Gov. Treasury in their personal pockets.

! Wise Up Americans !

Alan Simpson, Senator from Wyoming, Co-Chair of Obama's deficit commission, calls senior citizens the Greediest Generation as he compared "Social Security" to a Milk Cow with 310 million tits. August, 2010.

Here's a response in a letter from a unknown farmer in Montana.... I think he is a little ticked off! He also tells it as it is.!

"Hey Alan, let's get a few things straight..

1. As a career politician, you have been on the public tit for FIFTY YEARS.

2. I have been paying Social Security taxes for 48 YEARS (since I was 15 years old. I am now 63).

3. My Social Security payments, and those of millions of other Americans, were safely tucked away in an interest bearing account for decades until you political pukes decided to raid the account and give OUR money to a bunch of zero ambition losers in return for votes, thus bankrupting the system and turning Social Security into a Ponzi scheme that would have made Bernie Madoff proud.

4. Recently, just like Lucy & Charlie Brown, you and your ilk pulled the proverbial football away from millions of American seniors nearing retirement and moved the goalposts for full retirement from age 65 to age 67. NOW, you and your shit commission are proposing to move the goalposts YET AGAIN.

5 I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying into Medicare from Day One, and now you morons propose to change the rules of the game.. Why? Because you idiots mismanaged other parts of the economy to such an extent that you need to steal money from Medicare to pay the bills.

6. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying income taxes our entire lives, and now you propose to increase our taxes yet again. Why? Because you incompetent bastards spent our money so profligately that you just kept on spending even after you ran out of money. Now, you come to the American taxpayers and say you need more to pay off YOUR debt.

To add insult to injury, you label us "greedy" for calling "bullshit" on your incompetence. Well, Captain Bullshit, I have a few questions for YOU.

1. How much money have you earned from the American taxpayers during your pathetic 50-year political career?

2. At what age did you retire from your pathetic political career, and how much are you receiving in annual retirement benefits from the American taxpayers?

3. How much do you pay for YOUR government provided health insurance?

4. What cuts in YOUR retirement and healthcare benefits are you proposing in your disgusting deficit reduction proposal, or, as usual, have you exempted yourself and your political cronies?

It is you, Captain Bullshit, and your political co-conspirators called Congress who are the "greedy" ones. It is you, and your fellow nutcases, who have bankrupted America and stolen the American dream from millions of loyal, patriotic taxpayers. And for what? Votes. That's right, sir. You and yours have bankrupted America for the sole purpose of advancing your pathetic political careers. You know it, we know it, and you know that we know it.

And you can take that to the bank, you miserable ASSHOLE...!!!If you like the way things are in America, delete this. If you agree with what a fellow citizen says, PASS IT ON!!!!

This populist message resonates across party lines, including among those vaunted "Independents" David Plouffe so furiously covets.

The actions of the Obama Team on this issue are approaching political criminal incompetence.

They must do better. They must understand who the Republicans are and what they want . Otherwise, a one term Presidency threatens ever more ominously.

Speaking for me only

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    Whoever is running this show (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 12:20:16 PM EST
    is who will be blamed.  I don't understand why this President thinks that if he only appears to not be able to keep these crazy Republicans under control, that the voters will forgive him his lack of ability and vote him back in.

    Bad actor (none / 0) (#3)
    by nycstray on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 12:40:15 PM EST
    you were supposed to see him as "The Only Adult In The Room", from what I understand. Of course, my chess board might be out of date . . . .

    I don't see (none / 0) (#7)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 12:51:37 PM EST
    that. Now I don't like anything Boehner is proposing but I have to say that he comes off a lot better than Newt Gingrich did and I don't think Obama's team is smart enough to realize that. Boehner does not come off as a child. Now Maybe if Cantor was in charge, this is something that MIGHT play but no one's going to buy that now.

    That email (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 12:49:22 PM EST
    does cut across party lines. I feel the same way about the jokers in Washington.

    BTD, I don't think they are capable of doing better. His political team is just flat incompetent. I'm saying incompetent because unless they WANT Obama to lose they are incompetent.

