Art offers his perspective as a movement progressive activist.
Here is the latest debt ceiling deal mayhem. It is hard to tell what is going on and it appears chaotic at best on the Hill with Boehner moving to push his own “deal” though the House and Reid ready to push perhaps some “counter deal” through the Senate.
Reid has gotten attention this afternoon with a proposal he is working on. DDay has details better than I can give:
CNN has reported that Harry Reid is working on his own debt limit proposal that would cut deficits by $2.5 trillion total, include no revenue increases, and raise the debt limit by that same $2.5 trillion amount. Reid, Nancy Pelosi, the President and Vice President are scheduled to meet in the White House tonight starting at 6pm ET. Aides stressed that this would satisfy two key demands of the House GOP. It would have the dollar-for-dollar relationship between spending cuts and an increase in the debt limit; and it would not include revenue.
It sounds to me like the Democrats feel they need a counter-offer to what John Boehner will propose. We know that Boehner wants to call the President’s bluff and offer a mechanism with a short-term debt limit increase combined with spending cuts, and a Catfood Commission II that would be tied to the next tranche of debt limit increase.
With debate now so far right many feel Reid may offer the best ahem deal because apparently it would mirror Pelosi’s, which would keep the Big 3 off the table for now:
I would guess that the outline of the cuts would be similar to what Nancy Pelosi suggested in a meeting with bloggers on Friday. It hinges on an accounting gimmick that would “reduce” deficits based on drawing down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because CBO essentially calculates the cost of war based on the previous year’s cost, by capping war spending at a lower number you “save” a good deal. As Pelosi described it, that could add up to $1 trillion to the total savings.
So you can get to $2.5 trillion pretty easily, then. Take the $1 trillion from the wars, add $1.2 trillion in agreed-to cuts from the discretionary budget, and add $200-$300 billion from foregone interest payments and you’re there.
So use some gimmicks, use the ending of the wars as saving, plus cuts agreed to months ago and presto! You still might get a Depression-lite but might keep SS from being cut.
The key here is this proposed Super Congress thing. That committee would have super votes which can send cuts in benefits straight though ie no filibusters. Wish they could have found a way to pass stimulus this way for jobs but DC isn’t into that.
So if Reid puts this Catfood II cmte into a deal that would mean congress voting on cuts to every cherished program ie Medicare in a general election year. This is so politically and morally asinine I cannot fathom what they are thinking.
DDay adds this which I think is true so hope now. If the Catfood II is put off the table then:
This would allow the real debate about taxes and the safety net to be decided by VOTERS, not commissions or other extra-Constitutional processes. The 2012 elections could make the determination. The public could have a voice. And the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, which would raise $4 trillion over a decade, would be the forcing mechanism.
Krugman has called Obama’s debt plan all sorts of wicked names, including “politically stupid.” Of note is his highlighting of writer Elizabeth Drew who gives insight into what POTUS is thinking here. This is not pretty, says Drew:
..when Obama suddenly injected Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid into the deficit and debt negotiations, many, perhaps most, Democrats were dismayed. They believed that the President was offering up the poor and the needy as a negotiating gambit. (His position was that if the Republicans would give on taxes, he’d give on entitlements.) A bewildered Pelosi said after that meeting, “He calls this a Grand Bargain?” And she came down firmly against any changes in those programs that would hurt beneficiaries.
Moreover, the Democrats had their own political reasons for opposing reductions in Medicare benefits. They had had great success in campaigning against Paul Ryan’s bizarre proposal, adopted by the House (despite even Boehner’s expressed misgivings), that would turn Medicare into a voucher system.
So Drew gets to the nitty gritty- why would Obama throw out his only strong path to victory: defending the safety net against the GOP and Ryan?:
It all goes back to the “shellacking” Obama took in the 2010 elections. The President’s political advisers studied the numbers and concluded that the voters wanted the government to spend less. This was an arguable interpretation. Nevertheless, the political advisers believed that elections are decided by middle-of-the-road independent voters, and this group became the target for determining the policies of the next two years.
That explains a lot about the course the President has been taking this year. The political team’s reading of these voters was that to them, a dollar spent by government to create a job is a dollar wasted. The only thing that carries weight with such swing voters, they decided—in another arguable proposition—is cutting spending. Moreover, like Democrats—and very unlike Republicans—these voters do not consider “compromise” a dirty word.
So as usual Obama and friends misread what voters want. She gives this nugget I find appalling and very disturbing about Obama confronting liberal Congressman Waxman:
…in late June, the tough-minded, experienced, and blunt Democratic Representative Henry Waxman of California told Obama in a White House meeting that he’d asked several Republicans about their meeting with him the day before, and, “To a person, they said the President’s going to cave.”
Then the congressman said to the President of the United States, “And if you’re going to cave, tell us right now.” The President was reported to have been displeased, and responded, “I’m the President of the United States; my words carry weight.”
Read the whole thing here. Many more details emerge including why all of Obama’s economic advisors have fled the ship. And soon so might the liberals of the Democratic Party, as Nichols of The Nation notes of trouble with the base in the Democratic primary.
Oh and here is what Boehner is up to and it is just as insane.