News flash

Weepin’ John Boehner doesn’t even control his own caucus.

He announced a vote on his dead-on-arrival debt ceiling plan at 12:30 today, and then had to postpone it indefinitely 10 hours later. He didn’t have the votes, perhaps in part because Sarah Palin threatened the House Republican freshmen with contested primaries if they voted for their own Speaker’s bill. Yes, that’s the person the Republicans wanted to put one not-very-reliable heartbeat from the Presidency.

Amateur hour.

Update Don’t you love it when it’s conservatives forming the circular firing squad?

Comments

  1. MobiusKlein says

    No, I don’t like their circular firing squad. Despite being gun nuts, their aim is shoddy.

  2. maryQ says

    Well, as Palin-endorsed primary challenges often result in a safe GOP seat turning blue…….oh, wait, country before party. Oh, wait, for Dems, putting country first just happens to correlate nicely with supporting the party.

  3. Katja says

    Personally, I’d prefer a functional and responsible conservative party. I don’t really enjoy watching a Congress that behaves more like the Reichstag of Weimar in the late 1920s.

  4. Ravi says

    I don’t know what will happen with the Presidency or the Senate, but you heard it here first: Nancy Pelosi is going to ride this all the way back to the Speaker’s chair. She is, after all, the most powerful player in the House. She can keep her caucus together, so she speaks for more votes than Boehner (or whoever is “in charge” of the Tea Partiers). This time around, by keeping her votes together Pelosi has exposed Boehner’s weakness and attacked. Now, whichever fate awaits Boehner, it strengthens her hand. If Boehner holds on as Speaker, he is dramatically diminished and the dysfunction of the Republican House will just keep growing. On the other hand, if Boehner falls, his replacement (probably Cantor, I suppose) will be even more extreme and will steer the Republican caucus even further from the American people. And if the people end up seeing a slate of Christine O’Donnells up for reelection in 2012, House Democrats are going to come roaring back.

    If Boehner were smart, he would give Obama what he wants and minimize the amount of brinksmanship between now and the 2012 election. Unfortunately for Boehner, his caucus won’t let him do that.

  5. Seth says

    @MobiusKlein,

    “No, I don’t like their circular firing squad. Despite being gun nuts, their aim is shoddy.”

    And their random firing is likely to result in the U.S. Government stumbling idiotically into a default. Such a travesty.

  6. says

    If Boehner were smart, he would give Obama what he wants…

    You mean revenues? The so-called “balanced approach” to austerity?
    I suspect not. I suspect it will be the Reid bill.
    In other words: all cuts and no revenues.

    Yep. The Tea Party are the big losers here. And Obama and the democrats.
    Meanwhile like Ravi suggests:

    On the other hand, if Boehner falls, his replacement (probably Cantor, I suppose) will be even more extreme and will steer the Republican caucus even further from the American people.

    Which, if you think about it for two nanoseconds, means one continuous thing:
    Every “so-called” republican defeat, pulls the country further to the right.

  7. SamChevre says

    Of course, it might be worth noting that even though the cuts were much smaller than in the President’s bill, the Democrats had refused to vote for Boehner’s bill–if they had, there would have been enough votes to pass it in all likelihood.

    At this point, the Democrats are just as much hostage-takers as the Republicans.

  8. massappeal says

    Re: the circular firing squad. On a more serious note, the extremist right will continue to refuse to compromise as long as there is no significant cost to be paid for their intransigence. Liberals have limited power to directly affect the extremist right. Conservatives have more power in this situation, and the threat Jordan faces of being redistricted out of his seat (or into a contested primary) is one small example of the many fights sensible conservatives and moderates will have to have in the coming years if they are to wrest power away from the extremists in the Republican party.

