SDB Evening News Reads for 080211: Done Deal, Super Committee and Fake Twitters

Okay, I have an OPM (Other People’s Munchkin) at our house today, so this evening news reads will be on the short side. A few of the links at the end hopefully will add a lighter note to this crappy news day.  We’ll just get to it.

Y’all know the deal is done…Obama signs debt bill into law – David Rogers – POLITICO.com

The bipartisan 74-26 roll call followed a 269-161 vote in the House Monday evening and the bill was quickly signed by President Barack Obama, ending an unprecedented, hard-edged political struggle that pushed the nation to the brink of default.

For a quick rundown on who voted Yea or Nay:  Senate passes debt bill: How they voted – CNN Political Ticker – CNN.com Blogs

And if you are mad about this, perhaps this will make you even more angry.  I linked to it on the comments of the live blog post today, but I think it should get front page notice.  REPORT: Debt Ceiling Deal Will Cost 1.8 Million Jobs In 2012 | ThinkProgress

According to EPI, the plan “not only erodes funding for public investments and safety-net spending, but also misses an important opportunity to address the lack of jobs.” In particular, the immediate spending cuts and the “failure to continue two key supports to the economy (the payroll tax holiday and emergency unemployment benefits for the long term unemployed) could lead to roughly 1.8 million fewer jobs in 2012.”

Top economists and CEO’s have also weighed in against the deal and said that GOP concessions to the Tea Party will cost our economy dearly. Pimco CEO Mohamed El-Erian warned that the deal will lead to less growth, more unemployment, and more inequality. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman called the plan “a disaster” and “an abject surrender” that will “depress the economy even further.”

And what about that Super Congress or should I say Super Committee?  I saw a post over at The Weekly Standard talking about conservative republicans being part of the 12 members.  I won’t link to it obviously. But, there is this over at ThinkProgress.  Will Interest Groups Ride To The Rescue? | ThinkProgress

Now what I’m hearing (see Douthat and Scherer but most explicitly Chait) a new version of this “lobbyists to the rescue” story:

But imagine Democrats insist on higher revenue, and they decide, sensibly enough, that failure to cut a bipartisan deal is better than $1.8 trillion in cuts. (Which is probably is.) Then what? Well, then the entire defense lobby plus the entire medical and insurance lobbies turn fiercely against the very people with whom they had marched shoulder-to-shoulder under Bush. If the Democrats hold the line and insist on more revenue, the committee has the potential to split the GOP coalition wide open.

Or how about this scenario. First, Republicans refuse to agree to more revenue. Second, Democrats refuse to agree to a no-revenue deal. Third, lobbyists for the defense and health care industries get nervous. Fourth, lobbyists for the defense and health care industries remember that they are high-income people who don’t want to pay taxes. Fifth, executives at defense and health care industries remember that they are high-income people who don’t want to pay taxes. Sixth, executives at defense and health care industries start lobbying Democrats in swing districts, red states, or in which key weapons manufacturing or certain hospitals are major industries. Seventh, Democrats fold.

Labor unions, environmental groups, anti-poverty advocates, etc. all have some clout in the Democratic coalition. But rich businessmen also have clout in the Democratic coalition. And all that needs to happen for the Democrats to fold is for rich businessmen to persuade a relatively small group of congressional Democrats to start taking their side. Then a unified anti-tax GOP will roll the Democrats. What’s more, recall that it’s not as if non-business groups will be united in lockstep against surrender. Defense contractors and health care providers are firms with rich executives, but they’re also firms with working class employees who can be mobilized to beg Democrats to save them by surrendering on revenue and agreeing to modify the trigger to reduce defense and health care cuts and increase cuts to anti-poverty programs.

Well, I honestly cannot express how mad this entire thing makes me…and the helplessness I feel only makes it worse.  No one is representing me in Washington, and with the new super committee, a precedent is going to be set.  Whenever there is an important vote or issue up for debate, Congress will pull this shitty Super Congress of 12 out again, and the accountability will be held to just those dozen politicians.  No chance for anyone to stand up for the people who voted them into office.  They will only stand up for the big money donors who got them there.

Now for a bit of humor, because we sure as hell need it!

Newt is in the news again, and damn it is funny…in a pathetic way.  Most of Newt Gingrich’s Twitter Followers Are Fake

Yesterday Newt Gingrich laid out a new argument for why he should be the GOP presidential nominee: He’s got the most Twitter followers. But according to a former Gingrich staffer, he bought them.

Gingrich complained yesterday that the press is ignoring his prodigious Twitter audience: “I have six times as many Twitter followers as all the other candidates combined, but it didn’t count because if it counted I’d still be a candidate; since I can’t be a candidate that can’t count.” Which is true! Gingrich currently boasts 1,325,842 followers, whereas competitors Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann have yet to crack 100,000.

