Children With Matches, Playing in the Powder Magazine.

…That would be your present-day Republican party.

The just concluded budget skirmish was a mere amuse bouche to the gluttons-for-(other people’s)- punishment that is your modern GOP.   The New York Times reports today on what looks to be the mother of all budget battles to come over the vote to raise the debt limit.

I’m waiting for the chorus of the swaddled commentariat to tell us just how principled are Republican moves like these:

…they will again demand fundamental changes in policy on health care, the environment, abortion rights and more, as the price of their support for raising the debt ceiling

If they don’t get what they want, and actually block the Treasury from raising more obligations, then this is how the Grey Lady (no longer) of 43rd St. rather demurely describes the consequences:

Once the limit is reached, the Treasury Department would not be able to borrow as it does routinely to finance federal operations and roll over existing debt; ultimately it would be unable to pay off maturing debt, putting the United States government — the global standard-setter for creditworthiness — into default.

__

The repercussions in that event would be as much economic as political, rippling from the bond market into the lives of ordinary citizens through higher interest rates and financial uncertainty of the sort that the economy is only now overcoming, more than three years after the onset of the last recession.

That is:  with still achingly high unemployment; wage stagnation; food and energy cost hikes; the rise (again) of the financial sector’s share of corporate profits nation wide; the increasingly worn safety net and all that, the GOP is threatening to make life worse on just about every economic and social axis imaginable.

__

The irony is that it may be our last, best hope that the monied class will be able to tame the beast they’ve unleashed.  Here’s Jamie Damon, head of JP Morgan Chase and someone often seen as one of the non-monstrous Wall St. types:

“If anyone wants to push that button, which I think would be catastrophic and unpredictable, I think they’re crazy,” Mr. Dimon said recently at the United States Chamber of Commerce.

But the problem is that this is what he — and the rest of us — have to contend with:

Representative Mick Mulvaney… dismissed warnings about default as “just posturing,” and said Democrats should bear the responsibility for passing any measure to increase the borrowing limit.

__

“It’s their debt,” he said. “Make them do it. That’s my attitude.”

Except, of course, this “Democrats did it” nonsense is simply false.   Here’s the key part of the Times piece, an all too rare fact-based description of where our current debt comes from:

In fact, the debt was created by both parties and past presidents as well as Mr. Obama.

__

Of the nearly $14.2 trillion in debt, roughly $5 trillion is money the government has borrowed from other accounts, mostly from Social Security revenues, according to federal figures. Several major policies from the past decade when Republicans controlled the White House and Congress — tax cuts, a Medicare prescription-drug benefit and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — account for more than $3.2 trillion.

The recession cost more than $800 billion in lost revenues from businesses and individuals and in automatic spending for safety-net programs like unemployment compensation. Mr. Obama’s stimulus spending and tax cuts added about $600 billion through the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

The Times is being unnecessarily bipartisan here, certainly.  The two great leaps in debt as a percentage of GDP over the last several decades came under Presidents Reagan/Bush the former and then again, with turbojets, under Bush the Lesser, the undisputed heavyweight champion reckless spender.*

__

But the Times still got the key point right:  Obama-led policy has contributed minimally to the debt — probably too little in fact, when you recall that the stimulus money still hasn’t fully hit the street.

The debt limit is approaching now for two reasons more than any others:  years of incompetent, ideologically-driven GOP-led economic and tax policy — largely designed to transfer wealth from public to private hands and from the bottom and middle to the rich — and then the loss of revenue in the recession engendered by that shameful record of misgovernment.

So, to catch my breath, here’s the state of play:  we face a debt limit test very soon. Failure to raise it will cause significant harm to most Americans.  The GOP is playing Russian roulette with that test. This is not the behavior of people capable of governance.  They are hyperactive kindergarteners with a tendency towards pyromania.

