Sunday Night Open Thread: The Calm Before the Storm?

calm before storm

I’ve been having this feeling all weekend that the entire country is holding its breath as we mark time until Washington DC blows sky high. Is anyone else feeling that way or is it just me? I’ve been somewhat out of the loop the past couple of days. I have some kind of sinus thingy and I ended up spending a lot of time updating my computer drivers and other software. But I’ve been surfing around this evening, and everything is looking very weird and wacky in the nation’s capital.

In the first place, why are Republicans all over the place threatening a government shutdown? And why aren’t Democrats countering the Republican lies? Failing to raise the debt limit won’t trigger a government shutdown. If the U.S. defaults on its debts it will trigger a national economic disaster–and perhaps a global meltdown. A shutdown would happen if Congress refused to appropriate funds to keep the government running. Defaulting on the debt would mean another lowering of our credit rating and higher interest on the debt in the future.

I can’t figure out if the Democrats are just giving the Republicans rope to hang themselves or if there is something else going on.

This morning on Dancin’ Dave’s Disco Dance Party, Mitch “Pruneface” McConnell wouldn’t respond to questions about the threatened “government shutdown.”

Pressed repeatedly on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” McConnell instead placed responsibility on President Obama for leading the country and avoiding a shutdown.

“I know what your question is,” McConnell said. “What I’m telling you is I haven’t given up on the president stepping up to the plate and tackling the single biggest issue confronting the country.”

Neither Dancin’ Dave nor McConnell addressed the most important issue–raising the debt ceiling. McConnell’s focus is squarely on cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, but he wants the President to spell out the cuts. As Josh Marshall writes:

In other words, big cuts to key social insurance programs are not only the price of avoiding what would likely be a catastrophic government shutdown (a real one, not like what we had back in the 90s). But Democrats must also shield Republicans from the political consequences of cutting these programs by cutting them on the Republicans behalf.

McConnell apparently also claimed that “He Doesn’t Want Debt Ceiling Negotiations to Turn Into a Hostage Situation.”

In one of three Sunday talk show appearances, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he wasn’t sure whether he’s prepared to “shoot the hostage” by letting the country default on its loans in the next round of the fiscal fight. While some Republicans are threatening to block a debt ceiling increase unless Democrats agree to major spending cuts, McConnell sidestepped the issue on ABC’s This Week. “It’s not even necessary to get to that point,” he said. “Why aren’t we trying to solve the problem? Why aren’t we trying to do something about reducing spending? … Waiting until the last minute is no way to run the government.” He added that he would not accept any new tax revenues in the next deal. “The tax issue is finished. Over. Completed. That’s behind us.”

Hmmmmm….

According to The Hill, some “appropriators” in Congress have been “working quietly to avoid government shutdown.”

House and Senate appropriators have been quietly working behind the scenes for months to craft 12 compromise annual spending bills to avoid a shutdown that is slated to occur when the current six-month stopgap spending bill expires.

That sounds ominous. Are these unnamed Congresscritters working out the details of “entitlement” cuts so they can whip them out at the last minute when everyone is desperate for an agreement?

“We’ve got most of it worked out,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), the chairman on Interior and Environment appropriations subcommittee.

A Senate Democratic aide concurred that work is far along and will pick up again when the Senate returns Jan 22. Appropriators had been striving to attach an omnibus to the year-end “fiscal cliff” deal and new Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) is ready to continue the effort.
The negotiations mean that disputes over individual programs and policy riders — such as those on abortion and defunding Obama’s health reform — that have exacerbated government shutdown crises like that in April 2011 are being minimized.

Nancy Pelosi did talk about the debt ceiling, and she recommended that Obama just take the bull by the horns and raise it himself.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged the president on Sunday to drop his resistance to the idea and simply bypass the upcoming debate over raising the debt ceiling by deeming the entire cap unconstitutional.

Appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Pelosi offered her strongest endorsement to-date of the 14th Amendment option, which holds that Congress doesn’t have the power to use the debt ceiling as a hostage-taking device because the validity of the debt “shall not be questioned.”

Nancy Pelosi: Well, you ask the Republicans, because we always passed the debt ceiling. When President Bush was president, as he was incurring these massive debts, and the Republicans weren’t saying ‘boo’ at the time. There should be, this is a conversation where there should be no doubt. In fact, if I were president, I’d use the 14th Amendment, which says that the debt of the United States will always be paid.
Bob Schieffer: You would just go ahead and do it, you wouldn’t wait for the Congress?

