Antique World Map 1630 – The Debt Ceiling and The Noise Machine

map of the world in 17th century

Antique World Map 1630

 

Neocon John Podhoretz has taken up the mantle of complete irrelevancy from his father. Though this mini-column from Commentary is the high-brow right-wing version of how conservatives will frame any failure to raise the debt ceiling – The President Is Actually Trying to Talk the Markets Into a Panic.

Perhaps for the first time in American history, this president is literally using this press conference to create a financial panic over the weekend about the opening of the markets on Monday. He is warning of disaster on Monday. Clearly,  he wants to use this as leverage to frighten the GOP into passing the plan proposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, which will push the debt ceiling problem into 2013, but it’s still an entirely new and astonishingly reckless gambit.

Pod seems to have problems with time lines and how we got to this point and the history of his side. It is astonishing how conveniently the right-wing intellectual memory goes blank when it comes time to prep for the next election and to once again shirk accountability. 130 Republicans Who Are In Congress Today Voted To Hike The Debt Ceiling Under Bush Without Hostage Threats

Yet these Republicans were not always demanding hostages in exchange for allowing the country to pay its own bills. In November of 2004, Congress voted in both the House and Senate to hike the U.S. debt limit by $800 billion, which raised the total ceiling to $8.1 trillion.

[  ]…Of course, there was one other difference between then and today. President George W. Bush was in the White House, and Republicans did not have an incentive to try to politically damage him by holding the debt ceiling hostage. In 2002, during another hike in the nation’s debt limit under Bush, his press secretary Ari Fleischer said it was important to raise the debt ceiling because it was not the time “to engage in activites that could in any way raise questions about the full faith and credit of the United States”.

Pod is a little late to the being aware of the economic consequences of playing chicken with the debt ceiling. If President Obama kept silent about the consequences does anyone doubt conservatives would be using that as their rhetorical weapon. Conservatives want to have it both ways. According to Michelle Bachmann(R-MN) “If we fail to pass increasing the debt ceiling, it isn’t that the federal government shuts down – it’s not like the budget”. Logically president Obama cannot scare the Right because they know the absolute truth about the failure to raise the debt ceiling. So who is Pod concerned about being scared, Democrats?  Wait a minute I can see where reading the various public statements and the pass voting record of conservatives one could be a little confused about whether the debt ceiling matters or not,

“This country now possesses the strongest credit in the world.  The full consequences of a default — or even the serious prospect of default — by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate.”  — President Ronald Reagan, 1983

“As we fight for freedom, we must not imperil the full faith and credit of the United States Government and the soundness and strength of the American economy.” — President George W. Bush, 2002

“[O]ur government now needs to keep its promise to the American people, to all of various entitlement programs, but maybe most especially the program [Social Security] that that elderly woman asked about this morning.  We must raise the statutory debt limit.” — Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), 2002

“Raising the debt limit is about meeting the obligations we have already incurred.  We must meet our obligations.  Vote for this bill.” — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), 2006

Let’s also consider Pod’s total fabrication of the numbers involved in the debt ceiling debate for the last 48 hours – he says Obama insisted on a dollar to dollar match cuts to revenue increases. Not even close to any account of the modified ‘Gang of six’ plan under debate. He gets paid to be a pundit. Does he feel he is not getting paid enough to be accurate. Even the mainstream media is reporting that tax increase are the hurdle. It is not as simple as that. Most of what Obama has asked for in revenue ( previous link) consisted of ending some tax loopholes and tax incentives, plus tax reform( one example is shortening the tax depreciation period for luxury corporate jets from seven years to five years).  As of 12 days ago – the last time Boehner walked away from discussion – the offer on the table was six dollars in spending cuts for every dollar of revenue. How about the short lived Reid-McConnell plan – a smaller package, but that was all spending cuts. The last offer on the table was a variation on the Gang of six which was $2 in cuts to $1 in revenue. This is once again where conservatives show their cowardly budget DNA. The plan seems to tie its cuts in entitlement programs and its revenue increases together. Who would decide what is spent and where. Congress. The House, with all the committees chaired by Republicans would have to make specific cuts. Boehner does not seem to think, or the tea smokers pulling his strings, that they have the intelligence, maturity or courage to make those difficult decisions. This is also the President and the Bowles-Simpson architecture safety switch designed to prevent Congress from enacting the budget cuts while killing the revenue-raising measures.

I think people are getting debt ceiling fatigue, but those looking for a blow-by-blow account of the latest meetings might find this helpful – The Inside Story of Obama and Boehner’s Second Failed Grand Bargain. Democrats leaders in the House did throw in a request for more revenue, but Boehner had already agreed in principle to some revenue raising measures. It looks like he panicked at the prospects of thinking on his feet and went to his office ask his handlers what his next step should be.

Ezra Klein recently laid out some tax incentives that we could easily do without – Your tax increase is my spending cut

I spent time digging through the federal budget this week, and I concluded that Republicans are right: There is plenty of spending to cut. For instance, we’ve got one government program that hands people money to buy houses that, in most cases, they would buy anyway. They get even more money if they buy a more expensive house. Over the next five years, that program alone will cost almost $500 billion. That can’t be the best use of taxpayer dollars.

Another federal agency will spend more than $400 billion to reward people for making money by investing and earning capital gains and dividends rather than by going to work and taking their income in wages. I like investors and I participate in the market, but is this really the sort of activity that requires a $400 billion subsidy?

 

Tax incentives are a great Keynesian toll to grease the wheels on specific parts of the economy – Michele Bachmann should know since she has taken advantage of some of that grease.  There comes a time when those incentives no longer serve a practical purpose.

Liberals who have the best intentions and know what they’re taking about in terms of policy have become obsessed with armchair psychoanalysis of President Obama. the bottom line is he is not doing enough. he is betraying Democratic values. I’m not saying they are all wrong or that Democrats should not hold him accountable, only that Obama looms as too much of the target of their ire. Very good and timely post by Amanda Marcotte on the subject – Either way, the problem is Republicans

So, from my point of view, no matter what evil or non-evil lurks in Obama’s heart, the problem is that this country keeps electing frothing-at-the-mouth crazy Republicans, and if voters would stop doing that, we wouldn’t be having one politically provoked crisis after another.  Sure, if Obama is a secret conservative, that is a problem.  But we can’t actually know that.  But what we do know for a fact is that no matter what lurks in Obama’s hearts, none of this would be happening if Republicans didn’t win the House.  So I think that my priorities are just fine, thank you very much.

Part of the problem may be short-term memory or the what have you done for me lately syndrome. President Obama’s 18 months year in office were a progressive string of victories that will likely go unmatched in my lifetime. Most of what is currently in play as far as policy choices is playing the cards he was dealt. You either have the votes for the People’s Budget or you don’t. It’s not psychology, its math.

Norwegian massacre gunman was a right-wing extremist who hated Muslims

Media reports in Norway described Breivik as a ‘loner’, who lived with his mother in a wealthy suburb of west Oslo, was well-educated and enjoyed hunting.

Only a few days ago he set up a Twitter account and posted a single message: ‘One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests’.

It is attributed to the English philosopher John Stuart Mill, whose concept of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control.

The account appears to have only been set up a few days ago.

On his Facebook profile, Breivik describes himself as a Christian and a conservative.

Also in the same article is a recounting of Norway’s radical Muslim problems. So some consolation for conservatives who were hoping this was another radical Muslim plot.

 

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