But if Newt is winning the Twitter primary, it’s because of voter fraud. A former staffer tells us that his campaign hired a firm to boost his follower count, in part by creating fake accounts en masse.

I know that Newt is pretty much out of the picture, but it is little bits of news like this that makes me laugh to myself…what an idiot.

On to The Word from Colbert…it is a good one!

With the proposed Super Congress, only 12 lawmakers will have to make unpopular recommendations, and the rest of Congress can avoid blame.

And for your last bit of laughable news bits, this latest from Joe Lieberman.   Joe Lieberman Says U.S. Should Cut Social Security To Pay For Fighting ‘The Islamist Extremists’ | ThinkProgress

This past April, right-wing war hawk John Bolton suggested during an interview on Fox News that the United States should cut Social Security and Medicare to finance the defense budget.

During debate over the debt deal today on the Senate floor, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) appeared to endorse this call. Lieberman explained that he is working with Coburn on a Social Security spending reduction plan and that “we can’t protect these entitlements and also have the national defense…to protect us…with Islamist extremists”:

LIEBERMAN: I want to indicate today to my colleagues that Senator Coburn and I are working again on a bipartisan proposal to secure Social Security over the long term, we hope to have that done in time. To also forward to the special committee for their consideration. So, bottom line, we can’t protect these entitlements and also have the national defense we need to protect us in a dangerous world while we’re at war with Islamist extremists who attacked us on 9/11 and will be for a long time to come.

Ah, to think of what this guy used to be…he was my Senator when I lived in Connecticut, and I voted for this man.  Now it is statements like this that make me snicker the same phrase I do with Newt…what an idiot.

I am sure you have seen lots of other news items, please share the links with us.


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!! I have a few interesting reads for you today, and they aren’t all about the idiotic debt ceiling debate. I’m going to lead off with a few excellent blog posts about that idiocy, and then I’ll move on to something else.

First up, Scarecrow compares the movie Cowboys and Aliens to the events in DC: In Cowboys and Aliens, Humans Win; In Washington’s Zombies Vs. Pods, They Lose. In the movie, Scarecrow writes:

humans of all types realize they have to join together to defeat the rapacious creatures who are looting the planet and turning humans into zombies and pod people. There’s hope for our species!

Back in Washington, D.C. there are no heroes and no upbeat ending. Instead, the looting, muggings and beatings will continue until morale improves.

In our “real” world, there is a radical extremist group driven by zombies and zombie beliefs who successfully blackmail the nation into strangling its own economy. The supposedly “sane” group that is supposed to stop this madness has become cowardly and turned into mindless pod people, who assure the nation that the gutting of American government and essential services and safety nets won’t occur in one step but in several, whose outcome is locked in by an undemocratic Super Congress and the next debt limit blackmail in 2013.

It’s a terrific post.

On a more serious note, Emptywheel asks, Is Mark Warner the Designated Social Security Killer? It’s all about what may happen if the so-called “Super Congress” comes to be. Read it and weep.

At the New Yorker, John Cassidy argues that the debt ceiling bill is all smoke and mirrors.

In removing the immediate threat of a debt default, the agreement…signals that the U.S. government still satisfies the minimum standard of financial functionality: it pays its bills on time. That should be enough to head off an immediate downgrade in the nation’s credit rating, and it explains why Wall Street bounced at Monday’s opening bell.

Beyond that it is hard to see anything very positive about a deal in which President Obama finally persuaded the Republicans to accept a Republican plan. Putting on my ethicist cap, I agree with Bernie Sanders that the deal is wrongheaded and immoral. To be sure, America has a long-term fiscal challenge that needs to be confronted. But at a time when fourteen million Americans are unemployed, and many millions more have been forced to work just part-time, the government should be focussing on job growth rather than cutting the budget….

As I’ve said before, headlines such as “Democrats and Republicans agree on $2.4 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years” are virtually meaningless. The United States, like every other country, budgets on an annual basis. What really matters for the economy, and for the unemployed, is how much cash the federal government will spend in the remaining months of the 2011 fiscal year and in fiscal 2012, which begins October 1st. A pledge to cut spending in 2016, say, is just that: a pledge. Between now and then, we will have another bipartisan spending review (that’s also part of the deal), a Presidential election, and who knows how many budget battles. The actual 2016 spending outcome will almost certainly bear little relation to the figures in this agreement.

Also at the New Yorker, Hendrick Hertzberg has a funny piece about Louie Gohmert, looney Texas Republican Congressman quoting Communist Leon Trotsky. I don’t want to ruin it for you by pulling out a quote. It’s not long, so go read the whole thing.

Susie Madrak has a great post at Crooks and Liars: This Year We’ve Broken Or Tied 2,676 Heat Records – So Far. Think We Could Talk About Climate Change Yet? Be sure to check it out.

Do you realize how many people go missing in the U.S.? A lot. And most of them seem to be women and children. Here is a slide show of 64 people from the FBI’s kidnapped and missing persons list.

