Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown July 25-31, 2011: Finally, a Deal! After Week of Partisan Votes in Congress — President Obama, White House, Republican & Democratic Leaders Agree to Debt Deal — Still Needs to Pass House & Senate Votes

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS: JULY 25-AUGUST 1, 2011

John Boehner (left), Mitch McConnell (center), and Harry Reid are shown in a composite. | AP Photos

IN FOCUS:

Fact Sheet: Bipartisan Debt Deal: A Win for the Economy and Budget Discipline — White House, 7-31-11

Timeline of the Debt Ceiling Negotiations — NYT, 7-31-11

SNAPSHOT-U.S. lawmakers close to deal on debt: Here is what is happening on Sunday as lawmakers and the White House race to broker a deal to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion borrowing cap by Tuesday’s deadline and avoid default on obligations…. – Reuters, 7-31-11

FACTBOX-Key elements of possible U.S. debt deal: U.S. lawmakers were working furiously on Sunday to hammer out details of a deal to raise the U.S. borrowing limit and put in place a deficit-reduction plan to help avert a potentially catastrophic debt default.
Lawmakers, administration officials and aides have made clear that they have yet to agree on the final deal. But they did provide the following details of how the deal is taking shape…. – Reuters, 7-31-11

FACTBOX-What’s ahead in the U.S. debt limit fight — Reuters, 7-30-11

How Different Types of Republicans Voted on the Revised Debt Plan: Analysis of how different Republican blocs voted on the revised debt plan… – NYT

Interactive Graphic: House Roll Call: Boehner’s Short-Term Debt Ceiling Increase — NYT

Interactive Graphic: Comparing Deficit-Reduction Plans — NYT

Timeline: How U.S. debt talks spiraled into crisis: The United States drifted closer to a credit rating downgrade and default on Wednesday as President Barack Obama’s Democrats and their Republican rivals worked on competing plans to cut spending and raise the debt ceiling. Following is a timeline of the U.S. debt debate… – Reuters, 7-30-11

Factbox: Details of competing debt limit plans: House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid are pushing rival plans to raise the government’s borrowing limit before an August 2 deadline. Reid could modify his plan to attract Republican support once Boehner’s bill fails in the Senate. Here are details of the two plans… – Reuters, 7-28-11

Factbox: House factions influence debt/deficit vote: On any major piece of legislation that moves through Congress, various factions within the House of Representatives and Senate can influence chances of success or failure.
That has been especially true in the debate over raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit by August 2 in order to avoid a U.S. government default. Here is a rundown of the various factions — many overlap — and how they shaped the debate and how they might influence the final vote:

TEA PARTY HOUSE CAUCUS…
HOUSE REPUBLICAN STUDY COMMITTEE…
THE TUESDAY GROUP…
BLUE DOG DEMOCRATS…
THE CONGRESSIONAL PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS…
REPUBLICAN SENATOR JIM DEMINT…

Reuters, 7-28-11

Debt ceiling Q&A: How did we get here, what happens next? LAT, 7-28-11

Debt ceiling poll: Voters with Obama: Most Americans would like to see a mix of spending cuts and tax increases be part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, a new poll finds, aligning the majority with President Barack Obama’s position. Of those surveyed for a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday, 56 percent said they want to see a mix of approaches used in an agreement to raise the debt ceiling. The poll was conducted overnight Monday, as Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) voiced their views on the impasse in negotiations in back-to-back televised primetime speeches.
Just 19 percent of Americans said they favor a plan like Boehner’s, which would rely solely on spending cuts to existing programs to reduce the deficit. Twelve percent said they would prefer a plan to reduce the deficit only by raising taxes.
Americans’ blame for the impasse is spread all around, though is particularly strong against congressional Republicans, with 31 percent of those surveyed saying they are responsible for it. Twenty-one percent blamed Obama and nine percent blamed congressional Democrats…. – Politico 7-26-11

New polls confirm Obama’s Democratic base crumbles: …”More than a third of Americans now believe that President Obama’s policies are hurting the economy, and confidence in his ability to create jobs is sharply eroding among his base,” the Post reports.
Strong support among liberal Democrats for Obama’s jobs record has plummeted 22 points from 53% down below a third. African Americans who believe the president’s measures helped the economy have plunged from 77% to barely half.
Obama’s overall job approval on the economy has slid below 40% for the first time, with 57% disapproving. And strong disapprovers outnumber approvers by better than two-to-one. – LAT, 7-26-11

INFOGRAPHIC: Where does our national debt come from?: One of the fundamental things to understand when considering the debate about reducing our national debt is how we accumulated so much in the first place.
To explain the impact various policies have had over the past decade, shifting us from projected surpluses to actual deficits and, as a result, running up the national debt, the White House has developed a graphic for you to review and share. – WH, 7-26-11

Debt Ceiling for Dummies: Why Compromise Is so Necessary Huff Post, 7-24-11

JULY 31, 2011: PRESIDENT OBAMA & REPUBLICAN, DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS REACH DEBT DEAL

President Barack Obama makes a statement to the press

White House Photo, Pete Souza, 7/31/11

Obama: Agreement has been reached on raising debt limit: In an evening news conference, President Obama says the debt ceiling deal is not the one he would have preferred, but it will “allow us to avoid default and end the crisis Washington imposed on the rest of America.”

Reid declares debt deal is finished: Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid said Sunday evening that all congressional leaders had agreed to a compromise plan to lift the debt ceiling. “We’re moving forward together,” Reid said. Immediately afterward, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared “there is now a framework” for a deal.

Timeline of the Debt Ceiling Negotiations — NYT

“Is this the deal I would have preferred? No. I believe that we could’ve made the tough choices required on entitlement reform and tax reform right now, rather than through a special Congressional committee process. But this compromise does make a serious down payment on the deficit reduction we need and gives each party a strong incentive to get a balanced plan done before the end of the year.” — President Barack Obama

“My message to the world tonight is that this nation and this Congress are moving forward and we are moving forward together….
“Sometimes it seems, our two sides disagree on almost everything. But in the end, reasonable people were able to agree on this: The United States could not take the chance of defaulting on our debt.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said from the floor of the Senate.

“I am relieved to say that leaders from both parties have come together for the sake of our economy to reach a historic, bipartisan compromise that ends this dangerous standoff.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“This is an important moment for our country…. I think I can say with a high degree of confidence that there is now a framework to review that will ensure significant cuts in Washington spending. And we can assure the American people tonight that the United States of America will not for the first time in our history default on its obligations.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

“I’m going to tell you, this has been a long battle -– we’ve fought valiantly -– and frankly we’ve done it by listening to the American people. And as a result, our framework is now on the table that will end this crisis in a manner that meets our principles of smaller government.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

  • President Obama Announces Debt Deal: Rundown of the Debt Debate 9:25 p.m. ET | President Obama announced Sunday evening that he had reached an agreement with party leaders in Congress that will cut the deficit, raise the debt ceiling and create a bipartisan, bicameral committee of members of Congress to identify further deficit cuts.
    The deal will cut $1 trillion from the deficit over ten years and allow President Obama to raise the debt ceiling in a series of steps that Congress could then vote against, but they would need a likely unattainable two-thirds majority in both chambers to reject the debt limit increase.
    The deficit reduction committee must identify a way to cut at least an additional $1.5 trillion from the deficit over the next ten years and then send that proposal to Congress by the end of the year. If it does not pass, there will be a series of automatic cuts in Medicare and defense and non-defense domestic spending. This measure is meant to force the committee to reach a workable agreement.
    “Is this the deal I would have preferred? No. I believe that we could’ve made the tough choices required on entitlement reform and tax reform right now, rather than through a special Congressional committee process. But this compromise does make a serious down payment on the deficit reduction we need and gives each party a strong incentive to get a balanced plan done before the end of the year,” President Obama said. “Most importantly it would allow us to avoid default and end the crisis that Washington imposed on the rest of America. It ensures also that we will not face this same kind of crisis in six months, or eight months or 12 months.”
    President Obama urged members of Congress to support the deal, but that support is not guaranteed. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, held a conference call Sunday evening to sell the deal to House Republicans. He used this slide show to make his case.
    The Senate will also have to vote to pass the plan, but the math is more uncertain in the House, where Democratic votes will be needed to pass a bill that some conservative Republicans will likely reject. The deal must be passed in both chambers before 12 a.m. Wednesday in order to avoid a default on the debt and an overnight reduction of 40 percent of government spending…. – PBS Newshour, 7-31-11
  • Obama, Congress reach a debt deal: Ending a perilous stalemate, President Barack Obama announced agreement Sunday night with Republican congressional leaders on a compromise to avoid the nation’s first-ever financial default. The deal would cut more than $2 trillion from federal spending over a decade.
    Default “would have had a devastating effect on our economy,” Obama said at the White House, relaying the news to the American people and financial markets around the world. He thanked the leaders of both parties.
    House Speaker John Boehner telephoned Obama at mid-evening to say the agreement had been struck, officials said.
    No votes were expected in either house of Congress until Monday at the earliest, to give rank-and-file lawmakers time to review the package. But leaders in both parties were already beginning the work of rounding up votes…. – AP, 7-31-11
  • It’s a deal: Obama, Congress will avert default: Ending a perilous stalemate, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders announced historic agreement Sunday night on emergency legislation to avert the nation’s first-ever financial default.
    The dramatic resolution lifted a cloud that had threatened the still-fragile economic recovery at home – and it instantly powered a rise in financial markets overseas.
    The agreement would slice at least $2.4 trillion from federal spending over a decade, a steep price for many Democrats, too little for many Republicans. The Treasury’s authority to borrow would be extended beyond the 2012 elections, a key objective for Obama, though the president had to give up his insistence on raising taxes on wealthy Americans to reduce deficits… – AP, 7-31-11
  • Obama announces deal reached to end debt crisis: President Barack Obama announced on Sunday that Democrats and Republicans leaders have reached an agreement to reduce the U.S. deficit and avoid default. Obama said the agreement will cut about $1 trillion over 10 years…. – Reuters, 7-31-11
  • Obama announces debt deal to end U.S. debt crisis: President Barack Obama said on Sunday that Democrat and Republican leaders have reached an agreement to reduce the U.S. deficit and avoid default, but it was not clear if the spending cuts were deep enough to stave off a credit rating downgrade.
    Obama said the agreement will cut about $1 trillion over 10 years and cuts would not happen so quickly that they would drag on the fragile U.S. economy. Another $1.2 trillion would be cut if a joint committee fails to find at least that much in budget savings.
    The deal would still have to be passed in the House and the Senate.
    U.S. S&P 500 stock futures bounced 1.4 percent and U.S. Treasuries futures slid on news of the deal. Gold and then yen also fell.
    Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s rating agencies indicated earlier that deficit-cutting measures of around $4 trillion would be enough for the U.S. to avoid losing its prized AAA rating…. – Reuters, 7-31-11
  • Leaders Report Accord on Debt Limit Increase: 9:05 p.m. | Updated Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress announced Sunday night that they have reached a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and avert a default.
    President Obama spoke moments later at the White House, telling reporters that “the leaders of both parties in both chambers have reached an agreement that will reduce the deficit and avoid a default.”
    “My message to the world tonight is that this nation and this Congress are moving forward and we are moving forward together,” Senator Harry Reid of Nevada said from the floor of the Senate.
    Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader said “there is now a framework to review that will ensure significant cuts in Washington’s spending.”
    The announcement came even as House Speaker John A. Boehner was holding conference call with Republican House members.
    In the Senate, Mr. Reid called the deal a “historic bipartisan compromise” and said it is “remarkable” for what it does and for what it prevents: a “first-ever default on the full faith and credit of the United States.”
    “Sometimes it seems, our two sides disagree on almost everything,” he said. “But in the end, reasonable people were able to agree on this: The United States could not take the chance of defaulting on our debt.”
    “This is an important moment for our country,” Mr. McConnell said, adding later that “I think I can say with a high degree of confidence that there is now a framework to review that will ensure significant cuts in Washington spending. And we can assure the American people tonight that the United States of America will not for the first time in our history default on its obligations.”… – NYT, 7-31-11
  • White House, congressional leaders reach debt deal: Two days before the deadline for a possible U.S. government default, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders reached agreement Sunday on a legislative package that would extend the federal debt ceiling while cutting spending and guaranteeing further deficit-reduction steps.
    The proposed $3 trillion deal, which still requires congressional approval, brought some immediate relief to global markets closely watching the situation play out and a nation filled with anger and frustration over partisan political wrangling that threatened further economic harm to an already struggling recovery…. – CNN, 7-31-11
  • Leaders agree on framework of a deal to end the debt crisis: President Barack Obama and congressional leaders of both parties said late Sunday that they had agreed to a framework for a budget deal that would cut trillions of dollars in federal spending over the next decade and clear the way for an increase in the government’s borrowing limit.
    With the health of the fragile economy hanging in the balance and financial markets watching closely, the leaders said they would present the compromise to their caucuses Monday morning in hopes of narrowly averting a default before a Tuesday deadline.
    Obama spoke from the White House on Sunday night, telling reporters that “the leaders of both parties in both chambers have reached an agreement that will reduce the deficit and avoid a default.”
    Just before Obama spoke on TV, the two Senate leaders, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, took the floor to endorse the pact as well.
    “I am relieved to say that leaders from both parties have come together for the sake of our economy to reach a historic, bipartisan compromise that ends this dangerous standoff,” said Reid, the majority leader.
    The agreement came after a day of wrangling over Pentagon cuts and must still be sold to the Senate and the House, with the House providing a particular challenge.
    As conversations flowed between the White House and Capitol Hill, Reid, the majority leader, publicly embraced the compromise that would tie deep spending cuts to a debt increase, though
    his plans to bring it to a vote as early as Sunday were put off as was a tentative meeting of Senate Democrats to review it…. – NYT, 7-31-11
  • Obama, Congress Reach Debt Deal: President Barack Obama on Sunday said that leaders of both parties have reached an agreement to lift the U.S. debt ceiling, reduce the federal deficit and avoid a U.S. credit default, an announcement welcomed in early trading on the Asia financial markets.
    Both the U.S. House and Senate were expected to meet Monday to discuss the details of the plan, which calls for increasing the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion through the end of 2012 along with $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction.
    “It will allow us to avoid default,” said Mr. Obama, who spoke at the White House … WSJ, 7-31-11
  • Parties agree to debt-ceiling deal, pending votes in Congress: Senate Majority Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Sunday night that they had come to an agreement on a deal that would raise the federal debt limit and reduce the deficit.
    In back-to-back speeches on the Senate floor, Reid (D-Nev.) called the compact an “historic, bipartisan compromise that ends this dangerous standoff,” while McConnell (R-Ky.) said there was now a framework in place to “ensure significant cuts in Washington spending.”
    “Sometimes it seems our two sides disagree on almost everything. But in the end, reasonable people were able to agree on this: The United States could not take the chance of defaulting on our debt, risking a United States financial collapse and a worldwide depression,” Reid said.
    Speaking from the White House, President Obama acknowledged that the “messy” fight over the nation’s debt and deficits has “taken far too long,” but he thanked leaders for finding “their way toward compromise” and urged Americans to continue putting pressure on lawmakers until the deal is voted out of Congress.
    The agreement “will begin to lift the cloud of debt and the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over our economy,” Obama said.
    As the Senate leaders announced the accord, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) addressed his members on a conference call – briefing them on the outline of the plan.
    “There’s no agreement until we’ve talked to you,” Boehner told the members, according to excerpts of the conversation released by his office.
    All sides planned to meet Monday morning to go over details…. – LAT, 7-31-11
  • Obama, Boehner Announce Agreement to Raise Debt Ceiling, Avoid Default: It took the threat of economic collapse and a long, contentious negotiation — and there will still be votes in Congress before it’s truly done — but lawmakers from both parties and the White House have reached a deal to raise the nation’s credit limit — the debt ceiling — by $2.4 trillion, likely through 2012.
    President Obama made a hastily arranged address from the White House at 8:40 p.m. at the same time House Speaker John Boehner was pitching the deal to House Republicans on a conference call.
    “This will allow us to avoid default, allow us to pay our bills,” the president said.
    On the senate floor, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared alongside Majority Leader Harry Reid and seemed confident that the deal would gain enough support to pass through Congress.
    “We can assure the American people tonight that the United States of America will not for the first time in our history default on its obligations,” he said.
    Boehner told House Republicans, according to an account released by his office, that the framework he and the president have agreed upon is true to the principles of small government because it relies entirely on spending cuts, although it includes promises of entitlement and tax reform in the future…. – ABC News, 7-31-11
  • Obama Says Congressional Leaders Approve Debt-Limit Increase: President Barack Obama said tonight that leaders of both parties in the U.S. House and Senate had approved an agreement to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and cut the federal deficit that must now be sold to Congress.
    “The leaders of both parties in both chambers have reached an agreement that will reduce the deficit and avoid default,” Obama said at the White House. “This compromise does make a serious down payment on the deficit-reduction we need. Most importantly it will allow us to avoid default.”
    Congressional leaders are sifting through the details of the tentative bipartisan agreement to raise the debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion, sufficient to serve the nation’s needs into 2013. They are preparing to sell to members the deal to cut $917 billion in spending over a decade, raising the debt limit initially by $900 billion, and to charge a special committee with finding another $1.5 trillion in deficit savings by the year’s end. They confront an Aug. 2 deadline for approval…. – Bloomberg, 7-31-11
  • Obama Announces Debt-Reduction Deal Approved by Senate, House Leaders: President Obama announced Sunday night that leaders of both parties in both chambers have reached an agreement on a debt-reduction deal that will “lift the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over our economy.”
    According to the president, the deal means an immediate cut of $1 trillion over a 10-year period, followed by the creation of a committee to come up with additional cuts worth $1.5 trillion to be voted on by the end of the year.
    Each chamber will nominate lawmakers to the committee to report back in the fall. Tax hikes are not part of the package and a pledge for a Balanced Budget Amendment vote is.
    Obama said everything will be on the table and both parties will find some of the cuts objectionable.
    The Senate adjourned Sunday night without a vote on a debt reduction deal, but Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said that the parties are going to have to give ground and compromise so the country doesn’t default.
    “I am relieved to say that leaders from both parties have come together for the sake of our economy to reach a historic, bipartisan compromise that ends this dangerous standoff. The compromise we have agreed to is remarkable not only because of what it does, but because of what it prevents: a first-ever default on the full faith and credit of the United States,” Reid said.
    Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell will both present the agreement to their caucuses on Monday morning. Several objections are expected, including from Republican defense hawks who don’t want the military gutted and from the Congressional Black Caucus, which called the deal a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich.”
    House Speaker John Boehner told his Republican caucus on a Sunday night conference call that the deal isn’t done yet.
    “The press has been filled with reports all day about an agreement. There’s no agreement until we’ve talked to you,” he said.
    But Boehner of Ohio said the deal does not violate GOP principles. “We got 98 percent of what we wanted,” he said adding gthat the framework cuts more spending than it raises the debt limit. It also caps future spending to limits in the growth of government.
    “It would also guarantee the American people the vote they have been denied in both chambers on a balanced budget amendment, while creating, I think, some new incentives for past opponents of a BBA to support it,” Boehner said…. – Fox News, 7-31-11
  • Debt deal: Obama, Hill leaders break through: Facing the imminent prospect of default, the White House and congressional leaders reached a debt ceiling deal that gives President Barack Obama greater certainty in managing the Treasury’s borrowing needs while making a joint commitment to major deficit reduction without any explicit concessions by the GOP on new tax revenues.
    Obama announced the deal at 8:40 p.m. on live TV in the White House briefing room as Speaker John Boehner was simultaneously briefing his own Republican conference on the deal.
    “Is this the deal I would have preferred?” No,” Obama said. “We could have made the tough choices required on entitlement reform and tax reform right now rather than through a special congressional committee process. But this compromise does make a serious down payment on the deficit reduction we need … and ensures also that will we not face this same kind of crisis in six months or eight months or twelve months.”
    “Both parties gave more than they wanted,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in making the announcement on the Senate floor. “But that’s the essence of compromise.”
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a central player together with Vice President Joe Biden in the final talks, had been confident all of Sunday that a resolution was possible. But Boehner’s silence had remained a concern for the administration, having twice seen the Ohio Republican walk away from negotiations with the president.
    It was not until the evening that Boehner announced an 8:30 p.m. conference call with his members, and even then his staff said there had no agreement yet on a stubborn dispute over 2012 defense funding. But that issue was resolved finally when it appears the administration agreed to use a broader definition of security spending that also includes funding for Homeland Security, the State Department and foreign aid…. – Politico, 7-31-11
  • President Obama: Deal reached on debt crisis: President Barack Obama announced that an agreement with Republicans has been struck to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for $1 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years.
    Mr. Obama said the deal will result in the lowest level of domestic spending since the Eisenhower administration in the 1950s, but still allow the U.S. to create jobs.
    Still clinging to his idea of a balanced approach, Obama said “we have to ask wealthiest Americans to give up tax breaks,” as well as make modest adjustments to entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
    The second part of the agreement reached was a previously mentioned bipartisan Congressional committee, which will report back by November with a proposal to further reduce the deficit. Their proposals will then be put in front of congress for up or down vote…. – CBS News, 7-31-11
  • Obama: Deal raises debt ceiling and reduces deficits: President Barack Obama announced Sunday an agreement with congressional leaders would extend the federal debt ceiling and reduce deficits.
    He said that, under the debt agreement reached by congressional leaders from both parties, which must still must be approved by lawmakers, a bipartisan commission would report back by November with suggested cuts and potentially revenue increases to address the nation’s budget deficit.
    “At this stage, everything will be on the table,” Obama said of this second round of cuts, which are in addition to an agreed-upon $1 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years.
    Obama said the debt reduction plan that’s been backed by congressional leaders – but that still must be approved by the House and Senate – “ensures that we will not face this kind of crisis in six months, in eight months, or in 12 months.”… – CNN, 7-31-11
  • Harry Reid Supports Debt Ceiling Compromise; Defense Cuts a Sticking Point: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s spokesman says the majority leader has signed off on the debt-ceiling agreement “pending caucus approval,” but there’s nothing yet from Republicans.
    So, what’s the delay? There’s one last bone of contention.
    Republicans are objecting to the amount of defense spending cuts in the first year of the deal. This has nothing to do with the trigger — if further spending cuts are not enacted by Congress next year, the deal would mandate they occur. This disagreement has to do with how much of next year’s cuts will apply to defense.
    Reid is trying to put pressure on House Speaker John Boehner to give in on this last point by saying that everybody is now on board –- except for the Speaker…. – ABC News, 7-31-11

JULY 31, 2011: HARRY REID BACKS DEBT DEAL, SENATE VOTE SUNDAY EVENING

“Senator Reid has signed off on the debt-ceiling agreement pending caucus approval.” — Harry Reid Spokesman Adam Jentleson

“I’ve had, for the information of senators, a number of conversations in the last hour with people downtown – and the arrangement that is being worked on with the Republican leader and the administration and others is not there yet…. We’re hopeful and confident it can be done. As soon as it is done, I’ll let my caucus know.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Reid says hopes to hold Senate debt vote tonight: Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said on Sunday he hopes to hold a Senate vote tonight on an emerging deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling.
Asked if the Senate would vote tonight on the plan, Reid said “we hope to” as he left a meeting with other congressional Democratic leaders… – Reuters, 7-31-11

  • Reid says he has signed onto a debt ceiling deal: The Senate’s top Democrat said Sunday that he has signed onto a debt ceiling deal with President Barack Obama and Republican leaders, pending approval of his caucus.
    The statement from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, was the first confirmation of a pending deal after legislative leaders dropped hints all day that an agreement was close… – CNN, 7-31-11
  • Reid Backs Debt Deal and Hopes for Sunday Night Debt Vote: 5:29 p.m. | Updated A spokesman for Senator Harry Reid said the Senate majority leader has “signed off on the debt-ceiling agreement pending caucus approval.”
    Mr. Reid, a Nevada Democrat, also raised the possibility that his chamber might vote as early as Sunday night on a yet-to-be-announced debt ceiling compromise designed to avert a potential economic crisis this week. When he emerged from a two-hour meeting with other Democratic lawmakers and was asked whether the Senate would vote on a deal Sunday.
    “I hope so,” he told a swarm of reporters.
    A Sunday vote seemed unlikely just a few hours earlier as top lawmakers and the White House continued to work behind closed doors to finalize a debt agreement that would cut spending by more than $2.5 trillion and raise the debt ceiling into 2013…. – NYT, 7-31-11
  • Amid New Talks, Some Optimism on Debt Crisis: New budget talks between top Congressional Republicans and President Obama made progress late Saturday, suddenly stirring optimism that a last-minute deal could be reached to avert a potential federal default that threatened significant economic and political consequences.
    After a tense day of Congressional floor fights and angry exchanges, Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, called off a planned showdown vote set for after midnight, but said he would convene the Senate at noon on Sunday for a vote an hour later. He said he wanted to give the new negotiations a chance to produce a plan to raise the federal debt limit in exchange for spending cuts and the creation of a new Congressional committee that would try to assemble a long-range deficit-cutting proposal.
    “There are many elements to be finalized and there is still a distance to go before an arrangement can be completed,” said Mr. Reid, who just a few hours earlier had played down talk of any agreement. “But I believe we should give everyone as much room as possible to do their work.”
    Mr. Reid’s announcement set off an almost audible sigh of relief on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers and their aides had been bracing for an overnight clash over the debt following a day that had seen a heated House vote and lawmakers trudging from office to office in search of an answer to the impasse…. – NYT, 7-31-11
  • White House, GOP race toward debt compromise: Just two days before the federal government’s Aug. 2 deadline to avoid economic default, lawmakers and White House negotiators are scrambling to hammer out an agreement for raising the debt ceiling – but despite talk of an impending deal, leading Democrats say they’re “not there yet.”
    Just minutes after Senate Republicans voted to block Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Democratic bill to raise the nation’s borrowing limit on Sunday, lawmakers turned their focus to ongoing negotiations between President Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who are working on a deal that would extend the debt limit through 2012 and cut up to $3 trillion in spending during the next 10 years.
    That deal proposes $3 trillion in cuts that would come in two waves. The first wave would include $1 trillion in reductions. A bipartisan “super congressional committee” would then need to determine the second round of cuts by Thanksgiving of 2011. If Congress failed to agree on that second round of cuts, automatic “trigger” cuts would be made.
    McConnell said Sunday afternoon that negotiators were “really, really close to an agreement,” but leading Democrats maintain that the deal is “not there yet.”… – CBS News, 7-31-11
  • ‘Really close’ to debt deal as deadline nears: Racing to avoid a government default, President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders reached urgently for a compromise Sunday to permit vital borrowing by the Treasury in exchange for more than $2 trillion in long-term spending cuts. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the two sides were “really, really close” to a deal after months of partisan fighting. Yet he and others stressed that no compromise had been sealed, just two days before a deadline to raise the federal debt limit and enable the government to keep paying its bills.
    As contemplated under a deal that McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden were negotiating, the federal debt limit would rise in two stages by at least $2.2 trillion, enough to tide the Treasury over until after the 2012 elections…. – AP, 7-31-11
  • Political left and right decry debt-ceiling deal: Signs are emerging that a possible compromise to raise the debt ceiling doesn’t pass muster with those on the political left or right…. – USA Today, 7-31-11

JULY 31, 2011: DEBT TALKS CONTINUE — DEBT DEAL BETWEEN REPUBLICAN LEADERS & WHITE HOUSE CLOSE AT HAND — SENATE REPUBLICAN’S DEFEAT HARRY REID’S DEBT BILL

Harry Reid’s debt deal defeated: As expected, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s deal to raise the debt ceiling by $2.2 trillion was defeated in the Senate on Sunday afternoon.
But Senate leaders and the White House continued on Sunday to craft the outlines of a deal to avoid default on Aug. 2 that seemed to be gaining momentum.

Senate Blocks Reid’s Debt Ceiling Bill: As last-ditch budget talks between top Congressional Republicans and President Obama continued on Sunday, Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, convened the Senate at noon, then moved to a symbolic procedural vote on his own proposal for raising the debt ceiling. Senate Republicans have been filibustering that plan, which House Republicans rejected on Saturday, and the procedural vote on breaking the filibuster fell 10 votes short of the 60 votes needed under Senate rules…. – NYT, 7-31-11

“I believe there will be a strong bipartisan support for this. Again, this deal has not been finalized yet, but I think we’re very, very close to something that I could comfortably recommend to my members, and I believe the Democratic leadership will be doing the same…. I’m sure there will be both Democrats and Republicans who in the end find the agreement wanting in one way or another…. My party controls only a portion of government. There’s only so much you can achieve when you don’t have the leverage of power.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday morning

“There are still elements to be resolved…. We are cautiously optimistic.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

“The enforcement mechanism has to be strong enough to compel both parties. We’re talking about a variety of options.” — White House political adviser David Plouffe, on ABC’s “This Week.”

“We haven’t even seen it yet. (Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid and Democrats in the Senate have not signed off on this deal. We don’t even know what all the details are. So we’re not yet ready to try and urge anybody to be for it…. The key with the trigger is one word: Equality. It should be equally tough on Democrats and Republicans.” — Senator Chuck Schumer

“Discussions are underway on legislation that will cut government spending more than it increases the debt limit, and advance the cause of the balanced budget amendment, without job-killing tax hikes. Those talks are moving in the right direction, but serious issues remain. And no agreement will be final until members have a chance to weigh in. I would expect a conference call for members later this afternoon.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner email to House Republicans

“Discussions are moving in the right direction, but serious issues remain. And no agreement will be final until members have a chance to weigh in.” — A House Republican leadership aide

  • SNAPSHOT-U.S. lawmakers close to deal on debt: Here is what is happening on Sunday as lawmakers and the White House race to broker a deal to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion borrowing cap by Tuesday’s deadline and avoid default on obligations…. – Reuters, 7-31-11
  • FACTBOX-Key elements of possible U.S. debt deal: U.S. lawmakers were working furiously on Sunday to hammer out details of a deal to raise the U.S. borrowing limit and put in place a deficit-reduction plan to help avert a potentially catastrophic debt default.
    Lawmakers, administration officials and aides have made clear that they have yet to agree on the final deal. But they did provide the following details of how the deal is taking shape…. – Reuters, 7-31-11
  • Reid: ‘cautiously optimistic’ on US debt deal: U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said on Sunday he was “cautiously optimistic” that Congress can reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling, but several issues still must be settled.
    “We are cautiously optimistic. There are a number of issues that need to be resolved,” Reid said in remarks on the Senate floor…. – Reuters, 7-31-11
  • Reid: ‘We still have a ways to go’: Reporters caught Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid walking from his office to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office on the House side. His message: There’s not a deal yet, but getting one before the Aug. 2 deadline is in sight.
    “We don’t have the content of what the trigger would be,” he said. “We have a few things we’re still working on and there simply not done yet.”
    When asked if he’s closer to a deal, Reid replied, “Well, closer than yesterday, but we still have a ways to go.”… – MSNBC, 7-31-11
  • Senators Hold Out Hope for Debt Measure Compromise: For once in the long debate on lifting the nation’s debt ceiling, Democrats and Republicans are talking about progress finding a compromise. The Senate is expected to vote on a measure Sunday that would lift the ceiling while calling for $3 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years…. – Portfolio, 7-31-11
  • McConnell: Boehner, Obama ‘wasted’ a week: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took a little swipe Sunday at House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Barack Obama, charging they both “wasted” a week by chucking bombs at each other. “We kind of wasted a week throwing volleys at each other across the Capitol,” McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday.” The deal, he says, was essentially at hand a week ago… – Politico, 7-31-11
  • ‘Really close’ to debt deal as deadline nears: Racing to avoid a government default, President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders reached urgently for a compromise Sunday to permit vital borrowing by the Treasury in exchange for more than $2 trillion in long-term spending cuts. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the two sides were “really, really close” to a deal after months of partisan fighting. Yet he and others stressed that no compromise had been sealed, just two days before a deadline to raise the federal debt limit and enable the government to keep paying its bills.
    As contemplated under a deal that McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden were negotiating, the federal debt limit would rise in two stages by at least $2.2 trillion, enough to tide the Treasury over until after the 2012 elections…. – AP, 7-31-11
  • Senate Blocks Reid’s Debt Ceiling Plan; Talks Continue: Last-ditch budget talks between top Congressional Republicans and President Obama continued on Sunday, as the top Senate Republican and Democrat both expressed optimism that a $3 trillion deal could be reached to avert the economic and political calamity of a potential federal default.
    But without a compromise in hand, the divided Senate could not break a filibuster and went wearily into recess while the leaders resumed their search for something that could pass.
    Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, had convened the Senate at noon, then moved to a procedural vote on his own proposal for raising the debt ceiling. Senate Republicans had been filibustering that plan, which House Republicans rejected on Saturday, and the vote on breaking the filibuster fell 10 votes short of the 60 votes needed under Senate rules. Even so, Mr. Reid said before the cloture vote that he was “cautiously optimistic” that an agreement could be reached today that would make it possible for the Senate to amend his bill and gain bipartisan approval in both chambers…. – NYT, 7-31-11
  • Senate Defeats Reid Plan; Leaders Work to Finalize Deal Today: After the Senate voted this afternoon to defeat Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan to increase the debt limit, Congressional leaders and staff are continuing to work out the final details of a bipartisan agreement to raise the debt ceiling that can pass through Congress before a lurking financial crisis is fully upon the country.
    The Senate voted largely down party lines to block legislation proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that would raise the debt limit by $2.4 trillion and cut spending by $2.4 trillion. The House voted Saturday afternoon to defeat legislation crafted after the Reid bill’s language.
    The cloture vote to end a GOP filibuster failed 50-49 and required 60 votes to pass. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts was the only Senate Republican to vote with the Democrats…. – ABC News, 7-31-11
  • Senate Negotiators Scramble to Finalize Debt Deal After Reid Bill Tanks: Senate leaders scrambled to finalize an emerging compromise on the debt ceiling Sunday, with pressure building to produce a bill that can somehow sail through both chambers in the next two days.
    Congress is running out of time for do-overs, with lawmakers facing an Aug. 2 deadline to either raise the debt cap or face the possibility of default.
    The Senate, after voting against House Republicans’ proposal Friday night, effectively killed Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s counterproposal Sunday afternoon. Sixty votes were required to advance the proposal, and it fell far short in a 50-49 roll call. While the test vote was expected to fail, the outcome stressed how important it is for the latest round of talks to produce a viable alternative.
    Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said talks are proceeding at a furious pace, with Vice President Biden deeply involved…. – Fox News, 7-31-11
  • Senate conservatives say they don’t plan to delay consideration of debt-limit deal: Senate Republican conservatives say they do not plan to delay a bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling, giving Congress a chance to make the Aug. 2 deadline set by President Obama.
    If any member of the Senate withholds his or her consent to speed up the chamber’s floor procedures, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could not pass legislation to raise the debt limit before Wednesday, according to a Senate aide.
    But conservatives, including members of the Tea Party Caucus, say they do not plan to blow up the floor proceedings in protest of a deal that does not include passage of a balanced budget amendment… – The Hill, 7-31-11
  • Griping begins as debt deal specifics emerge: Members of Congress from both parties fear their leaders may have conceded too much ground in an emerging deal to raise the debt ceiling, a sign of how difficult it’ll be for a sweeping plan to be signed into law before the government begins to default on its debt later this week…. – Politico, 7-31-11
  • Outcry From the Left Precedes Debt Deal: Liberals began tearing into President Obama and Democrats on Sunday, accusing them of caving to Republican demands even before final details of a debt ceiling agreement have been announced…. – NYT, 7-31-11
  • Senate shelves Reid bill as final debt-ceiling plan comes into focus: The Senate floor during a procedural vote on a Democratic plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
    The Senate failed to advance debt-ceiling legislation moved by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, even as lawmakers say progress is being made on a final agreement that they hope can pass before the Aug. 2 deadline to avoid a federal default.
    The vote, initially planned for late Saturday, ultimately proved inconsequential, with leaders working to agree on terms of a new plan. The Senate could return to vote on it Sunday evening if an agreement is reached.
    “We’re cautiously optimistic,” Reid said earlier of talks with his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. But he added: “As we know, one problem can stop the whole agreement from going forward.”
    Reid said he’s also spoken with Vice President Joe Biden, who is playing a key role in the frenetic final days before the nation could lose the authority to continue borrowing money to pay its bills…. – LAT, 7-31-11
  • Debt Deal Appears to Be At Hand: 1:40 p.m. ET | The Senate blocked a final vote on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s original debt limit bill Sunday afternoon, while negotiations over a final deal continue among congressional leaders and the White House.
    Sen. Reid’s bill will be used as the legislative vehicle to enact whatever deal might be reached. Reid said he was confident a deal could be reached, but that it was not done yet.
    The measure needed 60 votes to proceed, but the vote was 50 to 49.
    11:05 a.m. ET update from David Chalian | A deal between President Obama and bipartisan congressional leaders on raising the nation’s debt limit and averting the risk of default appears to be at hand.
    According to congressional leaders of both parties and senior White House officials, the finishing touches on an agreement to reduce the deficit and raise the debt ceiling before a Tuesday deadline are being hammered out Sunday morning with an expected agreement slated to receive a vote in the Senate in the afternoon…. – PBS Newshour, 7-31-11
  • Compromise Debt Deal in Sight: With the risk of a government default less than three days away, congressional leaders on Sunday said they were getting closer to a deal that raises the government’s borrowing limit and resolves the federal debt crisis.
    “I can pretty confidently say this debt-ceiling increase will avoid default,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said Sunday on CNN.
    The White House and congressional leaders are scrambling to agree on a deal before Aug. 2 to raise the U.S. federal borrowing limit. Follow developments in Washington and reaction globally here.
    Sen. Charles Schumer, a top Democrat from New York, also speaking on CNN, said there was no “final agreement” but that default was “far less of a possibility now than it was even a day ago.” He added, “If there’s a word right here that would sum up the mood, it’s ‘relief.’ ”
    Washington leaders face a Tuesday deadline by which the nation’s $14.29 trillion borrowing limit needs to be increased so the government can meet its financial obligations.
    The framework emerging over the weekend likely would allow an immediate increase to the debt ceiling, lasting through the end of 2011, accompanied by government spending reductions of roughly $1 trillion over 10 years.
    To get through 2012, Congress would form a special committee made up of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans to negotiate up to $2 trillion in additional cuts as part of a package containing a further debt-ceiling increase…. – WSJ, 7-31-11
  • Debt-limit agreement begins to take shape: Senate leaders said Sunday that they are nearing agreement on a debt-limit increase of up to $3 trillion that would include many of the ideas both Democrats and Republicans have floated in recent weeks to try to rein in future spending.
    “There is no agreement that has been made, but we’re optimistic one can be,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said on the chamber floor as he opened up a rare Sunday session.
    He said there are plenty of outstanding issues, but he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said the outlines include a multi-step, long-term debt increase of about $3 trillion, a vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and a special committee to propose future deficit reduction.
    That committee’s report would come to both chambers under expedited rules that would ensure a vote…. – Washington Times, 7-31-11
  • Debt Limit Agreement ‘Very Close’ to Coming Together: President Obama and congressional leaders are “very close” to reaching a compromise to raise the nation’s debt limit before the August 2 deadline.
    “We’re very close” to a debt limit deal, said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
    The sticking points in negotiations were over tax increases. Republicans would not support a bill that had tax increases, or revenue increases eliminating tax deductions. Democrats would not support a bill that did not include revenue increases. Democrats also said they would not support a bill that made cuts to entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security). President Obama wanted a debt limit increase large enough that it would not have to be increased again until after the 2012 elections. Tea Party Republicans said they wanted Congress to pass a balanced budget amendment before the debt ceiling was increased.
    The compromise that is reportedly being worked on would give Republicans what they want (no tax increases), Democrats what they want (no cuts to entitlements), and Obama what he wants (a limit that will last past 2012)…. – Christian Post, 7-31-11
  • McConnell: “Very close” on deal to avoid default: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Sunday that Republicans and White House negotiators were “very close” to a deal on raising the debt ceiling and that an agreement that would prevent the nation from defaulting on its loans was “just within our reach.”
    In an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” McConnell expressed confidence that Congress and the White House could reach a compromise before the Tuesday’s deadline and that “we’ll avoid default, avoid raising taxes and begin to get the government’s house in order by dealing with our biggest problem, which is that we’ve been spending entirely too much.” “We’ve come a long way,” he told CBS’ Bob Schieffer.
    Republicans and Democrats are negotiating a deal that would extend the debt limit through 2012 and cut up to $3 trillion in spending over the next 10 years…. – CBS News, 7-31-11
  • Reid: Cautiously optimistic on debt limit deal: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he’s cautiously optimistic that President Barack Obama and congressional lawmakers will come to a deal on raising the debt limit. But the Nevada Democrat emphasizes that no agreement has been reached.
    Reid’s Republican counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell, also says that negotiators are close to an agreement.
    The Senate takes a test vote at 1 p.m. Sunday to move the debate forward…. – AP, 7-31-11
  • Debt Deal ‘Near’; Members Still to be Consulted: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives on Capitol Hill for a postponed vote on the debt ceiling on July 31, 2011 in Washington, D.C.
    Under the threat of a catastrophic U.S. default in three days, congressional leaders and the White House neared agreement Sunday on a plan to lift the debt ceiling and slash $2.8 trillion from the federal deficit in two stages.
    With a final deal expected to be in place as early as Sunday afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said negotiators are “very, very close” to a deal. Both McConnell and a House GOP leadership aide warned that any agreement will need to be run by members first. Republican members of the Senate were set to meet in the early afternoon…. National Journal, 7-31-11
  • Debt deal still has ‘serious issues,’ says John Boehner: Speaker John Boehner emailed his House Republican colleagues Sunday afternoon acknowledging momentum in negotiations with the White House over a deficit reduction package, but we warned that “serious issues remain.” The Ohio Republican told lawmakers to expect a conference call Sunday afternoon.
    “Discussions are underway on legislation that will cut government spending more than it increases the debt limit, and advance the cause of the balanced budget amendment, without job-killing tax hikes. Those talks are moving in the right direction, but serious issues remain. And no agreement will be final until members have a chance to weigh in. I would expect a conference call for members later this afternoon,” the email to House Republicans read.
    Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) kept the House in session this weekend, with lawmakers staying in Washington awaiting a deal. The House was in on Saturday, and is in a pro forma session Sunday with no votes. The message from Boehner indicates that he will unveil the framework of some compromise this afternoon. It’s also the first indication from Republican leadership that a deal is in the offing…. – Politico, 7-31-11
  • Senate GOP votes to watch in debt-limit drama: Getting any kind of deal to raise the debt limit in the Senate is tricky because 60 votes are needed to break logjams.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., controls 53 votes: 51 Democratic senators and independents Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has 47 GOP senators in his caucus.
    There are at least two groups — moderates and Tea Party supporters — within the Senate GOP to watch as the drama over raising the debt limit continues to unfold:
    Moderates: Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine declined on Saturday to sign a letter opposing Reid’s plan to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion in borrowing authority. Brown and Snowe are facing potentially tough re-election fights in 2012…. USA Today, 7-31-11
  • White House: “We don’t have a deal” on debt bill: A top White House official says “we don’t have a deal” between President Obama and Republicans in Congress to avoid a crippling default.
    But senior White House adviser David Plouffe tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that both sides are generally in agreement on an emerging package that would cut the deficit in two stages, with key details still being worked out.
    Plouffe suggests that negotiations are still focused on how to compel Congress to approve a deficit-cutting plan of tax and entitlement reform later this year.
    Mr. Obama is adamant that the nation’s debt limit be extended into 2013 without being tied to that vote. Republicans want the debt limit to be the “trigger” to force Congress to act…. – CBS News, 7-31-11
  • House Republican to Obama: Stop Tweeting About the Debt Ceiling: A top House Republican mocked President Obama for trying to leverage his Twitter bully pulpit to pressure Congress into approving a debt-limit deal.
    The president took directly to Twitter on Friday to urge followers to inundate Congress with calls for a bipartisan compromise. The plan may have backfired — while some followers indeed voiced their concerns to Congress, tens of thousands cut ties with the president’s Twitter account after being inundated with his messages,
    Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the House Republican whip, urged the president to take a different approach.
    “You cannot be the leader of the free world and sit on the sidelines and tweet and think you’re going to get the job done,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” …
    “We have been out front negotiating, “McCarthy said…. – Fox News, 7-31-11
  • Senate debt vote delayed, but Harry Reid optimistic: A vote is set for around midday Sunday, as the Senate majority leader speaks of a ‘move toward cooperation and compromise.’… – LAT, 7-31-11

JULY 31, 2011: PROMISING DEBT PLAN NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN REPUBLICAN LEADERS & OBAMA WHITE HOUSE — SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL ANNOUNCES BEING CLOSE TO A DEAL

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says Congress, White House “very close” to deal: With the default deadline two days away, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Sunday morning that Congress and the White House were “very close” to a framework for a deal that he could recommend his members support.
The deal would contain $3 trillion in spending cuts and no tax increases.
“We’ll avoid default,” McConnell said. “We’re not going to have default.”

“You’ll see that this is a process that could get him (President Obama) past the election. We’re working on the combinations that will get us there. I’m particularly appreciative that we’re now back talking to the only person in America who can sign something into law and that’s the president of the United States.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on CNN’s State of the Union

“If there’s a word that would right here that would sum up the mood, it would be relief. … default is far less of a possibility now than it was a day ago.” — Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

“There are many elements to be finalized and there is still a distance to go before an arrangement can be completed. But I believe we should give everyone as much room as possible to do their work…. I’m glad to see this move toward cooperation and compromise. I hope it bears fruit” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

    • McConnell: ‘We’re very close’ to a deal: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that a deal to raise the debt ceiling is “very close.” Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the Kentucky senator said Republicans and Democrats “made dramatic progress” Saturday over a $3 trillion package of spending cuts that would not include tax increases.
      McConnell said he is “very very close to being able … to recommend to my members that this is something that they ought to support.”… – CNN, 7-31-11
    • McConnell says U.S. deficit deal is “very close”: Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Sunday that U.S. deficit negotiations are “very close” to a $3 trillion deal to raise the federal debt limit.
      McConnell told CNN he hoped the deal would come soon and was confident that it would not raise taxes but set the stage for further deficit reductions down the road.
      He said he expected a deal that he could recommend would win “a significant percentage” of Republican support…. – Reuters, 7-31-11
    • Senate To Hold Afternoon Vote On Possible Debt Solution: Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. appear to be making progress on a solution to the nation’s debt crisis as Tuesday’s deadline draws closer.
      Officials close to the talks say the White House and Republican leaders in Congress are nearing a last-minute agreement to avoid the first U.S. default in history.
      The plan under discussion would raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit by about $2.4 trillion and enact spending cuts of a slightly larger amount in two stages.
      The deal would also require Congress to vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, but not require its approval.
      At the request of the White House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pushed off a test vote on his debt limit bill from 1 a.m. until this afternoon.
      The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has already voted against the measure.
      Senator Charles Schumer reportedly warned that there is still much discussion to be done, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say a deal appears to be in sight…. – NY1 News, 7-31-11
    • McConnell Sees Deal “Very Close”; Focus Is on Triggers for Cuts: Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said Sunday morning that he is “very close” to recommending to his members that they sign on to a debt deal with President Obama and the Democrats.
      Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. McConnell said the deal includes as much as $3 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years, with much of that decided later this year by a joint congressional committee.
      “What conservatives want to do is cut spending,” he said. “We’ve come a long way. This agreement is likely to encompass up to $3 trillion is spending cuts.”
      In addition, Mr. McConnell said the agreement would allow votes in Congress on a balanced budget amendment.
      Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, a top Democrat in the Senate, cautioned that “there is no final agreement. No one has signed off on a final agreement.”… – NYT, 7-31-11
    • Obama aide, GOP leader say they are close to debt deal: President Obama and congressional Republicans are close to nailing down a debt ceiling deal just two days before a possible government default, negotiators said today.
      White House adviser David Plouffe told NBC’s Meet The Press that “we don’t have deal,” but there has been progress and “today is a critical day.”
      Over on CNN’s State of the Union, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, said “we’re very close” and “had a very good day yesterday.”
      With details still to be worked, the proposed agreement in general includes a short-term increase in the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling; a second debt limit hike would depend on a debt reduction plans to be recommended by a special congressional committee.
      Plouffe said the committee would look at “our entire deficit reduction problem,” including tax reform and new government revenues…. – USA Today, 7-31-11
    • Debt deal negotiators getting close: The White House and Republican leaders are closing in on a debt ceiling deal giving President Barack Obama greater certainty in managing the Treasury’s borrowing needs while making a joint commitment to major deficit reductions without any explicit concessions by the GOP on new tax revenues.
      Both sides stress that nothing is yet final, but the contours suggest a more practical approach by Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to achieve many of the party’s goals without pushing Obama and the nation into default.
      Quoting a figure of $3 trillion though declining to provide details, McConnell confirmed Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union” that both sides were close to a deal. “We’ve made dramatic progress in that direction,” he told Gloria Borger.
      Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), speaking on the same CNN show, also said a deal was close, “If there’s a word that would right here that would sum up the mood, it would be relief. … default is far less of a possibility now than it was a day ago.”… – Politico, 7-31-11
    • McConnell says very close to deal on debt ceiling: Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says negotiators are “very close” to nailing down an agreement that would avert a default of the nation’s debt obligations.
      McConnell tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that lawmakers are looking at a $3 trillion package that would raise the debt ceiling in two stages through the elections next year.
      McConnell says he is hopeful he will soon have a deal that he can recommend to his fellow Republicans.
      On the Democratic side, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York cautions that “there is no final agreement” and that much remains to be discussed…. – AP, 7-31-11
    • U.S. lawmakers ‘very close’ to debt deal, Senate Republican leader says: The top Republican in the Senate said Congress and the White House were very close to a deal on raising the limit on U.S. borrowing that would avert an unprecedented default on America’s debt, ending one of the nastiest partisan fights in recent memory.
      Senate Majority Leader Mitchell McConnell said he was very close to being able to recommend the tentative agreement to Republicans in the upper chamber. It would, he said, likely extend U.S. borrowing authority, which expires on Tuesday, beyond the 2012 presidential and congressional elections, a fundamental demand of President Barack Obama.
      At the same time, the agreement would include none of tax increases Mr. Obama has sought and Republicans had steadfastly rejected. It also includes, he said, the requirement that both houses of Congress vote on a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. That outcome of that vote, however, would have no effect on raising the debt limit…. – AP, 7-31-11
    • Debt deadline may provide another Mitch McConnell moment: A man of few words but vast behind-the-scenes power: Just days before the Aug. 2 debt-ceiling deadline, the Republican Senate minority leader has held back from fully engaging in the negotiations. But congressional insiders have long viewed McConnell as the real linchpin to a bipartisan agreement…. – WaPo, 7-31-11
    • Debt-ceiling compromise taking shape: What’s in it?: The details of an emerging debt-ceiling compromise are unconfirmed and could change, but they appear currently to involve parts of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s ‘last choice’ option, as well as a trigger to ensure promised spending cuts take place…. – CS Monitor, 7-31-11

Senate debt vote delayed in quest for elusive compromise: The Senate’s top Democrat sounds a newly optimistic tone as a key test vote is delayed to midday Sunday, but is Congress now too partisan to settle on any middle ground?… – LAT, 7-30-11

  • Senate debt vote delay is sign of hope: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is in active negotiation with the White House on a debt ceiling deal, and Democrats agreed late Saturday night to postpone a partisan-tinged cloture vote to give time for both sides to find a compromise.
    “There are many elements to be finalized, and there is still a distance to go before any arrangement can be completed,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “But I believe we should give everyone as much room as possible to do their work.”
    “I’m glad to see this move toward cooperation and compromise. I hope it bears fruit.”
    Just hours before Reid had sparred on the floor with McConnell over the seriousness of his efforts, and Reid’s change of tone — and tactics — suggested that real progress had been made. “We’re getting close,” said one GOP leadership aide, with knowledge of the discussions.
    “In the category of getting serious, I have spoken to both the president and the vice president within the last hour,” McConnell had told reporters earlier in day in a joint appearance with Speaker John Boehner. “We are now fully engaged, the speaker and I, with the one person in America out of 307 million people who can sign a bill into law. I’m confident and optimistic that we’re going to get an agreement in the very near future and resolve this crisis in the best interests of the American people.”
    Boehner echoed McConnell’s statement, saying he believed that “we are going to be able to come to some sort of agreement.” But the speaker appears to have had no contact himself with President Barack Obama Saturday, while McConnell spoke to the president and reached out to Biden, after which the two men engaged in at least four back-and-forth phone calls through the day…. – Politico, 7-30-11
  • Optimism starting to creep into debt crisis: New budget talks between top congressional Republicans and President Barack Obama made progress late Saturday, suddenly stirring optimism that a last-minute deal could be reached to avert a potential federal default that threatened significant economic and political consequences.
    After a tense day of congressional floor fights and angry exchanges, Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader, called off a planned showdown vote set for after midnight but said he would convene the Senate at noon Sunday for a vote an hour later. He said he wanted to give the new negotiations a chance to produce a plan to raise the federal debt limit in exchange for spending cuts and the creation of a new congressional committee that would try to assemble a long-range deficit-cutting proposal.
    “There are many elements to be finalized and there is still a distance to go before an arrangement can be completed,” said Reid, who just a few hours earlier had played down talk of any agreement. “But I believe we should give everyone as much room as possible to do their work.”
    Reid’s announcement set off an almost audible sigh of relief on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers and their aides had been bracing for an overnight clash over the debt following a day that had seen a heated House vote and lawmakers trudging from office to office in search of an answer to the impasse…. – NYT, 7-31-11

JULY 30, 2011: OBAMA, WHITE HOUSE RESTARTS NEGOTIATION WITH SENATE/HOUSE DEMOCRATIC & REPUBLICAN LEADERS — REID DELAYS SENATE DEBT PLAN VOTE UNTIL SUNDAY

Reid delays debt vote: Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid announced late Saturday that negotiations with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the White House had made enough progress that he would delay consideration of his own legislation to avert the debt crisis. Rather than a 1 a.m. Sunday vote, Reid said he would give the negotiators room to maneuver and set a 1 p.m. Sunday vote on his bill — which McConnell has already assured would be defeated.