There are surely real debates to be had.  We’ve got a long way to go to get to a satisfactory and ultimately affordable health care system.  We have to figure out how to be and feel secure without spending ourselves into oblivion.  It might be nice to figure out how to ease off an oil-centered energy path sometime soon…and so on.

But these are not discussions that can happen when one side is made up of inmates determined to burn down their asylum.

I’m not going to scream at the Democrats for perceived weakness, nor for a propensity to bargain badly.  We do not as a rule view damaging America in the pursuit of political advantage to be acceptable.  That leaves us vulnerable every time the GOP cozies up to barrel of dynamite, smoldering cigar in hand.

__

Even so, I do think that every political move from now to 2012 and beyond has to be considered in terms of how well it frames the GOP as an irreparably shattered institution.

There’s nothing left to save in the party of Lincoln. Whatever we can do to help them go the way of the Whigs, we must…

Update: I see that Ann Laurie and I are but two minds with a single thought.

*The enormous increase in debt under Reagan, marks the point when we first were confronted with the great tax cut lie — what I think of as that huge steaming pile of that which emerges from the south end of a north facing horse captured beneath the Laffer Curve.  Reagan inherited a debt level of 32.5% of GDP from President Carter.  His tax cuts and profligate spending left us owing 53.1% of GDP at the end of his second term, and the Bush extension pushed that total to 66.1%.  Bill Clinton’s combination of tax increases and constraint on the rate of government growth (and, for the most part, a policy of minimal military recklessness) enabled him to leave office having pushed the debt back down to 56.4% — which model of prudent, small “c” fiscal conservatism was so wholly abandoned by Bush the Minimal that he left office having blown the debt up to unprecedented heights:  83.4%.

To sum up:  both parties have certainly played a role in the expansion of US national debt — after all, Democrats controlled one or both houses of Congress throughout the Reagan-Bush years.  But as far as presidents go, it’s all GOP since 1980…all except that spending undertaken in the last two years to dig out from the financial crater left by the utter failure of Republican governance.  So whilst I give props to the Times for highlighting the minimal contribution to the debt driven by Obama policy choices, they are a little too fair and balanced on the rest of it for my taste.

Image: Henry Holiday, The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits by Lewis Carrol, Fit the Seventh: The Banker’s Fate, first published 1876.

Hieronymous Bosch, Extraction of the Stone of Folly, (detail) before 1516.

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71 replies
  1. 1
    Bloix says:

    “Except, of course, this “Democrats did it” nonsense is simply false. ”

    As I recall, Obama agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts and he got nothing for it. He didn’t say, I’ll extend the tax cuts if you’ll pass my budget. He bought the deficit with that decision and he owns it now.

  2. 2
    General Stuck says:

    If they don’t get what they want, and actually block the Treasury from raising more obligations, then this is how the Grey Lady (no longer) of 43rd St. rather demurely describes the consequences:

    I am actually more hopeful now, that Boehner and enough wingers in the House won’t go for the truly terrifying step of not voting to raise the debt ceiling. That is just too dangerous an environment for the plutocrats and their apostates in congress to let happen. There is always the danger of mucking around playing chicken with Obama and accidentely setting off some chain reactions due to the somewhat tricky maneuver with certain dates and such I have read about. And it is possible that Boehner may have to rely on some dem votes to get it done.

    I think they will have all their yaw yaws out for the 2012 budget battle, however, but that it will also cause a lot of heartburn with some of the old guard over privatizing medicare, even though philosophically that is something they approve of. Not to mention all the other shark jumps in Ryan’s proposal.

    But they are serious about destroying the ACA, to a member in congress, and at some point will try accomplishing this in some fashion, or several fashions. Whether by shutting down the government, or refusing to appropriate specific HEW funds for it’s implementation.

    my two cents

  3. 3
    Walker says:

    @Bloix:

    He wanted the middle class cuts. He paid for that with tax cuts for all.

  4. 4
    asiangrrlMN says:

    I have no confidence in the GOP at all to do anything remotely good for the vast majority of the country. It really is difficult to negotiate when only one side actually cares about the people who would be badly affected by the policies of that which is being debated.

