Kemstone

Kemstone
Location
Togane, Japan
Birthday
December 31
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Teacher
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I'm teaching English in foreign countries as a way to see the world. I lived in Germany for three years and have been in Japan since August of 2011.

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JULY 31, 2011 11:47AM

Down With the Debt Deal

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I’ve been holding off on ranting about these debt negotiations for weeks, mostly because I’ve already blasted President Obama for his political incompetence and/or malfeasance so many times that there’s nothing new to say.  But as the clock ticks down to the arbitrary deadline for raising this arbitrary debt ceiling and the news media milks all of the drama out of this absurd charade as they possibly can, I just want to briefly remind everyone that there was never any need for this “crisis” in the first place and that it’s still completely possible for the President to have the debt ceiling raised without striking any kind of deal with Republicans at all.

To just briefly clarify my position, I think the negotiations over raising the debt ceiling have been leading to one of the worst deals for the American people that a Democratic president has ever been willing to accept.  I agree with economists like Robert Reich that now is not the time to make massive spending cuts, and I stand with the majority of the American people in believing that while eliminating waste in our national budget should absolutely be a long-term priority, what’s needed most in the here-and-now of the recession is more spending to create jobs, thus putting more money in the hands of the middle class and spurring demand to help kick-start the economy again.  Once unemployment is reduced, then we can talk about debt reduction. 

Instead of making this case however, our compromiser-in-chief has been playing the same bipartisan-posturing game he always plays and agreeing with the Republicans that debt-reduction should be Priority One in order to appear like the most reasonable man in the room.  He’s certainly succeeded in appearing that way and it’s going to help him politically in the short-term, but he seems oblivious to the fact that there will be consequences to the painful cuts he’s willing to make and that if he does nothing to reduce unemployment between now and Election Day 2012, the American people—most of whom don’t pay close attention to politics—are going to fire him no matter how reasonable he appears today.

The most pull-your-hair-in-frustration part of this entire debacle is the fact that it never needed to come to this in the first place.  The debt ceiling can be raised without any debt ceiling deal whatsoever.  The Republicans are holding the economy hostage [again] in order to force the president to meet their draconian demands, and he’s playing along because he thinks conceding to these demands (and acting like he agrees with most of them in the first place) helps him politically.  But it turns out there’s no need to meet any of these demands at all—the Republicans are writing ransom notes but they’re not actually holding anything hostage.

By now almost everyone has heard of the idea of invoking the 14th Amendment to get around Republican threats not to raise the debt ceiling.  Because it says that “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law . . . shall not be questioned” the President could theoretically declare that the United States will pay the money that Congress has already appropriated no matter what threats the opposition party is issuing.

What far fewer people are aware of—and I didn’t even know about this until receiving an e-mail about it this morning—is that there’s a way around these debt ceiling negotiations in the debt-ceiling law itself.  Quoting now from the Public Debt Law of 1941:

 "The face amount of obligations issued under this chapter and the face amount of obligations whose principal and interest are guaranteed by the United States Government (except guaranteed obligations held by the Secretary of the Treasury) may not be more than [some arbitrary huge number] . . .

With the approval of the President, the Secretary of the Treasury may borrow on the credit of the United States Government amounts necessary for expenditures authorized by law."

By now it’s painfully clear to all of us that the full faith and credit of the United States should not be placed in the hands of children (i.e. politicians) to play political games with.  Luckily, the drafters of the public debt law were wise enough to give the president the express and unilateral authority to direct the Treasury Secretary to cover any and all expenditures that have already been authorized by Congress.  We can negotiate all day long over future spending, but money that’s already been appropriated must be spent no matter what the clowns on Capitol Hill have to say about it.

Whether he invokes the 14th Amendment or the Public Debt Law of 1941, the best thing the President can do for the middle class, for the markets, and for the international reputation of the United States is to end these absurd debt talks now, save Medicare and Social Security from the cuts he’s been poised to make to them, and proclaim to the American people and our foreign creditors that no matter what kinds of political games get played in Washington, the United States of America always pays its bills.

Yes, he’d take a short-term hit for waiting so long to do this, and the conservative media would blast him mercilessly for shutting Republicans out of the process (they’d no doubt accuse him of behaving like a dictator) but in the long-term I believe it would not just help America but help Obama as well, as he’s been desperately needing to flex some muscles and show some spine for quite some time, and if he doesn’t do it now—with both the majority of Americans and the law on his side—he never will.

