The Next Mythical Cliff: The Debt Ceiling

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The sequel to the the Bush/Obama tax debacle  is the unconstitutional debt ceiling. According to the 14th Amendment, the US has to pay its bills, even if the government has to borrow the money through bond sales. So the debt ceiling is another manufactured “cliff” that was created to curb spending which it didn’t, obviously, or we wounded be having another media side show staring the White House and the Congressional leadership. So get comfy and grab you favorite munchies as we watch the 99% get raked over the coals.

President Obama:

Obama Debt Ceiling Statement: Limit Increase Not Up For Debate After Fiscal Cliff Showdown

from Reuters

“While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they have already racked up,” Obama said in remarks in the White House.

McConnell: Spending fight coming whether Obama ‘wants it or not’

by Alicia M. Cohn, The Hill

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

President Obama will get a fight over government spending with a hike to the debt limit “whether he wants it or not,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wrote Thursday.

In an op-ed for Yahoo, McConnell wrote that Republicans would focus on reducing spending in the next Congress, and in conjunction with the debate over raising the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling. Congress will likely need to take action on the debt limit within the next two months.

“The president may not want to have a fight about government spending over the next few months, but it’s the fight he is going to have, because it’s a debate the country needs,” McConnell warned.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)

Boehner tells GOP he’s through negotiating one-on-one with Obama

by Russel Berman, The Hill

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is signaling that at least one thing will change about his leadership during the 113th Congress: he’s telling Republicans he is done with private, one-on-one negotiations with President Obama.

and just to prove that the 113th Congress will bear little difference to the 112th

Let the games begin: Thunderdome


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  1. TMC
  2. Xanthe

    in not negotiating with the Great Negotiator, Obama – the hope of the world – because Obama will certainly cave in to what Boehner and his ilk want.  Though “cave-in” is misleading – it what O wants as well.  Never made a secret of it.

    However – look at it this way.  If he sends the errand boy Biden in again – or some other messenger – Obama looks all the better when the social safety nets cuts come (and come they may).

    There is a story on the internet that Harry Reid took a tougher stand than Biden when SS/Medicare was brought up again and was disgusted with it. Enter the errand boy Biden on behalf of Obama, though Obama’s name is kept a bit at bay.

    When McConnell says O is going to have a fight on the spending side — Duh – O gave up his leverage on the revenue angle. What do we know as to cuts? Defense won’t be hit much, if at all.

    But the working class will be hit in cuts to SS/Medicare – disgustingly Medicaid.

    This am on Morning Joe (God knows why I watched it for a few moments)- I was struck again how well dressed, how healthy and sure of their position in the world these people appear as they talk about “let’s come together on the cuts.”

    Have they no shame – do they know what it’s like out here.  We need a miracle.  The biggest miracle of all is that the American people wake up – all Americans (red and blue)-

    We are being hammered, get it!

    Obama gave up the ghost on the revenue side – lost his leverage – so why should we be surprised it’s going to be austerity hysteria  from now until the debt ceiling showdown.  

    Why, Mika may need a new wardrobe soon –  expensive but tasteful as always – but subdued, the scolds mustn’t appear too wealthy as they talk down to us.  


  3. Xanthe

    if people aren’t drugged maybe they’ll take a look at what’s going on around them.

    Internet – scary that.  We need the internet even if it’s bootleg – what could we depend on for gawd’s sake – the mainstream media.  

    but I haven’t been here for a bit, so am surprised to see you are more cynical, Banger, than i remember but then so am I.

    When our children and grandchildren go hungry in larger #s than now — that might be a lightening rod.

    And – medicaid cuts!!  I’m sick!

    Something will happen that may ignite awareness — it may come out of left field  – but I believe it will come.

  4. tahoebasha3

    Yahoos, at Yahoo News:

    . . . . Financial markets that had been worried about the fiscal cliff showdown welcomed the deal, with U.S. stocks recording their best day in more than a year. The S&P 500 achieved its biggest one-day gain since December 20, 2011, pushing the benchmark index to its highest close since September 14.

