Economy Uncategorized

Your Hair Is Not On Fire

According to numerous reports, President Obama, the Democrats, and Republican leadership have reached a tentative framework for what the final debt-ceiling deal will look like.

There's so much spin flying around right now on both ends of the spectrum, I suggest wearing a helmet at all times. And for those looking for the basics and not the spin, I would direct your attention here:

The agreement looks like this: if the super-committee tasked with entitlement and tax reform fails to come up with $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction that passes Congress, the “neutron bomb” goes off, -- as one Democrat put it -- spending cuts that will hit the Pentagon budget most deeply, as well as Medicare providers (not beneficiaries) and other programs.

If the super-committee comes up with some deficit reduction but not $1.5 trillion, the triggers would make up the difference.

So it’s a minimum $2.7 trillion deficit reduction deal.

And the debt ceiling will be raised by $2.4 trillion in two tranches: $900 billion immediately, and the debt ceiling will be raised by an additional $1.5 trillion next year – either through passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment, which is unlikely, or with Congress voting its disapproval..

So basically what we have here is Harry Reid's proposal combined with Mitch McConnell's "escape-hatch" proposal.

The Republicans can have their nonsensical vote on a nonsensical Balanced Budget Amendment, but we all know that will never actually be signed into law, so we're left with Congress simply voting on symbolic condemnation of the debt-ceiling in exchange for increasing it. Whoopty-do.

The bill would see roughly $1.2 trillion dollars in cuts over the next ten years signed into law up-front, and if the so called "super congress" committee doesn't agree to more cuts in the future, Medicare providers and the Pentagon will be cut to make up the difference.

President Obama says he will veto any extension of the Bush Tax Cuts if the same "super congress" committee doesn't reform the tax code to increase revenue.

Medicaid and Social Security are not a part of this deal. At all.

The details are subject to change, and we don't know what all of them are yet, but this is the gist of it.

Contrary to the objections of John Boehner, and in a fashion simiar to the compromise over the fiscal 2011 budget, the up-front cuts that are signed into law will more than likely carry with them a great deal of gimmicky accounting which writes off savings as spending cuts. We should know within a week or two just how much of it is actually real, serious cuts.

This is not a perfect deal, but it was never going to be. From the moment the Teabaggers rose to power in 2010, we all knew the pain was coming. The only question remaining was how much pain.

The Right is already screaming "cave-in."

The Left is already screaming "cave-in."

And the middle will surely say "I'm glad we're not defaulting."

We're going to be faced with another potential government-shutdown scenario in two months, so dust yourselves off and be ready to confront another round of treasonous hostage-taking by the Far-Right.

Adding... In case it wasn't abundantly clear -- yes this is the wrong time to be cutting spending, but as long as the Republicans have The Bomb and are willing to use it, there isn't much choice.

  • MarshallLucky

    Another win for the Republicans. Another shift of the status quo to the right, making the next instance of political blackmail that much easier. The social safety net, one step closer to the chopping block. Incremental change of exactly the wrong kind, and there isn’t a person in Washington willing or able to stop it.

    Also, the last thing we need to start doing is fetishizing centrism. We’ve had what, ten years at least of do-nothing centrism in the Democratic Party? That’s really worked out well.

    • JMAshby

      The House of Nancy Pelosi passed over 500 bills while in the majority.

      Despite that, Americans saw fit to deliver the Tea Party into office in 2010.

      You cannot put all of the blame at the foot of politicians. Citizens have a responsibility too.

      • MarshallLucky

        A fact that I’ve never disputed. The American public is perfectly happy being asleep at the wheel, only lashing out spastically on occasion when some demagogue pushes its buttons with a little phony populism. Its the asinine public that’s given us our pathetic Congress of right-wing lunatics and self-serving corporate centrists.

        • incredulous72

          Gracious. This is the first time I’ve actually agreed with you.

          It is the public therefore, whose minds progressives need to change.

  • mrbrink

    Ashby, do you really think Mitch McConnell thought up that “escape-hatch” by himself?

