Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Open Thread & News Round-Up: Debt Negotiations

Here's the latest...

PoliticoCBO: John Boehner's debt bill comes up short: "New cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office could pose a problem for Speaker John Boehner as he tries to rally conservative support for his two-step plan to raise the federal debt ceiling and avert default next week. ... The first installment of $900 billion is contingent on enacting 10 year caps on annual appropriations which the leadership had hoped would save well over $1 trillion. But CBO late Tuesday came back with a report showing the legislation would reduce deficits by $850 billion when measured against the agency’s most current projections for spending."

AP—House GOP to rework budget plan after new estimate: "A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner says House Republican leaders are working to rewrite their deficit-reduction plan after receiving an estimate that it won't cut spending as much as advertised."

CNN—Conservative groups come out against Boehner proposal: "As House Speaker John Boehner and the House Republican leadership continues to build support for its proposal to raise the debt ceiling, several influential tea party and conservative groups Tuesday voiced opposition to it. ... Many of these conservative groups and members only would support increasing the ceiling if it is accompanied by larger spending cuts as well as enactment of a balanced budget amendment while some others flatly oppose any hike."

The HillCantor tells House to 'stop whining' about Boehner debt-ceiling plan: "Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Tuesday bluntly told House Republicans to stop 'grumbling and whining' about Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) new proposal for a limited debt-limit increase."

Greg Sargent in the WaPoDems plot the endgame in debt limit fight: "Here's the game plan, as seen by Senate Dem aides: The next move is to sit tight and wait for the House to vote on Boehner's proposal. The idea is that with mounting conservative opposition, it could very well be defeated. If the Boehner plan goes down in the House, that would represent a serious blow to Boehner's leadership, weakening his hand in negotiations."

So that's where the debt negotiations, such as they are, stand. Meanwhile, Paul Krugman observes that this entire debacle exposes the "true moral failure" of "the cult of balance, of centrism."
We have a crisis in which the right is making [unreasonable] demands, while the president and Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating — offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion.

So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship.

The reality, of course, is that we already have a centrist president — actually a moderate conservative president. Once again, health reform — his only major change to government — was modeled on Republican plans, indeed plans coming from the Heritage Foundation. And everything else — including the wrongheaded emphasis on austerity in the face of high unemployment — is according to the conservative playbook.

...You have to ask, what would it take for these news organizations and pundits to actually break with the convention that both sides are equally at fault? ... And yes, I think this is a moral issue. The "both sides are at fault" people have to know better; if they refuse to say it, it's out of some combination of fear and ego, of being unwilling to sacrifice their treasured pose of being above the fray.

It's a terrible thing to watch, and our nation will pay the price.
At TPM, Josh Marshall makes a similar observation: "It's been said many times. But it's never enough: the conventions of journalistic 'objectivity', as currently defined, frequently make journalists violate their biggest duty, which is honesty with readers. The top headline running now on CNN reads: 'They're all talking, but no one is compromising, at least publicly. Democratic and GOP leaders appear unwilling to bend on proposals to raise the debt ceiling.' By any reasonable measure, this is simply false, even painfully so."