Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Of Course, Republicans Voted For It

Joe Biden made two comments, one unimportant, the other important and its veracity questioned.

The Vice-President met privately with Democratic House members on Monday when Representative Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania exclaimed "we have negotiated with terrorists!" Biden responded in an intemperate manner, contending "they have acted like terrorists."

Or he didn't. Biden says he was misquoted, Jay Carney implies agreement, and although his remarks kicked up a firestorm, we may never know the truth.

It doesn't matter of course, and wouldn't, because the remark (if made) occurred in a private meeting and therefore would have made no impact on the public.

We didn't need Biden's comment/non-comment to have noticed that Democratic politicians and pundits had fanned out in the past month accurately accusing Republicans- or tea party Republicans- of holding up a critical rise in the debt limit in order to impose their perverse spending priorities. Therefore, one would have expected, the Obama/Reid/Pelosi triumvirate could have forced an extension only with a solid majority of Democratic votes while lopping off a few GOP moderates who have common sense.

That almost was the case in the U.S. Senate, in which the deal, with approval of Majority Leader Reid, originated. There, 46 Democrats (including DINO Joe Lieberman) voted in favor of the bill with only 7 opposed. (28 Republicans voted 'aye' and 19 voted 'no.') In the House, however, while 95 Democrats voted in favor and 95 voted against (3 not voting), the corresponding numbers for the GOP were 174 and 69, with even members of the Tea Party Caucus voting in favor by 32 to 28.

So in the House, while 50% of Democrats voting disapproved the measure, only 28.4% of Republicans did so. Republicans yelled, screamed, and beat their breasts- but when it came down to the end, the deal was so good they couldn't resist it. They took it as far as they could, gained as much as possible, and then did as their corporate sponsors directed them.

The legislation requires appointment of three House Democrats, three Senate Democrats, three House Republicans, and three Senate Republicans to a committee which is to report debt-cutting measures of $1.2 trillion by November 23, which would be voted on by Congress by December 23- or trigger across-the-board cuts.

Among his three appointments, Senate Majority Leader Reid likely will select centrist Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Illinois' Dick Durbin, de facto head of the Gang of Six and favorite of President Obama, who favors cuts in "entitlements" (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to those of us who don't want the poor and the elderly to suffer for the sins of Wall Street gamblers). Flexible to a fault, Reid expects to select members "who are willing to make hard choices but aren’t locked in."

While Pelosi's choices are less evident, Boehner and McConnell, each of whom will appoint 3 individuals, already has made it clear what kind of legislator will represent the GOP. McConnell, not quite as open-minded as Reid, promptly revealed

What I can pretty certainly say to the American people, the chances of any kind of tax increase passing with this, with the appointees of John Boehner and I, are going to put in there are pretty low. I'm comfortable we aren't going to raise taxes coming out of this joint committee.

And in case the Senate Minority Leader himself wasn't clear enough, his spokesman added

No one is stronger in his opposition to tax hikes than Sen. McConnell. He will have serious discussions with all those who are interested in serving prior to make any appointments.

No translation necessary. But, it is argued, Democrats had no choice but to vote for this pile of dung in order to avoid a debt default. Uh, no. Jennifer Bendery of The Huffington Post reported

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said Monday that Vice President Joe Biden told the House Democratic Caucus that President Barack Obama was, in fact, prepared to use the Constitution to raise the debt limit.

"We heard in there that the president, if this all had failed, was willing to invoke the 14th Amendment," DeFazio said after the meeting ended.

The news runs counter to what the White House, and even Obama himself, had said for weeks: that option has been off the table because it is unclear whether the president has the legal authority to invoke the 14th amendment to raise the debt ceiling himself.

No, it doesn't. That option was never "off the table" and Barack Obama never said it was. At a town hall meeting, he said "I have talked to my lawyers. They are not persuaded that that is a winning argument."

Not persuaded. Not "persuaded that is a winning argument." And not "not persuaded that is a winning argument and I won't do it, even though it risks a worldwide economic catastrophe."

As Joe Biden made clear, President Obama would have invoked the 14th Amendment if necessary. He was wishin' and hopin' and praying (and now, for something completely off-topic, below) he wouldn't be faced with the decision. However,he needed to imply that he would not act, so that he could get Democratic votes, which at the time it appeared he would need to get the debt ceiling raised.

As it turned out, Republicans voted overwhelmingly in the House, a little less in the Senate, for the bill. They knew a good deal when they saw it and realized that it could get no better- and, as was likely, would get worse if the President decided to avert financial disaster.

In the Senate and the House, Republicans pulled the trigger when they needed to. In the Senate, Democrats were played for fools. They actually believed as the President implied- that he would shirk his responsibilities as the leader of the free world if Congress failed to raise the debt limit. If the entire fiasco was a joke, its butt, as the Vice-President's words inadvertently suggest, was Senate Democrats.


Anonymous said...

Dusty Springfield?

How old are you?

Mainstreet Liberal said...


Why This Comment?

Who's he talking about? Joe Scarborough wisely and very courageously asserts .... Again, a good question to ask about what he said in a...