via The Maddow Blog
via The Maddow Blog
The broad message of Republicans is resonating, with 57 percent of the country saying the best way to create jobs is to cut taxes and government spending. That hasn’t stopped the party’s brand from deteriorating, and the public rejects many specific Republican policy prescriptions.
From far away, voters buy the tough-love premise. Up close, they want Congress to raise taxes on the wealthy before cutting Medicare or Social Security. They also like health reform — just 34 percent agree with Republicans that it should be repealed.
Another new survey, this one not tweeted by Speaker Boehner, says that Americans prefer President Obama’s approach to the economy over Republicans. They like the American Jobs Act by 43-35, and when you break it down into parts, Steve Benen notes, they like it even more:
[T]he more important results show strong support for individual provisions of the plan: clear majorities Americans support cutting the payroll tax (65% support), providing state aid to protect jobs for teachers and first responders (74%), and infrastructure investments (64%).
Republicans oppose all of these ideas.
We saw something of the same thing in the health reform fight — even people opposed to it on principle really liked the particulars.
House conservatives who have stalled legislation to raise the national debt limit are angry that it includes $17 billion in supplemental spending for Pell Grants, which some compare to welfare.
Legislation crafted by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to raise the debt limit by $900 billion would directly appropriate $9 billion for Pell Grants in 2012 and another $8 billion in 2013.
This has shocked some conservative House freshmen who say they were elected to cut spending, not increase it. Some House Republicans think of it as being akin to welfare.
“I really don’t understand why we’re increasing spending in a bill supposed to be cutting spending,” said Rep. Andy Harris, a freshman Republican from Maryland. “It was negotiated without the input of a lot of members.”
Harris has indicated to The Baltimore Sun that he will vote no.
House Republican leaders say they included concessions to Democrats in efforts to forge a compromise that could pass both chambers.
“This is a compromise piece of legislation that was negotiated between the Speaker and the bipartisan leadership in the Senate,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters Thursday afternoon.
One major concession is the establishment of a select joint committee to assemble another deficit-reduction package later in the 112th Congress.
“The joint select committee is something that came from the Democrats. We don’t have all the cuts we like in this bill but we’re willing to compromise,” Cantor said.
The inclusion of the extra money for Pell Grants could cost Republican votes.
Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) has compared Pell Grants to “welfare”.
“So you can go to college on Pell Grants — maybe I should not be telling anybody this because it’s turning out to be the welfare of the 21st century,” Rehberg told Blog Talk Radio in April. “You can go to school, collect your Pell Grants, get food stamps, low-income energy assistance, Section 8 housing, and all of a sudden we find ourselves subsidizing people that don’t have to graduate from college.”
Rehberg has not said how he will vote on Boehner’s bill.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who has not revealed his position, said the Pell Grants have “been part of the discussion” among conservatives who are debating whether to support the bill.House GOP leaders postponed a vote on the plan Thursday evening because of opposition within their conference.
Funding Pell Grants has been a top priority for President Obama. In his 2012 budget blueprint, the president sought to preserve the maximum grant at nearly $5,550 a year.
Good evening. Tonight, I want to talk about the debate we’ve been having in Washington over the national debt – a debate that directly affects the lives of all Americans.
For the last decade, we have spent more money than we take in. In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off our debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our nation’s credit card.
As a result, the deficit was on track to top $1 trillion the year I took office. To make matters worse, the recession meant that there was less money coming in, and it required us to spend even more – on tax cuts for middle-class families; on unemployment insurance; on aid to states so we could prevent more teachers and firefighters and police officers from being laid off. These emergency steps also added to the deficit.
Now, every family knows that a little credit card debt is manageable. But if we stay on the current path, our growing debt could cost us jobs and do serious damage to the economy. More of our tax dollars will go toward paying off the interest on our loans. Businesses will be less likely to open up shop and hire workers in a country that can’t balance its books. Interest rates could climb for everyone who borrows money – the homeowner with a mortgage, the student with a college loan, the corner store that wants to expand. And we won’t have enough money to make job-creating investments in things like education and infrastructure, or pay for vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
Because neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this problem, both parties have a responsibility to solve it. And over the last several months, that’s what we’ve been trying to do. I won’t bore you with the details of every plan or proposal, but basically, the debate has centered around two different approaches.