“I’m glad to see this move toward cooperation and compromise. I hope it bears fruit. I’m confident that a final agreement that will adopt the Senate’s long-term approach, rather than the short-term Band-Aid proposed by the House of Representatives, will move forward.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“I’m confident and optimistic that we’re going to get an agreement in the very near future and resolve this crisis in the best interest of the American peopl. Our country is not going to default for the first time in history. We have now, I think, a level of seriousness with the right people at the table we needed…. We’re going to get a result.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky

“I just spent two hours with the president, the vice president and the agreement is not in a meaningful way. The Republicans still refuse to negotiate in good faith.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada

Speaker Boehner: Time for President Obama to Tell Us His Plan for Ending this Crisis: In a press conference with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) highlighted the House-passed Budget Control Act – which was negotiated with the bipartisan leadership of the Senate – and said it is time for President Obama and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) to outline their plan for ending this debt crisis
“Today’s vote on the House floor indicates there’s bipartisan opposition to Senator Reid’s proposal. The House yesterday sent our second bill to end this crisis to the Senate. It’s a reasonable, responsible approach that will end this crisis, get our economy moving again and get Americans back to work.
The only thing standing in the way of the House proposal over in the Senate is the president and Senator Reid. It’s time for them to tell us what they’re for, time to tell us how they’re going to get us out of the cul-de-sac that they’ve driven our country into. So we’re hoping that we’ll hear from them soon about their plan for how we end this crisis.” —

  • Senate delays key debt vote until Sunday: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday delayed a test vote on the Democratic debt limit increase plan until 1 p.m. EDT Sunday to give negotiators more time to work out a deal.
    In brief remarks on the Senate floor, Reid, a Democrat, said that negotiations between congressional leaders and the Obama administration were ongoing, but that there was “still a distance to go” before a deal might be reached…. – Reuters, 7-30-11
  • Senate Delays Vote as Debt Talks Progress: The Senate will delay a crucial vote on the Democratic debt ceiling bill until 1 p.m. Sunday as both Democratic and Republican lawmakers said a potential compromise was in the works that would avert a federal default after midnight on Tuesday.
    The delay averts a 1 a.m. legislative showdown Sunday morning in the Senate, and all-night wrangling that Democrats had threatened on Friday. And it suggests that the looming deadline is working to press both sides toward a last-minute agreement.
    Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, announced just after 10 p.m. Saturday that White House officials had urged him to give more time for negotiations to continue.
    “I believe we should give everyone as much room as possible to do their work,” Mr. Reid said on the Senate floor before adjourning until Sunday afternoon.
    The delay came as Republican lawmakers expressed optimism that talks begun on Saturday with President Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and others were leading toward an agreement. And Mr. Reid said he, too, was now confident that a deal is within reach…. – NYT, 7-30-11
  • Reid: Debt negotiations underway at White House: After weeks of intense partisanship, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders made a last-minute stab at compromise Saturday night to avoid a government default threatened for early next week.
    “There are many elements to be finalized…there is still a distance to go,” Majority Leader Harry Reid cautioned in dramatic late-night remarks on the Senate floor.
    Still, his disclosure that “talks are going on at the White House now,” coupled with his announcement that progress had been made, offered the strongest indication yet that an economy-crippling default might be averted.
    White House officials had no immediate comment.
    Nor was there any immediate reaction from Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell or House Speaker John Boehner, Obama’s principal Republican antagonist in a contentious era of divided government.
    There were no details immediately available on what the terms might be of any compromise…. – AP, 7-30-11
  • Saturday’s debt-ceiling surprise: GOP and Obama are talking again: After a rancorous day in which Republicans vented their anger at the Senate and President Obama, GOP leaders said they are in talks with the president and that ‘the country is not going to default.’
    There were signs of movement toward a potential resolution of the federal government’s debt ceiling crisis after both the House and Senate met in unusual Saturday sessions notable for partisan fireworks.
    House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D) of California and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada were called to the White House for a 3:30 p.m. meeting about debt-ceiling negotiations with President Obama.
    At about the same time on Capitol Hill, House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky gave a press conference and expressed optimism about reaching a settlement that would keep the nation from being unable to borrow enough to pay its bills.
    Senator McConnell said that he had spoken to both Mr. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden “in the last hour,” and that the White House was “now fully engaged” in conversations with the two Republican leaders about the debt-ceiling crisis. Speaker Boehner said he and McConnell were “both confident” they could “end this impasse.” McConnell added, “Our country is not going to default. We are going to get a result.”… CS Monitor, 7-30-11
  • Last-minute debt deal still eludes Congress: In public, at least, neither Democrats nor Republicans show much inclination to work out an accord as the clock ticks toward a federal default.
    Efforts to reach a last-minute deal to stave off a potentially disastrous federal default remained at an impasse Saturday as House Republicans engaged in some psychological warfare and their colleagues in the Senate seemed poised to block a key vote on a bid by Democrats to raise the debt ceiling.
    With just days to go until the federal government’s authority to borrow money expires, neither Democrats nor Republicans showed much inclination to bridge their differences and hammer out a deal.
    Instead, the action — at least the events playing out in public view — suggested that partisan distrust remained as high as ever. The House convened only to take a purely symbolic thumbs-down vote on a debt plan crafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), even though that plan hasn’t yet cleared the Senate…. – LAT, 7-30-11
  • In Senate, bitter debate but little agreement on Democratic debt plan: With the deadline for a debt limit increase inching perilously closer, Congress remained deadlocked Saturday over how to avoid a crisis as both houses spent the day publicly mired in often tart, even defiant partisan votes and rhetoric.
    Privately, the White House was talking to leaders of both parties – but those leaders had sharply different views about the outlook.
    “The process has not been moved forward during this day,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, after he and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., met with President Barack Obama for nearly 90 minutes.
    But House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio told a news conference he was “confident that we’re going to be able to come to some agreement with the White House and end this impasse.”
    And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he spoke to Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday afternoon, and added that “we are now fully engaged, the speaker and I,” with Obama.
    “Our country is not going to default for the first time in history,” said McConnell, R-Kentucky. “We have now, I think, a level of seriousness with the right people at the table we needed…. We’re going to get a result.”
    Reid, D-Nevada, with fellow senators huddling around him and watching intently, took to the Senate floor to dispute McConnell’s account with a harsh tone rarely used to discuss the opposition’s tactics in the genteel Senate. Reports a deal could be close are “not true,” Reid said.
    With McConnell standing a few feet away, Reid charged the GOP leaders were “holding meaningless press conferences.”
    And, Reid said, “I just spent two hours with the president, the vice president and the agreement is not in a meaningful way. The Republicans still refuse to negotiate in good faith.”
    McConnell swung back, saying, “I think we’ve got a chance of getting there. What I think is not helpful is the process we’re going through here on the Senate floor … .”
    The day began when the Republican-run House of Representatives voted 246-173 to reject a new Reid plan that would reduce deficits by more than $2.2 trillion over 10 years and raise the debt limit in three stages.
    The Senate debated the plan throughout the day Saturday, and scheduled a post-midnight vote on whether to cut off debate. The vote was expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed, since 43 Republicans sent Reid a letter saying they opposed the measure…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 7-30-11
  • Democrats, GOP Disagree on Whether a Debt-Limit Deal Is Near: With the nation only three days away from facing its first-ever financial default, congressional Republican and Democratic leaders couldn’t even agree on whether a deal to end the debt crisis is close.
    House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday that they are confident they can reach a deal with the White House to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit to allow the government to keep paying all of its bills.
    At a news conference held just minutes after the GOP-led House defeated a Democratic debt-limit bill, McConnell said he had spoken with President Obama and Vice President Biden in the past hour.
    “I’m confident and optimistic that we’re going to get an agreement in the very near future and resolve this crisis in the best interest of the American people,” he said.
    “Our country is not going to default for the first time in history,” McConnell said.”We now have a level of seriousness with the right people at the table. ….We’re going to get a result.”
    Boehner added he’s also confident of an agreement with the White House “to end this impasse.”
    But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid disputed their account on the Senate floor after meeting with the president and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi at the White House.
    “Republican leaders still refuse to negotiate in good faith,” Reid said, explaining that they still refuse to consider including new revenues in any deal and only want to slash entitlement programs.
    Republican leaders “should know that merely saying you have an agreement in front of television cameras doesn’t make it so.”
    McConnell responded that he’s more optimistic than Reid and that the only way to get to an agreement before Tuesday is through the president.
    “We need to be in a position where all of us in the leadership can come back here and say that we think we reached a framework of an agreement that we can recommend to our members,” he said. “So that’s what I’m working on and I’m not interested in scoring any political points. I’m interested in getting an outcome for the American people. And the only way that can be done is with the president of the United States.”
    Earlier Saturday, the House defeated Reid’s bill that would raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit by $2.4 trillion while cutting spending by $2.2 trillion. But the Senate hasn’t voted on the bill yet and is planning a test vote in the wee hours of Sunday morning to break a GOP filibuster…. – Fox News, 7-30-11
  • Debt deal not close, Senator Reid says: Republicans and Democrats are not close to a deal to raise the debt ceiling despite what Republican leaders may say, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said on Saturday.
    “It’s fair to say that the engagement there is not in any meaningful way,” Reid said on the Senate floor shortly after returning from a meeting with President Barack Obama. “Republican leaders still refuse to negotiate in good faith.”… – Reuters, 7-30-11
  • McConnell says he’s spoken to Obama ‘within last hour’: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Saturday afternoon that he had talked to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden “within the last hour” and is “confident and optimistic” that there will be an “agreement within the very near future.” A national default “is not going to happen,” McConnell said.
    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, also expressed optimism that an agreement is near. “In spite of our differences, we’re dealing with reasonable, responsible people,” Boehner said…. – CNN, 7-30-11
  • Obama huddles with Democrats in hunt for debt deal: US President Barack Obama held an urgent White House summit with key Democratic allies Saturday as his Republican foes said fever-pitch efforts to avert a disastrous debt default would soon pay off.
    “That’s not true,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, pouring cold water on the upbeat Republican message after talks with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
    With three days before a midnight Tuesday deadline, Obama stayed largely out of sight but warned in his weekly address that “very little time” remains to reach a deal to raise the $14.3 trillion dollar US debt ceiling…. – AFP, 7-30-11
  • Reid and Pelosi head to White House for debt meeting: A White House official says President Barack Obama will meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi at the White House at 3:30 pm to receive an update on the situation in the House and Senate…. – CNN, 7-30-11

JULY 30, 2011: REID V. MCCONNELL — PARTISAN VOTES IN SENATE & HOUSE CONTINUE IMPASSE IN DEBT CEILING CRISIS — CONGRESS VOTES 246 TO 173 AGAINST REID DEBT PLAN —

House GOP rejects Reid debt-ceiling bill: Republicans in the House of Representatives have rejected a bill that mirrors a proposal by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) to raise the debt ceiling through 2012, a symbolic gesture of disapproval as the Senate continues to debate Reid’s measure and discuss a possible compromise.

Reid plan in jeopardy: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) delivered a letter Saturday afternoon to Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), signed by 43 Republicans, declaring that Reid’s debt-limit legislation was unacceptable. Needing 60 votes to clear a filibuster hurdle, Reid’s current draft is assured of failure in a 1 a.m. vote Sunday. McConnell demanded that President Obama re-engage in negotiations. “It isn’t going to pass, let’s get talking to the administration,” McConnell said Saturday in a floor speech.

“The only possible justification for a $2.4 trillion increase in borrowing authority is to allow the President to avoid any accountability for these issues before his 2012 election. It is by constantly putting off these tough decisions that we have found ourselves with a national debt nearly equal to the size of our gross domestic product. The time for action is now, we cannot wait until we accumulate another $2.4 trillion in debt.” — Mitch McConnell, 43 Senators Sign Letter Opposing The Reid Bill

“It must have the support of both parties that were sent here to represent the American people – not just one faction of one party. There are multiple ways to resolve this problem. Congress must find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House. And it’s got to be a plan that I can sign by Tuesday.” — President Barack Obama in his Weekly Address

“Republicans in the House of Representatives just spent precious days trying to pass a plan that a majority of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate had already said they wouldn’t vote for. It’s a plan that wouldn’t solve our fiscal problems, but would force us to relive this crisis in just a few short months. It would hold our economy captive to Washington politics once again. If anything, the past few weeks have demonstrated that’s unacceptable….
Look, the parties are not that far apart here. We’re in rough agreement on how much spending we need to cut to reduce our deficit. We agree on a process to tackle tax reform and entitlement reform. There are plenty of ways out of this mess. But there is very little time.” — President Barack Obama in his Weekly Address

“We start from the understanding that the reason the debt ceiling is a problem is because of runaway Washington spending. So, Republicans have been united in the belief that raising the debt ceiling without making significant spending reductions would be irresponsible…
“The simple fact is, in order to afford the kind of government this President wants, taxes would have to be increased dramatically – and for middle income Americans, not just on the wealthy.” – — Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) in the Republican Weekly Address

“Republicans believe we must solve our debt crisis – and we believe we can solve it if Democrats will work with us. No one will get everything they want, and we can’t solve all of our problems at once, but surely we can reach an agreement that will increase the debt ceiling, impose accountability, and begin reducing the size of our federal government.” — Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) in the Republican Weekly Address

“I stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the president of the United States. I stuck my neck out a mile, and I put revenues on the table in order to try to get an agreement to avert us being where we are. But a lot of people in this town can never say yes. I have offered ideas. I have negotiated. Not one time, not one time, did the administration put any plan on the table. All they would do is criticize what I put out.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

  • The Weekend Word: Rejection NYT, 7-30-11
  • FACTBOX-What’s ahead in the U.S. debt limit fight — Reuters, 7-30-11
  • Stalemate as Congress Wrangles Over Debt Crisis: Congressional leaders fought, huddled with President Obama and hinted at an emerging bipartisan deal to end the federal fiscal crisis in a tense Saturday on Capitol Hill, but the stalemate over raising the debt limit persisted just days from a potential default.
    In the most vivid illustration yet of the confusion surrounding the debt crisis, the two leading Congressional Republicans announced that they had reopened fiscal talks with the White House in a last-ditch drive to come to terms, only to have the top Senate Democrat leader quickly dismiss the idea that a breakthrough was at hand.
    In the wake of the House’s sharp rejection of a Democratic proposal to raise the debt limit, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader and a linchpin in efforts to reach a deal, said he and Speaker John A. Boehner were “now fully engaged” in efforts with the White House to find a resolution that would tie an increase in the debt limit to spending cuts and other conditions…. – NYT, 7-30-11
  • House Rejects Reid Debt Ceiling Proposal: The Republican-controlled House on Saturday dismissed a new proposal by Senate Democrats to end the fiscal crisis before the Senate even voted on it, deepening the ongoing federal budget stalemate.
    In an effort to send a message to Senate leaders of both parties, the House voted 173 to 246 against the proposal by Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, to show it had no future in the House.
    During a heated debate, Republicans and Democrats traded accusations over who would be responsible for a government default if no compromise was reached by next Tuesday, with Republicans defending the plan they sent to the Senate on Friday only to see it rejected almost immediately.
    On Twitter, Speaker John A. Boehner called the Senate measure “DOA” and a “non-starter in the House.” Republicans also said the $2.5 trillion in savings in the measure were illusory…. – NYT, 7-30-11
  • House rejects Reid’s debt plan: The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has rejected the debt ceiling plan proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.
    The plan was rejected in a sharply polarized 173-246 vote. Republicans unanimously opposed the measure while most Democrats backed it.
    GOP leaders conducted the vote on Reid’s bill under rules requiring a two-thirds majority for passage, thereby ensuring its defeat…. – CNN, 7-30-11
  • 43 Senate Republicans oppose Dem debt bill: Forty-three Senate Republicans say they oppose Democratic leader Harry Reid’s bill to cut spending and raise the nation’s borrowing authority.
    In a letter released Saturday, the GOP lawmakers said the bill “completely fails” to address the nation’s fiscal imbalance and relies on gimmicks to cut spending. Reid’s measure would raise the debt limit by up to $2.4 trillion…. – AP, 7-30-11
  • All Senate Republicans oppose Democratic debt bill: All 43 Republicans in the U.S. Senate have signed a letter, released on Saturday, saying they will not vote for a Democratic plan to raise the debt limit in a sign that the measure does not have the support it needs to advance in Congress.
    Democrats need at least seven Republican votes to clear a procedural vote in the 100-seat chamber. That vote is scheduled for 1 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT) on Sunday…. – Reuters, 7-30-11
  • Senate Wrangles Before Debt Vote: The high-stakes debate over raising the U.S. debt limit remained deadlocked Saturday afternoon, as both Democrats and Republicans considered their next moves less than four days before the U.S. could begin defaulting on some obligations.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has scheduled a series of votes beginning Sunday morning at 1 a.m. on his proposal to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, though whether or not he can garner the 60 votes necessary to move forward with the bill remains in question….
    Mr. McConnell, speaking just after Mr. Reid, countered that Mr. Reid should abandon his legislation. He and 42 other Republican senators sent a letter to the majority leader saying they oppose the Reid measure.
    “It will not pass the Senate, it will not pass the House, it’s simply a non-starter,” Mr. McConnell said.
    House Republicans, meanwhile, scheduled a symbolic midafternoon vote on Mr. Reid’s proposal, which is likely to be voted down by House lawmakers. A House GOP leadership aide said the Senate was wasting time by focusing on Mr. Reid’s “doomed bill.”… – WSJ, 7-30-11
  • House set to reject Reid debt plan as endgame nears: The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is set to reject Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling Saturday — partisan payback for the Democratic-controlled Senate’s rejection of Speaker John Boehner’s plan Friday night.
    The twin votes are a likely prelude to a long weekend of furious back-room negotiations between congressional leaders looking for a way to end a tense political standoff and avoid a potentially catastrophic federal default next week…. – CNN, 7-30-11
  • Congressional leaders struggle to work out bipartisan debt deal: With just three days to go before Congress’s deadline to raise the debt ceiling and avoid sending the country into default, leaders continued to struggle Saturday to work out a bipartisan deal that can pass both chambers and be signed into law by President Obama.
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) delivered a letter Saturday afternoon to Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), signed by 43 Republicans, declaring that Reid’s debt-limit legislation was unacceptable.
    Needing 60 votes to clear a filibuster hurdle, Reid’s current draft is assured of failure in a 1 a.m. vote Sunday. McConnell demanded that President Obama re-engage in negotiations. “It isn’t going to pass,” McConnell said Saturday in a floor speech. “Let’s get talking to the administration.”… – WaPo, 7-30-11
  • Senate headed for critical debt vote Sunday: The Senate is driving toward a climactic and dramatic vote at 1 a.m. Sunday that could determine whether a bipartisan deal to raise the nation’s legal borrowing limit is possible or a government default is likely….
    Speedier action would require unanimous agreement from all senators, including conservatives who have vowed not to raise the debt ceiling without congressional approval of a balanced budget amendment to the constitution, and it wasn’t clear that would be forthcoming.
    Senators instead moved forward with an alternative advanced by Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), which would raise the debt ceiling through the 2012 election, but they hoped to amend the bill in coming days if a bipartisan compromise is reached.
    Now, Senate rules require a full day in between Reid introducing the measure Friday night and a vote to cut off debate, leading to a key vote early Sunday.
    Closing debate will require the approval of 60 senators, meaning Reid will require at least seven Republican votes to clear that hurdle.
    If the measure cleared that hurdle, the final passage would require a simple majority of senators to send the bill to the House. Without unanimous agreement, however, it would require an additional 30 hours of debate for that final vote, meaning 7:30 a.m. Monday would be the earliest a final vote could happen.
    Then, the measure would return to the House on Monday, where it would face a final critical vote — with the outcome deeply uncertain, as world markets watch nervously…. – WaPo, 7-30-11
  • Washington’s warring weekend: Dueling votes, parties and loyalties: Warring House and Senate votes late Friday set up a tense weekend of confrontation — and what the White House hopes are still meaningful negotiations — before markets reopen Monday, one day before the threat of default….
    Much depends still on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is deeply worried by the prospect of default and has had a running series of conversations with Vice President Joe Biden to try to defuse the crisis. McConnell was frozen in place out of loyalty to Boehner during the House debate but even after, Democrats complained that he was restraining his rank-and-file members from participating in talks.
    “There is a growing sentiment by senators on both sides of the aisle to sit down and reach a reasonable compromise to save our economy from the disaster that awaits us,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) “What these senators on the Republican side are waiting for is a permission slip from Sen. McConnell.”
    That would be a vintage McConnell approach, but aides to the Republican leader said he is fully prepared to begin talks with Reid and others, as long as President Barack Obama is also represented at the table.
    There’s been bad blood between McConnell and Reid after a falling out last weekend over debt talks also involving Boehner. But McConnell’s office expressed confidence that a deal could yet be reached with the White House represented…. – Politico, 7-30-11
  • Debt Deadlock: The Road Ahead: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the White House must be present if there are negotiations toward a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, according to Democratic and Republican sources familiar with the situation.
    If those talks get going, Democratic officials maintain things could move quickly because a lot of the details were hashed out over nearly two months of deficit talks between Vice President Joe Biden and congressional leaders, as well as during negotiations on a grand bargain between President Obama and the congressional leadership…. – CNN, 7-30-11
  • Harry Reid debt ceiling bill to be targeted by House on Saturday: Reid and other Senate Democratic leaders have already declared the Boehner plan dead-on-arrival in the Senate.
    In order to show Reid’s package would face a similar fate in their chamber, House Republicans will do force a vote on Saturday.
    The Nevada Democrat’s package, which includes a single debt limit hike, is likely to see support from House Democrats, but little from the GOP…. – Politico, 7-30-11
  • Obama pressures Congress for debt deal: President Barack Obama struck an urgent tone in his weekly address Saturday, telling members of Congress that he needs a debt ceiling deal on his desk before next week’s deadline.
    “Congress must find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House,” Obama said. “And it’s got to be a plan that I can sign by Tuesday.”
    Obama’s remarks come one day after the House voted along party lines to pass a Republican-sponsored debt plan. The bill was tabled without a vote in the Democratically-controlled Senate.
    In his address, Obama said that that such maneuvers weren’t helpful in staving off a debt crisis…. – CNN, 7-30-11
  • GOP lays out consequences of missing debt deadline — Jon Kyl Republican Weekly Address: With Congress and the White House still at odds on raising America’s debt ceiling, Republicans used their weekly address to illustrate the dire risks of missing next week’s deadline for reaching a deal….
    Kyl cited debt crises spreading across Europe as examples of what could happen if politicians don’t strike a deal before early next week.
    Kyl criticized the way Democrats were approaching the debt ceiling negotiations, saying they had failed to recognize the opportunity to cut spending…. – CNN, 7-30-11
  • Moody’s: Boehner and Reid bills won’t cut it: Neither of the debt ceiling bills before Congress would meaningfully alter the country’s debt trajectory and thus won’t bolster the United States’ chance of preserving its AAA rating, a key rating agency said Friday.
    “Reductions of the magnitude now being proposed, if adopted, would likely lead Moody’s to adopt a negative outlook on the AAA rating,” Moody’s Investors Service said…. – CNN, 7-30-11
  • Reid and McConnell: The Senate’s odd couple: By all measures, Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell are worlds apart when it comes to their politics. But there’s at least one thing solidifying their relationship.
    “Both are institutionalists at heart,” said Jim Manley, a former spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Reid, a Nevada Democrat. “They come from completely different ideologies but both have the respect from their caucus.” He added that while they’re not the best of friends, their bond is strong… – CNN, 7-30-11
  • Analysis: Debt mess shows Washington’s awful side: There is no changing how Washington works. It doesn’t. Even if a bitterly divided Congress and President Barack Obama avoid a U.S. debt default by striking a last-second deal, as all sides expect, plenty of damage has been done.
    People are disgusted. Confidence in the political system is tanking. Nothing else is getting done in Washington. The markets are spooked. The global reputation of the United States has slipped.
    And the real kicker? This whole wrenching effort to shrink the debt may actually increase the debt.
    Any emergency deal may not be broad enough to prevent the major credit rating agencies from downgrading the United States as a rock-solid investment. That, in turn, could increase the cost of borrowing for the government (hence more interest and debt), not to mention for everyone else.
    The spectacle has brought Washington to its knees. Obama went on TV before the nation and called it a circus. One lawmaker felt compelled to apologize to the American people…. – AP, 7-30-11
  • The Debt-Limit Hobbits The GOP fantasy caucus is empowering Nancy Pelosi: Political logic and perhaps even common sense seem to be prevailing within the House GOP after Thursday’s debt-ceiling vote was postponed—at least among most of the caucus. The shame is that the debt-limit absolutists have weakened Speaker John Boehner’s hand in negotiating a final bill with Senate Democrats.
    At the most practical level, Mr. Boehner’s plan is better than the one Harry Reid supports in the Senate. This remains true of the revisions Mr. Boehner released yesterday, though the irony is that it is less credible and weaker politically than the previous version. The concession the holdouts demanded, and got—a balanced budget amendment—ensures that it cannot pass the Senate. The best but unlikely scenario is that the bill otherwise remains intact…. – WSJ, 7-30-11
  • For Reid, Durbin, and Obama, a (very) partisan record on debt ceiling: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has frequently accused Republicans of playing partisan politics in the debt ceiling crisis… A look at Reid’s record, however, shows that in the last decade his own voting on the issue of the debt ceiling is not only partisan but perfectly partisan. According to “The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases,” a January 2010 report by the Congressional Research Service, the Senate has passed ten increases to the debt limit since 2000. Reid never voted to increase the debt ceiling when Republicans were in control of the Senate, and he always voted to increase the debt ceiling when Democrats were in control.
    At look at the number-two Democrat in the Senate, Richard Durbin’s record shows that he, too, has voted along absolutely partisan lines. In the last decade, Durbin never voted to increase the debt ceiling when Republicans were in control and always voted to increase the debt ceiling when Democrats were in control. As for Obama, there were four votes to raise the debt ceiling when he was in the Senate. He missed two of them, voted no once when Republicans were in charge, and voted yes once when Democrats were in charge… – Washington Examiner, 7-30-11
  • Debt-ceiling crisis: Why won’t Republicans compromise?: The hardcore Republican debt hawks fueled by November’s tea party victories say that Congress has historically gone back on promised spending cuts. So far, they are refusing to budge without some guarantee that the cuts will actually materialize…. – CS Monitor, 7-30-11
  • Houses passes Boehner’s debt deal, but at what price?: …But the price Boehner has paid for his victory may be bigger than he hoped for or predicted. The speaker at times look liked he was a hostage of his 87-member, tea party inspired freshmen class. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) threatened to overshadow him. Senate Republican leaders have already acknowledged that the Boehner plan can’t pass that body, and even if it did, Obama would greet it with a veto. That leaves Boehner with a weakened negotiating hand heading into showdown with Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Politico, 7-29-11

JULY 29, 2011: SENATE TABLES BOEHNER HOUSE DEBT BILL 59-41 — HARRY REID WILL BROKER HIS OWN PLAN TO SENATE & WHITE HOUSE

Senate tables Boehner bill: Roughly two-and-a-half hours after it was passed by the House, Senate Democrats on Friday night tabled, 59 to 41, House Speaker John Boehner’s bill to raise the debt limit.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will now try to broker his own plan with Republicans and the White House before the debt ceiling expires on Aug. 2. Reid’s current bill would achieve $2.2 trillion in deficit savings over ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

“I eagerly await the majority leader’s plan for preventing this crisis.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell R-Kentucky

    • “This is likely our last chance to save this nation from default.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

“The president urges Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House – a plan the president can sign by Tuesday.” — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

“To the American people, I would say we tried our level best. We tried to do our best for our country, but some people still say no.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

How Different Types of Republicans Voted on the Revised Debt Plan: Analysis of how different Republican blocs voted on the revised debt plan… – NYT

Interactive Graphic: House Roll Call: Boehner’s Short-Term Debt Ceiling Increase — NYT

Interactive Graphic: Comparing Deficit-Reduction Plans — NYT

Statement by the Press Secretary Jay Carney: The bill passed today in the House with exclusively Republican votes would have us face another debt ceiling crisis in just a few months by demanding the Constitution be amended or America defaults. This bill has been declared dead on arrival in the Senate. Now that yet another political exercise is behind us, with time dwindling, leaders need to start working together immediately to reach a compromise that avoids default and lays the basis for balanced deficit reduction.
Senator Reid’s proposal is a basis for that compromise. It not only achieves more deficit reduction than the bill passed in the House today and puts a process in place to achieve even more savings, it also removes the uncertainty surrounding the risk of default. The President urges Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House – a plan the President can sign by Tuesday.

  • Lawmakers’ votes open way for final debt push: Lawmakers opened the way on Friday for a last-ditch bid for a possible bipartisan compromise to avert a crippling national default just four days before the deadline to raise the country’s debt ceiling.
    The Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved a Republican deficit-cutting plan and the Democratic-led Senate quickly rejected it — moves that underscored the ideological divide but also cleared a path to start negotiating a deal.
    The back-to-back votes broke weeks of political inertia in efforts to lift the $14.3 trillion U.S. debt limit by Tuesday after which the world’s largest economy will be unable to pay all of its bills, the government says.
    Delays and procedural hurdles will still make it all but impossible for Congress to strike a deal and send it to Obama’s desk until the 11th hour, injecting a dangerous level of uncertainty into already rattled global financial markets.
    Even if a late deal can be struck, the United States risks losing its top-notch AAA credit rating…. – Reuters, 7-29-11
  • Reid adds Republican “backup plan” to debt bill: Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid revised his debt-limit bill on Friday to incorporate elements of a “backup plan” first proposed by the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell.
    Reid’s plan originally envisioned raising the U.S. debt limit in one step by $2.7 trillion, enough to cover the nation’s borrowing needs through the November 2012 elections.
    The new version would essentially allow President Barack Obama to raise the debt ceiling in three steps. Through a complex legislative process, Congress could approve these debt-ceiling hikes with only a one-third vote in each chamber…. – Reuters, 7-29-11
  • Reid Revises Bill to Include McConnell 2-Step Process: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid revised his debt-limit proposal to adopt a two-step procedure modeled after one proposed by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that would let the president raise the ceiling in two steps unless a supermajority of Congress blocked it.
    According to a summary of the new plan, the borrowing authority would be provided in two separate $1.2 trillion installments, one immediately, and one in several months, the next time the nation nears its borrowing limit.
    All but the first $416 billion could be blocked through a joint resolution of Congress, though opponents would have to muster supermajorities in both chambers to override a veto…. – Bloomberg, 7-29-11
  • McConnell still refusing to negotiate, Democrats say: Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate said on Friday that the top Republican in the chamber was still refusing to negotiate a debt-ceiling increase with them after they defeated a bill backed by Republicans.
    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told Senate Democratic leaders he would not work on a compromise after the Senate defeated a bill that had passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said at a news conference…. – Reuters, 7-29-11
  • House approves debt bill; Senate rejects it: In an unforgiving display of partisanship, the House passed emergency legislation Friday night to avoid an unprecedented government default and the Senate scuttled it less than two hours later.
    The final outcome — with the White House and Senate Democrats calling anew for compromise while criticizing Republicans as Tuesday’s deadline drew near — was anything but certain….
    The House vote was 218-210, almost entirely along party lines, on a Republican-drafted bill to provide a quick $900 billion increase in U.S. borrowing authority — essential to allow the government to continue paying all its bills — along with $917 billion in cuts from federal spending.
    At the other end of the Capitol, Senate Democrats scuttled the measure without so much as a debate on its merits. The vote was 59-41, with all Democrats, two independents and six Republicans joining in opposition…. – Businessweek, 7-29-11 AP, 7-29-11
  • Senate Quickly Kills Boehner Debt Bill: After a 24-hour delay and concessions to conservatives, the House on Friday narrowly approved a Republican fiscal plan that the Senate quickly rejected in a standoff over the federal debt ceiling that was keeping the government on a path to potential default….
    Demonstrating the deep partisan divide coloring the budget fight, the House voted 218 to 210 to approve the plan endorsed by Speaker John A. Boehner to increase the federal debt ceiling in two stages. No Democrats supported the measure; 22 Republicans opposed it. The White House condemned it as a “political exercise.”…
    That did not take long. Two hours after the House approved its plan, it was convincingly tabled in the Senate by a vote of 59 to 41, and Democrats took steps to move ahead with their proposal…. – NYT, 7-29-11
  • Senate Kills Boehner Debt Plan 59-41: The Senate voted down a House-approved bill to raise the debt ceiling, leaving the ball in the court of Senate leadership to produce a deficit reduction bill, with just days before the Aug. 2 deadline. The vote was 59-41…. – Fox News, 7-29-11
  • Senate Tables Boehner’s Debt Ceiling Bill: The United States Senate quickly dispatched the debt ceiling bill passed by the House Friday evening, tabling the Republican bill indefinitely and moving quickly to start consideration of a Democratic plan that would avoid default on Tuesday.
    Less than two hours after House Speaker John A. Boehner pushed his bill through the House over the strenuous objections of nearly two dozen of his own Republican members, the Democratic leadership in the Senate followed through on their promise to kill his legislation.
    But the move now sets up an uncertain 72 hours as the Congress moves ever closer to the Tuesday deadline when the Treasury Department says the country will default on its financial obligations without an increase in the debt ceiling…. – NYT, 7-29-11
  • Senate kills latest House debt measure: The Senate has killed the latest effort by the House to raise the government’s borrowing cap. Democrats and several Republicans killed the GOP measure by a 59-41 vote Friday night, just minutes after it arrived from the House. Democrats opposed the measure because it would require another painful debt-limit debate early next year.
    The move continues a standoff over the debt limit but could set the table for negotiations this weekend on compromise legislation that could pass the Democratic Senate and the GOP-controlled House before an Aug. 2 deadline to prevent a potentially disastrous default on U.S. obligations like interest payments and Social Security checks…. – AP, 7-29-11
  • Senate quickly acts to block House debt-ceiling plan: The Senate voted Friday evening to reject Speaker John A. Boehner’s debt-ceiling plan just hours after it moved through the House, setting up a dramatic weekend of negotiations as Congress works to stave off a potential federal default.
    The Senate tally was 59-41 on the motion to table the House plan, including some Republican votes.
    Even as leaders from both parties engage in frenetic talks on the way forward, the House will hold yet another symbolic vote. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced the chamber plans to hold a vote on legislation that closely mirrors Reid’s plan, planning to kill it even before the Senate can adopt it.
    In a statement on the earlier House vote, White House press secretary Jay Carney called Reid’s plan the basis for final compromise and called for an end to “political exercise[s].”
    “The president urges Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House – a plan the president can sign by Tuesday,” he said…. – LAT, 7-29-11
  • Now, Congress down to its last strike to avoid debt-ceiling default: By rejecting the bill passed by the House Friday, the Senate essentially now has one last shot to get a debt ceiling increase through Congress before the Aug. 2 deadline.
    After a night of high drama on Capitol Hill, a legislative solution to the debt crisis now shifts to the Senate, where leaders of both parties must now try to guess what will pass in the House – perhaps the worst bet in all of politics.
    The situation is the result of strategic mistakes in the buildup to Friday’s debt-ceiling votes, which produced an outcome exactly the opposite of what GOP leaders had hoped. Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio had hoped to win support from House Democrats this week by scaling back the House’s earlier “cut, cap, and balance” bill. With Democratic support in the House, the bill would have had a credible shot in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
    Instead, his proposal alienated not only House Democrats but also the president and GOP conservatives. After an aborted attempt to hold a vote Thursday, an amended bill did at last pass the House Friday, 218 to 210, but without a single Democratic vote and without 22 Republican defectors. Later Friday, it failed in the Senate, which voted to table Mr. Boehner’s bill, 59 to 41, effectively derailing it…. – CS Monitor, 7-29-11

JULY 29, 2011: HOUSE VOTES & PASSES BOEHNER’S REVISED DEBT CEILING BILL 218-210

U.S. House passes Boehner debt plan: With only a handful of Republicans in opposition, the House on Friday voted, 218 to 210, to approve Speaker John Boehner’s bill to raise the nation’s debt limit for a few months. The measure was revised earlier in the day to make it more palatable to conservatives. No Democrats supported the bill. Senate Democrats say they cannot support the bill in its current form.

“I stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the President of the United States. I stuck my neck out a mile. This House has acted and it is time for the administration and our colleagues across the aisle, put something on the table! Tell us where you are!” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“Washington Democrats are all that stand between the American people & a responsible resolution to this debt crisis. The House has now passed not one, but two bills that would cut spending & avoid a national default, while the Senate hasn’t even passed a budget. Americans will tolerate the inaction of the Senate no longer. The Senate should pass the House bill at once & send it to the president’s desk. — Speaker of the House John Boehner

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell Comments on House-Passed Bill to Prevent Default: “The House has now passed its second bill in two weeks that would prevent a default and significantly cut Washington spending. The Senate is a different story. Rather than working towards a solution to this crisis the way the Republican majority in the House has, the Democrat majority here in the Senate has been wasting precious time rounding up ‘no’ votes. Rather than come up with a bill that can pass, they’ve been busy ginning up opposition to everything else. Now it’s time for them to act. I eagerly await the Majority Leader’s plan for preventing this crisis.”

“Keep the pressure on Washington and we can get past this” … “The time for putting party first is over. If you want to see a bipartisan #compromise, let Congress know. Call. Email. Tweet. –BO”

“This administration does not believe that the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling. Congress has the authorities necessary to ensure that we meet our obligations…. Only Congress can increase the statutory debt ceiling. That’s just a reality.” — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

  • Debt deal politicians race against the clock: The White House and Senate Democratic leaders want to finalize a debt ceiling deal with top congressional Republicans by the end of Friday night, fearing that waiting until Saturday could jeopardize efforts to get a final package to President Barack Obama before next week’s critical deadline. It’s far from clear whether they can achieve that.
    Now that the House has passed its bill, the White House wants congressional leaders to race against the clock and reach a compromise before midnight, a deadline imposed by the Senate’s arcane procedural requirements and the failure to reach a deal so far.
    Once the Senate rejects the House bill, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wants to begin the process of moving to a final vote on a new plan by Monday morning.
    That means he needs to file a procedural motion — known as cloture — by Friday night to reach his goal. The Senate could only move forward on that plan only after several days of floor consideration and if Reid then secures 60 votes, unless senators allow the majority leader to speed up the schedule.
    But Reid and the White House do not have a deal with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Talks ground to a halt as House Republicans moved forward with their own plan that Democrats oppose. That means Reid may file cloture on his own plan to raise the debt ceiling without GOP support…. – Politico, 7-29-11
  • John Boehner debt ceiling bill passes; Senate deal making begins: Ending a 24-hour roller coaster ride, the House narrowly approved a Republican-backed debt ceiling bill Friday after Speaker John Boehner won back wavering conservatives by adding a provision threatening default next year if Congress doesn’t first approve a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
    In closing remarks, from the well of the chamber, the weary Ohio Republican was alternately defensive and defiant. “I have worked with the president and the administration from the beginning of this year to avoid being in this spot. I have offered ideas. I have negotiated,” Boehner said emotionally. “I stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the president of the United States. I put revenues on the table in order to come to an agreement to avert us being where we are.”
    Left unsaid was how much the forces in his own party had pulled him back — especially on the revenue issue. “To the American people, I would say we’ve tried our level best,” Boehner said. “We’ve done everything we can to find a common-sense solution that could pass both houses of this Congress and end this crisis.”… – Politico, 7-29-11
  • House passes GOP debt limit plan: Can they do it in time? Twenty-four hours later than planned — and only after a change to mollify conservative Republicans — House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, put together enough votes to rescue his debt limit fix Friday.
    The 218-210 vote, along party lines, came four days before President Obama says he’ll run out of the borrowed money that keeps the federal government from paying its bills.
    The House vote kicks the issue once again to the slower-moving Senate, where rules make it all but impossible to vote out a plan before Monday.
    “I stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the president of the United States,” Boehner said, rallying the House to vote for his plan. “It’s time for our colleagues across the aisle to put something on the table! Tell us where you are!”
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. vowed to do just that. He had been waiting on the House plan all week, prepared to immediately vote it down.
    “No matter how long Republicans delay, the deadline will not move. We have hours — I repeat, hours — to act,” Reid said, announcing his plan Friday morning to move forward with or without the House. “This is likely our last chance to save this nation from default.”
    Under Senate rules, the earliest a vote could take place on that plan would likely be Monday or even Tuesday — the day the Obama Administration says it will run out of borrowed money. That would give the House just hours to agree to the Senate version and send the bill to the president…. – USA Today, 7-29-11
  • House passes Boehner debt bill: President Obama emerged from several days of radio silence Friday with an impassioned appeal to the masses to save the country from the politicians.
    As the debt ceiling crisis ticked down toward Tuesday’s witching hour when the government runs out of cash, Obama asked the country to bombard Congress demanding a balanced compromise that calms markets and salvages America’s credit rating…. – NY Daily News, 7-29-11
  • House approves revised Boehner debt-ceiling plan: After a belabored and bruising struggle to appease conservatives, the House of Representatives has passed Speaker John Boehner’s bill to raise the debt limit and reduce the deficit.
    The bill passed on a 218-210 vote, winning no Democratic support while losing 22 Republicans. It now moves to the Senate where Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said it will go nowhere.
    With just four days left before the government can no longer pay all of its bills, Reid is working on a separate proposal aimed at winning support for Republican moderates in that chamber…. – LAT, 7-29-11
  • House approves GOP bill extending debt limit: Republicans have muscled legislation to extend the government’s borrowing authority and cutting spending through the House over solid Democratic opposition.
    The 218-210 vote sets up a confrontation with the Democratic-controlled Senate and President Barack Obama, who say the GOP-written measure will die in the Senate. They say the bill would wreak economic havoc because it would force lawmakers to vote on another extension of the debt ceiling early next year, in the heat of presidential and congressional campaigns… – AP, 7-29-11
  • House Passes Short-Term Debt Ceiling Increase: The House of Representatives on Friday approved a plan for a short-term increase in the debt ceiling and cuts in spending, ending a week of intense fighting among Republicans and shifting the end game of the debate to the Senate.
    The vote was 218-210, leaving House Speaker John A. Boehner with 22 Republicans who were unwilling to support his efforts to get a bill approved.
    Urging passage for the bill, an emotional Mr. Boehner angrily accused President Obama and his Democratic allies of negotiating in bad faith for weeks and called the bill the only way to “end this crisis now.”… – NYT, 7-29-11
  • Boehner Bill Passes House, Focus Shifts to Senate: House Republicans rallied enough conservatives Friday evening to pass House Speaker John Boehner’s debt-limit bill after days of delay that put into question whether the speaker could secure votes in his caucus.
    The final vote was 218 to 210; Boehner needed 216 votes to pass the measure. No Democrats supported the bill.
    Senate Democrats say the bill will not pass in that chamber, and are likely to kill the measure immediately but putting it aside or “tabling” the measure. However, it is likely that the Boehner bill will be used as a legislative vehicle to pass a new compromise bill in the Senate that, if passed this weekend, would be sent back to the House.
    The House would then have to pass that measure in order for President Obama to sign it. All of this needs to happen before midnight Aug 3., when the United States runs out of the ability to borrow money, according to the Treasury Department…. – PBS Newshour, 7-29-11
  • House nears vote on GOP debt bill; Dems oppose: Partisan to the core, Congress groped uncertainly Friday for a way to avoid a government default threatened for early next week. “We are almost out of time,” warned President Barack Obama as U.S. financial markets trembled…. – AP, 7-29-11
  • House to Vote on Debt-Ceiling Bill That Obama, Senate Oppose: House Speaker John Boehner plans to take his proposal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling to a vote in the chamber at about 6 p.m., Republican leaders announced.
    The vote is scheduled to occur between 6 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. in Washington, according to leaders’ announcement….
    President Barack Obama today said Republicans and Democrats are in “rough agreement” on their plans to raise the nation’s debt limit with just four days before a threatened U.S. default and the time for compromise is “now.” Still, the Senate and House stood at odds, with Senate leaders planning to kill the House plan and Obama threatening a veto.
    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, said his party has the votes to pass Boehner’s plan today. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said he will move to a vote on his competing measure and held out hope for a deal with Republican leaders…. – AP, 7-29-11
  • Boehner’s Bill and the Balanced Budget Amendment: Speaker John A. Boehner’s debt ceiling bill would essentially require a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress before the nation’s debt ceiling could be raised next year.
    Under Mr. Boehner’s plan, which members began debating Friday afternoon, the nation’s debt limit could be raised by $1.6 trillion in February — but only if the nation’s archivist reports that a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution has been sent to the states for ratification.
    The legislation was amended Friday morning to say that the debt ceiling would be increased only if “the archivist of the United States has submitted to the states for their ratification a proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States pursuant to a joint resolution entitled ‘Joint resolution proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States.'”… – NYT, 7-29-11
  • John Boehner changes debt limit plan to secure Tea Party support: It looks like the House Republican leadership may have found a way to get their members to vote in favor of their debt limit plan: By adding a Balanced Budget Amendment requirement that makes the bill even more toxic to Senate Democrats and the White House. Even before the change, Democrats had vowed to vote down the bill….
    What changed? Members say the bill is being changed to tie a second debt ceiling increase roughly six months from now to successfully sending a Balanced Budget Amendment to the states, which would require a 2/3 majority in both the House and the Senate.
    They say a vote on the new version of House Speaker John Boehner’s plan will be held today between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time – and the bill will pass…. – CBS News, 7-29-11
  • Republican senators consider backing Reid debt plan: The House plans on voting on Speaker John Boehner’s debt limit plan this evening, but with its demise imminent in the Senate, some Senate Republicans are considering getting behind Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s alternative plan.
    “I voted for cut, cap, and balance,'” Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts said today, in reference to the House Republicans’ initial debt limit plan. “I’ll vote for Boehner, and I’ll vote for Reid. I’ve already said that. We need to move our country forward. It’s time.”
    Senate Democrats have promised to reject Boehner’s plan, which would only extend the nation’s borrowing authority for another six months. Democrats say it would be unwise to re-create the debate over the debt ceiling and deficit reduction again, just before Christmas.
    Reid’s plan would extend borrowing authority at least through 2012. Like Boehner’s plan, it calls for significant spending cuts and doesn’t make any tax increases. Both plans call for a bipartisan commission to come up with longer-term deficit and debt reduction plans…. – CBS News, 7-29-11
  • Obama calls for debt #compromise on Twitter: Phones are once again ringing off the hook on Capitol Hill after President Obama repeated his request for voters to call their representatives and let them know what they think about the ongoing debt debate.
    The Capitol call center alerted House offices Friday that the high level of incoming calls put the House phone circuits near capacity. The House faced a similar influx of calls earlier in the week after the president urged people to get involved.
    “On Monday night, I asked the American people to make their voice heard in this debate, and the response was overwhelming,” Mr. Obama said in a White House address this morning. “So please, to all the American people, keep it up. If you want to see a bipartisan compromise, a bill that can pass both houses of Congress and that I can sign, let your members of Congress know.”
    He urged people to call, email, or contact their congressmen via Twitter — “Keep the pressure on Washington and we can get past this,” he said. He repeated the message on his 2012 re-election Twitter feed: “The time for putting party first is over. If you want to see a bipartisan #compromise, let Congress know. Call. Email. Tweet. –BO”… – CBS News, 7-29-11
  • As congressional debt-ceiling plans founder, eyes turn to executive option: There is growing pressure on President Obama to simply declare an increase in the debt ceiling by executive order and tell everyone else: Deal with it…. – CS Monitor, 7-29-11
  • Rejecting the 14th Amendment, Again: While President Obama’s critics on the right regularly call him a tyrant, in the debt-limit showdown he is flatly rejecting presidential powers that others claim for him.
    On Friday, in its most definitive statement yet on the subject, the White House again ruled out the possibility that Mr. Obama would cite the 14th Amendment to disregard the debt-limit law and unilaterally order government borrowing to proceed if no deal was reached by Tuesday’s deadline for raising the debt ceiling.
    Several House Democratic leaders, former President Bill Clinton and some constitutional lawyers in recent days have said Mr. Obama should, if necessary, invoke the amendment, which holds that “the validity of the public debt … shall not be questioned.”… – NYT, 7-29-11
  • Why won’t Obama just declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional?: “Only Congress can increase the statutory debt ceiling,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at today’s briefing. “That’s just a reality.” Carney was responding to a suggestion floating around that the White House could invoke the 14th amendment of the Constitution to raise the debt ceiling without congressional approval—should it come to that.
    But is Carney right? A growing number of top Democrats strongly disagree and think the 14th amendment option is a good last resort. “Is there anything that prohibits him from doing that?” Iowa Senator Tom Harkin told The Hill today. “The answer is no.” Thursday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer described it as the least bad option if Congress doesn’t act. Former President Bill Clinton’s on board, too. And a growing number of law professors and legal scholars are now arguing that Obama would actually prevail…. – WaP, 7-29-11
  • Markets on edge as debt limit debate drags on: The word of the day in financial markets: Anxious. On Friday, traders did something they rarely do: they sold what are considered to be the world’s safest short-term investments. Traders typically buy short term U.S. Treasurys on Friday because they want their money in a safe place in case something happens over the weekend to rattle markets.
    But this week, they instead bought longer-duration bonds as concerns grew that the federal government may not be able to pay all of its bills next month. Yields on bonds due in one month rose higher than those due in six months. The higher the yield, the higher the implied risk of the bond.
    Analysts say it’s a clear sign a short-term default is a growing possibility…. – AP, 7-29-11

JULY 29, 2011: OBAMA ADDRESSES THE NATION ON THE DEBT CRISIS — HARRY REID MOVES FORWARD WITH SENATE VOTE ON DEBT PLAN — SHOWDOWN ON SUNDAY

President Obama says Boehner plan has no chance of becoming law: Speaking four days before a potentially disastrous U.S. default, President Obama said the plan that House Speaker John A. Boehner is working furiously to pass “does not solve the problem. It has no chance of becoming law.”
He urged the Senate to move quickly to produce a bipartisan plan to raise the debt ceiling. “The time for putting party first is over,” he said.