  5. 5
    General Stuck says:

    @Bloix:

    No, he got an extension on unemployment benefits, and a number of other tidbits for the middle class. He also kept his promise to extend the middle class cuts, and kept in the economy that money as continuing stimulus to the economy. You can’t really just tax people or cut spending to get a balanced budget, with the size of our debt. The best way is to create a healthy economy and increase revenue from taxes that way. Everything has it’s flip side. It would have been nice to end the rich tax cuts only, because that money would not likely have been spent by the already rich. But that was not possible, or very unlikely.

  6. 6
    jrg says:

    There is simply no way the GOP will force us into default.

    The gibbering, drooling teabaggers might not understand that this will completely tank bonds to the point where they’re not worth the paper they’re written on, but I’m positive the power brokers do… They’re evil, not stupid.

  7. 7
    Petorado says:

    “It’s their debt,” he said. “Make them do it. That’s my attitude.”

    The Dems could kick some butt if the “their” in the above quote was a reference to the R’s and not the D’s, as the wingers hope to frame it. Bush started two wars and won not a damn one. Bush “the Loser” was a font of this debt that that Republicans now seem so fond of ending. Hang it one the ones who initiated all this debt in the first place when they looted the treasury and went all Bill Krystal on us about the warwmongering.

    … And point out that the rich don’t seem to be doing a damn thing with all their tax cuts to stimulate the economy, while they’re at it … well maybe the economy of the Caymans, but not ours.

  8. 8
    The Dangerman says:

    There may be a lot of noise and fury from the Right come debt limit raising time, but when the power brokers (read: people with lots of money that want to keep that money worth something) start to get nervous, they will yank on the choke chain hard, leading to much yelping.

    Stuck is right, the next budget battle will be the next monster fight (and it will be ugly).

  9. 9
  10. 10
    jrg says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Stuck is right, the next budget battle will be the next monster battle (and it will be ugly).

    As it should be. A lot of people buy into the belief that if you lower taxes, the government will actually get more money. They basically believe in a free lunch. This belief needs to die, but the only way it ever will is if voters are faced with the hard policy decisions that come from having a government that does not collect enough revenue.

    I honestly wonder sometimes if half the country is so fucking stupid that they cannot understand stuff costs money. Apple-cheeked cherubs don’t fly into grannie’s nursing home to pay the medicaid bill every month.

  11. 11
    opie jeanne, formerly known as Jeanne Ringland says:

    Bosch’s images never fail to horrify.

  12. 12
    The Dangerman says:

    @jrg:

    A lot of people buy into the belief that if you lower taxes, the government will actually get more money.

    a.k.a. “Stupid Fuckers”.

    The fighting point in the budget battle probably won’t be taxes (although, you’re right, it should) but ACA. Ryan’s plan on Medicare is DOA, but the Right will go to the wall on ACA. It’ll be fascinating.

  13. 13
    piratedan says:

    sorry, I don’t buy the take that the R’s won’t be willing to send us all to financial hell. Who generally comes out on top in those scenarios? My understanding is that its generally the folks already living in the gated communities. They have no compassion for women, the elderly or the poor (just looks at their legislative record) what makes you think that they give a good goddamn about anyone other than themselves?

  14. 14
    kdaug says:

    @General Stuck:

    But they are serious about destroying the ACA, to a member in congress

    Thus the fevered rush. This shit goes live in 2014, and the proles will like it. Good luck turning it back then. If they can’t get’r done before then, then O goes in the history books next to FDR and LBJ, and the elephant in the room will be the elephant down the street.

  15. 15
    GregB says:

    The fact that the lunatics are setting the agenda is another sign that this nation is in deep shit.

    The fact that the oligarchs and the rest of the plutocratic media ghouls think that proposing to cut taxes on the rich while increasing the burden on those in the middle and the bottom is bold and courageous is just about as morally bankrupt as anything I’ve ever seen.

