If you don’t laugh, you have to cry

After John Boehner decided to walk out on the debt talks on Friday (and John, we know that it was not because of the President, but because Eric Cantor said no taxes even if you call them tax reform), we moved even closer to default.  So a little humor (from the left) on the situation for Sunday morning.

First up, Ruben Bolling and my favorite, Tom the Dancing Bug


Then ( I have to say I love it that Daily Kos collects the Comics), we have Matt Weurker’s Tea Party Tango

Matt Wuerker

To tango or to compromise, it takes two, Mr. Cantor. 

Speaking of Mr. Cantor, you can hear him yourself at this animation by Scott Bateman.

And to end, two editoral cartoons.

Tony Auth on Congress


And Dan Wasserman


The President has taken himself out of the talks, telling Congress to come up with a solution.  We shall see.

Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid are pictured. | AP Photo

Tax breaks and the debt/budget crisis

Feeling hot and kinda pessimistic this evening.  I feel as if the progressive forces are fighting windmills and I worry that President Obama will cave in with dire consequences. 

Here is a very interesting chart posted by Chris Bowers on the Daily Kos this afternoon.

Class Warfare

If these numbers are accurate, and I believe they are,  it is interesting how they match up.  We don’t really have to do much to keep programs running. 

In the meanwhile Politico reports

Turning right with a vengeance, Republicans will bring to the House floor Tuesday a newly revised debt-ceiling bill that is remarkable for its total absence of compromise at this late date, two weeks before the threat of default.

Final revisions made Friday submerge conservative demands to reduce all federal spending to 18 percent of gross domestic product — a target that threatened to split the GOP by requiring far deeper cuts than even the party’s April budget. But Republican congressional leaders still want a 10-year, $1.8 trillion cut from nondefense appropriations and have added a balanced-budget constitutional amendment that so restricts future tax legislation that even President Ronald Reagan might have opposed it in the 1980s.

Indeed, much of the deficit-reduction legislation signed by Reagan would not qualify under the new tea-party-driven standards. And even the famed Reagan-Tip O’Neill Social Security compromise — which raised payroll taxes — passed the House in 1983 well short of the 290 votes that would be required under the constitutional amendments being promoted by the GOP.

One of the more interesting aspects of this fight centers around the battle between Eric Cantor and John Boehner for control of the Republican House.  If Cantor wins, it may drive the more moderate Republicans toward the Democrats.  But it doesn’t appear at this point that the Tea Party Republicans really care about reelection – and perhaps they don’t even care if Obama wins reelection.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, right, stands with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio on Capitol Hill in Washington. | AP Photo

Paul Krugman has an interesting take of the Republicans.

Let’s talk for a minute about what Republican leaders are rejecting.

President Obama has made it clear that he’s willing to sign on to a deficit-reduction deal that consists overwhelmingly of spending cuts, and includes draconian cuts in key social programs, up to and including a rise in the age of Medicare eligibility. These are extraordinary concessions. As The Times’s Nate Silver points out, the president has offered deals that are far to the right of what the average American voter prefers — in fact, if anything, they’re a bit to the right of what the average Republican voter prefers!

Yet Republicans are saying no. Indeed, they’re threatening to force a U.S. default, and create an economic crisis, unless they get a completely one-sided deal. And this was entirely predictable.

First of all, the modern G.O.P. fundamentally does not accept the legitimacy of a Democratic presidency — any Democratic presidency. We saw that under Bill Clinton, and we saw it again as soon as Mr. Obama took office.

As a result, Republicans are automatically against anything the president wants, even if they have supported similar proposals in the past. Mitt Romney’s health care plan became a tyrannical assault on American freedom when put in place by that man in the White House. And the same logic applies to the proposed debt deals.

Put it this way: If a Republican president had managed to extract the kind of concessions on Medicare and Social Security that Mr. Obama is offering, it would have been considered a conservative triumph. But when those concessions come attached to minor increases in revenue, and more important, when they come from a Democratic president, the proposals become unacceptable plans to tax the life out of the U.S. economy.

Which brings me to the culpability of those who are only now facing up to the G.O.P.’s craziness.

Here’s the point: those within the G.O.P. who had misgivings about the embrace of tax-cut fanaticism might have made a stronger stand if there had been any indication that such fanaticism came with a price, if outsiders had been willing to condemn those who took irresponsible positions.

But there has been no such price. Mr. Bush squandered the surplus of the late Clinton years, yet prominent pundits pretend that the two parties share equal blame for our debt problems. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, proposed a supposed deficit-reduction plan that included huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, then received an award for fiscal responsibility.