“Any solution to avoid default must be bipartisan. I urge Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House, a plan that I can sign by Tuesday.” — President Barack Obama

“The time for putting party first is over. The time for compromise on behalf of the American people is now. And I’m confident that we can solve this problem.” — President Barack Obama

“I know the Senate compromise bill Democrats have offered is not perfect in Republican eyes. Nor is it perfect for Democrats. But together, we must make it work for all of us. It is the only option. The settlement on the table will never give either party everything it wants. But it already meets the Republicans’ demands.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“No matter how long Republicans delay, the deadline will not move. We have hours – I repeat, hours – to act. That is why, by the end of the day today, I must take action on the Senate’s compromise legislation. … This is likely our last chance to save this nation from default.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“You’ve got the speaker of the House doing his job. Speaker Boehner has been doing the hard work of governing, working day and night to put together a bill that can actually pass the House of Representatives and end this crisis now…. It’s about time our Democratic friends join us.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

“Another day wasted while the clock ticks. Now is the time to compromise so we can solve this problem and reduce the deficit.” — White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer wrote Thursday night on Twitter

  • Timeline: How U.S. debt talks spiraled into crisis: The United States drifted closer to a credit rating downgrade and default on Wednesday as President Barack Obama’s Democrats and their Republican rivals worked on competing plans to cut spending and raise the debt ceiling. Following is a timeline of the U.S. debt debate… – Reuters, 7-29-11
  • Obama Calls for Debt Deal as Boehner Looks for Votes: President Obama called on Congress on Friday to produce a fiscal plan that could be passed with votes from both parties, as House Republicans hardened their position and Senate Democrats said they would move ahead with their own plan.
    After a caucus meeting to round up the votes needed for House passage, Republicans said that Speaker John A. Boehner had agreed to modify his plan, which raises the debt ceiling only enough to last a few months, to make the next round of spending cuts and debt relief contingent on Congressional approval of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
    That, lawmakers confirmed, won pledges of enough votes to allow Mr. Boehner to pass his bill, which was put on hold at the last minute on Thursday, with only Republican votes, including those of many from the Tea Party faction. But it would only make the House bill more unpalatable to the White House and the Democratic leadership.
    “Any solution to avoid default must be bipartisan,” Mr. Obama said. “I urge Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House, a plan that I can sign by Tuesday.”
    Mr. Obama urged Republicans in the House and Senate to abandon a bill that “does not solve the problem” and has no chance of passage in the Senate.”…. – NYT, 7-30-11
  • Obama urges Senate to forge compromise on debt limit, rejects House efforts: President Obama, warning that time is running out to lift the federal debt ceiling, said Friday that a House GOP plan has “no chance of becoming law,” and he urged Senate Democrats and Republicans to come together on a “bipartisan compromise.”
    Obama spoke as House Republican leaders labored Friday to rescue a debt-limit plan opposed by their party’s arch-conservatives. But he reiterated that the House leaders are wasting their time by trying to pass a measure that includes a short-term raise of the debt ceiling.
    On Capitol Hill, the House GOP leaders offered party members a reworked plan Friday morning designed to appeal to the tea party-allied conservatives, and several previously skeptical lawmakers said they would now support it. Members who exited a House Republican Conference meeting said the new proposal would not change the first step of their original two-stage plan to raise the debt limit but would call for Congress to send to the states a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution as a prerequisite for the second stage of the debt-ceiling increase to take effect early next year…. – WaPo, 7-29-11
  • Obama Calls for Bipartisan Solution on Debt: President Obama on Friday morning urged deadlocked lawmakers to find a way to resolve their differences and compromise as the clock ticks toward the possibility of a default if the nation’s debt ceiling is not raised by Tuesday.
    “What’s clear now is that any solution to avoid default must be bipartisan,” Mr. Obama said. “It must have the support of both parties that were sent here to represent the American people, not just one faction.”
    “I urge Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to find common ground,” he added in brief remarks in the Diplomatic Reception Room.
    Mr. Obama urged Republicans in the House and Senate to abandon a bill that “does not solve the problem” and has no chance of passage in the Senate.
    “There are a lot of crises in the world that we can’t always predict or avoid,” he said. “This isn’t one of those crises.”… – NYT, 7-29-11
  • Obama ready to work through weekend for debt fix: President Barack Obama said on Friday he was ready to work with top Democrats and Republicans through the weekend to get a debt ceiling accord.
    In remarks at the White House, Obama said he was confident a solution could be reached despite the impasse that has raised the prospect of a U.S. credit rating downgrade and default…. – Reuters, 7-29-11
  • Obama urges action as debt stalemate continues: With just days left to reach a deal, negotiations over raising the debt ceiling remain stalemated, but President Obama said Friday morning that he was confident a bipartisan solution is achievable.
    Even as he expressed optimism, however, Mr. Obama delivered a stern warning to Congress: “For all the intrigue and all the drama that’s taking place on Capitol Hill right now, I’m confident that — but as I said earlier, we are now running out of time. It’s time for everybody to step up and show the leadership the American people expect.”
    Mr. Obama delivered his remarks from the White House Diplomatic Reception Room — a setting perhaps chosen to send a message to the House, where diplomacy appeared to be sorely lacking Thursday night. Conservative Republicans on Thursday delivered a stinging rebuke against House Speaker John Boehner, when they refused to support his debt limit plan, which would have increased the U.S. borrowing limit by up to $900 billion while cutting more than $900 billion in spending over the next decade…. – CBS News, 7-29-11
  • With House debt ceiling bill stalled, Harry Reid makes his move: With House action stalled, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Friday he’d take the lead and move his bill to raise the national debt limit and avert an economy-shaking default next week.
    Calling his plan “the last train out of the station,” Reid said there are only hours to act before Tuesday’s Treasury deadline, so he plans to file a procedural motion Friday to move towards a final vote in the next few days.
    “That is why, by the end of the day today, I must take action on the Senate’s compromise legislation,” he said.
    Republicans are opposed to Reid’s plan, saying that it would give President Barack Obama too long of a debt ceiling increase by extending it through 2012. And they criticize its proposed savings of $1 trillion from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, calling it a gimmick.
    But Reid said he was about to make “tweaks” to his plan to win GOP support, which he would need to get 60 votes and break a possible filibuster attempt.
    “A Band-Aid approach to a world crisis is an embarrassment to Congress, to this country and to the world,” Reid said. “Our economy cannot bear this kind of uncertainty any longer.”… – Politico, 7-29-11
  • As debt ceiling deadline looms, default or compromise?: Washington awoke Friday morning to a possibility that has been widely shrugged off for weeks, but suddenly seems chillingly real: Could the government actually default?
    The delay and disintegration of a House vote on the debt limit late Thursday is the latest sign that Congress is mired in legislative gridlock just four days before the Aug. 2 deadline for lifting the country’s borrowing authority.
    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed to return to his bill Friday, but Thursday’s chaos — hours of private meetings, praying and postponed votes — raises fresh concerns that the country is stumbling toward a possible default and downgrade of its credit rating…. – Politico, 7-29-11
  • House GOP tries to rescue debt-limit plan; Obama to make statement: House Republican leaders labored Friday to rescue a debt-limit plan opposed by their party’s arch-conservatives, as President Obama prepared to reenter the fray with a morning statement on the status of negotiations to avert a potentially disastrous U.S. default now only four days away.
    The White House announced that Obama would deliver his previously unscheduled statement at 10:20 a.m. Eastern time. Administration officials indicated earlier that Obama and fellow Democrats remain opposed to the House GOP plan and its provision for a two-stage increase in the federal debt ceiling tied to large spending cuts. The White House wants a single increase in the $14.3 trillion debt limit that would last into 2013, arguing that a series of short-term raises would fail to calm the markets, possibly trigger a credit-rating downgrade and become embroiled in election-year politics.
    House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) called a 10 a.m. meeting with his party members to plot the way forward after he was forced to cancel a vote on his plan late Thursday in the face of persistent opposition from recalcitrant conservatives.
    In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) appealed Friday to his chamber’s Republicans to help him pass his compromise bill and invited Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to a new round of negotiations. He urged House Republicans to “break away from the shrill voices of the tea party” and return to the party of Ronald Reagan…. – WaPo, 7-29-11
  • Senator Reid: Moving forward with debt limit bill: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Friday said that he “cannot wait any longer” for the Republican-led House of Representatives to act on a debt limit increase and he will begin taking steps to move legislation…. – Reuters, 7-29-11
  • Senate Dems to push ahead with debt-limit bill: The Senate Democratic leader says he will move ahead with a debt-limit bill as a rival proposal remains stalled in the House.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Friday that his plan would cut $2.5 trillion from the deficit over a decade and avert a debilitating default. He said it’s likely the last chance to save the nation from default with a Tuesday deadline looming. The Nevada Democrat said he has invited his counterpart, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, to negotiate with him.
    Reid’s move sets up a potential showdown vote in the Senate on Sunday. – AP, 7-29-11
  • Reid will move forward on Senate debt-ceiling plan: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Friday morning that he would take action on the Senate’s version of a debt-ceiling compromise, one day after House Republicans postponed Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) debt-ceiling proposal as leaders scrambled to whip up support for the plan.
    “No matter how long Republicans delay, the deadline will not move. We have hours – I repeat, hours – to act,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “That is why, by the end of the day today, I must take action on the Senate’s compromise legislation.”
    “This is likely our last chance to save this nation from default,” Reid added.
    Reid’s remarks came as the White House announced that President Obama would make a statement on the status of debt negotiations at 10:20 a.m. There were no obvious signs of compromise in the Senate as the day began.
    Reid said that he had invited Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to sit down and “negotiate in good faith knowing the clock is running down.”
    “I hope will accept my offer,” Reid said.
    “I know the Senate compromise bill Democrats have offered is not perfect in Republican eyes. Nor is it perfect for Democrats,” he added. “But together, we must make it work for all of us. It is the only option. The settlement on the table will never give either party everything it wants. But it already meets the Republicans’ demands.”
    McConnell took the Senate floor to urge Democrats to back the Boehner’s measure, though it was not at all clear that the House bill will make it to the Senate for consideration.
    “You’ve got the speaker of the House doing his job,” McConnell said. “Speaker Boehner has been doing the hard work of governing, working day and night to put together a bill that can actually pass the House of Representatives and end this crisis now.” “It’s about time our Democratic friends join us,” he said. … – WaPo, 7-29-11
  • Senate Dems to move ahead with debt-limit bill: Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid served notice Friday that he’s pushing ahead with his debt-limit bill as House Speaker John Boehner’s rival measure languished in limbo, further escalating a wrenching political standoff that has heightened fears of a market-rattling government default.
    “This is likely our last chance to save this nation from default,” Reid declared glumly on the Senate floor, as a Tuesday’s deadline drew closer.
    Reid’s move came with Boehner’s bill still in wait of a vote and a bitter standoff between GOP leaders and their conservative rank and file. Demoralized House Republicans were striving for a third straight day to pass the Boehner bill, even though it had virtually no chance of surviving the Senate.
    Reid, D-Nev., said he had invited Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to join him in negotiations.
    “I know the Senate compromise bill Democrats have offered is not perfect in Republican’ eyes. Nor is it perfect for Democrats,” Reid said. “But together, we must make it work for all of us. It is the only option.”
    Reid’s move sets up a showdown vote on Sunday…. – AP, 7-29-11
  • Reid vows Senate will act on debt-limit plan: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed today the Senate will act on his plan to raise the nation’s debt limit, saying the economy should not be held hostage by recalcitrant House Republicans.
    “This is likely our last chance to save our nation from a default,” Reid said this morning, after Speaker John Boehner abruptly called off a vote last night on a GOP plan when he could not muster the votes for passage.
    Reid, D-Nev., implored conservative Republicans to abandon their allegiance to the anti-tax, small government Tea Party movement and “go back to being the party of Ronald Reagan.”
    Reid’s remarks drew a quick retort from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who decried “chest bumping” comments from Democrats who said they would oppose Boehner’s plan once it got to the Senate. McConnell, R-Ky., argued it is the Republicans who are trying to govern…. – USA Today, 7-29-11
  • House Again Seeks Votes, After Failing to Pass Debt Plan: House Republican leaders, who had abruptly put off a vote on their proposal to raise the debt ceiling and cut government spending, called their rank and file back into another closed-door session on Friday to resume their overnight search for the last few votes they need.
    President Obama was expected to comment on the deepening impasse shortly, and there was no clear sign what the next step would be. Among the several possibilities were changes to the House bill, an attempt by Senate Democrats to leapfrog forward with their own plan, or a new attempt to reach a compromise on the part of all the major players.
    In an effort to break the logjam, Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, called on Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, to meet with him on Friday to try to resolve to the stalemate, given the failure of House Republicans to advance their own budget proposal.
    “My door is open,” Mr. Reid said as the Senate convened. “I will listen to any idea to get this done in a way that prevents a default and a dangerous downgrade to America’s credit rating. Time is short, and too much is at stake, to waste even one more minute. “The last train is leaving the station,” he said. “This is our last chance to avert default.”
    Mr. McConnell, who had earlier been working with Mr. Reid on a fallback plan, abandoned that attempt and has been supporting the effort by the House speaker, John A. Boehner, to push through a proposal that would raise the debt limit in two stages — an approach flatly rejected by Senate Democrats and the White House. Mr. McConnell also had been talking with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. but broke the conversation off while the Boehner plan was pending.
    Mr. McConnell, too, came to the Senate floor and offered little indication that he was ready to deal, accusing Democrats of devoting recent days to undermining the House plan. “Our Democratic friends in the Senate have offered no solutions to the crisis that can pass either chamber,” he said…. – NYT, 7-29-11
  • White House opposed to short-term debt limit lift: The White House remains opposed to any short-term increase in the debt limit, unless a broader deficit-cutting deal is agreed and needs time to be voted through Congress, a White House official said on Friday. “Our position has not changed,” the official said…. – Reuters, 7-29-11
  • Boehner’s big bid on debt undone from right, left: Despite his image as a button-down Republican, House Speaker John Boehner walked to the brink of a dramatic and historic agreement to change the government’s spending habits.
    But as he twice approached a $4 trillion deficit-reduction deal with President Barack Obama that would have rocked both parties’ bases, Boehner was reeled back in by his caucus’ conservative wing. The muscular, tea party-fueled group not only forced him to abandon a “grand bargain” with Obama, it made him scramble Wednesday to secure the votes for a far more modest deficit-ceiling plan, which in turn is all but doomed in the Senate.
    The events highlight the limits of power for an experienced and well-liked politician who has struggled to budge his caucus’ staunchest conservatives despite constantly reminding them that their party doesn’t control the Senate or White House.
    “The problem with leadership is it has to be conjoined with follower-ship,” Duke University political scientist David Rohde said. “Boehner is not in a position to give orders to his members.”… – AP, 7-28-11

JULY 28-29, 2011: BOEHNER DELAYS VOTE ON HOUSE DEBT PLAN — FRIDAY VOTE POSSIBLE

Republican leader says the House will not vote tonight on debt bill: House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that the chamber will not vote tonight on Speaker John A. Boehner’s proposal to lift the federal debt ceiling. A vote on the bill had been scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, but as that hour approached, House leaders called for an indefinite postponement of the vote, signalling that Boehner, McCarthy and other House GOP leaders did not have the votes lined up to pass the Boehner plan.

Lacking Votes, House Won’t Vote on Boehner Debt Plan Tonight: Republican leaders in the House have announced that there will be no vote on the debt ceiling bill Thursday night, an indication that House Speaker John A. Boehner remains short of the votes necessary to pass his legislation.
Mr. Boehner and his top lieutenants called it a night after more than five hours of furious arm-twisting of freshman Republicans, many of whom emerged from the closed-door sessions appearing to be firmer in their opposition.
There was little indication of what else had transpired during an evening that was supposed to have been a victory for Mr. Boehner as he passed a second debt-limit bill over to the Democratic Senate.
Instead, the evening highlighted the tensions within his conference and the sway that the Tea Party backed members hold within Mr. Boehner’s party.
There was no indication of whether a vote might still come on Friday.

“What a compromise looks like is pretty clear. Significant deficit reduction; a mechanism by which Congress would take on the tough issues of tax reform and entitlement reform; and a lifting of the debt ceiling into 2013 so that we do not have the cloud of uncertainty that is hanging over our economy right now.” — White House press secretary Jay Carney

“It’s Mad Hatter time on the Hill… None of this has anything to do with the economy, it’s all power games inside the Beltway.” — A Senior White House Official

“This bill is not perfect. I’ve never said it was perfect. Nobody in my caucus believes it’s perfect.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“No Democrat will vote for a short-term Band Aid that would put our economy at risk.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“What we need to do is get beyond, you know, voting on dead-on-arrival measures that aren’t going to become law when we have so few days left to reach a compromise.” — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

“Clock ticks towards August 2, House is naming post offices, while leaders twist arms for pointless vote. No wonder people hate Washington.” — White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer on Twitter

  • Factbox: Details of competing debt limit plans: House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid are pushing rival plans to raise the government’s borrowing limit before an August 2 deadline. Reid could modify his plan to attract Republican support once Boehner’s bill fails in the Senate. Here are details of the two plans… – Reuters, 7-28-11
  • Factbox: House factions influence debt/deficit vote: On any major piece of legislation that moves through Congress, various factions within the House of Representatives and Senate can influence chances of success or failure.
    That has been especially true in the debate over raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit by August 2 in order to avoid a U.S. government default. Here is a rundown of the various factions — many overlap — and how they shaped the debate and how they might influence the final vote:

    TEA PARTY HOUSE CAUCUS…
    HOUSE REPUBLICAN STUDY COMMITTEE…
    THE TUESDAY GROUP…
    BLUE DOG DEMOCRATS…
    THE CONGRESSIONAL PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS…
    REPUBLICAN SENATOR JIM DEMINT…

    Reuters, 7-28-11

  • Obama to Speak on Debt Crisis: President Obama will deliver a statement about the debt-ceiling fight at the White House at 10:20 a.m. at the White House. His appearance will kick off what is sure to be an eventful day in the partisan showdown over the budget, with the clock ticking toward midnight on Tuesday, when the government will exhaust its ability to pay all its bills without additional borrowing.
    It is not clear whether Mr. Obama intends merely to exhort Congress or to put any new proposal on the table. On Capitol Hill, House Republican leaders continue to scramble to find the votes they need to pass their version of legislation to cut spending and increase the debt ceiling…. – NYT, 7-29-11
  • House Leaders Meet Again to Round Up Votes: House Republicans prepared to head into a crucial closed-door session in the basement of the Capitol at 10 a.m. Friday.
    The meeting will provide another opportunity for the House leadership to determine whether they have the votes to push through their debt-ceiling plan.
    Republican aides said that John A. Boehner, the House speaker, “remains committed” to preventing default and said they expected to vote on the speaker’s plan at some point Friday. But that kind of optimism persisted throughout the day on Thursday and did not end in a vote…. – NYT, 7-29-11
  • Debt ceiling vote postponed; for John Boehner, ‘it’s all on the line’: John Boehner faces the biggest test of his speakership Friday morning as he tries to resuscitate a monumental debt-limit bill that was forced from the floor Thursday night because Republican leaders hadn’t lined up enough votes to pass it.
    On the line: The outcome of a debt-limit increase that has consumed Washington and New York for months, Boehner’s standing in the Republican Conference, and the balance of power between the House GOP and the Democrats who control the White House and the Senate. Republican leaders hoped to put the bill back on the floor Friday, either in its current form or in a slightly altered state, and some in the GOP worried that Thursday night’s failure to move the bill could disrupt markets.
    But Boehner has been in plenty of tough scrapes before, and he tends to stay very cool when others start to panic. He’ll address his troops at 10 a.m. Friday in a closed meeting in the basement of the Capitol with a lot at stake.
    “This is the key week of Boehner’s speakership,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) told POLITICO. “It’s all on the line.” Politico, 7-29-11
  • Obama: Waiting, waiting, waiting: President Obama planned to make some kind of statement last night — after the Republican House passed Speaker John Boehner’s debt ceiling plan.
    Instead, as he has for most of the week, Obama sat and waited as Boehner scrambled to find enough Republicans to get his plan through the House — and eventually put off a final vote.
    Largely sidelined since Boehner decided last week to break off direct White House talks, Obama and his team are constantly trying to game out the next moves in the debt ceiling dispute, hoping to avoid the prospect of a government default next week.
    Administration official still expect the Boehner bill to pass at some point, hopefully today. They also expect the Democratic Senate to then kill the Boehner plan, setting up even more talks on a potential compromise.
    Officials also said there’s enough similarities between the Boehner plan and the proposal by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, to get a deal and avoid a potential government default next week…. – USA Today, 7-29-11
  • Boehner fights for debt ceiling bill, as protesters rally against him: The federal government is now just over 4 days away from maxing out its credit card. House Speaker John Boehner is having real trouble even getting Republicans to pass his debt ceiling bill.
    Opponents are planning to stage a protest at 10 a.m. on Friday, as a counter to Monday’s tea party support rally. Protests will be calling on the House Speaker to spare social security, medicare, medicaid and college scholarship programs from funding cuts. That rally comes as Boehner struggles to get enough Republican support to pass his latest debt ceiling-budget cutting plans in Washington, D.C.
    Thursday night, a vote on that plan was postponed for lack of support among his own party members.
    Congressman Boehner told reporters late Thursday, “The bill’s not perfect, I’ve never said it was perfect, nobody in my caucus believes it is perfect. But what this bill reflects is a sincere, honest effort to end this crisis.”
    Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “What we need to do is get beyond, you know, voting on dead-on-arrival measures that aren’t going to become law when we have so few days left to reach a compromise.”
    Carney was referring to the fact that 53 Democratic senators have written a letter to Speaker Boehner saying they oppose his debt ceiling bill and will vote against it, if and when it arrives in the Senate.
    Before the house convenes at 11 a.m. Friday morning, it’s expected Boehner will be spending the morning, twisting the arms of more house republicans to see if he can get enough votes for his almost $1 trillion in cuts to raise the federal debt ceiling before Tuesday…. – KY Post, 7-29-11
  • U.S. House Bids to Salvage Boehner Debt Bill: House Republican leaders, four days before a threatened U.S. default and facing stiff resistance within their ranks to raising the U.S. debt ceiling, plan to make a second try at passing legislation that is headed for a Senate roadblock.
    Republicans led by House Speaker John Boehner were forced to scrap action on the measure late last night. They are considering a rewrite for a second time this week after face-to- face meetings with recalcitrant lawmakers failed to yield the votes to push it through the House.
    Skeptics concerned that the plan wouldn’t do enough to rein in the debt were insisting on conditioning part of the borrowing boost on congressional passage of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
    The measure should be amended to “something transformative that transcends election cycles and has some degree of permanency to it,” said Republican Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, a freshman opponent of the measure who met with House leaders for three hours last night as they struggled unsuccessfully to build support for the bill.
    The delay was a setback for Boehner and his leadership team, forcing them to delay a vote until today. They implored Republicans to back a measure that President Barack Obama’s advisers have said he would veto and Senate leaders promised to quickly defeat…. – Bloomberg, 7-29-11
  • Senior White House Official: ‘Mad Hatter Time on the Hill’: President Obama is likely to speak today to try to reassure any panicking Americans and to urge Congress to compromise.
    White House officials had expected that Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, would be able to pass his bill Thursday night and watched in disbelief as he pulled the bill because it didn’t have enough votes to pass.
    While the president believes the debacle on the Hill underlines his belief that passing a small bill is no easier than passing a big one, he also believes the time for a big deal has passed, officials said…. – ABC News, 7-29-11
  • Republican House Leaders Work for Votes Into the Night: The waiting continued at the Capitol Thursday night as the Republican leadership worked late looking for votes that could rescue House Speaker John A. Boehner’s debt ceiling bill.
    At just after 10 p.m., staff members for the Rules Committee were seen walking into the office of Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the majority whip, prompting speculation that the panel will try to clear the way for the House to consider changes that might win a few extra votes.
    Representatives Tim Scott of South Carolina and Jason Chaffetz of Utah, as well as Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, John Mica of Florida and Cory Gardner of Colorado, entered Mr. McCarthy’s office. All are Republicans who have expressed doubts about or outright opposition to the bill…. – NYT, 7-28-11
  • Post-Aug 2 plan may be unveiled as soon as Friday: The U.S. Treasury will unveil a plan as soon as Friday evening on how the government will function and pay its bills if it looks like Congress will not raise the debt ceiling in a timely manner, an administration official said on Thursday.
    Republican and Democratic lawmakers are scrambling to broker a deal to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion debt cap before Tuesday, when the Treasury will no longer be able to borrow funds to meet all of its obligations…. – Reuters, 7-28-11
  • U.S. House Postpones Debt-Ceiling Vote as Compromise Sought: House Speaker John Boehner, falling short of the votes within his own party needed to increase the U.S. debt limit after a night of one-on-one appeals to members, cancelled a vote on a plan that Senate leaders pledge to defeat.
    Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House’s chief vote-counter, told reporters after several hours of closed-door meetings that there would be no House vote tonight.
    Senate Democrats meanwhile are working to break the impasse over raising the debt limit by devising a strict enforcement mechanism to guarantee future deficit savings, according to Democratic officials.
    After the House postponed a vote planned at about 6 p.m. Washington time, the speaker summoned fellow Republicans opposing his plan into his office and walked to McCarthy’s office, where pizza was delivered. Representative Jeff Flake, who went in and out repeatedly, said he remained opposed to the plan after meeting with Boehner…. – Bloomberg, Businessweek, 7-28-11
  • House calls off vote on Boehner debt ceiling plan: House leaders called off a vote on Speaker John Boehner’s plan to cut federal spending and raise the nation’s debt limit late Thursday, after a last-ditch lobbying effort failed to line up the Republican votes needed to ensure passage.
    Party leaders held out hope that further changes could attract wavering conservatives. The House Rules Committee was set to meet at 11 p.m. Eastern time to amend the measure, striking some or all of $17 billion in supplemental funds for Pell Grants, a move that would add to the plan’s $915 billion in deficit savings.
    A meeting of the full House Republican conference is planned for Friday morning…. – LAT, 7-28-11
  • Republicans search for votes with Boehner plan in jeopardy: House leaders worked late into the night Thursday to convince the final few wavering Republicans to back a debt ceiling plan from House Speaker John A. Boehner, even as the Senate stood by ready to immediately kill the plan.
    A vote that had been scheduled for the early evening was postponed just moments before it was to be called, when the GOP leadership recognized it was shy of the 216 members needed to advance the measure.
    In an effort to win over some of the conference’s more conservative members, Boehner was prepared strike $17 billion in supplemental funds for Pell Grants, which would add to the plan’s $915 billion in deficit savings.
    Republicans were eight votes short, but dropped down to two after hours of negotiations, aides said…. – LAT, 7-28-11
  • Debt Vote Crucial to GOP Cohesion: House Speaker John Boehner was working Thursday night to win a high-stakes showdown over the debt-ceiling bill he has crafted, with the outcome crucial to both the deficit debate and his tenure as speaker.
    House Republican leadership aides had expressed confidence all day that Mr. Boehner would win the votes of enough balky conservatives to secure passage of his plan. And win he must, leaders said, if the GOP conference, tugged between loyalties to Mr. Boehner and to tea-party activists, is to be molded into a reliable governing majority.
    “This is a defining vote,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R., Okla.), a senior member of the vote-counting “whip” team. He described the vote as important not just to the speaker but to the cohesion of the entire Republican House contingent.
    The vote on the measure to raise the nation’s borrowing limit by an initial $900 billion—scheduled for Thursday evening then abruptly postponed—may be of little consequence in the larger struggle to avoid a first-ever default on the nation’s debt. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pledged the bill would die promptly in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
    But to the workings of the House and the future of Mr. Boehner’s speakership, success is vital. The outcome has turned into a contest between Mr. Boehner, an 11-term House veteran, and the tea-party freshmen who made him speaker. Those members were listening to more senior conservatives—especially those such as such Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) who are seeking higher office—as they fueled a rebellion against Mr. Boehner’s approach, demanding more deficit reduction and harder limits on future spending than the speaker’s bill offers.
    Late Thursday, the wavering of those young conservatives forced the delay on the vote for the second time in a week…. – WSJ, 7-28-11
  • House delays vote on Boehner debt-limit plan: The U.S. House is in recess and has delayed a vote on Speaker John Boehner’s plan to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, as the GOP leadership tries to get votes for passage.
    Two hours of debate on Boehner’s measure, which would raise the nation’s borrowing authority and cut spending by a greater amount, ended hours ago and the House moved on to bills that name post offices. The GOP leadership had said they hope to hold a vote “later.”
    Congress is racing to avert a historic default on America’s financial obligations by Tuesday.
    Boehner met with resistant lawmakers throughout the day to secure the bill’s passage, even though it will likely die when it reaches the Democratic-controlled Senate. Some members of the House GOP majority are balking because the bill does not cut enough spending…. – USA Today, 7-28-11
  • Vote delayed on debt bill as default date looms: A Republican plan to cut the budget deficit stumbled toward a vote in Congress on Thursday and its expected demise could force a compromise to avert an imminent and unprecedented debt default by the world’s largest economy.
    With the measure short of as many as four votes, according to aides, the Republican-led House of Representatives abruptly delayed a vote as Speaker John Boehner struggled to overcome objections from conservative rebels in his own party…. – Reuters, 7-28-11
  • House GOP leaders scrambling for votes for their debt ceiling plan: Republicans in the House of Representatives struggled Thursday to find enough votes within their own ranks to pass a GOP plan to cut future deficits and raise the nation’s debt limit – even though their party leaders were solidly behind the plan.
    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, abruptly postponed an early evening vote. Instead, he and other leaders worked furiously to persuade 217 Republicans to vote for passage. Recalcitrant Republicans were summoned to Boehner’s office for arm-twisting sessions.
    Many GOP conservatives, under strong pressure from tea party and other like-minded groups, were balking, saying the GOP plan wouldn’t cut federal spending enough – and some said that the nation’s debt limit shouldn’t be raised at all.
    A defeat would be a huge embarrassment for Boehner. “This is a vote that John needs,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y…. – Miami Herald, 7-28-11
  • Debt deal compromise suggested by Democrats: Democrats are aiming for a debt-limit compromise similar to the House Republican plan, with at least one major difference: The second vote on raising the debt ceiling would not depend on Congress passing a broader deficit-reduction package.
    The shape of this potential compromise meshes major elements of the proposals offered in recent weeks by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), according to Democratic officials familiar with the negotiations.
    Under the possible compromise, Congress could still get a second crack at voting on the debt limit within months. But rather than linking the vote to Congress approving the recommendations of a new 12-member committee — as it would be in Boehner’s bill — Democrats prefer McConnell’s proposal that allows President Barack Obama to lift the debt ceiling unless two-thirds of both chambers override his veto of a disapproval resolution, the officials said…. – Politico, 7-28-11
  • Sarah Palin’s Well-Timed Reminder to Freshmen: Sarah Palin has impeccable timing. The former Republican vice presidential nominee took to her Facebook page Thursday afternoon to warn freshman Republicans in the House that they just might face primary opposition if they cave in to demands by their party to raise the debt ceiling.
    “All my best to you, GOP Freshmen, from up here in the Last Frontier. Sincerely, Sarah Palin,” she wrote. “P.S. Everyone I talk to still believes in contested primaries.”
    Just two hours later, House Speaker John A. Boehner was forced to postpone the vote on his proposal to increase the debt ceiling at the last minute, apparently facing a revolt among some of those very members…. – NYT, 7-28-11 Sarah Palin on Facebook, Congressional Freshmen – For Such A Time As This, 7-28-11
  • The weak speaker: How a failed debt vote disarmed the nation’s top Republican: House Speaker John Boehner failed to muster enough GOP votes to pass his plan to raise the debt limit on Thursday night, throwing into question the fate of Boehner’s proposal as well as that of his speakership. Republican leaders must now rewrite the legislation in order to attract more conservatives as they try to pass a revised version on Friday. But considerable damage has been done. Boehner’s negotiating stance in the ongoing effort to trim deficits and raise the debt ceiling by next Tuesday’s deadline is hobbled; any credibility he had in claiming that his restive members could get behind a consensus debt deal has vanished. The Speaker has gone lame. … – Time, 7-29-11
  • US debt crisis: Is Obama’s leadership style suited to the moment?: Despite Obama’s use of the bully pulpit in the showdown over the debt limit, he is not a direct party to negotiations. How much has his cautious leadership style contributed to his predicament?….
    And Obama himself is no longer even a direct party to the negotiations. His White House must rely on its Democratic allies, particularly in the Democratically-controlled Senate, to stay in the loop.
    But certainly there is a dimension to Obama’s leadership style – a tendency to set a policy framework and then let Congress work out the details – that has contributed to the state of play…. – CS Monitor, 7-27-11
  • Why John Boehner is determined to pass his doomed debt-ceiling bill: House Speaker John Boehner’s debt-ceiling plan won’t pass the Senate. Yet he is making huge efforts to ensure it passes the House – including delaying a vote Thursday – because his leadership is at stake.
    House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday expended a tremendous amount of time and energy on a debt-ceiling bill that is doomed to fail, because his credibility as leader of the House depends upon it. If Mr. Boehner can’t marshal his Republicans to back him on this crucial vote, he risks losing his leverage in the debt-ceiling endgame.
    “If this were a parliamentary system, this would have been the equivalent of a no confidence vote,” says Stan Collender, a longtime federal budget analyst and partner at Qorvis Communications in Washington.
    Thursday afternoon GOP leaders delayed the vote on Boehner’s debt-ceiling plan – typically a sign that they have yet to find the 217 votes needed to pass the bill. Even if the Boehner plan makes it through the House, however, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada says that the has the votes to make sure it goes nowhere in the Senate. President Obama has threatened to veto it…. – CS Monitor, 7-28-11

JULY 28, 2011: BOEHNER DELAYS VOTE ON HOUSE DEBT PLAN — DEBT PLAN C EMERGES COMPROMISE BETWEEN BOEHNER HOUSE PLAND & REID’S SENATE PLAN

House Postpones Vote on Boehner’s Debt Ceiling Plan: House Speaker John A. Boehner abruptly delayed an expected vote on Republican debt ceiling legislation late Thursday, shifting business on the House floor in the middle of the debt debate.
The delay came after House lawmakers had already began discussing the legislation that would set up a pivotal showdown between the House and the Senate over how to cut spending and increase the debt limit before the federal government loses its ability to borrow.
It was unclear whether the debate and vote on the legislation was delayed because Republicans did not feel that they had the votes to ensure its passage. — NYT, 7-28-11

“When the house takes action, the United States Senate will have no more excuses for inaction.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“It will be defeated. No Democrat will vote for a short-term Band-Aid that would put our economy at risk and put the nation back in this untenable situation a few short months from now.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Mitch McConnell: Democrat leaders and the President himself have endorsed every feature of this legislation except one: and that’s the fact that it doesn’t allow the President to avoid another national debate about spending and debt until after the next Presidential election. This assurance is the only thing the President and Senate Democrats are holding out for right now.

“We do not have the votes yet. But today is the day. We’re going to get it passed.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“Harry Reid has three different options. One is to suffer the economic consequences of default, which all of us hope he doesn’t choose. Two is to bring up the bill we sent prior … or to accept the compromise bill that we are sending over today.” — Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader

Reid: Senate Will Vote Down House Short-Term Bill Tonight: “Today the House of Representatives will vote on Speaker Boehner’s short-term plan to raise the debt ceiling. As soon as the House completes its vote, the Senate will move to take up that bill, and it will be defeated tonight. No Democrat will vote for a short-term Band-Aid that would put our economy at risk and put the nation back in this untenable situation a few short months from now.
Economists have said a short-term deal holds many of the same risks as a technical default. Democrats are not willing to put our economy on the line like that. Our economy and the financial markets desperately need stability. Speaker Boehner’s bill does not provide it. It is time for Tea Party Republicans to stop resisting compromise. They must join Democrats and Republicans of good will in putting the good of our economy ahead of politics.”

  • Debt ceiling Q&A: How did we get here, what happens next? LAT, 7-28-11
  • House GOP Postpones Vote on Boehner Debt Ceiling Plan: House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team urged passage of their short-term debt limit increase Thursday, calling it a compromise that the Senate needs to pass, but delayed a scheduled vote on the bill…. – PBS Newshour, 7-28-11
  • Obama Preps Emergency Plan if No Deal Before Deadline: The Obama administration has begun making clear in the past 24 hours that it is busy preparing emergency plans for how the government would operate if no debt agreement is passed by Aug. 2, and choices would have to be made about which bills would be paid immediately…. – PBS Newshour, 7-28-11
  • Potential Debt Limit ‘Plan C’ Emerges, Democrats Say: Democratic officials are cautiously optimistic that the outlines of a potential compromise – a “Plan C” – are emerging that could bridge the differences between plans pushed by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
    The officials said President Obama has spent the past couple of days quietly reaching out to leaders in both parties to try and start hammering out the details, though it’s clear this is still only in the discussion phase and they are not close to a deal yet.
    Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., hinted at such a compromise earlier Thursday during an interview on Fox News.
    “Let me just say behind the scenes there are discussions underway to find a way forward,” said Conrad. “To how would you harmonize what Leader Reid has come up with and Speaker Boehner has come up with and I’m increasingly of the view that we can do that. That’s good news.”
    The focus of this round of talks is on what kind of “trigger” mechanism the debt ceiling legislation will have to guarantee that a new special committee of Congress actually follows up with real spending cuts later this year. And whether or not positive action by the committee will allow the president to get more leeway on another lift in the debt ceiling so there’s no repeat of the current debate early next year…. – Fox News, 7-28-11
  • House leaders delay vote on GOP bill extending debt limit; vote still expected Thursday night: House Republican leaders have abruptly delayed a vote on a bill extending the government’s debt limit and cutting federal spending.
    House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, said it was “a sensible assumption” that Boehner was still trying to round up the needed votes. Steel said the vote would still happen Thursday night.
    The House was nearing the end of its debate on the legislation when Republicans suddenly shifted gears. They instead moved to a bill renaming a post office in Peoria, Ill.
    GOP leaders have been laboring to line up the 216 votes the debt bill would need to pass the House, and they have encountered opposition from some conservatives. There are 240 Republicans in the House. Few if any Democrats are expected to support the measure…. – AP, 7-28-11
  • House postpones debt-ceiling vote: House leaders have delayed a scheduled vote on the debt ceiling plan offered by House Speaker John A. Boehner, a possible acknowledgement that Republicans lacked the votes to ensure passage.
    The postponement was announced just minutes before the planned 6 p.m. vote. The House instead moved to consider a far less controversial measure — to rename a post office in Peoria, Ill.
    Republicans had been working throughout the day Thursday to lock down support for their plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, even as Senate Democrats vowed to swiftly kill it if passed…. – LAT, 7-28-11
  • Snapshot: What is happening Thursday in debt crisis: The House of Representatives is set to vote on a Republican plan proposed by Speaker John Boehner to raise the debt ceiling in a two-step process that links any borrowing increase with spending cuts. If the measure passes the Republican-controlled House, Democrats vow to defeat it in the Senate using their majority in that chamber.
    The vote in the House is tentatively scheduled between 5:45 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. EDT (2145 and 2215 GMT).
    During a morning meeting with fellow Republicans, Boehner urges them to back his bill. Wavering lawmakers get resounding cheers as they stand up to say they will support it. Although several lawmakers say after the meeting they have changed their minds and would vote yes, the result is still likely to be very close as it is unclear how many will oppose Boehner’s plan.
    The chief Republican vote counter, Kevin McCarthy, declines to say whether the Boehner bill has enough votes to pass. “We’re moving in the right direction. This conference has moved a great deal in a short amount of time,” McCarthy says.
    House Democrats also meet to discuss the latest Republican plan. The top Democratic House vote counter, Steny Hoyer, says his party would be close to unanimous against the bill.
    White House spokesman Jay Carney calls Boehner’s proposal a “political act” that would not pass the Senate. Carney urges lawmakers to work out a compromise.
    Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid plans a vote in the Senate on Thursday night on the Boehner plan if it passes the House. “It will be defeated” in the Senate, Reid says…. – Reuters, 7-28-11
  • Speaker Boehner Faces His Biggest Test: When the House of Representatives votes on Speaker John Boehner’s plan to cut the deficit by $917 billion over 10 years (according to that new handy Congressional Budget Office score he got Wednesday night) and immediately raise the debt ceiling by $900 billion (which will allow the government to avoid for default for roughly six months), it will, at once, represent the most meaningful vote of his term and an entirely meaningless vote in actually solving the looming debt ceiling deadline.
    Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy have been getting their members in line in hopes of getting 217 “yeas” and passing the plan without any expected Democratic votes.
    If Rep. Boehner loses this vote Thursday, he’ll be widely viewed as a speaker who has no control over his rank and file. Most Hill observers anticipate the bill will pass, and questions about his ability to wrangle the conservative and Tea Party-backed freshmen will be put to rest, for now. That’s what makes the vote so very meaningful.
    However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent a letter to Speaker Boehner on Wednesday night, signed by all 51 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them, explaining that the bill is dead on arrival in the Senate…. – PBS Newshour, 7-28-11
  • House Republicans challenge Senate Democrats: House of Representatives Republican leader Eric Cantor Thursday challenged the Democratic-led Senate to accept a House-passed bill raising the debt limit or suffer the consequences of default.
    Cantor issued the challenge at a news conference just hours before the Republican-controlled House was tentatively set to vote on a revised proposal to reduce deficits and raise the debt ceiling short-term.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Senate Democrats would reject the revised plan crafted by Republican House Speaker John Boehner…. – Reuters, 7-28-11
  • Boehner Sees Passage of Debt Plan; Reid Vows to Kill It: The House and Senate headed for a pivotal showdown on Thursday evening over how to cut spending and increase the debt limit before the federal government loses its ability to borrow.
    The House began debate and a vote was expected early this evening, with Republican leaders confident of winning over enough holdouts to pass their plan, which would make $900 billion in cuts, raise the debt ceiling for a few months, and come back for more of the same later. But Senate Democratic leaders said that if that happened they would waste no time rejecting the legislation.
    Leaders of both parties and in both chambers said that it was essential to avoid a default on the federal debt, but that was practically all they agreed on.
    The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said Senate Democrats would move immediately Thursday night to set aside the House proposal if it wins passage and then take steps to force a vote on Mr. Reid’s own proposal to raise the debt limit through 2012 in exchange for more than $2 trillion in cuts. “No Democrat will vote for a short-term Band-Aid that would put our economy at risk and put the nation back in this untenable situation a few short months from now,” Mr. Reid said.
    But the House Republican leaders, all but declaring that they now had the votes in hand, said that would put blame for the continuing crisis on the Senate Democrats. “When the house takes action, the United States Senate will have no more excuses for inaction,” said the House speaker, John A. Boehner, just before taking his bill to the floor for debate.
    As they prepared to open debate, he and his fellow Republican leaders seemed confident that they would indeed pass the bill soon and send it to the Senate…. – NYT, 7-28-11
  • Rival Plans Avoid Tough Decisions: The two main deficit-reduction plans in the House and the Senate, which would tie cuts in federal spending to an increase in the debt limit, both defer tough decisions and rely heavily on procedural steps to impose fiscal discipline.
    These devices include annual spending caps on selected government programs and a new Congressional panel to recommend additional savings — with no guarantee that Congress will enact the proposals.
    At the center of the debate on Capitol Hill this week is the question whether the cuts are deep enough and the savings are genuine. To get a deal, Congressional leaders may need to add new enforcement measures to ensure that the promised savings are achieved.
    In a weak economy, many economists and Obama administration officials say, Congress should not make sharp, immediate cuts in federal spending. The leading deficit-reduction plans defer major decisions about exactly how and where to cut…. – NYT, 7-28-11
  • House voting on GOP bill _ key step in debt fight: As Thursday’s crucial vote neared, Republican leaders convinced a growing number of their fractious rank and file to support a House plan to stave off an unprecedented government default. Many of the chamber’s GOP freshmen, crucial to passage, were climbing aboard, but leaders stopped short of claiming victory.
    If the House approved the bill, it would bring President Barack Obama and congressional leaders a step closer to endgame efforts for a debt-limit solution before Tuesday’s deadline.
    At an afternoon news conference, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the House would act on legislation that he called “a sincere, honest effort to end this crisis.” Rival Democratic leaders moved ahead on the assumption that Boehner would prevail in rallying Republicans to back the legislation…. – AP, 7-28-11
  • Boehner won’t say if his bill is House’s final offer: Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) implored the Senate to take up his debt-limit bill but pointedly refused to say whether it would be the House’s final offer before a potential U.S. default on Aug. 2.
    “We have a reasonable, responsible bill that was put together with the bipartisan leadership of the United States Senate, and I would hope that they would take it up,” Boehner said Thursday at a press conference with House Republican leaders. “There is no reason for them to say no. It is time for somebody in this town to say yes,” Boehner added.
    Asked if the House would remain in session over the weekend — when it would potentially consider Senate revisions to Boehner’s bill — the Speaker replied: “Sure.” He did not answer directly when asked if the House would consider a different version from the Senate.
    A Boehner spokesman, Michael Steel, said after the press conference: “We believe that once we pass the Budget Control Act, the only responsible course of action will be for the Senate to pass it and the president to sign it — which will end this crisis.”
    The House will vote on Boehner’s bill around 6 p.m. Thursday, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said the upper chamber will immediately take up and “defeat” the measure if it passes the House…. – The Hill, 7-28-11
  • Boehner: House debt plan is not perfect but is ‘doable and signable’: House Speaker John Boehner says his plan mixing spending cuts in exchange for raising the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit is not perfect but is as large a step that a divided government can take that’s “doable and signable” by President Barack Obama.
    The Ohio Republican says the measure is an honest and sincere attempt at compromise and was negotiated with Democrats last weekend and that passing it would end the ongoing debt crisis. The plan blends $900 billion-plus in spending cuts with a companion increase in the nation’s borrowing cap.
    But the White House has promised a veto since the measure also would require another debt limit increase early next year and Senate Democrats vow to kill the measure tonight. Boehner declined to say whether further compromise was possible…. – AP, 7-28-11
  • Advantage Boehner: Enough conservatives in the House appear to have decided that it’s down to the Boehner plan versus the Reid plan and that the speaker’s proposal is the lesser of two evils.
    After hours of arm-twisting yesterday within his GOP caucus, the betting is that House Speaker John Boehner’s debt ceiling bill will prevail by a whisker without any Democratic support. The House has scheduled a vote for today.
    As recently as Tuesday, the speaker’s plan appeared to be a sure loser, and the pressure applied by Mr. Boehner and his troops to cajole members into voting for it has bruised some feelings. But now even most freshman tea party members appear to be on board. We are told that The Journal’s Wednesday editorial “The GOP’s Reality Test” helped to turn the tide. So did other conservative voices, including National Review, which called the Boehner plan a “worthy framework,” and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, who advised members to “keep an open mind.”
    Conservatives in the House successfully urged Mr. Boehner to add more savings and get rid of budget tricks. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the revised plan will save about $917 billion over 10 years.
    Meanwhile, a Democratic debt ceiling proposal from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was exposed as using fuzzy math. CBO’s analysis found that about a half-trillion dollars of Mr. Reid’s advertised savings were from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — savings that are speculative at best.
    Enough conservatives in the House appear to have decided that it’s down to the Boehner plan versus the Reid plan and that the speaker’s proposal is the lesser of two evils. Moving the Boehner plan through the House increases the chances of “bigger spending cuts,” said GOP Rep. Darrell Issa of California.
    Mr. Boehner conceded that his plan “isn’t perfect,” but he told colleagues that it’s the best the GOP could hope for with “a Democrat-controlled Senate and a Democrat in the White House.” Tea party Republicans, who still feel burned by the false budget… – WSJ, 7-28-11
  • In debt ceiling fight, Boehner lays himself on the line: Much is at stake for the House speaker and the Republican Party as he tries to persuade unruly GOP lawmakers to back his debt ceiling plan…. – LAT, 7-28-11
  • John McCain derides ‘tea party hobbits’ in debt ceiling fight: The Arizona senator says conservatives would end up helping reelect President Obama if they reject the House Republican plan to raise the debt ceiling…. – LAT, 7-28-11
  • Boehner and Cantor To Reid: Pass Our New Bill, Pass Cut Cap N’ Balance, Or Face Default: The Republican leadership in Congress, with Speaker of the House John Boehner and Representative Eric Cantor at the head, told the nation that they are ready to pass their revised plan through the House and to the Senate. They told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the fate of the nation was on his hands, with Cantor telling him he had three options, sit back and watch the U.S. collapse, accept the new bill, or accept prior Cut, Cap, and Balance bill.
    Every time that it seems like resolution is drawing near, both parties make sure to remind the nation that the political show is more important than the nation’s finances. In their latest public appearance, Republicans said time is up, urging Senate Democrats to pass their bill and get on with running the country, without ever recognizing that as both sides blame the other for not passing their own bill, they are both being equally stubborn…. – Forbes, 7-28-11
  • Key debt-ceiling votes loom in Congress as deadline nears: With the high-stakes vote just hours away, House Republican leaders on Thursday made a last-ditch effort to lock down support for their plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, expressing measured confidence that they could persuade skeptical conservatives to get onboard.
    “We’re not there yet, we don’t have the votes yet. But today is the day,” House Speaker John Boehner told members at a morning meeting, according to a GOP source who was not authorized to discuss the private conversation.
    But even as Republican leaders hunted for votes, Senate Democrats announced plans to put the brakes on the House bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said his chamber would vote Thursday night — immediately after the House — to block the Boehner bill…. – Chicago Tribune, 7-28-11
  • Debt ceiling talks: House to vote on John Boehner’s budget deficit plan to avoid government default: House Speaker John Boehner was scrambling Thursday morning to line up the needed GOP support to pass his debt ceiling plan, which is set to be voted on later this evening.
    “We do not have the votes yet,” Boehner admitted to Republicans during a closed-door meeting, Politico.com reported. “But today is the day. We’re going to get it passed.”
    Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and their leadership whips fanned out across Capitol Hill to convince, cajole and brow-beat fiscal Tea Party hawks to back the measure.
    Deep divides within the Republican Party threatened to derail the Speaker’s proposal earlier this week, though an emerging civil war seemed to subside as many members warmed up to the plan…. – NY Daily News, 7-28-11
  • Republican division casts doubt on debt plan: The White House threatened Tuesday to veto legislation pending in the House of Representatives to avert a threatened default, a pre-emptive strike issued as Republican leaders of the lower chamber labored to line up enough votes to pass the measure.
    House Speaker John Boehner faced criticism from some conservatives in advance of an expected vote on Wednesday…. – AP, 7-28-11
  • Boehner: ‘Beyond My Control’ How Ratings Agencies Treat My Debt Limit Plan: House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) doesn’t sound all that confident that his debt limit bill would pass the smell test with credit ratings agencies, all of which are watching this debate closely.
    At his weekly Capitol briefing, a reporter asked him if he believed his legislation, if enacted would allow the U.S. to maintain its AAA credit rating. Boehner wouldn’t bite. “That is beyond my control,” he said. “All I know is that this bipartisan bill is as large a step as we’re able to take at this point in time that is doable, and signable and to become law.”
    In a strictly literal sense, this is true — it’s not within his power to determine what Moody’s or S&P does whenever this standoff ends. It’s also worth noting that what the ratings agencies do is often inscrutable, can be arbitrary, and is not immune to outside pressures, as we saw in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. But it’s a stretch for him to suggest his actions have no influence over what the agencies do: if he’d agreed to a “grand bargain” with President Obama, he’d confidently be able to predict the country’s current rating would stand. If his plan didn’t portend yet more debt limit brinksmanship in a few months, he’d be on firmer ground than he is now.
    Boehner did tacitly acknowledge that his plan might change, though. Pressed whether his debt limit bill is a “take it or leave it” proposition for Democrats, Boehner would only say, “we have a reasonable responsible approach, there is no reason for anyone to object to it.” Asked whether the House would be in session this weekend, after (presumably) passing his plan, he said “sure.”… – TPM, 7-28-11
  • US Congress can work with lightning speed on debt compromise: The U.S. Congress, known for moving painfully slowly, can kick into high gear when it is staring down a deadline important to the entire country — or when lawmakers are approaching their cherished August recess.
    Luckily for those who want to see Congress promptly raise the the United States’ borrowing limit after months of squabbling, both of those conditions are now in play. Members of Congress have two key dates foremost in their minds right now: Aug. 2 and Aug. 5…. – Reuters, 7-28-11
  • Asian Shares End Mostly Lower; US Debt Ceiling Concerns Weigh: Most Asian markets ended lower Thursday, amid growing concern the U.S. will be unable to resolve an impasse in negotiations on raising its debt ceiling, which could spur a credit downgrade or even a debt default.
    “The scary part of the story is the fact that markets have not priced-in the U.S. defaulting on its debt. Should the unthinkable happen in the next week then a throw back to the chaos of 2008 would again become a reality,” said CMC Markets analyst Ben Le Brun…. – WSJ, 7-28-11
  • Could Boehner and Reid plans both hurt recovery?: With the House looking more likely to pass Speaker John Boehner’s debt ceiling bill today, and with Harry Reid pushing his own plan, it’s worth asking: How would each of their plans impact the economy?
    From the point of view of helping the economy recover, this is idiotic. For Republicans, of course, increased unemployment and lower GDP increase the possibility of Obama being a one term president. The reason few people are stating the obvious — that there’s something oddly masochistic about harming the economy at time when so many are unemployed — is that both sides are pushing plans that could damage the recovery. That’s because we’re trapped in a Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop, where no one’s talking about unemployment and everyone’s talking about the deficit…. – WaPo, 7-28-11
  • Analysis: U.S. may be entering age of political deadlock: The debt limit impasse in Washington, where a polarized Congress is struggling to avert an imminent U.S. default, points to a deeper crisis — America may be entering an age of political paralysis.
    President Barack Obama’s ability to get any significant legislation passed before next November’s election is all but gone and whoever sits in the White House in 2013 will likely face a Congress unable to tackle major issues.
    A crisis of governance — born of decades of gerrymandering, polarization and exploding deficits — could persist in the short term and may last for a decade, said James Thurber of American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies.
    “We’re in deep trouble. We are going to have continued gridlock. It’s an era of deadlocked government during a period when the economy is not doing well and we are not doing well internationally,” Thurber said.
    “The world is looking to us for mature decision-making and they are not seeing it. We’re in a situation which is unique in our history. And it’s a very serious situation.”… – Reuters, 7-28-11