    Little did we know that Soylent Green would be made from those under 55.

  16. 16
    Suffern ace says:

    @jrg they already believe that those bonds aren’t worth the paper that theyre written on.

  17. 17
    LosGatosCA says:

    The Teabagging Republicans are profoundly, to choose a word carefully, unserious. From Laugher Curve fairies that raise taxes to conducting wars from the bureaucratic equivalent of their Mom’s basement to keep the gubbermint out of my Medicare, they are simply foolish people with no sense of judgment grounded in reality.

    Simple minded, unserious, illogical fools manipulated by a cynical elite who use them as cover for looting the country. The stretch of insanity from 1980 to whenever this hysterical blindness finally subsides will not fair well in the history books.

  18. 18
    Nicole says:

    Can we please clarify that the “middle class tax cuts” were actually tax cuts for everyone and what the wealthy got was an additional tax cut on top of that?

  19. 19
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Nicole: Hey, facts, and the correct interpretation thereof, have no place in a discussion about budgetary issues. Only fear and greed are allowed.

  20. 20
    Suck It Up! says:

    @Bloix:

    PISS OFF. Obama got nothing for it? I got something for it and so did my unemployed friend and her husband and their child. Maybe YOU didn’t get anything but millions of people got help they damn well needed.

  21. 21
    JGabriel says:

    Tom Levenson:

    The just concluded budget skirmish was a mere amuse bouche to the gluttons-for-(other people’s)- punishment that is your modern GOP.

    That’s the word I’ve been looking for to describe the modern GOP: sadists. Didn’t occur to me till I saw the punsihment glutton description.

    .

  22. 22
    JGabriel says:

    @Bloix:

    As I recall, Obama agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts and he got nothing for it. … He bought the deficit with that decision and he owns it now.

    I don’t if Obama owns the debt, but he certainly owns the tax cuts — and, as you rightly point out, whatever portion of the deficits that represents.

    It kind of pisses me off that we can’t legitimately call them Bush’s tax cuts anymore. They’ve got Obama’s signature on them now. Personally, I think he should have let all the cuts expire and blamed it on the Republicans. At least then we’d have the money to cover the budget.

    .

  23. 23
    Elliecat says:

    @JGabriel:

    That’s the word I’ve been looking for to describe the modern GOP: sadists.

    Paul Ryan and the New Politics of Sadism in Esquire’s blog

  24. 24
    mike the dealer says:

    @JGabriel:

    If we did that, we don’t get START, or DADT, or unemployment, or the 9/11 responders bill. The GOP made it clear they would not pass anything at all unless the rich got their tax breaks.

  25. 25
    Hiram Taine says:

    @Nicole:

    Can we please clarify that the “middle class tax cuts” were actually tax cuts for everyone and what the wealthy got was an additional tax cut on top of that?

    Actually, those making under $20k/year got a net tax increase, the Lucky Duckies.

  26. 26
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @freelancer:

    “Talcum powder doesn’t explode”

    BOOM!

    “I could be wrong, you know…”

  27. 27
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @freelancer:

    “Talcum powder doesn’t explode”

    BOOM!

    “I could be wrong, you know…”

  28. 28
    TooManyJens says:

    I’m beginning to think that Obama needs to bring in an actual hostage negotiator as an advisor. I think he’d be an amazing leader in a situation in which everyone was basically arguing in good faith, but had vastly different opinions on what was best. Unfortunately, that’s not the political world we’re living in. He seems completely at sea dealing with a hostile, irrational opposition that really doesn’t give a damn about the good of the country. I’m sympathetic, but he needs to change his approach somehow.

  29. 29
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    I hear that the high tax, free health care hell of soshulist Germany is suffering under the burden of an unemployment rate of less than 7%. Poor bastards, they’re missing out on the fun that is our economy!