The first approach says, let’s live within our means by making serious, historic cuts in government spending. Let’s cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower was President. Let’s cut defense spending at the Pentagon by hundreds of billions of dollars. Let’s cut out the waste and fraud in health care programs like Medicare – and at the same time, let’s make modest adjustments so that Medicare is still there for future generations. Finally, let’s ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their tax breaks and special deductions.
This balanced approach asks everyone to give a little without requiring anyone to sacrifice too much. It would reduce the deficit by around $4 trillion and put us on a path to pay down our debt. And the cuts wouldn’t happen so abruptly that they’d be a drag on our economy, or prevent us from helping small business and middle-class families get back on their feet right now.
This approach is also bipartisan. While many in my own party aren’t happy with the painful cuts it makes, enough will be willing to accept them if the burden is fairly shared. While Republicans might like to see deeper cuts and no revenue at all, there are many in the Senate who have said “Yes, I’m willing to put politics aside and consider this approach because I care about solving the problem.” And to his credit, this is the kind of approach the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was working on with me over the last several weeks.
The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a cuts-only approach – an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all. And because nothing is asked of those at the top of the income scales, such an approach would close the deficit only with more severe cuts to programs we all care about – cuts that place a greater burden on working families.
So the debate right now isn’t about whether we need to make tough choices. Democrats and Republicans agree on the amount of deficit reduction we need. The debate is about how it should be done. Most Americans, regardless of political party, don’t understand how we can ask a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare before we ask corporate jet owners and oil companies to give up tax breaks that other companies don’t get. How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries? How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for?
That’s not right. It’s not fair. We all want a government that lives within its means, but there are still things we need to pay for as a country – things like new roads and bridges; weather satellites and food inspection; services to veterans and medical research.
Keep in mind that under a balanced approach, the 98% of Americans who make under $250,000 would see no tax increases at all. None. In fact, I want to extend the payroll tax cut for working families. What we’re talking about under a balanced approach is asking Americans whose incomes have gone up the most over the last decade – millionaires and billionaires – to share in the sacrifice everyone else has to make. And I think these patriotic Americans are willing to pitch in. In fact, over the last few decades, they’ve pitched in every time we passed a bipartisan deal to reduce the deficit. The first time a deal passed, a predecessor of mine made the case for a balanced approach by saying this:
“Would you rather reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share, or would you rather accept larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment? And I think I know your answer.”
Those words were spoken by Ronald Reagan. But today, many Republicans in the House refuse to consider this kind of balanced approach – an approach that was pursued not only by President Reagan, but by the first President Bush, President Clinton, myself, and many Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate. So we are left with a stalemate.
Now, what makes today’s stalemate so dangerous is that it has been tied to something known as the debt ceiling – a term that most people outside of Washington have probably never heard of before.
Understand – raising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money. It simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up. In the past, raising the debt ceiling was routine. Since the 1950s, Congress has always passed it, and every President has signed it. President Reagan did it 18 times. George W. Bush did it 7 times. And we have to do it by next Tuesday, August 2nd, or else we won’t be able to pay all of our bills.
Unfortunately, for the past several weeks, Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach.
If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills – bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.
For the first time in history, our country’s Triple A credit rating would be downgraded, leaving investors around the world to wonder whether the United States is still a good bet. Interest rates would skyrocket on credit cards, mortgages, and car loans, which amounts to a huge tax hike on the American people. We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis – one caused almost entirely by Washington.
Defaulting on our obligations is a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate. And Republican leaders say that they agree we must avoid default. But the new approach that Speaker Boehner unveiled today, which would temporarily extend the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts, would force us to once again face the threat of default just six months from now. In other words, it doesn’t solve the problem.
