July 12, 2011

Debt Deal Catfight

It looks like talks are breaking down on the deal to reduce spending and manage the debt ceiling.  Everyone has drawn their lines in the sand and they are nowhere close any more.  It's a catfight.  It's High Noon.  It's blood sport.  It's all rolled into one mega-spectacle.  No matter how it turns out, you might as well enjoy the show.

From The Hill;
Obama said Republicans were refusing to allow any tax hikes in the deal, including provisions aimed at the wealthiest taxpayers, while Republicans said the White House’s insistence on tax increases and resistance to meaningful Social Security and Medicare reforms was the problem.
Obama said during a late morning press conference that he had “bent over backwards” to meet the GOP halfway. “I do not see a path to a deal if they do not budge. Period,” Obama said.

Less than two hours later, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) retorted: “It takes two to tango.

“I understand that this is going to take sacrifice, and is going to take political capital on both sides,” Boehner said. “I’m certainly willing to take my fair share of it, but if we’re going to take political capital, then let’s stand up and do the big thing, the right thing for the country.”
And from USA Today;
Just hours before another White House meeting, the top two Republicans in Congress blasted President Obama today for a debt reduction proposal they say is more specific about taxes than actual budget cuts.

"In my view the president has presented us with three choices," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., referring to efforts to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. "Smoke and mirrors, tax hikes, or default."

"Republicans choose none of the above," McConnell said. "I had hoped to do good; but I refuse to do harm."

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, demanded more specifics from Obama, saying, "Where's the president's plan? When's he going to lay his cards on the table?"
President Obama, thinking his scare tactics are playing to the electorate, threatened to not pay Social Security on August 3rd if the ceiling is reached on August 2nd.
President Obama on Tuesday said he cannot guarantee that retirees will receive their Social Security checks August 3 if Democrats and Republicans in Washington do not reach an agreement on reducing the deficit in the coming weeks.

"I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Mr. Obama said in an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, according to excerpts released by CBS News.

The Obama administration and many economists have warned of economic catastrophe if the United States does not raise the amount it is legally allowed to borrow by August 2.
Really now. The catastrophe they claim will hit, hits seniors first? Not unionized government workers? Come on - how transparently manipulative and cynical evil is that? Manipulating the elderly as a scare tactic? Causing them duress to make political gain?  That's pretty evil.

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Giethner has proclaimed when when High Noon hits;
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Tuesday said that time is running out for a deal to raise the debt limit, and wants a broad agreement with Congress in place by the end of next week at the latest.
Get the popcorn, sit back and observe the catfight. It will be very telling. Under duress, some unexpected and unintended words are sure to come out. I'm sure it will be very revealing. While the economy isn't spectator sport, the politics in this mess sure are. Lest you think I'm being too cavalier, I believe a deal will get done. Right now everyone is waiting for the other side to blink.  The brinksmanship is also showmanship, with everyone playing to the electorate.  A deal, good or bad, will get done.

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