JULY 27, 2011: AS JOHN BOEHNER REIGNS IN CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICANS, HARRY REID PROMISES ALL SENATE DEMOCRATS WILL VOTE AGAINST HOUSE DEBT PLAN

“I didn’t put my neck on the line and go toe to toe with Obama to not have an army behind me.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“There are only three possible outcomes in this battle: President Obama gets his blank check; America defaults; or we call the president’s bluff by coming together and passing a bill that cuts spending and can pass in the United States Senate. There is no other option.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“The fact is, Republicans have offered the only proposal at this point that attempts to get at the root of the problem, and which actually has a chance of getting to the president’s desk.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

“The bottom line is there’s only one bill in Congress that’s a true compromise. We’re running out of time, and it’s time to get serious about finding that compromise.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“Get your ass in line. I can’t do this job unless you’re behind me.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s letter to Speaker Boehner on Wednesday night, signed by all 51 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them, explaining that the bill is dead on arrival in the Senate. — Reid.Senate.gov, 7-27-11

  • Debt ceiling: How would investors react to a default?: As the Aug. 2 debt deadline approaches, investors can envision everything from the stock market dropping like a rock to the economy shrinking as government vendors lay off thousands of workers…. – CS Monitor, 7-27-11
  • Debt-ceiling plans face CBO fire: Does either cut as much as promised?: Added to the political question of whether either one of the competing debt-limit plans can pass Congress is a practical question from the nonpartisan CBO: How much will they cut the deficit?… – CS Monitor, 7-27-11
  • Boehner’s debt ceiling plan has no Democratic votes, says Harry Reid: Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Wednesday that no Democrat in the Senate would vote for Speaker John Boehner’s debt-ceiling plan should it pass the House, where it’s come under fire from conservatives groups and tea-party lawmakers for not going far enough to cut spending.
    The plan is a “big, wet kiss to the right wing,” Reid said at a packed Capitol Hill news conference. The entire 53-member Democratic caucus signed a letter opposing Boehner’s plan.
    Democratic leaders also signaled that a final deal will have to be worked out behind closed doors between leaders of the two parties, while Senate Republicans weighed whether to mount a filibuster against Reid’s rival proposal if it becomes the last option on the table to avert a catastrophic default before Tuesday’s deadline.
    Seeking to exploit fissures in Boehner’s caucus, Democrats repeatedly called on the Ohio Republican to scrap his plan to cut the deficit and hike the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit in two phases by next year. Reid’s plan would also slice the deficit but would raise the government’s borrowing limit through the 2012 elections…. – Politico, 7-27-11
  • On Boehner’s debt-ceiling bill, Democrats expecting few defectors: Few Democrats — if any — are expected to break ranks and vote for Speaker John Boehner’s debt-ceiling plan Thursday.
    House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer has been urging Democrats to oppose Boehner’s proposal, which would bump up the debt ceiling in two increments – a chief Democratic complaint. Two members of Hoyer’s whip team said Wednesday that they believe Democrats will stick together to oppose the plan, which could come up for a vote as early as Thursday.
    A Democratic leadership aide was more confident: “Hoyer has been whipping against the Boehner bill very hard. No Democrats will vote for it.”
    There were signs of the proposal gaining traction within House Republicans on Wednesday. After a blunt speech Wednesday morning in which he told his rank-and-file to “get your ass in line,” Boehner and House GOP leaders had gained several new “yes” votes for the plan. And freshmen appeared to be coalescing around it…. – Politico, 7-27-11
  • In Both Houses, Fortifying Support for Rival Plans: House Republicans and Senate Democrats gained substantial support on Wednesday within party ranks for their separate plans to resolve a looming debt crisis, but the momentum seemed to be pushing both sides further from a compromise.
    Tea Party activists have been adamant about deep budget cuts. A small group of them gathered June 27 on Capitol Hill.
    It was a day in which Capitol Hill seemed to operate in alternate realities: Republicans in the House sharing near universal belief that the Senate will eventually cave and accept their plan, and Senate Democrats assured that they will have the last word over the weekend and ultimately force the hand of the House.
    As the House headed for a vote on Thursday, Congressional officials suggested that Senate leaders from both parties were keeping an open line for a potential compromise they could both brook. So far no such agreement appeared likely, and the Senate moved toward its own series of votes that could run through the weekend and perhaps into Monday, just one day short of the Aug. 2 date that the White House has insisted is the deadline for extending the debt ceiling for paying the nation’s bills…. – NYT, 7-27-11
  • With G.O.P. Unity at Risk, Boehner Tries Tougher Style: Speaker John A. Boehner is a laid-back leader who likes to say that his role is to let the House work its will. But with the nation’s economic standing and his own political future at risk, Mr. Boehner jettisoned his usual laissez-faire approach on Wednesday.
    “I didn’t put my neck on the line and go toe to toe with Obama to not have an army behind me,” Mr. Boehner declared at a private party meeting, according to some House members. He demanded the fealty of conservatives who were threatening to sink his budget proposal and deny him the chance to confront the Senate with a take-it-or-leave offer on a debt ceiling increase.
    Mr. Boehner really had no choice but to go all out. A defeat of that plan — which seemed likely Tuesday night before its prospects improved Wednesday — would have been a disastrous repudiation, in effect a stinging vote of no confidence in him…. – NYT, 7-27-11
  • States nervously watch debt-ceiling impasse: The U.S. government’s stalemate over raising the debt limit is taking a growing toll on states as Tuesday’s deadline draws near, with some canceling bond sales and identifying roadwork and other expenditures that could be delayed.
    “As the deadline to Aug. 2 comes closer, people are really, really worried,” says Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers.
    A failure by Congress to raise the $14.3 trillion federal debt limit would lower the nation’s credit rating and raise borrowing costs for states as well as 7,000 cities, counties, universities and non-profits. That’s partly because many interest rates — for everything from municipal bonds to mortgages — are benchmarked to U.S. Treasuries…. – USA Today, 7-27-11
  • President revs up PR in debt-ceiling debate: As House Republicans slog toward a Thursday vote on raising the debt ceiling, President Obama and his staff have hit the airwaves in a massive, all-hands-on-deck public-relations effort to turn the tide of political opinion in their favor. All told, the president has addressed the press on five different occasions since July 11.
    He has also dispatched his top aides — from senior advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Plouffe to White House press secretary Jay Carney and economic adviser Gene Sperling — to appear on TV and make his case for a more balanced approach to deficit cutting…. – The Hill, 7-27-11
  • Debt ceiling talks between Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell: Taking square aim at the White House, Republicans prepared to bring to a House vote Thursday a two-step $2.5 trillion debt ceiling bill that will avert default next week but threatens more conflict — and renewed instability — in six months.
    Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell remain in conversation over how to defuse the building confrontation before the threat of default next week. But with stocks falling again Wednesday, the fight between Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama has become so personal that each side says the other needs to find some way to save face before reaching a deal.
    Fifty-three senators, 51 Democrats and two independents, signed a letter to Boehner on Wednesday vowing to oppose the House bill. But the speaker is unapologetic about his intentions to use the default crisis to try to jam the Senate. And at a GOP conference Wednesday morning, he enlisted conservatives to be his “army” after he had stood “toe to toe” with the president and put his “neck on the line” for them…. – Politico, 7-27-11
  • Boehner tries to tame GOP on debt ceiling plan: A dust up among a major House conservative bloc and the prospect of tens of billions of dollars in new spending cuts has Republican leadership feeling as if it quelled an uprising on the right after struggling to line up votes for much of the week.
    Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California and Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam of Illinois continued their hard sell of a two-step debt-limit package, meeting in Capitol offices to close the deal and avoid a default on the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt.
    In a closed-door Republican Conference meeting on Wednesday, Boehner demanded his wavering members “get your ass in line” to back his proposal, and some members obliged. Michigan Rep. Thad McCotter, who is running for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, switched from voting no to yes during the 90-minute session. Reps. Blake Farenthold of Texas, Billy Long of Missouri and Jeff Denham of California are now backing the speaker’s plan, as are Reps. Darrell Issa of California, Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, Nan Hayworth of New York and Dan Lungren of California. Lungren even got up during the meeting and likened Boehner to Ronald Reagan, the conservative icon who was president during Lungren’s first stint in the House. Other hard “no” voters have flipped to leaning no or even undecided.
    But despite having momentum on their side, Boehner and his top lieutenants don’t have a big margin for error. Few, if any, Democrats are expected to vote for the debt ceiling package, so Republicans must cobble together 217 votes on their own. They can lose just 23 lawmakers and still pass it. As of press time, at least a dozen lawmakers were whipping “no.”… – Politico, 7-27-11
  • Short-term debt deal poses severe political risks for Obama: Kicking the US deficit can down the road will solve the problem now, but could ruin Obama’s second term… – The Guardian UK, 7-28-11

JULY 27, 2011: CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICANS MOUNT OPPOSITION TO JOHN BOEHNER’S DEBT PLAN THREATENING ITS PASSAGE IN CONGRESS

S.&P. 500-Stock Index Closes Down 2 Percent: Stocks fell sharply on Wall Street as the impasse over lifting the nation’s debt limit wore on in Washington. In addition, economic statistics were disappointing and some companies delivered corporate earnings fell short of expectations.
The broad stock market, as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, was down more than 2 percent, while the Dow Jones industrial average of 30 stocks lost nearly 200 points, or about 1.6 percent. During the trading session, the technology-heavy Nasdaq index fell as low as 3 percent but closed down 2.65 percent.

“This is the bill. I can’t do this job unless you’re behind me…. So get your ass in line.” — Speaker John Boehner told a private meeting of House Republicans, Politico.com reported.

“Members are rallying around the speaker’s plan, and we’re going forward.” — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

Eric Cantor: The House will cut spending. We will hold the line on taxes. With your help we will change Washington, and get government out of the way so America’s economy can grow.

“To hold out and say we won’t agree to raising the debt limit until we pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the constitution. It’s unfair, it’s bizarre. And maybe some people have only been in this body for six or seven months or so really believe that. Others know better.” — Senator John McCain’s, R-AZ

“Why are we voting on measures that have no chance of becoming law?” — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

“We’re running out of time. It’s time to get serious about finding a compromise…. It’s too bad his caucus is being run by such a small number of people. [House Republicans] are struggling to save a Tea Party bill… The way to resolve this crisis is to ignore the extremists and meet in the middle of the road.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“As we speak, Congressional staff are looking at options to adjust the legislation to meet our pledge. This is what can happen when you have an actual plan and submit it for independent review — which the Democrats who run Washington have refused to do.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“I am confident as of this morning that there are not 218 Republicans in support of the plan.” — Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio

  • Snapshot: Developments in debt talks: House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in the U.S. Congress, is reworking his deficit reduction proposal after some conservatives in his party rejected it and an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found it would save $350 billion less than the $1.2 trillion over 10 years he had claimed.
    House Republicans meet behind closed doors to discuss the emerging new Boehner plan. Some House Republicans who had been leaning against previous versions say they now are leaning in favor of a reworked Boehner plan that is to match any debt limit increase with an equal amount of spending cuts.
    A separate plan crafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, is being tweaked after a budget analysis found it would cut $2.2 trillion from deficits, about $500 billion less than claimed. Democrats want at least a $2.4 trillion debt limit hike to provide enough borrowing authority through the November 2012 elections. They are trying to match that number with an equal amount of deficit reduction, a key Republican demand…. – Reuters, 7-27-11
  • Boehner Debt-Limit Plan Gaining Support as Aug. 2 Deadline Nears: House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to raise the U.S. debt ceiling was gaining support among fellow Republicans as leaders reworked the legislation, while Senate Democrats said the measure won’t pass their chamber.
    Republican leaders are moving ahead with plans to vote on the measure tomorrow, less than week before a potential U.S. default Aug. 2, and sought to ease party members’ concerns that it wouldn’t do enough to cut spending.
    The urgency of the debate was reflected in rhetoric on Capitol Hill as well as market reaction to the appearance of what presidential adviser Gene Sperling termed a “stalemate.”… – Bloomberg, 7-27-11
  • GOPers blast Republican Study Committee staffer Paul Teller for undermining John Boehner debt plan: The GOP’s civil war over the debt limit exploded Wednesday, with rank-and-filers calling for the scalp of the Republican Study Committee’s top staffer.
    The aide, Paul Teller, was slammed for sending emails encouraging conservative groups to lobby against House Speaker John Boehner’s debt ceiling proposal, The Hill newspaper reported.
    Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the RSC, apologized for Teller’s emails in a closed-door meeting with other Republican congressmen.
    Some lawmakers began to chant, “fire him, fire him!,” in reference to Teller, the executive director of the RSC, Politico reported.
    Teller and other RSC aides had sent an email to outside groups urging them to “kill the Boehner deal.” It identified lawmakers for the conservative organizations to target.
    “We need statements coming up to the Hill every hour of the day in mounting opposition to the plan. If we keep this from ever coming to the floor, we have a greater chance of victory than defeating a vote on the floor,” the e-mail read.
    The RSC is a caucus of more than 170 Republican House members, and is widely known for its conservative politics…. – NY Daily News, 7-27-11
  • Democrats reject Boehner plan as Republicans try to build support for it: As Republicans in the House put more support behind a plan from Speaker John Boehner to solve the debt crisis, Senate Democrats and the White House are rejecting it as a non-starter and a waste of time.
    Republican leaders are working to line up support for Boehner’s proposal, which is being reworked after budget analysts found that it would cut spending by less than the $1.2 trillion that he estimated.
    GOP Congressman Mike Rogers says Republicans are gravitating toward it “in a big way.” Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell says it’s the only way to avoid default without raising taxes.
    But the plan is drawing fire from Democrats and from the right. Tea party activists are urging Boehner to reject any deal that doesn’t include steep spending cuts — even if the U.S. defaults. One tea party group is even calling on Boehner to step down.
    Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, whose rival proposal would deliver budget savings of more than $2 trillion, says he’ll wait and see what the House does before bringing his plan to a vote…. – AP, 7-27-11
  • Boehner Asks GOP for Unity on His Debt Plan: Faced with a conservative Republican rebellion, House Speaker John Boehner asked for Republican unity Wednesday, saying he needed “an army” standing behind him to support his plan to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit.
    Mr. Boehner made the plea during a closed meeting of House Republican lawmakers, a senior Republican aide said, a day after the speaker abruptly postponed a vote on the measure scheduled for Wednesday.
    Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) also defended Boehner’s plan, saying in the meeting that he was tired of hearing Republicans criticizing other Republicans on cable television. He told lawmakers “we all need to rally together,” the aide said. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) also endorsed the Boehner plan during a Senate floor speech.
    Several Republicans emerged from the Wednesday morning meeting saying they believed momentum has shifted toward Mr. Boehner’s plan. Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, had said Tuesday morning he was “confident” the Boehner bill would fail. On Wednesday, he declined to repeat that assertion. “I don’t know where the votes are today,”? Mr. Jordan said after the morning session. “I just know that I’m against the bill.”
    The delayed vote on the Boehner plan added further confusion less than a week before a possible government default. It was a setback for GOP leaders who had promoted Mr. Boehner’s plan as the best way to raise the debt ceiling while cutting the deficit. House Republican leaders said they hoped to bring Mr. Boehner’s plan to a vote on Thursday…. – WSJ, 7-27-11
  • CBO: Democrats’ debt bill tops GOP’s in spending cuts: The Senate Democratic debt-limit bill would cut future spending by $2.2 trillion over 10 years — much deeper than the House GOP alternative, according to figures Congress‘ chief scorekeeper released early Wednesday.
    The Congressional Budget Office said the plan by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would raise the government’s borrowing limit by $2.7 trillion, and cut $2.2 trillion from future spending, chiefly by limiting the amount of money spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    House Speaker John A. Boehner’s plan, meanwhile, would produce just $850 billion in savings, versus $900 billion in new debt authority, according to a CBO analysis released late Tuesday. That sent the Ohio Republican back to the drawing board to rewrite his bill to try to meet his own pledge of topping any debt increase dollar-for-dollar with new spending cuts.
    The CBO analysis could give momentum to Mr. Reid’s plan, though the GOP says spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was going to drop anyway, and so shouldn’t be considered as future savings.
    A Boehner aide said CBO also added in savings from future interest payments that would no longer need to be made on that “phantom” war-spending reduction.
    And the aide said Mr. Reid’s bill now violates the dollar-for-dollar goal Mr. Boehner laid out and that Mr. Reid said he accepted. CBO’s score shows that even including the war cost reductions, the cuts fall half a trillion dollars short of the $2.7 trillion debt increase…. – Washington Times, 7-27-11
  • War of words continues as debt limit deadline nears: With less than a week to go before the Obama administration’s August 2 deadline for raising the national debt limit, Democrats and Republicans continue to spar over the relative merits of two separate proposals – one Republican, one Democratic – and a bipartisan agreement appears far from the horizon.
    Leaders from both parties continued on Wednesday to push for their own plan while lambasting the other. Neither House Speaker John Boehner’s Republican proposal nor Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Democratic plan, however, appears to have the necessary votes to pass through Congress.
    In a press conference on Wednesday, Reid argued that the Democratic plan was the only “true compromise” on the table, and urged lawmakers to rally around it. “We’re running out of time,” he told reporters. “It’s time to get serious about finding a compromise.” The Boehner plan, Reid argued, did not qualify as anything more than a “big wet kiss” to the Tea Party – and he pledged that “every Democratic senator will vote against” it. “It’s too bad his caucus is being run by such a small number of people,” Reid said, of Boehner. “[House Republicans] are struggling to save a Tea Party bill… The way to resolve this crisis is to ignore the extremists and meet in the middle of the road.”
    Even as Democrats blast Boehner for putting forth a plan they say caters heavily to the Tea Party, the conservative movement is, in fact, speaking out against the GOP bill – and many believe Tea Party-oriented lawmakers could prevent its passage in the House.
    “I am confident as of this morning that there are not 218 Republicans in support of the plan,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said in a Tuesday morning press briefing…. – CBS News, 7-27-11
  • GOP Retools Plan as Congress Seeks Debt Fix: Six days away from a potentially calamitous government default, House Republicans appeared to be coalescing Wednesday around a work-in-progress plan by House Speaker John Boehner to increase the U.S. borrowing limit and chop $1 trillion in federal spending. But the measure got a thumbs-down from both Senate Democrats and tea party activists, a telling illustration of the difficult politics along the pathway to a deal.
    Democrats and Republicans alike tried to claim the moral high ground in a standoff that has put financial markets on edge. Stocks were falling again Wednesday.
    Boehner, R-Ohio, set out to retool his plan after nonpartisan analysts in the Congressional Budget Office said it would cut spending less than he had estimated — about $850 billion over 10 years rather than $1.2 trillion. GOP leaders planned a House vote Thursday on the reworked plan.
    “We’re moving in his direction in a big way today,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said of Boehner’s plan. Rogers and others cited changes being made in the bill to make sure spending cuts exceed added borrowing authority, and the fact that the House would soon vote on a balanced budget plan.
    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said only Boehner’s plan would resolve the crisis “in a way that will allow us to avoid default without raising taxes and to cut spending budget gimmicks.”
    But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., dismissed the speaker’s plan as a short-term measure that would leave the economy on shaky ground. He said it would not get one Democratic vote in the Senate, dooming it to failure and was merely “a big wet kiss for the right wing.” “It’s not Democrats who have asked for a long-term solution,” Reid said. “It’s the economy. The economy has demanded it.” Reid was asked if there was a “drop-dead date” for a deal to pass the House, be amended by the Senate and reach President Barack Obama in time to avoid default. “Magic things can happen here in Congress in a very short period of time under the right circumstances,” he said…. – AP, 7-27-11
  • John Boehner tries to rally Republicans to his debt plan: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appealed in unusually aggressive terms to his wavering GOP colleagues in a closed-door meeting on Wednesday morning with just a week left to go until the debt ceiling must be raised or the country will default on its obligations.
    At a meeting of GOP House members, the embattled Republican leader told his colleagues, many of whom had vowed to oppose his two-step bill to raise the debt limit that is expected hit the floor as soon as Thursday, to “get your ass in line.”
    The meeting came as Boehner scrambled to rewrite his legislation the morning after a Congressional Budget Office analysis showed his plan would cut the deficit less than advertised.
    In a closed-door meeting for the House GOP Conference in the basement of the Capitol, Boehner worked to rally support from skeptical conservatives, who have been subjected to intense pressure from tea party groups and others who say Boehner’s plan will not impose the kind of structural reform Republicans promised when they took control of the House in 2010.
    With few options on the table except the plan advanced by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), some of those conservatives now seem inclined to finally fall in line behind their leader.
    Republican leaders told the group that they need to stay united and rally around the bill. Boehner also said his bill will be rewritten to either cut more from the deficit or to raise the debt ceiling by less than the $900 billion he had proposed earlier this week…. – WaPo, 7-27-11
  • Boehner To Tea Party: ‘Get Your Ass In Line’: A frustrated House Speaker John Boehner had a blunt message Wednesday for his cavalier Tea Party colleagues: “Get your ass in line” behind the GOP’s debt ceiling plan.
    “This is the bill,” Boehner told a private meeting of House Republicans, Politico.com reported. “I can’t do this job unless you’re behind me.”
    Boehner believes Senate Democrats will cave if Republicans in the House can rally behind his nearly $1 trillion proposal to raise the nation’s debt limit ahead of an Aug. 2 deadline, when the Treasury will run out of money to pay all its bills. So “get your ass in line,” Boehner demanded.
    His spanking of rank-and-file Republicans came after it looked like an all-out war was erupting within the House GOP, which has nearly 100 Tea Party fiscal hawks. Many Tea Party-backed conservatives insist Boehner’s debt plan is too soft…. – NY Daily News, 7-27-11
  • Debt-ceiling plans face CBO fire: Does either cut as much as promised?: Added to the political question of whether either one of the competing debt-limit plans can pass Congress is a practical question from the nonpartisan CBO: How much will they cut the deficit?… – CS Monitor, 7-27-11
  • Democrats say Obama should invoke 14th Amendment: House Democrats said Wednesday that President Barack Obama should invoke a little-known constitutional provision to prevent the nation from going into default if Congress fails to come up with a plan to raise the debt ceiling.
    Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, a member of the Democratic leadership, said he told fellow Democrats that Obama should both veto any House GOP plan for a short-term extension of the debt ceiling and invoke the 14th amendment, which says that the validity of the nation’s public debt “shall not be questioned.”
    The White House has rejected resorting to this tactic to keep the nation from defaulting, questioning its legality, but Rep. John Larson of Connecticut, who chairs the Democratic caucus, said “we’re getting down to decision time” and “we have to have a failsafe mechanism and we believe that failsafe mechanism is the 14th Amendment and the president of the United States.”
    Larson said Clyburn’s proposal on the 14th Amendment was met with applause by other Democrats at their meeting…. – AP, 7-27-11
  • Administration: Aug. 2 remains critical deadline: Some private economists are suggesting the Treasury may have enough money on hand to pay the government’s bills for another two weeks beyond an early August deadline for Congress to raise the debt ceiling. But the Obama administration insisted on Tuesday that it will run out of maneuvering room after Aug. 2.
    The projection of private analysts is based on the fact that currently the government is sitting on a large amount of cash — $88.5 billion at the close of business on Monday.
    Many analysts believe that this money could be used to meet obligations that are coming due if Congress doesn’t raise the borrowing limit by the Aug. 2 deadline.
    Economists at several financial firms, including HSBC Securities and Wrightson Research, said that the government may have enough cash on hand to make it until Aug. 15, two weeks beyond the current deadline…. – AP, 7-26-11
  • Speaker Boehner’s unconventional sales pitch: More than two years later, Boehner has a new title, speaker of the House. But he has the same problem: He has defined himself as a leader who doesn’t twist arms, instead letting his rank-and-file follow their own consciences. But that strategy has left Boehner struggling to control his flock at the moments he needs it most.
    For Boehner, 61, the past week has likely been the hardest of his seven months as speaker. After leading Republicans into a battle over the national debt ceiling, he now seemingly cannot find a way out of that fight.
    On Wednesday, Boehner and other GOP leaders were furiously trying to persuade conservatives to support the speaker’s proposal to raise the debt ceiling while cutting spending. After a morning meeting — in which the speaker broke with his usual genial demeanor and told Republicans to “get your ass in line” — there were some signs that holdouts were being persuaded.
    Thursday’s vote, then, will be a key test of a political persona that Boehner has been cultivating over two decades in Congress…. – WaPo, 7-27-11
  • Q. and A. on the Debt Ceiling: For a time it seemed safe for many people going about their summers to try to ignore the debt ceiling drama playing out in Washington. If Wall Street so far has not seemed overly concerned that the United States was headed toward default, why should anyone else worry? And there is the long history of crying wolf in Washington: in April everyone finally got up to speed on the threatened shutdown of the federal government just in time to see it averted by an 11th-hour deal.
    But now, palms in Washington are beginning to get sweaty and President Obama is breaking into “The Bachelorette” to address the nation about the debt crisis. Perhaps the time has finally come for a crash course in all things debt ceiling…. – NYT, 7-27-11
  • Analysis: Obama’s leadership image on the line in debt saga: President Barack Obama’s credibility as a leader hangs in the balance along with America’s gold-plated credit rating as he strives to break a debt impasse with Republicans and avoid a ruinous default.
    Even if a deal to raise the debt limit emerges ahead of an August 2 deadline — just six days away — Obama faces a risk of being perceived as weak if he appears too willing to make concessions.
    The political fallout for Obama could be far greater if there is no agreement. A default and government-debt downgrade could send the U.S. economy into another recession, potentially dooming Obama’s prospects for re-election in 2012.
    That makes the crisis especially difficult for Obama to navigate and gives Republican lawmakers a fair amount of leverage as they push for steep spending cuts in exchange for raising the legal limit on the country’s borrowing.
    “When you’re running for re-election, you want to have a strong leadership image,” said Stephen Wayne, a professor of government at Georgetown University. “The longer there is no resolution, the weaker the president looks.” “He’s got to do something to get an agreement or to state his position so clearly that he can blame the opposition party for not adhering to it,” Wayne added.
    Obama could reap political gains if Republicans are perceived as overplaying their hand. Polls so far show a mixed impact of the crisis on Obama…. – Reuters, 7-27-11

JULY 26, 2011: BOEHNER DELAYS HOUSE DEBT VOTE AS TEA PARTY REPUBLICANS BALK FROM THE PLAN

Boehner delays debt vote: House Republicans have delayed a vote on their bill to lift the debt ceiling as they scrambled Tuesday night to rewrite portions of the measure to ensure that accompanying spending cuts were large enough, according to three senior GOP aides. Budget analysts said hours earlier the plan would only create $850 billion in savings as opposed to the sought-after $1.2 trillion. Originally scheduled for Wednesday, the vote could now happen Thursday.

“As we speak, Congressional staff are looking at options to adjust the legislation to meet our pledge. This is what can happen when you have an actual plan and submit it for independent review — which the Democrats who run Washington have refused to do.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner in a Statement

Speaker Boehner on GOP Spending Cut Plan: “It’s Reasonable, It’s Responsible, It Can Pass”: At a press conference with Republican leaders today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) urged President Obama to support Republicans’ common-sense, two-step plan to cut spending and prevent a national default. Following are text and video of Speaker Boehner’s remarks:
“I think I made it pretty clear last night: the President is looking for a blank check. We have a bill that is a reasonable approach negotiated with the Senate leadership that really is commonsense. There’s more cuts in spending than you have an increase in the debt limit. There’s real caps and a real process for cutting spending before the end of this year. And it provides for – I think – the best effort to get a Balanced Budget Amendment enacted into the Constitution.
“It’s reasonable, it’s responsible, it can pass the House and it can pass the Senate – and I hope the President will consider signing it into law.”

“President Obama has run up a dangerous amount of debt since taking office, and I greatly appreciate Speaker Boehner for courageously leading the fight to stop him from running up even more. Speaker Boehner has now put forth two plans; that would be exactly two plans more than what the President has offered. The debt limit is a line in the sand where Republicans can force the tough decisions to fix our nation’s finances, and taxpayers cannot afford for us to back down now. I am for the plan that will cut spending, cap it, and pass a balanced budget amendment, but unfortunately this latest bill does not accomplish that.” — Tim Pawlenty now rejects John Boehner debt plan

Eric Cantor: The House plan is consistent with our commitment to change Washington, stop spending money we don’t have, and focus on growing America’s economy. The President has yet to offer a plan.

“The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government. So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know. If you believe we can solvethis problem through compromise, send that message.” -– President Obama

    • Debt ceiling poll: Voters with Obama: Most Americans would like to see a mix of spending cuts and tax increases be part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, a new poll finds, aligning the majority with President Barack Obama’s position. Of those surveyed for a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday, 56 percent said they want to see a mix of approaches used in an agreement to raise the debt ceiling. The poll was conducted overnight Monday, as Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) voiced their views on the impasse in negotiations in back-to-back televised primetime speeches.
      Just 19 percent of Americans said they favor a plan like Boehner’s, which would rely solely on spending cuts to existing programs to reduce the deficit. Twelve percent said they would prefer a plan to reduce the deficit only by raising taxes.
      Americans’ blame for the impasse is spread all around, though is particularly strong against congressional Republicans, with 31 percent of those surveyed saying they are responsible for it. Twenty-one percent blamed Obama and nine percent blamed congressional Democrats…. – Politico 7-26-11
    • New polls confirm Obama’s Democratic base crumbles: …”More than a third of Americans now believe that President Obama’s policies are hurting the economy, and confidence in his ability to create jobs is sharply eroding among his base,” the Post reports.
      Strong support among liberal Democrats for Obama’s jobs record has plummeted 22 points from 53% down below a third. African Americans who believe the president’s measures helped the economy have plunged from 77% to barely half.
      Obama’s overall job approval on the economy has slid below 40% for the first time, with 57% disapproving. And strong disapprovers outnumber approvers by better than two-to-one. – LAT, 7-26-11

Congressional Budget Office — Plan would cut spending by $850 billion during the next decade — about $150 billion less than the $1 trillion increase proposed for the debt ceiling

INFOGRAPHIC: Where does our national debt come from?: One of the fundamental things to understand when considering the debate about reducing our national debt is how we accumulated so much in the first place.
To explain the impact various policies have had over the past decade, shifting us from projected surpluses to actual deficits and, as a result, running up the national debt, the White House has developed a graphic for you to review and share. – WH, 7-26-11

  • Another Chart for Your Debt Ceiling Discussions: Here is another chart to the same effect, released this afternoon by the White House. It is a more comprehensive accounting of the forces that turned the large projected federal surplus as of 2001 into the large structural deficits that are dominating our politics as of 2011. Thus it attempts to explain a $12.7 trillion negative swing in public finance — from the $2.3 trillion surplus forecast by Bill Clinton ten years ago, to the $10.4 trillion total debt Barack Obama encounters now.
    The chart is more comprehensive in including not just policy changes — deliberate adoption and extension of tax cuts, spending on TARP and other programs — but also the effects of external pressures and shocks, mainly the recession starting in 2008. See for yourself, and click for a more detailed view…. – The Atlantic, 7-26-11
  • Boehner rewriting debt limit plan as clock ticks: Neither the House nor the Senate has a clear path forward for must-pass legislation to allow the government to continue to borrow to pay its bills, putting lawmakers and financial markets alike on edge less than a week before the deadline for heading off the nation’s first-ever default.
    House Speaker John Boehner was forced late Tuesday to postpone a floor vote on his plan, which originally had been scheduled for Wednesday, after nonpartisan congressional scorekeepers said the proposal would cut spending less than advertised. He promised to rewrite the measure, but the move means the House can’t vote on it until Thursday at the earliest.
    Boehner, R-Ohio, needs to do more than pump up the legislation. He needs to shore up his standing with tea party-backed conservatives demanding deeper spending cuts to accompany an almost $1 trillion increase in the government’s borrowing cap. Many conservatives already had promised to oppose it…. – AP, 7-27-11
  • GOP headwinds delay House budget-debt vote: House leaders delayed a vote on a Republican U.S. debt reduction plan after congressional budget officials said it would save $150 billion less than advertised.
    The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said House Speaker John Boehner’s plan would cut spending $850 billion over a decade, not $1 trillion as he said it would.
    The budget office conclusion Tuesday night capped a day in which the Ohio Republican’s plan faced a barrage of conservative criticism that the cuts were not nearly deep enough.
    Four Republican senators with Tea Party links wrote to their House colleagues urging them to vote against the measure. The Club for Growth — which advocates limited government, lower taxes and less government spending, while scoring lawmakers on their fiscally conservative votes — also came out against the plan.
    So did other conservative groups including the Heritage Foundation and a national coalition of Tea Party groups, The New York Times reported.
    In addition, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called it “dead on arrival in the Senate, if they get it out of the House.” And the White House said President Barack Obama would veto the bill if it reached his desk.
    Boehner’s congressional staffers planned to work through the night to rework the measure to achieve the amount of cuts originally pledged, Boehner’s office said Tuesday night…. – UPI, 7-27-11
  • Vote on Boehner Plan Delayed Amid Opposition: House Republican leaders were forced on Tuesday night to delay a vote scheduled on their plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, as conservative lawmakers expressed skepticism and Congressional budget officials said the plan did not deliver the promised savings.
    The pushback on the bill was the latest chaotic twist in the fiscal fracas on Capitol Hill, as the clock ticked closer to Aug. 2, when the Obama administration has warned that the nation risks defaulting on its bills. The scramble to come up with a plan that could be put to a vote, now moved from Wednesday to Thursday, represents a test of Speaker John A. Boehner’s ability to lead his restive caucus. The expected showdown over the legislation is the culmination of months of efforts by Tea Party-allied freshmen and fellow conservatives to demand a fundamentally smaller government in exchange for raising the federal borrowing limit.
    Mr. Boehner rolled out a two-stage plan on Monday that would allow the $14.3 trillion federal debt limit to rise immediately by about $1 trillion in exchange for $1.2 trillion in spending cuts. The plan tied a second increase early next year to the ability of a new bipartisan Congressional committee to produce more reductions.
    The plan was met with skepticism — and in many cases outright rejection — by several conservative House members who said its savings did not go far enough. President Obama and most Congressional Democrats also have rejected the proposal, saying it is only a short-term solution and could lead to market uncertainty and instability.
    Mr. Boehner’s troubles piled up late Tuesday afternoon when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said his plan would cut spending by $850 billion during the next decade — about $150 billion less than the $1 trillion increase proposed for the debt ceiling.
    Mr. Boehner was forced to quickly retreat from the bill. Republican leaders said they would probably rework it to in a way that would reflect the decreased savings by raising the debt limit by less than $850 billion. Such a change would mean that the Obama administration would need to make another request for an increase in a matter of months, making the deal even less palatable to Democrats…. – NYT, 7-26-11
  • Boehner, Reid scramble to build support for rival debt-limit plans: Washington barreled closer to crisis Tuesday as House Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid scrambled to build support for rival plans to control the national debt, but both appeared doomed without significant bipartisan modifications.
    House Republicans delayed a vote on Boehner’s bill, which had been set for Wednesday, after congressional budget analysts dealt the legislation a potentially devastating setback by saying it would save far less over the next decade than the $1.2 trillion advertised. The Congressional Budget Office projected that the spending cuts would save only about $850 billion over that period.
    The news from the CBO alarmed conservatives, who were already balking at what they considered timid spending reductions. It also meant Boehner’s bill would not meet his own demand that the cuts exceed the size of the $900 billion debt-limit increase.
    House Republicans were racing Tuesday night to rewrite portions of the measure to bring the numbers into line. The vote could now come Thursday…. – WaPo, 7-26-11
  • Analysis: Little by little, the sides are budging in debt debate: The differences are narrowing, not widening, as the U.S. government struggles to avoid a financial default that neither President Barack Obama nor the leaders of Congress say they want.
    That helps explain why day-old legislation unveiled by the House Republican leadership pulled off something of a political trifecta Tuesday before being scrapped.
    Several rank-and-file GOP conservatives in Speaker John Boehner of Ohio’s own party attacked it.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada labeled it “dead on arrival” in his Democratic-controlled chamber.
    Then the White House said that if the measure cleared Congress, “the president’s senior advisers would recommend that he veto this bill.”
    Yet the legislation also represented significant movement from a bill the House passed last week, such as roughly half of its mandated spending cuts, just as Reid no longer insists on tax increases as part of any plan to cut deficits. “We have a bill that is reasonable and responsible,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said earlier…. – AP, 7-27-11
  • Republican debt plan struggles in House: Speaker John Boehner and other party leaders push into overdrive to try to rescue the measure, even as an independent analysis challenges its figures.
    A go-it-alone House Republican plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling teetered on the edge of failure late Tuesday as leaders struggled to rally reluctant lawmakers and to make last-minute changes to curry conservative support.
    Leaders postponed a planned Wednesday vote in the House, an indication of the problems besetting the effort. Even if the plan passes this week, it would face an uncertain fate in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and White House officials said they would recommend President Obama veto it.
    The uphill task, led by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), grew more difficult when an independent analysis posed a new challenge to the figures used in the plan, saying its projected savings would be less than initially estimated.
    Boehner’s challenge arrived at a pivotal moment for both the Republican Party and the country, after months of political deadlock. Just days remain before the federal government hits the $14.3-trillion limit on how much it can borrow, after which it could be unable to pay all of its bills and obligations.
    In proposing their own plan, House Republicans aimed to demonstrate that they could lead the nation away from the brink of economic disaster. But on Tuesday, they largely showed off the deep divisions that have dogged the GOP and Boehner’s leadership all year.
    GOP leaders pushed into overdrive to try to rescue the measure, using arguments, empathy, sweeteners and even a tough-guy movie clip — yes, a movie clip — to rally support.
    To push a plan through the House, Boehner must amass 217 votes. There are 240 Republicans in the House, and few, if any, Democrats are expected to support his plan. So Boehner can afford to lose no more than about 23 members of his party — a difficult task given the opposition of many conservatives to any increase in the nation’s debt limit under any circumstances…. – LAT, 7-27-11
  • Boehner plan runs into GOP rebellion CBO scoring necessitates reworking: Facing a growing revolt in their own ranks, House Republican leaders said Tuesday they are rewriting their debt-limit increase bill after the Congressional Budget Office said Speaker John A. Boehner’s plan does not save as much money as he had claimed.
    The vote had been scheduled for Wednesday, but CBO’s numbers sent the Republicans scrambling to make changes, fouling up the schedule and pushing Congress ever closer to the Aug. 2 date when the government bumps up against its borrowing limit.
    “We’re here to change Washington — no more smoke and mirrors, no more ‘phantom cuts,’ ” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement to reporters. “We promised that we will cut spending more than we increase the debt limit, with no tax hikes, and we will keep that promise.”
    The CBO said Mr. Boehner’s reductions in future spending would save only $850 billion over the next decade, which is less than the $900 billion increase in the debt ceiling he is proposing. That discrepancy meant the bill violated his pledge to have cuts exceed the dollar amount of the debt increase.
    The delay could also give the party’s leaders time to twist arms among conservative lawmakers, many of whom said Tuesday they cannot vote for the plan, and which one influential lawmaker said is short of the support needed.
    “There are not 218 Republicans in support of this plan,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, who heads the powerful conservative caucus in the House and who said he’s voting against the measure.
    Democratic leaders said Mr. Boehner was unlikely to get much support from them.
    “Very few. I don’t want to give a number on it, but I would think very few,” said the House Democrats’ chief nose counter, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland.
    Whenever it occurs, the vote is shaping up as a key test of Mr. Boehner’s leadership. If successful, it would give momentum to a two-step debt increase that also would ensure votes on a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
    But if unsuccessful, it could give the edge to Senate Democrats’ plan, which immediately would raise the debt limit by $2.7 trillion, reduce future new discretionary spending by $1.2 trillion and create a commission to recommend other budget fixes…. – Washington Times, 7-26-11
  • House GOP revolts against Boehner plan: House Republicans do not have enough support to pass their debt-ceiling increase plan on their own, a top conservative said Tuesday as his party’s leaders tried to cobble together a coalition of Republicans and Democrats to put the bill over the top.
    “There are not 218 Republicans in support of this plan,” Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican who heads the powerful conservative caucus in the House, told reporters Tuesday morning.
    If Mr. Jordan is right, that would mean Speaker John A. Boehner would have to rely on Democrats to pass the $1.2 trillion spending cuts plan — support Democrats’ top vote-counter said he’ll be hard-pressed to gain. Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said “very few” Democrats will vote for the Boehner plan, though he acknowledged there could be some.
    A vote in the House is expected Wednesday, and Republican leaders are trying to round up enough support to pass their version. They hope that if it can pass the House, that will pressure Senate Democrats to drop their alternative and accept the GOP’s plan.
    Mr. Boehner’s bill would reduce future discretionary spending by $1.2 trillion, grant an immediate debt increase of $1 trillion, and set up a committee to work on trillions of dollars in future deficit reduction either through more spending cuts or tax increases, which would then earn another future debt increase. It would also require both the House and Senate to hold votes on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution…. – Washington Times, 7-26-11
  • CBO: John Boehner’s debt bill comes up short: New cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office could pose a problem for Speaker John Boehner as he tries to rally conservative support for his two-step plan to raise the federal debt ceiling and avert default next week.
    The first installment of $900 billion is contingent on enacting 10 year caps on annual appropriations which the leadership had hoped would save well over $1 trillion. But CBO late Tuesday came back with a report showing the legislation would reduce deficits by $850 billion when measured against the agency’s most current projections for spending.
    At one level, Boehner is the victim of his own success, since that same baseline is $122 billion lower in direct spending because of concessions the speaker won in the April government shutdown fight. But that won’t help him much with restless conservatives and this could force him now to readjust the bill with tighter caps to meet his goals…. – Politico, 7-26-11
  • Tea Party Warns GOP: A Vote for Boehner’s Debt Plan Violates Our Pledge: The Tea Party is causing more headaches for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) over his debt proposal. A coalition of several hundred Tea Party chapters declared Tuesday that a vote for Boehner’s debt plan constitutes a violation of its pledge, which 51 Republican lawmakers have signed. The group, known as the Cut, Cap and Balance Coalition, notified its members of its position in a Tuesday memo entitled, “Clarification of the CCB Coalition Stance on the Speaker’s Proposal.”
    “The greatest concern to the Cut, Cap and Balance Coalition is the integrity of the Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge that was signed by 39 House Members and 12 Senators, and whether voting for the proposed deal constitutes a Pledge violation,” reads the memo.” “We hold that is does violate the pledge, on several grounds.”… – Huff Post, 7-26-11
  • Perry: Obama debt ceiling speech was condescending: Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he thought President Barack Obama’s speech on the debt ceiling debate was condescending, saying he heard the president tell Americans they “just wouldn’t understand” the issue. The potential Republican presidential candidate spoke Tuesday at a ceremonial bill signing in Amarillo.
    Perry says he was stunned Obama “would think that Americans aren’t paying attention” to the debate. In his speech, Obama said the term “debt ceiling” is one most people outside of Washington have probably never heard of before…. – AP, 7-26-11
  • Michele Bachmann opposes House GOP debt limit plan: Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann says she opposes GOP House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to increase the federal borrowing authority.
    Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman, is telling Iowans that she will vote against any measure in Congress to raise the debt ceiling. The three-term House member says blocking the increase will force Congress to cut spending…. – AP, 7-26-11
  • Debt-irked voters shut down Congress’ websites, phones: President Barack Obama asked Americans to reach out to Congress to make their voices heard on the debt ceiling debate – and so they did.
    Thousands of callers flooded the Capitol switchboard Tuesday, and email traffic swamped congressional servers. The website of Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., crashed briefly, as did those of did Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Reps. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., and Frederica Wilson, D-Fla.
    “It’s been pretty busy today,” said Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. “The poor interns are having a good time.”
    The Capitol, which typically handles 20,000 calls per hour, saw spikes of up to 40,000 Tuesday, rivaling the 50,000-an-hour rate of the health care debate.
    “Congress and Capitol Hill have been flooded, with emails and phones, switchboards are jammed, servers going down. So it’s clear the American people are frustrated by the lack of compromise in Washington,” said David Plouffe, the president’s senior adviser, who was clearly getting exactly the response the White House had sought when the president on Monday called Washington a town “where compromise has become a dirty word.”… – McClatchy Newspapers, 7-26-11
  • Debt-ceiling showdown: The legal battleground: President Barack Obama says he will not bypass Congress and cite an obscure part of the Constitution to prevent a government debt default, but legal experts say it would prove difficult to challenge him in court should he change his mind.
    Former President Bill Clinton argued last week that the 14th Amendment that states the “validity” of government debt “shall not be questioned” means that Obama could simply ignore the congressionally imposed debt ceiling and go on borrowing.
    Obama has indicated he considered the possibility, but on Tuesday his spokesman, Jay Carney, appeared to rule it out.
    “The Constitution makes clear that Congress has the authority, not the president, to borrow money and only Congress can increase the statutory debt ceiling. That is just a reality,” Carney told reporters.
    But if the country is about to go into default, the temptation to act to avert calamity will grow. Legal experts say if the president were tempted to act unilaterally he might escape without his actions being overturned in court.
    Regardless of how controversial a 14th Amendment maneuver might be, a legal challenge would be very hard to mount and so far, no one has stepped forward to say they would challenge him in court.
    Nor has anyone said they would sue him if he took the alternative, equally controversial, step of using his broad authorities as guardian of the constitutional order to unilaterally raise the borrowing threshold.
    Theoretically, there are aggrieved parties who might consider legal action, including Congress, individual citizens or interest groups, and investors such as foreign governments…. – Reuters, 7-26-11
  • Abolish the Debt Ceiling: James Surowiecki, in The New Yorker, has a strong article out arguing that the debt ceiling shouldn’t exist at all. He writes:

    The truth is that the United States doesn’t need, and shouldn’t have, a debt ceiling. Every other democratic country, with the exception of Denmark, does fine without one. There’s no debt limit in the Constitution. And, if Congress really wants to hold down government debt, it already has a way to do so that doesn’t risk economic chaos—namely, the annual budgeting process. The only reason we need to lift the debt ceiling, after all, is to pay for spending that Congress has already authorized. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, we’ll face an absurd scenario in which Congress will have ordered the President to execute two laws that are flatly at odds with each other. If he obeys the debt ceiling, he cannot spend the money that Congress has told him to spend, which is why most government functions will be shut down. Yet if he spends the money as Congress has authorized him to he’ll end up violating the debt ceiling.