    The Teahadists are playing chicken with the economy and I kind of hope that they win because we need some serious overreach by these assholes to rid ourselves of them. It looks like they want to unleash their inner economic Nazi on us. If that happens then you can bet that sane people will ditch them, politicians included. The problem is if there are enough sane people left to save the country.

    If they bring chaos to the world markets you can bet that they will become pariahs of it and their popularity here would plummet when the impact on international relations and the financial consequences of their actions hits home.

    I say lets play chicken with them and hit them straight on.

    Great stuff Tom. Excellent. I love reading this place.

  30. 30
    OzoneR says:

    @TooManyJens: Ac actual hostage negotiator would do the very same thing he did when dealing with an irrational hostage taker.

  31. 31
    OzoneR says:

    @JGabriel:

    I think he should have let all the cuts expire and blamed it on the Republicans.

    who would believe him? Democrats = taxes.

    Personally, I thought he should let them expire and just say its for fiscal sanity. You want a balanced budget, you’re paying more in taxes, deal with it.

    Of course that’s political suicide, but that’s why I won’t ever run for office.

  32. 32
    Dennis SGMM says:

    The Republicans, and those who hold their leash, will be more than happy to let the debt ceiling expire. The Rs will hold themselves up as champions of fiscal conservatism. I mean, we all have to sacrifice – right? Those who hold their leash will have already converted to Euros, or yuan. Once things really go into the shitter those with money will be able to buy the rest of America for ten cents on the dollar. It’s a win-win for everyone but the rest of us.

  33. 33
    Yutsano says:

    @OzoneR: I really do believe he has to get to his second term. If he doesn’t have the political pressure of re-election then maybe we’ll get to see what he truly is outside of the context of a politician. Plus he gets to his second term the health care law comes fully online. Then maybe we’ll finally start seeing some real tangible benefits.

  34. 34
    OzoneR says:

    @Yutsano: I really think President should serve one six year term.

    I also really believe we need to abolish the Senate and move to a parliamentary system, but hey, we all have dreams

  35. 35
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @OzoneR:
    Abolishing the Senate is something that the Senate will firmly oppose. On the other hand, we could pass a law requiring every Senator to dress in full clown regalia whenever they’re in public. It seems fitting.

  36. 36
    OzoneR says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    Abolishing the Senate is something that the Senate will firmly oppose.

    Constitutional convention

  37. 37
    Elizabelle says:

    @Yutsano:

    re your comment 33: I am thinking along those lines too.

    But with some fear, very honestly. Having seen the craziness (birtherism, complete obstructionism) following his election, one wonders what re-election would unleash.

    Mostly, I think of the happiness and relief as people thronged in Grant Park election night 2008, and the sheer ugliness the Republicans and their supporters have put us all through since, and I seethe.

    —-

    re the Lewis Carroll illustration: doesn’t the queen look a bit like Eleanor Roosevelt? And maybe the dude on the left is with Jethro Tull? (JTull is touring this summer, FWIW.)

  38. 38
    ChrisB says:

    There’s no reason to concede anything to raise the debt limit. The crazies may oppose it but a majority will pass it.

    As others have said, it’s the 2012 budget that will be World War III.

  39. 39
    AAA Bonds says:

    Jamie Dimon is not a good guy.

    Jamie Dimon is a crook who should be in jail.

  40. 40
    Steeplejack says:

    @TooManyJens:

    Excellent point. You have articulated something that has been banging around in the back of my brain for a while. Obama is excellent at the whole 11-dimensional-chess thing, but he’s not dealing with chess players, he’s dealing with monkeys who just want to throw the pieces against the wall and turn over the board.

  41. 41
    bob h says:

    Mr. Dimon, why did you and your ilk go all-out to elect a Republican Congress in November? Getting your money’s worth?

  42. 42
    cermet says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: Yeah and the Germans, by law, require a worker on the board of every corporation. Also, they have trade union schools and have the highest export rate of any European nation. They have single payer government run universal health care and the list goes on – yeah, they really are f’ed up with a healthy economy. If only they had not join the Euro, they’d be doing even better.