    Bring back James Carville!

    Aren't you curious as to whether Obama (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 01:02:54 PM EST
    ever watched "War Room"?  

    The Obama Team watched War Room (none / 0) (#60)
    by lambert on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 05:47:42 AM EST
    Well, it resonates with me. (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by oldpro on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 12:51:03 PM EST
    And who the Hell are "they," anyway?  "The Obama administration" is Obama.  Period.  He's the decider and he's up for reelection.  Hello?

    What the Hell is wrong with these people?

    Obama has control of the whole issue with the 14th Ammendment option, no?  Why wouldn't he use it?  It's all upside so far as I can see, both politically and financially.  Makes for a simple, problem-solving message for the election cycle:

    I'm not letting the Republicans send this country into bankruptcy and destroy the retirement investments of millions of Americans while raising their interest rates.  America has to pay her bills...and on time.  That's what we tell families to do when discussing their budgets around the kitchen table.  "Pay your mortgage!  And your credit cards!  And your taxes so when you call 911, somebody answers and somebody sends the cops or the firemen to your house before it's robbed or burned down!"

    Want government to run like a business?  Well, which one?  Shall we run it like Apple or like Enron?  To govern is to choose and the choices should be real and based on evidence...past experience...and responsible caretaking, meeting the needs of (and promises made to) Americans by their own governments.

    Let's call things by their names:  class warfare and war profits and irresponsible greed.  Not to mention stupidity.

    I'm wrong?  Tell me why.

    Actually (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 02:38:36 PM EST
    the issue is not paying our debts. Our debt service is 4.6% of the 2010 budget, and we can easily pay that. So the 14th Amendment is not being violated.

    The issue is, shall we continue to increase our debt by borrowing? Said borrowing to be used to expand and continue certain programs and services.

    Our current ratio is that we are borrowing 42 cents for every dollar spent. In other words, we are paying only 58 cents of the dollar spent with tax dollars.

    To continue to do that the debt ceiling must be raised.

    The secondary issue is, in addition to paying our debt service, how shall we reduce our current debt?

    Tax increase?

    Spending cuts?

    The 2010 federal budget breaks down like this:

    19.63%  - Social Security
    18.74% -  Department of Defense
    16.13% -  Unemployment/Welfare/Other Mandatory Spending
    12.79% -  Medicare
    8.19%  -  Medicaid and State Children's HIP
    4.63%  -  Interest on National Debt
    Sub Total: 80.11%

    Other: 19.89% (Hat tip to ding7777)

    Social Security is running a surplus. Disability and Medicare is not, but might if the economy picked up.


    So if you slashed the "Other" 20% by 50% you have made up 10 cents of the 42 cents. If you slashed the military 50% you have made up another 9 cents Welfare etc would yield 8 cents for a total of 27 cents. That's 15 cents short.

    And if you just 1ook 100% of the other, you still be 5 cents short...

    In other words, you're gonna have to cut and borrow to avoid drastic reductions in government services.

    Or, cut, borrow and tax. And I don't think taxing the "rich" will do it. I see us going back to the Clinton tax rates which would hit everyone.

    Of course Obama won't tell you this.

    I just did.


    Just as the manufactured lies about (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by Anne on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 04:02:47 PM EST
    Iraq's WMD were used to justify a war, so are the lies and deliberate misinformation about the debt ceiling and our fiscal policy being used to justify the attacks on the social safety net.

    At this stage, I think there must be a handbook somewhere in DC that lays out, step-by-step, How To Achieve Unpopular Goals Through Fear, Intimidation and Lies; I think the original author might be Dick Cheney.


    try Milton Friedman (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by The Addams Family on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 04:24:56 PM EST
    There is enormous inertia -- a tyranny of the status quo -- in private and especially governmental arrangements. Only a crisis -- actual or perceived -- produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.

