Anyone Want A Sugar-Coated Satan Sandwich?

Monday, August 01, 2011

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, David Weigel, who covers politics and policy for Slate magazine, Reihan Salam, columnist for The Daily and blogger for National Review Online, and Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent for The Washington Post, discuss the deal on the debt ceiling and deficit.

So those of you depending on your Medicare checks, military pay checks, Social Security checks—you can breathe a little easier now, at least for the short term. It appears a deal will be reached before the August 2nd debt limit deadline, and large-scale economic disaster has been averted for now. The deal raises the $14.5 trillion debt limit, while promising a trillion in spending cuts with more to come by the years end with either recommendations of a bipartisan committee, or by punishing cuts if the government fails to pass the recommendations. 

Reiham Salam said it is important to remember that this is an on-going process.

If the economy continues to be weak, a year, a year and a half from now, its quite possible that many of these cuts will be delayed and so it’s very hard to say how this is all going to unfold.

David Weigel wrote an article for Slate, out today, asking how President Obama and Democrats will justify the spending cuts that they allowed be a part of this deal. He said there is more debating to come before the severity of the cuts is really decided.

The big cuts that will come at the end of this year of or the beginning of next year will either consist of automatic fifty-fifty cuts to discretionary and defense spending, or they’ll consist of something the commission puts together…. This plan, it front-loads some, but it doesn’t get to those big potential cuts until later.

Karen Tumulty said the president’s statement that the deal will “result in the lowest level of government spending since Dwight Eisenhower was president” may or may not be true, but certainly makes for a good talking point.

I don’t even know if statements like that are meaningful, given how much the economy has grown since then and the adjustments for how much the cost of living have grown.

Weigel said one thing that made it hard to come to an agreement was the unfailing opposition among presidential hopefuls, except for Jon Huntsman, to any sort of compromise.

You’re going to see a lot of sound and fury from Tea Party groups and Republicans who have an edge in opposing the deal…  The guys who want an advantage want to look more ideological, but most people in the party are going to go for his, because it’s the best possible deal they could have gotten.

He believes the rating agencies are also cognizant that this austerity measure is above and beyond what they should have expected, so he’s not worried by threats of a credit rating drop. 

These sphinx-like pronouncements of the rating agencies have become more and more annoying as the process has gone on.

Tumulty said she is cautiously optimistic that the bill will pass, and if it didn’t the pain would be shared.

Pretty much everyone takes a haircut except for a few places.

Salam pointed out that there really aren’t that many spending cuts that would take place this fiscal year.

The spending cuts in this fiscal year would amount to about 0.15 percent of GDP… We’re lowering from what is already an unusually-high baseline. So to those who are worried about this being distimulative, the truth is these cuts are really strongly back-loaded.

He said a big legislative change coming in 2012 is the expiration of tax cuts, which could raise as much as 2.8 trillion dollars.

That’s why I think that it is a much more balanced picture when you look not just discretely at this one negotiation, but rather at the larger landscape and how it’s going to change over the next couple years.

Tumulty said it’s hard for her in this environment to see Democrats and the president “going to the mat”, given how they caved in negotiation over the Bush tax cuts last year.

It’s hard for me to see them, in this political climate, taking that argument too far.


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Comments [63]

Is Obama a closet REPUBLICAN ?

Is Obama a closet REPUBLICAN ?

It is true that most Democrats nowadays are to the right of President Nixon. Many are to the right of Ronald Reagan's policies. But now it seems that President Obama, and the democrats who are supporting this bill are to the right of 1990's Gingrich!

What happened to the Democratic party ?
Who will represent the poor and middle class ?

Perhaps it's just that the Republicans have found the solution to Bill Clinton's triangulation strategy - the answer : each time Pres. Obama tries to run right to triangulate, the Republicans run even more extremely to the right, until the Democrats are chasing them into extremist right wing territory.

But maybe we're just foolish outsiders.

Maybe, despite his flowery words, in his heart Pres. Obama IS A CLOSET REPUBLICAN.

Perhaps this piece of theatre was his way of getting his own party to vote to harm their own base - and to accept extremist Republican arguments without disputing their validity or premises, and without proposing any constructive real Democratic alternatives.

