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Standard & Poor’s Cites Tea Party Resistance To Debt Ceiling Increase As Factor In Downgrade


Pushing back against the assertions of people like Michele Bachmann, who has tried to claim that the downgrading of America’s debt somehow vindicates her position that the debt ceiling never should have been raised, a Standard & Poor’s director has said that it was people like Michele Bachmann who led them to make the decision to downgrade:

A Standard & Poor’s director said for the first time Thursday that one reason the United States lost its triple-A credit rating was that several lawmakers expressed skepticism about the serious consequences of a credit default — a position put forth by some Republicans.

Without specifically mentioning Republicans, S&P senior director Joydeep Mukherji said the stability and effectiveness of American political institutions were undermined by the fact that “people in the political arena were even talking about a potential default,” Mukherji said.

“That a country even has such voices, albeit a minority, is something notable,” he added. “This kind of rhetoric is not common amongst AAA sovereigns.”

The statement seems likely to bolster one Democratic line of attack, that it was tea party intransigence — not a shortcoming of leadership by President Barack Obama — that is to blame for the U.S. downgrade, from AAA to AA+. Obama himself called on Republicans to “put country ahead of party” Thursday — a dig at conservatives in Congress who are blocking his agenda.

GOP leadership in the House and Senate was vocal in warning about the dangers of default. But some lawmakers blasted warnings by the Obama administration that a failure to raise the debt ceiling would unleash an economic catastrophe, including Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who voted against the debt limit increase and said the nation would avoid default even without a deal.

“I want to state unequivocally for the world, as well as for the markets, as well as for the American people: I have no doubt that we will not lose the full faith and credit of the United States,” Bachmann said

Of course, anyone who had actually read S&P’s August 5th statement would have already known this:

We lowered our long-term rating on the U.S. because we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process. We also believe that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration agreed to this week falls short of the amount that we believe is necessary to stabilize the general government debt burden by the middle of the decade.

(…)

The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy. Despite this year’s wide-ranging debate, in our view, the differences between political parties have proven to be extraordinarily difficult to bridge, and, as we see it, the resulting agreement fell well short of the comprehensive fiscal consolidation program that some proponents had envisaged until quite recently. Republicans and Democrats have only been able to agree to relatively modest savings on discretionary spending while delegating to the Select Committee decisions on more comprehensive measures. It appears that for now, new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options. In addition, the plan envisions only minor policy changes on Medicare and little change in other entitlements, the containment of which we and most other independent observers regard as key to long-term fiscal sustainability.

In other words, the downgrade was primarily motivated by two factors. First, there’s the fact that debt package that Congress finally got around to enacting was smaller than what S&P had been saying for weeks would be necessary to maintain the nation’s AAA credit rating. So, yes, it’s true that the spending cuts in the final deal are too small, but that’s largely because the parties could never come to an agreement on the $4-6 trillion “Grand Bargain” because the GOP would not accept any tax increases. The second factor leading to the downgrade, though, was the fact that it even took six weeks of mostly pointless legislative wrangling and negotiations to get to the point where we came to an agreement to do something that had been done without significant controversy more than 75 times before; raise the debt ceiling so that we could continue paying our bills. When August 2nd came and we got a crappy debt deal and a vocal minority of Congress who continued to say that we didn’t need to raise the debt ceiling at all, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone that S&P responded the way that they did. As Mukherji said, this isn’t the kind of behavior one should expect from a  country with a AAA credit rating.

Of course, it’s not like people weren’t warning Congress about this. Moody’s warned in June that failure to raise the debt ceiling would put the nation’s credit rating at risk. A Republican economic analyst and former Bush 43  adviser to George W. Bush warned that failure to raise the debt ceiling would result in an immediate 40% cut to Federal Spending, which would have a serious downward impact on the economy. Moody’s analyst Mark Zandi said that not raising the debt ceiling would lead to another recession. Zandi’s prediction didn’t seem that far off given the extent to which an immediate 40% reduction in spending would impact private business across a wide swath of the economy. Moreover, failure to raise the debt ceiling would also likely have had a negative impact on the budgets of nearly every state, and many large localities. The evidence was there for anyone willing to listen to it, and the term “debt kamikaze” was rightly applied to those in the GOP who continued to say, despite the evidence. that the debt ceiling should not be raised.

This isn’t to suggest that only the Tea Party is responsible for the debt downgrade, because that clearly isn’t what S&P is saying. The six weeks or so of debt negotiations made clear that our entire political system is incapable of dealing with simple spending issues without devolving into a partisan shouting match. The GOP’s “no tax increases” orthodoxy is an unreasonable position, but so is the resistance in the Democratic Party to any type of real entitlement reform and the ease with which they respond to Republican efforts to fix programs that are, in the long run, doomed to insolvency, with demagoguery and political manipulation. Greg Sargent and Steve Benen both wonder, rightly, how Michele Bachmann can be taken seriously after she continues to make demonstrably false claims on this issue. If it were up to me, everyone in the GOP would agree with Joe Scarborough and myself with it came to that particular issue. Nonetheless, one wonders why they are so silent when the left makes idiotic claims about Republican efforts to reform Medicare by comparing it to throwing Grandma over a cliff in a wheelchair. This is what I mean when I say both sides are at fault, neither really wants to solve the problems we face, they just want to know how that can manipulate them to the political advantage of their party. Until that changes, we’re going to continue down the same path, and there will be more downgrades in our future.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. john personna says:

    It was a really interesting moment in cognitive science, when the Tea Party looked at the S&P report and said “see, we were right.”

