Greg Harris: USA Tomorrow

August 2nd, 2011 Breaking News

In a surprise and even stunning move, President Obama vetoed legislation that reached his desk today that would raise the debt ceiling in exchange for $2.4 trillion in spending cuts and the formation of a new commission to identify $1.6 trillion in additional cuts over the next 10 years.

House Speaker John Boehner earned the support of Tea Party members of his caucus and House passage of the legislation because it met their demands for $4 trillion in cuts without new revenue.  The Democrats had originally hoped to close some corporate tax loopholes and end Bush-era income tax cuts on the wealthiest 2% of Americans.  The compromise legislation was worked out between Boehner, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.

The bill reaching the president’s desk was seen as the last possible compromise needed to prevent American default on its loans. But was it?  Apparently heeding the advice of former President Bill Clinton, Obama invoked the 14th Amendment of the constitution in insisting the country would continue to pay its bills, and practically dared the GOP to challenge his authority to do so in federal courts.  “If the Republicans want to sue me into forcing America to default on its loans, that is their prerogative.  But I intend to carry out my constitutional authority to authorize the Treasury to pay our bills on time.  What I won’t do is be cornered into supporting legislation that devastates America’s seniors and middle-class.”  One House insider who was part of negotiations commented that by challenging the constitutionality of the debt ceiling deadline by ignoring it, “the President basically took away any and all GOP leverage.”

President Obama, with one stroke of his veto pen, declared that “I will not allow fringe elements of Congress to continue to subsidize corporate loopholes on the backs of our middle class and senior citizens. I will not see Medicare and Social Security and middle class tax breaks compromised so that a billionaire CEO can pay less in taxes than his secretary, or a profitable big corporation can pay less in taxes than a small business.  This legislation revealed Republican true colors, and I had to kill it.  We need to tip the scales back towards a government that serves everyday people.”

In a hastily assembled press conference, an obviously stunned House majority leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) declared “President Obama is willing to send America into default and possibly a constitutional crisis in the name of raising taxes on job creators.”  The political airwaves are abuzz in debate over whether the President’s move was bold or careless.  Emboldened Democratic congressional leadership has indicated they will stand behind the President.

In the coming week, Obama plans to take his case to the American people for a balanced approach to deficit reduction.  According to USA Tomorrow’s latest polls, 56% of Americans support a balanced approach that uses cuts and new revenue to address the deficit; 64% oppose cuts in Medicare and Social Security; 78% oppose ending the home mortgage loan deduction.”

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Laughter

The Politics of Laughter

In honor of the legalization of gay marriage by New York here are 14 of the best pro-gay marriage signs. Be aware, one or two of them contain some NSFW language. [HappyPlace]

If you get this one, please say so in the comment section. It’s a little bit “inside.” [picture]

The Roof-Jump App. Seems accurate to me. [picture]

Nigerian scammers need to work on generating some more unique American names. [e-mail]

Wait for it. . . [picture]

Borders’ bankruptcy in a nutshell. [Facebook]


The RP’s Budget Crisis Update- July 27

Tensions remain high on Capitol Hill as both House and Senate debt-reduction plans have hit major setbacks.

The CBO has scored both the Reid and Boehner plans, and neither scored as highly as was initially touted, with the Reid plan saving $2.2 trillion rather than $2.7 trillion and the Boehner plan saving $850 billion rather than $1.2 trillion. House Republicans moved the vote on the plan from Wednesday to Thursday in hopes of modifying the plan and shoring up more support, especially within the Tea Party. Reid, meanwhile, has had problems rallying the Senate around his plan, which controversially includes a drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of debt reduction. [NY Times]

From The Washington Post, a useful graphic comparing the Reid and Boehner plans. [Washington Post]

Time magazine’s Jay Newton-Small has compiled a list of possible results of the debt talks, with analysis on why and how each possibility might happen. [Time]

GOP presidential candidates have been less-than-welcoming to the Boehner debt-reduction plan, with only former Utah governor Jon Huntsman embracing the plan fully. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul have all come out against the plan. [Washington Post]