  9. massappeal says

    @SamChevre (7/29, 6:01 am) Well, actually, no. The Democrats are not “just as much hostage-takers as the Republicans” are in this situation. Here’s Jonathan Chait’s explanation of why that parallel doesn’t work, and Boehner’s bill is worse than doing nothing from the Democrats’ perspective:

    “[Republicans] can’t get Democrats to fold on the Boehner bill, because the Boehner bill isn’t a bad deal, it’s less than nothing. Democrats are far better off going into August 2nd with no deal. Under the Boehner bill, Democrats immediately walk into another hostage situation. But that hostage situation would be worse than the current one, for three reasons:

    1. The vote will be closer to the election, and wrangling votes to lift the debt ceiling will be harder.

    2. Democrats will have already agreed to a trillion dollars in cuts, meaning that any further cuts will be deeper and more painful.

    3. They’ll have demonstrated previously that they’re willing to do anything to avoid a default, so Republicans will be even more emboldened to demand massive concessions.

    This isn’t a situation like the $4 trillion deal Obama offered to Boehner, which was a terrible deal, but at least had some upside (bipartisan achievement for Obama, loosen pressure of the deficit issue, maybe some short-term stimulus) to compensate for its many flaws. This is a deal with zero upside and huge downside. Like I wrote before, it’s like a kidnapper demanding for the release of your child $100,000 and your other child. It’s not a deal even worth considering. The only purpose of it is to let Republicans escape blame for the debt ceiling crisis.”

    I don’t blame Boehner for trying to help his caucus escape blame for the debt ceiling crisis (which they created). He’s doing what a party leader should do by looking out for the interests of his party. That, however, is not a reason for Democrats to vote for a bill that—from their perspective—is bad for the country and bad for their party.

  10. SamChevre says

    Massappeal,

    I agree with Jonathan Chait’s analysis, but note one things: it’s entirely partisan (what’s good for Democrats).

    If it’s appropriate for Democrats to vote against raising the debt ceiling because it’s bad for them as a party, then it’s also appropriate for Republicans to vote against raising the debt ceiling because it’s bad for them as a party. Conversely, if the Republicans should put country ahead of party and vote to raise the debt ceiling even at the cost of going against their party and constituent interests, the Democrats should also.

  11. Benny Lava says

    Surprise, the Republicans inherited the blue dogs. Should we go ahead and flip the party logos and make the GOP the donkey and the Democratic party the elephant?

  12. Russell L. Carter says

    I thought SamChevre was smarter than this. Your argument, SC, boils down to:

    Whatever the criminals require, the Democrats should agree to.

    If you had been paying attention you would have discovered that the Democrats have been doing exactly that.

    Rotted brains. Childish narcissism. No shame whatsoever. This is how disasters happen.

  13. massappeal says

    @SamChevre (7/29, 6:46 am) Thanks for your response. These debt ceiling votes had evolved over the past few decades so that, typically, the vote was an opportunity for the minority to grandstand and attempt to embarass the majority, and a responsibility of the majority to round up the votes to raise the debt ceiling. Attempting to tie the debt ceiling to major legislation (e.g., spending cuts, reform of major government programs/agencies, tax policy) as Republicans have done this year is something new.

    (All right. Throat clearing over.) If you’d allow me to add my own thoughts to Chait’s, I think there’s a pretty solid argument implicit in his post that Democrats can quite reasonably vote against Boehner’s bill purely on its own merits. Boehner’s bill would require another debt ceiling vote in six months. Based on the experience of this vote (which is 3 months overdue, still hasn’t happened, and has consumed the majority of Congress’ time and energy at a time when the country appears to be slipping back into recession, unemployment is above 9%, and this Congress has yet to take up a single piece of jobs-creating legislation), I think most observers would agree that for that reason alone (let alone the other reasons Chait and others have listed) Boehner’s bill would be bad for the country and therefore should be defeated regardless of partisan interests. YMMV.

  14. marcel says

    In re: Don’t you love it when it’s conservatives forming the circular firing squad?

    Mark: Schadenfreude is never an attractive emotion. But it sure feels good, no? (kind of like drugs, that way).

    Katya wrote:

    I don’t really enjoy watching a Congress that behaves more like the Reichstag of Weimar in the late 1920s.

    Well, that suggests Obama is playing the role of Rathenau, except in one key way that has been the concern of many since before the 2008 election.