    He adds that the ceiling is an artifact of a time when it was useful for reining in the president, because before 1974 Congress didn’t pass a comprehensive budget, and the president had much more freedom over spending. So why does it live on?

    Advocates of the ceiling like the way it turns the national debt into front-page news, focussing the minds of voters and politicians; they think it fosters accountability, straight talk, transparency. In reality, debt-ceiling votes merely perpetuate the illusion that balancing the budget is easy. That’s why politicians like the debt ceiling: it allows them to rail against borrowing more money (which voters hate) without having to vote to cut any specific programs or raise taxes (which voters also hate).

    And, Surowiecki says—and current events certainly confirm—”by turning dealmaking into a game of chicken, the debt ceiling favors fanaticism.” That is the most painful part of the present mess: that fanaticism appears to be prepared to bring down the national economy…. – Forbes, 7-26-11

  • Patricia Campion: Debt Ceiling Crisis Doubles as Countdown to Obama’s Political Armageddon: By definition, default is a failure to meet an obligation. In one week, if Obama and Congress cannot reach a debt ceiling agreement, the United States of America faces sovereign default for the first time in our history. In the event of a nuclear economic meltdown, as president, Obama knows he will be standing at ground zero.
    Economists say interest rates will skyrocket and the stock market will plummet, sending ripples through the global economy. Moody’s is threatening to lower the U.S. credit rating and, because the interest rates consumers pay are tied to what the federal government pays, interest rates for consumers will also rise. And the wheels on the bus go round and round …
    Flashback: While facing default on their $24 billion deficit in 2009, California Democrats refused to allow budget cuts to solve the state debt crisis. The Republicans wouldn’t allow tax increases. Sound familiar?
    When Obama revealed his FY2012 plan in February, it became clear he planned to tax his way out of debt. Offering only $1 trillion in spending cuts, he proposed 43 tax hikes to gouge an additional $1.5 trillion from Americans over the next decade.
    Perhaps someone should inform the fiscally naive president that California’s record tax increase of $13 billion didn’t solve that state’s economic problem.
    Obama gave another speech from the White House Monday saying that Republicans want “an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all.” He forgets that the top 10 percent already pay 70 percent of the nation’s revenue, according to The Heritage Foundation, and American businesses already pay the highest corporate taxes on the planet, per the Daily Caller…. – Associated Content, 7-26-11
  • Analysis: Debt differences narrowing, despite talk: Pitched partisan rhetoric aside, the differences are narrowing, not widening, as the divided U.S. government struggles to avert a financial default that neither President Barack Obama nor the leaders of Congress say they want.
    Which helps explain why day-old legislation unveiled by the House Republican leadership pulled off something of a political trifecta on Tuesday.
    Several rank-and-file conservatives in Speaker John Boehner’s Republican party attacked it from the right.
    From other points on the political spectrum, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid labeled it “dead on arrival” in his Democratic-controlled chamber. And moments later the White House said if the measure somehow managed to clear Congress, “the president’s senior advisers would recommend that he veto this bill.”
    Yet the legislation also represents significant movement from a bill the House passed last week, roughly half of its mandated spending cuts, for example. Just as Reid no longer is insisting on having tax increases as part of any plan to cut deficits. “We have a bill that is reasonable and responsible,” said Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel.
    Clearly, not everyone sees it that way. So the crisis continues, and efforts to avoid a market-shattering default could yet falter in the run-up to an Aug. 2 deadline…. – AP, 7-26-11

JULY 26, 2011: REACTIONS TO OBAMA & BOEHNER’S DEBT PLAN ADDRESSES TO THE NATION

Americans increasingly unhappy with Washington’s effort on jobs, poll finds: More than a third of Americans now believe that President Obama’s policies are hurting the economy, and confidence in his ability to create jobs is sharply eroding among his base, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Americans are also unhappy with congressional Republicans: 65 percent disapprove of the GOP’s handling on jobs, compared with 52 percent for the president.

“They can do far more. I do believe this plan is enough … I would ask all my colleagues, Democrat and Republican, to look a this common sense plan, this common sense way forward that will avoid default and put American fiscal house back to other.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“Republicans have offered the only proposal that attempts to get at the root of the problem — and which actually has a chance of getting to the president’s desk. That’s why we’ll continue to press for the legislation Speaker Boehner has proposed. And that’s why we’ll fight against anything that pretends to solve the problem but doesn’t. The Majority Leader proposed a plan yesterday that’s nothing more than another attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people” — Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

“History is scattered with the stories of those who held fast to rigid ideologies and refused to listen to those who disagreed. But those are not the Americans we remember. We remember the Americans who put country above self, and set personal grievances aside for the greater good. We remember the Americans who held this country together during its most difficult hours; who put aside pride and party to form a more perfect union. That’s who we need to be right now. The entire world is watching.” — President Barack Obama Address to the Nation, July 25, 2011

  • Boehner presses debt plan opposed by Democrats; IMF urges raise in debt limit: With a debt-limit deadline now a week away, House Speaker John A. Boehner pressed ahead Tuesday with a two-stage deficit-reduction plan that President Obama and most congressional Democrats reject, and the International Monetary Fund warned of “serious spillovers” worldwide if the U.S. debt ceiling is not raised.
    Responding to Obama’s appeal in a speech Monday night for Americans to contact their members of Congress to urge them to adopt his “balanced approach” to deficit reduction, callers flooded Capitol telephone circuits Tuesday morning, and several lawmakers’ Web sites — including Boehner’s — reportedly crashed Monday night as huge numbers of people tried to send them messages…. – WaPo, 7-26-11
  • McConnell disses Reid plan: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell joined fellow Republicans critical of Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan to raise the debt ceiling, calling it “another attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people.”
    The Senate’s top Republican didn’t outline any specific objections to the plan, which calls for slashing $2.7 trillion over the next decade in exchange for raising the debt limit by a similar amount through the 2012 elections.
    But Republicans in both chambers have blasted a major provision in the bill which counts a $1 trillion in savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, something they dismiss as an accounting “gimmick” since those savings had already been expected.
    Instead, McConnell said Republicans will push for a rival plan by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that would raise the debt limit in two stages between now and early 2012
    “Republicans have offered the only proposal that attempts to get at the root of the problem — and which actually has a chance of getting to the president’s desk,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “That’s why we’ll continue to press for the legislation Speaker Boehner has proposed. And that’s why we’ll fight against anything that pretends to solve the problem but doesn’t. “The Majority Leader proposed a plan yesterday that’s nothing more than another attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people,” he added…. – Politico, 7-26-11
  • Boehner says his debt plan can pass House and Senate: House Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, said Tuesday his two-stage deficit reduction plan could pass through the House and the Senate.
    Boehner is advancing a plan that would start with an initial $1.2 trillion in savings over 10 years, but would only increase the debt limit for a few months. Senate Democrats have proposed a single-step plan to raise the debt ceiling through 2012 that would reduce the deficit by $2.7 trillion over the next decade…. – Reuters, 7-26-11
  • GOP leaders seek to build support for Boehner debt plan: House Republican leaders tried to sell their deficit reduction proposal as the only “bipartisan” plan on the table, but acknowledged they don’t yet have the votes to pass the bill through the House.
    At a morning press conference, House Speaker John Boehner said despite some push back from high-profile House conservative he’s optimistic the House will pass the plan tomorrow.
    “I do think we have some work to do to get it pass but I think we can do it,” Boehner told reporters.
    If House Democrats remain largely united against the bill – as they claim they will – Boehner will need all but roughly 20 of his GOP members. Five Democrats already voted for a stricter version of the Boehner plan.
    Asked if the plan would do enough to calm the markets, Boehner emphasized that more deficit reduction would be coming later in the year when a committee devises a plan for at least $1.8 trillion in spending reductions.
    “They can do far more,” Boehner said. “I do believe this plan is enough … I would ask all my colleagues, Democrat and Republican, to look a this common sense plan, this common sense way forward that will avoid default and put American fiscal house back to other.”… – LAT, 7-26-11
  • What was accomplished in Obama and Boehner speeches?: President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner gave televised addresses Monday night that seemed to emphasize how far Washington is from a debt-ceiling deal.
    For weeks now, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have been speaking past each other at the negotiating table – unable to find compromise on a deal to trim the deficit and raise the national debt ceiling. Monday night, they continued that trend on national television.
    In separate primetime televised speeches, Messrs. Obama and Boehner told the country what has been well known for more than a month. The president wants Republicans to pass a bill that would compel the wealthiest Americans to “share in the sacrifice” of a deal through new tax revenues. The Republicans do not.
    It is, they both agree, a fundamental difference in how each views the political world. And yet on Monday night neither Obama nor Boehner offered an inkling as to how that gap is to be bridged before the federal government runs out of money to pay all its bills on Aug. 2. If anything, their speeches gave the impression of the two entrenching more deeply…. – CS Monitor, 7-26-11
  • Does John Boehner have the leverage in debt-ceiling crisis?: With a week to go until a potentially calamitous federal default, talks that began three months ago with an overt gesture toward bipartisanship appear to have ended in a high-stakes game of chicken.
    Both President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner set their hot rods on a collision course Monday evening, with neither side showing much interest in compromise even as the clock continues to tick.
    Both men appeared to center the thrust of his appeals to the audience at home around the same set of political players, the insurgent Republicans in the House. To Obama, they represent irrationality and a failure to seek compromise for the good of the nation. To Boehner, they are a growing power base that must be courted if his plan has any hope to pass…. – LAT, 7-26-11
  • Web errors hit Hill after Obama, Boehner speeches: Shortly after President Obama’s address on the debt ceiling negotiations Monday night, problems were reported with the web pages of at least two Republicans, House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.
    An error message on Boehner’s site said “The web page cannot be found,” and Bachmann’s website said the “Server is too busy.”
    “There were temporary issues with sites hosted by outside vendors – many have been resolved,” a spokeswoman for House Administration Committee said. Both websites were operating normally by early Tuesday…. – CNN, 7-26-11
  • What the Obama-Boehner bond is (and isn’t): President Obama’s and House Speaker John Boehner’s best efforts to become collegial negotiators hit a roadblock Monday night, with Boehner delivering a speech that suggests all their work together in recent months has meant little to the current debate.
    Obama played a round of golf with Boehner last month, and earlier in the debt-limit talks he praised the speaker as “a good man,” but on Monday night, he appeared to have lost an ally, as the two descended on a very stiff deadline to extend the federal debt limit.
    Really, though, that’s reading too much into relationship they were supposed to have forged. And it’s also reading too much into their public posturing…. – WaPo, 7-26-11
  • Cool Obama meets hot Boehner in dueling debt ceiling speeches: President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, the two men at the center of the ongoing debate over whether to raise the debt limit, both addressed the country on the topic tonight. And that’s where the similarities between the two speeches ended.
    Obama was all cool reason — making a case for why passing the debt ceiling is necessary to keep the economy on firm footing and quoting the likes of Ronald Reagan and Thomas Jefferson to argue that compromise is part of being American.
    Boehner was all white hot passion — blasting President Obama for his “business as usual” approach to governing in Washington and repeatedly insisting that it was the president not the Congress who was standing in the way of debt limit deal.
    The wildly variant tones from the two men make clear not only the gap that remains between the two sides with just eight days remaining before the country defaults on its loans but also the differing constituencies at whom the speeches were aimed…. – WaPo, 7-26-11
  • Obama changes tone in public debate over debt ceiling: “Don’t call my bluff,” President Obama reportedly warned House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) during a tough bargaining session over the debt ceiling July 13. “I’m going to the American people with this.”
    It was no empty threat. As the high-stakes negotiations with Congress to avoid financial default Aug. 2 have bogged down, Obama has taken his case directly to the public with increasing urgency. This month, he has appeared in front of reporters at the White House briefing room four times, taken the stage before a friendly crowd of 1,200 in a town hall-style event at the University of Maryland and delivered a rare televised prime-time address to the nation Monday night from the East Room.
    The gambit is aimed at winning public support that could give him an upper hand at the negotiating table, though polls suggest Americans are frustrated both with the president and his Republican rivals.
    With each appearance, Obama has not altered his message as much as his persona: He verged from poised early in the process — the “only adult in the room” strategy aimed at contrasting him against a squabbling, childish Congress — to frustrated and emotional by the end of last week, when House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) abruptly left Obama “at the altar.” He returned to a more collected and determined demeanor Monday night, as he tried to leave the public with a lasting impression with just a week left until the deadline.
    Along the way, Obama has perhaps revealed more public emotion than he has during his 2 1/2 years in office…. – WaPo, 7-26-11
  • John Boehner Debt Ceiling Plan May Still Trigger S&P Downgrade: Report: Minutes before House Speaker John Boehner delivered a prime-time address in which he framed his latest deficit-reduction deal as a silver bullet for the nation’s economic uncertainty, reports surfaced that the plan being crafted by the Ohio Republican would potentially lead to a downgrading of the AAA credit rating of the United States.
    In an address that immediately followed the president’s own, Boehner argued that if the president were to merely sign into law his latest deficit-reduction bill — which slashes more than a trillion dollars in spending before requiring a second tranche of cuts and a second vote — “the ‘crisis’ atmosphere he has created will simply disappear.”
    It was a fairly bold selling of a plan that — in terms of both the size of cuts and structural reforms — fell far short of what the Speaker had been negotiating with the White House prior to those negotiations ending this weekend. It also was delivered with an unfortunate backdrop. Just minutes before Boehner spoke, CNN’s Erin Burnett relayed word from her sources on Wall Street that the newest Republican plan would not satisfy the credit rating agencies, which have soured on the idea of a short-term solution to the debt ceiling debate. Rather, it was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s approach (padded by counting the savings from the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq) that would calm their nerves…. – Huff Post, 7-26-11
  • Washington Day Ahead: Obama, Boehner Draw Lines in Debt Debate: In separate televised remarks, President Barack Obama warned of economic danger ahead unless a compromise is reached before the Aug. 2 deadline for a possible U.S. default, while the U.S. House of Representatives’ top Republican, Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, said that he had made a “sincere effort” to work with the White House and that Republicans weren’t going to hand the president a “blank check.”
    President Barack Obama warned of a “deep economic crisis” without a compromise to avert an Aug. 2 U.S. default as he dueled Republican House Speaker John Boehner in back-to-back speeches on increasing the debt limit.
    House Speaker John Boehner often attacks the spendthrift ways of Washington. “In Washington, more spending and more debt is business as usual,” the Republican leader from Ohio said in a televised address yesterday amid debate over the U.S. debt. “I’ve got news for Washington — those days are over.” Yet the speaker, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell all voted for major drivers of the nation’s debt during the past decade: Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts and Medicare prescription drug benefits. They also voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, that rescued financial institutions and the auto industry…. – Bloomberg, 7-26-11
  • Treasury 10-Year Note Yields Rise to Two-Week High on U.S. Debt Deadlock: Treasury 10-year note yields touched a two-week high after speeches by President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner showed they still disagree on how to raise the borrowing limit.
    Yields on two-year notes fluctuated after matching a two- week high before today’s $35 billion auction of the securities. The difference between yields on 10-year notes and inflation- linked debt reached to the widest since May on concern the U.S. credit rating may be lowered. The dollar fell to a record against the Swiss franc….
    Obama warned in a televised speech yesterday in Washington of a “deep economic crisis” unless Republicans and Democrats can agree on how to raise the $14.3 trillion federal borrowing limit and find accord on reining in future spending. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, who spoke afterwards from the U.S. Capitol, said Obama was asking for a “blank check.”
    Earlier in the day, Boehner and the Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid of Nevada, announced competing plans to raise the debt ceiling. Reid dropped Democrats’ insistence on tax increases, a move favored by Obama.
    Treasuries with the longest maturities will have the biggest declines if the U.S. loses its top-level debt rating, said Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Bill Gross, who manages the world’s biggest bond fund, in a Twitter posting…. – Bloomberg, 7-12-11
  • Obama argues debt case to nation Boehner rebuts in another speech as divide deepens, default looms: President Obama, reminding lawmakers “the whole world is watching,” exhorted them last night to break through partisan bickering and pass a comprehensive budget deal that protects Americans from the pain of a government default in one week.
    The prime-time address to the nation came hours after House and Senate leaders released dueling plans that promised to spark days of battles between the chambers and within the parties. No clear path to a resolution emerged….
    Republicans appear to be hoping that their plan will be the only viable one still standing as the deadline of Aug. 2 for a government default approaches.
    “If you get to the 11th hour and you actually have some legislation that’s doable – if there’s not a lot of time for negotiations – it really puts pressure on Obama,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor at Princeton University…. – Boston Globe, 7-25-11
  • Boehner introduces debt plan, says can pass Senate: House Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, introduced a new plan on Monday to approve an increase in the debt ceiling based on the principles of the “cut, cap and balance” plan that can pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Boehner said it would be irresponsible for President Barack Obama, a Democrat, to veto the Republican debt plan…. – Reuters, 7-25-11
  • Challenging Obama, House GOP unveils new debt bill: In a blunt challenge to President Barack Obama, House Republicans drafted legislation Monday to avert a threatened Aug. 2 government default — but along lines the White House has already dismissed. U.S. financial markets shrugged off the uncertainty.
    “Compromise has become a dirty word,” Obama lamented as congressional leaders groped for a way out of a looming crisis.
    According to a GOP aide familiar with the emerging House bill, it would provide for an immediate $1 trillion increase in the government’s $14.3 trillion debt limit in exchange for $1.2 trillion in cuts in federal spending.
    The measure also envisions Congress approving a second round of spending cuts of $1.8 trillion or more in 2012, passage of which would trigger an additional $1.6 trillion in increased borrowing authority.
    While the bill marked a retreat from legislation that conservatives muscled through the House last week, the two-step approach runs afoul of Obama’s insistence that lawmakers solve the current crisis in a way that avoids a politically charged rerun next year in the middle of the 2012 election campaign…. – AP, 7-25-11

JULY 25, 2011: PRESIDENT OBAMA & SPEAKER BOEHNER ADDRESS NATION ON COMPETING DEBT CEILING PLANS

Obama urges Congress to reach deal on debt ceiling: President Obama said in a prime-time speech Monday night that, unless Congress agrees quickly to a long- term increase in the federal debt ceiling, “we would risk sparking a deep economic crisis, this one caused almost entirely by Washington.” He asked Americans to urge their lawmakers in Congress to strike a deal on the issue. He said he would not agree to a short-term increase, as proposed by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), saying it amounted to “kicking the can down the road.” He added: “We can’t allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington’s political warfare.”

Boehner: ‘The solution to this crisis is not complicated’: House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a prime-time address Monday night that he intends to continue pushing a short-term raise in the federal debt ceiling, despite President Obama’s objection that such a move does not solve the problem.
“The solution to this crisis is not complicated. … We are up to the task, and I hope President Obama will join us,” Boehner said. The speaker said that, in negotiations with Obama over a long-term debt deal, “I made a sincere effort to work with the president. … I gave it my all. Unfortunately, the president could not take yes for an answer.” He added: “The president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today,. This is not going to happen.”

President Obama Addresses the Nation on Debt Ceiling Crisis, Blames House Republicans, Suggests Raising Taxes

Speaker John Boehner’s Address to the Nation on the Republican’s (GOP) Plan for America’s Debt Crisis — Response Blames President Obama’s Inability to Agree on a Deal

  • Parties Head to Showdown as Obama Warns of a ‘Crisis’: The Democratic-led Senate and Republican-led House on Monday barreled toward a showdown on competing plans to cut spending and raise the debt limit as a resolution to the intensifying crisis remained farther from sight just one week before a possible federal default.
    With President Obama trying to employ the power of the presidency to force an agreement, House and Senate leaders said votes could occur as early as Wednesday on competing proposals to slash spending in exchange for increasing federal borrowing authority that the Treasury Department says will be exhausted Aug. 2, raising the prospect that federal bills will go unpaid.
    It was a day of legislative chess moves, back-to-back party caucuses and closed-door meetings that ended with a nationally televised presidential address and a rebuttal by the House speaker, John A. Boehner. Their separate speeches reflected that the two sides are farther apart than ever — just a week ago, the two men were in private negotiations on a “grand bargain” of spending cuts and additional revenue, what Mr. Obama called “a balanced approach.”
    “The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a different approach, a cuts-only approach — an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all,” Mr. Obama said in his address. “And because nothing is asked of those at the top of the income scales, such an approach would close the deficit only with more severe cuts to programs we all care about — cuts that place a greater burden on working families.”
    Even as he sought to set Republicans up for blame for any crisis, Mr. Obama offered assurance that a crisis would be averted. He called on Americans to contact their lawmakers in support of a compromise. “We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis — this one caused almost entirely by Washington,” he said. “Defaulting on our obligations is a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate.
    In response to Mr. Obama, Mr. Boehner said: “The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today. That is just not going to happen.”
    Mr. Boehner urged the president to sign a Republican plan to raise the debt limit. “If the president signs it,” he said, “the ‘crisis’ atmosphere he has created will simply disappear. The debt limit will be raised.”… – NYT, 7-25-11
  • Obama urges GOP to break ‘stalemate’ over debt talks: President Obama on Monday used a nationally televised address to urge House Republicans to stop standing in the way of a deal to tame the nation’s debt and raise the federal limit on borrowing, making his most direct appeal to the American people in the confrontation over the debt.
    Obama said failure to raise the debt ceiling within the next week “would risk sparking a deep economic crisis.” He said he would not be able to pay all of the government’s bills, including Social Security checks and veterans’ benefits.
    The president endorsed a Senate Democratic plan unveiled Monday that would save $2.7 trillion in spending over 10 years in exchange for raising the federal debt ceiling through 2012. He rejected a competing House Republican plan that could save up to $3 trillion while raising the debt ceiling in two stages — the first lasting six months.
    Obama reserved his harshest words for House Republicans as he called on them to join him in breaking a “stalemate” and forging a compromise that balances cuts in government spending with new tax revenues from the wealthy and corporations.
    “The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a cuts-only approach – an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all,” Obama said in the East Room of the White House.In a response following the president’s statement, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Republicans had fought to rein in the national debt, but that Obama had refused to compromise.
    “I want you to know I made a sincere effort to work with the president to identify a path forward,” Boehner said. “Unfortunately, the president would not take yes for an answer. Even when we thought we might be close on an agreement, the president’s demands changed.” “The president has often said we need a ‘balanced’ approach — which in Washington means: we spend more. . .you pay more,” the speaker said. “Having run a small business, I know those tax increases will destroy jobs.” “The United States cannot default on its debt obligations,” Boehner said.
    “The solution to this crisis is not complicated: If you’re spending more money than you’re taking in, you need to spend less of it,” he said. “I’ve always believed, the bigger [the] government, the smaller the people.”… – WaPo, 7-25-11
  • Debt ceiling speeches given by Obama, Boehner: President Barack Obama used a rare prime-time address Monday to rally support behind the Democratic plan for raising the debt limit, a high-stakes bid to isolate Republicans with only a week left to avert a government default.
    In a 15-minute speech from the White House, Obama made the case for compromise between Democrats and Republicans, saying it is the only way to prevent default that could be catastrophic to the economy.
    “Unfortunately, for the past several weeks, Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach,” Obama said. “If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills — bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.”
    Obama called for unity, on one hand, but he also bashed Republicans, arguing that their tactics “risk sparking a deep economic crisis — one caused almost entirely by Washington.”
    “Defaulting on our obligations is a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate,” Obama said. “And Republican leaders say that they agree we must avoid default. But the new approach that Speaker Boehner unveiled today, which would temporarily extend the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts, would force us to once again face the threat of default just six months from now. In other words, it doesn’t solve the problem.”
    In an extraordinary contrast, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) delivered a response only minutes later from the Capitol. The back-to-back speeches underscored the deep divide that remains between the two central figures in the debt-limit drama.
    “The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today,” Boehner said. “That is just not going to happen.”
    Obama decided to deliver the prime-time address after three days of little progress…. – Politico, 7-25-11
  • Obama Warns ‘World Is Watching’ as Boehner Says GOP’s Efforts on Debt Have Been Rejected: President Obama on Monday night urged a “balanced approach” in crafting a deal to raise the debt ceiling, saying a Republican proposal to temporarily extend the debt limit would lead the country back to the same arguments on spending and taxes in six months from now.
    “That is no way to run the greatest country on Earth. It is a dangerous game we’ve never played before, and we can’t afford to play it now. … We can’t allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington’s political warfare,” the president said in a televised address to the nation.
    Instead, Obama said he wants tax increases paired with spending reductions that will put the U.S. debate past the next election and keep the country from defaulting on its loans to creditors, set to come due on Aug. 2.
    “The entire world is watching. So let’s seize this moment to show why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth,” Obama said. “The debate right now isn’t about whether we need to make tough choices. Democrats and Republicans agree on the amount of deficit reduction we need. The debate is about how it should be done.”
    House Speaker John Boehner, delivering the Republican response after Obama spoke — the first such live response aside from the State of the Union in nearly four years — said Obama was looking for a “blank check” to fund his administration’s “spending binge.” He accused Obama of not negotiating in good faith…. – Fox News, 7-25-11
  • Obama urges Americans to back ‘balanced’ debt plan: President Obama asked Americans tonight to pressure congressional Republicans to accept a “balanced plan” to reduce the federal debt through taxes as well as budget cuts in order to stave off a government default that will kill jobs and slow the economy.
    “The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government,” Obama said during a prime-time speech at the White House.
    House Speaker John Boehner — who is promoting an alternative debt plan with no tax increases — said in a responding speech that Obama’s definition of balance means “we spend more and you pay more.”… – USA Today, 7-25-11
  • Obama, Boehner present conflicting debt-crisis solutions to America: President Barack Obama used his televised speech to the nation Monday night to paint a lurid picture of U.S. debt default if the GOP doesn’t raise the debt ceiling enough to continue the administration’s spending until after the president completes his 2012 campaign.
    Obama did not threaten to veto a short-term measure, but presented an alarming vision of a default, urged a tax increase, and then called on Americans to press their legislators to pass a debt ceiling deal that would be large enough to cover spending until 2013. That $2.4 trillion debt-plan has been developed by Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid, and is large enough to pay for spending until 2013, but it does not include a tax increase.
    “We can’t allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington political warfare … I want you all to make your voice heard,” by reaching out to Congress, he said, without repeating his earlier demands for tax increases, his earlier objections to budget cuts, or his earlier opposition to a stopgap measure.
    Moments later, House Speaker John Boehner pushed back hard, saying it is time “to end the spending binge in Washington.” Boehner briefly outlined his own two-step plan to raise the debt limit and set similar cuts, finishing by saying “we’re up to the task, and I hope President Obama will join us in that work.”
    Obama’s eleventh-hour appeal to voters is a gamble because his political credibility will be damaged if Americans fail to pressure their elected legislators enough to win a debt ceiling deal worth $2.4 trillion.
    But it is also a partial defeat, because he and his political allies have abandoned their earlier demands for tax increases…. – Daily Caller, 7-25-11
  • Obama takes debt case to American people: With just eight days left before a possible economic catastrophe, President Obama on Monday took his argument for a “balanced” debt limit agreement to the American people, arguing in a prime time address that voters should call their members of Congress in support of a deal that “asks everyone to give a little without requiring anyone to sacrifice too much.”
    Speaking from the White House, the president lambasted Republicans for what he cast as a refusal to compromise, arguing that the nation faces a possible “deep economic crisis- one caused almost entirely by Washington.”
    “Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach,” Mr. Obama said. “If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills – bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.”
    “It is a dangerous game we’ve never played before, and we can’t afford to play it now,” he warned. “People are fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word.”
    Mr. Obama continued to ask Republicans to accept revenue increases for the wealthiest Americans, saying they and large corporations should “give up some of their tax breaks and special deductions.”
    Arguing that Republican leaders were acting outside of the interests of their constituents, Mr. Obama called on voters to “make your voice heard.”
    “The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government,” he said. “So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your Member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.”… – CBS News, 7-25-11
  • Obama Speaks to Nation as Debt Talks Intensify; Boehner to Give GOP Response: President Obama, in a nationally televised address to the nation Monday, urged a “balanced approach” in crafting a deal to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the federal deficit ahead of the Treasury’s Aug. 2 deadline, when the country is said to risk default on its debt.
    “The entire world is watching. So let’s seize this moment to show why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth,” Obama said. “Not just because we can still keep our word and meet our obligations, but because we can still come together as one nation,”
    He said that, although some Democrats are reluctant to make deep cuts to domestic programs, “enough are willing to accept them if the burden is fairly shared,” rather than the “cuts-only” approach of the Republicans that Obama said would “place a greater burden on working families.”
    House Speaker John Boehner was scheduled to deliver the Republican response after Obama speaks.
    Republicans and Democrats outlined separate deficit-reduction proposals Monday afternoon, pushing ahead with bills that have a questionable chance of passing as the showdown over the debt ceiling intensified…. – Fox News, 7-25-11
  • A ‘Unique Opportunity’ on the Debt Ceiling, Lost: Leaders of both parties have said for months that the need to raise the nation’s borrowing limit offered a “unique opportunity” for a bipartisan deal that would constrain the mounting federal debt. Instead, it is shaping up to be a lost opportunity.
    Whatever deal Congress and President Obama devise in this final week to allow the government to keep paying its bills after Aug. 2 and avert an economy-rattling default, it almost certainly will fall short of the compromise that Mr. Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, nearly struck last week — before details of the negotiations leaked, opponents in both parties protested and Mr. Boehner left the table.
    The difference between that attempted “grand bargain” and what Congress is coming up with is not just a matter of dollars. Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner did tentatively agree to more than $3 trillion in savings over 10 years — at least hundreds of billions more than is called for in the fallback plans now bandied about in Congress to clear the way for a vote to increase the $14.3 trillion borrowing ceiling by next Tuesday.
    But the more significant difference is in where the savings would come from. The Congressional proposals mainly seek caps on annual spending for domestic and military programs and no additional revenues…. – NYT, 7-25-11

JULY 25, 2011: REID & BOEHNER UNVEIL DEBT PLANS — WHITE HOUSE SUPPORT REID PLAN — PRESIDENT OBAMA TO ADDRESS NATION AT 9PM

Obama to address nation on debt at 9 p.m. ET: President Obama will address the nation on the “stalemate over avoiding default and the best approach to cutting deficits” Monday at 9 p.m. ET, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced via Twitter.

White House: Obama backs a proposal by Sen. Harry Reid to cut spending by $2.7 trillion, raise debt limit through 2012.

House Leaders Call for Short-Term Rise in Debt Ceiling: House Republicans intend to push for a vote this week on a two-step plan that would allow the federal debt limit to immediately rise by about $1 trillion and tie a second increase next year to the ability of a new joint Congressional committee to produce more deficit reduction.
Top Republicans were to try to sell the proposal to their rank-and file in a crucial meeting Monday afternoon as House Republicans and Senate Democrats readied competing plans in an effort avoid a federal default next week.
The proposal would cut current spending and put legal limits on future spending, saving what Republicans estimate to be about $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The plan calls for no new revenue.

“We’re about to go over a cliff here.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV

“Speaker Boehner’s plan, no matter how he tries to dress it up, is simply a short-term plan, and is, therefore, a non-starter in the Senate and with the president.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“Republicans are more interested in trying to embarrass the president than trying to do what’s right for the country.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“Does anyone think it would be a good idea to do this all over again in six months? … This is an offer that Republicans can’t refuse.” Sen. Charles Schumer

“Senator Reid’s plan is a reasonable approach that should receive the support of both parties, and we hope the House Republicans will agree to this plan so that America can avoid defaulting on our obligations for the first time in our history. The ball is in their court.” — Press Secretary Jay Carney

“I know the president’s worried about his next election. But my God, shouldn’t we be worried about the country?” John Boehner on “Fox News Sunday”

Eric Cantor: The House plan will responsibly prevent default and meets the President’s request for a debt limit increase over time. The President’s reason for opposing this plan is to avoid an election year fight on spending and taxes.

Mitch McConnell: “Congressional leaders of both parties have shown they are willing to work in good faith. I would suggest that the President reconsider their offer rather than veto the country into default.”

Press Secretary Jay Carney’s Statement that the Obama White House Supports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Debt Plan

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Statement that Obama Should Reconsider the Bipartisan Debt Proposal to Prevent Default

  • Two proposals, but no clear path toward debt ceiling deal: The Republican leader in the House and Democratic leader of the Senate issued dueling proposals Monday to allow the federal debt ceiling to be raised – both with steep spending cuts, but neither with a clear route to ending the standoff over the government’s ability to pay its bills.
    Both plans will face key tests on Wednesday, when Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) each plan to bring their proposals to the floors of their respective chambers.
    In the House, the issue will be whether conservative Republicans will remain united behind Boehner even though his plan received mixed reviews from conservatives, with some influential Tea Party-affiliated lawmakers and groups denouncing it as too weak. In the Senate, the question will be whether Reid can attract the seven Republican votes he would need to cut off a threatened filibuster and claim bipartisan backing for his plan.
    President Obama was scheduled to address the nation at 6:30 Pacific about the importance of quickly resolving the impasse as the threat to the economy was imminent. Boehner will deliver the Republican response shortly after…. – LAT, 7-25-11
  • White House backs Reid debt plan: The White House on Monday endorsed a deficit reduction plan put forward by Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, saying it would remove the cloud of a possible default from the U.S. economy through 2012.
    “Senator Reid’s plan is a reasonable approach that should receive the support of both parties, and we hope the House Republicans will agree to this plan,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. “The ball is in their court.”…. – Reuters, 7-25-11
  • Senate and House Still Far Apart on Debt in 2 New Plans: The Democratic Senate and Republican House put themselves on a legislative collision course Monday as they moved forward with significantly different plans on how to raise the debt limit and avert a possible federal default next week.
    House Republican leaders pushed for a vote Wednesday on a two-step plan that would allow the federal debt limit to immediately be raised by about $1 trillion and tie a second increase next year to the ability of a new joint Congressional committee to produce more deficit reduction.
    But top Senate Democrats called the proposal a “non-starter” and said they would advance their own plan to reduce the deficit by $2.7 trillion and raise the debt ceiling until after next year’s elections, saying it met the conditions that Republicans had laid down during the ongoing debt fight….
    Hoping to beat the Senate to the punch, the House Republican leadership was trying to sell its plan to the party membership in the hopes of forcing it through the House by Wednesday…. – NYT, 7-25-11
  • Democrats offer debt plan they say GOP “can’t refuse”: Senate Democrats unveiled a plan to raise the debt ceiling Monday that abandoned President Obama’s call for revenue increases as part of a deal, putting forth a plan they said would cut spending by $2.7 trillion.
    The plan would include a $1.2 trillion reduction in both defense and non-defense discretionary spending. It also counts $1 trillion in spending cuts from winding down the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, something critics say should not count in the total savings.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, joined by Sen. Charles Schumer, unveiled the plan Monday afternoon in a combative news conference in which they ruled out a rival plan from Senate Republicans that would create a two-step process for a debt limit increase…. – CBS News, 7-25-11
  • House, Senate leaders unveil dueling debt-limit plans: House and Senate leaders formally unveiled dueling backup plans Monday afternoon to raise the federal debt limit after a weekend of intense negotiations failed Sunday to break a partisan impasse that threatens to throw the government into default next week.
    The White House promptly threw its support behind a Democratic plan advanced by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and heaped criticism on House Republicans, accusing them of intransigence in trying to balance the budget “on the backs of seniors and the middle class.”
    House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) proposed a two-step plan to cut spending by nearly $3 trillion, laying out the details to his rank-and-file Republicans in a closed-door meeting in the Capitol basement. Shortly afterward,Reid outlined a plan to slash $2.7 trillion.
    Rather than heading toward a compromise to meet the Aug. 2 deadline, however, the two leaders publicly dug in for a fight. Neither of their rival strategies appeared sure to win approval in their respective chambers, as opposition remained high in some quarters. The result was to leave Congress locked in bitter and messy legislative warfare, even as financial markets reopened Monday for the first time since Boehner abruptly abandoned debt-limit talks with the White House on Friday…. – WaPo, 7-25-11
  • John Boehner’s debt ceiling plan pushes even deeper spending cuts: Speaker John Boehner’s two-step plan to raise the debt ceiling by upwards of $2.5 trillion would require the White House to accept much deeper spending cuts than he was negotiating only last week with President Barack Obama.
    Unveiled Monday, the proposal appears to take back Boehner’s prior offers to allow an $800 billion increase in tax revenues but his new spending demands are significant in themselves and could amount to $600 billion more over 10 years when compared with the White House talks.
    Two installments on the debt increase are anticipated, according to a summary document released prior to a House Republican conference on the proposal…. – Politico, 7-25-11
  • Last-ditch GOP debt plan emerges: With skittish markets preparing for the possibility of economic catastrophe, lawmakers worked behind closed doors Monday to craft dueling plans that they hope could somehow, someway get a polarized Washington to pass an increase in the debt limit.
    House Speaker John Boehner, who walked out of negotiations with the White House Friday, planned to present his caucus Monday afternoon with a nearly $3 trillion package that broke the process into two parts.
    Senior GOP aides familiar with the negotiations said the deal would mandate immediate cuts and caps in discretionary spending, potentially saving $1.2 trillion over a decade. (The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has yet to score the proposal.) In exchange, the debt ceiling would be raised by less than $1 trillion, enough to last the nation through the end of the year. The as-yet-unspecified spending caps would trigger automatic across-the-board spending cuts if not met…. – CBS News, 7-25-11
  • GOP whip holds firm to balanced budget amendment: The man charged with rounding up Republican votes in the House said he expects that whatever debt-ceiling plan initially makes its way through that chamber will include some kind of balanced budget amendment — or a plan to implement one soon.
    “I think it will have some form,” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown.”
    “Maybe it has a balanced budget amendment right now, maybe it has some vote in the near future,” McCarthy added.
    The House majority whip said that Friday’s 51-46 party-line Senate vote to not move forward on the House-approved “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill doesn’t mean it’s over for that approach right now. “It did not get rejected; it got tabled,” he said…. – MSNBC, 7-25-11
  • Treasurys dip as debt ceiling debate continues: Treasury bond prices are edging lower as Washington continues to debate plans to raise the nation’s debt ceiling before an Aug. 2 deadline.
    A failure to raise the debt ceiling could lead the U.S. government to default on its bond payments. Treasury bonds are considered the safest and most liquid investments in the world…. – AP, 7-25-11
  • Obama still pushing deficit deal with tax revenue: President Barack Obama is reiterating his call for a deficit-cutting plan that cuts spending and that also increases tax revenue by making the wealthy and corporations pay more to help stabilize the long-term debt. The president made his comments to the National Council of La Raza on Monday as congressional leaders struggled against time to come up with a plan to meet an Aug. 2 deadline to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Obama said the wealthy and big corporations have to “pay their fair share, too.” And he alluded to the difficulty of cutting a deal, saying “compromise is becoming a dirty word.” – AP, 7-25-11
  • Analysis: The politics behind Boehner’s two-step debt hike: So many Americans are so sick of political acrimony over raising the U.S. debt limit that it might seem unfathomable to have to do it all over again early next year. But that is exactly what the top U.S. Republican, John Boehner, is proposing for some practical political reasons.
    If Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, prevails, President Barack Obama will sign legislation by August 2 to raise U.S. borrowing authority by about $1 trillion, or just enough to carry the government through March.
    That would set up a second tortured debt limit debate to avert default just as the U.S. presidential campaign heats up…. – Reuters, 7-25-11
  • Dueling debt-ceiling plans: Can either pass Congress?: House Republicans and Senate Democrats introduced their plans to resolve the debt-ceiling impasse before Aug. 2. But bipartisan hopes appear thin.With eight days before the US loses its authority to borrow funds, House and Senate leaders launched dueling plans to resolve the crisis.
    Both deliberately avoid calls to raise taxes – a nonstarter for Republicans that derailed previous bids at a solution. But neither plan can yet claim a clear or even likely path to a bipartisan majority.
    “What they have in common is that neither one is likely to pass – even its own house,” says Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. “Here’s a case where you really do need a bipartisan agreement, and there’s no bipartisanship left…. – CS Monitor, 7-25-11
  • Ezra Klein: Obvious compromise between Reid and Boehner debt plans: When it comes to cutting the national deficit, the plans proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner are much more similar than they are different. It’s on the issue of raising the debt ceiling that the consensus cracks.
    Both plans call for $1.2 trillion in reductions to discretionary spending. Both envision the formation of a bipartisan “supercommittee,” which would try to find consensus on a larger deficit-reduction package that, if it won a majority on the panel, would be immune to amendments and filibusters and be fast-tracked for an up-or-down vote in the House and the Senate…. – WaPo, 7-25-11
  • Emily Miller: Congress agrees: Keep spending Democratic and Republican leaders preserve status quo on Capitol Hill: Congressional Democrats and Republicans waged a war of words on Monday over their debt-ceiling plans, but their agendas amount to pretty much the same thing. Washington just can’t kick its spending habit.
    Both the blueprints cooked up by House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, claim 10-year domestic spending reductions equivalent to a bit over $1 trillion with the creation of new committees to find more spending reforms. Neither leader will provide hard numbers for budget reductions in 2012, the only enforceable year. That means borrowing is immediate and spending cuts delayed. Neither plan raises taxes. The primary distinction between them is that Mr. Boehner seeks a smaller debt-ceiling increase, forcing President Obama to come back hat-in-hand in 2012 for more borrowing authority…. – Washington Times, 7-25-11
  • Congress Can Learn From 1995-96 Debt-Ceiling Debate: Failure to raise the Federal debt ceiling limit could “roil the financial markets and cause severe economic problems,” “cause profound damage to our country,” and have “dire consequences.” So wrote the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and New York Times. But the year was 1995, not 2011.
    Other ills predicted during that contentious debate were rising unemployment, reduced GDP growth, and soaring interest rates. That was at a time when President Clinton and Democrats were fighting off attempts by Republicans to link cutting the deficit to the increase in the debt ceiling.
    Then as now, there was a widespread misperception that failure to increase the debt ceiling would produce a default: “congressional Republicans are threatening to provoke the nation’s first-ever default” (Washington Times). The Los Angeles Times reported: “the first real risk of a government default could occur November 15 [1995].” Even the then Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, warned that congressional Republicans should drop their efforts, declaring: “To default for the first time in the history of this nation is not something anyone should take in any tranquil manner.” … – Fox News, 7-25-11
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Political Highlights April 4, 2011: Obama Addresses Libya & Energy Policy; Republican and Democratic Budget Showdown

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

The President speaks at Georgetown University

The President speaks at Georgetown University, Pete Souza, 3/30/11

STATS & POLLS

  • Hillary Clinton now most popular figure in Obama administration: A recent Gallup poll has indicated that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is enjoying a high favorable rating of 66%. That is 7 points higher than President Obama, 9 points higher than Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and 15 points beyond that of Vice President Joe Biden. Are you pleased with her performance so far?
    As war rages on several fronts and much of the Middle East and northern Africa is in turmoil, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enjoys a favorable rating higher than President Obama, Vice President Biden, or Secretary of Defense Gates…. – CS Monitor, 4-4-11
  • Obama plays long game as crises rage: Obama’s approval ratings in most polls remain in the high 40 percent range — down from the heady days of his early presidency, but still viable, especially with what looks like a weak Republican 2012 field in prospect.
    But there are some warning signs. About half of Americans viewed Obama as a strong and decisive leader in a new Gallup poll this week, down from 60 percent a year ago and 73 percent in April 2009…. – AFP, 4-3-11
  • AP-GfK Poll: Americans souring more on economy: Obama’s approval ratings have held steady at around 50 percent over the past month. But the disconnect between negative perceptions of the economy and signs that a rebound are under way could provide an opening for Republicans at the outset of the 2012 campaign…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Few Americans see Obama as strong military leader: Only 17 percent of Americans see President Barack Obama as a strong and decisive military leader, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken after the United States and its allies began bombing Libya. Nearly half of those polled view Obama as a cautious and consultative commander-in-chief and more than a third see him as indecisive in military matters…. – Reuters, 3-24-11

IN FOCUS

  • Wisconsin: Judge Again Halts Law Stripping Union Rights: A judge on Thursday halted Gov. Scott Walker’s plans — at least temporarily — to cut most public workers’ pay and strip them of most of their union rights. Judge Maryann Sumi of Dane County Circuit Court issued a declaration stating in no uncertain terms that the collective bargaining law that led to weeks of protests had not taken effect, contradicting Republican arguments that it had because a state office published it online. Governor Walker, a Republican, said his administration would comply, despite misgivings…. – AP, 3-31-11

