Monday, January 14, 2013

Are There Enough Political Sociopaths In The House Republican Caucus To Force A Default And A Government Shutdown?


For more and more Republicans-- particularly the Southerners who now dominate the party-- there is a widespread view, both among the electoral base and those they send to Congress, that the federal government is the enemy. They may not be able to force a return to the Antebellum South (i.e., slavery), but that doesn't mean that in their hearts they don't want to give it a try again. Everything about the mindset is pure reactionary and even if it doesn't have the strength to win national elections, it does have the strength to screw up the nation with lockstep obstructionism. It's all about looking backward-- if not to before the freeing of their slaves, at least to before FDR enslaved them, in their warped, brainwashed minds, by forcing white people to pay for blacks to get Social Security and Medicare. Sounds ugly? That, in a sentence is what the Republican Party is today.

As you can see in the video above (Meet the Press on Sunday), the country's most prominent black Republican, Colin Powell, has noticed that his party is on the verge of sinking itself into oblivion-- at least outside of the Old Confederacy. The party, he asserts, has shifted significantly to the right since Reagan's day and it has "a dark vein of intolerance” running through it and “if they don’t change along with the demographics, they're going to be in trouble.”

Striking out blindly and angrily, a significant number of House Republicans-- and more than a few GOP senators-- now appear willing to allow the whole American edifice to collapse-- just like their ancestors-- who remained unpunished for their treason-- did in the 1860s.
House Republicans are seriously entertaining dramatic steps, including default or shutting down the government, to force President Barack Obama to finally cut spending by the end of March.

The idea of allowing the country to default by refusing to increase the debt limit is getting more widespread and serious traction among House Republicans than people realize, though GOP leaders think shutting down the government is the much more likely outcome of the spending fights this winter.

...Republican leadership officials, in a series of private meetings and conversations this past week, warned that the White House, much less the broader public, doesn’t understand how hard it will be to talk restive conservatives off the fiscal ledge. To the vast majority of House Republicans, it is far riskier long term to pile up new debt than it is to test the market and economic reaction of default or closing down the government.

GOP officials said more than half of their members are prepared to allow default unless Obama agrees to dramatic cuts he has repeatedly said he opposes. Many more members, including some party leaders, are prepared to shut down the government to make their point. House Speaker John Boehner “may need a shutdown just to get it out of their system,” said a top GOP leadership adviser. “We might need to do that for member-management purposes-- so they have an endgame and can show their constituents they’re fighting.”

The country would eventually default if House Republicans refuse to raise the debt limit, which the Treasury estimates will hit in late February or early March. The government would shut down if House Republicans instead were to refuse to extend the law funding current government operations on March 27.

Boehner assumes he can ultimately talk members out of default, but he is so wounded and weakened from last month’s tax-hike battle that the speaker might very well be wrong. Obama assumes Republicans would never be so foolish as to put the economy at risk to win a spending fight. Conservatives say he’s definitely wrong on that score. They say he’s the foolish and reckless one for piling up $6 trillion in debt on his watch.

...The truth is Boehner is at the mercy of a Republican Conference that is far more resistant to compromise than he is. Boehner was embarrassed when he had to pull his plan for raising taxes-- and then watched as three-quarters of his members opposed him on the final tax increase bill after Christmas. He might be the weakest speaker of his generation right now-- and there is a fair amount of back-biting about who to blame for the recent debacles.

To pacify conservatives, he made two promises to his members that will greatly restrict his ability to craft a compromise in the spending fights ahead. The first promise was to bring to the floor only legislation a majority of his members support and do it through the committee process. The second was to increase the debt limit only in exchange for a dollar-for-dollar decrease in spending in the time period covered by that debt increase.

In a meeting between House GOP leadership and outside campaign groups at the Republican National Committee on Thursday, Boehner’s chief of staff, Mike Sommers, discussed the possibility of increasing the debt limit for only one to three months-- a move that would rattle markets and threaten the U.S. credit rating. The idea, which has little chance of winning Senate or White House support, shows how uncertain Republicans are about how they might avoid the white-knuckle moment of default. “Any option-- including that one-- is contingent on getting corresponding cuts/reforms in return,” a Boehner aide said. “It depends on the White House. If they offer cuts and reforms equal to one month, that’s what they get. If they agree to more cuts and reforms, they get a greater increase.”