    The debate over “entitlement” programs is also bound to be difficult. Republicans will be pushing for significant cuts in government healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid for retirees and the poor, which are the biggest drivers of federal debt. Democrats have opposed cuts in those popular programs.

    “This is going to be much uglier to me than the tax issue … this is going to be about entitlement reform,” Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said on CNBC.

    “Now that we have this other piece behind us – hopefully – we’ll deal in a real way with the kinds of things our nation needs to face,” he said.

    The fiscal cliff crisis ended when dozens of Republicans in the House relented and backed a bill passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate that hiked taxes on household income above $450,000 a year. Spending cuts of $109 billion in military and domestic programs were delayed for two months. (emphasis mine) Bigger fights loom after “fiscal cliff” deal.

    This is the kind of misleading information that’s disseminated on a daily ad nauseum basis.  The utter gall to say that the Medicare and Medicaid programs (which we pay into) are the biggest drivers of the federal debt is unbelievable.  So, the unfunded wars and our various side adventures elsewhere in the world ARE NOT . . . . ?  The Bush Tax Cuts (also unfunded) that added $2.4 trillion to the debt between 2001 and 2010 WAS NOT  . . . . . ..?  The bad pharmaceutical bill Bush negotiated did not drive up the costs of medicines, etc.?  Wall Street caused and added NO costs . . . . ? ETC.

    And they keep talking about raising the taxes on those making $400,000 and above.  Removing the Bush Tax cuts is what they refer to as raising the taxes.  But all those making $400,000 and above still enjoy all the tax loopholes afforded by the Tax Code, still not yet dealt with, if it ever will be.

    Yep, we’re in for another disgusting month.

    Only good thing that happened was a number of progressives got sworn into Congress!  But we’ll see about that, too!

  5. banger

    The wealthy in Amerida are on top of the world and we are moving ever towards a neo-feudal/imperial future. There is no movement to change this political reality. The left is, for the most part moribund at best and brain dead at worst. None of the essential issues are being addressed by any major part of our political sector–certainly not MSNBC or the Comedy Channel’s resident political commentators.

    Clearly most of us can live with this situation and we will have to since there is, as I said, no viable opposition–yet. As long as interest rates, cable rates, phone plans and inet connections don’t become too expensive we will have a stable society.  

  6. TMC

    to watch Morning “Joke” anymore, although I have to admit, Scarborough’s 180ยบ on gun control had me cheering.

    What really infuriates me is when the progressive pundits, like Chris Hayes, talk about “Social Security Reform” as if it has anything to do with the current argument about the manufactured debt/deficit crisis. No one is talking about the real crisis, JOBS. If they really were interested in fixing the debt/deficit, they should lower the Social Security age eligibility, opening up more jobs for the unemployed and newest entrants into the job market. It’s simple economics and common sense, the more people you have working, the more people there are contributing to revenue and the Social Security Trust Fund. Bingo! Both “problems” are fixed.

    It’s the same with Medicare. To lower health care costs, there needs to be more healthy people contributing and eligible for benefits and negotiate drug costs with Big Pharma. To do that, lower the eligibility age,or even better, eliminate it. The insurance & pharmaceutical industris would freak.

    These people are interested in one thing only, their own wealth.

  7. Xanthe

    But I often wonder why a 78 year old (looking mortality front on) like Pete Peterson continues to push on the social net programs – wants to plunge the millions of helpless among us into poverty.  For his heirs – maybe.  But his heirs will meet kharma soon enough.  (Sins of the father) Kharma often skips a generation.  Or do people like Peterson convince themselves that they are doing this for the good of an uber society – their people.  What a f***ing legacy he’ll leave.

    I recently saw a tv segment about Tony Bennett and how he’s funded several musical, theatrical programs in New York City public schools.  He even funded a school for the arts.  Now there is a man, a decent man, who sees the logical end and wants to spend his treasure for what he believes in – music, spreading the arts for kids that may not opportunities.  

    Bless him.  