Aug. 02 2011 12:01 PM
David Frum's deer tick

Why do we even bother to have two political parties in this country when they may as well merge and call themselves the Party of the Billionaire Ruling Elite? I will tell you why we have two parties: it is so that the average rube in the voting booth thinks he or she actually has some kind of a choice in what governs them.

We need a Tahrir Square moment here! An American spring! And we need it now!

Aug. 01 2011 04:08 PM
dba from nyc

There must be something in the democrats' DNA compared with the republicans'. It seems that the democratic party attracts nice people who want to get along, but the republicans attract aggressive and assertive types who will do whatever it takes and go for the jugular.

Aug. 01 2011 11:18 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

From Wikipedia -Unites States Public Debt

"Social programs enacted during the Great Depression and the buildup and involvement in World War II during the F.D. Roosevelt and Truman presidencies in the 1930s and '40s caused the largest increase – a sixteenfold increase in the gross public debt from $16 billion in 1930 to $260 billion in 1950. When Roosevelt took office in 1933, the national debt was almost $20 billion; a sum equal to 20 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). During its first term, the Roosevelt administration ran large annual deficits between 2 and 5 percent of GDP. By 1936, the national debt had increased to $33.7 billion or approximately 40 percent of GDP.[9] Gross debt relative to GDP rose to over 100% to pay for WWII.

After this period, the growth of the gross public debt closely matched the rate of inflation, tripling in size from $260 billion in 1950 to around $909 billion in 1980. Gross debt in nominal dollars quadrupled during the Reagan and Bush presidencies from 1980 to 1992. The net public debt quintupled in nominal terms. Gross debt relative to GDP declined after WWII, then rose during the 1980s as part of the Cold War. During the 1970s, debt held by the public declined from 28% of GDP to 26% of GDP. During the 1980s, it rose to 41% of GDP."

Aug. 01 2011 11:00 AM
ray from red bank

the republicans won. the fact that we are even discussing this means that they won. this crisis has been manufactured by the GOP. a small and belligerent number of freshman congressmen, who are willing to destroy the credit rating and economy of the united states, have been able to dictate the national discourse for months.

the republicans know they are lying when they insist on claiming that this is what the american people want/care about, to reduce govt spending. however, according to polls, a plurality of americans care more about job creation. it is impossible to create jobs and stimulate the economy by making huge draconian cuts in spending that disproportionately affect the middle-class and poor, who need it the most.

democrats and especially president obama has been extremely disappointing during these debt ceiling talks. they have capitulated to the GOP over and over again. none of the points that are important to the left (and in my opinion the majority of americans) have survived in the latest version of the bill. there are not going to any revenue increases, there are going to be large entitlement cuts and on top of that (as far as i know) this is all going to happen again in a few months.

when it comes to the so called "triggers," why should the american public be penalized if congress cant get its act together. the fact that a minority of congressmen have been rewarded with their way, so far, by never compromising, why would they suddenly start doing it now? they have thus far shown the ability to disregard the common consensus, so what exactly is going to change from now until nov. that will change the way they operate.

Aug. 01 2011 10:59 AM
Mr. Bad from IL

@ Shoniqua from Brooklyn

Are you talking to yourself? Did I write that Clinton paid off the national debt? Do you know what you're talking about, at all? A budget surplus is a budget surplus. The national debt is something separate, and the US has NEVER not had a national debt, nor is the national debt inherently problematic given our economic model. If you don't understand basic macroeconomic theory spare us your 'People Magazine" level insight.

Aug. 01 2011 10:54 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Don't hold your breath waiting for "economic growth." Think more in terms of "right sizing" and downsizing the economy to be able to face the harsher realities of life in the 21st century, an not the 1960s! That century is GONE!

Aug. 01 2011 10:54 AM

Oh, Karen, Karen, Karen! "In the long run" there will be more jobs and growth?

In the long run, we're all dead.

Maybe cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, even SocSec, will hasten that dying.

Obama: Cheap Labor and Hurry Up and Die.

This is a Democratic president???

Aug. 01 2011 10:54 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The underlying truth is, that the American STANDARD OF LIVING is 40% too high! We could get away with living far beyond our means only until China, India, Russia, Eastern Europe, and even Latin America finally went capitalist. Now we have real competition for resources, markets, and everything else. We cannot live so far above our means anymore! Period.