  15. capnhook says

    In re: Don’t you love it when it’s conservatives forming the circular firing squad?

    These conservative jerks are in a different kind circle, if you get my blue meaning…..

  16. says

    This is the way this train wreck is going to go down…

    Boehner’s bill (The REPUBLICAN BILL) will pass after he cedes more territory to the Tea creatures…
    It will of course fail in the Senate.

    Reid’s bill (The DEMOCRAT BILL) will pass the Senate because it is basically a right-wing wet dream.
    Reid’s bill (The REPUBLICAN BILL wearing Democratic names) will go to the House. They’ll dick with it to make it even more of salable to conservatives.

    Now will Reid’s bill pass?
    That’s impossible to say. Maybe.
    If so it will represent to the media and in DC a true “bipartisan” compromise.
    Everybody loves a compromise. It’s win-win-win.

    Now assume it does pass: Obama signs it because it is a DEMOCRATIC BILL. He may demure a bit: BS about not quite what he wanted, blah blah. But he will sign it to great applause: We saved the country! Onwards austerity ho!

    Assume it doesn’t: Then we go into default overtime…

    Either way the end result is this: poor people and middle class lose services, infrastructure continues to crumble, and the rich keep their corporate jet tax breaks.

    Train wreck.
    Ongoing, everlasting train wreck.
    Might as well go get a tattoo and wait for football season…

  17. says

    There are actually three reasons why we are going down to the wire on the debt ceiling:
    1. We always do.
    2. Conservatives don’t want to resolve the problem because they view increases on the debt ceiling as spending authorizations at a time when we can’t afford the programs already in place.
    3. Progressives don’t want a solution because they believe the crisis hurts Republican electoral prospects.

    If the administration were really serious about avoiding default, it could do so easily, as any business would do, by selectively shutting down (starting weeks ago) non-essential federal functions (of which there are almost too many to count) and sending their employees home for unpaid vacations. The Nixon era impounding laws are a technical issue with that and that proves they should be repealed post haste, but that is what we should have been doing. Threatening to withhold social security checks and military pay just shows how every administration action and comment is politically motivated.

    Ultimately, I still believe something like the Reid proposal will be approved at the eleventh hour, with a few raw meat cuts added (real ones, not like taking credit for ending wars that will end anyway) to save the Speaker’s face. Obama blew his chance to look good when his caucus talked him into moving the goal posts on the revenue deal he had worked out with the Speaker. So there will be lots of losers here, Obama, the Speaker, McConnell, and worst, the country as the can gets kicked down the road for another 18 months. The problem is not the downgrade or the impact on the securities markets. The problem is that debt piles up and when interest rates return to normal, school will be out, and the only solution will be to (hyper)inflate our way out of it.

  18. Rob in CT says

    1. and 3. are false. As to 1: the debt ceiling has always been raised, to my knowledge, w/o conditions attached. There has often been political grandstanding about it (see: 2006), but never this. Never anything like this. This is entirely the GOP’s doing.

    As to 3: no, progressives want a solution, because they want the debt ceiling raised. They are very concerned about the economic impact of no-deal, which amounts to a 40% cut in government spending during a time of high unemployment (which is unimaginably stupid). They are also justifiably concerned about the substance of the deals being floated, since all of them represent austerity, which progressives thing are the wrong answer to our current situation.

    2. is just hilarious. THE SPENDING HAS ALREADY BEEN AUTHORIZED. Refusing to raise the debt limit is simply refusing to pay the bills. How fiscally responsible! Spare me.

  19. says

    The problem is that debt piles up and when interest rates return to normal, school will be out, and the only solution will be to (hyper)inflate our way out of it.

    When interest rates return to normal, it will not effect US bonds already sold. And should interest rates return to “normal” (whatever that is) it will be because the economy has heated up. A heated up economy means more jobs and more revenue. This is just basic Econ 101. As GDP grows it swallows the debt.

    No.