    --Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom (1982), ix

    emphasis added


    Okay, then...Uncle Miltie it is... (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by Anne on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 04:33:51 PM EST
    whether we call it the Shock Doctrine or something else, and whoever we deem the Father of F**king Over the Country, the disciples, it seems, are many.

    Sure would be nice to get the good kind of change out of a crisis, but that doesn't seem to be the way it works.

    I wonder how many of the starry-eyed members of the Change-You-Can-Believe-In club could ever have imagined that this was the kind of change that was coming...


    I realize that this Congress is not (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 05:00:09 PM EST
    obligated to cut or spend based on the actions of a previous Congress. That's how the Demos got out of the $3 in cuts for every $1 in new taxes they promised GHWB.

    And the assets of Social Security are held in special treasury notes.... Now that is a comfort.

    And if you want to complain about them being included take your complaint to Wiki.

    And the roll back on the "rich." Won't do the job. It will be on all wage earners.

    That's the new ground.


    Oh brother (none / 0) (#54)
    by cal1942 on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 07:03:53 PM EST
    I realize that this Congress is not obligated to cut or spend based on the actions of a previous Congress.

    This Congress is or should honor the actions of prior Congresses.

    No one's complaint is with Wiki. The pie chart illustrated is of Unified or Total budget and your use of it is inappropriate and a complaint is in order.  

    Our deficits are racked up by discretionary spending or "on budget."

    However the Social Security Trust Fund is held it is nonetheless separately financed by separate withholding earmarked for a specific purpose.


    Gee, that's what I said (none / 0) (#58)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 08:28:26 PM EST
    And the assets of Social Security are held in special treasury notes.... Now that is a comfort.

    And why is the unified budget inappropriate???

    Are the numbers wrong??

    Do we not owe the Social Security money??

    I think we got here by playing games with multiple budgets. How many do you have for yourself??


    The Unified Budget (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by cal1942 on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 10:16:31 AM EST
    was a creation of the Johnson Administration to disguise the size of deficits during the Vietnam War.

    It is, IMO, a fiction.  Only the discretionary budget (on budget) is a proper discussion.

    But let's face a few realities here:

    The purpose of "entitlement" reform is to renege on paying back funds borrowed from Social Security.  IF SS is cut the gates will be open to use the SS Trust Fund as a piggy bank to finance low taxes on high incomes.

    Our federal tax rates are ridiculously low and have been far too low since Reagan.  Too much loose cash at the top leaves the country, too often helps fuel bubbles and buys political influence.

    We are yet engaged in two unnecessary major conflicts paid for on the cuff; the first time in our history that taxes haven't been increased to prosecute major wars.

    The continuing Recession has lowered revenues and the only way out of the recession, massive government spending, has been cut off.

    We have thousands of troops unnecessarily stationed in Germany, Japan and South Korea.  We are providing free public goods and enriching the local economies of significant industrial competitors.  The total madness should be obvious.  We have over 800 military installations outside the US, again enriching local economies.  It's absolutely clear that we can no longer be the world's policeman.  We never could afford that role. Decades of bleeding wealth must be stopped.

    Take away the Bush tax cuts, the unnecessary wars, fire up the economy and the deficit disappears.


    If you want to claim that (none / 0) (#62)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 01:17:33 PM EST
    Social Security and Medicare should be totally off to one side and any revenue generated for them untouchable we agree. Note my comment re "assets."

    But when we are talking about how much money is owed then I think it wrong to not show it all.

    Also, I do not share your desire for higher taxes. The bubbles are the fault of poor regulation and, in the case of housing, an overly ambitious social program.

    Should be bring home the troops? If not involved directly in a conflict, yes. That would probably save 50% of the 18%.  


    Un effing believable (none / 0) (#63)
    by cal1942 on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 04:07:53 PM EST
    The bubbles are the fault of poor regulation and, in the case of housing, an overly ambitious social program.

    My god are you Conservatives still pushing that worn out crap?