The chief economist for Moody’s Analytics has said that a credit downgrade for the United States would not be “the end of the world.” Though acknowledging that interest rates would rise, Mark Zandi said on CBS that they would not rise too drastically and a return to AAA rating could come quickly. [National Journal]

Reflecting a recent study by Barclays, the United States may be able to keep paying its bills until August 10, having taken in more and disbursed less money than initially anticipated. [NY Times]

Dissatisfied with Speaker Boehner’s leadership in the House, Tea Party Patriots founders Jenny Martin and Mark Meckler have suggested that a new speaker may be in order. Citing his lengthy Washington experience and ingrained political habits, they did not go so far as endorsing someone to replace Boehener, though Meckler mentioned Michele Bachmann as a possibility if she weren’t running for President. [National Journal]

For the second day in a row, President Obama has no scheduled meetings to discuss the debt debate with Congressional leadership. Though spokesman Jay Carney has insisted that the President has been involved with debt negotiations, it increasingly looks as though the final deal to be presented to him will be hammered out between competing bills in the House and Senate. [Washington Post]

Although tensions remain high within the House Republican Caucus, the likelihood of the Boehner debt plan passing the House seems to be climbing. This is in spite of a recent e-mail leak from inside the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of conservative Republicans, that indicated which members of that group might or might not support the plan. [National Journal]

Former Republican presidential candidate John McCain has lashed out at Tea Party-leaning Republicans who have demanded a balanced budget amendment as part of any debt ceiling agreement. Reading from a Wall Street Journal editorial that envisioned hardliner Republicans as denizens of a Tolkein-esque fantasy world, McCain blasted the notion of an amendment as unrealistic given the Democratic majority in the Senate. [The Hill]

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Recovery

Rest in peace, Amy Winehouse. This piece from Time magazine discusses her struggle with drug addiction, and how her story can shine a light on helping others with similar problems. [Time]

A young girl’s dream of providing clean water to families in developing nations lives on, even after her tragic death. [CNN]

Nafissatou Diallo was a hotel maid who went in to clean Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s room and left as the center of a scandal. Now, she tells her story. [Newsweek]

For a little levity, check out Esquire’s list of other “Gangs of Six” that weren’t as successful as the group in the Senate today. [Esquire]

Artur Davis: Michele Bachmann’s Viability

Based on my own observations in the House, I would have been stunned if you had told me Michele Bachmann would ever seriously contend for the presidency. Nothing about her abilities as a politician or legislator ever marked her as that kind of talent.

But it does not require sympathy for her candidacy to be repelled by the ugliness and the venom of the whispering campaign that is underway against her. It proves first, that the liberal blogosphere is as crudely toxic as the right-wing blogosphere has always been.

Second, the coverage in mainstream media of unattributed allegations from individuals with an axe to grind is a dangerous lowering of the bar. Standards still have a role to play in the coverage of a presidential race, and some of those standards are being shredded in the zeal to “unmask” Bachmann.

I think Michele Bachmann is on the verge of opening up a sizable lead in Iowa and that she is about to become an explosive online, grassroots fund-raising force in the next several months. If she wins Iowa, there is enough of a conservative base for her to compete effectively in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida.

But I am unconvinced that she can sweep those states and avoid a protracted three-month fight in the northern battleground states that she is not well-positioned to win. If Romney is still standing, he will be the choice of an establishment and a traditional donor base that doubts Bachmann’s elecability and suspects that she jeopardizes the Republican hold on the House, and the drumbeat against her general election vulnerability will take a toll.

The defining question: if Bachmann is surging early next year, is she running competitively in the polls with Barack Obama or not? If she is the nomination will be within her reach; if not it simply won’t happen.

(Cross-posted, with permission of the author, from Politico’s Arena)

Will Allison: Unloading Their Guns

Like I said, this deal ain’t happenin’.