    Related: Science Saturday: What’s Reason Good For?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  2. john personna says:

    The GOP’s “no tax increases” orthodoxy is an unreasonable position, but so is the resistance in the Democratic Party to any type of real entitlement reform and the ease with which they respond to Republican efforts to fix programs that are, in the long run, doomed to insolvency, with demagoguery and political manipulation.

    You made the best case you could there ;-), but I think the non-equivalence jumps right out.

    There was no hard line Democratic orthodoxy, and there certainly was no binding pledge blocking negotiation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

  3. John Cole says:

    He can’t help himself, john personna. It’s like a mental illness or something.

    The President puts every entitlement on the table, takes extreme heat from his left flank, yet Doug wants to pretend every Democrat is opposed to entitlement reform and that it is just the same as the GOP stance on revenue.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 2

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    I’m no fan of the Tea Party movement but I think that the remarks by the S&P official are being misinterpreted. Here’s the quote in question:

    Without specifically mentioning Republicans, S&P senior director Joydeep Mukherji said the stability and effectiveness of American political institutions were undermined by the fact that “people in the political arena were even talking about a potential default,” Mukherji said.

    Who was talking about a default? Maybe Michele Bachmann but also Tim Geithner, Austan Goolsbee, and the president himself.

    Which do you think was more significant in S&P’s judgment? A backbench Congressman and a bunch of Congressional freshmen or the Secretary of the Treasury, an Administration senior economic advisor, and the president?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 13

  5. @Dave Schuler: @Dave Schuler:

    True but it was only the Bachmann’s of the world who were < strong>welcoming the idea of a default and who were perfectly fine to do absolutely nothing. Now she is campaigning for President on the idea that the downgrade is proof that she was right all along.

    I agree that the problems in our political system are the responsibility of all sides, but when one side is willing to drive the country over the cliff they deserve to be called out for it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  6. Laurie says:

    Nonetheless, one wonders why they are so silent when the left makes idiotic claims about Republican efforts to reform Medicare by comparing it to throwing Grandma over a cliff in a wheelchair

    The left (and center) has produced tons of in depth criticism of the Ryan medicare plan. I think this brief summary statement from KFF -

    Under the proposal, a typical 65-year-old retiring in 2022 would be expected to devote nearly half their monthly Social Security checks toward health care costs, more than double what they would spend under current Medicare law

    shows that a humorous ad showing grandma thrown off a cliff is a fair (metaphorical) simplification. Policy reports don’t make good ad copy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  7. john personna says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    As Doug says, that would seem to equate welcoming a problem with warning on a problem.

    Man says “I’m going to eat more pizza.” Doctor says “You really shouldn’t eat more pizza.”

    They both talked about pizza, Dave. It’s true.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Republican efforts to reform Medicare by comparing it to throwing Grandma over a cliff in a wheelchair.

    Reform? Don’t you mean replace it with a voucher? That does not keep up with inflation? And then call that “Medicare”? Because that is what the Ryan plan was going to do… All the while giving more tax breaks to the rich.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  9. liberty60 says:

    Is it demagogery to point out that Social Security and Medicare are quite literally the only things standing between milions of elderly people and abject poverty and death?

    Does anyone seriously want to make the argument that the conservatives who control the GOP want to “reform” these programs to make them more robust, to make them more accessible?

    When we refer to “throwing grandma off a cliff” we are thinking of the real cases here in Los Angeles where hospitals were discharging indigent patients by literally pushing them out of vans into the street in Skid Row. One man was found crawling along the gutter in a hospital gown, holding his colostomy bag.

    This is what happens when the medical profession is turned into a marketplace like toasters and toothpaste

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  10. ponce says:

    Won’t make a bit of difference to them.

    Tea Partiers have zero self-awareness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  11. WR says:

    @Dave Schuler: Wow. This may well be the single most disingenuous thing I’ve ever read on the internet:

    Man #1 — Let’s burn down this building!

    Man #2 — Don’t burn down the building!

    Schuler: Both men are at fault for the destruction of the building and those inside of it, because they were both talking about it.