Nancy Pelosi: I would just go do it. But the Congress has incurred much of this debt. And so what are you saying, we incurred it but we’re not going to pay it? If you want to say, ‘We are not going to do it so much in the future,’ well that’s another thing. But you can’t say, ‘I’m not paying my past debts.’

Go Nancy, Go!!

boehner

Now check this out from the Wall Street Journal: The Education of John Boehner.

What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: “At one point several weeks ago,” Mr. Boehner says, “the president said to me, ‘We don’t have a spending problem.'” [….]

The president’s insistence that Washington doesn’t have a spending problem, Mr. Boehner says, is predicated on the belief that massive federal deficits stem from what Mr. Obama called “a health-care problem.” Mr. Boehner says that after he recovered from his astonishment—”They blame all of the fiscal woes on our health-care system”—he replied: “Clearly we have a health-care problem, which is about to get worse with ObamaCare. But, Mr. President, we have a very serious spending problem.” He repeated this message so often, he says, that toward the end of the negotiations, the president became irritated and said: “I’m getting tired of hearing you say that.”

Boehner, like McConnell announced there will be no more tax increases, period–only tax reform, and by that he means lower tax rates.

The speaker is adamant on two points: First, Republicans won’t be agreeing to any more tax increases during the next two years. “The tax issue is resolved,” he says, and it will be discussed only in the context of a broader debate about tax reform—specifically, lower rates. He dismisses the president’s declaration that any future budget cuts will have to be “balanced” with more tax hikes.

Second, Mr. Boehner says he won’t engage in any more closed-door budget negotiations with the White House, which are “futile.” He adds: “Sure, I will meet with the president if he wants to,” but House Republicans will from now on proceed with establishing a budget for the year following what is known as “regular order,” and they will insist that Harry Reid and Senate Democrats pass a budget—something they haven’t done in nearly four years—before proceeding.

The real showdown will be on the debt ceiling and the spending sequester in March….The debt bill is “one point of leverage,” Mr. Boehner says, but he also hedges, noting that it is “not the ultimate leverage.” He says that Republicans won’t back down from the so-called Boehner rule: that every dollar of raising the debt ceiling will require one dollar of spending cuts over the next 10 years. Rather than forcing a deal, the insistence may result in a series of monthly debt-ceiling increases.

The Republicans’ stronger card, Mr. Boehner believes, will be the automatic spending sequester trigger that trims all discretionary programs—defense and domestic.

It’s a long interview and it provides some insight into Boehner’s thinking, such as it is.

Roll Call has a piece called: Boehner Coup Attempt Larger Than First Thought

A concerted effort to unseat Speaker John A. Boehner was under way the day of his re-election to the position, but participants called it off 30 minutes before the House floor vote, CQ Roll Call has learned.
A group of disaffected conservatives had agreed to vote against the Ohio lawmaker if they could get at least 25 members to join the effort. But one member, whose identity could not be verified, rescinded his or her participation the morning of the vote, leaving the group one person short of its self-imposed 25-member threshold. Only 17 votes against Boehner were required to force a second ballot, but the group wanted to have insurance.

Even with 24 members, the group would easily have been able to force a second ballot round, but the effort was aborted in frenetic discussions on the House floor.

“Aborted?” I thought Republicans were against that.

And did you hear that Thomas Gibson was arrested for DUI today?

The 50-year-old actor, known for his roles on “Criminal Minds” and “Dharma & Greg,” was driving in downtown L.A. at around 1:00 a.m. on Jan. 6 when he attempted to continue through a part of town that had been sectioned off for a half marathon.

Sources tell The Huffington Post that the race was not over when Gibson drove his Audi SUV right onto the course, interrupting several runners. The race started at 9 p.m., but the road was still blocked off and authorities were making sure no vehicles were let through.

According to TMZ, Gibson was stopped by police and told to go a different way, but he proceeded anyway.

I hope that won’t cause any problems for my favorite TV show, Criminal Minds.

So what are you all hearing? Are we headed for the storm of the century?

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37 Comments on “Sunday Night Open Thread: The Calm Before the Storm?”

  1. bostonboomer says:

  2. bostonboomer says:

    I forgot to mention that they’re having a big fight over at the Daily Cheeto with multiple GBCW diaries, bannings, and other childish nonsense. It reminds me of the huge battle that was waged in late 2007 and early 2008 in which Hillary supporters were banished to the wilds of the internet.

    There are at least two factions: one group that cannot tolerate any more criticism of Obama and another group that thinks everyone should be able to express an independent opinion. The second group has taken to calling the first group “Obots.”

    ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s something John Boehner and Mitch McConnell should read. Too bad they never will.

