In case you think we have not had enough condescending, rise-above-it, Congress- is-trying-my-patience pronouncements from President Obama, you are in luck. He’s going to give a speech at 9 p.m. ET. The most gripping question about the address is whether he will say “grownup” more often than he says “rating agencies.”The speaker of the House will respond. Right Turn will be back after the speeches to comment and collect reaction.
It is dicey, however, since at this point Obama in all likelihood is not going to get tax hikes and won’t get a deal that spares him the ordeal of doing his job again (on the debt) before the next election. So he’s got to leave enough room that when he finally signs the deal, as he must, it isn’t viewed as a major capitulation. Time to lower expectations for the liberal base, in other words.
Now he’ll argue that we are at a stalemate, but that’s awfully nervy. There was a bipartisan deal on Sunday, which he nixed because it didn’t spare him a second debt vote before the next election. But we aren’t stalemated at all. Congress is doing its business.
Meanwhile, the House response to Speaker John Boehner’s newest plan was generally positive, but not overwhelmingly so. The usual purists (who weren’t going to vote for any debt ceiling increase anyway) are complaining. Tea Party favorite Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) approved it, as did anti-tax maven Grover Norquist. (Who, contrary to conventional wisdom, is nearly always willing to make compromises to protects anti-tax principles. He supported the 2010 lame-duck tax deal that some Republican purists rejected.)
Do the House GOP leaders have the votes? I heard no bold pronouncements. For now, members are digesting the plan. I suspect it will eventually fly.
And what about the Senate? It is shocking, I know, to find more flim-flammery. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has put out an analysis to explain what is going on here:
Claim 1: “Winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will save $1 trillion.”
Reality: The Reid plan relies on the inaccurate assumption that surge-level spending in Iraq and Afghanistan is scheduled to continue over the next decade. An honest budget cannot claim to save taxpayers’ dollars by cutting spending that was not requested and will not be spent. Senate Democrats are employing a budget gimmick that will not fool the credit markets and does not address the urgent need for Washington to get its fiscal house in order.
Claim 2: “Paul Ryan’s budget also included this savings in its deficit reduction calculation.”
Reality: False. The House-passed budget cuts $6.2 trillion in spending relative to President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget request. This $6.2 trillion figure assumes ZERO savings from the global war on terror relative to the President’s budget.
A House budget aide pointed out that 37 percent of Reid’s “savings” come from that gimmick.
Ryan also pointed out that not even the Democratic Senate would follow Obama’s lead on taxes. So much for the “balanced deal”:
It is encouraging to see Senate Democrats acknowledge that job-destroying tax increases are a bad idea — and that they are ready to work with House Republicans to cut government spending. Yet it is critical for policymakers to maintain credibility as they work together to deal responsibly with the debt ceiling. Senator Reid’s misleading claims will not pass muster with credit markets. Such gimmickry does a disservice to the American people, who deserve responsible, honest leadership.
The Reid plan can’t pass the Senate. The Republicans will hold firm to support a filibuster, and they might pick up a few votes from the Democrats.
So what would pass the Senate? Obama backed the Reid plan but no one believes that’s the basis of a viable deal. So the House can work its will, and send Boehner’s bill to the Senate, which will first vote (and fail to obtain cloture) on Reid’s plan. Then they will take up the House’s bill because there is no alternative. The White House doesn’t have a plan, and neither does Reid, other than the plan he agreed upon and took to the White House. That’s the plan that would come back to the Senate (Boehner’s plan). So how exactly would Reid oppose what he took to the White House on Sunday?
Right now the only functioning element in any of this is the House. The congressmen keep passing bills. They keeping doing their job. Maybe if Obama stayed off TV long enough and stopped trying to gin up fights, the public wouldn’t regard Washington as “dysfunctional.”