If you feel as I do, please take a moment to visit this link and have a fax submitted to the White House and your representatives in your name saying as much.  We can still get the debt ceiling raised without having to swallow this awful budget-slashing legislation they’ve been working on, but only if we make it clear to our elected officials that we’re aware of the fact that we can.

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you are absolutely right, for all the good it does. that and four bucks will get you a latte at starbucks. just so tired of all the nonsense going on.

what this country needs is liberal leadership that knows how to get their way as well as the republicans.
The Republicans will back morons if it means they will get their way…and backing Republican morons has paid off bit time for Republicans who definitely ARE getting their way. The Republicans have backed people like George W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann…and a host of others.

The Democrats do back. They stand on principle…and do the thing their “honor” requires of them even if it means not getting what they want.

And, the are winners at that game…because they are not getting anything.

Major Mojo thinks that the country needs liberal “leadership.” The Republicans are not getting what they want because of leadership…but because of followership.

What the country needs is some liberal “followership.”

It ain’t gonna get it. The liberals will stick with honor and principle. And all they are gonna get is shit!

Watch. The Republicans are gonna get the presidency in 2012…and probably control of both houses.

The Democrats are gonna get peace of mind in the knowledge that they stuck to principle and honor.
Posting without re-reading. Hope I got it better in this rendition.


The Republicans will back morons if it means they will get their way…and backing Republican morons has paid off big time for Republicans who definitely ARE getting their way. The Republicans have backed people like George W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann…and a host of others.

The Democrats don’t do backing. They stand on principle…and do what their “honor” requires of them even if it means not getting what they want.

And, they are big time winners at that game…because they are not getting anything.

Major Mojo thinks that the country needs liberal “leadership.” The Republicans are not getting what they want because of leadership…but because of followership.

What the country needs is some liberal “followership.”

It ain’t gonna get it. The liberals will stick with honor and principle. And all they are gonna get is shit!

Watch. The Republicans are gonna get the presidency in 2012…and probably control of both houses.

The Democrats are gonna get peace of mind in the knowledge that they stuck to principle and honor.
Fact based,eloquently written, and fax sent.

frank: "The liberals will stick with honor and principle"

frank talks like principles are a bad thing, but he's probably still stuck on principle being the head of a school and morals being a kind of mushroom.


-R-
As I sit up here in the Great White North, aka Canada, I cannot help but wonder at how tenaciously some of you people label your Democrats as "liberals".

Why?

They don't talk like liberals. They don't act like liberals. They don't pass 'liberal' laws. Their economic policy isn't liberal. They give no evidence that they think like liberals. In short, there is nothing about them that is at all liberal.

And why does it seem to surprise the hell out of y'all and piss you off to no end when you see that these non-liberals aren't providing "liberal leadership"?!!!

While beautifully written blogs, posts, essays, etc., get written here and at other sites, about how the Democrats "betrayed liberal principles", none of you seem to have figured out that this may..... just 'may', mind you, have been because.......*wait for it*.......... THEY AIN'T FREAKIN' LIBERALS!!!

If I may offer a suggestion:

Start calling your Democrats "Republican Lites". Not liberals. It'll be a lot closer to the truth; and much less confusing.

Oh, neighbour? Where do any of you get the idea that your elected representatives have ever, or will ever, represent anyone's interests but those of the people who fund their political careers? Have you folks discovered some great political secret that the rest of the world has missed? None of us, of any country, at any time, for any reason, has EVER been able to keep politicians honestly to the work of representing their constituents; have you?

I doubt it.

ᴼᴥƪ

..R..
Brilliantly stated Skypixie0.

If I could rate Your comment, I would. I know I owe You a PM and promise to respond to You asap.
Sky may be right. I don't necessarily think it's true of all the Democrats, but I'm more and more convinced it's true of the President.

Kemstone,
I didn't know about the other option. I think at this point there's already a deal cut, and probably not a good one.