The little girl whose photo comes first is 11-year-old Celina Cass, from West Stewartstown, NH. Her body was found today in a river near her family home. Sadly, when a child disappears, a family is often responsible. In this case, I have a feeling her stepfather had something to do with Celina’s death. I hope I’m wrong. At least she was found fairly quickly.

Many missing people aren’t found for years, if at all. Indiana University student Lauren Spierer disappeared from Bloomington, Indiana on June 3. Despite intense searches by hundreds of volunteers and a large reward offered by her parents and IU, she has not been found. It looks like people whom Lauren thought were “friends” may have had something to do with her disappearance, because just about everyone who was with her before she went missing has lawyered up and isn’t talking to police.

A Denver woman, Amy Ahonen, disappeared without a trace a few weeks ago. Her car was found parked unlocked along the highway with her purse, ids, cell phone, and keys inside. What happened to her? No one knows and the police have stopped looking. It so happens that a budding serial killer was on the loose in the area at the time of her disappearance, but the police don’t seem to be making that connection.

There are many more stories like this breaking every day in this country. Why do we accept that women and children will disappear daily and in most cases, they will be found murdered and often raped?

Speaking of missing people, a legendary missing person has resurfaced in the news. From the LA Times: D.B. Cooper hijacking mystery is revived with ‘promising lead’

D.B. Cooper, the infamous airplane hijacker who vaulted into urban mythology by parachuting out of a jetliner over the Pacific Northwest with a $200,000 ransom, is back on the FBI’s radar screen.

Cooper, whose case remains the only unsolved airline hijacking in U.S. history, became the stuff of legend on the night of Nov. 24, 1971, when he jumped from a Boeing 727 into the skies between Portland, Ore., and Seattle. He disappeared with the ransom he extorted — 10,000 $20 bills.

The case has remained open, but the trail has been cold despite hundreds of tips, thousands of theories and dozens of breakthroughs in scientific investigation. Now the FBI, which has previously said that Cooper is likely dead, is looking at fresh evidence, according to weekend reports in the media in Seattle, the epicenter of the story that seemingly can never die.

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

The man investigated as a suspect in the D.B. Cooper case – the nation’s only unsolved commercial airplane hijacking – has been dead for about 10 years, and a forensic check didn’t find fingerprints on an item that belonged him, an FBI spokesman told seattlepi.com Monday.

“There are also other leads we’re pursuing,” agent Fred Gutt said. “Some of the other names have been out in the public, some of the names have not come out.”

The name of a man not previously investigated was given to the FBI nearly a year ago by a law enforcement colleague, and an item that belongs to him was sent for fingerprint work at the agency’s Quantico, Va., forensic lab, agents told seattlepi.com.

“The nature of the material was not good for prints,” Gutt said.

He added agents are obtaining other items that may have the suspect’s fingerprints in hopes of matching them with prints taken from the Northwest Orient plane after Cooper jumped the night of Nov. 24, 1971.

The situation in Syria is escalating. There has been a great deal of violence there for some time, and it is not getting the same attention that Egypt, Iran, and Libya have gotten. But now the UN Security Council plans to take up the issue.

Reacting to new bloodshed in Syria, European powers relaunched a dormant draft U.N. resolution to condemn Damascus for its crackdown on protesters, circulating a revised text to the Security Council at a meeting on Monday.

Following the hour-long closed-door meeting, several diplomats said that after months of deadlock over Syria in the council, the fresh violence appeared to be pushing the divided members towards some form of reaction.

But envoys disagreed over whether the 15-nation body should adopt the Western-backed draft resolution or negotiate a less binding statement.

Germany requested the meeting after human rights groups said Syrian troops killed 80 people on Sunday when they stormed the city of Hama to crush protests amid a five-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

More than 1600 people have been killed during the Syrian uprising.

From the Daily Beast:

You have to wonder if President Barack Obama ever rereads his speeches.

At the State Department last May, the president spoke at length of democratization in the Middle East. He chose his words carefully, dropping caveats and provisos. But Obama also bluntly declared that, “it will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy.” He justified the intervention in Libya by recalling that “we saw the prospect of imminent massacre … Had we not acted along with our NATO allies and regional coalition partners, thousands would have been killed.”

Yet precisely such sordid outcomes have come to pass, not in Libya but during the four-month uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Around 1,600 people are believed to have been killed, not mentioning some 3,000 disappeared, many of them presumed dead. Massacres have proliferated, and on Sunday, the eve of the holy month of Ramadan, the Syrian army entered the city of Hama, which had effectively escaped from government writ weeks ago.

Throughout, the White House has painstakingly avoided demanding that Assad step down, saying only that he must lead a transition to democracy or get out of the way. The Syrian dictator has, of course, done neither.

I’ll end with just one more link on the debt deal that Dakinikat sent me.