So there has been no pressure on the G.O.P. to show any kind of responsibility, or even rationality — and sure enough, it has gone off the deep end. If you’re surprised, that means that you were part of the problem.

It was fun for a while to watch Boehner herding the Republican cats and watching the infighting, but now it is time for moderate Republicans to join the Democrats and show some common sense.


Passing health care

It seems pretty obvious that neither the Blair House summit nor the inclusion of some of the Republican suggestions have gained health care reform any Republican votes.  So how exactly can the bill pass?

Here is a diagram from today’s Washington Post

The President never used the term reconciliation in his remarks presenting his plan, but I think it was pretty clear what he meant.  According to the New York Times story

Wednesday’s remarks, made to a group of sympathetic medical professionals, many of them clad in traditional white lab coats, marked Mr. Obama’s entry into the end game of Washington’s long and divisive health care debate. With Republicans unified in opposition to the measure, Mr. Obama used his appearance to make the case to the public that while he is willing to accept Republican ideas, starting over, as Republicans are demanding, does not make sense.

He called on Democrats to stick with him.

“This has been a long and wrenching debate,” Mr. Obama said, adding that while health care “easily lends itself to demagoguery and political gamesmanship,” that is no reason “for those of us who were sent here to lead to just walk away.”

The President’s proposals would be shaped into legislation and then included in the bill by the House Rules Committee, but I guess that Representative Boehner doesn’t understand how the process works because he is now complaining that the President’s bill is “too short.”   I know that Representative Cantor thinks the bills passed by the House and Senate are too long.  Guess the Republicans will complain no matter what the length of any Democratic bill or Democratic proposal.

The health care bill is not going to make everyone 100% happy,  (Where’s the public option?) but the important thing is to make a start.  We are still tinkering with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and we can do the same with health care reform.  And one final thought:  I think the Democrats will do much better in the fall elections if they have an actual bill they can explain and sell – especially if they pass it with no Republican support.

More on the Party of Zero

In case you haven’t been reading fivethirtyeight.com since the Presidental election, you really should check in once in a while.  There is Nate Silver’s advance look at the the details to be released later.

Eric Cantor is said to want to eliminate North Dakota rather than Idaho, while Thaddeus McCotter has suggested using the balance of TARP funds to purchase scratch-off tickets

You have to see the diagram to get the rest.

From the Party of “No” to the Party of “Zero”?

What’s up with the Republican House leadership anyway?  After being criticized by all stripes of poltical commentators and just ordinary citizens for not offering any alternative to the President’s proposed budget, they released an eighteen page booklet with no numbers.  I repeat, no numbers.

According to David Gregory on MSNBC’s First Read,

Dude, where’s my budget? Let’s be honest: Yesterday’s House Republican budget rollout was a P.R. disaster for the GOP. “Here it is, Mr. President” was the title of the GOP Leader blog touting that they had answered Obama’s dare to produce a budget. The problem — their budget rollout didn’t contain any hard budget numbers or deficit projections. They say those hard numbers will come out next week. But now we learn that Reps. Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan objected to unveiling yesterday’s “blueprint,” but were overruled by Reps. John Boehner and Mike Pence. But bigger than any internal disagreements or any criticism about a lack of details is the fact that yesterday’s GOP non-announcement moved the attention away from the Obama-vs.-congressional Democrat storyline to the GOP’s lack of a budget. In fact, after yesterday, the White House and congressional Democrats can agree on one thing: The GOP — at least until next week — is the “Party of No.” What’s more, it puts more pressure on Ryan to truly put out a comprehensive budget alternative; Also, this episode could end up creating a rift in the GOP over how to combat the Obama White House. After all, Senate Republicans wanted nothing to do with an alternative, and now Mitch McConnell, et al are either laughing at their House GOP colleagues, furious at them, or both.

As proof that the Democrats are refocusing on the Republicans rather than each other is the new Democratic Party video.  Kate Phillips writes in the New York Times Caucus

As the House and Senate head toward a heavy budget battle next week, Republicans have been facing criticism from the White House and from Democrats over whether they have offered a real alternative when it comes to the proposals on the table.

In the Senate, what Republican leaders are promising is a lot of amendments. But in the House, Republicans held a news conference yesterday to announce that, despite President Obama’s remarks to the contrary, they did have a plan of their own.

Carl Hulse, chief congressional correspondent of The New York Times, reported that Representative John A. Boehner, the minority leader, was grilled by reporters on Capitol Hill because the blue 18-page “recovery” pamphlet that the Republican leadership released was short on figures, spending or revenue details.

Next week’s budget debate will be interesting.  The Democratic Blue Dogs have their own ideas and the Republicans are split.  The look of the final budget may depend on which party can come together sooner.