  43. 43

    …they will again demand fundamental changes in policy on health care, the environment, abortion rights and more, as the price of their support for raising the debt ceiling

    And the Democrats will eke out modest “concessions” like not taking candy from babies or sacrificing puppies and kittens and then they’ll tell us what a big “win” it is.

  44. 44
    Sko Hayes says:

    The crazy teabaggers in the House (of which mine is one) will insist on not raising the debt limit, while the “serious” Republicans who have been around a while know better than to go down that road. In order to pass it in the House, Republicans will need Democratic votes. If, that is, the Teabag caucus holds together. Only 27 teabaggers voted against the budget cuts deal last week (of which mine was one).
    Will we hear cries of outrage from the Tea Party Patriots, et al. on the deal?
    Not really:

    You wanted the Republicans to cut no less than $61 Billion. Since last night you’ve said to us that you are relieved to see that bills passing virtually overnight and certainly in less than 1 month’s time with completely out of control spending of hundreds of billions of dollars is over – for now…
    Thank you for being brave! Thank you for standing shoulder to shoulder with millions of other Americans to preserve our liberty!

    Guess not…

  45. 45
    BnmnG says:

    We’re up against at least these two problems:

    1st: Wealthy people do pretty well in nations with do-nothing governments. The only difficulty is keeping the people from rebelling, but it helps to own the media.

    2nd: They’re willing to play chicken because they know responsible people will yield before reckless people.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but the first step is correctly defining the problems.

  46. 46
    Svensker says:

    @jrg:

    Apple-cheeked cherubs don’t fly into grannie’s nursing home to pay the medicaid bill every month.

    They don’t?

    (Said in my best Flakey Foont voice. Yes, I’m an old DFH. Sue me.)

  47. 47
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    Except, of course, this “Democrats did it” nonsense

    Yes Levenson, we know. Conservatives want a do over. And you apparently support that.

    thomas Levenson – April 5, 2011 | 4:03 pm · Link
    __
    Agree w. E.D. on this. And did last November, right here. ;)

    So you are all ready to take another walk in EDK’s Fantasy Free Market Forest?

  48. 48
    Chuck says:

    Here’s what I don’t understand: If representative Ryan’s Medicare plan is so great and effective, why are those over the age of 55 barred from enjoying its benefits? It’s as if he has something against old people.

  49. 49
    gene108 says:

    My sense of optimism is slipping. I don’t think there’s going to be effective change, unless we take the attitude the French people had, circa 1789, i.e. blood in the streets and heads rolling.

  50. 50
    JAHILL10 says:

    @Tom Levenson: There’s nothing left to save in the party of Lincoln. Whatever we can do to help them go the way of the Whigs…

    This. Call me crazy but I have been thinking wistfully in recent weeks of Ross Perot, an independent candidate. Yes, he was a funny little man, but he was absolutely right about the long term affects of NAFTA and he wasn’t batshit crazy. I would take someone of that stripe as an opposition party leader. At least we could talk about policy and, I don’t know, facts, rather than Galtian fantasy come the next election cycle.

  51. 51
    The Raven says:

    & has the most visible Democratic leader said word one in criticism of the Republican economic ideas? You know he has not. In fact, he talks up austerity programs. How is the public to see alternatives when there are no alternative presented?

    General Stuck: which plutocrats? The Koch brothers probably do not care if the USA defaults. Jamie Dimon probably does, but he is not in control of the Tea Party Republicans.

  52. 52
    gypsy howell says:

    I think the teahadists and the big money that funds them knows full well that Obama and the democrats will do ANYTHING to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a default, right up to killing their first born and eating puppies. Their demands WILL be met over the debt ceiling crisis, just like they got their $80 billion in cuts in the budget crisis.