    Boy, Doug’s gonna be mad. Schuler’s taken his “both sides do it” mantra and raised it to high art!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Under the proposal, a typical 65-year-old retiring in 2022 would be expected to devote nearly half their monthly Social Security checks toward health care costs, more than double what they would spend under current Medicare law

    This, in the richest country in the world. A country that will not take care of it’s elderly, it’s disabled, it’s children, while ensuring that the richest among them get even richer, is not great. It is morally bankrupt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  13. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave Schuler:
    Oh puh-leeze, Dave.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  14. doubter4444 says:

    @John Cole:
    Gotta agree with John Cole on this, the Democrats and Obama offered a huge opportunity to the Republicans and they whiffed.
    The Republicans were/are intransigent – completely and totally.
    On that note:
    The super committee is going to be the berg that could finally sink them (at least in terms of 2012, and Obamas reelection). I think a deal will be struck within the committee with real reforms in entitlements and revenue hikes that Democrats agree to and it will not pass the house Republican base. Which will get them turned out in ’12.
    One hopes, at least.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  15. doubter4444 says:

    @Dave Schuler:
    Wow. Just wow. You really going with that line of thinking?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  16. newsbird says:

    failure to raise the debt ceiling would result in an immediate 40% cut to Federal Spending, which would have a serious downward impact on the economy.

    You can’t read or understand what you read?

    There would have been an immediate 40% cut to Obama’s blank check, not to the total federal spending. Obama has to borrow 40 cents for each dollar he overspends. And that rate is increasing because there were n real cuts to INCREASED SPENDING. Spending should have been capped at the rate of 2007 or at 18% or GDP… giving Obama another trillion+ to waste is why this country should get a B- rating. People are insane. The only reason there was a any discussion this time vs historically, was because of the SIZE OF THE CURRENT DEBT and the size of the increase requested.

    DIMs don’t get it that they can’t keep spending money they don’t have. And as long a Obama is in office, looks like business is so uncertain that companies are not hiring. I will lay off everyone and retire if Obama gets another term. He is the worst possible president at the time when this country needed a great leader. Obama is incompetent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15

  17. Ben Wolf says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Thinking in regards to deficits and taxation contiues to reflect an economic system which ceased to exist when Nixon closed the gold window in 1971. But our leaders, particularly Obama, continue to blather on about the federal government “living within its means”. The President doesn’t get it. Democrats are about 85% ignorant on economics and I have yet to meet a single Republican who understands anything even remotely resembling a modern economy. The more time we spend talking about the deficit, the worse the economy becomes and the more Americans suffer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  18. Peterh says:

    Most massive brain-fart I have yet to see emanate from Schuler’s cavity…..leave the pretzels alone in the future…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  19. Scott O. says:

    @newsbird:

    People are insane.

    You’ve made that point well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  20. john personna says:

    @newsbird:

    There are those of us who are quite fiscally conservative, but who also believe that the government could not have been run out of current receipts. You need congress to pass a lower spending bill, and then you can stop borrowing forward.

    If the President could just set his own budgets we wouldn’t need spending bills, would we?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  21. Ben Wolf says:

    @newsbird: The size of the current debt is not economically relevant, and markets are signalling over and over again that federal spending needs to increase, not decrease. This is exactly what I meant when referring to Republicans not understanding a modern economy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  22. anjin-san says:

    Nonetheless, one wonders why they are so silent when the left makes idiotic claims about Republican efforts to reform Medicare by comparing it to throwing Grandma over a cliff in a wheelchair

    Have you ever taken care of a senior citizen? I can assure you that simply handing them a voucher and saying “good luck” is not in any way, shape of form “Medicare”. It’s simply a rebranded turd.

    I have been dealing with my mother’s cancer treatment. The experience has been completely overwhelming for her. Is she up to dealing with insurance companies that don’t want anything to do with senior citizens? Not even a little bit. The voucher thing would be a joke, but it is not funny. We ARE talking about people dying as a consequence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  23. WR says:

    @newsbird: I suppose you’re so far gone into Rush-land that you will never be able to see the truth, but raising the debt ceiling was not about new spending. It was about paying the bills for things Congress had already spent the money on.

    But you either know that and are lying or are so dumb you just believe everything you hear on talk radio. And judging by your liberal — pardon the word — use of buzzphrases like “Obama’s blank check” and “Dims,” I’ve got my money down on one choice…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  24. jan says:

    I read a comment saying that the tea party caused the downgrade is similar to saying the Abolitionists caused the civil war.

    Both movements have had a purpose for their formation: the former to decrease the deficit/debt and pare down government size and spending; and the latter to end the slave trade and set slaves free. Movements demanding big changes are formed by commitment, and usually not processed in sanitized ways. Freeing the slaves was accomplished through the Civil War. And, perhaps freeing the people of the slavery of debt will have to be enacted via the political war of ideals.

    But, having said that, I think putting so much weight on Mukherji’s statement about the political divisiveness as being the major cause for the downgrade, is not a true interpretation of the whole downgrade.

    For one thing, Bachmann’s comments only received the exposure they did, because she is a controversial presidential candidate. However, she is not the President, and really holds the power of one vote, out of 435 in the House, as to making her opinion relevant and count. The major political players in the debt ceiling debacle, though, were the President and all the leaders in Congress. Therefore, their actions, or inactions, are the ones holding sway over this event.

