The debt ceiling should really be renamed the default ceiling. This catastrophic game of chicken cost the U.S. our AAA credit rating and $19 billion when it was last employed in the summer of 2011 by House radicals who pretended their intransigence was a stand for fiscal responsibility.
Now the default ceiling is looming again, promising yet another showdown between President Obama and House Republicans. But even Speaker John Boehner realizes that the 50 or so radicals on the far right of his own party—the Bachmann, Broun, Gohmert and King crew—are the greatest impediment to responsible self-government right now.
That’s why the new responsible Republican proposal, which passed the House Thursday by a vote of 221-207, could be the best way to defuse the debt ceiling from its most destructive impact. Read More…
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall catch hell from both sides.”
So said a sign on the Justice Department wall of Burke Marshall at the height of the civil rights era. But it could also apply to President Obama’s new budget, finally offered up two months late and on the heels of competing Democratic Senate and House Republican proposals.
But this budget is not like all the others. It is not a positional bargaining document, designed simply to rally the base at the outset of negotiations. One way you can tell is that liberal activists and congressmen are already screaming “sellout” at the White House for offering Social Security reform as part of a balanced plan to reduce the deficit and debt.
The Republican response so far has been crickets, and that throat clearing you hear in the distance might just be a recalibration before another reflexive “tax and spend liberal” attack on the president. Read More…
The budget wars are under way. And that’s a good thing.
It’s been four years since our country has operated with a budget instead of careening between continuing resolutions, always one tantrum away from a government shutdown.
But now House budget chairman Paul Ryan has weighed in with his base-pleasing blueprint. Soon Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) will add her take to the debate. Then, in April, we’re told that President Obama will finally present his budget, presumably building on some of the specifics he laid out in his proposals for a grand bargain. Don’t expect a lot of initial common ground in these competing documents but a process that looks suspiciously like governing has begun. Read More…
Moon Reagan and Don Nixon never got this kind of reception.
But Jeb Bush, the brother and son of presidents, is already getting the full-court press to run for the White House in 2016. The Drudge Report went breathless with banner headlines on Monday when Jeb refused to rule out a future run on the Today show while promoting his new book with Clint Bolick, Immigration Wars.
The title of the book itself indicates that this isn’t a typical courtship. Jeb is presenting himself as a policy wonk and party reformer, not the typical approach to winning the GOP nomination. And for all the institutional benefits of being a Bush—a ready-made political and fundraising structure fueled by the promise of restoration to power—the reality is that his prospects would be far better if his last name were anything but “Bush.” Read More…
After 16 months of anticipation, sequestration cuts kicked in today and President Obama called the leaders of Congress to the White House, prompting a well-deserved chorus of “what the hell took you so long?”
The brief meeting failed to make any dent in the impasse and Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell left the White House after just over an hour, joining their congressional colleagues on a not-at-all-deserved long weekend.
The lack of urgency in Washington this week has been startling but not surprising. An aura of impotence has consumed the government, as deep, across-the-board cuts everyone says they oppose set in. The only action in town has been a public blame game that gives sandbox politics a bad name. Read More…