People keep telling me that a deal on raising the debt ceiling will definitely happen.  It must happen.  Both sides agree it must happen.  The fate of the global economy depends on no less.  They’re back at the negotiation table.  Sure, Speaker Boehner walked out on Friday, but he was back in the White House on Saturday.  Some kind of product must emerge from these negotiations.

A few days ago, as I was walking down the street in Lower Manhattan, I saw a man reach into a garbage can, fish out an open can of soda, and chug whatever was left in it.  It was a hot day, but Jesus Christ.

At this point, any product that would emerge from negotiations between the President and the Tea Party would be as valuable as that can of soda.

Those who believe otherwise must also believe that the behavior of the House Republican majority—intransigent to the point of nihilism–will radically change in the next week.  That’s right: we have one week left until default.  One week left before the crash.

Here is an example of the behavior of the new House Republican Majority.  Allen West is a freshman GOP Congressman from Florida, a star of the 2010 Tea Party wave.  He is an Iraq War veteran, discharged from the service after torturing an Iraqi police officer.  Most people would try to put that kind of shameful incident behind them.  West returned home and campaigned on it.  Successfully.

A couple of weeks ago, Congressman West shot off an email to Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose congressional district adjoins his.  In the email, he wrote, “You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up.  Focus on your own congressional district!”  Not done, he followed that up with “You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!”  Then he copied most of Congress on the email, just to let everyone else know how hurt his feelings were.

What did Debbie Wasserman Schultz do to poor Mr. West to provoke such a tirade?  Steal his daughter’s Justin Bieber tickets?  Drown his cat?  Assert the supremacy of Mellencamp over Springsteen?

(Pictured above: a former Lieutenant Colonel’s worst nightmare.)

Even worse.  This “lady” had the nerve to actually describe Allen West’s plans for Medicare recipients, via the debt ceiling negotiations: “The gentleman from Florida. who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries, unbelievable from a Member from South Florida”.

That’s it.  That’s what set him off.  In West’s defense, perhaps he felt physically threatened by Wasserman Schultz.  After all, she does look awfully intimidating.

These are the kinds of people President Obama is trying to negotiate a debt ceiling increase out of.  Crazy people.   Not to say they aren’t serious people.  No, these people take themselves very, very seriously.  As to their role as stewards of our nation’s well-being?  Taken about as seriously as a box of Lucky Charms.

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Will Allison: Unloading Their Guns

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Basketball

The Politics of Hoops

The NBA lockout persists, much to my chagrin.  Things don’t seem to be calming down, either, as the NBA’s financials truths appear to be less and less similar to those that they report. [ESPN]

The Big Lead did a very interesting interview with Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love.  He talks about volleyball, the Minnesota coaching search, the Ricky Rubio saga, and the lockout.  A good read, for sure.  [The Big Lead]

Deadspin recently broke a strange story about Ron “Metta World Peace” Artest and his apparent propensity for sexting.  It’s a silly thing to read, but its news, and so I will link it.  I personally agree more with Bomani Jones’ take.  [Deadspin only pseudo-safe for work]

The lockout has seen a few player say that they will play overseas.  While the biggest name to take this path so far has been Deron Williams, a club in Turkey is said to be pursuing a giant prize–Kobe Bryant.  [Reuters]

The scandal-chasing Pete Thamel smells blood in the water at the University of Connecticut, and has penned an article taking on the UCONN athletic department and its men’s basketball program.  I am selfishly happy about this, at it means he will probably stay off the back of the University of Kentucky (at least for a little while.) [New York Times]

Speaking of my beloved Wildcats, there are currently no suspects in the tragic shooting of Desmond Allison, who played for the University of Kentucky’s 1999 “Team Turmoil.”  A sad story, for sure. [Louisville Courier-Journal]

Loranne Ausley: What a Difference 3 Months Make!

I have just re-read my inaugural post from April 27, 2010 and it is hard to believe that only 3 months have passed.   Way back in April I was trying to figure out what to do with all of the extra time on my hands, struggling with being on the “other side of the fence” and in a general state of malaise as I watched the Florida legislature dismantle everything that I care about.