    Boehner, McConnell and their senior members walked a tight rope in their willingness to raise the debt ceiling if it was attached to meaningful cuts. Reid and Pelosi though, had their needle of cooperation stuck on passing only a clean debt ceiling. In fact as late as mid-July Peter Welsh (D-VT), the chief deputy whip was saying: “It’s looking like default or a clean extension. We’re absolutely intent on keeping our AAA credit rating.” In other words, it was an attitude of “take it or leave it.”

    Even the President’s Grand Bargain being loosely formed with Boehner, was disingenuously constructed. First it had 4 trillion in cuts to 800 billion in revenues. However, when Boehner signaled he would push his caucus to accept that deal, another 400 billion in revenues was slapped onto it, causing the deal to fold. It was Obama’s tactless, last minute overreach for more revenue that stopped these often-referred-to negotiations in their tracks.

    Finally, even if the a clean debt ceiling had been passed without all the political theatre, there is speculation that more than just S & P would have downgraded the US. Instead, we may have been downgraded by every major ratings agency, and would be fortunate to be left with an AA+.

    McClintock said that S&P executive David T. Beers told congressmen
    the key to sustaining a top-notch rating was $4 trillion in deficit savings. He recalled asking Beers at a meeting, “Well, how about $3 trillion?” Beers’ response was emphatic — ‘No,’” the congressman said.

    The main issue has been the size of our debt, IMO, not just the passage of the debt ceiling. The congressional uproar, surrounding this issue, was more a red flag, a lot of noise that brought the debt debate out of the shadows of an “automatic” rise, by those who were dissenting for some kind of real fiscal solution. The only thing the dems finally compromised on, though, was finally publicly recognizing the debt problem. But, then there was the haggling over the solutions. The dems wanted to increase revenues to cover the debt butt, while the republicans wanted to apply a tourniquet to stopping the spending. The final deal didn’t satisfy either of these wishes. And, we were downgraded by one rating agency.

    I wonder, though, how rigorously the DOJ is now going to pursue looking into the S & P’s downgrade. A question being asked: “Is the downgrade a legitimate reason to investigate the agency that issued it, or is the downgrade, to them, now justified because of their political opponents?” …meaning that Mukherji’s added insinuations about divisiveness as a cause may now give the dems more cover, making it political expedient to not go after the S & P. After all a good ax to grind might be better political compensation than arguing over the unworthiness of a downgrade.

    It’s all about political advantage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  25. KansasMom says:

    @newsbird:

    Obama has to borrow 40 cents for each dollar he overspends.

    You do realize that the congress tells the president how much to spend and what to spend it on right? If they don’t want him to spend it they just need not put it in the budget. If you can’t grasp this simple concept then people will probably be better off if they aren’t relying on you for a paycheck.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  26. john personna says:

    @jan:

    I guess what’s weird is that I am fiscally conservative, would cut all kinds of federal spending, but I am totally unmoved by your claim that the Tea Party pledge and brinkmanship was in my favor.

    The Grand Bargain was a much better deal, and it would have avoided downgrade.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  27. jan says:

    @john personna:

    If the President could just set his own budgets we wouldn’t need spending bills, would we?

    Obama’s proposed budget was met with a unaminous rejection.

    Obama has proven he has no economic bearings nor understanding of the consequences of his spending.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  28. john personna says:

    @jan:

    Obama’s proposed budget was met with a unaminous rejection.

    Right. As I say, the President does not have power to set budgets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  29. jan says:

    @john personna:

    The Grand Bargain was a much better deal, and it would have avoided downgrade.

    ….I agree. But, again you act like this ‘grand bargain’ was a legitimate proposal, written out for both men to take to their own parties — Obama taking it to his democratic leadership, and Boehner to his republican caucus. It was not!

    It was talking points (nothing concrete) discussed between two men, after which Obama changed the complexion of what he was willing to commit to, by adding 50% more revenues, coming to 1.2 trillion rather than 800,000 billion.

    Wonder if Boehner had done the same thing, except on the other side of the deal, by adding 50% more cuts to the original deal of 800 billion of revenues — making it 6 trillion instead of 4 trillion in deep cuts.. Obama would have walked from that deal, as well. And, you all would be able to see the reasoning behind that walk too, and would have said it was Boehner’s fault for poisoning the deal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  30. michael reynolds says:

    @jan:
    Of course it was “talking” they were negotiating. And the GOP killed it unilaterally.

    Your side passed up an extra couple of trillion because you couldn’t accept any slight increase in taxes. Because your side are fanatics. That’s what happened here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  31. john personna says:

    @jan:

    ….I agree. But, again you act like this ‘grand bargain’ was a legitimate proposal, written out for both men to take to their own parties — Obama taking it to his democratic leadership, and Boehner to his republican caucus. It was not!

    I was here, remember? I read the news as the story unfolded. Here’s what I saw happen: Obama and Boehner got in a negotiating groove, agreed in principle, when suddenly Boehner was blocked by his own right wing. At that point Boehner had to play the political cards dealt to him, and he withdrew from negotiation to form a new House-led proposal.

