Thursday, July 28, 2011

EVERYTHING INTENSIFIES: Jesus Weighs In, Thrust and Parry, Much More

The countdown to the debt limit extension deadline has been ticking slowly up until now.  As the deadline gets much closer, the faster everyone will have to work if we are to avoid default.  And the pressure increases exponentially.  Tensions are building.  The stakes are high for the aged, the disabled, the poor, veterans, people on Social Security, and -- in fact -- everyone.  Lots to report, so let's get going.

Jesus, Debt, and Taxes

First and foremost, Christian leaders are urging President Obama to protect the poor in debt talks.  "An 'unprecedented' coalition of religious leaders are coming together to urge President Obama not to sacrifice the needs of the poor in negotiations to reduce the nation’s debt.  Leaders from the Episcopal Church, the Salvation Army, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ all met with Obama last week to present their unified message."

It's rare that mainstream religious leaders get involved in politics.  This very clearly indicates the near-crisis situation for the aged, the disabled, and the poor.  Veterans benefits also are on the block.  So many people have given so much to America, and the Conservatives are trying to take away what people have paid for or even earned with their blood, sweat, and tears.  Simply morally wrong.

Republican Plan

Rep. Boehner’s debt plan was rewritten to increase "savings" and will be voted on today.  "House Republican leaders released a revised debt-reduction bill Wednesday evening after being forced to rewrite the bill so it complies with a promise from Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to produce more spending cuts than new borrowing authority.  The new Boehner bill will cut the deficit $917 billion over ten years and raises the debt limit $900 billion, a net cost savings of $17 billion, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis.  In the next year along, fiscal year 2012, the bill would cut $22 billion in spending."

Democrat Response

Meanwhile, Democrats say the Boehner bill cannot pass in the Senate.  "The entire Senate Democratic caucus -- including independents Joe Lieberman (CT) and Bernie Sanders (VT) -- have a succinct message for House Speaker John Boehner: cram it!  In a Wednesday letter, the Democrats seek to prove what Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has been saying for days: nobody in his party will vote for Boehner's debt limit plan, and he should stop claiming it's a viable solution to the looming default crisis."

The article continues, "... a revised Congressional Budget Office analysis late today shows that the Reid and Boehner plans are actually growing more similar -- the only point of argument at this point is over how much to raise the debt limit.  Republicans accuse Democrats of wanting to extend it through 2012 only to protect President Obama during election season.  That's never been the entire truth -- the much bigger concern is that it'll be much harder for the parties to find common ground on another conditions-based debt limit increase in the middle of 2012."

Conservative Insanity

All along, the Republicans have had increasing difficulty with the Tea Partiers, who -- with a substantial minority, have essentially hijacked the entire Republican Party and the debt limit negotiations.  "House GOP leaders spent Wednesday afternoon trying to smooth over deep divisions in their party that erupted into public view after a heated conference meeting in which Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (OH) was dressed down for an aide's attacks on Speaker John Boehner's (OH) debt-limit proposal.  During the morning meeting, Jordan professed not to know about his top staffer's e-mails to outside conservative groups complaining about Boehner's proposal and urging the groups to launch coordinated assaults on the plan and its lack of a balanced budget component."

Did I say "insanity?"  Just think of what they will do with all the other major problems America faces.  The debt might be our largest problem.  If so, how will they "govern" with all the other oh-so-minor problems?  This is politics before patriotism.

More Conservative Insanity

"House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said today that some members of his own caucus who are refusing to agree to a compromise debt ceiling deal are hoping to unleash 'chaos' and thus force the White House and Senate Democrats to make bigger concessions than they’re already offering.  As many as 40 House Republicans, especially Tea Party members and freshmen, have demanded nothing short of changing the Constitution to include a balanced budget amendment before they would vote to raise debt ceiling, even though that has zero chance before the U.S. faces potential default on Aug. 2."

But wait!  There's more!  Conservatives are telling the Republican leadership to "bring back Cut, Cap and Balance, a House-passed bill to raise the debt ceiling that failed in the Senate earlier this month."

Oh, this makes sense.  Bring it back so it can be voted down again.  Remember "A Few Good Men?"  "Oh, your Honor, you don't understand.  I strenuously object."

Democrats Respond to Efforts to Unleash Chaos

"Today, a group of House Democrats held a press conference where they advocated for a fail-safe measure to ensure that the debt ceiling is hiked.  These Democrats said that if all other measures fail, President Obama should simply issue an executive order invoking the 14th amendment to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling."

I have thought for a while that invoking the Fourteenth Amendment might be a reasonable and legal avenue to somehow avoid a default.  It would be very difficult -- once it's done -- to undo it later.  I think such a step would be a major blow to Conservatives.  Many Constitutional scholars believe such an action is perfectly legal -- that Congressional debt extensions have been largely unnecessary and purely political.  And many Democrats are urging the President to invoke the 14th Amendment.  To argue against it once it's done would be like advocating directly for a default on the good faith and credit of the United States, like advocating for a collapse of the economy, like advocating for increased interest rates for everyone.  Oh, wait.  That's pretty much the position of Conservatives right now.

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