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Obama to Push for Wider Deal on Deficit Cuts

By John Martin - Posted on 07 July 2011

According to the New York Times, the President is pressing congressional leaders to consider a far-reaching debt-reduction plan that would force Democrats to accept major changes to Social Security and Medicare. The proposal would also seek major concessions from Republicans on taxes, possibly allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of next year. The proposed package would seek up to $4 trillion in savings over the next decade.

The president’s renewed efforts follow what knowledgeable officials said was an overture from Mr. Boehner, who met secretly with Mr. Obama last weekend, to consider as much as $1 trillion in unspecified new revenues as part of an overhaul of tax laws in exchange for an agreement that made substantial spending cuts, including in such social programs as Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security — programs that had been off the table.

The intensifying negotiations between the president and the speaker have Congressional Democrats growing anxious, worried they will be asked to accept a deal that is too heavily tilted toward Republican efforts and produces too little new revenue relative to the magnitude of the cuts.

Congressional Democrats said they were caught off guard by the weekend White House visit of Mr. Boehner — a meeting the administration still refused to acknowledge on Wednesday — and Senate Democrats raised concerns at a private party luncheon on Wednesday.

House Democrats have their own fears about the negotiations, which they expressed in an hourlong meeting Wednesday night with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.

“Depending on what they decide to recommend, they may not have Democrats,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, said in an interview. “I think it is a risky thing for the White House to basically take the bet that we can be presented with something at the last minute and we will go for it.”

I'm ok with major changes in entitlements-- such as a gradual raising of the retirement age-- provided there are gauantees that people in certain lines of work or in certain financial situations would be allowed to retire early. What I like most about a plan like this is that it shows that Obama is committed to doing big things. I voted for him in 2008 because I was convinced he was the only candidate who could reach across party lines to forge large (potentially unpopular, but necessary) compromises. This would prove that for most.

The other reason I like this is because, if successful, it would get the Republicans disappoint their irrational base and show them that tweaking tax rates upward won't sink the economy, as they're all so convinced now it would.

I am cautiously hopeful about this development as well.  The essential structure and mission of Medicare has to be maintained along with sufficient federal commitment to maintaining that structure and mission (i.e., under funded vouchers ain't gonna cut it).  Also the revenue enhancements better be GENUINE enhancements from the wealthiest Americans, and not swaps of one loophole for another.

I like that he is showing real leadership and, I agree, he has to send the GOP back into their own swamp with a tax compromise they have to shove down th throats of the no-tax crocodiles in their base.

My fear: Obama pulls another January number where he gave $39 billion, extension of the Bush tax cuts,  plus federal wage freezes against a Republican demand of $33 billion and gives the GOP another near total giveaway on a grander scale. Then he goes to democrats in congress, again, and tells them to take it or leave it. Those weenies go on MSNBC and whine for a week before they cave in on the deal (Sherrod Brown, please rent a spine this time).  Obama announces his total surrender as a victory for bipartisanship and the ability of both parties to work together.

If that happens, I start sending money to Romney.

 Well it's been a week since the above post... lots has happened since then.

a) Obama seems to have succeeded in making the "no taxes under any circumstances" wing of the Republican party and the (comparatively) sane wing of the Republican party fight each other. A+ there so far, if loudmouths like Harry Reid don't gloat over this so much that they inspire a last ditch, powerful show of unity to spite Reid et. al.

b) Obama most likely will not cave as he did in January. (I am THRILLED to have been wrong on that point). I like to think the pounding he has taken from his base -- along with the pretty much zero return on his two years of bipartisan/across the aisle outreach -- helped stiffen his spine on this one.  Looking good there.

c) Democrats in Congress may or may not be weenies... too early to tell but they sound like they took it in the ear for joining Obama in bowing to McConnell's no tax hike demand on the budget vote last January. 

Lots of action -- and a tip of the hat to the 400+ CEOs, of all people, who wrote to every member of congress this week telling them that not raising the debt ceiling is, in so many words, stupid beyond belief.

If you like the letter from the 400 CEO's, you'll love this:

At a closed-door meeting Friday morning, GOP leaders turned to their most trusted budget expert, Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, to explain to rank-and-file members what many others have come to understand: A fiscal meltdown could occur if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling.

Hilarious. The Tea Party freshman had to get a closed-door come-to-Jesus talk from a guy they apparently look up to.

I hate demonizing or insluting anyone in politics, but some of these members of Congress are just idiotic, assuming they actually believe that default would be no big deal.


>>>"I hate demonizing or >insluting< anyone in politics,.."

I don't know if the above is a brilliant pun or divine keystroke intervention, but I LOVE it. I am going to use "insluting" the next chance I get. 

And, yes, I DO love the fact that Paul Ryan had to explain that the 400 CEOs and the head of the Chamber of Commerce are not stooging for Obama and that we are actually facing serious problems if the ceiling is not raised. (At this point we may well have big new problems even if it is raised -- thanks to the world wide confidence-shaking 3 month public  showdown-over-nothing- the GOP has made out of this -- but not as drastic or draconian as if we default.)

Wow. Yeah... that was just the result of a non-proofread post. I'm glad it works, though!

What's scary about all those Tea Partiers that got elected is that it just goes to show you that just about anyone can get elected under the right circumstances. In 2010, if you were able to convince the wackiest right-wingers in your community that you hated Obama more than anyone else, chances are you had a good shot in getting elected come November. 

I think two things are at play in the Republican party these days. On the one hand, the McConnells and Boehners out there want the country to do bad enough that Obama doesn't get reelected. On the other hand, the Tea Party freshmen get excited by the prospect of changing the course of history and show the world that their nutjob ideas can work in the real world. 

Maybe the solution here would just be to let the Tea Party leaders get their own state where they can defaul on public debt all they want and see how that works out for them. It seems like that would be the only way for them to learn.

But Michelle Bachman said Obama was lying that there would be any disruption and that SS checks might be impacted if they don't vote to raise the debt ceiling. Now she's calling Paul Ryan a liar? Those true Tea Partiers must be confused as hell these days! And I'm loving the insane GOP family dysfunction we are witnessing. Boehner is not leading his party if he has to hold symbolic votes next week on a balanced budget amendment-which can't pass-to even be allowed to vote on the debt ceiling. This is becoming an embarrassing circus for him!

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