People will be moving from spacious houses to smaller apartments very soon. In every way, we are going to have to downsize our way of life, like it or not! Families are going to have to do more to take care of each other, and not be assuming government will pick up everything after us.

Aug. 01 2011 10:53 AM
Stephen Bloch from Richmond Hill

A clarification of my earlier post (10:42 AM): those numbers are in millions of 1983 dollars. In other words, the 2008-2009 deficit was about $1,885,104,000,000, which after adjusting for inflation comes to about $878,684,000,000 in 1983 dollars.

Aug. 01 2011 10:52 AM

Claire McCasskill was on NPR this morning, misleading the public about Medicare and other social safety net programs.

She said they were exempted from cuts, except for a 2% cut to Medicare providers.

She did not make clear that the Politburo, the Special Congress of the Twelve Caesars, CAN and most likely WILL make cuts to all those programs, plus SocSec.

Obama just said EVERYTHING is on the Politburo table.

I consider that a LIE (OK, of omission, but a lie nonetheless).

And I sick and tired of being lied to -- by pols AND by MCMers (members of the Mainstream Corporate Media) who tout the talking points of the Monied Powers That Be.

If Dems want to follow Obama over this cliff, I can't stop them I can --and will-- never support them again nor will I vote by party in any way, manner, shape, or form.

Time to DE-REGISTER as a Democrat if this bill is passed.

Aug. 01 2011 10:52 AM
EdLowe from Bronx

The Republicans shed crocadile tears about the debt now, remember Cheyne said "deficits don't matter..." Where were these same Republicans and T-Paritiers then?
You cannot murder your parents then beg the court for mercy because you're an orphan!

Aug. 01 2011 10:52 AM
mike from NYC

Paul Krugman says it all: "The President Surrenders". He began selling out the country when he accepted a "stimulus" that was heavily weighted to tax cuts instead of championing programs that would improve our crumbling infrastructure and put people back to back to work. ANYONE who has run a small business knows that if there is not demand for what they are selling, they cannot grow their business or hire more people, even if there were no taxes. Obama betrayed the American people by ignoring from the first the necessity to stimulate demand to get our economy back on its feet. As Truman once said, when given the choice between a real Republican and a fake Republican, the people will vote for the real Republican every time. That is the legacy of Mr. Obama's presidency, and woe to our country because of him.

Aug. 01 2011 10:52 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Was that last caller "gary from Queens" our very own frequent poster THE "gary from Queens"???

Aug. 01 2011 10:52 AM
Johnnjersey from NJ

Since the calls were reserved for Tea Party supporters, can one of them please explain how they get to their rallies?
And how do they get to work in the morning?
Do they drive on roads? Hmmmm.. Sounds like government spending to me. These tea partiers are so out of touch with how government spending impacts their lives everyday and makes it better.

Aug. 01 2011 10:52 AM
Roberta from Queens

One of your guests mentioned that Medicare recipients would not be affected by the cuts only the providers. I would like her to know that there are many doctors who will not accept Medicare even if you have been their patient for years. This cut will make more of them refuse to take Medicare patients.

Aug. 01 2011 10:50 AM
Stephen Bloch from Richmond Hill

A clarification of my earlier post (10:42 AM): those numbers are in millions of 1983 dollars. In other words, the 2008-2009 deficit was about $1,885,104,000,000, which after adjusting for inflation comes to about $878,684,000,000 in 1983 dollars.

Aug. 01 2011 10:49 AM
Amy from Manhattan

It's not just that providers who take Medicare/Medicaid will pass increased costs to their patients--it's that they'll stop accepting patients on those programs. Many already have, because the reimbursements are low.

Aug. 01 2011 10:48 AM
maya from jersey city

to follow up on last caller, another reason why we need to borrow as much as we do is those BUSH TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!! that, even in the face of our current fiscal situation, they EXTENDED last year.. this doesn't make sense to anyone except those radical anti-tax right-wingers... so of course after all that we will need to borrow more money.. earth to right-wingers: THERE'S NO FREE LUNCH....

Aug. 01 2011 10:47 AM
gary from queens

@gary Sick from Mahnhattan

80 percent of the money from the Bush tax cuts had benefited earners under 200K.