First of all, a six-month extension of the debt ceiling might not be enough to avoid a credit downgrade and the higher interest rates that all Americans would have to pay as a result. We know what we have to do to reduce our deficits; there’s no point in putting the economy at risk by kicking the can further down the road.
But there’s an even greater danger to this approach. Based on what we’ve seen these past few weeks, we know what to expect six months from now. The House will once again refuse to prevent default unless the rest of us accept their cuts-only approach. Again, they will refuse to ask the wealthiest Americans to give up their tax cuts or deductions. Again, they will demand harsh cuts to programs like Medicare. And once again, the economy will be held captive unless they get their way.
That is no way to run the greatest country on Earth. It is a dangerous game we’ve never played before, and we can’t afford to play it now. Not when the jobs and livelihoods of so many families are at stake. We can’t allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington’s political warfare.
Congress now has one week left to act, and there are still paths forward. The Senate has introduced a plan to avoid default, which makes a down payment on deficit reduction and ensures that we don’t have to go through this again in six months.
I think that’s a much better path, although serious deficit reduction would still require us to tackle the tough challenges of entitlement and tax reform. Either way, I have told leaders of both parties that they must come up with a fair compromise in the next few days that can pass both houses of Congress – a compromise I can sign. And I am confident we can reach this compromise. Despite our disagreements, Republican leaders and I have found common ground before. And I believe that enough members of both parties will ultimately put politics aside and help us make progress.
I realize that a lot of the new members of Congress and I don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But we were each elected by some of the same Americans for some of the same reasons. Yes, many want government to start living within its means. And many are fed up with a system in which the deck seems stacked against middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthiest few. But do you know what people are fed up with most of all?
They’re fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word. They work all day long, many of them scraping by, just to put food on the table. And when these Americans come home at night, bone-tired, and turn on the news, all they see is the same partisan three-ring circus here in Washington. They see leaders who can’t seem to come together and do what it takes to make life just a little bit better for ordinary Americans. They are offended by that. And they should be.
The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government. So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your Member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.
America, after all, has always been a grand experiment in compromise. As a democracy made up of every race and religion, where every belief and point of view is welcomed, we have put to the test time and again the proposition at the heart of our founding: that out of many, we are one. We have engaged in fierce and passionate debates about the issues of the day, but from slavery to war, from civil liberties to questions of economic justice, we have tried to live by the words that Jefferson once wrote: “Every man cannot have his way in all things…Without this mutual disposition, we are disjointed individuals, but not a society.”
History is scattered with the stories of those who held fast to rigid ideologies and refused to listen to those who disagreed. But those are not the Americans we remember. We remember the Americans who put country above self, and set personal grievances aside for the greater good. We remember the Americans who held this country together during its most difficult hours; who put aside pride and party to form a more perfect union.
That’s who we remember. That’s who we need to be right now. The entire world is watching. So let’s seize this moment to show why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth – not just because we can still keep our word and meet our obligations, but because we can still come together as one nation. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
July 24, 2011
WASHINGTON — The House speaker, John A. Boehner, and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, were preparing separate backup plans to raise the nation’s debt ceiling on Sunday after they and the White House were unable to form a bipartisan plan that would end an increasingly grim standoff over the federal budget.
The dueling plans emerged after Mr. Boehner walked away from negotiations with the White House on Friday, leading to a frustrating weekend of talks in heat-scorched Washington. The leaders of both parties variously negotiated together over the phone, talked separately, conferred with their caucuses and tried to plot an end to the debt crisis that would assure the capital markets around the world that America would meet its debt obligations.
As the Aug. 2 deadline for lifting the debt ceiling nears, warnings are growing that the nation’s economy may be damaged by the protracted stalemate. A downgrade of the nation’s credit rating, which could raise the cost of borrowing, seemed more likely, deal or no deal.