    The housing bubble was the result of foolish banking de-regulation (Graham-Leach-Bliley) and public officials like Alan Greenspan neglecting their role as regulators.  Apparently you completely missed the way the big scam worked.  The housing program you're talking about was not part of the scam and the default rate on those mortgages (in a program that's been around for a number of years)was far, far below the rate of the crap mortgages written by criminals in the finance industry.  Failure to regulate derivatives nearly flushed AIG.

    I suggest you see Inside Job.

    Don't try that over regulation, social program crap here, it's proof that Movement Conservatives will spread falsehood after falsehood to keep the gullible in the dark about the failure of their de-regulation mythology.  Just like the whole of Conservative ideology, based on fantasy and wishful thinking and utterly corrupt.


    All I know is what I read in the New York Times (none / 0) (#64)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 06:06:16 PM EST
    These two articles frame what happened.

    Published: September 30, 1999

    In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

    The action.....-- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans.


    ''From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''


    Well, it took 4 years but some people caught on.

    Published: September 11, 2003
    The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.

    Under the plan,.....a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac....

    The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business. And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios.

    The plan is an acknowledgment by the administration that oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- which together have issued more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding debt -- is broken. A report by outside investigators in July concluded that Freddie Mac manipulated its accounting to mislead investors, and critics have said Fannie Mae does not adequately hedge against rising interest rates.


    Significant details must still be worked out before Congress can approve a bill. Among the groups denouncing the proposal today were the National Association of Home Builders and Congressional Democrats who fear that tighter regulation of the companies could sharply reduce their commitment to financing low-income and affordable housing.

    ''These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.''


    The new regulations were blocked and almost 6 years to the day we had the melt down.


    What a joke (none / 0) (#65)
    by cal1942 on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 11:27:40 PM EST
    defaults on loans under that program were no more than the normal rate.  There were a comparatively small number of loans in that program.

    You slept through the whole securitization fiasco.  Even credit worthy people were put into sub-prime loans by fast talking mortgage brokers.  The crappier the loan the higher the fee.  There were something like 50 types of mortgages.  Banks didn't care because they collected their fees, dumped the loans off to investment banks.  Investment banks bundled their crap loans into securities and got ratings agencies to rate them AAA.  The investment banks sold the securities to pension funds and other big investors.  The investment banks then bet against the securities by buying "insurance" called credit default swaps against the securities they'd sold as AAA.  Since the swaps weren't called insurance there was no regulation that required reserves.  The CDS' broke AIG.  None of this had anything to do with the program you're talking about.

    You really need to see Inside Job.  You'll be pleased to know that the documentary fries Democrats as well as Republicans.  


    Thanks for making my point that (none / 0) (#66)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 09:21:42 AM EST
    it started as a social program and collapsed after it was expanded and not adequately regulated due to Democratic opposition. (If you want to argue that he could have tried harder I will agree.)

    That is what the NYT articles clearly show. Clinton expanded it. And Bush, and McCain later, was not able to fix the regulation.

    If you want to argue that it wasn't the targets of the social program that caused problems, fine. Although I have trouble believing that people on the edge didn't default at a higher rate than others. I think that since the people on the edge were a smaller part of the whole then their portion would be a smaller per cent.

    Fast talking brokers? Sure. But it is hard to steal from an honest man. Or at least a man who is not greedy. And when everyone's friends are buying MacMansions and claiming to make millions then greed flourishes.

    BTW - If you want a very readable book on the CDS' fiasco try "The Big Short" by Michelle Lewis.


    Michael Lewis (none / 0) (#67)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 09:24:09 AM EST
    It's not incompetence (5.00 / 5) (#8)
    by BDB on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 01:00:42 PM EST
    at least not in the sense you mean.  Obama understands what the GOP wants and in many respects it's what he wants, too.  Obama wants to cut Social Security and Medicare and manufactured the debt crisis to do that.  Where he went wrong was in assuming that the GOP would welcome this with open arms instead of demanding more.  Where he was incompetent was in not keeping open options that put the GOP under pressure to agree to his giving them essentially everything they wanted and kept them from demanding more (say, the 14th Amendment option).  So in that sense I guess it is political incompetence.