So to answer your question, that same 80 percent will be injured by rescinding the Bush tax cuts

Aug. 01 2011 10:46 AM
John from NYC

This discussion is just weird.

The total government unfunded liability (fed and state) is $300 trillion. That is $1 MILLION PER PERSON.

The US WILL default, either in slow motion through inflation, or rapidly through hyper inflation.

If there is an alternative, I would like to hear it.

Aug. 01 2011 10:46 AM
tom from nyc

I think it was a failure of leadership fpr Boehner. The Tea Party may have scared people enough to lose their seats (many of them). Its the President that cornered the 'balanced' attribute. I see a Reagan-like series of political wins for Obama. Getting Osama, paaing Heath Care, leading the fight to CUT over deficit spending.

Aug. 01 2011 10:46 AM
Shoniqua from Brooklyn

For the last caller, if they raised rates on 200k+ incomes to 100% it still couldn't balance the budget. The numbers are the numbers.

Aug. 01 2011 10:45 AM
Mr. Bad from IL

Tax cuts don't always stimulate growth, the proposition that they do is too silly to merit an argument.

It's also true that increasing taxes will not necessarily stimulate growth, but that depends on who you tax and where you spend, obviously. This stuff isn't that complicated after all, just tax the rich who won't spend and simply game the market/banking sytem and move that money directly in the middle class and poor who DRIVE demand.

Making the working classes more secure in their health, homes and jobs stimulates growth because they will spend and spend and spend so long as they know they won't be out of a job, and/or out of doors just because our countries growth falls below 2%.

Aug. 01 2011 10:45 AM
Ben S from Princeton, NJ

Totally--TOTALLY--agree with panelist who said that Obama and Democrats didn't sell the imprudence of cutting spending during a recession. It's really dumb idea to cut spending now, but then the Republicans seem willing to let the economy tank if it gets rid of President Obama.

Aug. 01 2011 10:45 AM

From Dean Baker of CEPR:

"The government is projected to spend $46 trillion over the next 10 years. This means that the proposed cuts are a bit more than 5 percent of projected spending. However, large categories of the budget are protected. More than $27 trillion of projected spending goes to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest. If these areas escape largely untouched, the projected cuts would be around 13 percent of the remaining portion of the budget.

"In fact, since some other areas of the budget, like unemployment insurance, are also likely to be largely protected, the cuts to the remaining portion of the budget will be even larger.

"The government is projected to spend $7.8 trillion on the military over the next decade. If this area is largely protected, then most of the cuts would likely come from the $6.7 trillion of spending on the domestic discretionary portion of the budget. This is the portion that includes spending on infrastructure, education, research, and other areas that are considered investment."

Aug. 01 2011 10:43 AM
gary from queens

More McCarthy from this week:


With due respect to Dr. Sowell and the Republican establishment that breathlessly cites him, there is no chance of sparing the country. The major economic disruption is already happening, and it stands to get far worse. Millions are unemployed, millions more are on public assistance, at unsustainable levels. The government has sharply devalued the dollar, and is gearing up for a third round of “quantitative easing” (more money created out of thin air). Like private-fund managers, our sovereign creditors, including China, Japan, and Great Britain, are showing increasingly less interest in buying our debt, so Treasury “borrows” (prints) mostly from the Fed — whose swelling $2.7 trillion balance sheet is reportedly leveraged 55-to-1. That’s twice what Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers were leveraged when they failed. To entice real lenders, interest rates will have to be raised. That will add hundreds of billions to our debt service, wiping out the paltry “savings” the Boehner plan purports to achieve.


There is no doubt about why we are in a crushing economic disruption. Yes, the proximate cause is President Obama’s unprecedented spending spree — his follow-through on the campaign promise to change America fundamentally. But today’s Republican establishment shoulders plenty of the blame. In the first six years of the George W. Bush administration — when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, with Speaker Boehner then among the GOP’s House leaders — the debt ceiling went from $5.95 trillion to $8.97 trillion. It had taken a decade (from 1987 to 1997) to increase the ceiling by the $3 trillion it took to get to $5.95 trillion. Republicans took only six years to do it again. Under President Bush, who has reportedly whipped GOP lawmakers to vote for the Boehner plan, the national debt rose by almost five trillion dollars, to $10.6 trillion — i.e., it nearly doubled.