    It was a sad tactic by gutless Teas to pretend that there was no growing agreement, and that they did not torpedo it.

    I don’t think you cover yourself in merit by toeing that line.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  32. john personna says:

    @jan:

    You like reports from the Teas themselves. Here is one that supports the history I just told you:

    GOP House Speaker John Boehner can’t seem to herd his Republican majority in the direction of a debt limit compromise that would plunge the country deeper in the red and raise taxes in the midst of the nation’s second great economic depression. And so, a dejected Boehner informed the White House he would not be attending the latest round of sell-out debt-ceiling meetings. Described as “visibly angry,” President Obama rhetorically asked a sympathetic White House press corps, “Can they say yes to anything?”

    More from that source:

    The Tea Party’s followers have endangered the nation’s credit rating and the GOP by pushing both House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor away from their own best instincts,” writes Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr.

    This is a perfect example of what passes for logic in today’s insane Progressive America. First, it is the 14.3 trillion dollar debt accumulated under establishment Republican administrations, and vastly expanded under Obama, that threatens the nation’s credit rating – whether the debt limit is raised or not. Second, by Dionne’s own admission, the threat of a Tea Party backlash is all that prevents the small men of the GOP from following their knee jerk, compromising “instincts” to sell out their party’s few remaining small-government principles and, with them, the country.

    Did you see my mention of cognitive science up top?

    Try to cogitate a little reality on this one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  33. jan says:

    @john personna:

    In this case Obama doesn’t have the economic sense to present a budget that even his democratic senators would get behind. That says a lot about Obama’s inate ineptness with fiscal policy matters.

    And, as for the democrats in Congress passing a budget…when was the last time the democratic congress legitimately put up a budget to pass, other than the People’s Budget brought up by the Progressive Congressional Caucus, which then shows what liberal deficit reduction would look like —> ”
    taxes rising to 22.3 percent of the economy.” Again, it’s always about revenue enhansement (extracting money from people) rather than cutting government spending.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  34. john personna says:

    @jan:

    In this case Obama doesn’t have the economic sense to present a budget that even his democratic senators would get behind. That says a lot about Obama’s inate ineptness with fiscal policy matters.

    Is this just an attempt to confuse? It might be nice to have a President who proposed a budget we could all love, but it isn’t his job, as defined by the constitution. Steven has schooled you on that.

    It is convention that Presidents put forward a first budget as bargaining chip. Nothing more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  35. ratufa says:

    Even the President’s Grand Bargain being loosely formed with Boehner, was disingenuously constructed. First it had 4 trillion in cuts to 800 billion in revenues. However, when Boehner signaled he would push his caucus to accept that deal, another 400 billion in revenues was slapped onto it, causing the deal to fold. It was Obama’s tactless, last minute overreach for more revenue that stopped these often-referred-to negotiations in their tracks.

    If Boehner was willing to make a deal that included revenue increases, he could have kept negotiating and made a counter-proposal, instead of publicly stopping negotiations. Given how hostile the Republicans in Congress and the Republican base are to revenue increases, I think it’s much more likely that Boehner finally realized that there were not enough votes in the House to pass any sort of revenue increase, since few Republicans want to enter the 2012 primary season with a vote to “raise taxes” on their record. So, Boehner was looking for any face-saving excuse to get out of the negotiations and found one.

    Additional evidence for this comes from the difficulty Boehner had in getting House Republicans to even vote for spending-cuts only bill, unless it was tied to a balanced budget amendment or had other riders on it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  36. Ben Wolf says:

    @jan: You keep talking about the need for spending cuts, but that’s the opposite of what the markets want. There is no empirically sound argument for reducing the federal budget; on the contrary, economic indicators scream for expansion of the money supply while you propose choking off the only thing standing between us and a deflationary spiral from which it will take a generation to recover.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  37. WR says:

    @jan: I think you’ve got your analogy mixed up. It wasn’t the abolitionists who vowed to destroy the nation if they didn’t get what they wanted — it was the slavers. Just as it is the Tea Partiers who are eager to inflict untold suffering on the American people if we don’t give in to their cult-like, and astonishingly ignorant, desires.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  38. An Interested Party says:

    I read a comment saying that the tea party caused the downgrade is similar to saying the Abolitionists caused the civil war.

    That’s rather rich comparing the Tea Party crowd to abolitionists…who will they be compared to next? MLK and the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement? The Founding Fathers? The Twelve Apostles? Please…

    Therefore, their actions, or inactions, are the ones holding sway over this event.

    Indeed, the fact that the Republicans held the worl economy hostage to get their desired policies enacted (policies which wouldn’t have gotten enacted any other way) says a lot about how they held sway over this event…

    Is this just an attempt to confuse?