Mr. Reid, the Senate’s top Democrat, was trying on Sunday to cobble together a plan to raise the government’s debt limit by $2.4 trillion through the 2012 elections, with spending cuts of about $2.7 trillion that would not touch any of the entitlement programs that are dear to Democrats or raise taxes, which is anathema to Republicans.
President Obama could endorse such a plan, even though it would fall far short of the ambitious goal of deficit reduction and entitlement changes that he says are necessary to shore up the nation’s finances.
At the White House on Sunday evening, Mr. Obama spent about an hour meeting in the Oval Office to try to hash out details of the Democratic proposal with Mr. Reid and the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi. The two emerged from the meeting with nothing to say to the throngs of reporters who had been encamped there for the third consecutive weekend, awaiting an agreement on the debt ceiling.
But administration and Congressional officials said that during the meeting, Mr. Obama and the Democratic leaders had resolved to hold firm against any short-term agreement that did not raise the debt ceiling beyond next year’s presidential elections.
“You see how hard this is right now,” one administration official said Sunday night. “Can you imagine going through this again in six months?”
That means, officials say, that Mr. Reid’s proposal may gather steam as the only viable alternative that is palatable to the administration.
The contours of Mr. Boehner’s backup plan were not entirely clear, but it seemed likely to take the form of a two-step process, with about $1 trillion in cuts, an amount the Republicans said was sufficient to clear the way for a debt limit increase through year’s end. That would be followed by future cuts guided by a new legislative commission that would consider a broader range of trims, program overhauls and revenue increases.
“The preferable path would be a bipartisan plan that involves all the leaders, but it is too early to decide whether that’s possible,” Mr. Boehner said in a “Fox News Sunday” interview. “If that’s not possible, I and my Republican colleagues in the House are prepared to move on our own.”
In a conference call with Republican lawmakers that lasted over an hour on Sunday night, Mr. Boehner said he was seeking “a vehicle that can pass in both houses,” according to someone on the call, who added that Mr. Boehner had made an emotional appeal to his fellow Republicans to stick together. “If we’re divided,” he said, “our leverage gets minimized.”
One freshman lawmaker on the call described Mr. Boehner as sounding weary and said many Republicans were focused on some version of a balanced budget amendment, which was already passed by the House as part of broader legislation but then rejected by the Senate.
For the White House, the Reid proposal represents a Hail Mary pass that is meant to, at the very least, avoid putting the country through a repeat of the debt ceiling negotiations next year, an election year.
Even if Mr. Boehner loses Tea Party members and other conservative Republicans in Congress, the administration hope is that enough House Democrats would vote for the Senate plan that it would offset the loss of conservative Republican votes.
The White House remained largely on the sidelines over the weekend as lawmakers set out with their own plans. While the White House remains adamantly opposed to a two-step deal that does not extend the debt ceiling beyond next year’s elections, administration officials expect that the Senate would modify Mr. Boehner’s proposal.
While a modified plan might fail to gain the support of the more right-leaning and Tea Party-influenced House members, it could win enough Democratic votes to pass if it is blessed by Mr. Reid. However, if Mr. Boehner were to reject Senate modifications and go with a deal that would pass muster with his Republican conference, the Senate would have to offer a rebuttal, as the clock ticks.
The dueling plans were a departure from the so-called grand bargain that Mr. Obama had been pushing, which would have included trillions of dollars in budget and entitlement cuts over the next 10 years along with the elimination of tax loopholes and possibly the addition of new taxes.
The impasse has set the tone for the 2012 presidential race, with the debate growing rancorous and the two parties’ visions for the country at odds.
The enormous deficit challenges have been clearly articulated to voters, as the parties seek unified control of Congress, where the Republicans are the majority in the House and the Democrats in the Senate. Mr. Obama will veto any debt legislation unless it extends the ability of the nation to borrow into 2013, the White House chief of staff, William M. Daley, said on Sunday.
Mr. Daley, appearing on the NBC News program “Meet the Press,” said that world markets and the American economy would not tolerate continued doubts brought on by periodic fights over the debt ceiling. “The president believes that we must get this uncertainty out of the system,” Mr. Daley said.