In the past 3 months, I have joined my  husband’s law firm, and started a new statewide progressive research and messaging effort.  Our son has graduated from 2nd grade,  I have completed 6 triathlons, and we have driven across the country.


There really is nothing like a cross country road trip.   I set off with a dear friend from law school and our two sons (ages 8 and 9) from Atlanta in late June.  Our final destination was Driggs, ID, but we took THE LONG WAY.  I mean what fun is a cross country trip without crashing on a friend’s couch  (at age 47 with my 8 year old) and  doing a half ironman (in Lubbock, TX during a heat wave/drought)?   Nine days and over 3,000 miles later we made it to our final destination with a van load full of laughs and memories.


While my last post was written from a remote barrier island in Florida, today I am writing from the western side of the Grand Teton range – looking at what I believe is the most beautiful view of The Grand Teton — from the back side.  I could stare at that mountain all day long – and sometimes I do.  Something about the wide open plains that reveal themselves to the dramatic, majestic Tetons has always been magical to this flatlander.  It doesn’t hurt that the average high temperature out here is about 85 while the rest of the country is suffering through a major heat wave.


One of the highlights of this trip has been the opportunity for our 8 year old to attend a Rock & Roll Music Camp out here.  While the camp is for entering 6th graders and up, they made an exception and let Will participate (thanks to pushy mom who insisted he could handle it…before I told them he was legally blind).    

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Loranne Ausley: What a Difference 3 Months Make!

Zac Byer: The Regret Ceiling

Bipartisan meetings continue to fail to produce results on the debt crisis

If you watched the TV show Lost, you probably sat through some episodes (or seasons) and found yourself, well, lost. That’s the same way I feel trying to wade through the muck coming out of Washington lately. Some days, the debt crisis seems like a grade-AAA fiasco. Other days, I wonder if this is all just a bunch of pre-primary fear-mongering.

Last night, President Barack Obama started his first prime-time address on the debt crisis with guns ablaze against George W. Bush’s tenure. Speaker John Boehner did not mention the words “revenue” or “loopholes” or “tax code” once. Really? Compromise? President Obama, don’t you remember your campaign line about this being the United States of America, not the Blue States or Red States of America? Speaker Boehner, don’t you remember when, only days ago, you put your support behind a plan that sought to raise nearly $800 million in revenue? IS ANYBODY LISTENING?!?

It’s hard to keep track of all the plans the Beltway crowd has sent our way. Grand Bargain? Give me a break, Mr. President. Henry Clay would be disappointed. Constitutional amendment? Uh, remember the 18th Amendment? That’s what happens when people make lofty decisions without considering all of the potential consequences. The Gang of Six? They say a group starts losing productivity when the membership exceeds seven people – maybe that’s why the plan makes some sense. But, until the Six make like Ross Perot and explain the plan to the public, our skepticism will remain.

As America approaches her debt ceiling, we are nearing our Regret Ceiling. Most people think that Congress will raise the debt ceiling by August 2nd. If our representatives and president fail us, here are a few of the regrets to expect:

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Zac Byer: The Regret Ceiling

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of the Media

Google E-Books, a new venture coming in the fall, just got more buzzworthy. All of the Harry Potter books will be offered, meaning they’ll be accessible on cell phones, computers and more. [Time Techland]

Still have questions from the recent British tabloid scandal? The New York Times opinion page offers multiple reactions to media bias in the U.S. and abroad. [NY Times]

The newspaper industry’s response to perceptions of papers being a dying breed: smart is the new sexy. [NY Magazine]

What’s it like to work at Twitter or Google? Just read their interns’ blogs for a taste of the corporate culture. [Fast Company]

In honor of “The Daily Show” and its 15th birthday, here are Jon Stewart’s best media criticism moments [Poynter Institute].

The Recovering Politician Bookstore


The RP on The Daily Show