    Considering how confused she is, why shouldn’t she try to confuse others…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  39. jan says:

    @john personna:

    You like reports from the Teas themselves. Here is one that supports the history I just told you:

    Well, the excerpts you posted were from some kind of tea party publication. But, for the most part, they were comments contributed by E.J. Dionne Jr., who is a leftist counter point to everything the teas stand for.

    Here’s more analysis from the Star Tribune dealing with the Grand Deal:

    Those chances faded Friday when Boehner ended negotiations with the White House for a large package of $4 trillion in deficit reductions over 10 years in exchange for a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt ceiling. Boehner said he walked out of the talks because Obama had insisted on $400 billion more in tax revenue than the $800 billion that Boehner was willing to concede.

    But Republicans believe the only way Democrats and the president will seriously consider structural changes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security is if the debt ceiling is on the line

    The bargaining chip, in addressing our debt, became changing the paradigm of just blindly voting for the debt ceiling raise. As I’ve read, that was the intent of the republicans in holding out until real bipartisan fiscal adjustments could be made. The dems, though, historically have been as adamant about touching large entitlement programs as the republicans have been in showing a disinterest in simply raising taxes as the prime remedy. Hence, the stalemate that ensued.

    Furthermore, Boehner, at a news conference shortly after he walked away from his talks with Obama, made it abundantly clear for the reasoning why he did so:

    “I want to be entirely clear. No one wants default.” “in the end, we couldn’t connect.”He said the president wanted to raise taxes, and was reluctant to agree to cuts in benefit programs.

    It was also indicated, early on, that the deal Obama and Boehner were privately coming to agreement on, was met with hostility by the democratic congress. And, it was probably based upon his own party’s partisan dissatisfaction, to the original 4-1 deal, that Obama suddenly demanded more revenue to make the deal possible.

    Following the wheel of cause and effect, it seems, more often than not, that it falls into the democratic play book of ‘No,’ as to why the deal was so prolonged, ultimately not meeting any of the rating agencies requirements.

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  40. jan says:

    @WR

    I think you’ve got your analogy mixed up. It wasn’t the abolitionists who vowed to destroy the nation if they didn’t get what they wanted — it was the slavers.

    You are so out of sync in your retorts, WR.

    In that era, it was considered radical thinking to want to free the slaves. And, ironically, the demographics of the people in the Abolitionist movement is very similar to the composite mix, including a profound religious background, of the current day tea party movement.

    Read and educate yourself:

    The great majority of Americans who joined the antislavery and woman’s rights causes in the 1830s—in many cases the same individuals—came from the countryside and towns of the North, usually from deeply religious, reform-oriented families.

    Because of their calls for immediate emancipation and an end to racial prejudice, abolitionists were the object of a great deal of criticism, ridicule, and even violence. In the 1830s and 40s, anti-abolitionist and anti-black riots were the most common kinds of mob disorder in American cities. But most of the anti-abolitionist mobs were not made up of young rowdies from lower-class neighborhoods. They were well-organized groups of respectable, middle-class citizens who believed that abolitionism threatened their communities and businesses.

    Many had to face physical danger at the hand of a mob, but many more had to endure the disapproval of family and friends or the ridicule of neighbors. All of them shared a motivating vision of slavery as a moral evil that could not be justified. Most, probably, were moved to action by the same powerful religious commitments that impelled others to support the causes of temperance, Christian missions, and non-violence.

    If one were to do a moral equivalency here, you progressives would be engaging in the ridicule displayed on the pro-slavery side and the teas would be the abolitionists, people from common middle class American, rural backgrounds, deeply principled and following their religious beliefs.

    Pretty amazing…..

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  41. WR says:

    @jan: This is hilarious. The Tea Partiers like the slavers in the South decided their own personal desires were so important they were willing to destroy the United States in order to achieve them. You can go ahead and compare yourslf to Jesus if you want, but the sane parts of the country are all realizing how destructive and ultimately how evil you are.

    Yes, evil. The harm you want to inflict on millions of innocent people gives you that description. You may beg and plead that you are doing this out of ignorance, but it has been explained too many times for you to get away with that.

    You want people to suffer and die because you believe in some fantasy version of the future. Human lives are nothing more to you than barganing chips.

    And for you to compare yourself to the abolitionists is shameful.

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  42. WR says:

    By the way, is there someone around here who can turn off the darn italics?

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  43. An Interested Party says:

    It was also indicated, early on, that the deal Obama and Boehner were privately coming to agreement on, was met with hostility by the democratic congress.

    And the proof of this is…? I mean, outside of anonymous sources…

    Following the wheel of cause and effect, it seems, more often than not, that it falls into the democratic play book of ‘No,’ as to why the deal was so prolonged, ultimately not meeting any of the rating agencies requirements.

    Speaking of wheels, you really are spinning there, especially considering that there were those in the Tea Party crowd who were questioning why the debt ceiling even had to be raised…

    In that era, it was considered radical thinking to want to free the slaves.