Minutes after Mr. Daley promised a veto, Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, said on the same program that Mr. Daley’s remarks were “a ridiculous position, because that’s what he’s going to get presented with.”
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner suggested that there was still hope for a grand bargain.
“They are talking again,” Mr. Geithner said in an appearance on “This Week” on ABC. “They’ve been in touch throughout this time.”
Both Mr. Geithner and Mr. Daley said they believed Congress would figure out a way to avoid default.
“The leaders of Congress have said unequivocally that we will meet our obligations,” Mr. Geithner said.
Mr. Daley acknowledged, however, that both sides were still at the brink.
“We are now getting to a point where markets around the world will question whether the political system can come together and compromise for the good of the country,” Mr. Daley said.
Washington (CNN) — House Speaker John Boehner walked away from debt talks with President Barack Obama’s administration Friday, raising the stakes in the country’s ongoing effort to stave off national default.
“In the end, we couldn’t connect. Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country,” Boehner wrote in a letter to his fellow Republicans.
The House speaker said that “a deal was never reached, and was never really close.”
“For these reasons, I have decided to end discussions with the White House and begin conversations with the leaders of the Senate in an effort to find a path forward,” he wrote.
Speaking to reporters soon after news of Boehner’s decision broke, a visibly frustrated Obama said that he has told the Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress to come to the White House on Saturday morning to “explain to me how we are going to avoid default” on the nation’s debt. Boehner told reporters at a news conference later he would attend that meeting.
The president said his administration had offered “an extraordinarily fair deal” to cut expenditures and raise revenues, in return for Congress agreeing to hike the nation’s debt ceiling. But he said that Boehner “left (him) at the altar” by ending negotiations around 5:30 p.m. Friday.
“I remain confident that we will get an extension of the debt limit and we will not default. I am confident of that,” Obama said. “I am less confident at this point that people are willing to step up to the plate and actually deal with the underlying problem of debt and deficits. That requires tough choices.”
The negotiations — necessary to stave off an unprecedented national default that could prove economically devastating — are testing the ability of leaders on both sides of the aisle to legislate effectively in an era of increasingly shrill and unyielding partisanship.
Republicans, who have railed against the growth of government, remain staunchly opposed to any tax increases. Democrats are trying to protect some of their party’s primary legacies — entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, programs forged at the height of the New Deal and Great Society.
Speaking after Obama did, Boehner accused the White House of “moving the goalposts” by requesting an additional $400 billion in revenue hikes, a move that he said prompted his decision to call off talks with the president.
The Ohio Republican said members of Congress now “will work together” — absent representatives from the White House — to reach a deal that involves spending cuts and raising the nation’s debt ceiling. He said he was confident that the government would act to avoid default.
“We can work together here on Capitol Hill to forge an agreement, and I’m hopeful that the president will work with us on this agreement,” said Boehner, who compared dealing with the White House to dealing with a bowl of Jell-O.
Senior White House officials, speaking on background, denied moving the goalposts and said they had not expected Boehner would walk away from a deal that would have tied between $3.5 trillion and $4 trillion in new savings to an increase in the debt ceiling.
Republicans and Democrats agreed on a number of points, including $800 billion in revenue increases and certain entitlement reforms, the officials said. They disagreed over an additional $400 billion in revenue hikes and how deep cuts to Medicaid should be, they added.
“Obviously this paper is not going in the shredder,” said one senior White House official, suggesting the proposal could be revived.
Another senior administration official said that the White House is not happy about Boehner’s timeline in notifying the president, as the house speaker’s office was briefing reporters on his decision even before Boehner had returned Obama’s call.
House Republican leadership aides told reporters that the White House and Boehner had been discussing a plan that would have tied between $3 trillion and $3.5 trillion in new savings over the next decade to an increase in the debt ceiling, not including revenue.