Reuters analysis – Debt deal unlikely to boost investor confidence

Rather than a relief rally, U.S. stocks ended modestly lower on Monday as ugly economic data and some lingering concerns about whether the deal would get through Congress dominated trading. But even when the House of Representatives voted to pass the plan late in the day there was little reaction from U.S. stock index futures.

The deal agreed to by Republican and Democratic leaders will raise the government’s borrowing ceiling while cutting spending by at least $2.1 trillion over 10 years. All of the burden could fall on spending cuts with no guarantee of steps to lift tax revenues.

Rather than perceiving it as a meaningful effort at tackling the United States’ huge debt problem, investors worried about the impact of austerity on an economy already hit by souring business and consumer confidence.

Plans for such a significant fiscal retrenchment, even though most of the impact will be in the latter years of the program, come at a vulnerable time for the world economy. Recession risks are rising in the United States, the European economy remains entwined in its own debt crisis, and China’s supercharged economy could slow.

“Risk markets may rally temporarily, but until economic growth and job creation is addressed, there can be no sustained rally,” Bill Gross, the co-chief investment officer of PIMCO, which manages more than $1.2 trillion, said in an interview.

Will Washington ever wake up to reality? I’m afraid they (and we) will have to hit bottom first. They are like alcoholics, except they are drunk on greed and power. So on that note, what are you reading and blogging about today?


Deficit Debacle: Live Blog on the Murder of Middle Class America

Everything is on the table.  Except taxes.  WTF?

I’m watching Bernie Sanders trying defend our precious safety nets right now.  The debate over this horrible capitulation to right wing extremists is carried on CSPAN .  Sanders is reminding the president that all the polls call for shared sacrifice.  He’s saying the proposal is bad and unfair.  He’s just announced on the floor he will not vote for the package.  What were getting is sacrificed on the alter of greed. At least some one recognizes this.

They’re taking a senate quorum call right now.

Here’s some headlines for you to  think about.

From former Biden economic adviser Jared Bernstein: Lousy Negotiation skills are not the problem.

What did we just go through and what does it mean for our national politics, our fiscal and economic policy?

–First, a small but influential group of extreme conservatives are so intent on shrinking the federal government that they would credibly threaten national default;

–Second, Democrats, including the president, do not have a strategy to counteract such extremism, so they accepted a plan far less balanced than they would have liked—the final deal could well turn out to be $3 trillion in spending cuts over ten years, with no revenue increases to offset the cuts.

–Third, and perhaps most importantly, like every debate about the size of government, it’s impossible for normal people, if not the “experts,” to figure out what anyone is really talking about and therefore to judge the deal.

What does it mean to cut $3 trillion in government spending?  How will it affect retirement security?  Education? Jobs in the short run and investment over the long run?  Does it put us on a sustainable fiscal path.

We’re about to agree to cut $1 trillion from something called discretionary spending.  That probably sounds great to some folks and bad to others.  But what does it mean?

The President bragged on this very point last night, telling America that discretionary spending as a share of the economy will come down to its lowest level since Eisenhower.  As if we’ve all been walking around thinking, “if only we could get this budget category down to Ike levels, everything would fall into place.”

In fact, these cuts will hurt our ability to pursue what I view as most positive aspects of the President’s economic agenda—investment in infrastructure, clean energy, research, education.  They will pinch programs that are already budget constrained…programs that help low income people with child care, housing, and community services.  (One piece to watch for here—defense spending is also in this category, and is supposed to account for about one-third of the cuts…that helps, of course, take pressure of these other parts.)

Then, in part two of the deal, we unleash the gang-of-twelve who are assigned to come up with $1.5 trillion more in deficit savings.

They’ll be hitting the entitlements—Social Security, Mcare, Mcaid—and more defense, but if they deadlock—a non-trivial probability—automatic cuts ensue.

My thought is that the political game has become all important in this negotiation and no one is really thinking about the outcome.  The Teabots are insane so they can be discounted, but all of this fall-in by senators and representatives that know what’s going on has got to be the most painful thing I’ve ever watched.  Can’t some of them use their brains and consciences for a change instead of checking their labels and owner dog tags?

Paul Krugman: The President Surrenders

For the deal itself, given the available information, is a disaster, and not just for President Obama and his party. It will damage an already depressed economy; it will probably make America’s long-run deficit problem worse, not better; and most important, by demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, it will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status.

Start with the economics. We currently have a deeply depressed economy. We will almost certainly continue to have a depressed economy all through next year. And we will probably have a depressed economy through 2013 as well, if not beyond.

The worst thing you can do in these circumstances is slash government spending, since that will depress the economy even further. Pay no attention to those who invoke the confidence fairy, claiming that tough action on the budget will reassure businesses and consumers, leading them to spend more. It doesn’t work that way, a fact confirmed by many studies of the historical record.