    I have my doubts. They’re really not that smart. Cunning liars? Yes.

    The party that put forth, “Repealing The Job-Killing Healthcare Law Act” doesn’t strike me as a group who could devise such a technical piece of “pass the buck.”

    I don’t know, though. It just seems like Harry Reid was doing McConnell’s homework for him and he just signed his name to it.

    Reid’s a smart guy when it comes to procedure.

    McConnell? I have my doubts.

    You’re freakishly plugged in.

    Am I totally off in suspecting this?

    For the sake of posterity, did that idea sound more like Reid, or McConnell?

    • JMAshby

      I think the idea was hatched by The Chamber, or some other lobbyist group, and given to McConnell. They didn’t want a default. It sends their interest rates up too. They would also be in a favor of more executive power, naturally.

  • D_C_Wilson

    There’s caving and there’s accepting what you can get. There was no way closing corporate loopholes was going to get through this House. Hell, Boner had to rework his plan twice to make it acceptable to the baggers. With the deadline looming, this was probably the best deal Obama and the dems could get at this time, much like the HCR bill without the public option was the best deal he could get through the Senate last time around.

    And if progressives are steamed that this deal doesn’t give them everything they want, then they should get out there and support progressive candidates in 2012 and not stay home in a snit like they did in 2010. If you want substantive change, get out there and work for it. Don’t expect any politician to play the white knight unless you hold their feet to the fire.

  • dildenusa

    We don’t need no stinkin helmets. We need tin foil hats for this.

  • Alan Fors

    Will the Super Commitee (Ta-Da!) even be constitutional? The house is supposed to be responsible for budget legislation, so this seems to undermine that intent.

    • dildenusa

      Article 1, Section 7, Clause 1.

      All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

      I don’t see ambiguity here or constitutional questions. The senate appears to be proposing an amendment. But, people see and hear what they want to see and hear.

      • Alan Fors

        Right. It originates in the House, and can be ammended by the Senate. Neither sounds like the Super Commitee (Ta-Da!) to me.

  • Anthony

    Ya know WHO we should ask about this financial crisis?

    Hank Paulson.

    Where the hell is that jerk off? Let’s drag his ever sorry ass and get answers WHY the hell this is happening.

    He wanted banks to get free money with no questions asked? Fuck that noise. That bold bitch owes us answers.

    Bring him out, smack answers out of him, and have him cry in a corner as an example to Big Bankers that this shit isn’t tolerable anymore.

    If we, the middle and lower class, have to sacrifice more so the rich have preserve their privileged and luxurious way of life, then I’d say lets have another AIG protest right in front of their mansions.

  • trgahan

    Wow, if anything, this should teach us progressives a lesson regarding staying home in a snit during 2010 midterms. You think President Obama is going to be able to do anything in a second term except fight off a BS impeachment attempt if we don’t help swing congress back to the Dems in 2012? You think the teabaggers will be any less destructive if we continue to focus too much on the President and let them add seats to the congress and fill up state governments in 2012?

    • Scopedog

      “Wow, if anything, this should teach us progressives a lesson regarding staying home in a snit during 2010 midterms. ”

      That, Trgahan, is what I hope to God WILL happen. I also hope that some of these folks actually go AFTER the teabaggers and stop cutting their damned noses off with the self-immolating behavior of going after Obama only.

  • Clancy

    If ever pressed up against the “neutron bomb” deadline, could not the (then) Congress (along with the signature of the President) simply vote to ignore it, rather than deal with the political fallout of cutting programs? I’m not sure that the current Congress can really tie the hands of those that come after. In reality, cannot another law simply undo this one (or parts of it) should it prove politically untenable to let the “neutron bomb” detonate?

  • Camel54

    Trying to get my head around all this, if the super congress fails to act on this or that then these triggers for cutting into the pentagon budget and soc sec kick in or something to that effect, right? So, maybe I’m confused but what makes us think for one second the Republicans will act responsibly and not simply disagree with everything the Democrats on the committee suggest guaranteeing failure and forcing the triggers to be pulled? For that matter, what would make us think for a second they would be true to the design of this thing and allow cuts to the pentagon to actually happen.