Bush’s profligacy pales by Obama standards. The current president is spending the nation into oblivion. He has taken less than three years to run up almost $4 trillion in debt.

The most transparent administration in history doesn’t write down the positions it argues in closed budget meetings with congressional leaders. Senate Democrats, moreover, have stopped submitting annual budgets, though federal law requires them. Transparently, this is done to avoid an embarrassing paper trail, documenting trillions in deficits, projected as far as the eye can see. But you can’t non–paper over a catastrophe. The government now spends so much more than it takes in that 40 cents of every expended federal dollar is borrowed.

Aug. 01 2011 10:43 AM

WHy have I heard no none state that of course the rich are paying a higher percent of overall taxes than they ever have - even with an essential tax rate of 18% - BECAUSE THEY HAVE SO MUCH MORE MONEY!!!!! ANd many people pay no tax - unless of course you count the 15% of payroll tax shared by employees and employers. The wealth has been shifted from the middle class in the form of tac cuts, now they are doing it with education cuts, medicare, and eventually Social Security - WHICH WE PAY FOR! It is not an entitlement program - IT IS INSURANCE. WHy is it that the Democrats cannot open their mouths and talk about this every time these Tea Party nuts open their mouths. Not to mention that spending cuts right now are going to send us into another economic crash the same it did when Roosevelt tried this nonsense in the 30's.

Aug. 01 2011 10:42 AM
Stephen Bloch from Richmond Hill

A recent Tea Party caller said "We need to go back to '08 levels and get the debt problem under control." Has the caller ever looked at the facts about "'08 levels"?

2007-2008 had (up until then) by far the largest budget deficit in U.S. history, after adjusting for inflation: about $472 billion in 1983 dollars (the next largest was $372 billion in 1942-1943). 2008-2009 almost doubled this deficit, to $879 billion in 1983 dollars. "Going back to '08 levels" does not constitute fiscal discipline. Going back to 1999-2000 levels (i.e. a balanced budget) would.

Since 2008-2009, deficits have been dropping steadily, although still higher than 2007-2008:

2006-2007: $241,475
2007-2008: $472,390
2008-2009: $878,684
2009-2010: $757,703
2010-2011: $633,719 (extrapolated from the first half of the fiscal year)

If the trend of the past two years continues, we'll be back to 2007-2008 levels in 2011-2012, back to 1942-1943 levels in 2012-2013, and back to a balanced budget in 2017-2018.

Aug. 01 2011 10:42 AM
MFan from SINY

This is truly a compromise: Obama agrees to bend over, Republicans agree to screw him.

I hope we get real democrats in 2012.

Aug. 01 2011 10:41 AM

Are there any actual cuts in this new budget deal, or have we only decreased the rate of increase in spending? In other words, will the actual amount of money spent by the government actually go down for any year during the duration of this deal?

Aug. 01 2011 10:40 AM
gary from queens

Andrew C. McCarthy
July 29, 2011 3:00 P.M.

House Speaker John Boehner has a plan that he touts as slashing about $900 billion in government spending — shy of his original claim, only two days earlier, that cuts would amount to $1.2 trillion. It’s nonsense, of course. In Washington, unlike the rest of the known universe, a “cut” is a reduction in the rate of increase. There are never real cuts. In reality, Speaker Boehner’s plan would add $9.1 trillion to the national debt. It is a “cut” only in the sense that the Obama Democrats have rigged matters so that, if nothing changes, autopilot would add $10 trillion.

You could call this a cruel joke on a country that is already well over $14 trillion in debt — a country in which every newly born child opens his eyes as a debtor, well over $30,000 in the hole. But that would be premature, because I haven’t gotten to the punchline yet. The reason Speaker Boehner and the Republican establishment have suddenly stirred themselves to “cut” spending is their determination to keep the Ponzi scheme going. The “cuts” — less than $100 billion of which are real (the rest are consigned to the illusory “out years,” meaning they’re the responsibility of some future Congress) — are to be made in exchange for giving the government the authority to borrow another $2.5 trillion.

This will last only a few months because, at a rate of about $46,000 per second, the United States sinks $4 billion deeper in debt every day. But the $2.5 trillion stands to get President Obama through reelection without having much more attention called to his starring role in our dire straits.