Indeed, slashing spending while the economy is depressed won’t even help the budget situation much, and might well make it worse. On one side, interest rates on federal borrowing are currently very low, so spending cuts now will do little to reduce future interest costs. On the other side, making the economy weaker now will also hurt its long-run prospects, which will in turn reduce future revenue. So those demanding spending cuts now are like medieval doctors who treated the sick by bleeding them, and thereby made them even sicker.

And then there are the reported terms of the deal, which amount to an abject surrender on the part of the president. First, there will be big spending cuts, with no increase in revenue. Then a panel will make recommendations for further deficit reduction — and if these recommendations aren’t accepted, there will be more spending cuts.

They are killing any hope we have of a decent recovery.  We don’t have one now.  The US Manufacturing Index just fell to a two year low.  This is one of the first leading indicators to show a looming recession. One of the most telling signs this morning about this is that the stock market is going down and now there is a flight to safety.  Oddly enough, the flight to safety is to US Treasury bonds.

“We’ve turned from budget crisis to economic crisis,” said Paul Horrmann, a broker in New York at Tradition Asiel Securities Inc., an interdealer broker. “We’ve gone from worrying about a budget and default to the economy long term. Higher prices are bringing in buyers, not sellers.”

Still, what about the JOB crisis?

Kevin Drum at MOJO: Why the Debit Ceiling Deal Sucks

It’s a shit sandwich no matter how you look at it. And it’s a shit sandwich in at least two very specific ways: (1) It means we’ll continue to live in a fantasyland that says we don’t need any tax increases even though our population is aging and we’re plainly going to need higher revenues to support this demographic reality; and (2) we’ll continue to live in a fantasyland that says our problems are primarily caused by discretionary spending. This is, of course, exactly the opposite of reality, which means we’re going to screw the poor and do nothing serious about the long-term deficit. Nice work, adults.

Easy-to-Hate Debt-Ceiling Compromise Called “Sugar-Coated Satan Sandwich” By Some

Cuts to Social Security and Medicare are also possible within the plan. Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, called the deal a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich,” which itself deserves $1.2 trillion.

We’re seriously f’d on this one folks.

Notable tweets:

daveweigel

I haven’t seen this many pissed off Democrats since the last time I saw some Democrats. #beenatoughyear
tbogg

Gene Sperling: Obama ‘didn’t give one inch’ : politico.com/news/stories/0… So Obama’s people say he owns this shit sandwich. Jesus. #Quitdigging

SatanSandwichSugar Coated
The moment I convinced President Obama of the virtues of austerity: bit.ly/nbv5C6 #FYEAH
ThePlumLineGSGreg Sargent

House Dem leaders NOT pressing Dems to vote for the debt deal, potentially complicating passage: http://wapo.st/o3wyDP

nytimes The New York Times
How the Debt Plan Would Work

Read this CBO letter to Congressional Leaders.  They’re putting discretionary funding caps on Social Security, Medicare, SCHIP, Medicaid, et.  Iraq and Afghanistan are exempt from spending caps.  This is AWFUL!!!  Worse than I thought … Please read this analysis from the CBO to congress!!!

House DEBATE and vote on package: running here at CSPAN. They are voting on the debate rules right now at 3:30 pm cst.  Progressive Caucus leaders talking right now saying they will not support the deal because it’s incredibly wrong and worse than the Reid Compromise.  Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee announcing they will vote no.


Please report on who you know is voting for or against below so we can keep track of who needs to face a real democrat in a primary,


The Latest Version of the Debt Ceiling/Austerity Bill

Some details are out on the debt bill that Harry Reid signed onto this afternoon. This plan apparently was worked out between the White House and Mitch McConnell–no Democrats involved. It doesn’t sound as extreme as previous versions, but we won’t know until everything plays out, I guess. Reid is hoping to hold a vote tonight so the House will have time to respond tomorrow.

Here is how the deal will work, reported by Brian Beutler:

It guarantees the debt limit will be hiked by $2.4 trillion. Immediately upon enactment of the plan, the Treasury will be granted $400 billion of new borrowing authority, after which President Obama will be allowed to extend the debt limit by $500 billion, subject to a vote of disapproval by Congress.

That initial $900 billion will be paired with $900 billion of discretionary spending cuts, first identified in a weeks-old bipartisan working group led by Vice President Joe Biden, which will be spread out over 10 years.

Obama will later be able to raise the debt limit by $1.5 trillion, again subject to a vote of disapproval by Congress.

That will be paired with the formation of a Congressional committee tasked with reducing deficits by a minimum of $1.2 trillion. That reduction can come from spending cuts, tax increases or a mixture thereof.

So McConnell has accepted the possibility of tax increases. I doubt if that is going to go over very well with Boehner and his Tea Party nutbags. The trigger is still in the bill.

If the committee fails to reach $1.2 trillion, it will trigger an automatic across the board spending cut, half from domestic spending, half from defense spending, of $1.5 trillion. The domestic cuts come from Medicare providers, but Medicaid and Social Security would be exempted. The enforcement mechanism carves out programs that help the poor and veterans as well.