  8. banger

    If we know anything by now we know that what you and I or any rational person might think are good policies cannot and will not be implemented under current conditions because we are operating under a highly ideological and unpragmatic regime. The ideology is called neo-liberalism and it is accepted completely by both political parties. This ideology has completely captured, also, the people who create the national narrative (big media including entertainment). There is no non-neoliberal media outlet. The “left” wing of the neoliberal party believes government has a role in making sure that the system maintains itself through some gov’t regulation and the right thinks the forces of production should determine their own regulations as much as possible. The people largely support the system also, in part because they have never heard of alternatives (this is the fault of us on the real left) but chiefly because the system meets their needs or addictions, depending on you POV; for example, to continue living in the culture of narcissism where the notion Thatcher presented to us “there is no such thing as society” can be lived out. Society to most people is a “private” concern—we choose to join this or that church, social organization, club, or virtual community.

  9. Xanthe

    extolling Peter Peterson and “scolding” people that see him for what he is.  Most enlightening.

  10. tahoebasha3

    Pete Peterson is 86 years old, owns the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, pretty much devoted to dissemination of information calculated to destroy Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which also funds a new website:  Fix The Debt.  Peterson made tons of money on Wall Street, and has long sought for the destruction of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  He would have our funds sent to Wall Street, and has spent millions in an effort to dismantle the Trust Funds in order to do so.  He’s an 86-year old nutcase, who once said, “The elderly are a drag on society!”  As though, people that have worked all their lives, paid their taxes, have not earned a right to a decent and dignified retirement . . . . I’m sure he’d prefer they simply drop dead and without the Trust Funds, established and funded by the wage earners of America and their employer(s, they assuredly would.  He has been a driving force behind Alan Simpson and Eskine Bowles, of the Debt Deficit Commission . . . . . birds of a feather, you know!

    Felice Anno Nuovo!

  11. tahoebasha3

    an example, par excellence, of what it means to receive and to give!

  12. banger

    Again this notion that everything should be privatized leads to neofeudalism. This is the neoliberal ideal. Private interests will fund these programs. Maybe it’s all for the good?

  13. TMC

    I haven’t followed Fareed recently.

  14. Xanthe

    Buon Anno to you as well.

    He may be one of the biggest drags on our society – a pernicious one.

  15. Xanthe


    As to progressives newly elected:  I am tired of having my heart bruised – they will disappoint us.  

  16. tahoebasha3

    that the extension of the Bush Tax cuts for the last two years added $600 billion more to the deficit.

  17. banger

    It is now the Party Line to classify “entitlements” as, essentially, waste. All other federal outlays are ignored. Why? Because the federal government has become a machine to enrich the already rich–those old leftover programs to help the non-rich must be eliminated so we can get on with the project to create a neofeudal country.

    Why this narrative is so easy to impose on the American people is a question we ought to be addressing.

  18. tahoebasha3

    faith in anything these days.

    I am so GD sick of these year-end circus performances by our so-called representatives . . . . they waste time and money.  If we’d have behaved that way in our jobs, we wouldn’t have had them for long.

    I bumped into this recently.  Some of you may remember this.  In July, of 2011, Warren Buffett had some profound advice to offer in an interview on CNBC:

    “I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.

    The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971 – before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.

    Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year or less to become the law of the land – all because of public pressure.

    Congressional Reform Act of 2012

    1. No Tenure / No Pension.

    A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they’re out of office.

    2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social


    All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the

    Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

    3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

    4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.

    Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

    5. Congress loses their current health care system and

    participates in the same health care system as the American people.

    6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

    7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 12/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.

    Congress made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

    Yep, I’m ready to go there.  And you?  BTW, I checked the veracity of this with Snopes, as well.


  19. TMC

    will add $4 trillion over the next decade. If you don’t think that the Republicans will run on the in ’14 & ’16, you haven’t been paying attention.