Aug. 01 2011 10:37 AM
nancy sherman from NYC

I feel like it's The Emperor's New Clothes here. What concessions have the Republicans made here? It's spending cuts only and no tax cuts for the billionaires. It seems to me that the Democrats have just capitulated once again to try to make "nice" with their fellows against the aisle. And we know where that has gotten them in the past. Please tell me where the Republicans have compromised at all for this "agreement."

Aug. 01 2011 10:37 AM
Kate from Washington Heights

What was the national debt when GWB entered office in 2001?

Aug. 01 2011 10:37 AM
Rita from NYC

Boehner's talking points stated that taxes cld not rise above the present baseline. What can the committee do to raise revenue if the deal bars tax increases?

Aug. 01 2011 10:37 AM
Amy from Manhattan

How long did it take to turn the deficit left after the 1st Pres. Bush's term into a surplus? How does the pace of that change compare with what this deal would do?

Aug. 01 2011 10:36 AM
Shoniqua from Brooklyn

@ Mr. Bad from IL - small correction. Clinton never really left a surplus. it is patently untrue. the country never actually paid down the national debt, we only reduced the amount we added to it by getting the yearly budget into a more balanced state. If you want to be fair about it, you may also argue that those budgets were caused more by the tech and y2k bubbles than anything else as well, but at least an attempt was made.

Aug. 01 2011 10:35 AM
Mr. Bad from IL

@ amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

Sort of. Strictly speaking under a strict Keynesian system surpluses during boom years are supposed to be "banked", not spent, in order that they be invested to stimulate demand when an economic bust occurs. This is why conservatives and specifically tea party types are manifestly dishonest and ignorant of economic reality. Clinton left office with a surplus, Bush utterly decimated the economy and sunk the world. Can't deny it, can't fix it, were in it now up to our eyeballs just going to have to grin and eat you "satan sandwich"... what inbred moron came up with that quip? I can think of another kind of sandwich we'll be eating...

Aug. 01 2011 10:35 AM
Tony from Downtown Brooklyn

Why don't any journalists raise the issue that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS DEFICIT NEUTRAL TAX CUTS? Reagan lowered taxes. The debt went up. Bush lowered taxes. The deficit ballooned and the economy was left in shambles. Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy and had we kept those tax rates the deficit would be zero now. It's disingenuous to pretend that somehow tax cuts would pay for themselves. It's never happened. It never will happen especially in this current economy.
I would have liked for Brian to have asked the tea party callers "what benefit have you personally received as a result of the Bush Tax cuts that make it worth running up the current deficit, and cutting benefits to the poor, the elderly, and veterans?"

Aug. 01 2011 10:34 AM
gary Sick from Mahnhattan

Can someone explain what happens to the Bush tax cuts under this plan? That is a massive amount of revenue that has heretofore been held hostage. Will they expire?

Aug. 01 2011 10:34 AM
gary from queens

In the five years since Obama’s Senate speech, the Democrats he leads have raised the debt ceiling by almost $5.5 trillion. To get a sense of what that means, it took over two centuries — from the adoption of the Constitution in 1787 until 1998 — for the United States to accumulate $5.5 trillion in debt. There has been a debt ceiling only since 1917 (and its current configuration did not take shape until 1939), but even by that shorter measuring stick, it took almost 80 years (i.e., until 1996) to bump up against a debt ceiling of $5.5 trillion. Obama has doubled that unfathomable amount in the blink of an eye.

And it’s not enough. It will never be enough. President Obama wants to add $2.5 trillion to our tapped-out credit card because, at the rocket speed of government borrowing, that is the minimum needed to get him through the election without any additional debt-limit crises. Such episodes would only call more attention to his promised “fundamental transformation” of the U.S. economy. If he gets his way on the debt ceiling and then wins a second term, that $2.5 trillion will be chump change: It will be impossible to calculate the additional trillions confiscated from the producers, the young, and the unborn for redistribution to Leviathan’s clientele of cronies, unionized bureaucrats, and subsidized sloth.

Aug. 01 2011 10:34 AM
Timothy from Forest Hills

What planet do your TeaParty callers live on? And what earthly logic claims that less money in circulation means more jobs? Their consummate ignorance--and willful refusal to recognize consequences--make them beneath contempt.