    Ahh, so this is the basis for the comparison? Hmm…Birchers also had radical thinking…I guess we can compare them to abolitionists too…

    If one were to do a moral equivalency here…

    But that’s just it, you’re doing an immoral equivalency, not to mention illogical…

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  44. jan says:

    @WR:

    Your argument and baseless vitriol is the only thing that is shameless.

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  45. steve says:

    I have seen dozens of statements by Tea PArty supporters saying they would not accept any revenue increases. They have al signed Norquist’s pledge. I have not seen one Tea Party supporter saying that they would be willing to accept tax increases. Maybe they exist, but it seems unlikely. At the debate they all agreed to not accept a ratio of 10:1 spending cuts to tax increases.

    The S&P report says it was the process, not so much the actual debt that lea to the downgrade. In every poll I have seen, most people want a combination of tax increases and cuts. Historically, debts have been approached with a combination, not just cuts. The people wanting only spending cuts are not representing the majority of Americans or successful precedents to handling debt.

    Steve

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  46. WR says:

    @jan: That’s pretty good. Now you should say that Obama is black. First you get all huffy and then you change the subject. That always works for Jay Tea when he’s been schooled.

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  47. jan says:

    @An Interested Party:

    When all else fails, just dismiss people’s sources as either “not good enough” or, as in your last post, call them “anonymous’. There was a link to my post. And, like the content of many publications, information is often gleaned from an array of unnamed sources (congressional aids, and the like), then patched together forming a rudimentary account of what went on behind the debt ceiling talks between Boehner and Obama.

    At the time the story broke, reporting that these talks had abruptly ended, the news cycle was slammed with audio clips of Boehner saying the same thing over and over again, that comported with the link I supplied. And, Boehner has continued to be consistent with his version of what happened between him and Obama.

    The problem is that for some reason progressives don’t like it. I guess it has more flavor if they can blame it on some kind of republican attitude problem, or holding Obama “hostage,” rather than Obama arbitrarily changing the specifications of the deal. So, they spin it left- ward, and seemed bemused and/or peeved by any other explanation.

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  48. Gulliver says:

    1) The Tea Party is not named in the article
    2) There was plenty of money to pay our basic obligations even without raising the debt limit – anyone who tells you different is lying
    3) Obama insisted he wouldn’t sign anything that didn’t extend the debt limit past the 2012 election. Hence, by the logic implemented here by silly people, Obama was threatening a defualt just as much as the ant-tax Republicans.
    4) The Democrats refused to entertain a bill that would ensure we didn’t default because it would formally obligate the Federal Government to pay on its bonds (the definition of not defaulting)
    5) The above legislation was proposed by – guess who- the TEA PARTY candidates.

    You folks are either woefully uniformed about the particulars of the situation, willfully ignorant, or both. Anyone that says the Tea Party was willing to “force” the government to default is simply a liar or a fool. Have a good day.

    .

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  49. jan says:

    @WR:

    That’s pretty good. Now you should say that Obama is black. First you get all huffy and then you change the subject. That always works for Jay Tea when he’s been schooled.

    I’ve got to hand it to you WR. You certainly know how to put posts you disagree with into your cranial deciphering center, and then reconfigure the content to fit some kind of warped interpretation that you can then rail against. It’s really not worth wasting time having a serious conversation with you, as you spend all your time distorting the contents of what people are saying.

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  50. WR says:

    @jan: So if John Boehner can stick to the same life for more than three times, that makes it the truth? Is that how it works in Jan-world?

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  51. WR says:

    @jan: You don’t have serious conversations. You repeat spin points from Fox News and talk radio. Pardon me if I have a hard time taking you seriously. By the way, how’s the weather in the two states where you live simultaneously?

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  52. David M says:

    The key thing to remember, is that even in the extremely unlikely case that Jan’s story about the Obama/Boehner negotiations is true, it doesn’t change the fact that Boehner and the GOP are the ones who walked away from the Grand Bargain. They were negotiating, which most people understand to mean each side proposes solutions and compromises until an agreement is reached. It’s pretty clear the two sides were actively negotiating until the GOP chose to end things.

    Continuing to repeat this nonsense is just silly, I can’t imagine anyone that paid attention to the negotiations actually believes it.

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  53. David M says:

    @Gulliver: Not raising the debt ceiling would have resulted in an immediate 40% cut in government spending, and there’s no chance the rating agencies would have looked at that situation favorably. None.

    Regarding Obama not wanting a short-term extension, the ratings agencies are on record saying a long term extension was preferred. They and Obama agreed on this point, so that statement is not something the ratings agencies would have had a problem with.

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  54. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Ben Wolf: Agreed.

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  55. michael reynolds says:

    @jan:
    If his budget was unanimously rejected, how is it HIS spending?

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  56. An Interested Party says:

    At the time the story broke, reporting that these talks had abruptly ended, the news cycle was slammed with audio clips of Boehner saying the same thing over and over again, that comported with the link I supplied. And, Boehner has continued to be consistent with his version of what happened between him and Obama.