Politico reports that at 7PM, John Boehner finally announced a conference call with House Republicans at 8:30, so it should be starting as I write this. Says Politico:

A quick strong Senate vote for the deal would add to the pressure on Boehner, and Reid went so far as to suggest that the Senate could even vote Sunday night: “Hope so” was his answer to reporters after meeting with Pelosi. But from the administration’s standpoint, no deal is meaningful without assurance of Republican support in the House, and that remained a big question mark going into the evening.

Boehner’s office insisted that it was simply waiting to hear back from the White House on some “bottom-line” provisions, and indeed details were still being resolved. But administration officials said privately that pro-defense House lawmakers were putting pressure on the speaker over the Pentagon’s share of reduced 2012 appropriations as well as further threatened defense cuts if the deficit-reduction targets are not met.

So there you have it, but what does it all mean? My immediate reaction to the smaller numbers and the assurances on Social Security and Medicaid is that it’s some kind of trick to get us thinking the austerity psychosis in the White House is letting up a bit. But they still have the “committee” AKA Catfood Commission II to fall back on.

I’ll update in the comments if I hear anything more. Please do likewise if you’re surfing around.


Live Blog: Negotiating with Tea Party Terrorists

And the worst Tea Party Terrorists are in the White House “negotiating” with themselves. The only explanation for the way Obama is acting is that he doesn’t want a second term. I just don’t see how he can think he’s going to be reelected either way–whether the U.S. defaults on its debts or Congresses passes one of the austerity plans, Obama is toast.

I guess he can’t wait to start raking in the millions he’ll get from the sitting on bank boards after this is all over. I used to think he was looking forward to making big bucks on the lecture circuit, but who will want to hear him speak about how he destroyed the social safety net and brought down the U.S. economy?

I thought I’d put up a post for those of us who want to keep tabs on what the Senate is doing this afternoon. I’ll have more info shortly, but feel free to document the ongoing slow-motion nightmare in the comments while I set up my laptop in front of the TV and turn on C-span.

———————————————–

The Reid plan failed to achieve cloture in the Senate, so it’s looking like whatever McConnell, Boehner, and Obama are cooking up is what we’ll get stuck with. Here is what is known about the plan that is on the table right now.

If Democratic and GOP leaders finalize a deal, they would still face the tough task of convincing their rank and file to swallow a compromise. Fervent liberals and conservatives could scuttle any deal between the White House and congressional leaders. Here are the details of the tentative pact, according to several sources who spoke to NJ on condition that they not be identified:

•$2.8 trillion in deficit reduction with $1 trillion locked in through discretionary spending caps over 10 years and the remainder determined by a so-called “Super Committee.”
•The Super Committee must report precise deficit-reduction proposals by Thanksgiving.
•The Super Committee would have to propose $1.8 trillion in spending cuts to achieve that amount of deficit reduction over 10 years.
•If the Super Committee fails, Congress must send a balanced-budget amendment to the states for ratification. If that doesn’t happen, across-the-board spending cuts would go into effect and could touch Medicare and defense spending.
•No net new tax revenue would be part of the special committee’s deliberation.
That last item remained a potential sticking point. Obama’s advisers insisted on the Sunday talk shows that the president expected tax increases to be part of the Super Committee’s plan. “I think any long-term deficit-reduction is going to include revenues,” Obama adviser David Plouffe told ABC’s This Week.

Yet Plouffe was unwilling to commit that revenue increases would automatically kick in — along with spending cuts — if the Super Committee doesn’t hit the $1.8 trillion target. McConnell bluntly said that “job-killing tax increases” are off the table.

The ever-hopeful Ezra Klein says Dems will lose now but could win later.

Democrats are going to lose this one. The first stage of the emerging deal doesn’t include revenue, doesn’t include stimulus, and lets Republicans pocket a trillion dollars or more in cuts without offering anything to Democrats in return.

The second stage convenes a congressional “Supercommittee” to recommend up to $2 trillion in further cuts, and if their plan doesn’t pass Congress, there’s an enforcement mechanism that begins making automatic, across-the-board cuts to almost all categories of spending. So heads Democrats lose, tails Republicans win.

It’s difficult to see how it could have ended otherwise. Virtually no Democrats are willing to go past Aug. 2 without raising the debt ceiling. Plenty of Republicans are prepared to blow through the deadline. That’s not a dynamic that lends itself to a deal. That’s a dynamic that lends itself to a ransom.

But Democrats will have their turn. On Dec. 31, 2012, three weeks before the end of President Barack Obama’s current term in office, the Bush tax cuts expire. Income tax rates will return to their Clinton-era levels. That amounts to a $3.6 trillion tax increase over 10 years, three or four times the $800 billion to $1.2 trillion in revenue increases that Obama and Speaker John Boehner were kicking around. And all Democrats need to do to secure that deal is…nothing.