Aug. 01 2011 10:33 AM
gary from queens

in 2006, senator Obama said on the senate floor:

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies . . . Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

How prophetic. Everyone can agree with Obama now!

Aug. 01 2011 10:33 AM

Karen Tumulty has mislead WNYC's listeners: SocSec, Medicare, anything IS on the table of the Politburo.

The Special Congress of the Twelve Caesars can cut ANYTHING. Then present it to the Congress as a fait accompli OR mandatory cuts to into effect.

The safety net programs may be protected (exempted) from the mandatory cuts, but NOT form the Politburo.

Obama said "everything is on the table" for the joint committee to consider in cutting deficit.
about 12 hours ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® Reply Retweet Favorite @steveholland1

And Obama is putting everything there; he couldn't get this done with his Pete Peterson Cat Food Commission, but now he has the Politburo.

Aug. 01 2011 10:33 AM

Paul Krugman has an excellent NYT op-ed on this today.

With regard to the hand-wringing over ratings from Moody's or S&P, the financial crisis and history of the subprime mortgage crisis should prove the value of ratings agencies' work. And -- more important -- the role of self-interest and politics. Politics and self-interest are still at work. We can be sure that leading political and business figures are leaning on the agencies not to downgrade the US rating.

Aug. 01 2011 10:31 AM
David in Fredericksburg, VA from Fredericksburg, VA

Medicare cutting provider reimbursements - there go some more providers dropping Medicare.

Aug. 01 2011 10:29 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

Oh wait, I didn't know that the United States Federal government was to operate as a for-profit corporation?

That's right, the US Federal government IS NOT A CORPORATION, and must operate under deficit (and thus debt) over time, with a strong plant to reduce it in the medium to long term (which is happening regardless of those that deny there will be a deficit/debt reduction plan, for better or worse).

Aug. 01 2011 10:28 AM
Mr. Bad from IL

This is exactly what everyone knew would happen, a lot of bluster followed buy a status quo deal. There are no cuts, there are no taxes. There is nothing other than raising the debt ceiling. Can we get some intelligent commentary please? The house tea party radicals got to stir the pot like they wanted, move on, nothing to see here.

Aug. 01 2011 10:28 AM
michael from greenpoint

@John from Manhattan, I could not agree more. I am so sick and tired of hearing the term "tea party". it is not a uniform front, it is not a majaority, it is an outlining fringe group that is basically taking our politics hostage. it's insane.

Aug. 01 2011 10:25 AM
dba from nyc

Once again, the democrats do not have the courage of their convictions. This started back years ago, when the republicans threatened the nuclear option regarding fillibusters. The dems should have called their bluffs, because they would have not relinquished that right. But, they folded like a two-dollar suitcase, and continue to do so, as seen with the stimulus and health care's lack of public option.

Regarding this latest deal, the dems have only themselves to blame. They could have passed a budget, including raising the debt ceiling, as well as letting the tax cuts expire for all making $500,000 to 1 million when they controlled both houses of congress. I cannot fathom why they did not do this when they had the chance, and Obama does not inspire confidence that he will have the strenght to insist on tax increases in an election year. Unfortunately, Obama believes that congress is a community waiting to be organized.

Furthermore, Obama could have threatened to veto any bill without revenues, and compelled the republicans to take the country over the cliff. Or, he should have invoked the 14th, and then said, "so sue me".

Finally, Weiner is one of the few dems with the testicular fortitude to call out the republicans, and thus had a right to flaunt them on twitter. Naturally, the dems got rid of him.

Aug. 01 2011 10:24 AM
john from office

I am a conservative republican, the Tea party has really turned me off. Tea party = our party, our party = our house, our house is the White House. A White White house. They still cannot accept a black man in office. It is all about getting the black dude out of the "White House"

Aug. 01 2011 10:22 AM
Stephen from Inwood

I can't help feeling, as an avid follower of politics, that the tea party are not going to be around long - not necessairly because some will be voted out - but primarily because their plan is to pop in, throw a firebomb into the process and then go back to their "lives" in America. I see this in their manner, their actions and their statements.

Aug. 01 2011 10:21 AM

If this had gone down under Bush, I'd be a Tea Party member right now.