Regarding the budding (and possibly already finished) argument between Mark and Frank:

It is better to get some decent results than none. I am not anti-compromise. However, I think that the results we settle for should be based on a sensible negotiating process, which this hasn't been, either from a Tea Party perspective or from a Presidential one. We're dealing on one hand with a group that gets 80% of what they ask for and bitches that they haven't gotten the other 20; and on the other hand with a President who doesn't seem to get that the concessions he's making won't buy him a damned thing because the GOP agenda entails vilifying him regardless of his conduct. It would be nice if he worried about what his country needed more than what makes him look reasonable to people who aren't reasonable in the first place. Yes, voting for the lesser of two evils makes more sense than letting the greater of two evils win and yes, there is a difference between Democrats and Republicans, even if that difference is a whole lot smaller than I would like. The 2000 election showed that there is a difference more conclusively than any scenario I could ever come up with. However, the President is giving away far more than is good for the country and I don't think it's in Democrats' best interest to make him think we approve of this. We don't and we shouldn't. Giving him the idea that he can take the liberal vote for granted will just make him tack right, which is bad for the economy in general and bad for those with least in particular. It reminds me of Democrats who went slow on civil rights because they figured Blacks had no place else to go, which is almost precisely how Obama has treated gays.

In other words, I agree with neither of you, but what else is new?
The assumption is, of course, that the Republicans have Obama by the balls and squeezing will give them what they want. And Obama plays the part perfectly giving them what they want to prevent something worse. Apisa has bought this farce hook line and sinker. Meanwhile Obama and the Republicans are toasting each other with champagne in some back room celebrating how the American people are made to accept the destruction of Medicare and Social Security while the financial dinosaurs that have purchased the Democrats and Republicans both start mailing out the reward checks to finance their campaigns.
It's the old good cop bad cop routine and it's working like a charm.
Perhaps people should realize Obama is the chocolate coating to make the programs of the monsters acceptable. We might as well vote in the Republican monsters so that swallowing their poison without the sweet flavor will get the country so totally pissed off that dome real dynamic opposition is created and the country becomes alive again. Obviously the voting system is so totally corrupt nothing can happen through that.
That should be "some real real dynamic opposition"

Sorry.
Jan, I couldn't agree with You more:

"Perhaps people should realize Obama is the chocolate coating to make the programs of the monsters acceptable. We might as well vote in the Republican monsters so that swallowing their poison without the sweet flavor will get the country so totally pissed off that some real dynamic opposition is created and the country becomes alive again."

Voting in the repugnican'ts would, likely bring back a democratic congress and these inane assertions by apisa about future supreme court justices to be appointed, would be blunted by a congress and president at odds and true checks and balances restored.
I would like to believe you but I have a hunch the whole system is totally broken and cannot be repaired without violent public reaction.
I'm about to get started on a rant about the new debt deal now, but first some very quick responses:

Frank, in this case if the liberals stick with their principles, they FORCE the president to invoke the 14th Amendment or the Public Debt Law, thus sparing a hell of a lot of people from some bad economic hardship. He'll take a political hit in the short-term, but ironically it would help him in the long-term because it would actually be a bold move, one of the first he's ever made.

Sky, you know I respect you but save your condescension for someone else. I couldn't be more aware that the Democrats and Republicans are both corporate-owned parties and they've both been working with common cause for at least the last three decades. I don't know what I wrote in this piece to indicate otherwise, but I can dig up plenty of old pieces I've written making that exact point. (If I misinterpreted you and your comment wasn't directed at me, then thank you for bringing that point into this discussion!)

Kosh--I too am all about compromise, but when one side ends up giving the other side MORE THAN WHAT THEY ASKED FOR at the beginning of negotiations, that can't be called compromise. It would be like someone asking for $5,000 for a used car and I offer $5,000, then they say "ok, if you just give me $7,000 we've got a deal". If I then pay the $7,000, that's NOT compromise.

Jan, I've been back-and-forth on the idea of Obama-as-Trojan-Horse for the plutocracy since the health care debate, but after this whole debacle I'd have to say I'm 95% convinced he is. There's still the 5% of me that thinks he might just really be the naive, easily-manipulated politician in history.
The way they handled it is insane; they didn't address the corporate corruption and they made it clear that if they can't get along by the next time, supposedly after the election, then we will have to pay the price.

This should serve as a wake up call elect people at the grass roots level or abandon democracy. the election could be the only chance to have people in office that will take problems seriously.
Read this article.

http://www.counterpunch.org/whitney08012011.html

It nicely nails Obama as the total phony liberal he pretends to be and ties him securely to the Wall street financial reactionaries who are destroying any possibilities of a decent life for middle class America.
Great link Jan, thanks!