    Simpson and Bowles, “spending problem” voodoo economics ignores the lack of “crowding out”

    Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles – co-founders of the corporate lobby Campaign to Fix the Debt – were on Meet the Press this morning. I couldn’t drag myself to watch it because I am sick and tired of hearing every oligarch’s favorite lackeys argue that the national debt is a reason to gut the welfare state. Which is exactly what they were doing this morning:

    “Yes, the president has taken some steps forward on the entitlement programs, but has he done enough? Absolutely not,” Bowles said.

    But they and their disciples couldn’t be more wrong. The U.S. government has no “spending problem” from a macroeconomist’s point of view. Of course, the country can’t indefinitely continue to borrow more than it earns, but the idea that we must somehow tackle debt by cutting spending — and do it right now — is voodoo economics of the highest order.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Honestly, I’m so wound up tonight, I don’t care if I’m just talking to myself here.

      • I’m with you BB, and I think my anxiety is caused by the same thing you are feeling. It is comforting to know I’m not alone in thinking the shit is going to hit the fan. Watch out for the flying turds of austerity as they aim themselves at our social security, medicare/medicaid and the like.

    • RalphB says:

      Simpson and Bowles, and their media enablers, are all just shills for the 0.01%. They should crawl under a rock and stay there.

      It was good to read that Obama knows we have no “spending problem” at this time. If anything we have a lack of spending problem, except for health care.

    • dakinikat says:

      YES … YESSSSS… YESSSSS… sheesh!! YESSSS!!!

  4. RalphB says:

    I believe we could use a little harmony…

  5. RalphB says:

    An old favorite.

  6. RalphB says:

    The Civil Wars

  7. RalphB says:

    Oh yeah, lets kill the Republican party off faster. Maybe buzzfeed should have stuck with cat pictures.

    buzzfeed: Top Conservative Radio Figure Calls For “Nationalist” Third Party

    The conservative radio host Michael Savage Sunday called for a third, “nationalist” American political party to challenge the Republican Party on the right of the political spectrum.

    “We need a nationalist party in the United States of America,” said Savage on Aaron Klein’s WABC radio show.

    “You have the rudiments of a new party in this country called a Tea Party. They need to restructure their party. They need a charismatic leader, which they don’t have,” he said. “When you say Tea Party no one knows who the leader is because there is no leader. No man has stepped forward who can lead that party.”

  8. NW Luna says:

    Pelosi has done more than a few spineless cave-ins, but she’s showing spine on this:

    In fact, if I were president, I’d use the 14th Amendment, which says that the debt of the United States will always be paid.

    And where else have we heard that advice? 7/2011:

    Bill Clinton: I Would Use 14th Amendment To Raise The Debt Ceiling

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/07/bill-clinton-i-would-use-14th-amendment-to-raise-the-debt-ceiling/

  9. RalphB says:

    Maybe I was wrong about the cat pictures? This is a pretty good story.

    buzzfeed: Obama Upends Iran Debate By Picking Chuck Hagel

    President Barack Obama’s decision to nominate former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense Monday will shatter a fake consensus on American policy toward Iran and challenge what have increasingly become limits of Washington conversation about Israel.
    […]
    “The Hagel confirmation battle will show whether the AIPAC crowd has cried wolf too many times and the system is now becoming numb,” said Steve Clemons, a central figure in what he calls “progressive realist” foreign policy and Washington editor at large for The Atlantic. The fight “will also out the fact that the real issue here is not US-Israel relations but rather how fearful defense contractors which suck up a huge amount of defense spending are pulling a lot of these levers,” he said.

  10. NW Luna says:

    For all of us feeling worn out by callousness and greed:

    When the wild-eyed dogs of day to day
    Come snapping at your heels
    And there’s so much coming at you
    That you don’t know how to feel
    When they’ve taken all your money
    And then come back for your clothes
    When your hands are full of thorns
    But you can’t quit groping for the rose …

  11. RalphB says:

    Raw Story: Can science explain the ‘empathy deficit’?

    According to Barack Obama, the “empathy deficit” is a more pressing political problem for America than the federal deficit and holds the key to the success of his second term as he seeks to build bridges with Republicans and tackle the wave of horrific shootings that last year disfigured American communities from Colorado to Connecticut.

    Obama is certainly correct about that!

  12. Fannie says:

    Liked the calm before the storm…………..BB here is what Bernie Sanders said “Revenue discussion is not over, one and 4 protfitable corporations in American are paying zero in federal taxes. So the question is whether or not we cut progams that working family and middle income people desperately depend upon, or whether we ask the wealthiest people and largest corporations, all of whom are doing very well, to start paying thier fair share of taxes”………….Amen Bernie.