Monday, July 18, 2011

Open Thread & News Round-Up: Debt Negotiations

The HillSaturday winds down with little progress to report in debt-limit negotiations: "House GOP leaders announced there was no progress to report in debt-limit negotiations with the President Obama and congressional Democrats as Saturday evening approached."

WaPoCongress tees up crucial votes on debt limit: "A bipartisan effort in the Senate to allow President Obama to raise the federal debt ceiling in exchange for about $1.5 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years gained momentum Sunday, as leaders agreed they would have to act in the next two weeks to avert a potential default by the U.S. government."

PoliticoGOP's hard right shift in debt talks may put deal at risk: "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."

Well. That about says it all. But here's a little more from the same piece, just to underline the point:
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.

Dubbed Cut, Cap and Balance, the House bill allows for a $2.4 trillion increase in the Treasury’s borrowing authority but effectively uses the Aug. 2 deadline as a Republican anvil on which to hammer out cuts President Barack Obama would otherwise veto.
Grim stuff. But hardly surprising, given everything we know about the modern Republican Party. Steve Benen addresses the absurdity that is "Cut, Cap, and Balance" here.

We've got a party of No Compromise Even When You're Wrong negotiating with a president who values compromise over Standing Your Ground Even When You're Right:
[Obama] doesn't just acknowledge the need for compromise. He glories in it. He sees it as "part of the process of growing up." It's juvenile to act on your own beliefs, to draw bright lines that cannot be crossed, to express core convictions. "Don't set up a situation where you're guaranteed to be disappointed," Obama says. That's the worst thing that could ever happen. He makes an enemy out of disappointment, when it can just as easily be a rallying point, an opportunity to show a better path next time.

This fetish of bipartisanship and compromise would have been the elements of a very good President circa 1954, or maybe 1975. In 2011, with one party that has swore to never compromise on any principle ever again, it's just a recipe for failure to hear this from the head of the other party. It guarantees bad outcomes. And with an economy in tatters and urgency (the fierce urgency of now, I would say) the order of the day, it has enormous consequences.
In related news, President Obama has "selected former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to lead the embattled Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."

So much for Elizabeth Warren.