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: LIBYA IN TURMOIL

The President on Libya
President Obama at the National Defense University, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 3/28/11
  • US planes attack as US cuts back Libya mission: U.S. Air Force and Marine attack planes struck targets in Libya on a stretch of Mediterranean coastline near the cities of Sirte and Brega on Monday, the final day of planned U.S. combat missions in the North African nation, U.S. officials said…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • US lifts sanctions on ex-Libyan foreign minister: The Treasury Department said Monday that it had dropped the former minister, Moussa Koussa, from a blacklist of Libyan officials who had been banned from traveling to the United States and whose assets in U.S. jurisdictions had been frozen. The department said it took the step to reward Koussa for his decision last week to defect and encourage other members of Gadhafi’s inner circle to follow suit…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • Former president suggests aiding Libyan rebels: Former President Bill Clinton says the Obama administration should consider arming rebels fighting to oust strongman Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. Clinton tells ABC News in an interview that he “sure wouldn’t shut the door” to assistance for the rebels, reflecting a position that some in Congress have urged President Barack Obama to pursue…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • UN uses attack helicopters in Ivory Coast: The United Nations and French forces opened fire with attack helicopters Monday on the arsenal of this country’s entrenched ruler, as columns of Ivorian fighters allied with his challenger finally pierced the city limit. The fighters aiming to topple strongman Laurent Gbagbo after a decade in power had succeeded in taking nearly the entire countryside in just three days last week, but they faltered once they reached the country’s largest city, where the presidential palace and residence are located…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • US ending its air combat role in Libya: The Pentagon is about to pull its attack planes out of the international air campaign in Libya, hoping NATO partners can take up the slack. The announcement Thursday drew incredulous reactions from some in Congress who wondered aloud why the Obama administration would bow out of a key element of the strategy for protecting Libyan civilians and crippling Moammar Gadhafi’s army.
    “Odd,” “troubling” and “unnerving” were among critical comments by senators pressing for an explanation of the announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen that American combat missions will end Saturday.
    “Your timing is exquisite,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said sarcastically, alluding to Gadhafi’s military advances this week and the planned halt to U.S. airstrikes. “I believe this would be a profound mistake with potentially disastrous consequences.”… – AP, 4-1-11
  • Gates Calls for Limited Role Aiding Libyan Rebels: Gates, Mullen get tough questioning from House members on US involvement in Gadhafi’s Libya The U.S. should avoid developing a closer relationship with Libyan opposition forces, defense leaders said Thursday, telling an often hostile Congress that foreign nations must now take over airstrike responsibilities and any effort to train and equip the rebels. With the U.S. role in Libya at a turning point, the next critical decision is how, if at all, the U.S. chooses to support the opposition forces, particularly in the face of the ongoing budget crisis at home. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he is opposed to arming the rebels, a step his boss President Barack Obama has not ruled out…. – ABC News, 3-31-11
  • CIA sends teams to Libya; US considers rebel aid: Political and economic pressures will eventually drive Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from power, but the military operation will help force him to make those choices by degrading his defense capabilities, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.
    As the U.S. turned over control of the military operation to NATO, Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen told Congress that the U.S. participation will be limited and will not involve an active role in airstrikes as time goes on…. – AP, 3-31-11
  • US rips Assad’s speech but can’t do much about it: The Obama administration sharply criticized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for failing Wednesday to address any of the reforms demanded by anti-government protesters, saying his widely anticipated address to the Syrian parliament lacked substance and would not satisfy calls for change or ease unrest. However, the administration’s displeasure is unlikely to progress beyond verbal reprimands as the U.S. doesn’t see the Syrian government’s two-week crackdown on dissent as requiring the same response as the large-scale violence launched against protesters by Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi… – AP, 3-30-11
  • Rebels retreat from Libya oil port under attack: Moammar Gadhafi’s ground forces recaptured a strategic oil town Wednesday as they made new inroads in beating back a rebel advance toward the capital Tripoli. Western powers kept up the pressure to force Gadhafi out with new airstrikes to weaken his military, hints that they may arm the opposition and intense negotiations behind the scenes to persuade Libya’s leader of nearly 42 years to step down.
    Airstrikes have neutralized Gadhafi’s air force and pounded his army, but those ground forces remain far better armed, trained and organized than the opposition. Rebels have few weapons more powerful than rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, and are no match for Gadhafi’s tanks and longer- range heavy weapons…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Lawmakers seek answers on Libya: A top NATO commander says the U.S. Military role in Libya will be reduced “measurably” with other partners handling responsibilities…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Obama: Too early to negotiate exit with Gadhafi: President Barack Obama pledged Tuesday to increase diplomatic and political pressure on Moammar Gadhafi to compel the Libyan strongman to step down.
    “Hopefully, he’s going to be getting the message soon,” the president said.
    “One of the questions that we want to answer is: Do we start getting to a stage where Gadhafi’s forces are sufficiently degraded, where it may not be necessary to arm opposition groups,” Obama said on NBC Nightly News.
    He told CBS Evening News that Gadhafi’s inner circle is beginning to recognize that “their days are numbered.” He said some may be negotiating to leave the regime. “But that information may not have filtered to Gadhafi yet,” he said, AP, 3-29-11
  • Renewed US missile barrage amid Libya talks: Stepping up attacks far from the front-line fighting, a U.S. Navy ship fired 22 Tomahawk cruise missiles at weapon storage sites around Tripoli on Tuesday, while President Barack Obama said the effectiveness of the allies’ fight is a factor in deciding whether to arm the rebels.
    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, meanwhile, held talks in London with an envoy from the Libyan political opposition group trying to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • Levin, McCain back Obama on Libya military action: The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee say President Barack Obama was right to use military force in Libya.
    Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and Republican John McCain of Arizona made the comments Tuesday at the start of a congressional hearing and the day after Obama’s speech on Libya… – AP, 3-29-11
  • Obama adviser: Nonmilitary means can oust Gadhafi: The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says there are plenty of “non-military means at our disposal” to oust Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi.
    Appearing on the same show, Sen. John McCain said he doesn’t believe it’s possible “in the short term” to get rid of Gadhafi through non-military means such as economic and diplomatic pressure. McCain says “Gadhafi in power is unacceptable. We should use any means to bring him down.”… – AP, 3-29-11
  • FACT CHECK: How Obama’s Libya claims fit the facts: There may be less than meets the eye to President Barack Obama’s statements Monday night that NATO is taking over from the U.S. in Libya and that U.S. action is limited to defending people under attack there by Moammar Gadhafi’s forces.
    In transferring command and control to NATO, the U.S. is turning the reins over to an organization dominated by the U.S., both militarily and politically. In essence, the U.S. runs the show that is taking over running the show.
    And the rapid advance of rebels in recent days strongly suggests they are not merely benefiting from military aid in a defensive crouch, but rather using the multinational force in some fashion — coordinated or not — to advance an offensive.
    Here is a look at some of Obama’s assertions in his address to the nation Monday, and how they compare with the facts…. – AP, 3-28-11
  • Obama on Libya: ‘We have a responsibility to act’: Vigorously defending American attacks in Libya, President Barack Obama declared Monday night that the United States intervened to prevent a slaughter of civilians that would have stained the world’s conscience and “been a betrayal of who we are” as Americans. Yet he ruled out targeting Moammar Gadhafi, warning that trying to oust him militarily would be a mistake as costly as the war in Iraq….
    “To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are,” Obama said. He spoke in a televised address to the nation, delivered in front of a respectful audience of military members and diplomats.
    “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different,” Obama said. “And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”…. – AP, 3-28-11

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

  • Israel panel approving new east Jerusalem building: Jerusalem officials on Monday gave preliminary approval for the building of 942 new apartments in a Jewish development in the city’s contested eastern sector, threatening to create new friction ahead of the Israeli president’s White House visit.
    Although it would take years before construction starts, the project in the neighborhood of Gilo will likely infuriate the Palestinians at an especially delicate diplomatic moment. Israeli President Shimon Peres is scheduled to meet Tuesday with President Barack Obama to explore ways to jump-start stalled Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • Quran protests spread to turbulent Afghan east: In Jalalabad, the largest city in the east, hundreds of people blocked the main highway for three hours, shouting for U.S. troops to leave, burning an effigy of President Barack Obama and stomping on a drawing of a U.S. flag. More than 1,000 people set tires ablaze to block another highway in eastern Parwan province for about an hour, said provincial police chief Sher Ahmad Maladani…. – AP, 4-3-11
  • US to seek new term on UN human rights panel: The Obama administration announced on Wednesday that it will seek a new term on the United Nations Human Rights Council despite concerns that the panel remains a hotbed of anti-Israel sentiment and a forum for repressive nations to deflect attention from abuses they may have committed. The State Department said the U.S. intends to run in 2012 for another three-year term on the oft-criticized council. Officials said the U.S. believes its presence on the panel for the past two years has helped steer it in the right direction and that it can continue to do so…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • US hits Belarus firm with Iran-related sanctions: The Obama administration on Tuesday slapped sanctions on a state-owned energy company in Belarus over a $500 million investment with an Iranian firm accused of contributing to Iran’s suspect nuclear program…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • Papers: Guatemalans welcomed US syphilis doctor: As U.S. doctors in Guatemala were wrapping up one of the most unethical medical experiments they had ever conducted, a Guatemalan medical official praised the lead researcher as noble and thanked him profusely. The Guatemalan official’s praising letter from more than 60 years ago is among thousands of documents released Tuesday concerning the doctor who led the study that infected Guatemalan prison inmates and mental patients with syphilis in the 1940s…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • US sending robots to Japan to help nuclear plant: The U.S. government is sending some robotic help to Japan to help regain control of the tsunami-damaged nuclear plant. A top Energy Department official told a Senate panel Tuesday that a shipment of “radiation hardened robotics” will be sent to Japan to assist in the crisis. A department spokeswoman said a robotic device from the Energy Department’s Idaho National Laboratory is being shipped to Japan along with several radiation-hardened cameras…. – AP, 3-29-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • New Hurdles in Race to Avert Federal Shutdown: House Republicans demanded on Monday that President Obama and Senate Democrats agree to federal spending cuts beyond $33 billion for this year as budget talks hit serious new obstacles just four days before financing for federal agencies runs out. Trying to head off a crisis, President Obama invited Congressional leaders to the White House for a meeting Tuesday to try to resolve the impasse that is threatening to shutter a large part of the federal government as of Saturday. But the administration also accelerated preparations for a potential shutdown.
    “We are aware of the calendar, and to be prudent and prepare for the chance that Congress may not pass a funding bill in time, O.M.B. today encouraged agency heads to begin sharing their contingency plans with senior managers throughout their organizations to ensure that they will have their feedback and input,” Kenneth Baer, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, said Monday…. – NYT, 4-4-11
  • In abrupt reversal, 9/11 suspects to get Guantánamo military tribunals: The Obama administration had wanted to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 suspects in a civilian court in New York. It abandoned that plan Monday in favor of military tribunals…. – CS Monitor, 4-4-11
  • Holder: 9/11 suspects to face military tribunals: Yielding to political opposition, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged henchmen will be referred to military commissions for trial rather than to a civilian federal court in New York.
    The families of those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks have waited almost a decade for justice, and “it must not be delayed any longer,” Holder told a news conference.
    Holder had announced the earlier plan for trial in New York City in November 2009, but that foundered amid widespread opposition to a civilian court trial, particularly in New York. Congress passed legislation that prohibits bringing any detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • Government shutdown Friday? Why Tuesday could be crucial: Rep. Paul Ryan will release a ‘dramatic’ budget for 2012 Tuesday that looks to cut $4 trillion over 10 years. That plan makes the $30 billion at issue in a potential government shutdown over 2011 spending look like small potatoes…. – CS Monitor, 4-4-11
  • Obama invites lawmakers to budget session: President Barack Obama on Monday summoned key lawmakers from both parties to the White House for budget talks in hopes of avoiding a government shutdown this weekend. The White House said the president has invited House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and top negotiators on the appropriations committees to a session Tuesday. Obama spokesman Jay Carney said time was running short and the president would urge the lawmakers to reach an agreement.
    “Despite attempts by Democrats to lock in a number among themselves, I’ve made clear that their $33 billion is not enough and many of the cuts that the White House and Senate Democrats are talking about are full of smoke and mirrors,” Boehner said in a statement. “That’s unacceptable.”… – AP, 4-4-11
  • Obama begins 2012 run with challenges, advantages: He was a long shot when he launched his race for the White House in 2008. This time, he’s the front-runner. Surprising no one, President Obama is poised to file papers with the Federal Election Commission as early as today, officially launching his bid for a second term.
    He starts his re-election campaign in one of the stronger positions of sitting presidents over the past four decades. His job-approval rating at this point in his tenure is higher than that of Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan, presidents who won second terms, and the nation’s jobless rate, now 8.8%, has been slowly declining.
    But as he turns 50 this year, Obama must traverse some perilous landscape. The economic recovery is fragile, and the U.S. military now is involved in three controversial military campaigns — in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya — that draw significant opposition from war-weary Americans. What’s more, the big legislative achievement of his presidency, an overhaul of the health care system, fails to win majority support in national public opinion polls more than a year after he signed it…. – USA Today, 4-3-11
  • Obama: Shift from imported oil, new jobs will come: Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to promote his ideas for bringing down gasoline prices by decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. A blueprint he outlined in a recent speech calls for increasing domestic oil exploration and production, making cars and trucks more energy efficient and building vehicles that run on alternative fuels or electricity….
    “By doing so, we’re going to make our economy less vulnerable to wild swings in oil prices,” Obama said. “We’re going to use cleaner sources of energy that don’t imperil our climate. And we’re going to spark new products and businesses all over the country by tapping America’s greatest renewable resource: our ingenuity.”… – AP, 4-2-11
  • Obama: Lawmakers close to agreement on budget: President Barack Obama says Democrats and Republicans are close to an agreement on the amount of spending cuts needed in order to keep the government operating and avoid a government shutdown. Obama says there are details and differences to work out, but he says a compromise is within reach…. – AP, 4-1-11
  • Obama: Jobs numbers are sign of economy’s strength: President Barack Obama says unemployment numbers released Friday indicate the economy is showing signs of strength. The unemployment rate fell to a two-year low of 8.8 percent in March, capping the strongest two months of hiring since the recession began. The rate has fallen a full percentage point over the past four months, the sharpest drop since 1983…. – AP, 4-1-11
  • Pentagon defends lifting ban on gays in military: The Pentagon said Friday the military should be trained in working with openly gay members by summer’s end, prompting House Republicans to complain that repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was moving too quickly in wartime. In a status report to Congress, Clifford Stanley, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and Vice Adm. William Gortney of the Joint Staff said the Pentagon was moving forward on educating members of the military on the new policy, what’s expected of them and the responsibilities for commanders and other leaders…. – AP, 4-1-11
  • Obama showcases fuel-saving vehicles: With one eye on the gas pump and the other on his energy agenda, President Barack Obama is showcasing fuel- efficient vehicles as part of his goal to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil. The president was to make a short trip Friday to Landover, Md., to visit a UPS shipping facility that features fuel-saving vehicles. Obama was to launch a public-private partnership designed to help large commercial fleets cut back on their diesel and gasoline use. Besides UPS vehicles, Obama also was to view examples of fuel efficiency in the fleets of AT&T, PepsiCo and Verizon…. – AP, 4-1-11
  • For federal workers, anxiety over a possible shutdown: The government could shut down in a week if Congress can’t reach a budget deal. And the Obama administration hasn’t told workers what a shutdown would look like — who will be asked to come to work and who will be told to stay home…. – WaPo, 3-31-11
  • Families urge Obama to end deportations: Hispanic families and immigrant advocates criticized President Barack Obama Thursday for failing to keep campaign promises to change the U.S. immigration system. The critics questioned Obama’s recent comment that he could not use his executive order powers to suspend deportations because doing so “would not conform with my appropriate role as president.” Obama made the comment at a town hall organized by Univision TV network.
    The statement has received a lot of attention in immigrant and some Latino communities. Hispanics voted heavily for Obama in 2008 and some have felt he has let Latino supporters down by failing to move an immigration bill providing legal status to some illegal immigrants, while deporting record numbers of immigrants, many of them Hispanics…. – AP, 3-31-11
  • Obama woos Hispanic vote on education: President Barack Obama, aware of news that the U.S. Hispanic population has hit 50 million, is turning his attention on issues key to Hispanics, including education. Early this week, Obama held a town hall meeting at a D.C. high school, roughly three miles from the White House, where two-thirds of the students are Hispanic. The town hall, broadcast by the Spanish-language TV network Univision, overlapped with the president’s live address to the nation on Libya, but reportedly drew 2.7 million viewers.
    “This is an issue that is critical for the success of America generally,” Obama said. “We already have a situation where one out of five students are Latino in our schools, and when you look at those who are 10 years old or younger, it’s actually one in four.
    “So what this means is, is that our workforce is going to be more diverse; it is going to be, to a large percentage, Latino. And if our young people are not getting the kind of education they need, we won’t succeed as a nation,” the president said….- AP, 3-31-11
  • Obama health idea could mean better care, savings: The Obama administration on Thursday outlined a new approach to medical care that it said could mean higher quality and less risk for patients, while also saving millions of dollars for taxpayers. The plan involves accountable care organizations, which are networks of hospitals, doctors, rehabilitation centers and other providers. They would work together to cut out duplicative tests and procedures, prevent medical errors, and focus on keeping patients healthier and out of the emergency room.
    “We need to bring the days of fragmented care to an end,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said as she announced a proposal regulation that defines how the networks would operate within Medicare…. – AP, 3-31-11
  • Clinton deputy steps down from State Department: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s top deputy, James Steinberg, is resigning his position to take an academic post at Syracuse University. Clinton told State Department personnel on Wednesday that Steinberg will be replaced as the agency’s second-in-command by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, who is currently the highest-ranking career diplomat in the foreign service. She said President Barack Obama would nominate Burns for the job, which requires Senate confirmation.
    Clinton said in a notice to employees he had been “indispensable” in helping to formulate and execute policy “on every foreign policy challenge, big and small.”… – AP, 3-30-11
  • Obama to unveil energy security plan: President Barack Obama is outlining a plan for America’s energy security. He’ll give the speech Wednesday morning at Georgetown University in Washington…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • US back to denying same sex couple visas: After a brief reprieve, immigration authorities are once again denying applications for immigration benefits for same sex couples following a legal review. Chris Bentley, a spokesman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, said Wednesday that after a review by lawyers from the Homeland Security Department, it was concluded that a law prohibiting the government from recognizing same sex marriages must be followed, despite the Obama administration’s decision to stop defending the constitutionality of the law in court. The law, the Defense of Marriage Act, defines marriage as being between a man and a woman…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Analysis: US still lacks border strategy: The federal government hasn’t come up with a comprehensive strategy to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, even as an all- out war between Mexico and its violent drug gangs has claimed 35,000 lives and pushed hundreds of thousands of immigrants into the United States…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Two-thirds of oil and gas leases in Gulf inactive: More than two-thirds of offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico are sitting idle, neither producing oil and gas, nor being actively explored by the companies who hold the leases, according to an Interior Department report released Tuesday…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • Cost shift seen in raising Medicare age to 67: Employers and even some younger people would pay more for health insurance if lawmakers raise the eligibility age for Medicare, a study to be released Tuesday concludes. The findings suggest that the emerging debate over Medicare’s future matters not only to seniors and those nearing retirement, but to a broad cross-section of Americans. The report from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation shows that federal taxpayers would save billions if the Medicare eligibility age, currently 65, is increased by two years. But people ages 65 and 66, employers — along with states, Medicare recipients and even some younger families — would see ripple effects that add to their costs…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • Obama says too much testing makes education boring: President Barack Obama said Monday that students should take fewer standardized tests and school performance should be measured in other ways than just exam results. Too much testing makes education boring for kids, he said. “Too often what we have been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools,” the president told students and parents at a town hall hosted by the Univision Spanish-language television network at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C.
    “One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching the test because then you’re not learning about the world, you’re not learning about different cultures, you’re not learning about science, you’re not learning about math,” the president said. “All you’re learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and that’s not going to make education interesting.”
    “And young people do well in stuff that they’re interested in,” Obama said. “They’re not going to do as well if it’s boring.”… – AP, 3-28-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • House Republicans Propose $4 Trillion in Cuts Over Decade: House Republicans plan this week to propose more than $4 trillion in federal spending reductions over the next decade by reshaping popular programs like Medicare, the Budget Committee chairman said Sunday in opening a new front in the intensifying budget wars.
    Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” the chairman, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, also said Republicans would call for strict caps on all government spending that would require cuts to take effect whenever Congress exceeded those limits.
    “We are going to put out a plan that gets our debt on a downward trajectory and gets us to a point of giving our next generation a debt-free nation,” Mr. Ryan said, even as he predicted that the politically charged initiatives he intended to lay out in the 2012 budget beginning Tuesday would give Democrats a “political weapon to go against us.” “But they will have to lie and demagogue to make that a political weapon,” he said…. – NYT, 4-4-11
  • GOP 2012 budget to make $4 trillion-plus in cuts: A Republican plan for the 2012 budget would cut more than $4 trillion over the next decade, more than even the president’s debt commission proposed, with spending caps as well as changes in the Medicare and Medicaid health programs, its principal author said Sunday. The spending blueprint from Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is to be released Tuesday. It deals with the budget year that begins Oct. 1, not the current one that is the subject of negotiations aimed at preventing a partial government shutdown on Friday…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • Boehner wants to pass spending cuts with GOP alone: Sometimes in politics and legislation, whether you win is less important than how you win. That’s the dilemma facing House Speaker John Boehner as he tries to round up the votes to pass a fast-approaching spending compromise and avert a partial government shutdown by week’s end.
    Boehner, R-Ohio, wants the overwhelming majority of those votes to come from his fellow Republicans, even if dozens of easily attainable Democratic votes could help carry the budget bill to victory…. – AP, 4-3-11
  • Rubio speaks out after low profile early in Senate: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a breakout star of the 2010 election and a tea party favorite, kept a low profile early on in the Senate. That’s begun to change. In a matter of days, Rubio made his opposition clear in a Wall Street Journal article to raising the federal debt ceiling and he has called on lawmakers to authorize force to capture Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi…. – AP, 4-2-11
  • House GOP votes to go it alone on budget cuts: The House has passed a Republican bill that declares their $61 billion in budget cuts the law of the land if the Senate and Obama don’t act on the spending measure before April 9. They acknowledge the bill has no practical effect. But House Republicans say it reminds voters that they have passed a budget bill while the Democratic-controlled Senate has not. They say they want to ensure that Democrats are held accountable if there’s a government shutdown next week…. – AP, 4-1-11
  • As Budget Talks Continue, Hard-Liners Get Support From Tea Party: As House Republican leaders worked to cobble together a spending plan for this year that can win bipartisan support, their more conservative members made increasingly clear on Thursday that they consider a proposed $33 billion budget cut to be insufficient. Even as Speaker John A. Boehner urged Republicans to keep in mind that they would have additional opportunities in the coming weeks to cut long-term spending, some members of his caucus said they would be willing to accept a government shutdown if necessary to back up their demand for $61 billion in cuts for the current fiscal year…. – NYT, 3-31-11
  • House amendments undermine safety regulations: The House has approved an amendment that would effectively block a safety regulation proposed by the Obama administration to prevent fires involving air shipments of lithium batteries. The amendment was added Thursday, by a vote of 251-168, to a sweeping aviation bill in the House. The battery regulation has been the focus of intense lobbying by U.S. industry and foreign governments who say it would increase the cost of countless products…. – AP, 3-31-11
  • Democrats lack a heavy hitter against Sen. Brown: Democrats haven’t found a solid challenger to GOP Sen. Scott Brown in liberal Massachusetts next year, stoking concerns the party could blow its best shot to take back the seat held for nearly a half-century by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. It’s a seat close to Democrats’ hearts, still raw from their humiliating loss to the upstart Brown in 2010.
    The senator’s widow, Vicki Kennedy, has flatly ruled out running. So did former Rep. Joe Kennedy, who joked he was “feeling ill all of a sudden” when reporters recently asked him about challenging Brown.
    The state’s leading Democrat, Gov. Deval Patrick, insists he’s not interested. Former Rep. Martin Meehan, flush with $4.8 million in campaign cash, has rejected pleas from party officials to jump in.
    Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who rarely minces words, described Brown’s prospects bluntly. “There’s nobody that can beat him,” he told the Boston Herald recently…. – AP, 3-31-11
  • Plane revelations dog McCaskill’s re-election bid: Sen. Claire McCaskill once turned a political opponent’s use of a plane to her advantage. Now she’s seeing the issue from a different vantage point. With a tough re-election race in 2012, the Missouri Democrat has come under heavy criticism for her use of a plane she owns with her husband. First it was revealed that McCaskill, among the wealthiest members of the Senate, had received approximately $79,000 in federal reimbursements for her flights, including at least one to a political event. A few days later, McCaskill revealed that she and her husband had also failed to pay about $320,000 in state taxes on the plane…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Republicans grill DHS officials on FOIA delays: Republicans in Congress objected Thursday to the Homeland Security Department’s now-rescinded practice of requiring secretive reviews by political advisers of hundreds of requests for government files under the Freedom of Information Act. The chairman of a House oversight committee said the process “reeks of a Nixonian enemies list” and was unacceptable.
    The senior official in charge of submitting files for the reviews, Mary Ellen Callahan, acknowledged there had been “management challenges” in the program and said the political scrutiny “at times took longer than anticipated.” But Callahan deflected suggestions by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., that the process injected political considerations into decisions about federal records the government was turning over to journalists, watchdog groups or even members of Congress…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • House votes to end mortgage reduction program: House Republicans pushed through legislation Tuesday to terminate an underachieving Obama administration program designed to reduce mortgage payments for homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. Most Democrats, while acknowledging that the Home Affordable Modification Program has fallen short of original goals, protested the vote to kill it. The White House, in a statement, said that if the bill ever reaches President Barack Obama’s desk, his senior advisers would recommend he veto it. The vote was 252-170…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • House GOP: No stopgap spending bill beyond April 8: The No. 2 Republican in the House said Tuesday that the chamber won’t pass another short-term federal funding bill to avert a government shutdown if talks between the GOP and the White House fail to produce a 2011 spending agreement by an April 8 deadline.
    Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia said “time is up” and that it’s up to Democrats controlling the White House and the Senate to offer significant spending cuts as part of legislation to fund the government for the rest of the budget year.
    “We’re going to need to see a deal struck where our members can go home and tell their constituents that we’re doing what we said we would do,” Cantor said…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • Time short, tempers flare in budget showdown: With the clock ticking toward a possible government shutdown, spending-cut talks between Senate Democrats and the Republicans controlling the House have broken off in a whom-do-you-trust battle over legislation to keep operations running for another six months.
    “Republicans refuse to negotiate,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared on Monday. “The infighting between the tea party and the rest of the Republican Party — including the Republican leadership in Congress — is keeping our negotiating partner from the negotiating table. And it’s pretty hard to negotiate without someone else on the other side of the table,” the Nevada Democrat said…. – AP, 3-28-11

COURT AND LEGAL NEWS:

  • Court leaves in place Ariz. school tax break: The Supreme Court rejected a challenge Monday to an Arizona tax break that directs millions of dollars to private religious schools. The justices, in a 5-4 ruling, said that Arizona taxpayers who filed a lawsuit to block the tax break have no legal claim because they are not forced to contribute to the state program that sends money to the religious schools.
    Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the court’s majority opinion, joined by the four conservative justices. Justice Elena Kagan dissented, along with three other liberal justices…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • Government appeals judge’s health care ruling: The Obama administration has appealed a judge’s ruling that found the federal overhaul of the health care system unconstitutional. The Justice Department filed a 62-page motion Friday to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta that said there’s clear and well-established precedent that Congress acted within its authority in adopting the overhaul. It said Congress made “detailed findings establishing a foundation” for exercising the authority.
    Florida and 25 other states filed the lawsuit that said Congress exceeded its authority by requiring all citizens to purchase health insurance or face tax penalties. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson agreed in a Jan. 31 ruling that said Obama’s entire health care overhaul is unconstitutional. It is considered the most sweeping ruling against the health care law.
    Some states, including Alaska, have cited the decision in refusing to cooperate with the health care law. But Vinson issued another ruling in March ordering states to continue implementing the law while the case makes its way through the courts…. – AP, 4-3-11
  • DOJ probe says Panthers case handled appropriately: In a case that has drawn strong criticism from Republican conservatives, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility has found no evidence that politics played a role when department attorneys dismissed three defendants from a voting rights lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party.
    “We found no evidence of improper political interference or influence from within or outside the department” and the government attorneys acted appropriately in the exercise of their supervisory duties, OPR said in a letter Tuesday to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas…. – AP, 3-29-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • La Follette says union law not in effect, Walker official disagrees: Special Section: Ongoing coverage of Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial budget-repair bill and the battle over the 2011-’13 state budget Secretary of State Doug La Follette said Saturday that the budget-repair bill has not taken effect because it has not been published by his office.
    “It’s still an act of the Legislature that has not yet become law because I have not yet designated a publication date,” La Follette said. He added the law cannot take effect until he directs publication in the official state newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal. Normally, a bill takes effect the day after publication…. – Journal Sentinel

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • A Tea Party Star Stirs Iowans, and She Isn’t Palin Michele Bachmann is weighing a run for president in 2012: Sarah Palin, the reigning heroine of many social conservatives, has given few signals that she will make a presidential bid. Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008 on the strength of his appeal to evangelicals and other constituencies, has mostly offered reasons for not joining the race.
    “It isn’t that I was born thinking I had to be president,” she said, leaning in and talking softer than she does on television or at Tea Party rallies. “I’m getting a lot of encouragement to run from people across the country. I don’t believe this is a rash decision.”… – NYT, 4-3-11
  • For Romney, 2012 strategy runs through NH, Nevada: In his first presidential run in 2008, Mitt Romney sought back-to-back victories in Iowa and New Hampshire to propel him to the GOP nomination. He won neither, the two-state sprint failed and so did his candidacy.
    This time his strategy is more of a multi-state marathon, with economically suffering Nevada an important round in what advisers predict could be a protracted fight to be the party’s 2012 nominee.
    “Seeing somebody learn on the job in the presidency has not been a pretty sight,” Romney said Saturday to the Republican Jewish Coalition in a speech casting himself as a seasoned business executive. “I think the president’s inexperience in negotiations contributed to less than positive developments on the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating front,” Romney said…. – AP, 4-2-11
  • AP sources: Obama set to launch re-election bid: President Barack Obama is about to make one of Washington’s worst kept secrets official: He wants a second term. Democratic officials familiar with the president’s plans said Saturday that Obama intends to file papers as early as this coming week with the Federal Election Commission to launch his 2012 re-election campaign. He also will announce his candidacy to supporters by email and text messages. The officials asked not to be identified in order to speak before the papers are filed…. – AP, 4-2-11
  • Bachmann says she wouldn’t have gone into Libya: A tea party-backed conservative congresswoman says President Barack Obama has failed to demonstrate a vital U.S. national security interest for going into Libya. Rep. Michele Bachmann also says “I would not have gone in” to the strife-torn North African country where strongman Moammar Gadhafi is fighting to cling to power against a resistance force. She says the “Obama doctrine” would provide a rationale for the United States “to enter into one country after another.” Bachmann says she’s against giving military assistance to the rebels fighting Gadhafi, saying she fears there are al Qaida elements among their numbers…. – AP, 3-30-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Pete Souza, 4/1/11

  • Weekly Address: Gas Prices & Energy Security: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Landover, Maryland April 2, 2011: This week, I released a Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future. It’s a strategy to reduce the oil we import from around the world, and to make our economy stronger at home. Part of this strategy involves increasing our oil exploration right here in America. In fact, our oil production last year reached its highest level since 2003, and we want to encourage more safe, responsible drilling where we can.
    But the truth is, drilling alone is not a real strategy to replace our dependence on foreign oil. And that’s because even though America uses 25 percent of the world’s oil, we currently have only about 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Even if we used every last drop of all the oil we have, it wouldn’t be enough to meet our long-term energy needs. So, real energy security can only come if we find ways to use less oil – if we invest in cleaner fuels and greater efficiency.
    That’s what we’ve been doing since I took office. For example, we secured an agreement from all the major auto companies to raise the fuel efficiency of their cars and trucks. So if you buy a new car, the better gas mileage is going to save you about $3,000. Altogether, this will save us about 1.8 billion barrels of oil as a country.
    We need to build on this progress. As we make our cars and trucks more efficient, we’ve got to harness new technologies to fuel our vehicles with everything from biofuels to natural gas to advanced batteries. And the good news is, these technologies aren’t science fiction anymore. They exist today. Already, American car companies are producing electric vehicles that use little or no gas. And innovators across America are testing new products that hold incredible promise not just for new vehicles, but for countless new jobs.
    To help jumpstart this market, the federal government has doubled the number of clean energy vehicles that we have in our fleet. In the next few years, we’re going to switch the entire fleet over. And I’m here at UPS because it’s not just the government getting in on the action. Companies like UPS, FedEx, AT&T, Verizon, and PepsiCo – firms with some of the largest fleets in the country – are switching to more efficient vehicles. And through our Clean Fleets Partnership, driven not by government, but by business, more companies are going to be switching to electric and alternative vehicles, too – not out of the goodness of their hearts, but because it’s good for their bottom lines.
    The goal is simple. When I was elected to this office, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day. Through these and other steps, by a little more than a decade from now, we will have cut that by one third. And by doing so, we’re going to make our economy less vulnerable to wild swings in oil prices. We’re going to use cleaner sources of energy that don’t imperil our climate. And we’re going to spark new products and businesses all over the country by tapping America’s greatest renewable resource: our ingenuity.
    We know how important that is. This week, we learned that the economy added 230,000 private sector jobs last month. That makes 1.8 million private sector jobs created in the last thirteen months. That’s a good sign. But we have to keep up the momentum, and transitioning to a clean energy economy will help us do that. It will ensure that the United States of America is home to the jobs and industries of tomorrow. That’s how we’ll win the future. And that’s how we’ll leave our children an America that is more secure and prosperous than before. – WH, 4-2-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • John Boehner: I and my GOP colleagues continue to fight for the largest possible spending cuts. Washington Democrats have claimed there is an “agreement” on cuts – there isn’t. Nothing will be agreed to until everything is agreed to. It’s been 41 days since the House passed H.R. 1 to cut spending & keep the government running. Instead of “rooting for a shutdown,” the Democrat-run Senate should do its job and pass a bill. – Facebook, 4-1-11
  • The Obama Administration’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future: Remarks by the President on America’s Energy Security Georgetown University Washington, D.C.: The United States of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity, our long-term security on a resource that will eventually run out, and even before it runs out will get more and more expensive to extract from the ground. We can’t afford it when the costs to our economy, our country, and our planet are so high. Not when your generation needs us to get this right. It’s time to do what we can to secure our energy future.
    And today, I want to announce a new goal, one that is reasonable, one that is achievable, and one that is necessary. When I was elected to this office, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day. By a little more than a decade from now, we will have cut that by one-third. That is something that we can achieve. (Applause.) We can cut our oil dependence — we can cut our oil dependence by a third.
    I set this goal knowing that we’re still going to have to import some oil. It will remain an important part of our energy portfolio for quite some time, until we’ve gotten alternative energy strategies fully in force. And when it comes to the oil we import from other nations, obviously we’ve got to look at neighbors like Canada and Mexico that are stable and steady and reliable sources. We also have to look at other countries like Brazil. Part of the reason I went down there is to talk about energy with the Brazilians. They recently discovered significant new oil reserves, and we can share American technology and know-how with them as they develop these resources.
    But our best opportunities to enhance our energy security can be found in our own backyard — because we boast one critical, renewable resource that the rest of the world can’t match: American ingenuity. American ingenuity, American know-how.
    To make ourselves more secure, to control our energy future, we’re going to have to harness all of that ingenuity. It’s a task we won’t be finished with by the end of my presidency, or even by the end of the next presidency. But if we continue the work that we’ve already begun over the last two years, we won’t just spark new jobs, industries and innovations — we will leave your generation and future generations with a country that is safer, that is healthier, and that’s more prosperous.
    So today, my administration is releasing a Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future that outlines a comprehensive national energy policy, one that we’ve been pursuing since the day I took office. And cutting our oil dependence by a third is part of that plan.
    Here at Georgetown, I’d like to talk in broad strokes about how we can achieve these goals.
    Now, meeting the goal of cutting our oil dependence depends largely on two things: first, finding and producing more oil at home; second, reducing our overall dependence on oil with cleaner alternative fuels and greater efficiency…. – Read the full Blueprint (pdf) WH, 3-30-11Transcript
  • Mitt Romney: On Jobs, Where is Obama?: Sometimes truth arrives from the most unexpected sources. Christina Romer, President Obama’s former chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, said last week that she was dismayed at Washington’s lack of focus on jobs.
    “I frankly don’t understand why policymakers aren’t more worried about the suffering of real families,” Romer said. “We need to realize that there is still a lot of devastation out there.” She called the 8.9% unemployment rate “an absolute crisis.”
    How bad is it? Last week, in the blue-collar community ofTaunton, Mass., the annual jobs fair was canceled because not enough companies came forward to offer jobs.
    Defining Deviancy Down was the title of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s seminal account of how American society came to condone previously stigmatized conditions and behavior. Moynihan focused on the growing acceptance of the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, the expansion of single-parent families and the violence in inner cities. To his examples, we can now add joblessness…. – Mitt Romney, 3-30-11
  • Sarah Palin: FLASHBACK: What We Were Saying One Year Ago About Obama’s Failed Energy Policy: It’s unbelievable (literally) the rhetoric coming from President Obama today. This is coming from he who is manipulating the U.S. energy supply. President Obama is once again giving lip service to a “new energy proposal”; but let’s remember the last time he trotted out a “new energy proposal” – nearly a year ago to the day. The main difference is today we have $4 a gallon gas in some places in the country. This is no accident. This administration is not a passive observer to the trends that have inflated oil prices to dangerous levels. His war on domestic oil and gas exploration and production has caused us pain at the pump, endangered our already sluggish economic recovery, and threatened our national security. Through a process of what candidate Obama once called “gradual adjustment,” American consumers have seen prices at the pump rise 67 percent since he took office. Meanwhile, the vast undeveloped reserves that could help to keep prices at the pump affordable remain locked up because of President Obama’s deliberate unwillingness to drill here and drill now. We’re subsidizing offshore drilling in Brazil and purchasing energy from them, instead of drilling ourselves and keeping those dollars circulating in our own economy to generate jobs here. The President said today, “There are no quick fixes.” He’s been in office for nearly three years now, and he’s about to launch his $1 billion re-election campaign. When can we expect any “fixes” from him? How high does the price of energy have to go?… – Sarah Palin on Facebook, 3-30-11
  • President Obama’s Speech on Libya: Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on Libya National Defense University Washington, D.C.: Ten days ago, having tried to end the violence without using force, the international community offered Qaddafi a final chance to stop his campaign of killing, or face the consequences. Rather than stand down, his forces continued their advance, bearing down on the city of Benghazi, home to nearly 700,000 men, women and children who sought their freedom from fear.
    At this point, the United States and the world faced a choice. Qaddafi declared he would show “no mercy” to his own people. He compared them to rats, and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we have seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day. Now we saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city. We knew that if we wanted — if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.
    It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen. And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973.
    We struck regime forces approaching Benghazi to save that city and the people within it. We hit Qaddafi’s troops in neighboring Ajdabiya, allowing the opposition to drive them out. We hit Qaddafi’s air defenses, which paved the way for a no-fly zone. We targeted tanks and military assets that had been choking off towns and cities, and we cut off much of their source of supply. And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Qaddafi’s deadly advance.
    In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition. This includes our closest allies -– nations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey –- all of whom have fought by our sides for decades. And it includes Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have chosen to meet their responsibilities to defend the Libyan people.
    To summarize, then: In just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners. To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians. It took us 31 days. – WH, 3-28-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Weekly Address: The Military Mission in Libya: Remarks of President Barack Obama Washington D.C. March 26, 2011: Last week, when I ordered our armed forces to help protect the Libyan people from the brutality of Moammar Qaddafi, I pledged to keep the American people fully informed. Since then, I’ve spoken about the limited scope and specific purpose of this mission. Today, I can report that thanks to our brave men and women in uniform, we’ve made important progress.
    As Commander in Chief, I face no greater decision than sending our military men and women into harm’s way. And the United States should not—and cannot—intervene every time there’s a crisis somewhere in the world.
    But I firmly believe that when innocent people are being brutalized; when someone like Qaddafi threatens a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region; and when the international community is prepared to come together to save many thousands of lives—then it’s in our national interest to act. And it’s our responsibility. This is one of those times.
    Our military mission in Libya is clear and focused. Along with our allies and partners, we’re enforcing the mandate of the United Nations Security Council. We’re protecting the Libyan people from Qaddafi’s forces. And we’ve put in place a no fly zone and other measures to prevent further atrocities.
    We’re succeeding in our mission. We’ve taken out Libya’s air defenses. Qaddafi’s forces are no longer advancing across Libya. In places like Benghazi, a city of some 700,000 that Qaddafi threatened to show “no mercy,” his forces have been pushed back. So make no mistake, because we acted quickly, a humanitarian catastrophe has been avoided and the lives of countless civilians—innocent men, women and children—have been saved.
    As I pledged at the outset, the role of American forces has been limited. We are not putting any ground forces into Libya. Our military has provided unique capabilities at the beginning, but this is now a broad, international effort. Our allies and partners are enforcing the no fly zone over Libya and the arms embargo at sea. Key Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have committed aircraft. And as agreed this week, responsibility for this operation is being transferred from the United States to our NATO allies and partners.
    This is how the international community should work—more nations, not just the United States, bearing the responsibility and cost of upholding peace and security.
    This military effort is part of our larger strategy to support the Libyan people and hold the Qaddafi regime accountable. Together with the international community, we’re delivering urgent humanitarian assistance. We’re offering support to the Libyan opposition. We’ve frozen tens of billions of dollars of Qaddafi’s assets that can help meet the needs and aspirations of the Libyan people. And every day, the pressure on Qaddafi and his regime is increasing.
    Our message is clear and unwavering. Qaddafi’s attacks against civilians must stop. His forces must pull back. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach those in need. Those responsible for violence must be held accountable. Moammar Qaddafi has lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to rule, and the aspirations of the Libyan people must be realized.
    In recent days, we’ve heard the voices of Libyans expressing their gratitude for this mission. “You saved our lives,” said one Libyan. Said another, “Today, there is hope.”
    Every American can be proud of the lives we’ve saved in Libya and of the service of our men and women in uniform who once again have stood up for our interests and our ideals. And people in Libya and around the world are seeing that the United States of America stands with those who hope for a future where they can determine their own destiny. – WH, 3-26-11TranscriptMp4Mp3

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Government shutdown Friday? Why Tuesday could be crucial: The 2012 budget “is a dramatic proposal, and it gives the freshmen some cover,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. Congressman “Ryan is talking about going after all the big entitlements and making the kind of cuts in the future that will fundamentally restructure government.”
    “They’ve made this [2012] budget symbolically so charged that it gives Republicans an excuse to compromise [on FY 2011 spending] based on the compromise that they’re going to go big in the budget,” he adds. “That’s quite useful.” – CS Monitor, 4-4-11
  • Obama plays long game as crises rage: “He is a pragmatist, he is also a leader who is elusive, I think on purpose, he doesn’t like to be boxed in ideologically… he purposely makes that difficult for his opponents,” said presidential scholar Julian Zelizer. Zelizer, of Princeton University, said Obama’s approach allows him the elasticity to shift positions if needed — as witnessed in his apparently swift reversal of tack on a no-fly zone in Libya.
    “It’s a strength in that it gives him wiggle room,” said Bruce Buchanan, a University of Texas professor of government.
    “It’s a weakness in that it makes him too chameleon-like, a little bit too easily changed, a little bit too fuzzy for some audiences — especially Republican audiences.”… – AFP, 4-3-11

June 8, 2010: Super Tuesday Primaries, Obama & the BP Oil Spill, Support for Israel