The only thing that can prevent increased revenue, says Klein, is the Obama administration. That’s pretty pathetic. Even Klein isn’t sure Obama will let the Bush tax cuts expire.

For more background, see my and and Dakinikat’s posts from last night.

I’ll put further updates in the comments.

Capital on fire


Saturday Night Live Blog: Debt Ceiling Watch

Hello Sky Dancers! If you don’t have a hot date, join us in documenting the atrocities as the Senate the Congressional food fight continues–building up to the crucial vote on Harry Reid’s debt ceiling/deficit reduction bill at 1AM.

I haven’t been watching it, but Dakinikat says it’s been really wild. Here’s a link to watch Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell “spar” over whether there has been progress on an agreement based on McConnell’s meetings with Obama.

It seems that McConnell and Boehner are betting the farm that President Obama will cave, and stab Reid and Pelosi in the back. I just can’t imagine that Obama would agree to the Boehner bill though–not with the spending caps and the balanced budget amendment in there. But with President Pushover, you just never can tell how low he will go.

The most interesting news I’ve seen tonight was that earlier tonight, according to ABC News,

Tom Harkin made a plea on the Senate floor Saturday evening for President Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling if Congress fails to strike a deal before the Aug. 2 default deadline.

“If the Congress through inaction, through inaction or action, tries to destroy or alter those obligations I believe it is incumbent on the chief executive to exercise his authority to make sure the full faith and credit of the United States is not jeopardized. The president should use his authority to do so,” Harkin said.

Harkin joins a growing number of Democrats who have called on the president to broadly interpret a section of the 14th Amendment which says “the validity of the public debt… shall not be questioned” as justification for him to authorize continued borrowing if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling.

In addition, Huffpo is reporting that according to an unnamed Congressperson, Nancy Pelosi is privately supporting the notion of Obama invoking the 14th amendment.

“Nancy clearly wants it,” said the lawmaker, who requested anonymity. “Publicly? No. Privately? She thinks the president should do it. Period.”

Several top Democrats have endorsed the idea in recent days as an eleventh hour solution: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) backed the option on Wednesday, and House Democratic Caucus chairman John Larson (D-Conn.) and Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) emerged from a Monday Caucus meeting announcing their support for the idea as well.

But Pelosi, the highest-ranking House Democrat, has been mum. One possible reason is that she has to preserve the image that Congress will reach a deal before the situation even gets to that point.

Josh Marshall says he’s heard “rumblings” about the 14th amendment idea, but he’ll believe it when he sees it.

Well, what does he know? If he could predict the future, he probably wouldn’t have supported Obama in 2008.

I’m going to try to stay up until the vote. Those of you in other times zones will have an easier time of it. You can watch the Senate debate on C-span. MSNBC has broken into their usual weekend prison break fare and are following the debate. I’m listening to that on satellite radio. Dak is going to watch C-Span and provide updates. So join us if you dare! And if you have ideas for drinking games, throw put them out there.


Saturday Reads

Good Morning news junkies! I’m filling in for WonktheVote today. She is taking a little break from blogging, so Dakinikat, Minkoff Minx, and I are going to take turns doing the Saturday Reads for a little while. So what’s in the news today? Let’s see…

After his blow-up-the-economy plan passed the House yesterday, John Boehner gave a very defensive-sounding speech to justify his treasonous behavior.

A defiant House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) late Friday defended his debt-ceiling plan by saying it is the only viable plan on paper so far….

“I’ve offered ideas, I’ve negotiated,” Boehner said in closing debate on his bill. “Not one time, not one time did the administration ever put any plan on the table. All they would do is criticize what I put out there.

“I stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the president of the United States,” Boehner continued to grumbling among Democrats. “Hey, I put revenues on the table in order to try to come to an agreement in order to avert us being where we are. But a lot of people in this town can never say yes.”

He also defended including the ridiculous balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in his bill.

“It’s time for this to happen,” he said. “It enjoys support from both houses of this Congress, and it enjoys bipartisan and widespread support across our country.”

No. It doesn’t, Mr. Speaker.

A short time later the Senate put Boehner’s bill out of its misery.
Now what?

Despite a day of frenzied legislative maneuvering and another attempt by President Obama to rally public opinion behind some kind of compromise, the two parties made no visible progress in finding common ground, leaving Washington, Wall Street and much of the nation watching the clock toward a deadline of midnight Tuesday.

Reid has made some changes in his plan, hoping to appeal to Senate Republicans. The NYT didn’t elaborate on what these changes are. At Huffpo, Michael McAuliff and Sam Stein say Reid’s plan is now a lot like Mitch McConnell’s. But whatever its contents, Republicans in the House plan to hold a “symbolic vote” on it today in order to “send a message” that whatever the Senate agrees on will not pass the House.

These people are playing with fire. It’s looking like they’re not going to meet the August 2 deadline either.