    But in the larger sense, Obama is doing Wall Street's bidding.  Wall Street got him elected the first time (he would never have had the money to compete for the nomination without early hedge fund support) and he's counting on its money pulling him through again.  He's betting no matter what he does, his base will still vote for him because Republicans are crazy and where are you gonna go?   Is he right?  I don't know.  From what I've seen there are a lot of progressives who have pretty much pledged to vote for him no matter what he does.  Indeed, while there has been a lot of griping about his offer to cut Social Security and raise the Medicare age to 67, I have yet to see any A-list political blogger seriously suggest that would be grounds to abandon Obama in 2012.  Heck, despite busting teachers unions as fast as he can, the national teachers union has already endorsed him.  

    He's betting that he can have his cake and eat it, too.  While I'd like to think that's not true - and generally agree with Ian Welsh that the left needs to take Obama down and be seen as having taken Obama down - I'm not convinced that Obama will lose in 2012.  It's going to be tight, but there are still a lot of veal left in the Democratic pen.

    It does seem to be (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by KeysDan on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 02:49:21 PM EST
    an unavoidable conclusion that President Obama wanted to use the debt ceiling as an opportunity to cut Social Security and Medicare.  The only viable alternative would require suspending the evidence and subscribing to the too clever, enormously deceitful and dangerously risky negotiations as promulgated by Lawrence O'Donnell.

    Cutting Medicaid is a little bewildering in that its expansion was what turned out to be the centerpiece of his legislation but that was, apparently, to be thrown in knowing that it was the most politically vulnerable and the numbers and ideology helped to sell Boehner.

    After the impasse with the Biden negotiations, Obama entered the picture with an overestimation of his persuasive abilities and an underestimation of Boehner's constituency--and therein lies the miscalculation.   Who would have thought that Boehner and his followers (a bad assumption on leader and follower) would not take this deal--cuts they always dreamed of for programs they always hated and the Democrats taking a big share of the heat. After all, it worked just fine with the December Deal. And, the president would be the hero of the Peterson Foundation--historic, like Nixon going to China.

    Well, no adult in the room, or even a school boy who did some homework on the Austrian school of  economic ideology of some of the Republican Tea Party leaders or understood the depth of the tax sentiment of the Norquist school of bathtub economics surely would.


    I agree with almost everything in you post (none / 0) (#16)
    by MO Blue on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 01:28:45 PM EST
    Where we differ slightly is that I believe that Obama will win in 2012. He will once again be the (corporate owned) media darling. He is best situated to bring about the changes that Wall St. wants with the least amount of push back and he still has work to do. The Republicans will wait until 2012 to put up a "winning" candidate who will finish what Obama has started.

    Also, as you noted, the message "you have no where else to go" and they are "batsh!t crazy) is still resonating strongly and will be reinforced by the Republican politicians, the Democratic party and corporate owned media.


    That e-mail is so right (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by MO Blue on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 01:12:03 PM EST
    Many of us paid into SS beginning at age 16 and into Medicare since its inception. This money was deducted from our paychecks whether we could afford the deduction or not. Many families could have used that extra money to purchase the necessities of life (food, clothes for the kids etc) but we were told that these deductions were an investment in our future.

    Well the powers that be have other ideas. Evidently there is no such thing as too rich for the top 1 - 2% which includes the president and members of congress. Not only do many of them have more money than they can spend in 10 lifetimes, they have us pay for their perks, unlimited paid sick leave, generous health care and pensions,  while they work to make sure that they take it away from us.


    There's a shade of crazy in it too (none / 0) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 01:15:02 PM EST
    But on Social Security, good stuff.

    Point being this stuff resonates across the board.


    Well the wide spread agreement to (5.00 / 4) (#22)
    by MO Blue on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 01:39:44 PM EST
    take away the benefits I paid for and I need to stay above poverty is making me rather crazy too.

    The idea that people making $200,000 to billions per year are too poor to contribute more and people on incomes of $10,000 to $30,000 are so rich they need to pay more makes me want to go running down the halls of Congress howling like a banshee.