The conventional wisdom is that Obama and Congress will ultimately work out a grand spending compromise that raises the debt limit, keeps funding the government and changes the $1.2 trillion in automatic “sequestration” spending cuts set to kick in on March 1.

Here’s the problem with that: Two top GOP officials told us Republicans are not willing to compromise on the $1.2 trillion in cuts. Those cuts, designed initially by the White House and GOP leaders, were agreed to by the last Congress and Republicans consider them a done deal, in the bank. They would negotiate the specific programs that get cut-- but not the total number. Right now, half the cuts target defense, half other programs.

...GOP officials said 90 percent of their members are prepared to allow the cuts to take effect, rather than compromise, based on their preliminary head counts. This seems like the most likely outcome right now.

Sequestration, while devastating to defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, is small potatoes compared to the debt limit.

Boehner’s own staff has warned conservative lawmakers that deficits will soar, as interest rates rise, the markets will tumble and the economy will face catastrophe if they truly follow through on default. They will walk members through a presentation on this scenario this week, and the hope is conservatives will conclude it would be economic and political suicide to go all in. But GOP leaders have made similar pitches before, and most House Republicans didn’t buy it. They are willing to take that risk because they believe the future consequences of more spending are more severe. Sommers told the RNC meeting they will not finalize a strategy until their members weigh in this week.
Even without looking at the newly elected freshmen extremists from safe seats in basically unreconstructed former slave-holding districts-- Bob Pittenger (R-NC), Roger Williams (R-TX), Tom Rice (R-SC), Tom Cotton (R-AR), hate talk radio host Trey Radel (R-FL), Doug Collins (R-GA), George Holding (R-NC), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Randy Weber (R-TX) and Richard Hudson R-NC)-- there are dozens of Confederate obstructionists in the House Republican Caucus with lifetime ProgressivePunch voting scores of crucial issues that are less than 4.0 (out of 100). They are as opposed to America as any al Qaeda terrorist-- often for the same basic Bronze Age reasons-- and they will continue to do all they can to disrupt the smooth functioning of a government they see, basically, as an occupying power that confiscated their ancestors' slaves. The worst Confederate traitors in Congress (by the numbers):
Mike Rogers (R-AL)- 3.77
Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)- 3.76
Jack Kingston (R-GA)- 3.76
Taliban Dan Webster (R-FL)- 3.48
Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)- 3.46
Trey Gowdy (R-SC)- 3.23
Martha Roby (R-AL)- 3.23
Steve Southerland (R-FL)- 3.23
Mike Burgess (R-TX)- 3.07
Blake Farenthold (R-TX)- 3.01
Robert Aderholt (R-AL)- 2.99
Lord Charles Boustany (R-LA)- 2.99
Steve Womack (R-AR)- 2.98
John Fleming (R-LA)- 2.94
Phil Roe (R-TN)- 2.94
Spencer Bachus (R-AL)- 2.92
Hal Rogers (R-KY)- 2.87
Virginia Foxx (R-NC)- 2.84
date rape Dr. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN)- 2.74
Jeff Miller (R-FL)- 2.74
Phil Gingrey (R-GA)- 2.61
Stephen Fincher (R-TN)- 2.51
Dennis Ross (R-FL)- 2.51
Michael McCaul (R-TX)- 2.39
Kay Granger (R-TX)- 2.31
Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)- 2.30
Randy Forbes (R-VA)- 2.29
Ander Crenshaw (R-FL)- 2.26
Rick Crawford (R-AR)- 2.24
Steve Scalise (R-LA)- 2.24
Tim Griffin (R-AR)- 2.24
Tom Rooney (R-FL)- 2.21
John Mica (R-FL)- 2.17
Tom Price (R-GA)- 2.09
Joe Wilson (R-SC)- 2.09
Kenny Marchant (R-TX)- 2.05
Gregg Harper (R-MS)- 2.02
Bill Flores (R-TX)- 2.00
Mac Thornberry (R-TX)- 1.90
Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA)- 1.86
Jo Bonner (R-AL)- 1.84
John Culberson (R-TX)- 1.83
Mike Conaway (R-TX)- 1.82
John Carter (R-TX)- 1.76
Renee Ellmers (R-NC)- 1.75
Patrick McHenry (R-NC)- 1.73
Sam Johnson (R-TX)- 1.68
Brett Guthrie (R-KY)- 1.67
Kevin Brady (R-TX)- 1.62
Randy Neugebauer (R-TX)- 1.61
Lamar Smith (R-TX)- 1.54
Alan Nunnelee (R-MS)- 1.52
Rich Nugent (R-FL)- 1.50
Eric Cantor (R-VA)- 1.32
 Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)- 1.30
Pete Sessions (R-TX)- 1.25
Diane Black (R-TN)- 1.01
Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN)- 1.01
Steven Palazzo (R-MS)- 1.00
Pete Olson (R-TX)- 0.74
Just for comparison, Michele Bachmann, head of the Tea Party Caucus has a lifetime crucial vote score of 3.92, "more progressive" than anyone on the list above! And Louie Gohmert, widely considered the most ignorant bigot sent to Congress since the Civil War ended has a 4.78 lifetime score. And, if you need a reminder, this is what these people are catering to... this exactly:

