Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Boehner Whispered A Message When No One Was Looking


As you can see in the video above, while President Obama was being inaugurated 4 years ago, Republican leaders were plotting against the country to make him look bad so he would be easier to defeat 4 years hence. That worked out badly for them. Yesterday, in the middle of the Inaugural ceremonies for President Obama's second term, Boehner timed a news dump that would otherwise have made headlines, headlines Republicans are very split over. Later today most Republicans in the House will vote with the Democrats to raise the debt limit. That shouldn't be a big deal-- it's very routine in fact-- except that it's been ginned up by far right extremists who have given it a crossing-the-Rubicon kind of pseudo-significance. AP:
Republican officials say the House will vote Wednesday on an increase in the nation's debt limit, a move designed to prevent a first-ever government default.

The vote marks a change in strategy for House Republicans who run the chamber and who remain adamant about reducing government spending but decided not to use the debt limit to trigger a confrontation with President Barack Obama.
The Speaker had the Rules Committee post the legislation by Boehner puppet Dave Camp as everyone in DC headed off to the Inaugural ceremonies. There's an unconstitutional stipulation in it that suspends congressional pay if they don't pass a budget by April 15. If these defenders on the Constitution actually read it, they would know that Congress can't pass any laws about their own salaries during the session. They can penalize the next Congress, but not the current one. Abram Brown at Forbes gave a simple explanation of how to solve the debt ceiling "crisis" once and for all:
Placing debt under Congressional authority is suppose to help restrain the spendthrift nature that defines Washington, D.C. Fact is, the debt ceiling is more a plot device for Beltway drama than an effective way to restore fiscal sensibility.

By Republican posturing today you’d think that they always voted against any more debt. Wrong. In 2003, 2004 and 2006, Senate Republicans led the push for increasing it. They did so because, at least for the past decade, the majority party has been the one to engineer the necessary support for increasing the debt ceiling. By turn, Democrats orchestrated it in 2009 and 2010. Only when one party controls the White House and another Congress did debt ceiling votes become bipartisan.

The minority party always votes in opposition because it allows an easy opportunity to smear the majority. Indebtedness is, unquestionably, a risk to fiscal stability-- be it a company’s or a country’s. The minority scores easy points against rivals by painting them as imprudent.

Financial bona fides aside, increases to the debt ceiling at such moments are critical. Without it, the U.S. defaults on its debt. That would throw financial markets into a state quite like… well, we don’t actually know. It’s never happened. The crisis it would cause among U.S. creditors is almost unimaginable. Even the mere suggestion that it might nearly propelled the U.S. into another recession in 2011. And it would also force a darkening of more than 40% of the government, further exacerbating the situation.

...That both parties extended U.S. indebtedness in the past decade show the gamesmanship behind the debt ceiling. It’s time to change the rules for the better.
The latest attempts by GOP radicals to use the debt ceiling to wreck the government entirely, inspired Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and five other members of the Progressive Caucus-- Hank Johnson (D-GA), Jim Moran (D-VA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Peter Welch (D-VT)-- to propose new legislation meant to abolish the debt ceiling entirely. Like Brown, they see as superfluous and just another impediment for partisan childishness or, in this case, right-wing domestic terrorists, to use as a weapon of sabotage against further economic recovery and against their bane, equality. According to Nadler, "Only a year-and-a-half after the last disastrous debt ceiling debate, House Republican leaders plan to use the same political brinksmanship again this year in order to impose their extreme and economically regressive agenda on the American people. A repeal of the debt ceiling would allow Congress to move forward with legislation that actually promotes jobs, economic recovery and growth... The modern debt ceiling, set in 1939 based on amendments to the Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917, consolidated federal debts in order to provide the U.S. Treasury more flexibility to reduce interest costs and minimize financial risks. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the House of Representatives, at times, used a mechanism, referred to as the Gephardt Rule, to automatically increase the debt ceiling to keep pace with annual congressional spending. In the last 10 years, Congress has voted to increase the debt ceiling 10 times. The 2011 debt ceiling face-off reflected a shift from 30 years of clean debt ceiling increases and resulted in Standard & Poor’s downgrading of the U.S. economy for the first time in history."

It looks like Boehner and Cantor decided they'd better not fight that battle at this time. Smart move on their part. But I can't wait to hear what the Republican House extremists like Steve King, Louie Gohmert, Paul Broun, Tom Price, Tim Huelskamp, Patrick McHenry, Steve Stockman, Trey Redel and the other psychopaths have to say. Tomorrow!

You probably listened to Obama's Inaugural address live yesterday. I just figured I'd excerpt a few paragraphs that sounded... well, like he made history. I mean, this really was a great Inaugural speech... although, I dare say, it must have driven Republicans insane. He undermined the entire basis of their existence.
Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.

For more than two hundred years, we have.

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.  We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it-- so long as we seize it together.

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures:  a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other-- through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security-- these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries-- we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure-- our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage.Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty.The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm.But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully-- not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice-- not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes:  tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths-- that all of us are created equal-- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law-- for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task-- to make these words, these rights, these values-- of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness-- real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time-- but it does require us to act in our time.

For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay.  We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.

My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction-- and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service. But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.

They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope.

You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.

You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time-- not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.

Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.
So, let's pray this is who he really is-- and not just a setup for another disappointment. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was optimistic in his response:

“President Obama’s second inaugural address was eloquent in its simplicity and inspiring in its basic theme that we’re all in this together.

“On the day our nation was marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., our first African American president invoked our country’s long history of advancing civil rights, as he put it, from Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall.

“As we rebuild our economy and as we bring an end to a decade of wars, the president laid out a strong vision for how we must protect our planet and renew our commitment to securing fundamental rights for all Americans.

“As the president brings forth his budget and legislative priorities, I look forward to working with him to create the millions of jobs that our workers need, to provide health care for all Americans and to protect the social safety net for seniors, veterans, children and the poor.”

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