    Comparted to standard Tea Party fare... (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Dadler on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 04:05:02 PM EST
    ...that letter is calm and reasonable.  And I didn't see any crazy in it, except for the "a-hole" and the caps (which always led a ransom note quality to any writing).  Anger, pure anger is what came through to me.  No threats, no ahistorical leaps of nonsense, just rage against the machine.

    But I whole-heartedly agree with how it resonates across the board.  With an economy this bad, the opposition's ad campaign writes itself.    


    The tax and steal stuff (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 04:44:01 PM EST
    is about poor people.

    There is a reason I got this from a crazy conservative.


    I reread it (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by MO Blue on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 05:34:27 PM EST
    Didn't catch that part the first time around. That is not my position at all. My position is the exact opposite. People, including the working poor, paid their money into the system. They were forced to pay this tax regardless of income. They gave up income that they could have used for years, in order to provide for some security when they retired. The government used this money to pad the pockets of politicians and the rich not the poor. Yet, the poor and the middle class will once again pay the price so that those with so much will be rewarded by even more tax cuts.



    I hear that line (none / 0) (#44)
    by lilburro on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 05:12:48 PM EST
    from crazy conservatives all the time.  It seems to me to be the only thing that sustains GOPers who make less than mid 6 figures.

    my bad (none / 0) (#47)
    by Dadler on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 05:40:16 PM EST
    musta read it too fast the first time.  gotta stay up on my code.

    The Deficit: Bush v. Obama (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 01:31:48 PM EST
    in one graph, another Ezra Klein, Washington Post piece:

    "What's also important, but not evident, on this chart is that Obama's major expenses were temporary -- the stimulus is over now -- while Bush's were, effectively, recurring. The Bush tax cuts didn't just lower revenue for 10 years. It's clear now that they lowered it indefinitely, which means this chart is understating their true cost. Similarly, the Medicare drug benefit is costing money on perpetuity, not just for two or three years. And Boehner, Ryan and others voted for these laws and, in some cases, helped to craft and pass them." - Ezra Klein, The Washington Post


    first off, (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 12:37:23 PM EST
    i object to the misuse of the term "negotiation", as it is connected with this activity. to "negotiate" normally implies that all sides are giving and taking, such is clearly not the case here. it isn't "negotiating" if one side is doing all the giving, which has been the administration "plan". the hold up has been the republican's unwillingness to take yes for an answer. hence, our "debt ceiling crisis".

    balanced budgets and debt reduction are antithetical, unless principal payments are built in to the budget itself, and i doubt this is the plan. at best, the debt just doesn't continue to grow.

    Congress blind (none / 0) (#5)
    by MO Blue on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 12:49:47 PM EST
    To people who have more month than money.

    Those who are not blind evidently think that the U.S. needs to push more of its population into this category.

    One way or another Obama is bound and determined to get cuts to the safety net programs.  

    I have a feeling (none / 0) (#10)
    by Politalkix on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 01:05:25 PM EST
    that the 14th Amendment may need to be used more and more with each passing day.
    I agree with you that if Congress cannot send a negotiated debt ceiling settlement to his desk by Tuesday, there will only be upsides to execute the power provided by the 14t Amendment.

    I think keepig quiet on it (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 01:15:29 PM EST
    has been the right play.

    Because....? (none / 0) (#18)
    by oldpro on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 01:31:00 PM EST
    If you spring it (none / 0) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 01:34:28 PM EST
    Just spring it. don;t talk about it.

    OK. But haven't they answered (none / 0) (#21)
    by oldpro on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 01:38:21 PM EST
    questions about it in the negative instead of saying they won't talk about it (with that implied threat)?

    Pretty squishy (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 02:02:31 PM EST
    Not bad in tone imo.

    Makes using it seem "reluctant."


    That would be an interesting result. (none / 0) (#38)
    by lilburro on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 04:38:43 PM EST
    It would be a policy win for sure (the only one I see).  Not sure if it is a political win or not though, or how it sets us up for the budget.