Aug. 01 2011 10:20 AM
Shoniqua from Brooklyn

I am so sick of hearing about these cuts. The lies are amazing. You take yearly baseline budget increases and then reduce those increases and call them cuts!!! Why dont we pass a new 3 zillion dollar bill and cut it and create the largest savings in the universe... win win.

It's time for these people to get the house in order with real cuts and freezes or we are all truly in for a rude awakening a few years down the line.

Aug. 01 2011 10:20 AM
John from Manhattan

The tea party’s numbers are not so large and do not appear to provide any justification for their current disproportionate influence. The Tea Party Caucus has 60 members in the House of Representatives meaning they make up less than 14% of the membership of the House. What is more the Tea Party Caucus representatives in the house are not particularly representative of the nation as a whole with over half of the members coming from just six states: Florida (7), Georgia (4), Louisiana (5), South Carolina (4), Tennessee (3), and Texas (11). Almost three quarters of the caucus (73%) are from former slave states. Why, exactly, is this small lunatic fringe being treated like they are rational much less the political majority?

Aug. 01 2011 10:19 AM
Dorothy from Manhattan

Agree that Krugman said most of it. But comment #5 to Krugman's column says the stuff Krugman didn't. As usual the comments to Times Opinion pieces are brilliant.

So the quesiton for the day/week/month/year/decade is whether Eric Cantor (along with his goons) is REALLY the most powerful man in America.

Aug. 01 2011 10:15 AM

Ideal would be that the credit rating drops anyway. This way investors can benefit from both the low political risk of holding US Treasuries -- and, finally, higher interest rates!

Truly the Holy Grail for lazy fund managers, banks, and corporations who didn't know what to do with their cash so bought treasuries "instead" (of earning 4% plus interest). For the rich, no-risk income has finally, it's not only legal -- it's patriotic!

Aug. 01 2011 10:15 AM
Cory from Reality

"Satan sandwich" -- at least we got a great descriptive phrase out of this idiocy.

Aug. 01 2011 10:11 AM

I think Paul Krugman has done the best job of describing the disaster and disappointment we have with this "deal". I think he's 100% correct. The right was able to successfully hold the economy hostage and further weaken Obama's hold on his base and potentially extending the slow recovery.

And while I don't think die hard democrats will vote for the right wing in 2012, they may (as they did last November) stay home to send a protest message.

Why? Americans will tolerate a lot of things in their politicians but they won't rally around a wimp. And when we all see Obama getting beat up by losers like Mitch McConnell, we all know he is a wimp.

I expect the Daily Show and Colbert will have a field day with this one. But I won't be laughing, I'll be choking back tears.

Aug. 01 2011 10:09 AM
Greg from Brooklyn

Boehner and Republican leaders hammered home the mantra of "job-killing taxes." Not once did I hear Obama and Democratic leaders point out that the Clinton tax structure produced jobs, while the Bush tax cuts for the rich resulted in only a modest job increase.
The real job killer is the deep cut in government spending - and it's already started.

Aug. 01 2011 09:46 AM

The petulance, pettiness, and partisanship displayed by the Tea Party caucus throughout this whole negotiation was truly disgusting and disgraceful. The Tea Party movement is the most destructive force in our culture. Tea Party politicians and their supporters have no grasp of reality.

In a previous generation, Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin would have been laughed out of the Republican Party for their profound ignorance and delusional rhetoric.

Aug. 01 2011 09:33 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

The petulance, pettiness and partisanship displayed by Obama throughout this whole "negotiation" was truly embarrassing. Indecisive and insecure, yet strangely adamant. This man has greatly diminished the stature of the Presidency in just 2 years. Is this what "leadership" looks like in 2011?

Our bonds will still be downgraded anyway in the near future (because the spending and printing of money will continue) and then Obama will have to bear all of the responsibility without Boehner as his handy scapegoat.

And Obama's leadership will still be absent and our nation will suffer. As T.S. Eliot said in Prufrock: "And time yet for a hundred indecisions....I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker."

Aug. 01 2011 09:18 AM
JMD from MA.

Over this past weekend I inverted the American flag displayed on my front breezeway....for this country is truly "in distress".
Is it possible that this child of the 60's could wax nostalgic for the leadership skills of an LBJ?????

Aug. 01 2011 07:09 AM

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