    So that is why we have to accept what you wrote as the truth? Sorry, darling, but that dog won’t hunt…

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  57. john personna says:

    Given that Teas at the time reveled in their power to bring Boehner back, I think it is sad and shows real weakness that they can’t be proud of that now. Instead, they try to spin stories that they did not halt the Grand Bargain.

    Wouldn’t it be stronger of them if they just said “darn right, we sunk it”?

    Instead … they, and their defenders, must know at some level that they were wrong. That’s why it’s important to rewrite the history.

    But of course, most stories time-stamped around July 20 tell the real story. That was before the “oh crap” moment, and the start of CYA.

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  58. jan says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Whose spending is it then, Michael? The tooth fairy’s?

    The dems are in power, and they are not working within the confines of a budget, just passing bills, regulations, hiring more public sector employees, all requiring money, which is spending.

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  59. ratufa says:

    The dems are in power, and they are not working within the confines of a budget, just passing bills, regulations, hiring more public sector employees, all requiring money, which is spending.

    Since January, 2011, Republicans are as responsible as Democrats for bills that pass both houses of Congress.

    Not that anyone in Congress, Republican or Democrat, is looking forward to taking responsibility for the spending and tax choices that need to be made. Avoiding responsibility is largely what our recent budget drama was about, after all.

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  60. Fog says:

    I think all these antics actually have a fairly simple explanation. It all makes sense if you just remind yourself that the Republicans are not interested in governing. We had 6 years to see this during the W administration. The Republicans are interested in power, because they need power to make their business model work. The simple mantra is “enrich the donors, and scorn the rest.” I live in FL, and I was here for Jeb’s version of privatization, and this is how he played it.

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  61. john personna says:

    @jan:

    The dems are in power, and they are not working within the confines of a budget, just passing bills, regulations, hiring more public sector employees, all requiring money, which is spending.

    Comments like this make me think “jan” isn’t real, just someone’s sock puppet.

    It isn’t that you had to follow news closely in July 2011 to know how absurd that is … it would be hard to avoid enough news to believe that claim.

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  62. WR says:

    @john personna: Just the notion that the government is “hiring more public sector employees” when they’ve been cutting the workforce for months proves that she is nothing but the mouthpiece for rightwing spin.

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  63. michael reynolds says:

    @jan:
    No, the Dems are not “in power,” the House is run by the GOP — source of all spending bills.

    You talk nonsense. You laugh that Obama’s budgets are rejected, then claim he’s in charge of all the spending, despite the House being GOP.

    Are facts just completely irrelevant to you?

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  64. jan says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Your ideology stands in the way of facts.

    Yes, the purse strings are held by the House, which the republicans control. But, the other 2/3s of the power, the Senate and WH, are democratically controlled. No matter what the House passes, it then goes though the filter of the Senate and is always subject to the veto of the President. Look at what happened to the Ryan Budget. Reid didn’t even bring it up for a vote in the Senate. So, how much power of the purse does that leave the House? All they can do is put up another budget, that if the dems and president doesn’t like, goes down the tubes.

    The reason for citing Obama’s budget is that it was so resoundingly defeated, which is extraordinary, given that everybody in his own party voted against it. That strikingly is telling how off-base and stupid this president is!

    It also begs the question, was Obama’s budget just poorly thought out, or was it just a token budget presented to Congress to at least demonstrate a spark of interest or energy in concocting a budget? It’s been 20+ months since this democratic congress has produced a budget, and it has taken public heat for not doing so. And, it has little to do with obstructive behavior from the GOP, as the only budgets put together have been the progressive Caucus’s People’s Budget (getting only a 100 votes) and the POTUS’s one getting zero votes.

    And, yes the spending is coming from this Democratic administration, period! You can spin it, weave it into a shawl, but it still comes out as a collar around Obama’s neck. He and the progressives, like yourself, own it!

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  65. ratufa says:

    @jan:

    Could you please answer a simple “Yes” or “No” question:

    Do Republicans share responsibility with Democrats for bills passed by Congress since the beginning of January, 2011?

    “Yes” or “No”, please.

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  66. David M says:

    I’m now thinking Jan is spoofing ridiculous conservative points for laughs, either that or there’s a new leader in the running contest for least informed commenter.

    The budget Jan keeps ranting is nothing more than a blueprint for the appropriations bills that provide the actual spending authority. Should Congress pass a budget resolution? Yes. Does it actually matter? No, as Congress can just pass the appropriations bills if they want. Repeatedly bringing up the lack of a budget is a sign the person doesn’t understand the issue or has no interest in a reasoned discussion. Let’s just say Congress had passed a budget resolution the last couple years…would the deficit be significantly different? Absolutely not, so bringing it up is a distraction at best.

    The Senate did vote on and rejected the Ryan budget. The fact that the budget for 2011 was delayed means the Republican House passed it.

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  67. Rob in CT says:

    I learned this lesson guys, and it’s time for you all to learn it too. Jan exists here only to spout the RW memes of the day. She is manifestly not interested in reasoned discussion. She’s a partisan (or a paid hack), spinning for her side, facts be damned.

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