    I agree with that in concept (none / 0) (#59)
    by sj on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 08:30:28 PM EST
    If you spring it... just spring it
    But Obama ain't of the "springing" variety.  It won't be invoked no matter what.

    And because... (none / 0) (#35)
    by christinep on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 04:16:59 PM EST
    You do not, as President, want to sound as if bragging/shaking a dominant fist by early touting of the 14th Amendment. With these Crazies (and for those biggies behind the Crazies who are actually doing the messaging), any action that could be construed in any way to be a power-grab or overreaching by the Executive arm will lead to a bunch of "changing our government, dictator-like control, and his father was from Kenya & the Socialist reprise bs" charges that will raise yet another emotional upheaval--and divert loads of attention away from the task of governing--etc.

    I personally believe--if all else fails--this is the option that should be employed. As Sen Harkin said the other day...paraphrase: "The constitution nowhere prohibits such an action." (There will be questions of standing re challenges...unless it is the whole Cong, which would take a 2/3 vote.) BUT, for the upsides you envision of a decisive moment with a rescue by Superman, there has to be a moment for the patented Superman rescue. Imagine: The small sightseeing boat about to go over Niagara Falls--not a ways upstream, but just at the precipice when everyone is in full scream & praying for a miracle--that is the moment to "save the day." (And, not a moment too soon.)


    More happy juice (none / 0) (#48)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 06:06:04 PM EST
    Far more likely he'll just capitulate and give the GOPers basically everything they want.

    And please, give me a break.  The right wing needs no excuse to call a Dem. president a socialist dictator.  It doesn't matter in the slightest what he does or doesn't do.


    Please reread my comment (none / 0) (#53)
    by christinep on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 06:31:23 PM EST
    Perhaps, you missed something & assumed that I indicated what the President would do as the 14th Amendment. My statement addressed ups & downs--in response to old pro--about the resolution that seems to be allowed by the 14th Amendment.

    Perhaps you have been drinking the Happy Juice...and were trying to tell be how happy you were in doing the jab.

    Why should I give you "a break" as you say, given your presumptive & dismissive response. In any event, you are correct that Repubs always say whatever they want about Dem presidents...but the new circumstances in this case have to do with background & birth--the other--that has been played more effectively to portray an "alien" about to destroy the government. As I'm sure you could gess, gyrfalcon, when people have been living in one state of fear or other since 9/11 & Bush's responses, it is a much easier sell than in earlier times.



    "Superman" - heh (none / 0) (#57)
    by Yman on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 08:08:26 PM EST
    I thought they said yesterday (none / 0) (#15)
    by nycstray on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 01:15:39 PM EST
    that wasn't on the table?

    I thought they said Obama (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by oldpro on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 01:29:35 PM EST
    wouldn't use it...is that what is meant by 'off the table?'  Zesus...why would you take an effective veto off the table?  Is bargaining even in their dictionary?

    My blood pressure is in the stratosphere and my Medicare bill is growing by leaps and bounds.  Obama and the Democrats seem determined to give me a stroke...on top of the stage-4 cancer.

    Thanks, guys.


    You take it off the table if (5.00 / 3) (#23)
    by MO Blue on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 01:43:58 PM EST
    you want to cut the safety net programs and want it to look like you were forced to cut them by those crazy Tea Party people.

    Of course, those crazy Tea Party people did not exist when Obama first put the safety net programs on the table in 2007. But most of Obama's Democratic tribe, will chose to ignore that fact so that they can excuse Obama's actions.


    Can anyone tell me (none / 0) (#26)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 02:42:40 PM EST
    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.

    How the 14th can apply when our debt service is only 4.6% of the budget?


    That is above my pay grade (none / 0) (#28)
    by MO Blue on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 02:49:30 PM EST
    Well anyway, it would be if I had a pay grade.

    I like the B. Clinton approach regarding the 14th.


    "Shall not be questioned" (none / 0) (#30)
    by Dadler on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 03:47:30 PM EST
    These four words are fairly key, it seems.  Constitutional scholars may now rip me a new one.