So what exactly did Obama say at his press conference today about these sociopaths he's forced to work with? Apart from reminding them that "we are not a deadbeat nation," here are some excerpts:
We can't finish the job of deficit reduction through spending cuts alone. The cuts we've already made to priorities other than Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and defense mean that we spend on everything from education to public safety less as a share of our economy than it has-- than has been true for a generation. And that's not a recipe for growth. So we've got to do more both to stabilize our finances over the medium and long term, but also spur more growth in the short term.

Now, I've said I'm open to making modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to protect them from future generations. And I've also that we need more revenue through tax reform, by closing loopholes in our tax code for the wealthiest Americans. If we combine a balanced package of savings from spending on health care and revenues from closing loopholes, we can solve the deficit issue without sacrificing our investments in things like education that are going to help us grow.

It turns out the American people agree with me. They listened to an entire year's debate over this issue. And they made a clear decision about the approach they prefer. They don't think it's fair, for example, to ask a senior to pay more for his or her health care or a scientist to shut down life-saving research so that a multimillionaire investor can pay less in tax rates than a secretary. They don't think it's smart to protect endless corporate loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans rather than rebuild our roads and our schools, invest in our workers' skills, or help manufacturers bring jobs back to America.

So they want us to get our books in order in a balanced way, where everybody pulls their weight, everyone does their part. That's what I want, as well. That's what I've proposed.

And we can get it done, but we're going to have to make sure that people are looking at this in a responsible way, rather than just through the lens of politics.

Now, the other congressionally imposed deadline coming up is the so-called debt ceiling, something most Americans hadn't even heard of before two years ago. So I want to be clear about this: The debt ceiling is not a question of authorizing more spending. Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize more spending. It simply allows the country to pay for spending that Congress has already committed to.

...We might not be able to pay our troops, or honor our contracts with small business owners. Food inspectors, air traffic controllers, specialist who track down loose nuclear materials wouldn't get their paychecks. Investors around the world will ask if the United States of America is in fact a safe bet. Markets could go haywire, interest rates would spike for anybody who borrows money. Every homeowner with a mortgage, every student with a college loan, every small business owner who wants to grow and hire.

It would be a self-inflicted wound on the economy. It would slow down our growth, might tip us into recession. And ironically it would probably increase our deficit. So to even entertain the idea of this happening, of the United States of America not paying its bills, is irresponsible. It's absurd. As the speaker said two years ago, it would be, and I'm quoting Speaker Boehner now, "a financial disaster, not only for us, but for the worldwide economy."

So we've got to pay our bills. And Republicans in Congress have two choices here. They can act responsibly, and pay America's bills, or they can act irresponsibly and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The financial wellbeing of the American people is not leverage to be used. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip. And they better choose quickly, because time is running short.

The last time republicans in Congress even flirted with this idea, our AAA credit rating was downgraded for the first time in our history. Our businesses created the fewest jobs of any month in nearly the past three years, and ironically, the whole fiasco actually added to the deficit.

So it shouldn't be surprising, given all this talk, that the American people think that Washington is hurting rather than helping the country at the moment. They see their representatives consumed with partisan brinkmanship over paying our bills while they overwhelmingly want us to focus on growing the economy and creating more jobs.