The seemingly unbridgeable impasse between the two parties as the deadline for raising the nation’s debt limit approaches has Tom Daschle losing sleep, as he never did when he was a Senate Democratic leader in the mid-1990s and Congressional Republicans forced government shutdowns rather than compromise on spending cuts.

“That was nothing compared to this. That was a shutdown of the government; this could be, really, a shutdown of the entire economy,” Mr. Daschle said. “You can’t be too hyperbolic about the ramifications of all this.”

Democrats and Republicans with legislative experience agree that even if both sides decided Saturday to raise the $14.3 trillion borrowing ceiling and to reduce future annual deficits, it would be extremely difficult for the compromise measure to wend its way through Congress before Tuesday’s deadline, given Congressional legislative procedures.

But all signs point to August 2 passing with no budget bill. As we all know, President Obama could end the struggle at any time with an executive order, but then he’d have to put off gutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for a little bit longer. He can’t allow that, now can he?

Stay tuned…

There has been a disturbing string of sexual assaults on women in Ann Arbor, Michigan over the past two weeks. the assaults have taken place near the University of Michigan campus. There have been six attacks, two of which were rapes. In the others, women were grabbed and fondled, but managed to escape.

Two different composite sketches of the suspect have been developed. Police aren’t sure if there is just one perpetrator two. The FBI is now involved in the investigation.

The agency will be assisting Ann Arbor police at the city’s request, said FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold. She did not provide any details about the agency’s role.

The six attacks occurred between July 15 and 26, and between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. The victims were traumatized, said police spokeswoman Lt. Renee Bush.

Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones said he did not know if the attacks were linked. He warned in a letter to university staff, faculty and students that there was a “predator or predators operating in our community.”

Emily Zinn and her boyfriend were sleeping when one of the rapes took place right outside their apartment.

…an 18-year-old woman was pulled behind a wall outside Zinn’s bedroom window and raped on July 18.

She first noticed something was wrong when she and her boyfriend, Matt McAnelly, 24, a University of Michigan graduate student, heard the girl sobbing outside about 12:45 a.m.

“We heard a girl crying and ‘Help me, help me,’ ” Zinn said. “She was saying, ‘He left, I’m alone,’ so we didn’t really know what was happening.”

The couple heard nothing while the girl was being attacked.

This monster (or monsters) must be stopped ASAP.

Is the U.S. on the verge of a revolution?

On last night’s The Big Picture with progressive talk show host Thom Hartmann, author Neil Howe discussed how he and William Strauss came to accurately predict today’s political crisis in their 1997 book “The Fourth Turning,” and offered speculation as to what might happen next….

Speaking of the generational differences between today’s new guard and the retiring baby boomers, Howe said that cultural forces have essentially forced this crisis, with “culture warriors” and “values voters” in direct contention with “gen x” for control of the national budget.

“Are we on the verge of another ‘fourth turning’ — another major crash leading to a world war and a world-wide depression?” Hartmann asked.

“No,” Howe said. “I hope it won’t be bad. I hope the destructive will be avoided to the furthest extent possible and the constructive, which always comes out of a fourth turning… will be maximized.”

Watch it:

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A judge has ordered the release of Richard Nixon’s grand jury testimony about the Watergate scandal.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth granted a request by historian Stanley Kutler, who has written several books about Nixon and Watergate, and others to unseal the testimony given on June 23 and 24 in 1975.

Nixon was questioned about the political scandal during the 1970s that resulted from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington….

Lamberth ruled in the 15-page opinion that the special circumstances, especially the undisputed historical interest in Nixon’s testimony, far outweighed the need to keep the records secret. Grand jury proceedings typically remain secret.

The Obama administration opposed the release of Nixon’s testimony. It figures, doesn’t it?

Finally, here’s a fascinating bit of historical revisionism from George W. Bush.

In a rare interview with the National Geographic Channel, Bush reflects on what was going through his mind at the most dramatic moment of his presidency when he was informed that a second passenger jet had hit New York’s World Trade Center.

Bush was visiting a Florida classroom and the incident, which was caught on TV film, and has often been used by critics to ridicule his apparently blank face.

But Bush claims he deliberately decided to stay in his seat so as not to alarm the children and to “project a sense of calm.”

“I had been in enough crises to know that the first thing a leader has to do is to project calm,” he added.

I wonder what “crises” he’s talking about? Just about the only thing he did as Governor of Texas was execute people. Let’s watch Bush’s demeanor on 9/11/2001 and see how well he projected “a sense of calm.”

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Here’s what one of the children who was in the classroom that day had to say about it:

“The president he just sat there, and his face — he just went dead,” says Jaimie, who was among the second graders in the classroom where President Bush learned of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Jamie’s one of the kids featured in Nickelodeon’s Linda Ellerbee news special, “What Happened?: The story of September 11, 2001,” which debuts Sept. 1.

That’s all the news I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?