    Shall not be questioned?? (none / 0) (#34)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 04:10:05 PM EST
    By who? China? Japan?

    And I go back.... Our debt service is 4.6% of the budget. Our debt and our ability to pay is not in question.

    Even Obama agrees with that.


    Obama has said that he consulted with (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by Anne on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 03:55:12 PM EST
    his lawyers, in response to a question at at, I believe, his town hall meeting at the Univ. of MD:

    "There is a provision in our Constitution that speaks to making sure that the United States meets its obligations and there have been some suggestions that a president could use that language to basically ignore that debt ceiling rule, which is a statutory rule," Obama told a town hall meeting.

    "I have talked to my lawyers, they are not persuaded that that is a winning argument," he said.

    I thought the response was dismissive of the intelligence of the American people who have to know that if this was a route Obama wanted to take, he would instruct his lawyers to do what most clients demand of their counsel: find me a winning argument.

    But, he doesn't want that kind of solution because it would mean he couldn't use this manufactured crisis to achieve his goals - taking the first - historic! - steps to actively undermine the social safety net.


    Geithner (none / 0) (#55)
    by NYShooter on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 07:04:25 PM EST
     has repeatedly stated that all these options, including invoking the 14th. Amendment, were a "No Go," as far as the Administration was concerned.

    Geithner = Obama's Cheney n/t (none / 0) (#56)
    by The Addams Family on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 07:19:53 PM EST
    Sounds like there are (none / 0) (#43)
    by Madeline on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 05:11:23 PM EST
    interesting opinions for and against doing it.

    Adding another element of uncertainty, and possible court battles, to the debate do not seem to appeal to the White House. And it is, in any event, not clear that the nation's creditors would continue to lend money to the United States were the president to take unilateral action.



    Not ready for primetime obama was obvious... (none / 0) (#12)
    by pluege2 on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 01:13:27 PM EST
    in the primaries. obama's ego was way too big for what was good for the country. If he had any smarts (which he and his team really don't) he would have been HRC's VP for 8 years, after which he could have been ready to be a kick-ass POTUS (not sure anymore that his orientation isn't fixed in rightwing conservatism in which case he could never be a good POTUS.) As it is, republicans are mopping the floor with him due to his naivety and incompetence, and the country is being overrun by a bunch of maggot plutocrats.

    SITE VIOLATOR (none / 0) (#42)
    by caseyOR on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 05:01:02 PM EST
    I think this is a site violator. It looks like one.

    Nice on topic first sentence, though.

    Reading (none / 0) (#45)
    by lilburro on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 05:23:19 PM EST
    your 2006 piece as a result of following the discussion over at DK too.  It's amazing to read Obama on faith again and recall Rev. Warren and all that stuff.  The emphasis on faith as our biggest political divide seems absurd compared to where we are now.

    As a friend just emailed me (none / 0) (#49)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 06:08:25 PM EST
    Where is Jeremiah Wright when we need him?

    God knows. (none / 0) (#50)
    by lilburro on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 06:21:45 PM EST
    If this actually results in a deal, instead of opting for the 14th Amendment, I am not just going to be horrified, I'm going to be terrified.

    All the more so since the President's approval rating is ticking lower through this and his rating among Independents is sinking...it's a bad gambit, but if it doesn't even work, I mean what can you say.


    Think about how the entire South Carolina (none / 0) (#51)
    by christinep on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 06:21:51 PM EST
    Repub delegation prayed about the Boehner bill prior to voting...the went to chapel together. I have nothing against prayer, of ourase.  The factoid here, tho, is that some of these freshman Repub Crazies have publicly mentioned that they might be "divinely inspired" in their political moves.  

    That's not exactly what I mean (none / 0) (#52)
    by lilburro on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 06:30:11 PM EST
    by faith in this instance.  South Carolina is about as insane as it gets, I think that Dems know that state is out of play.  BTD's diary that includes Obama's comments on faith is here.