They stressed that whatever deal moves forward must meet two criteria. Any increase in the debt limit will need to be accompanied by spending cuts or reforms greater than the debt increase, and taxes must not be raised, they said.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said that he found it “disappointing that the talks with the White House (and Republicans) did not reach a favorable conclusion,” even as he welcomed the news that the debt-ceiling discussions would be decided in Congress.
“It’s time now for the debate to move out of a room in the White House and onto the House and Senate floors, where we can debate the best approach to reducing the nation’s unsustainable debt,” he said in a statement.
Earlier Friday, the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected the GOP’s “cut, cap, and balance” deficit reduction plan, voting 51-46 to set the measure aside and clear a path for further talks on what Democrats insist must be a more centrist measure balancing spending reductions and tax hikes.
“Cut, cap, and balance,” which passed the Republican-controlled House earlier in the week, would have tied a debt ceiling increase to sweeping reductions in federal spending, caps on future expenditures, and a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
While the measure was never expected to become law, holding votes on it allowed Republicans to demonstrate their preference for steps favored by many in the conservative tea party movement.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, dismissed the vote Friday morning as a waste of time.
“There is simply no more time to waste debating and voting on measures that have no hopes of becoming law,” Reid said. There is “no more time to waste playing partisan games.”
Republicans argued that Democrats are obstructing sorely needed spending reforms.
“The House has done its job,” Boehner declared. “We have a spending problem. Somebody’s got to get serious about cutting spending.”
The talks, meanwhile, have become a race against the clock. If Congress fails to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit by August 2, Americans could face rising interest rates, a declining dollar and increasingly jittery financial markets, among other problems.
“Neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this debt, but both parties have a responsibility to come together and solve the problem,” Obama wrote in an op-ed that appeared in Friday’s USA Today. “That’s what the American people expect of us.”
It is unclear — even if a deal is reached — that any sweeping package can be approved by the August 2 deadline.
A Republican source familiar with the negotiations said Boehner told Republican lawmakers Friday that to get the debt ceiling raised by August 2, the House must vote on legislation by next Wednesday — and that means it must be posted online Monday.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney signaled to reporters earlier in the week that the president may now be willing to sign a short-term debt limit extension if Democratic and Republican leaders are close to agreement on a broad plan that includes both tax hikes and spending reforms.
Obama previously indicated he would veto any short-term extension.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are also continuing discussions focused on the $3.7 trillion debt reduction blueprint put forward by the “Gang of Six,” a group of three Democratic and three Republican senators.
Under the group’s proposal, $500 billion in budget savings would be immediately imposed, with marginal income tax rates reduced and the controversial alternative minimum tax ultimately abolished.
The plan would create three tax brackets with rates from 8% to 12%, 14% to 22%, and 23% to 29% — part of a new structure designed to generate an additional $1 trillion in revenue. It would require cost changes to Medicare’s growth rate formula as well as $80 billion in Pentagon cuts.
Obama has praised the plan, calling it “broadly consistent” with his approach to debt reduction because it mixes tax changes, entitlement reforms and spending reductions.
The proposal, however, has been hit with a barrage of criticism from both the right and the left. Conservatives have complained about some of the plan’s tax changes, while liberals have warned it would cut entitlement benefits too deeply.
If all else fails, party leaders could still turn to a fallback plan initially put forward by Senate Minority Leader McConnell. The measure would give Obama the power to raise the borrowing limit by a total of $2.5 trillion, but also require three congressional votes on the issue before the 2012 general election.
Specifically, Obama would be required to submit three requests for debt ceiling hikes — a $700 billion increase and two $900 billion increases. Along with each request, the president would have to submit a list of recommended spending cuts exceeding the debt ceiling increase. The cuts would not need to be enacted in order for the ceiling to rise.
Congress would vote on — and presumably pass — “resolutions of disapproval” for each request. Obama would likely veto each resolution. Unless Congress manages to override the president’s vetoes — considered highly unlikely — the debt ceiling would increase.
The unusual scheme would allow most Republicans and some more conservative Democrats to vote against any debt ceiling hike while still allowing it to clear.