  53. 53
    Navigator says:

    The debt limit vote is easy: just say no.
    Refuse any demands. Don’t even discuss it. Cast any mention of the possibility of a “No” vote as insane. Make it all about the Teapeople, and refer all questions to Boehner.

    If you care, they win at the start.
    So it’s a “Yes” or “No” for them.

  54. 54
    JAHILL10 says:

    Most of the bonds held in this country are actually held by Americans — rich Americans. You are about to see a demonstration of who really runs the Tea Party and the Republicans. No social issue is more important to these wankers than their money. Period. End of story.

  55. 55
    OzoneR says:

    @Navigator: Debt Ceiling is harder because the public clearly sides with the tea party on that issue, meaning unless the issue can be clearly explained to them, the tea party has the upper hand

    and you can’t clearly explain butter to the American people.

  56. 56
    OzoneR says:

    @Elizabelle:

    But with some fear, very honestly. Having seen the craziness (birtherism, complete obstructionism) following his election, one wonders what re-election would unleash.

    Except now he has a second term and he gets to serve it with no concern of reelection. They don’t have a chance to beat him anymore. That’s going to smart.

  57. 57

    Penis Navy has his hand up the ass of the Tea Party puppet. He’s an oligarch’s best friend. no way is he letting the debt limit lapse.

  58. 58
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @OzoneR:

    he gets to serve it with no concern of reelection

    this. That is why I am going to hold off on critting Obama until after the election.
    We are all still living in Distributed Jesusland until the demographic timer goes off.
    ;)

  59. 59
    Navigator says:

    @ OzoneR:

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I come before you tonight to discuss what has been, throughout our history, a nonpartisan understanding: the full faith and credit of the United States.

    With the election of the new freshman class to the majority of the House of Representatives, it has now been proposed that this country’s full faith and credit be reduced to something negotiated annually between the Congress and the Presidency, much as the budget allowance for national parks or highway construction. It is not.

    On behalf of our nation, and on behalf of all the Presidencies to come, I will not allow the continuance of our historic global standing as a reliable partner to be held hostage to the political whims of the day. The stability of the global economy relies on that assurance, and it will continue to receive that assurance.

    Let me be clear: there will be no discussions between my administration and Congress about Congress’ duty in this regard. Any suggestion to the contrary will not come from this administration, and will not be accepted by this administration.

    I say to the Congress simply, “Do your duty. There is time for politics later.”

    Thank you, and God bless America.

  60. 60
    TG Chicago says:

    Deep thought: given that the debt increases more under Republican presidents than Democrats and given that Obama has embraced austerity, perhaps someone who believes the current economy requires increased stimulative spending should vote Republican.

  61. 61
    Uloborus says:

    @Bloix:
    What a weird thing to say. I seem to recall a historically productive lame duck session that passed DADT, START, and the 9/11 responders bill. None of that would have passed without the extension of the Bush tax cuts, an extension that has very little effect on anything but our feelings. I also recall riders to the same bill that extended the tax cuts to provide social security relief and extend unemployment insurance.

    ‘Nothing for it’ is not even open to interpretation. It’s blatantly false. He got a great deal for it, and so did we. Please do not spread this kind of misinformation again.

  62. 62
    karen marie says:

    Democrats need a Frank Luntz. Republicans have this perfectly framed to appeal to the fact that most Americans are broke: “you pay too much.”

    Can someone do a post detailing federal revenue streams?

    I’d be interested in seeing where revenue comes from aside from income tax.

    kthnxbai!

  63. 63

    Here’s the thing about what we got for rich people’s tax cuts; it directly and significantly impacted certain groups of people but…it also expanded the scope of the damage to the greater part of the populus. What we got were shiny objects in exchange for structural damage.