...Now, if the House and the Senate want to give me the authority so that they don't have to take these tough votes, if they want to put the responsibility on me to raise the debt ceiling, I'm happy to take it. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, had a proposal like that last year. And I'm happy to accept it.

But if they want to keep this responsibility, then they need to go ahead and get it done. And, you know, there are no magic tricks here. There are no loopholes. There are no, you know, easy outs. This is a matter of Congress authorizes spending. They order me to spend. They tell me, you need to fund our Defense Department at such-and-such a level, you need to send out Social Security checks, you need to make sure that you are paying to care for our veterans. They lay all this out for me, and-- because they have the spending power. And so I am required by law to go ahead and pay these bills.

Separately, they also have to authorize a raising of the debt ceiling in order to make sure that those bills are paid. And so what Congress can't do is tell me to spend X and then say, "But we're not going to give you the authority to go ahead and pay the bills."

And I just want to repeat, because I think sometimes the American people understandably aren't following all-- all the debates here in Washington. Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize us to spend more. All it does is say, that America will pay its bills. And we are not a deadbeat nation.

And the consequences of us not paying our bills, as I outlined in my opening statement, would be disastrous. So, I understand the impulse to try to get around this in a simple way. But there's one way to get around this. There's one way to deal with it, and that is for Congress to authorize me to pay for those items of spending that they have already authorized. And the-- you know the-- the notion that Republicans in-- in the House, or maybe some Republicans in the Senate would suggest that in order for us to get our way on our spending priorities, that we would risk the full faith and credit of the United States, that I think is not what the founders intended.

...[E]verybody here understands this. I mean, this is not a complicated concept. You don't go out to dinner and then, you know, eat all you want and then leave without paying the check. And if you do, you're breaking the law. And Congress is... should think about it the same way that the American people do.

You don't-- now, if Congress wants to have a debate about maybe we shouldn't go out to dinner next time, maybe we should go to a more modest restaurant, that's fine. That's a debate that we should have. But you don't-- you don't say, in order for me to control my appetites, I'm going to not pay the people who already provided me services, people who already lent me the money. That's not-- that's not showing any discipline. All that's doing is not meeting your obligations. You can't do that.

And-- and that's not a credible way to run this government. We've got to stop lurching from crisis to crisis to crisis when there's this clear path ahead of us that simply requires some discipline, some responsibility, and some compromise. That's where we need to go. That's how this needs to work.

...If we want to have a conversation about how to reduce our deficit, let's have that. We've been having that for the last two years. We just had an entire campaign about it. And by the way, the American people agreed with me, that we should reduce our deficits in a balanced way, that also takes into account the need for us to grow this economy, and put people back to work.

And despite that conversation, and despite the election results, the position that's been taken, on the part of some House republicans, is that, "Nope, we gotta do it our way. And if we don't, we simply won't pay America's bills."

Well, you know, tha -- that can't be-- that can't be a position that is sustainable over time. It's not one that's good for the economy now. It's certainly not going to be the kind of precedent that I want to establish, not just for my presidency, but for future presidents. Even if it was on the other side.

Democrats don't like voting for the debt ceiling when a Republican's president. And yet, you-- you-- but you never saw a situation in which Democrats suggested somehow that we would go ahead and default if we didn't get 100 percent of our way. That's just not how it's supposed to work.

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At 3:06 PM, Blogger selise said...

"Are There Enough Political Sociopaths In The House Republican Caucus?"

wouldn't surprise me.

but what really bothers me is that i don't know the answer to the question, "are there enough political sociopaths in the white house?"

At 4:09 PM, Blogger Daro said...

DWT: You write a LOT. Really appreciate it an' all but maybe you could squash it down a bit? You know, "Dems bad. Repub's worse." LOL

At 8:03 PM, Anonymous me said...

Here's an idea. Obama promises to cut all social services by 50%. Then the scumpublicans vote OK. Then Obama cuts all social services in the South.

At 11:36 PM, Blogger John said...

Powell would be funny if he weren't so criminally tragic.

After this and “fun-with-anthrax-at-the-UN,” what will be the next "duped-again" moment for the
de-facto head of the "House Slave Republicans," military atrocity cover-ups, Iran-contra follies?

Stay tuned.

John Puma


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