    I think my favorite part about all of this is how the Republicans have managed to create a committee of six R and six D putting them on equal footing even though they are in the minority. And they know full well that they can pluck off a D or two in budget battles b/c D’s don’t march in lock step so they’ve fashioned a majority for themselves in the midst of being voted into the minority by the public. But the truest bit of genius of all of it is that the D’s just let them do it.

    At the rate their going, elections will stop mattering before the President finishes his second term or President Bachman finishes her first. No matter who’s in the WH or who the majority in either body of Congress is, the R’s will run the show. Oh wait, already happening. Never mind.

  • Stephen Adler

    I read you link to the abc news post. The big sticking point I think will be the fact that there is implicit tax reform in the deal. Either the super committee comes up with tax reform or the bush tax cuts are not renewed. I think extreme right wingers will explode on that one.

    • JMAshby

      Boehner can pass it without the Teabaggers, unless he really is that big of a chickenshit.

      • D_C_Wilson

        He is.

        I’ve been saying for months now that it’s only a matter of time that the “crazy caucus” as Bob calls them stages a coup to oust him as Speaker before the 2012 election. As it it stands now, the teabaggers will no doubt vote against any compromise plan and he’ll have to pass it with help from the democrats.

        We should be on track for that coup by October.

        • dildenusa

          The tea baggers will face an uphill battle to oust Boehner. Despite all the crap between the president and Boehner and Reid and Boehner, the president and Reid will back Boehner in any attempt by the tea baggers to shove him out the door.

          • D_C_Wilson

            But Obama backing him will just make the teabaggers more resolved to oust Boner. I doubt either him or Reid could do much if more than half the GOP caucus withdraws their support from Boner. Neither has much positive influence over House republicans.

  • Stephen Adler

    Thanks for the post. I like your writing style.

  • cousinavi

    Surely they gist. Although perhaps jest is appropriate.

    Tax code reform? Give congress back to the Dems and let’s have a sane and sober return to 1960 tax rates.
    Put everyone back to work on infrastructure and alternative energy projects.

    These shenanigans, this deal, this outcome, and these motherfucking Republican obstructionist blackmailing treasonous asshats make me want to pound some serious spikes through the business end of my Louisville Slugger.

    • JMAshby

      Ha! Thanks for catching that. I was writing really fast.

      • cousinavi

        I still fuck up its and it’s despite knowing better, not to mention their there.
        But if you edit then my comment makes no sense…which, I guess, makes it like so many of my other comments.
        Back to the bat in the vise. Turns out if you don’t drill a guide hole, the spike splits the wood.

        • JMAshby

          I am 31 miles from where Louisville sluggers are born. I can get you a new one.

        • Dan_in_DE

          Is this some kind of measure-twice- and-cut-once metaphor, or is he really making himself a spiked bat? What- what, what?

          It reminds me of an old friend of mine -unfortunately not around anymore – who kept a mini baseball bat with spikes under the seat of his CJ7. That little instrument was known as ‘Baby Ruckus’.


          • Dan_in_DE

            Ahhh.. those were the days. Young and indestructible :D

    • Chachizel

      Haha…Avi, I don’t know if I like your tax reform comment, or your Louisville Slugger line better. Yup, these Teabagging ass hats definitely do suck!! Their hostage taking tactics makeme want to move to Canada.

    • Scopedog

      “Give congress back to the Dems and let’s have a sane and sober return to 1960 tax rates.”

      I agree–but the best way to do that is to make damned sure we get out there and hit ‘em hard in 2012. No more “staying home to send a message” bulls**t.

      “…these motherfucking Republican obstructionist blackmailing treasonous asshats make me want to pound some serious spikes through the business end of my Louisville Slugger.”

      Yep. I really wouldn’t be surprised if some folks wanted to do an impression of Bob DeNiro as Al Capone on John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.