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President delivers the Weekly Address
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 6/4/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll: Americans want charges against BP Oil giant and federal government get negative ratings on spill response: Overall, 69 percent of those polled now say the government has done a “not so good” or “poor” job handling the spill. More polled, 81 percent, give low marks to BP for its response. (Some 59 percent give negative ratings to both the federal government and BP.)
    Criticism of the government and BP crosses party lines and spans the country. The Democratic discontent with the government’s response today — 56 percent give it low marks — contrasts with majority GOP support for federal efforts a few weeks after Katrina stuck in 2005…. – MSNBC, 6-7-10
  • Support for Confirming Kagan Trails That of Recent Nominees Forty-six percent want Senate to vote in favor of her nomination: A USA Today/Gallup poll finds just under half of Americans, 46%, in favor of the Senate’s confirming Elena Kagan’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. That level of support is generally lower than what Gallup has found when it first polled about other recent court nominations, trailing all others except Harriet Miers and Robert Bork. Gallop.com, 6-4-10
  • Poll shows big lead for Whitman over Poizner: Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman’s recent $500,000-a-day spending spree in her quest to become California’s governor appears to have paid off, with a new poll today showing that she holds a 2-to-1 lead over state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner heading into the Republican primary election on Tuesday. Whitman leads Poizner by a seemingly insurmountable 51 to 25 percent, with 18 percent of voters undecided and another 6 percent preferring other candidates, according to the Field Poll of 511 Republican primary voters conducted May 27-June 2…. – San Francisco Chronicle, 6-4-10
  • George W. Bush joins Facebook: Former president George W. Bush’s Facebook page was set up around two weeks ago but made public Wednesday, rapidly climbing to more than 27,000 who “Liked” it by mid-afternoon. The first Facebook post was written in the third person, suggesting the page is being maintained by someone other than the president, as is common with Facebook pages for public figures:
    “Since leaving office, President Bush has remained active. He has visited 20 states and 8 countries; given over 65 speeches; launched the George W. Bush Presidential Center; participated in 4 policy conferences through The Bush Institute; finished the first draft of his memoir, “Decision Points”; and partnered with President Clinton to establish the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. More on his activities in future posts…”… – WaPo, 6-2-10George W. Bush’s Facebook Page
  • Study: voters see difference between Republican and GOP: Are you more inclined to vote for (or against) a Republican candidate than you are a GOP candidate?
    For example, 626 registered voters were asked whether they were planning to vote for the “Democratic” candidate for the Legislature or the “Republican” candidate. Then, a different batch of 626 voters was asked whether they would vote for the “Democratic” candidate or the “GOP” candidate.
    Same difference, right? In the first sample, 39 percent favored the Democratic candidate and 38 percent favored the Republican candidate. In the second sample, 42 percent chose Democrat and 37 percent chose GOP. The differences are small but interesting. A candidate wearing the “GOP” label instead of the Republican one would not do as well. Yet just two years ago, the same poll found the GOP label would benefit a candidate… – Bellingham Herald, 6-1-10
  • Tea Party has support of 40% of voters, poll shows: Forty percent of Michigan voters support the conservative Tea Party movement, and most of that support comes from Republicans, according to a new poll by EPIC-MRA of Lansing. Nearly three-fourths of Republicans said they like the ideas of the Tea Party, while 65% of Democrats oppose it. Independents are divided over the Tea Party: 27% support it, 27% oppose it and 26% are unsure what to think. Some 17% said the Tea Party movement — as opposed to the two major parties — most represents their political views, according to the poll of 600 likely Michigan voters…. – Detroit Free Press, 6-2-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama pitching seniors on health bill: President Barack Obama is turning his attention back to his signature health care bill and trying to win over the most skeptical constituency: seniors. Obama was set to pitch the bill at a senior center in Wheaton, Md., on Tuesday. The event will be broadcast live and seniors will be able to listen by phone and ask questions at dozens of gatherings around the country…. – AP, 6-8-10
  • Biden says US looking at ‘new ways’ to address Israel’s Gaza blockade Vice President Joe Biden spoke about Israel’s Gaza blockade after meeting with Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak today. But he did not say anything about reported election irregularities last week.
    After meeting President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt Monday, Vice President Joe Biden said the US is looking for “new ways” to handle the situation in Gaza. “We are consulting closely with Egypt, as well as our other partners, on new ways to address the humanitarian, economic, security, and political aspects of the situation in Gaza,” Mr. Biden said after the meeting, according to a statement released by the White House…. – CS Monitor, 6-7-10
  • More government hearings on oil spill set for Monday: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce will open shop on the bayou Monday morning, holding a hearing in Chalmette, Louisiana.
    The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a field hearing on “Local Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill,” near ground zero for the growing disaster.
    At about the same time, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government’s response manager to the oil spill disaster, will be in Washington briefing President Obama and the cabinet on the administration’s ongoing response to the incident…. – CNN, 6-7-10
  • Obamas attend Ford’s Theatre gala: resident Barack Obama said Sunday the legacy of the nation’s founding fathers has inspired freedom-seeking people around the globe for generations, including those rebuilding South Africa after the end of apartheid. Obama addressed an enthusiastic crowd at the annual Ford’s Theatre gala Sunday, where South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and South African Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs received the theater’s Lincoln Medal. “There are few people more deserving of the Lincoln Medal, an honor bestowed on those who exemplify the particular focus, dedication and generosity of spirit of our 16th president,” Obama said of the two honorees. “There are few better examples of how the spirit of our founding fathers did more than just create a nation, it inspired people in every corner of the globe yearning to be free.”… – AP, 6-7-10
  • Election spooks lawmakers, curbs Congress spending: The 2010 elections have changed the direction of government only half way through the primary season, with voter anger and economic jitters causing lawmakers to balk at their most basic duties as well as key elements of President Barack Obama’s agenda…. – AP, 6-7-10
  • Obama vs. Oil; Chaos vs. Control: PRESIDENT Obama is that rare politician who is also a gifted writer, and he understands the power of a good metaphor. So you had to believe, on some level at least, that the president could appreciate the poetic significance of that cloud of oil, ubiquitous on cable television all last week, spewing endlessly from a 5,000- foot-deep puncture in the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Obama’s administration, too, had been breached, and the accumulating cloud threatened to obscure its considerable achievements — particularly the comprehensive reforms of health care and federal education spending — as the president heads toward the halfway point in his term.
    The man-made catastrophe in the gulf does not yet constitute an existential threat to Mr. Obama’s presidency. (There’s not much Mr. Obama can do about it at this point, anyway, short of slapping on a scuba suit and sticking his hand in the pipe until the relief well is completed.) But then, it is never really one crisis that diminishes a president as much as a succession of crises, avoidable or not. And this might be the real danger for Mr. Obama’s administration — not that the spill itself remains unmanageable, but that it comes to represent a pattern in the public mind, a sense that too many dangers at once (mines and foreign economies collapsing, possible war on the Korean peninsula) seem to be gushing beyond his reach.
    As much as we talk about ideology and competence, our judgment of presidents doesn’t hinge on either of these things in isolation. What matters is the perception — or perhaps the illusion — that one is shaping events, rather than being shaped by them. The modern presidency, like the old “Get Smart” series, is about chaos versus control…. – NYT, 6-6-10
  • Fight looms over intelligence chief: He’s the right guy to ride herd over America’s intelligence operations. Or he’s a good guy, but the wrong one for that tough job. Those warring opinions emerged about James R. Clapper after President Obama said yesterday that he wants the Pentagon’s current intelligence chief to serve as director of national intelligence — the fourth since the post was created in 2004 — and wants the Senate to confirm him quickly.
    “Eminently qualified,” Obama described the blunt-spoken retired Air Force lieutenant general, offering his “complete confidence and support.”…. – Boston Globe, 6-6-10
  • Obama: Oil spill upends life for Gulf residents: President Barack Obama said Saturday that he will stand with Gulf Coast residents “until they are made whole” from the oil spill catastrophe.
    “These folks work hard,” Obama said. “They meet their responsibilities. But now because of a manmade catastrophe — one that’s not their fault and that’s beyond their control — their lives have been thrown into turmoil.” “It’s brutally unfair. It’s wrong. And what I told these men and women — and what I have said since the beginning of this disaster — is that I’m going to stand with the people of the Gulf Coast until they are made whole,” the president said…. – AP, 6-5-10
  • Obama to name new intelligence chief: President Barack Obama is set to nominate James Clapper, the Pentagon’s top intelligence, official to oversee the nation’s 16 spy agencies. Obama was expected to announce the nomination of Clapper, a retired Air Force three-star general, as national intelligence director in a Rose Garden ceremony Saturday…. – AP, 6-4-10
  • Michelle Obama calls on top chefs to inspire kids: First lady Michelle Obama recruited hundreds of chefs gathered on the South Lawn of the White House Friday to join her anti-obesity campaign and help schools serve healthier, tastier meals. Mrs. Obama is asking the chefs to partner with individual schools and work with teachers and parents to help educate kids about food and nutrition. She said healthy meals at schools are more important than ever because many children get most of their calories there…. – AP, 6-5-10
  • California Rep. Darrell Issa takes on role as Obama’s chief antagonist: Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the man who radically changed California politics by helping fund the 2003 recall effort that lead to the removal of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and the election of fellow Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, has become one of President Obama’s chief antagonists. From his perch as the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa has spent the last 15 months constantly blasting the Obama administration on nearly every controversy and calling for countless investigations that the Democratic-controlled committee refuses to order. But Issa is finally starting to hit some of his targets. He was one of the leading Republicans in pushing the White House to reveal more details about its discussions to persuade Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) to forgo a Senate primary run against Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) in return for a possible government job. Sestak won the primary, and now another Senate candidate challenging an incumbent Democrat, Andrew Romanoff in Colorado, has acknowledged having similar discussions with White House officials. Issa has suggested the White House violated the law and may have offered Sestak “a bribe” in the process, assertions that have not been proved…. – WaPo, 6-4-10
  • Clinton records show many sides of Kagan: A few notes scribbled in the margins, some brief e-mails and occasional memos help paint only a faint picture of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan when she served as a domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton. There’s a rough outline, but little definition. And as with many faded or blurry pictures, there’s just enough material for people to see what they want in the woman President Barack Obama has tapped for the Supreme Court.
    These snippets were among 46,500 pages of Kagan’s records that the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., released Friday in response to a request from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kagan’s confirmation hearing before the committee is scheduled to begin June 28…. – AP, 6-5-10
  • Obama under fire for election tactics with Sestak, Romanoff: The White House on Thursday dismissed charges that President Obama’s top aides have breached his pledge to run the most ethical and open administration in history by trying to entice Democrats in Pennsylvania and Colorado to skip races against favored incumbents.
    Some Republicans, including House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, are demanding an independent investigation of what they call inappropriately heavy-handed politics.
    Press secretary Robert Gibbs countered that the White House has every right to try to avert expensive and divisive intraparty primaries between Democrats, something it did by encouraging potential candidates to consider other options, including government jobs or appointments.
    “The president has an interest in ensuring that supporters don’t run against each other in contested primaries,” Gibbs said…. – USA Today, 6-3-10
  • White House: President Obama was unaware aides floated job offers to Andrew Romanoff: Hammered by accusations of playing politics, the White House claimed Thursday President Obama was unaware aides floated job offers to get a second lawmaker to quit a Senate race. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs denied the White House had engaged in any wrongdoing or secret back-room deals, contending the administration has not hidden the fact it doesn’t like Democratic Party primaries. “I do believe we’ve been transparent,” he said. But Gibbs sidestepped and evaded repeated questions on details of the contacts…. – NY Daily News, 6-4-10
  • Hugs, Handshakes at Blagojevich Corruption Trial Blagojevich jury shaping up as cross section of the voters who elected him Illinois governor: Rod Blagojevich started off his corruption trial in full campaign mode, greeting well-wishers with hugs and handshakes, while the judge began questioning potential jurors who emerged as a cross section of the middle American voters who first elected the former Illinois governor.
    U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel questioned 29 potential jurors in five hours Thursday at Blagojevich’s trial on charges of scheming to profit by selling or trading an appointment to the Senate seat that Barack Obama left to assume the presidency…. – AP, 6-4-10
  • White House faces more questions over dealmaking: The White House is facing fresh questions over back-room dealmaking. A Colorado Democrat has acknowledged that he was encouraged by one of President Barack Obama’s top advisers to apply for an international development job instead of challenging the candidate whom the president favored in a Senate race.
    A White House official says no formal offer was ever made and insists there was nothing inappropriate in the contacts… – AP, 6-3-10
  • Curtain lifting on Blagojevich corruption trial: Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich sees the start of his corruption trial as the end of an 18-month ordeal that began with his humiliating arrest. Jury selection starts Thursday, and the federal courtroom is expected to be packed. Blagojevich told a radio audience recently that the government “is doing something very wrong” to him and his family and that it will be soon be over. The 53-year-old Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to charges of scheming to profit from his power to fill President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat…. – AP, 6-3-10
  • McCartney Is Honored at White House: A Beatle met the president when Sir Paul McCartney performed at the East Room of the White House on Wednesday night.
    Accepting the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, Mr. McCartney used the occasion to applaud President Obama. “Getting this prize would be good enough,” Mr. McCartney said. “But getting it from this president …” He smiled. He added that despite “difficult times” for the president, “you have billions of us who are rooting for you.” Then, with the first lady in the front row, Mr. McCartney sang “a song I have been itching to do at the White House,” he said. It was “Michelle.”
    A few minutes after the concert, Mr. McCartney returned to the microphone, thanking the Library of Congress and adding, “After the last eight years, it’s great to have a president who knows what a library is.”… – NYT, 6-2-10
  • Obama Says He’ll Push for Clean Energy Bill: President Obama said Wednesday that it was time for the United States “to aggressively accelerate” its transition from oil to alternative sources of energy and vowed to push for quick action on climate change legislation despite almost unanimous opposition from Republicans and continued skepticism from some Democrats.
    “If we refuse to take into account the full cost of our fossil fuel addiction — if we don’t factor in the environmental costs and national security costs and true economic costs — we will have missed our best chance to seize a clean energy future,” Mr. Obama said. “The votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months.”
    Mr. Obama’s remarks were made to a group of about 300 local business owners and economic officials at Carnegie Mellon University. He used them to reiterate his call to roll back Bush administration tax breaks for oil companies and to make a broader case for his administration’s accomplishments heading into an election season. NYT, 6-3-10
  • LA County boycotts Arizona over immigration law: Los Angeles County on Tuesday became the latest government body to boycott Arizona to protest the state’s tough new law targeting illegal immigration. After a heated debate, the county’s board of supervisors voted 3-2 to ban new contracts with Arizona-based companies and review those that could be canceled. The county has more than $26 million in contracts with Arizona companies this year. Several California cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, have passed similar measures. The Arizona law, set to go into effect July 29, requires police enforcing another law to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are in the country illegally…. – AP, 6-2-10
  • Supreme Court reins in Miranda rules in case from Southfield: Silence isn’t golden, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a Southfield murder case, if you don’t speak up for your constitutional right to clam up. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that if a suspect has been read and understands his or her Miranda rights, police can interrogate him or her indefinitely, unless the suspect tells them outright that he or she is not talking to them. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing a dissent, said the decision “turns Miranda upside down,” referring to the procedure that requires police to inform suspects of their rights. At the University of Michigan Law School, criminal law expert Eve Brensike Primus said it “shifts the balance of power in the interrogation room.”… – Detroit Free Press, 6-2-10
  • Obama to meet Gulf oil spill panel chairmen: President Barack Obama plans to hold his first meeting with the co-chairmen of an independent commission investigating the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama was to meet Tuesday with Bob Graham, a former Florida governor and U.S. senator, and William K. Reilly, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, with a statement to reporters afterward, the White House said. The commission’s inquiry will range from the causes of the spill to the safety of offshore oil drilling and the functioning of government agencies that oversee drilling…. – AP, 6-1-10
  • White House prepares for worst as new effort to slow leak begins Administration defends itself against criticism that it has been too slow to act: The Obama administration scrambled to regroup on Sunday after the failure of the latest attempt to kill the gushing oil well. But administration officials acknowledged the possibility that tens of thousands of gallons of oil a day might continue pouring into the Gulf of Mexico until August, when two relief wells are scheduled to be completed.
    “We are prepared for the worst,” said Carol Browner, President Barack Obama’s climate change and energy policy adviser. “We have been prepared from the beginning.”… – Austin Statesman, 5-30-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • June 8 primaries: Races to watch: Several high-profile contests are in play Tuesday as voters in 12 states head to the polls to decide the fate of a two-term senator from Arkansas and a six-term South Carolina congressman, among others… – WaPo, 6-8-10
  • Super Duper Tuesday: What to Watch For: Welcome to the biggest primary day of the year! Eleven states — from California to Arkansas to Maine (and everywhere in between) — are voting today… – WaPo, 6-8-10
  • GOP to pick nominee for Harry Reid showdown: Nevada Republicans are picking a nominee to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The primary election on Tuesday sets the stage for an epic showdown with one of the most powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill. Republicans also must decide whether to nominate troubled Gov. Jim Gibbons for a second term or choose former federal judge Brian Sandoval to oppose Democrat Rory Reid, son of the powerful U.S. senator…. – AP, 6-8-10
  • In Lincoln’s struggle, a cautionary tale for centrist Democrats: If the defeat of Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) at his state party convention last month was an uprising of the conservative grass roots, and the loss three weeks ago by Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) revealed the perils of a party switch, then the runoff fight that Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) faces Tuesday is indicative of what happens when you cross a major — and majorly well-funded — interest group.
    Ostensibly, Lincoln’s opponent is Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. But the practical reality is that she is running against a handful of major labor unions — the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, to name two…. – WaPo, 6-6-10
  • Big States Dilute Tea-Party Strength Without More Cash and Organization, Movement May Be Unable to Repeat Small-Market Victories : The raucous and costly Republican primary races in California and Nevada, like those in other states, attest to the tea-party movement’s rising influence. But Tuesday’s votes in the two states will be the first big test of the movement’s promise and limits—and offer clues to its nationwide strength this fall…. – WSJ, 6-7-10
  • Candidates blitz state in final push for votes: In a last weekend of frenzied campaigning before the June 8 primary, candidates for statewide office marshaled last-minute ads, attacks – even visits from Karl Rove and a fictional “Queen Meg” – to appeal to voters in what’s been a record-breaking season of political spending. GOP billionaire and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who has spent a stunning $81 million on her gubernatorial primary effort, dropped a few more dollars Sunday by offering free barbecue and live music to supporters who showed up at rallies in Madera and Sacramento. Whitman, boosted in recent polls suggesting she’s got a 2-to-1 lead over State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, was accompanied by former Gov. Pete Wilson at the rallies… – SF Chronicle, 6-6-10
  • GOP worries about ‘tea party’ candidates’ broad appeal: Little-known candidates backed by the movement have shot into the national spotlight, but some Republicans are nervous about whether they will be able to beat their Democratic opponents in the fall…. – LAT, 6-4-10
  • What the Tea Partyers have yet to master: consensus: If Virginia’s 5th Congressional District is any indication of what the Tea Party movement can do for the conservative agenda, we may be in for a long liberal reign. The Tea Party faction has encouraged a large and diverse group of people to become more politically involved, but the major vulnerability of the movement is that the only thing those participating in it can agree on is that they do not like what is happening in Washington. The Tea Partyers’ distrust of career politicians and their divided support for self-proclaimed conservative candidates can only bode well for the opposition…. – WaPo, 6-4-10
  • Fla. Senate candidate tests politics, ethnicity: What is Marco Rubio’s stance on the Arizona immigration law? Does he favor amnesty for undocumented immigrants? “I don’t support amnesty,” Rubio says. “I support a legal immigration system.”
    A Cuban-American lawyer and former state House speaker, the 39-year-old Rubio has captured the attention of national Republicans hoping to attract Hispanic voters, a majority of whom voted for President Barack Obama in 2008. But it’s among Hispanic voters that some of Rubio’s conservative positions could prove divisive…. – AP, 6-4-10
  • New York G.O.P. Selects Candidate for U.S. Senate: Closing out a raucous and at times contentious state convention on Thursday, New York Republicans designated Bruce A. Blakeman, a lawyer and former Nassau County legislator, their preferred candidate to run against Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand this fall.
    A second candidate, David Malpass, a former chief economist at Bear Stearns, also earned enough votes to qualify for the primary ballot. But Joseph J. DioGuardi, a former New York representative, failed to make the threshold, and said he would seek a spot on the ballot through a petition drive.
    That sets up a split between New York’s Republicans and the Conservative Party, which has endorsed Mr. DioGuardi. In Democrat-dominated New York, it is hard for Republicans to win statewide office without the endorsement of the Conservative Party…. – NYT, 6-4-10
  • 7 candidates debate in race for Michigan governor A clash of ideas, flash of anger: There was some political blood on the floor of the Grand Hotel after Thursday’s two hours of debate among the seven candidates for governor, but, despite some personal attacks, much of the discourse focused on getting Michigan’s economy back on track.
    The candidates clashed over unions, taxes, jobs going to China, a bridge to Canada and even personal integrity, at times eliciting applause, boos and hisses from a bipartisan crowd of several hundred…. – Detroit Free Press, 6-4-10
  • Cox: No plans to resign after loss Republican chairman’s gubernatorial pick fails, putting future in doubt: If New York State has a “Mr. Republican,” Ed Cox would surely should fit the bill. Son-in-law of Richard Nixon, Cox has been enmeshed in GOP politics and policy for most of his adult life, serving elected Republicans from President Ronald Reagan to Gov. George Pataki. On Wednesday, however, Cox took on his own state Republican establishment — and lost. Cox’s handpicked gubernatorial candidate, Democrat-turned-Republican Steve Levy, failed to muster the 50 percent of the weighted delegate votes needed to get him on a primary ballot, where he would have challenged the rank-and- file’s top vote-getter, Rick Lazio…. – Albany Times-Union, 6-3-10
  • Griffith cites party switch for his loss: Incumbent says it was right on principle, plans to support Mo Brooks. Asserting that the polls showed he could have won as a Democrat, U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith on Wednesday said he instead sacrificed his “credibility” to act on his convictions. “I do not regret changing parties. I think politically it may have been a mistake,” Griffith said the morning after losing the Republican primary to challenger Mo Brooks. “On principle, it was the right thing to do, and I’m happy about it.”… – The AL Huntsville Times, 6-3-10
  • Nevada Democrats ask FEC for Lowden probe: Nevada Democrats on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about Republican Sue Lowden’s spending that they say violates campaign finance laws. Lowden’s campaign manager told a Las Vegas newspaper last week that “we’re spending money as it comes in,” including at least $18,000 that could be spent only if she makes it past the June 8 primary. “We have enough to win, but we’re not going to come out of this primary with cash on hand,” Robert Uithoven told the Review-Journal last week. That was enough to raise the flag for Nevada Democrats trying to defend Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader who faces a tough haul to re-election. AP, 6-2-10
  • Prosecutor wins NM GOP gubernatorial primary: Prosecutor Susana Martinez has won the Republican nomination for New Mexico governor. She’ll face Democrat Diane Denish in a general election race deciding who becomes the state’s first female governor…. – AP, 6-2-10
  • Dem seeking to be first black Ala. gov loses: A candidate lost his bid to become Alabama’s first black governor in the state’s Democratic primary, while voters in another race there ousted a congressman months after he switched from the Democratic party to the GOP. In the Alabama governor’s race, U.S. Rep. Artur Davis was overwhelmed by a white Democratic primary opponent who had garnered support from the state’s four major black political groups. Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks won the Democratic primary with 62 percent of the vote to Davis’s 38 percent, with 96 percent of the precincts reporting…. – AP, 6-2-10
  • Alabama Voters Reject Coalition Bid: Representative Artur Davis of Alabama, who sidestepped the state’s black political leadership in hopes of building a diverse coalition of voters in his campaign for governor, was rejected Tuesday by Democratic primary voters, with the state agriculture commissioner, Ron Sparks, seizing a decisive victory. NYT, 6-2-10
  • Party-switching Ala. congressman loses GOP primary: Alabama’s Republican U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith, who switched from the Democratic Party last year, has been defeated in his district’s GOP primary. Tea party-backed congressional candidate Mo Brooks won with slightly more than 50 percent of the vote in a three-candidate field. He said Griffith called late Tuesday to congratulate him on his win in the 5th District. AP, 6-2-10
  • Don’t Write Off These Races Yet: Democrats are reveling in the primary losses of candidates preferred by the National Republican Congressional Committee in the last couple of weeks. But they only have to look back four years to see that upset primary winners can get elected to Congress…. – CQ Quarterly, 6-1-10
  • GOP’s California Conundrum Campbell Looks Strong vs. Boxer, but His Views on Social Issues Hurt in Primary: Tom Campbell’s somewhat liberal views on social issues may make him the California Republican with the best chance of unseating Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in November, but those views may hurt him in the state’s GOP primary June 8. Mr. Campbell, a former five-term congressman from Silicon Valley, calls himself a “moderate” Republican. He supports abortion rights and gay marriage, contrary to the positions of his major GOP rivals, former Hewlett- Packard Co. CEO Carly Fiorina and state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore… – WSJ, 6-1-10
  • Ill. Sen. hopeful questioned about military claim: On a weekend dedicated to honoring military service, Illinois Senate candidate Mark Kirk found himself on the defensive over his past claims that he was named the U.S. Navy’s intelligence officer of the year, an award he never won. For years, Kirk and his staff have said he was officer of the year. Now, the Republican, who’s in a tough race for President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat, acknowledges that isn’t true and says his official biography incorrectly described an award won by his unit, not Kirk personally. Kirk’s Democratic opponent called it proof that Kirk is a “typical Washington politician” who can’t be trusted. Some veterans scolded Kirk on Sunday…. – AP, 5-30-10
  • Ex-congressman won’t run again for Hawaii seat: Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Case said Sunday he won’t run again for the Hawaii congressional seat won by a Republican candidate in a special election last week. Case’s announcement at the state Democratic Party convention likely gives state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa a clear shot at winning the party’s nomination in the Sept. 18 primary — and gives Democrats a better chance of winning again in the district where President Barack Obama was raised. Hanabusa would face Charles Djou in November. The former Honolulu City councilman became the first Republican in nearly 20 years to win a congressional seat from Hawaii when he won the May 22 special election…. – AP, 5-30-10
  • 2 SC gov hopefuls consider Confederate flag move: Only two of the six Democrat and Republican governor hopefuls say they would consider moving the Confederate flag that flies in front of the South Carolina Statehouse. The flag has been in place since 2000 after a deal was brokered to move it from the Statehouse dome and House and Senate chambers. Now the banner flutters beside a monument to Confederate soldiers, in view of a busy intersection in the capital city.
    Democratic gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Robert Ford played a key role in the flag compromise and likes the flag where it is. The other two Democrats – Education Superintendent Jim Rex and Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen – are open to talking about moving it. The four Republicans running said they doubt there’s support to move the flag again…. – AP, 5-30-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • I would have fired BP chief by now, Obama says Ex-EPA lawyer brands oil company as ‘recurring environmental criminal’: President Barack Obama would have fired BP’s CEO Tony Hayward over controversial comments downplaying the Gulf oil spill — if the executive had been working for him.
    During an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s TODAY to be broadcast Tuesday, the president added his voice to calls for Hayward’s resignation amid claims from a former EPA lawyer that BP is a “recurring environmental criminal.”
    “He wouldn’t be working for me after any of those statements,” Obama told TODAY.
    Obama also defended himself against criticism about his handling the disaster, saying he had been in the Gulf a month ago before “most of these talking heads were even paying attention.”
    “I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar,” the president added. “We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”… – MSNBC, 6-8-10
  • Brown launches defense of Israel: “I don’t need polling or political strategists to help define a nuanced stance on Israel,” Brown said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. “We are engaged in a worldwide struggle against radical, violent jihad. It is the defining issue of our time. Our best friends and the strongest allies in this fight are in the State of Israel.” “Let’s remember – Israel is our ally. Israel is a democracy,” Brown added. “Hamas is a terrorist group with clear and genuine intentions of destroying Israel’s way of life.” Brown made the remarks at a leadership dinner sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The event was closed to the press, but Brown’s staff released a copy of his prepared remarks…. – Boston Globe, 6-6-10
  • James R. Clapper Jr. as DNI: “Four Decades of Service”: Today, I am proud to announce my choice for the next Director of National Intelligence —- James Clapper. With four decades of service to America, Jim is one of our nation’s most experienced and most respected intelligence professionals.
    That’s why I ordered a series of reforms to strengthen intelligence earlier this year, and that’s why I’ll be looking to Jim to ensure that we have the most capable and efficient intelligence community possible. Intelligence must be collected and analyzed quickly. It must be shared and integrated effectively. And it must be acted upon decisively. That’s what I expect as President, and that’s what our national security demands…. – WH, 6-5-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Outlines Administration Response Efforts to the BP Oil Spill from Grand Isle, LA:
    Remarks of President Barack Obama Saturday, June 5, 2010 Weekly Address Grand Isle, Louisiana
    I’m speaking to you from Caminada Bay in Grand Isle, Louisiana, one of the first places to feel the devastation wrought by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While I was here, at Camerdelle’s Live Bait shop, I met with a group of local residents and small business owners….
    Now, over the last few days BP has placed a cap over the well, and it appears they’re making progress in trying to pump oil to the surface to keep it from leaking into the water. But as has been the case since the beginning of this crisis, we are prepared for the worst, even as we hope that BP’s efforts bring better news than we’ve received before. We also know that regardless of the outcome of this attempt, there will still to be some spillage until the relief wells are completed. And there will continue to be a massive cleanup ahead of us.
    So we will continue to leverage every resource at our disposal to protect coastlines, to clean up the oil, to hold BP and other companies accountable for damages, to begin to restore the bounty and beauty of this region – and to aid the hardworking people of the Gulf as they rebuild their businesses and communities. And I want to urge all Americans to do what you can as well – including visiting this area. The vast majority of beaches are pristine and open for business.
    These are hard times in Louisiana and across the Gulf Coast, an area that has already seen more than its fair share of troubles. But what we have also seen these past few weeks is that – even in the face of adversity – the men and women of the Gulf have displayed incredible determination. They have met this terrible catastrophe with seemingly boundless strength and character in defense of their way of life. What we owe the people of this region is a commitment by our nation to match the resilience of all the people I’ve met along the Gulf Coast. That is our mission. And it’s one we will fulfill. WH, 6-5-10
  • Biden: Israel Has Right to Stop Gaza Ships: Vice President Joe Biden backed Israel’s right to board ships bound for Gaza to prevent weapons smuggling on Wednesday, but said Washington remained concerned about the plight of Palestinians there. The U.S. has been careful in its response to the deadly raid and has not joined the international condemnation of Israel’s use of force to stop the ships after its commandos were attacked as they rappelled down from helicopters.
    “Israel has an absolute right to deal with its security interest,” Biden said in an interview on PBS’s “Charlie Rose” show, while reiterating the Obama administration’s support for a transparent, impartial investigation of what happened…. – Fox News, 6-3-10
  • Remarks by the President After Meeting with BP Oil Spill Commission Co-Chairs Rose Garden: We have an obligation to investigate what went wrong and to determine what reforms are needed so that we never have to experience a crisis like this again. If the laws on our books are insufficient to prevent such a spill, the laws must change. If oversight was inadequate to enforce these laws, oversight has to be reformed. If our laws were broken, leading to this death and destruction, my solemn pledge is that we will bring those responsible to justice on behalf of the victims of this catastrophe and the people of the Gulf region….
    We’re continuing our efforts on all fronts to contain the damage from this disaster and extend to the people of the Gulf the help they need to confront this ordeal. We’ve already mounted the largest cleanup effort in the nation’s history, and continue to monitor — minute to minute — the efforts to halt or capture the flow of oil from the wrecked BP well. Until the well is stopped, we’ll multiply our efforts to meet the growing threat and to address the widespread and unbelievably painful losses experienced by the people along the Gulf Coast. What’s being threatened — what’s being lost — isn’t just the source of income, but a way of life; not just fishable waters, but a national treasure…. WH, 6-2-10
  • Sarah Palin: Israeli Flotilla: Don’t Take Mainstream Media Coverage at Face Value: The media, as usual, seems to be reporting only one side of the Israeli Flotilla incident. Don’t trust the mainstream media to give you both sides of a story fairly… you must seek out fair reporting to ensure you have all the information.
    As far too many in the media, and in various governments, rush to condemn Israel, we must put the recent events off Israel’s coast into the right perspective. This “relief” convoy was not about humanitarian aid, as the liberal mainstream media keeps reporting. The whole operation was designed to provoke Israel, not to provide supplies to Palestinians held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Anyone who sees the video of Israeli commandos being attacked as they land on that ship knows the people aboard were vicious thugs, not “peace activists.” The media insults our intelligence with their outright mischaracterization of who these enemies are…. Sarah Palin on Facebook, 6-1-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian Zelizer: Why Obama should forget ‘change you can believe in’: Congressional Democrats have been warning President Obama to tone down his anti-Washington rhetoric.
    While the president has continued to expound on his campaign themes about the need to change the way Washington works, many of his colleagues on Capitol Hill have been uncomfortable with this posture. Speaker Pelosi and others have asked him to focus his fire on Republicans rather than the system of which they are a part….

    As one political strategist told The Washington Post, “They’ve tried to influence these races and nobody’s listening . . . A sitting president who arguably still had some political capital to spend was not able to prevent some pretty divisive primaries.”
    Assuming Obama can survive the frenzy without damage, these episodes might convince Obama to listen more carefully to his Democratic colleagues, railing less against the Washington in which he now governs and focusing more on his policy agenda and the differences that he sees with the GOP. The rhetoric against politics as usual becomes increasingly stale from a politician who is as deeply immersed in the system as anyone else. – CNN, 6-7-10

  • Simon Schama’s advice for Barack Obama, Sack the advisers, says historian: At a debate on Obama’s America, the historian Simon Schama had some advice for the US president. “He is really hopeless, disastrous, feeble at telling the American story. One example would be in the way the right wing has managed to represent bank regulation as bank bailout. Obama has been somewhat soft and soggy. American politics ought to be about the noble clash of ideas, but can also be about soggy mud wrestling. Obama seems reluctant to take up the knuckle dusters … He has failed to come up to scratch on what happens next to the great American democratic experiment. I really think he should fire his chief advisers, David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel.” Guardian UK, 5-31-10
  • Julian Zelizer: The legacy of ‘drill, baby, drill’: The impact of the oil spill in the Gulf Coast is starting to be made vivid by the steady flow of still images and video that capture this catastrophe. For example, Phillippe Cousteau, the grandson of Capt. Jacques-Yves Cousteau, dove into the oil spill, wearing protective gear. He captured horrifying video images of what has been taking place beneath the sea. A debate is already unfolding about whether President Obama has been effective in his response. Is this Obama’s Katrina, as some commentators have asked? The president has come under fire, primarily from Republicans, but also from a growing number of environmental advocates, for being too slow to act.
    Recent news reports have revealed the Obama administration has been as negligent in its oversight of drilling as the previous administration.
    The debate over President Obama’s performance will continue, and his success or failure at stopping the gusher will determine how much damage this disaster inflicts on his presidency. …
    President Obama must not only stop this immediate leak, but must be certain to fix the policies that allowed this kind of risky drilling to take place. This does not just entail putting new rules on the books but also making sure they will be enforced. Only then can the government diminish the risk of this happening again. CNN, 6-1-10

May 3, 2010: Obama Responds to the Oil Spill & White House Correspondents’ Association dinner

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President at the Coast Guard Venice Center in Louisiana

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll affirms a vote for judicial know-how: Some Senate Democrats and legal activists are advising President Obama to look beyond the “judicial monastery” to find a replacement for retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, but the public does not seem to share that view.A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that judicial experience is the most valued quality among a list of professional and personal characteristics. Seven in 10 say service as a judge is a positive quality for a Supreme Court nominee, while only 5 percent see it as a negative. In contrast, 35 percent view experience outside the legal world as a positive.Overall, two-thirds of Americans say they are comfortable with Obama selecting the nation’s next justice, including nearly a third of Republicans. That is comparable with a Fox News poll conducted last May before the president chose Sonia Sotomayor to be his first nominee to the court… – WaPo, 4-29-10

THE HEADLINES….

The President speaks in Illinois

  • Obama tours Gulf Coast while following failed NYC bombing: Driving through the marshy lowlands southeast of New Orleans on Sunday, President Obama got his first glimpse of the fallout from a huge oil spill moving in from the Gulf of Mexico — an event that has teetered on the verge of crisis as the administration has rushed to demonstrate the situation is under control.”We will do what’s necessary to protect the American people, to determine who’s behind this potentially deadly act, and see that justice is done,” Obama said of the attempted car bombing as he stood in a parka in front of a Coast Guard cutter on a rural estuary…. – WaPo, 5-2-10
  • Obama jokes at correspondents dinner: It may be one of the more difficult speeches a president has to make every year, an address that requires diplomacy, a slight hint of salaciousness, and just enough self-deprecation to make the hits at political foes seem just all in good fun. Oh — and the chief executive has to end on a serious, high-minded note about how politicians and the reporters who cover them are really on the same side of democracy, even when they spar…. – Boston Globe, 5-2-10
  • White House Correspondents Dinner: Obama Can Also Be His Own Comedian:It really is true. Barack Obama can staff himself better on nearly all fronts than those who staff him — even comedians. Leno just didn’t hit his groove during his routine — but President Obama said preemptively that night that everyone knew what happened to those who followed Leno’s time slot — and well, he wasn’t gonna take any chances…. People were gasping and laughing pretty hysterically at the edginess of Obama’s remarks. Leno just couldn’t beat him…. – Huffington Post, 5-3-10
  • White House Correspondents’ dinner: D.C. spiffs up its act: There is one essential thing to be learned from this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner about Washington’s relationship with fashion: It has improved significantly. The appearance of the guests took on a decidedly more elegant and sophisticated tone compared to years past, when the annual convergence of media, politics and Hollywood glitter earned its “nerd prom” epithet…. – WaPo, 5-2-10
  • Palin appearance draws fans, foes in Wichita: Sarah Palin hailed Wichita as a city of “hard working and patriotic liberty-loving Americans” during a rousing speech Sunday night at Intrust Bank Arena. The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, appearing at a fund-raiser for the Bethel Life School Association of Wichita, spoke to a crowd of a few thousand people. The evening had a few technical glitches. Problems with the sound system led to several short delays before the speech. Entertainer Pat Boone, who hosted the event, filled some of the time by leading the audience in a round of “Rock My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.”… – Wichita Eagle, 5-2-10
  • UK Today News: Vera Baker Denies The Alleged Obama-Baker Cheating Scandal: The alleged Obama – Baker affair: Just a few days ago the National Enquirer put up a shocking article in it’s magazine which was something on the lines of “Did Barack Obama have a relationship with Vera Baker?” The National Enquirer insists that they have proof they the US President cheated on his wife Michelle Obama with his former campaign aide Vera Baker back in 2004 and even stayed at a Washington hotel. An alleged security camera has revealed everything. The magazine say that Vera had put in lots of hard work to get him onto the street of success during his campaign days; and it was then that the two grew closer. Vera Baker, on the other hand, has reportedly denied that any such thing ever occured even though sources say that she could be paid $1 Million to confirm the news…. – UK Today News, 5-10
  • Who is Vera Baker? And what did she do for Barack Obama?: If you’re wondering who Vera Baker — the woman rumored to have been involved with Barack Obama during his Senate race — is, then you must not have been paying attention to the Republicans during the 2008 presidential campaign…. – Zap2it.com, 5-1-10
  • U.S. presses BP to stop gushing Gulf Coast oil leak: A huge oil slick caused by an underwater leak continued to creep toward the U.S. Gulf Coast on Monday as the Obama administration pressed energy giant BP Plc to stem the oil gushing from its ruptured offshore well. President Barack Obama visited affected communities on Sunday, pledging a “relentless relief effort” but keeping the focus on the British oil giant BP. “Let me be clear: BP is responsible for this leak. BP will be paying the bill,” Obama said. “We are dealing with a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.” “The oil that is still leaking from the well could seriously damage the economy and the environment of our Gulf states and it could extend for a long time. It could jeopardize the livelihoods of thousands of Americans who call this place home,” Obama said during his visit to Louisiana…. – Reuters, 5-3-10
  • Obama urges Congress to act quickly on campaign finance reform: Corporate and other donors will gain even more influence over politics and government this year unless swift action is taken to force them to reveal who they are in broadcast campaign ads.”The American people have a right to know when some group like “Citizens for a Better Future’ is actually funded by ‘Corporations for Weaker Oversight’,” Obama said during his weekly radio address…. – LAT, 5-1-10
  • Obama will fight for new campaign finance rules: President Barack Obama on Saturday pressed Congress for swift action on measures to restrict political advertising by corporations and labor unions, saying that “no less than the integrity of our democracy” is at stake. Legislation introduced in Congress this week would require that corporations and unions identify themselves in political ads they pay for and that the chief executive or other top official state that “I approve this message.” The measures are in response to a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in January that upheld the First Amendment rights of these groups to spend money on campaign ads, thus enhancing their ability to influence federal elections. Obama slammed the decision at the time, saying the court had given a “green light to a new stampede of special- interest money in our politics” and pledging to work with Congress on a “forceful response” to the ruling…. – SIFY, 5-1-10
  • Protests against Arizona immigration law go nationwide: Thousands of protesters in cities across the United States waved American flags as they rallied Saturday against Arizona’s tough new immigration law and pushed for national immigration reform. “Si se puede,” “Yes we can” and “Boycott Arizona” were common refrains for groups protesting from Los Angeles, California, to New York City. May 1 is traditionally a rallying day for supporters of immigration reform. But protesters across the country said they were galvanized by Arizona’s recent passage of a law cracking down on illegal immigration…. – CNN, 5-1-10
  • Immigration a hot topic in Whitman and Poizner’s last debate: The GOP rivals trade attacks over Arizona’s new law, as well as each other’s business dealings and consistency on policy issues… – LAT, 5-3-10
  • All the Obama 20-Somethings NYT, 5-2-10
  • Washington honors memory of civil rights leader Dorothy Height: In the movement, there was Thurgood. There was Martin. There was Miss Dorothy.Height, perhaps the most influential woman in the leadership of the civil rights movement, was remembered Thursday in a stirring 90-minute program at Washington National Cathedral that summoned the sometimes painful and majestic march toward equality for blacks and women in America. “She lived to see the country change,” said Olivia G. White, dean of students at Hood College in Frederick and one of the hundreds of members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority who filled the pews — along with President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and others well known and unknown.”She was raised in a different America, beyond the experience of many,” President Obama said in his eulogy, looking out over pews filled with elderly men with canes, women in fine millinery and children holding on to the white-gloved hands of mothers. “Jim Crow ruled the South. The Ku Klux Klan was on the rise. Lynching was all too often the penalty of black skin. And slaves had been freed within living memory.”… – WaPo, 4-30-10
  • Goldman Sachs is focus of criminal investigation: U.S. attorney’s office in New York is conducting an inquiry into the investment bank’s mortgage securities deals. LAT, 4-29-10
  • In financial regs debate, senators look to details: Now it’s all about the details. With Republicans ceding the way for debate, legislation to impose sweeping new controls on financial institutions faces a test from both parties. Some Democrats seek tougher restrictions on banks; some Republicans aim to ease consumer protection provisions. Senate officials expect about two weeks of votes on amendments that could change the bill in substantial ways…. – AP, 4-29-10
  • Arizona immigration law boosts Gov. Brewer’s rating But points scored with own party may be erased by sales-tax push: Signing the nation’s toughest immigration legislation into law has thrust Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer into the national spotlight, and recent polls suggest the move has given her job-performance ratings a boost. But her support of Senate Bill 1070 is unlikely to carry her gubernatorial campaign through the summer and into the fall, analysts say. That’s because Brewer has put herself at the forefront of yet another controversial issue: Proposition 100, the temporary sales-tax hike that goes before voters next month. Brewer’s advocacy of the 1-cent-per-dollar tax increase is such a sore point with core Republican voters that her stance on the immigration bill may not be enough to mitigate it when voters head to the polls in August for the primary elections, political experts say…. – The Arizona Republic, 4-29-10
  • Kirk to skip Palin fundraiser: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk won’t attend next month’s Illinois Republican Party fundraiser featuring Sarah Palin, campaign aides said Tuesday. Instead, his aides said, the five-term North Shore congressman will be in Washington for House votes on May 12 when the former vice presidential candidate is scheduled to be in Rosemont raising money….- Chicago Tribune, 4-28-10
  • In Greeting Iowa Voters, Obama Focuses on Finances: President Obama strongly criticized Senate Republicans on Tuesday for blocking proposed legislation to tighten regulation of the financial system, vowing that he would “not let this effort fall victim to industry lobbyists who want to kill it.” “It’s one thing to oppose reform, but to oppose even talking about reform in front of the American people?” Mr. Obama said to cheers from the audience. “That’s not right.” Mr. Obama’s appearance here in Iowa, the first stop of a two-day tour of three Midwestern states, was intended to convince voters before the midterm elections that his economic policies were working despite the high unemployment rate…. – NYT, 4-28-10
  • Arizona’s immigration law has ripple effect: Arizona’s tough new immigration law has spawned calls for boycotts, a travel warning from Mexico to its citizens and a possible federal lawsuit, but a key Republican senator said Tuesday that it is not likely to result in comprehensive immigration reform this year. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham had been the lone GOP senator supporting reform, but he said it appears a reform bill must wait until 2012 to gain enough public and political support to pass. A reform bill could not pass without bipartisan support. “Good people in Arizona are so afraid of an uncontrolled border that they passed a law that I think is unconstitutional,” Graham said at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We’ve got a long way to go to prove we can secure the border.”… – Arizona Republic, 4-28-10
  • Biden to speak at daughter’s commencement at Penn: Vice President Joe Biden will speak at a University of Pennsylvania commencement ceremony where his daughter will get her master’s degree. The Philadelphia Ivy League school announced Tuesday that Biden will address graduates of the School of Social Policy and Practice on May 17. Ashley Biden will receive a master’s in social work at the ceremony…. – WaPo, 4-27-10
  • Unemployment challenges Obama’s economic narrative: Even as he touts his efforts to put more Americans to work, President Barack Obama faces a public increasingly skeptical of his ability to bring jobs back to Main Street. During stops in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri, Obama will try to convince voters that his economic policies are working, despite an unemployment rate that’s expected to remain at painfully high levels for months if not years. Those voters – many of them crucial independents – will be key to Obama’s re-election prospects in 2012. And his fellow Democrats, facing a tough political climate in the November, need their support even sooner…. – AP, 4-27-10
  • Debate stalls on Wall St. overhaul: One Democrat’s defection stings party’s Senate push; Brown says GOP compromise would protect Mass. firms: Senate Republicans, including Scott Brown of Massachusetts, united with a lone Democrat yesterday to block debate on legislation designed to overhaul the nation’s financial regulations and prevent a repeat of the 2008 economic meltdown. The 57-to-41 vote — three shy of the number that Senate rules say are needed to end the filibuster and proceed — is a setback for Democrats who have been pushing for the biggest overhaul of financial regulations since the Great Depression. It could give Republicans, who oppose several key aspects of the proposal, more momentum in brokering a bipartisan compromise. Polls suggest the legislation is popular with the public, but it has drawn strong opposition from securities industry lobbyists. Democrats appeared intent on pushing forward, betting that Republicans will eventually cave under public pressure to support the bill…. – Boston Globe, 4-27-10
  • Troubled Senate Climate Bill to Undergo EPA Analysis: The Senate climate bill may be on life support, but its authors plan nonetheless to send their measure to U.S. EPA as soon as this afternoon for an economic study that needs to be completed if the legislation has any chance of reaching the floor before the start of the summer.Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has promised to have the EPA study “well in hand for the debate” on the sweeping bill, which would curb greenhouse gas emissions across the U.S. economy. Typically, EPA’s work takes about six weeks to complete, which means Reid cannot expect to start a floor debate until at least after lawmakers return from their Memorial Day recess in early June. For now, the Senate measure is on hold for a completely different reason. Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the bill’s principal GOP co-sponsor, threatened Saturday to abandon the climate negotiations unless Reid gives up on plans this year to tackle legislation overhauling the nation’s immigration policies…. – NYT, 4-27-10
  • G.O.P. Blocks Debate on Financial Oversight Bill: Senate Republicans, united in opposition to the Democrats’ legislation to tighten regulation of the financial system, voted on Monday to block the bill from reaching the floor for debate. As both sides dug in, the battle has huge ramifications for the economy and for their political prospects in this year’s midterm elections. Republicans said they were intent on winning substantive changes to the bill and accused the Democrats of rushing the most far-reaching overhaul of the financial regulatory system since the Great Depression. Both sides say they expect the overhaul eventually will be approved…. – NYT, 4-27-10
  • For Derek Jeter and World Series champion New York Yankees, visiting the White House never gets old: When Derek Jeter was a kid, he dreamed of playing shortstop for the Yankees. But visiting the White House five times and meeting three different Presidents never entered his mind. “All the stuff that comes along with it isn’t part of the dream,” Jeter said. “These are just the perks.” Jeter and his teammates will make the trip from Baltimore to Washington to visit wounded veterans Monday morning at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, then proceed to the White House to meet with President Obama Monday afternoon…. – NY Daily News, 4-26-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Internal GOP wars shaping policies nationwide: Internal GOP politics are profoundly affecting major policies such as immigration, health care and deficit spending, as elected Republicans shift right to fend off challengers in primary elections. The moves may leave a lasting imprint on society long after flashy political events, such as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s decision to abandon the GOP in hopes of winning a Senate seat, are minor memories. They show that conservative movements such as the tea party phenomenon are influencing the nation well ahead of the November elections…. – AP, 5-3-10
  • Immigration a hot topic in Whitman and Poizner’s last debate: The GOP rivals trade attacks over Arizona’s new law, as well as each other’s business dealings and consistency on policy issues. LAT, 5-3-10
  • Parties Snipe at Crist, but May Court Him Later: A bipartisan scolding broke out in the wake of the decision by Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida to ditch the Republican Party and make an independent Senate bid, with leaders of both parties calling his move a self-serving piece of aggrandizement, rather than an act of principle.”Elections are about trust,” said Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, “and, frankly, it is unclear whether Governor Crist deserves any.” “As usual,” added Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, “Charlie Crist is putting his political ambition first.” But if Mr. Crist wins — unlikely, but hardly impossible — won’t both parties find themselves at his doorstep?… – NYT,
  • Fla. gov dumps GOP, runs for Senate as independent: Former GOP darling Gov. Charlie Crist defected from the Republican Party on Thursday to run as an independent for U.S. Senate after months of being ripped by conservatives as too supportive of President Barack Obama.”I don’t have either party helping me. But I need you. I need you more than ever,” the governor said, surrounded by cheering supporters carrying signs that included “Democrats for Crist.”Crist was mobbed by supporters after the speech. One man shouted, “I love you!” and Crist replied, “I love you more, brother.” He said he felt liberated. Asked why, he said, “Because I only belong to the people and that’s a wonderful place to be. That’s what it’s all about.”… – AP, 4-29-10
  • Fla. gov. on cusp of independent bid for US Senate: The very thing that once made Gov. Charlie Crist the clear Republican choice to run for U.S. Senate is also what will perhaps make it inevitable that he will eventually buck the party to run as an independent: his embrace — literally and figuratively — of bipartisanship…. – AP, 4-29-10
  • Active campaign shapes up for Republicans: Eric Dahlberg quit his job working for a government agency that oversees the state’s health law last month so he could concentrate on his new passion, running full time for the state Senate. The 32-year-old Chelmsford selectman believes that Scott Brown’s US Senate victory paved the way for Republicans like him to focus on the economy instead of “the lunatic” social issues that have less bearing, he says, on daily life. If Republicans have an opportunity to rebuild the state party, it may be with candidates like Dahlberg. Yesterday marked the deadline for legislative candidates to submit voter signatures to qualify for the ballot. The final tally of candidates will not be known for a few weeks, but more than 500 took out qualifying papers in recent months, according to an informal list maintained by the secretary of state, a sign of what is likely to be an active campaign season. The state Republican Party, which now claims just a small fraction of the seats on Beacon Hill, says it hopes to field more than 100 legislative candidates around the state and will spend the next few months determining who among them are serious enough to warrant further help from the party… – Boston Globe, 4-28-10
  • McCain needs to provide real leadership of old on immigration: Arizona has never needed Sen. John McCain more — the “maverick” version of years gone by, that is. The man who understood the inherent evil of demonizing groups of people. The McCain who stood up to strident voices, understanding that fearful, reactionary sentiments must never be codified into punitive laws.His state has enacted just such a law, an immigration-enforcement measure that basically equates Latinos with illegal immigrants. Under the law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, police would be required “when practicable” to detain anybody about whom there is “reasonable suspicion” of being in this country illegally. Immigrants would be required to carry documents showing they are in this country legally; those who do not produce such documents could be charged with a misdemeanor. Finally, if the police in any jurisdiction choose not to enforce the law with sufficient zeal — and many law enforcement authorities in Arizona are loath to do so — they could be sued.Arizona — the nation, really — needs a Republican leader of the kind McCain used to be. The kind of man who once co-sponsored a sensible set of reforms for the nation’s immigration laws…. – The Kansas City Star, 4-26-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President delivers the Weekly Address

  • Palin calls oil spill ‘tragic’ and defends offshore drilling: Gulf of Mexico oil spill or not, Sarah Palin on Saturday defended offshore drilling as an essential component of U.S. energy security. Speaking to a crowd of mostly Republicans at the Independence Events Center, the former Alaska governor called the oil spill “very tragic” but added: “I want our country to be able to trust the oil industry.” She said the U.S. must wean itself from foreign oil in order to be truly free. “We’ve got to tap domestically because energy security will be the key to our prosperity,” Palin said…. “We believe that God shed his grace on thee,” she said. “We still believe that America is exceptional.”… – Kansas City Star, 5-2-10
  • Remarks by the President on Oil Spill, Venice, Louisiana: … I also want to stress that we are working closely with the Gulf states and local communities to help every American affected by this crisis. Let me be clear: BP is responsible for this leak; BP will be paying the bill. But as President of the United States, I’m going to spare no effort to respond to this crisis for as long as it continues. And we will spare no resource to clean up whatever damage is caused. And while there will be time to fully investigate what happened on that rig and hold responsible parties accountable, our focus now is on a fully coordinated, relentless response effort to stop the leak and prevent more damage to the Gulf…. – WH, 5-2-10
  • President Obama Trades Jokes with Jay Leno: You might have heard we passed a health care bill. And some Republicans have suggested that the bill contains a few “secret” provisions. That’s ridiculous. There aren’t a few secret provisions in the health care plan. There are like hundreds. And tonight, in the interest of transparency, I’d like to share a couple. Let’s see here. This provision is called the “Bay State of Denial.” It reads, “This bill shall cover short-term memory loss related to the passage of Massachusetts health care reform.” Good news, Mitt, your condition is covered! This next provision is called the “Jersey Shore-Up.” It reads, “The following individuals shall be excluded from the indoor tanning tax within this bill: Snooki, J-Woww, the Situation, and House Minority Leader John Boehner.” This provision ought to put a common misconception to rest. It says right here: “If you do not like the ruling of your death panel, you can appeal it.”Some of you are seasoned veterans who have been on the political beat for decades. Others here tonight began their careers as bloggers not long ago. But I think it’s fair to say that every single reporter in this room believes deeply in the enterprise of journalism. Every one of you, even the most cynical among you, understands and cherishes the function of a free press in the preservation of our system of government and our way of life. And I want you to know that for all the jokes and occasional gripes, I cherish that work as well. In fact, tonight, I wanted to present you all with a bipartisan, Congressional resolution that honors all those wonderful contributions that journalists have made to our country and our world. Unfortunately, I couldn’t break the filibuster. WH, 5-2-10
  • President Obama pokes fun at Scott Brown at dinner: President Obama poked fun at Republican Senator Scott Brown, referring to his long-ago centerfold in Cosmopolitan magazine, at the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday night. “Speaking of tween heartthrobs, Scott Brown is here. .. I admire Scott, a rare politician in Washington with nothing to hide,” said Obama. Obama, who delivered his lines with perfect aplomb, moved on quickly to tease his own adviser, the balding, middle-aged David Axelrod. “Now you should be aware that Scott Brown is not the only one with a salacious photo spread floating around. Recently, David Axelrod was offered a centerfold opportunity of his own. Now I did not know that Krispy Kreme had a catalog, but it’s true,” he said, drawing widespread laughter…. – Boston Globe, 5-2-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Calls on Congress to Enact Reforms to Stop a “Potential Corporate Takeover of Our Elections” Remarks of President Barack Obama Saturday, May 1, 2010 Weekly Address Washington, DC That’s one of the reasons I ran for President: because I believe so strongly that the voices of ordinary Americans were being drowned out by the clamor of a privileged few in Washington. And that’s why, since the day I took office, my administration has been taking steps to reform the system. Recently, however, the Supreme Court issued a decision that overturned decades of law and precedent – dealing a huge blow to our efforts to rein in this undue influence. In short, this decision gives corporations and other special interests the power to spend unlimited amounts of money – literally millions of dollars – to affect elections throughout our country. This, in turn, will multiply their influence over decision-making in our government….In the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling, we face a similar challenge. That’s why it’s so important that Congress consider new reforms to prevent corporations and other special interests from gaining even more clout in Washington. And almost all of these reforms are designed to bring new transparency to campaign spending. They are based on the principle espoused by former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis – that sunlight is the best disinfectant….In addition, these reforms would address another troubling aspect of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Under the bill Congress will consider, we’ll make sure that foreign corporations and foreign nationals are restricted from spending money to influence American elections, just as they were in the past – even through U.S. subsidiaries. And we’d keep large contractors that receive taxpayer funds from interfering in our elections as well, to avoid the appearance of corruption and the possible misuse of tax dollars.