McConnell and Reid are also working on two critical additions to the plan, according to congressional aides in both parties. One would add up to roughly $1.5 trillion in spending cuts agreed to in earlier talks led by Vice President Joe Biden; the other would create a commission meant to find more major spending cuts, tax increases and entitlement reforms.
Changes agreed to by the commission — composed of an equal number of House and Senate Democrats and Republicans — would be subject to a strict up-or-down vote by Congress. No amendments would be allowed.
Sources say the panel would be modeled after the Base Closing and Realignment Commission, which managed to close hundreds of military bases that Congress could not otherwise bring itself to shut down.
By Travis Waldron on Apr 14, 2011 at 11:49 am, ThinkProgress
After pushing the government to brink of shutdown last week, Republican Congressional leaders are now preparing to push America to the edge of default by refusing to increase the nation’s debt limit without first getting Democrats to concede to large spending cuts.
But while the four Republicans in Congressional leadership positions are attempting to hold the increase hostage now, they combined to vote for a debt limit increase 19 times during the presidency of George W. Bush. In doing so, they increased the debt limit by nearly $4 trillion.
At the beginning of the Bush presidency, the United States debt limit was $5.95 trillion. Despite promises that he would pay off the debt in 10 years, Bush increased the debt to $9.815 trillionby the end of his term, with plenty of help from the four Republicans currently holding Congressional leadership positions: Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl. ThinkProgress compiled a breakdown of the five debt limit increases that took place during the Bush presidency and how the four Republican leaders voted:
May 2003: Congress approves a $900 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $7.384 trillion. All four approve.
March 2006: Congress approves a $781 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.965 trillion. All four approve.
September 2007: Congress approves an $850 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $9.815 trillion. All four approve.
Database searches revealed no demands from the four legislators that debt increases come accompanied by drastic spending cuts, as there are now. In fact, the May 2003 debt limit increase passed the Senate the same day as the $350 billion Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.
When Bush was in office, the current Republican leaders viewed increasing the debt limit as vital to keeping America’s economy running. But with Obama in the White House, it’s nothing more than a political pawn.
“House Speaker John A. Boehner abandoned efforts Saturday night to cut a far-reaching debt-reduction deal, telling President Obama that a more modest package offers the only politically realistic path to avoiding a default on the mounting national debt.
On the eve of a critical White House summit on the debt issue, Boehner (R-Ohio) told Obama that their plan to “go big,” in the speaker’s words, and forge a compromise that would save more than $4 trillion over the next decade, was crumbling under Obama’s insistence on significant new tax revenue.”
“The sweeping deal Obama and Boehner had been discussing would have required both parties to take a bold leap into the political abyss. Democrats were demanding more than $800 billion in new tax revenue, causing heartburn among the hard-line fiscal conservatives who dominate the House Republican caucus. Republicans, meanwhile, were demanding sharp cuts to Medicare and Social Security, popular safety net programs that congressional Democrats have vowed to protect.
Obama, at least, was willing to make that leap and had put significant reductions to entitlement programs on the table. But on Saturday, Boehner blinked: Republican aides said he could not, in the end, reach agreement with the White House on a strategy to permit the Bush-era tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest households to expire next year, as lawmakers undertook a thorough rewrite of the tax code.”
Did we just miss what happened in Minnesota? It’s not a compromise if one side gives and gives and the other side just takes. If Democrats are willing to make historic cuts to satisfy Republicans, why are Republicans then not willing to accept tax increases for the wealthiest Americans to satisfy Democrats? I am sorry, but I cannot believe that John Boehner is interested in debt reduction when he has the opportunity to save $4 trillion over the next 10 years, and because the Democrats want to compromise and include tax hikes for the wealthiest Americans, he completely scraps these cuts and goes for saving $2.4 trillion instead. It is clear, Mr. Boehner, that you do not have the best interest of the American people in mind. Once again, those with the most money hold the most influence.
Read the entirety of the article here on the New York Times.