    The measure most of us took was that we couldn’t stomp on those affected. The price is that the stomping on most of America was escalated and we now deal with the outcome of that decision. The decisions of Democratic politicians to run away from ACA, Stimulus, Taxes, and Etc meant that the 2010 elections wouldn’t be about doing something and the outcome was this. That retreat or capitulation began at the time of legislating and continued all the way into the electioneering. Elections don’t start at some defined point 6 mos. before the end of term, it is continuous and if you propose to do big things, then you need to act as though they are big things.

    You can talk all day about the stupidity of the electorate (about which I won’t totally disagree) but you do need to give them something to react to, if not think about. Sometimes,. even in the face of doing everything right, you will lose; but that’s different from inviting it.

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    Uloborus says:

    @Chuck Butcher:
    This is also ridiculous. The tax cuts affected the rich. Period. It did nothing whatsoever to the general populace. This budget battle was coming anyway. The 2010 election was over. It did not redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich. It took nothing from the poor at all. The bill it was imbedded inside gave to the poor. Mainly it pushed the argument down until later and allowed other things to be done. An extension of unemployment benefits and the repeal of DADT do not sound like shiny trinkets to anyone who was affected by them.

    The Democrats did not ‘run away’ from the ACA. They PASSED it. Against ridiculous opposition. Something that has been tried and repeatedly failed for 100 years. Ezra Klein, generally widely respected among liberals, just wrote an article explaining how it was larded with cost controls, many directly designed to thwart insurance companies. You do not even have the excuse that it was some kind of giveaway.

    I recall the stimulus passing. I assume you wish it was bigger. Unfortunately, your belief that it could be bigger is a theory in your head with no evidence to back it up, unless you actually are a member of congress and can explain to me all of the backdoor maneuvering you personally witnessed.

    Your narrative is, bluntly, a figment of your imagination. You throw up accomplishments and claim they are failures. Stop that.

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    xian says:

    it’s a fantasy to say that once Obama is reelected he will reveal his true liberal bona fides and be unshackled by the lack of any future elections. That’s because he’ll still be a politician, he’ll want his own party to win the next election, and he’ll be thinking about his legacy. Some things will change, sure, but be careful not to keep putting all your eggs in the “next time” basket.

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    flounder says:

    If an article is going to list who is on the ledger for what like this one does, it should not switch between trillions and billions in such a cavalier fashion. If you write that Republicans borrowed $1 trillion, and Democrats borrowed $500 billion; subliminally you let the Republicans off easy.

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    TooManyJens says:

    @OzoneR:

    Ac actual hostage negotiator would do the very same thing he did when dealing with an irrational hostage taker.

    You may be right, at that. I really am very sympathetic to the situation in which he finds himself — there are no good answers when dealing with people who fundamentally just don’t give a fuck about reality. And have power.

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    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @xian:

    it’s a fantasy to say that once Obama is reelected he will reveal his true liberal bona fides and be unshackled by the lack of any future elections.

    not true. the demographics of the electorate are changing. By 2020 the kids from the 2008 event will be aging into the electorate.
    Old white people will be dying off continuosly, and minorities and youth will be aging into the bracket.
    I think 2016 is the last real chance the right has to win the WH, and they will have to run Rubio to do it.

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    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @jrg:

    I wish to hell the Democrats had the balls to run it the other way – when the Republicans start huffing, hit back with a list of pro-Democrat measures to pass before raising the debt-limit.

    As fas as I can tell, the Executive is the one who effectively gets to make the funding decisions should the debt limit not be raised – and there’s nothing to stop Obama from, say, channelling all funds towards mainating blue states and letting red states eat it. Save his lack of testicular fortitude, of course.

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    @Phoenician

    Can you point me to more on that? I live in a blue state, and I’d love to see some money pumped into our social service system. Our homeless would have shelters, at least.

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    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @just an otter:

    As I understand it, if the debt limit is not raised, the Govt can only spend money as it comes in. But the one making this decision is… the executive.

    So if Obama said “Pay social security in blue states, but not in red. Keep paying government workers in blue states but not in red. Oh, and cut off medicare now to all red states.” who’s to stop him?

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