    Now, we can expect that these proposed changes will be met with heavy resistance from the special interests and their supporters in Congress. But I’m calling on leaders in both parties to resist these pressures. For what we are facing is no less than a potential corporate takeover of our elections. And what is at stake is no less than the integrity of our democracy. This shouldn’t be a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is an issue that goes to whether or not we will have a government that works for ordinary Americans – a government of, by, and for the people. That’s why these reforms are so important. And that’s why I’m going to fight to see them passed into law. WH, 5-1-10

  • Clinton: Syria’s provocations may plunge Middle East into war: Syrian President Bashar Assad is pursuing dangerous policies that could unleash war on the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned on Thursday night. In a speech to the American Jewish Committee in Washington, Clinton said that Syria’s transfer of weapons to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon risks throwing the region into instability.”We have spoken out forcefully about the grave dangers of Syria’s transfer of weapons to Hizbollah,” Clinton said. “We condemn this in the strongest possible terms and have expressed our concerns directly to the Syrian government.” She added: “Transferring weapons to these terrorists – especially longer-range missiles – would pose a serious threat to the security of Israel. It would have a profoundly destabilizing effect on the region. “All states must stop supplying weapons to terrorist groups such as Hizbollah and Hamas. Every rocket smuggled into southern Lebanon or Gaza sets back the cause of peace.”… – Haaretz, 4-30-10
  • Obama says Arizona immigration law is ‘polarizing’: President Barack Obama criticized Arizona’s controversial new immigration law, which opponents fear could lead to ethnic profiling, saying it was “polarizing.””These kinds of shortcuts, I think, will end up polarizing the situation instead of solving the problem,” Obama told reporters on Air Force One. The US president noted that “if you’ve got hundreds of thousands of people coming in, not playing by the rules, that’s a problem. And the federal government has been abdicating on its responsibilities for a very long time on this issue. “That’s why I’ve called for comprehensive immigration reform, and I want that to proceed, and I want it to be done on a bipartisan basis,” Obama underscored. But “what I think is a mistake is when we start having local law enforcement officials empowered to stop people on the suspicion that they may be undocumented workers, because that carries a great amount of risk that core values that we all care about are breached. “This isn’t just my opinion. You’ve seen a number of very prominent Republicans say that this is a problem,” the president added…. – AFP, 4-29-10
  • Obama to Muslim world: A ‘new beginning’ has started: President Obama said tonight that the U.S. will set up exchange programs with business people throughout the Muslim world as part of the overall outreach program he outlined last year.”The new beginning we seek is not only possible, it has already begun,” Obama told the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in Washington, D.C…. “Over the past year the United States has been reaching out and listening,” he said. – USA Today, 4-26-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Miss him? Bush’s reputation might be ready for a rebound: “You can’t begin to really assess a presidency with any sort of objectivity until they’ve been out of office for years,” said Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College in Minnesota. “It will be 30 years before we can accurately assess the Bush presidency.””We aren’t going to have a really good perspective for a while,” said Bert Rockman, a presidential historian at Purdue University in Indiana. “I don’t think his presidency will be regarded as top drawer – it may well be well below the median – but it may not be at the bottom any longer.”… – Miami Herald, 5-2-10
  • Is the oil spill Obama’s Katrina? Not yet: “This is not Katrina yet,” said Julian Zelizer, a history professor at Princeton University. “While terrible, the oil spill does not equal the kind of human suffering that was seen in New Orleans. This is something (Obama) must respond to and improve his plan, but a distinction must be made.”…. – Reuters, 5-3-10
  • Could immigration furor create positive evolution?: “The whole country has taken notice,” said Marshall Trimble, Arizona’s state historian, who dislikes the new law but thinks something had to be done about illegal immigration. “I don’t think people realized how serious a problem it is.”… – AP, 5-3-10
  • Lessons from the Gulf oil spill: “We are looking at a wildlife disaster that is unthinkable: This could be the Exxon Valdez on steroids,” historian Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, said in an interview. Brinkley has seen those TV ads in which British Petroleum — owner of the lease site — claims its initials stand for “Beyond Petroleum.” “We’ve got to stop listening to the oil companies’ fake environmental rhetoric,” Brinkley said. “There is no such thing as overregulation of this industry. Offshore drilling carries real dangers. It must be tightly regulated.”… – Seattle PI, 5-2-10
  • Q&A: Historian Allan Meltzer on the Fed Nominations: Allan Meltzer, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, is a leading historian of the Federal Reserve System. (He’s at work on Volume II his Fed history.) We talked with Dr. Meltzer — who has been critical of the Fed’s recent monetary policy — about the White House’s latest nominations to the Federal Reserve Board:With the latest nominations, President Obama will have named four governors to the Fed in a short period. Will that help Obama?Meltzer: It will help Obama when he might need it. He’ll have a board that will be sympathetic to his views. Not necessarily because they’re politically motivated, but because they believe that it’s more important to do something about unemployment. That’s why the Burns board [Arthur Burns served as Fed chairman from 1970 to 1978] voted for the high money growth under price controls, because they were more concerned about unemployment than inflation. Unemployment first, then we’ll take care of the inflation later… I expect that the board will eventually appear to be a much more dovish place than it was some time ago. The issue will be, we have high unemployment. How can we raise interest rates? They’ll have the support of the business community, the labor unions, the Congress, the administration and the public… – WSJ, 4-29-10
  • Gil Troy: Obama the president is not Alexander the Great: Obama wants to solve the conflict by cutting through what seems to be the Gordian knot, the obstacle to peace: Israeli intransigence. I understand Barack Obama’s impatience with Israel. I see his logic whereby if only Israel would freeze, concede and withdraw, the conflict would end. I can imagine the appeal, for the first African-American US president – the first incumbent president to win a Nobel Peace Prize in decades, the first to pass such sweeping health-care legislation – to seek his next big win in the Middle East.Just as Alexander the Great legendarily solved the problem of the Gordian knot by slicing it in half rather than untying it, Obama wants to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict by cutting through what the world has deemed to be the obstacle to Middle East peace: Israeli intransigence.Alas, Obama is no Alexander.

    So far, the more Obama pulls at this Gordian knot, the tighter it gets; the more Obama pressures Israel, the more the Palestinians raise their demands. Obama is failing – and flailing – because he is blind to history. He is ignoring the history of Israeli willingness to compromise…. – Jerusalem Post, 4-26-10

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Washington has always helped set rules for Wall Street: On Sunday, Sens. Chris Dodd and Richard Shelby said that they were close to a bipartisan compromise on financial regulation, which could be reached as early as this week.Yet many Republicans are attacking the regulations by painting them as yet another example of big government taking over private markets. Even if the bill will likely pass, GOP leaders are planning to use this floor debate to raise philosophical concerns about the role of government in economic life…But on the fundamental question, as to whether the government has a right to intervene in these issues and whether these reforms somehow break with the traditions of American history, that is a much easier question to resolve. While there has been tension between markets and government, it is equally important to remember that a close partnership has always existed in this country. The ties between government and markets are as American as apple pie. In other words, government can help markets prosper. – CNN, 4-26-10

2010 White House Correspondents Dinner 2

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the White House Correspondents Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C. May 1, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

April 26, 2010: Obama up against Wall Street

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President speaks in New York

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll: Majority lacks trust in government Can you trust Washington?: Nearly 80 percent of Americans say they can’t and they have little faith that the massive federal bureaucracy can solve the nation’s ills, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center that shows public confidence in the federal government at one of the lowest points in a half-century.
    The poll released Sunday illustrates the ominous situation facing President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party as they struggle to maintain their comfortable congressional majorities in this fall’s elections. Midterm prospects are typically tough for the party in power. Add a toxic environment like this and lots of incumbent Democrats could be out of work.
    The survey found that just 22 percent of those questioned say they can trust Washington almost always or most of the time and just 19 percent say they are basically content with it. Nearly half say the government negatively effects their daily lives, a sentiment that’s grown over the past dozen years. This anti-government feeling has driven the tea party movement, reflected in fierce protests this past week…. – AP, 4-18-10
  • Polls paint murky picture for November: Two independent polls released today paint a different picture of which political party is in better shape heading into November’s congressional elections.
    A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll today shows that 50% of Americans say they would support a Democratic congressional candidate if the election were held today, compared with 46% who say they’d vote for a Republican. That’s a reversal from CNN’s last poll, conducted in March, which showed the GOP with a 4 percentage point advantage.
    Meanwhile, Republicans beat Democrats 48% to 44% in a generic ballot poll conducted by Gallup. The survey, also released today, marks the third week since President Obama’s health care proposal was approved by the House that Republicans have led or tied Democrats, according to Gallup.
    In the CNN poll, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to enjoy a higher favorability rating (61%) than Obama (57%), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (38%) and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (39%)… – Today, 4-14-10
  • Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated: Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, and are no more or less afraid of falling into a lower socioeconomic class, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. The 18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45. They hold more conservative views on a range of issues than Republicans generally. They are also more likely to describe themselves as “very conservative” and President Obama as “very liberal.”… – 4-14-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Is progressive Asheville Obama’s vision for America?: Hip, environmentally aware, self-reliant and undeniably quaint, Asheville, N.C is a progressive’s vision of what America could be. But mountain liberalism comes at a price…. – CS Monitor, 4-24-10
  • Obama lauds auto industry rebound and pushes for financial regulations: The president says the auto bailout will cost taxpayers ‘a fraction’ of what had been feared. In his weekly address, he also urges Congress to pass his regulatory package to help avert new economic crises…. – LAT, 4-25-10
  • Analysis: GOP, Dems compete for populist title: Republicans and Democrats are furiously casting each other as the handmaidens of Wall Street, playing to election-year anger surging on Main Street. Neither party has clean hands when it comes to the financial industry. Both parties have accepted huge amounts of campaign cash from companies like Goldman Sachs. Both welcomed big business’ chief executives to the White House when in power. Both share the blame for deregulating the industry in the 1990s and bailing out Wall Street when the financial sector was on the brink of collapse. Not that either side will acknowledge it. Instead, Republicans and Democrats are using President Barack Obama’s push for tighter controls on the industry to try to gain the political advantage with the proverbial Joe Six-Pack — the voters — ahead of critical midterm congressional elections, when the balance of power in Washington is at stake. “We need to enact a set of updated, commonsense rules to ensure accountability on Wall Street and to protect consumers in our financial system,” Obama said Thursday in New York, tapping into public outrage over excesses that led to the economic meltdown…. – AP, 4-24-10
  • Biden to visit Belgium, Spain May 5-8: Vice President Joe Biden plans to travel to Belgium and Spain next month for meetings with European Union representatives and to address the European parliament. The White House announced the trip on Friday… – AP, 4-23-10
  • Scott Brown: No presidential run in 2012: U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is ruling out a presidential run in 2012 and spurning Tea Partiers by throwing his support – for now, anyway – behind former Bay State Gov. Mitt Romney over conservative darling Sarah Palin. “Absolutely 2012, I’m ruling that out,” Brown said yesterday on NBCs “Today” show. Brown said former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is qualified for the presidency, but said he’s sticking with Romney – while keeping his options open. “I’m going to support Gov. Romney,” he said. “I’m going to see who’s out there in the field and then, you know, make my decision.”…. NBC reporter Jamie Gangel pressed Brown on whether he’s ruling out a presidential run altogether. “I’m not even going to jump at that,” Brown said. “Nice try.” – Boston Herald, 4-24-10
  • Brown: Backs Romney now, thinks Palin qualified: Sen. Scott Brown says he thinks former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is qualified to be president but right now he’s supporting former Gov. Mitt Romney for the 2012 Republican nomination. As for his own ambitions, he say “absolutely in 2012” he’s ruling out any run for the presidency. And in an NBC interview Friday, Brown said “I’m not even going to jump” at a question about whether he would seek the presidency later on. Brown said, “I’ve been here three months … and I’m very focused on doing my job.” Asked if he regretted bolting the Republican caucus recently to support Democrats on a jobs bill, he said, “I don’t really care. .. I’m going to be the independent person I have always been.”… – AP, 4-23-10
  • Obama to Wall St.: ‘Join Us, Instead of Fighting Us’: President Obama talked of Wall Street’s “reckless practices” in his address to the top bankers on Thursday in New York. Addressing leaders of New York’s financial giants, including Goldman Sachs, Mr. Obama described himself as a champion of change battling “battalions of financial industry lobbyists” and the “withering forces” of the economic elite. With his poll numbers sagging, the choreographed confrontation seemed aimed at tapping the nation’s antiestablishment mood as well as muscling financial regulation legislation through Congress. But the president also struck a note of conciliation with an industry that has contributed generously to his party, beseeching bankers to work with him to forge a new regulatory structure. While he spoke, his Democratic allies in Washington moved to force a showdown in the Senate on Monday, scheduling a procedural vote that will test the prospects for bipartisan compromise and Republican resolve to block the president’s plans.
    “I want to urge you to join us, instead of fighting us in this effort,” Mr. Obama said in his address at Cooper Union in Manhattan. “I’m here because I believe that these reforms are, in the end, not only in the best interest of our country, but in the best interest of the financial sector.” NYT, 4-23-10
  • Obama’s NASA Blueprint Is Challenged in Congress: President Obama may have hoped that a speech a week ago at the Kennedy Space Center would sway skeptics to his proposed space policy, but a Congressional hearing on Thursday gave little signs that the lines of contention have shifted yet.
    Opponents like Richard C. Shelby, the Republican senator from Alabama where NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has been leading the design of the Ares I rocket that the Obama administration would like to cancel, continued to denounce Mr. Obama’s plans. Those plans call for ending NASA’s current Constellation program that was to send astronauts back to the moon and turning to private companies for transportation into orbit. At a hearing of an appropriations subcommittee, Mr. Shelby said that the proposal would abdicate the United States’ leadership in space.
    “Future generations will learn how the Chinese, the Russians, and even the Indians took the reins of space exploration away from the United States,” said Mr. Shelby, the ranking minority member of the commerce, justice and science subcommittee…. – NYT, 4-23-10
  • Aide to Kennedy, Kerry will help Obama pitch health care law Bay State native to assist projects and initiatives: President Obama has chosen Stephanie Cutter, who served as a top aide to Senator Edward M. Kennedy and communications director for Senator John F. Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004, to be in charge of getting out the word about the benefits of the new health care insurance overhaul. “Stephanie is one of the most respected professionals in public affairs and has an innate understanding of the nexus between policy and communications,” Obama said yesterday in a statement. Cutter will begin her post as assistant to the president for special projects next month. In addition to improving communications on the health care law, she is to assist in other presidential initiatives…. – Boston Globe, 4-22-10
  • Biden explains open mic health care gaffe: “I realized there was a microphone, but I had no idea it was that sensitive,” Biden explained to the hostesses of ABC’s “The View,” who queried him about the incident in an appearance Thursday. “I was whispering in his ear, and after it was over we walked out, and we got in the limo to go over to another event, and he was laughing like the devil,” Biden continued. “I said, ‘What’s so funny, I don’t see what’s funny about this.’ And he said, ‘Well,’ he said, ‘Katie, my secretary, told me that when you said that to me everybody could hear it.'”… – AP, 4-22-10
  • Obamas head to North Carolina for quick vacation: The last time Barack Obama was in Asheville, N.C., he complained he was too busy to play golf. The president plans to fix that this weekend. Obama and his family were to leave the White House at midday Friday and fly to Asheville, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. On his previous visit, Obama prepared for a debate and rallied supporters during the final month of his presidential campaign…. – AP, 4-23-10
  • Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration: Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed the nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration into law on Friday. Its aim is to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants. The move unleashed immediate protests and reignited the divisive battle over immigration reform nationally. Even before she signed the bill at an afternoon news conference here, President Obama strongly criticized it.
    Speaking at a naturalization ceremony for 24 active-duty service members in the Rose Garden, he called for a federal overhaul of immigration laws, which Congressional leaders signaled they were preparing to take up soon, to avoid “irresponsibility by others.” The Arizona law, he added, threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”… – NYT, 4-23-10
  • GOP ramps up attacks on SEC over porn surfing: Republicans are stepping up their criticism of the Securities and Exchange Commission following reports that senior agency staffers spent hours surfing pornographic websites on government-issued computers while they were supposed to be policing the nation’s financial system.
    California Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said it was “disturbing that high-ranking officials within the SEC were spending more time looking at porn than taking action to help stave off the events that put our nation’s economy on the brink of collapse.” He said in a statement Thursday that SEC officials “were preoccupied with other distractions” when they should have been overseeing the growing problems in the financial system. The SEC’s inspector general conducted 33 probes of employees looking at explicit images in the past five years, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. The memo says 31 of those probes occurred in the 2 1/2 years since the financial system teetered and nearly crashed…. – AP, 4-23-10
  • Financial District workers can’t bear to watch President Obama take Wall Street to task – NY Daily News, 4-23-10
  • Obama Looks to Close Sale on Financial Reform: …It is an approach that he is likely to outline again on Thursday, as the president speaks near Wall Street in a bid to make the closing argument for the regulatory overhaul now before the Senate.
    “Throughout our history there have been times where the financial sector swung way out of balance,” Mr. Obama said on Wednesday in an interview with CNBC and The New York Times, citing the period that led to the Depression as the primary example. “We have gotten into one of those places where we need to update those rules of the road,” he said. “And if we do so, not only is that good for the economy, not only does it protect consumers and investors, it’s also good for the financial sector, because it will rebuild trust.”… – NYT, 4-22-10
  • Bill would shun Obama birth certificate requests: Hawaii lawmakers are moving closer to passing a measure allowing the state to ignore repeated requests for President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. A conference committee unanimously voted Tuesday to advance the bill to final votes in the House and Senate… – AP, 4-21-10
  • Familiar rain sends Olympians indoors to see Obama: The weather problems of the Vancouver Games followed the U.S. Olympians to the White House. Steady rain forced the pleasantries indoors when the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams visited President Barack Obama on Wednesday. Instead of hanging out on the South Portico for the customary public words of support from the president, the 225 or so athletes clustered about in several rooms in the executive mansion to hobnob privately with the first family and Vice President Joe Biden. “It never gets old coming to the White House,” said short-track speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, whose three medals in Vancouver gave him a U.S.-record eight career Winter Olympic medals. “We get to see something new every time. We actually got to see Obama’s dog today.”… – AP, 4-21-10
  • Justice John Paul Stevens: Justice John Paul Stevens wore a bright red bow tie Tuesday and celebrated his 90th birthday in a way only one other American ever has: as a member of the Supreme Court. There was no mention of the milestone during the court’s public appearance, as the justices issued an opinion and heard an argument. But President Obama took note of the occasion, as Stevens joined Oliver Wendell Holmes as the only men who started their 10th decades on the court.
    Obama said President Herbert Hoover sent Holmes a note that day. “And so do I, on the occasion of your 90th birthday, congratulate both you and our country for your long and esteemed tenure in public service. “For the last 35 years of your remarkable 90, the nation has benefited from the rigor, courage and integrity that have marked your service. . . . With the thoughtfulness and humility of your questions from the bench, and the independence and wisdom you have brought to the judgments the court has rendered, you have stood guardian of the Constitution and the rule of law and helped move this nation towards that more perfect union,” Obama wrote…. – WaPo, 4-20-10
  • President Obama Talking With Possible Court Picks Conversations underway with potential Supreme Court nominees: According to the Associated Press, President Barack Obama has begun conversations with potential Supreme Court nominees, a senior administration official said Tuesday, signaling an upswing in the president’s consideration of an already coalescing list of candidates. Obama’s review will throttle ahead on Wednesday morning when he meets privately with the top Democrat and Republican in the Senate along with the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel that will hold confirmation hearings on Obama’s nominee. The president’s nomination is expected over the next few weeks…. – WCTV, 4-20-10
  • House abandons vote bill for US capital: The people of the nation’s capital have waited more than two centuries to get a vote in Congress, and now it looks like Washington’s roughly 600,000 residents will have to wait even longer. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced Tuesday that lawmakers will not take up legislation this week giving District of Columbia citizens a vote in the House of Representatives, and said he was “profoundly disappointed.” The Democrat also said it was unlikely the enfranchisement bill, which became embroiled in a gun rights dispute and other issues, would be considered in the House later this year…. – AP, 4-20-10
  • Senate Takes Steps on Backlog of Nominations: The Senate showed signs on Tuesday of breaking a logjam of nominations being blocked by Republicans over growing objections from the White House and Democrats in Congress. The Senate voted to confirm Lael Brainard on Tuesday to be Treasury under secretary for international affairs, nine months after she was nominated. The vote was 78 to 19. The Senate then moved on to consider four other nominees who have been held up…. – NYT, 4-20-10
  • Wall Street, governments are targets in congressional election: It’s the Democrats versus Wall Street and Republicans against Big Government in the latest battle on the road to November’s congressional elections. Both sides have found easy targets as they try to solidify their support base and also appeal to independent voters who are likely to be the deciding factor in dozens of races for seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
    “One of the main reasons our economy faltered was because some on Wall Street made irresponsible bets, with no accountability,” said President Barack Obama.
    “On every front, they want to raise taxes, spend more, have politicians become more powerful, and citizens become less powerful,” said Newt Gingrich, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012…. – Reuters, 4-21-10
  • Obama falters on immigration reform promises: Advocates for illegal immigrants fear the White House is doing the bare minimum to appease Latino voters before midterm elections as it focuses on other issues…. – LAT, 4-21-10
  • White House: Obama to return to Calif. for Boxer: A White House official says President Barack Obama will return to California next month to help raise money for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and other candidates…. – AP, 4-20-10
  • Obama says Boxer could lose if Dems don’t work: President Barack Obama delivered Democrat-friendly California a stark message Monday: Liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer might lose her re-election race if her supporters don’t work hard. The president’s stern words in a state where he remains popular and Boxer won her last re-election race in a rout underscored the perilous political environment confronting all Democrats in this midterm election year — and showed Obama is all too aware of the dangers.
    “I don’t want anyone here taking this for granted,” he said at a reception at the California Science Center, the first of a trio of fundraisers Monday night for Boxer and the Democratic National Committee. “Unless she’s got that support she might not win this thing, and I don’t think that’s an acceptable outcome. So I want everyone to work hard,” the president said. All incumbents face an uphill battle because of the economy, Obama said, though he insisted it’s turning around…. – AP, 4-20-10
  • Mayor Emanuel? White House chief of staff says he’d like the post if Daley doesn’t run for re-election: He has been equivocal on the subject in the past, but on Monday night White House chief of staff and native Chicagoan Rahm Emanuel made no bones about it: He wants to be the mayor of Chicago. “I hope Mayor [Richard] Daley seeks re-election. I will work and support him if he seeks re-election,” Emanuel told Charlie Rose on the host’s PBS talk show, in an interview broadcast Monday night. “But if Mayor Daley doesn’t, one day I would like to run for mayor of the city of Chicago. That’s always been an aspiration of mine, even when I was in the House of Representatives.”… – Chicago Tribune, 4-19-10
  • Obama Will Eulogize Miners: President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will travel to West Virginia this weekend to mourn the 29 miners killed in an explosion this month in the worst mining accident in the United States in four decades, the White House announced Monday. Mr. Obama “will deliver a eulogy honoring the lives of those who perished and offering his deepest condolences” to loved ones, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said. – AP, 4-19-10
  • Obama taps Harvard professor to head Medicare: President Barack Obama has nominated Harvard medical professor Donald Berwick to oversee Medicare and Medicaid…. – AP, 4-19-10
  • Senate committee subpoenas Fort Hood documents: In a rare public dispute between a Democratic-led Congress and the White House, a Senate committee on Monday subpoenaed the Obama administration for secret documents and access to witnesses in last year’s mass shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas.
    Congress has been largely supportive of President Barack Obama’s policies and the White House prides itself on increased government transparency. Nonetheless, the chairman and ranking Republican of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have alleged that the administration is covering up critical details on the case, including whether the government had access to information that could have prevented the shooting.
    “Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to avoid reaching the conclusion that the departments simply do not want to cooperate with our investigation,” wrote Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, in a letter accompanying the subpoena… – AP, 4-19-10
  • Clinton: Look beyond judges for high court pick: Bill Clinton says someone who hasn’t been a judge should be considered for the Supreme Court. But scratch the idea of the ex-president or his wife as a justice.
    Clinton, who has not been a judge, said that at 63, told ABC’s “This Week” that he’s too old to be considered, much as he might enjoy serving on the Supreme Court. He said his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, also might have been interested in past years, but not now…. – AP, 4-18-10
  • Obama’s asteroid goal: tougher, riskier than moon: Landing a man on the moon was a towering achievement. Now the president has given NASA an even harder job, one with a certain Hollywood quality: sending astronauts to an asteroid, a giant speeding rock, just 15 years from now.
    President Barack Obama outlined NASA’s new path during a visit to the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday. “By 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the moon into deep space,” he said. “We’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history.”… – AP, 4-16-10
  • Report: Gates sent White House memo on Iran policy: A memo from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to the White House warned that the United States lacks a nimble long-term plan for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, according to a published report. Gates wrote the three-page memo in January and it set off efforts in the Pentagon, White House and intelligence agencies to come up with new options, including the use of the military, The New York Times said in its Sunday editions, quoting unnamed government officials. White House officials Saturday night strongly disagreed with the comments that the memo caused a reconsideration of the administration’s approach to Iran…. – AP, 4-18-10
  • Palin taken aback by Obama ‘superpower’ remark: Sarah Palin criticized President Barack Obama on Saturday for saying America is a military superpower “whether we like it or not,” saying she was taken aback by his comment. “I would hope that our leaders in Washington, D.C., understand we like to be a dominant superpower,” the former Alaska governor said. “I don’t understand a world view where we have to question whether we like it or not that America is powerful.” Obama said earlier this week that the United States must do its best to resolve conflicts around the world before they grow too serious. “It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them,” Obama said. “And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.”… – 4-18-10
  • All 41 GOP Senators United in Opposition to Financial Reform Bill: All 41 Republican senators have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying they are opposed to the financial regulation bill put forward by Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s office announced today. The letter calls for further negotiations, but it does not go as far as to say all 41 senators would support a filibuster of the legislation.
    “Inaction is not an option. However, it is imperative that what we do does not worsen the current economic climate or codify the circumstances that led to the last financial crisis,” the letter says. “As currently constructed, this bill allows for endless taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street and establishes new and unlimited regulatory powers that will stifle small businesses and community banks.” The letter calls for a “bipartisan and inclusive approach” and asks Reid to support bipartisan negotiations in the Banking and Agriculture Committees…. – CBS News, 4-17-10
  • Bank bill in peril, WH urges part be dropped: In the face of stiff GOP opposition, Obama administration officials want Senate Democrats to purge a $50 billion fund for dismantling “too big to fail” banks from legislation that aims to protect against a new financial crisis. Republicans contend the provision would simply continue government bailouts of Wall Street. The sweeping bill aims to prevent a recurrence of the crisis that nearly caused a Wall Street meltdown in 2008. Beside creating a mechanism for liquidating large firms, House and Senate bills would govern previously unregulated derivatives, create a council to detect systemwide financial threats and establish a consumer protection agency to police lending, credit cards and other bank-customer transactions. President Barack Obama declared Friday that he would veto the bill if it doesn’t regulate the freewheeling derivatives market. “We can’t afford another AIG,” the president said, referring to the giant insurance conglomerate that relied heavily on the complex, sometimes exotic investment instruments. AP, 4-16-10
  • Obama makes hospitals allow gay visitation rights: President Barack Obama issued a memo on Thursday that would require hospitals accepting Medicare or Medicaid funds to allow visitation rights to gay and lesbian partners.
    “It should be made clear that designated visitors … should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy,” the memo said.
    “Every day across America, patients are denied the kindness and caring of a loved one at their sides — whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay,” Obama wrote. “Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives — unable to be there for the person they love and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated,” he said…. – Reuters, 4-15-10
  • Obama blames owner for West Virginia mine disaster: U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday put primary blame for last week’s deadly West Virginia coal mine disaster on owner Massey Energy and called for better mine oversight nationwide to prevent more accidents.
    “The people of West Virginia are in our prayers. But we owe them more than prayers. We owe them action,” Obama told reporters in the White House Rose Garden. “This tragedy was triggered by a failure at the Upper Big Branch mine, a failure first and foremost of management, but also a failure of oversight and a failure of laws so riddled with loopholes that they allow unsafe conditions to continue.” “Owners responsible for conditions in the Upper Big Branch mine should be held accountable for decisions they made and preventive measures they failed to take,” he said… – Reuters, 4-15-10
  • Florida Governor Splits With G.O.P. on Teacher Pay: Gov. Charlie Crist has been jawboned and buttonholed as he has traveled around the state in recent days, and his office was deluged with 120,000 messages. Passions have not run so high in Florida, the governor said, since the controversy over ending the life of Terri Schiavo in 2005. This time, the point of contention was eliminating tenure for Florida public school teachers and tying their pay and job security to how well their students were learning. On Thursday, Mr. Crist picked a side, vetoing a bill passed last week by the Florida Legislature that would have introduced the most sweeping teacher pay changes in the nation. The veto puts Mr. Crist, a moderate Republican, at odds with his party base in the Republican-controlled Legislature. His decision has also renewed speculation that he might drop out of the Republican primary for a United States Senate seat and run in the general election as an independent. For months, he has been trailing the more conservative Republican candidate, Marco Rubio, a Tea Party favorite, in polls…. – NYT, 4-15-10
  • Finance Bill Consensus on a Point: No Bailouts: As the Obama administration and Senate Republicans clash over the future of the nation’s financial regulatory system, there is one principle on which they agree: Taxpayers should never again have to bail out giant financial institutions. President Obama says his legislation would let the Treasury Department, with court approval, take over and dismantle failing companies without costing the public a dime. It would resemble the process used since the Depression to take over failing commercial banks… – NYT, 4-15-10
  • Obama makes light of anti-tax protests: President Barack Obama said Thursday he’s amused by the anti-tax tea party protests that have been taking place around Tax Day. Obama told a fundraiser in Miami that he’s cut taxes, contrary to the claims of protesters. “You would think they’d be saying thank you,” he said. At that, many in the crowd at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts stood and yelled, “Thank you!” The fundraiser was one of two Obama held after a speech at Cape Canaveral on his administration’s space policy. The other was hosted by Gloria and Emilio Estefan, a $30,400-per-couple fete that stirred some controversy in the traditionally Republican Cuban-American community. Together, the events raised $2.5 million for the Democratic National Committee…. – AP, 4-16-10
  • Obama Reports $5.5 Million In Income: Brisk book sales lifted President Obama’s income to $5.5 million in his first year in office, an amount that dwarfs that of his recent predecessors while in power and reflects the public’s continued willingness to pay to read his autobiographies. On tax day, the White House released 2009 returns showing that Obama’s income more than doubled from the year before. He collected $2.7 million in 2008, and $4.2 million in ’07. The returns show Obama paid nearly $1.8 million in federal taxes and another $163,000 in Illinois state taxes. A total of 40 charities received $329,100 from the Obama family in 2009, with the biggest chunk of that ($100,000) going to the United Negro College Fund and to CARE, an organization that combats world poverty…. – LAT, 4-15-10
  • Discarded Palin contract sparks investigation: A document fished out of a California state university trash bin last week has prompted a state investigation into the university’s foundation arm and its refusal to disclose details related to Sarah Palin’s upcoming speech at the school. On Tuesday, California Attorney General Jerry Brown said his office would look into the finances of the California State University, Stanislaus Foundation, as well as allegations that the nonprofit organization violated public disclosure laws by keeping details of Palin’s contract secret. Palin is scheduled to speak at a June 25 gala hosted by the foundation to mark the university’s 50th anniversary… – AP, 4-14-10
  • White House to host Olympic athletes next week: America’s Olympic athletes are preparing for another honor — a visit to the White House. Members of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams will be the guests next week of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama… – AP, 4-14-10
  • Obama’s nuclear summit yields early dividends: President Barack Obama’s nuclear summit has paid early dividends: China’s agreement to work with the U.S. on possible sanctions against Iran and Ukraine’s decision to rid itself of nuclear bomb-making materials. Obama opened the global security summit Monday night after two days of meetings with selected presidents and prime ministers of the 47 countries assembled to recharge efforts to keep nuclear material out of terrorist hands. It ends Tuesday with a joint declaration to guide future work toward locking away and cleansing the globe of materials still too easily accessible to terrorists…. – AP, 4-13-10
  • In Appeal for Diplomacy, Obama Invokes the Mushroom Cloud: Nearly a decade ago, a President of the United States used the specter of a nuclear blast to argue his case for invading a foreign country. “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,” President Bush’s then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told CNN in 2002, a sound bite that came to define the rationale for a pre-emptive war in Iraq despite the lack of proof that it presented a WMD threat.
    This week, another U.S. President, Barack Obama, invoked mushroom-cloud imagery to argue for a major diplomatic initiative. “If there was ever a detonation in New York City, or London, or Johannesburg, the ramifications economically, politically and from a security perspective would be devastating,” Obama said Sunday. He was speaking just hours before the start of the Nuclear Security Summit, arguably the largest diplomatic gathering on U.S. soil since the U.N.’s founding conference in San Francisco in 1945…. – Time, 4-13-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Potential clouds over Fla. Senate front-runner: Now that Republicans have made him the U.S. Senate front-runner, Marco Rubio is trying to weather potentially damaging revelations about his credit card use, double billing for airfare and murky finances. A few months ago, the former Florida House speaker seemed an unlikely bet to beat Gov. Charlie Crist in the party’s Senate primary. And in those months, Rubio’s lavish spending has come under scrutiny of federal investigators. In that same stretch, his poll numbers have soared, carrying him well ahead of Crist and forcing the once seemingly unbeatable governor to consider running as an independent for Senate. Crist has until Friday to decide…. – AP, 4-25-10
  • Candidate for Obama’s old US Senate seat undaunted: Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias appears undaunted by the shuttering of his family’s bank, saying his bid to keep President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat in Democratic hands will move forward with renewed purpose. Regulators shut down Broadway Bank on Friday when it became clear that the failing institution would not raise about $85 million in new capital by a Monday deadline…. – AP, 4-24-10
  • GOP calls on members to oppose Charlie Crist if he runs as independent: Florida’s Republican Party says its members would have to oppose Gov. Charlie Crist’s campaign for U.S. Senate if he jumps from the GOP to an independent bid for the office…. – Miami Herald, 4-23-10
  • Possible GOP tide drawing has-beens into campaigns: Republicans once saddled with the burden of President George W. Bush’s unpopularity are now experiencing a boon from another struggling president: Barack Obama…. The time seems ripe for Republicans, who largely remain unified against Obama’s domestic agenda, including health care overhaul. Both the president and his signature legislative achievement remain unpopular at this point in a midterm election year, according to a recent AP-GfK poll. Voters’ opinions also have turned against Democrats and their stewardship of the economy; Obama’s approval rating is at a new low. That bodes well for — and feels familiar to — some Republicans….
    Just 49 percent of people now approve of the job Obama’s doing overall, and less than that — 44 percent — like the way he’s handled health care and the economy, according to an AP-GfK poll. The news is worse for other Democrats. For the first time this year, about as many Americans approve of congressional Republicans as Democrats — 38 percent to 41 percent — and neither has an edge when it comes to the party voters want controlling Congress. AP, 4-20-10
  • California Democrats close convention with eye on tough races ahead: The party, which has dominated most state elections for a generation, is facing stiff challenges from wealthy Republicans and strong GOP momentum across the nation…. – LAT, 4-19-10
  • McCain and Brewer Continue Lead in Arizona: The latest poll out of Arizona show Republicans continuing to make inroads in the state’s upcoming election contest. The poll, released Friday, shows U.S. Senate challenger J.D. Hayworth continuing to eat into incumbent Senator John McCain’s lead. A Rasmussen Reports polls released Friday says McCain is leading his primary challenger 47 percent to 42 percent. The polling organization had McCain with a seven-point lead last month, down from a 22-point lead in January…. – State Column, 4-18-10
  • Romney Endorses Rubio Over Crist in Florida Race: Two years after he was shunned by Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida during the state’s Republican presidential primary, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts endorsed Marco Rubio, Mr. Crist’s opponent in Florida’s Republican Senate primary, on Saturday. The Rubio campaign announced the endorsement on its Web site.
    “While I respect Governor Crist, Marco Rubio’s proven record of conservative, principled and idea-driven leadership is what Florida needs now,” Mr. Romney said in a statement posted on the Web site. “Marco Rubio will be a reliable spokesman against the Washington culture of higher spending, higher taxes and higher debt.”
    Mr. Romney also said that his Free and Strong America political action committee would make the maximum $5,000 contribution to Mr. Rubio’s primary election campaign…. – AP, 4-17-10
  • Jerry Brown calls for debate with GOP rivals: The candidate for governor issues the challenge at the California Democratic convention as the party looks to counter the national GOP tide.
    “Campaigning and democracy is not about buying hundreds of millions of dollars of 30-second TV ads,” Brown told the delegates, vastly exaggerating her spending. “When we live in a democracy, we’re not consumers of advertising. We’re agents of democratic choice. We’re actors in a historical drama.”… – LAT, 4-18-10
  • GOP Hits Stride in Campaign Funding: Republicans are turning their political momentum into money in the bank. GOP candidates are starting to catch up to their Democratic opponents in fund-raising efforts and have pulled ahead in some key races, finance reports for the first three months of the election year show. The reports, filed with the Federal Election Commission before a Thursday deadline, offer evidence the GOP is heading into election season with the tools to make big gains in Congress. Republican voters are far more enthusiastic about going to the polls this fall than are Democrats, and the GOP recently took a rare lead in Gallup’s so called generic ballot, which asks voters which party should win in their district. In the nine most competitive Senate races, the reports show Republican candidates, as a group, ahead of Democrats during the January-to-March period, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. That marks a reversal from 2009, when Democrats held the financial advantage in those races…. – WSJ, 4-17-10
  • DNC to put up $50M for midterms: The Democratic National Committee plans to put up $50 million for House, Senate and gubernatorial races in November, a top party official says. The official told Politico in a story published Friday aides are deciding how to target the contribution and what the split will be between cash and services. The money is to start flowing in June. The DNC plans both record amounts of cash and field staff “with a special emphasis on base turnout — youth, African-Americans, Latinos and first-time voters,” the official said. President Barack Obama, who got heavy support from those groups in 2008, will help energize his base, he added…. – UPI, 4-16-10
  • Romney’s fund-raising outpaces potential rivals: Mitt Romney, Harvard Business School grad and ace venture capitalist, has put a greenback spin on Sarah Palin’s signature call of “Don’t retreat, reload.” Romney, a former GOP presidential candidate who is said to be considering another run in 2012, has loaded the coffers of his political action committee with $1,447,228.70 in the first quarter of the year, according to a news release from his Free and Strong America PAC. That fund-raising far outpaces the efforts of two potential opponents in 2012: Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, at $566,000, and Palin, at about $400,000. Since leaving her post as governor of Alaska eight months ago, Palin has made millions of dollars in speeches and television deals, but most of that money was not funneled to her PAC, SarahPac. Palin spoke at a tea party rally on Boston Common yesterday…. – 4-15-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President delivers the Weekly Address

  • Weekly Address: Good News from the Auto Industry: As the auto industry and financial markets begin to stabilize, the President says the government’s emergency interventions are now winding down. He pledges that real reform, particularly on Wall Street, must now begin. WH, 4-24-10
  • Text Obama’s Speech on Overhauling Financial Regulation: Following is a transcript of President Obama’s speech in New York City on Thursday promoting the need to overhaul financial regulation in the United States, as released by the White House…
    …In the end, our system only works — our markets are only free — when there are basic safeguards that prevent abuse, that check excesses, that ensure that it is more profitable to play by the rules than to game the system. And that is what the reforms we’ve been proposing are designed to achieve — no more, no less. And because that is how we will ensure that our economy works for consumers, that it works for investors, and that it works for financial institutions — in other words, that it works for all of us — that’s why we’re working so hard to get this stuff passed.
    This is the central lesson not only of this crisis but of our history. It’s what I said when I spoke here two years ago. Because ultimately, there is no dividing line between Main Street and Wall Street. We will rise or we will fall together as one nation. (Applause.) And that is why I urge all of you to join me. I urge all of you to join me, to join those who are seeking to pass these commonsense reforms. And for those of you in the financial industry, I urge you to join me not only because it is in the interest of your industry, but also because it’s in the interest of your country. NYT, 4-22-10
  • Transcript: “This Week” with Former President Bill Clinton: TAPPER: You’ve made some news over this weekend. You gave a speech on Friday talking about — on the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing which is coming up. How public officials have a responsibility to be careful with their words. This prompted a response from — from Rush Limbaugh
    Rush Limbaugh: “With this comment you have just set the stage for violence in this country. Any future acts of violence are on your shoulders, Mr. Clinton.”
    TAPPER: Do you have any response?
    CLINTON: Doesn’t make any sense. The only point I tried to make is that when I went back and started preparing for the 15th anniversary of Oklahoma City, I realized that there were a lot of parallels between the early ’90s and now, both in the feeling of economic dislocation, and the level of uncertainty people felt. The rise of kind of identity politics. The rise of the militia movements and the right wing talk radio with a lot of what’s going on in the blogosphere now.
    And in the right wing media, and with Oath Keepers, the 3 percenters, the — all these people, you know, who are saying things like, “If Idaho wants to succeed from the union,” the militia group out there says, you know, “We’ll back them.” One leader of one of these groups said that all politics was just a prelude to civil war. And then the politicians of course have not been that serious, but a lot of the things that have been said, they — they create a climate in which people who are vulnerable to violence because they are disoriented like Timothy McVeigh was are more likely to act.
    And the only point I tried to make was that we ought to have a lot of political dissent — a lot of political argument. Nobody is right all the time. But we also have to take responsibility for the possible consequences of what we say. And we shouldn’t demonize the government or its public employees or its elected officials. We can disagree with them. We can harshly criticize them. But when we turn them into an object of demonization, you know, you — you increase the number of threats.
    But I worry about these threats against the president and the Congress. And I worry about more careless language even against — some of which we’ve seen against the Republican governor in New Jersey, Governor Christie.
    I just think we all have to be careful. We ought to remember after Oklahoma City. We learned something about the difference in disagreement and demonization…. – ABC News, 4-18-10
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Says We Must Move Forward on Wall Street Reform: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery The White House April 17, 2010
    …So my hope is that we can put this kind of politics aside. My hope is that Democrats and Republicans can find common ground and move forward together. But this is certain: one way or another, we will move forward. This issue is too important. The costs of inaction are too great. We will hold Wall Street accountable. We will protect and empower consumers in our financial system. That’s what reform is all about. That’s what we’re fighting for. And that’s exactly what we’re going to achieve. – WH, 4-17-10
  • Transcript: Scott Brown remarks at Republican State Convention: …People are yearning for candidates who believe in our free enterprise system, who want a government that is accountable and transparent, who will make job creation their main focus and who understand that a competitive America is one where taxes are low and government does not overspend and does not try to dominate or interfere in our everyday lives.
    That’s the message the voters of Massachusetts sent when the elected me to the U.S. Senate.
    For months now, the American people have been telling this White House and this Congress exactly what they want…. but Washington still hasn’t been listening!
    While many families in Massachusetts and across are America hurting and struggling to make ends meet, cutting costs and tightening their belts, Washington is doing the exact opposite – they are continuing their reckless spending spree, raising taxes driving up our national debt to an astronomical level to almost 13 trillion. And what is their answer? Their answer is to print more money.
    Well, will you tell me how your kids, grandkids and great grandkids are going to repay that debt?
    And on Beacon Hill, the political machine that runs this state is making the same mistakes. Higher and higher taxes, rising unemployment, chronic budget deficits, corruption, cronyism and patronage . . . this is the sad legacy of the one-party political monopoly in Massachusetts.
    There’s one way to put a quick end to it, and that’s to elect Charlie Baker as our next Governor and give him some foot soldiers to help him sustain a veto. We need more state representatives and senators to help. We need balance and THAT is REAL change… – Boston Herald, 4-17-10
  • Sarah Palin: Where Is Obama’s ‘Faith In American Exceptionalism?’: “The truth is this: by his actions we see a president who seems to be much more comfortable with an American military that isn’t quite so dominant and who feels the need to apologize for America when he travels overseas,” Palin wrote. “Could it be a lack of faith in American exceptionalism? The fact is that America and our allies are safer when we are a dominant military superpower – whether President Obama likes it or not.” – Huff Post, 4-15-10
  • Obama: America a Superpower ‘Whether We Like It or Not’: In a little-noticed remark at the close of the two-day nuclear security summit in Washington, D.C., this week, President Obama suggested the United States was somehow burdened by its military might.
    “Given the progress you have cited in recent days on your foreign policy agenda, to what extent do you feel like you have gained political capital with which to take further to the international stage for the rest of this year, to perhaps rejuvenate some initiatives in trouble spots such as the Middle East and elsewhere?”
    “What we can make sure of is, is that we are constantly present, constantly engaged, and setting out very clearly to both sides our belief that not only is it in the interests of each party to resolve these conflicts but it’s also in the interest of the United States. It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them. And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.”… – Fox News, 4-15-10
  • O’Connor expects tough road for high court nominee: Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said Monday a fight is inevitable over whoever becomes President Barack Obama’s choice to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. O’Connor chatted with an audience of about 300 law students, faculty and community at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. She is spending two days on the campus sharing her experiences with students.
    She spoke with fondness of Stevens as “a remarkable man.” “He’s still so active physically and mentally,” O’Connor said. “I hope we don’t end up at odds in the selection of a new justice. I don’t know how that can be avoided.”… – AP, 4-12-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian Zelizer “Inaction on immigration reform a travesty”: Republicans and Democrats in Congress seem to have found one issue on which they agree. Neither party wants to get near immigration reform, the new “third rail” in American politics — an issue so politically charged that politicians risk their careers by touching it.
    Although President Obama has repeatedly stated his support for immigration reform, there is still little evidence that the Democratic Party or the GOP is prepared to join colleagues like Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, to fight for legislation.
    If Congress is unable to pass immigration reform, it will create more opportunities for states to move forward with the kind of harsh restrictionist measures passed by the Arizona Senate on Monday. The failure of Congress to pass immigration reform has been a national travesty…
    President Obama has stated his support for liberalized immigration reform, but thus far his party has not taken action. We will have to see whether Obama is willing to demonstrate the same kind of political courage he did with health care, when he took on another issue that everyone thought to be a third rail in politics. – CNN, 4-21-10
  • Douglas Brinkley “Race issues still haunt Obama”: With an African-American in the Oval Office, is this a good time to honour the 19th century soldiers who fought for slavery? “It’s idiocy,” says historian Douglas Brinkley. “I don’t think you can understand the Confederacy or the Civil War unless you understand slavery. And so I think that was an unacceptable omission. I think the governor’s now acknowledged that.” Historian Brinkley says in fact, Republicans are hoping that a few kind words about the Confederacy will help them rally white voters in South who supported Mr Obama but can be roused by an appeal to regional pride. “Barack Obama won North Carolina and Virginia. The Republicans have no formula to regaining power in 2012 without those two states.” The Republicans, according to Brinkley, “are trying to make a play for those two states.” But the former head of the Republican Party, Governor Haley Barbour of the southern state of Mississippi, says the controversy “is trying to make a big deal out of something that doesn’t matter for diddly” (a colorful way of saying it doesn’t matter at all)…. – Next, 4-19-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer “Why controlling nukes is good politics”: In the week leading up to the meeting of world leaders in Washington, President Obama has been demonstrating a strong commitment to nuclear arms control.
    Last week, he signed the first major agreement with the Russians since 2002, which reduces the number of nuclear warheads and long-range missiles.
    Obama released the Nuclear Posture Review, saying the United States would not use nuclear weapons against countries that complied with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, even if they attacked with conventional weapons. At the same time, the president said the countries that refused to abide by the treaty could be subject to nuclear reprisal….
    The president must remind fellow Democrats, as well as Republicans, that historically the public has tended to strongly support nuclear weapons treaties, and the presidents who pursue them.
    When national security is on the table, Democrats tend to get nervous politically, particularly if they support a position that can be characterized as too dovish. But when it comes to nuclear weapons, President Obama is on a path that is politically sustainable.
    During the Cold War, presidents from both parties learned that the American public tends to prefer politicians who are willing to take risks to reduce nuclear stockpiles rather than those who beat the drums of war. CNN, 4-13-10
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