    This is a manufactured crisis. And it is manufactured for a reason: Austerity is the new shock doctrine. Somebody has to take a fall for Wall Street’s over-leveraging. i.e.: All that fake wealth they created that sits in their hedge funds. It is either the rich taking a big hit, or we the people taking a lot of smaller hits.

    Guess which it is going to be?

  20. says

    Rob and Koreyel, you are both wrong on all counts, but I will only respond in a couple of areas. The concern the right has is less with expenditures already authorized as with the fact that expanding the debt ceiling merely continues the cycle, leading to more and larger future authorizations. This is ingrained in the system – in budgeting, (we usually have a budget, failure of the last Congress to pass one for this fiscal year notwithstanding), the baseline for each Department is last year’s budget plus inflation.

    Another concept is that just because Congress has authorized expenditures doesn’t mean that some shouldn’t now be cut back. Here’s a deal for you. I’ll give you an otherwise clean debt limit increase in exchange for repeal of PPACA.

    As for the impact of interest rates, the Federal Government is always borrowing, each and every week (if not every day), both to pay off maturing bonds and notes and to finance any new spending. Rising interest rates will have a devastating effect, particularly since the powers that be made the inane decision to shorten maturities at a time of low interest rates some years ago. This is economics 001 (home economics). Also, it will not take a heated economy to raise rates since the Fed actions have artificially kept them low. Once QE2′s impact recedes, rates will bob up (they are already), a trend that can only be exacerbated by the government’s failure to address its fiscal issues.

    Finally, it is Keynesian doctrine that austerity magnifies downturns. And there are certain economic environments where it does. This isn’t one of them. That’s why the stimulus packages failed so miserably. We are at a point in the economy where too much activity has been diverted from the private to the public sector. To revive the economy, that has to be reversed. By the way, Keynes’ theories also failed to revive things in the 1930′s.

    As to my hedge funds friends, maybe you guys should drop the class warfare, zero sum rhetoric since it doesn’t get anyone anywhere. But we can agree that 15% tax rates on so-called “carried interest” have to go. That’s one source of revenue I would support, ASAP.

  21. Bernard Yomtov says

    Redwave72,

    Finally, it is Keynesian doctrine that austerity magnifies downturns. And there are certain economic environments where it does. This isn’t one of them. That’s why the stimulus packages failed so miserably. We are at a point in the economy where too much activity has been diverted from the private to the public sector.

    Why isn’t this a situation where austerity magnifies downturns?

    And what on earth does it mean to say that “too much activity has been diverted from the private to the public sector?” It’s nothing but mindless sloganeering.

  22. says

    Leaving the mindless sloganeering behind…
    I wrote up above that it was impossible to tell if Reid’s bill would pass.
    Check out this recent post from Paul Weldman:

    We haven’t been paying much attention to the Senate in the last few days, but we’re apparently still operating on the assumption that just as they have filibustered every bill of consequence for the last two years, Senate Republicans will filibuster any debt-ceiling increase, regardless of what it contains. We’re four days away from setting off an economic catastrophe, and we all just assume that, of course, Republicans will try to kill a solution by filibustering it. And of course, we’re not going to bother questioning them about that, much less condemning them for it, because that’s just the way “Washington” works these days.
    So wouldn’t it be nice if the next time a reporter is interviewing a Republican senator, he or she asks them about this? “Senator, given the nightmarish economic consequences we’re facing, why are Republicans planning to filibuster any debt-ceiling increase?” A pretty simple question.

    I’m putting the odds on avoiding the plunge towards default now at 30% and sinking…
    I can’t imagine anyone have more happy odds than that. Last I looked intrade was at 12%….

    http://prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month=07&year=2011&base_name=are_senate_republicans_going_t
    http://www.intrade.com/v4/home/

  23. Benny Lava says

    ” But we can agree that 15% tax rates on so-called “carried interest” have to go. That’s one source of revenue I would support, ASAP.”

    Wait, you would support reforming capital gains taxes and making them more like income taxes and raising the rates?

  24. MobiusKlein says

    For the filibuster thing, I suspect Reid will pull Biden out, and have them rule it’s unconstitutional to filibuster in this case, 14th amendment and all.

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