  20. tahoebasha3

    “. . . . you haven’t been paying attention.”  I don’t think that those tax cuts will become permanent, they will be eased out of little by little, or a lot by a lot . . . . I think it was meant to balance out the so-called “holiday tax cuts” (you know, the defunding of SS, etc.) essentially, but you know the Republicans had to make sure that those earning above $250,000 would get a slice of the cake, too. But, also, of concern to us all, were cuts to Drs. in Medicare payments.  I hear you, TMC.  The Repugs will cram this down our throats every opportunity they get from here on out.  But, reality is reality, and if you look back, when haven’t the Republicans gotten every single thing they wanted, until just now?  Obama caved in to them every step of the way.  But withholding extension of unemployment benefits, and other crucial issues for Americans were not “options,” either.  The problem is a continuing one, where crucial issues concerning immediate needs of the people get thrown in with tax issues, debt ceiling issues, etc. Case in point:  The Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid Trust Funds.  What business do these programs have being in the debt deficit discussions at all?  They should be dealt with in a singular discussion.  According to Alan Grayson, in one of his many e-mails received from him, in an interview with Cenk Uygur (November, or there abouts) stated:  “The Middle Class feels squeezed, and a lot of people are angry. They are told to be angry about Social Security and Medicare benefits, but the truth is that both Social Security and Medicare operate at a profit. . . . . ”  

  21. tahoebasha3

    how you figure $4 trillion for the next decade.  The Bush Tax cuts added (with interest) $2.4 trillion to the deficit over a decade and that was for everyone.  

  22. banger

    I don’t consider myself cynical just realistic. I’m just now convinced that we have been barking up the wrong tree. Our problems are not political they are cultural. To put it another way–it’s not that the political system is broken but that the people as a whole are sick. We are the enemy, not the oligarchs or the politicians.

    If the American people subscribe to the culture of narcissism which is, essentially, what consumer culture is then how can they be in the least interested in the left which promotes cooperation, social consciousness, community, compassion, public space, and so on have any influence?

    Consumerism has finally had the effects predicted by various critics from Ortega y Gasset to the late and great Neal Postman. We are now going about the process of dismantelling the culture that emerged out of the Depression and WWII because we are a disunited and fragmented culture that is unable to deal with the pressing problems we face, for example, climate change, the end of the Constitutional Republic, rule of law, habeas corpus and so on. People live in their private little worlds of illusions maintained by an army of attendants who are ready to amplify any lie, any perverse pleasure (have you seen porn lately?) that we feel inclined towards. We survive because, on the whole, people are incredibly good creatures (I reject the notions that people are naturally greedy etc. that is only true when they are suffering) who want to do the right thing but in this echo chamber of selfishness how do we find the right thing to do?

  23. banger

    Why would anyone run for Congress? Only the already rich would run or the ambitious who were ready to curry favor of the rich. I don’t think it would save us. A better “simple” solution is to ban all campaign contributions–one person one vote and one voice. The average Congress person would then have to primarily meet the needs of the voters.

    Buffet’s notion of honest citizen legislators is nonsense. We don’t live in the society of 200 years ago–we live in a radically different environment. I want a professional who knows what she/he is doing. If that person represents my interest than that person should be re-elected. We should also ensure ballot access based on signatures on petitions not political party–now we only have to choose between neoliberal A and neoliberal B.  

  24. tahoebasha3

    Just struck me as not all such a bad idea from Buffett.  Certainly, I think that we, tax-paying citizens, should demand that all Congress, their staff, any and all governmental adjuncts thereto should, at least, and at best, be compelled to “enjoy” the same programs as we, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and contribute thereto, just as we do.  I do think that is a request WE should make . . . . of course, it probably wouldn’t fly, but might make them think a little more about the whole situation.

    We definitely need to get the money out of the election system.  Of course, you cannot be completely rid of it, but if dollar limits were set for each and every candidate across the board, as well as media time limits across the board, then have run off voting, we might succeed in bringing most honest people to our system.  Personally, I think it might not be a bad idea to get rid of parties altogether, if a 3rd party idea will be continually ignored.

  25. tahoebasha3

    It has all been unfolding for quite some time now.  The efforts to quash and neuter all unions, the crucial issues being ignored largely.  The spending, all of which has benefited the already wealthy, i.e., the wars, the Bush Tax cuts, the foreclosures, the Wall Street crisis, the bailouts given therefor, and on and on, which the now decimated “middle-class” have paid for and, essentially, have little left, are now to be bled of the only programs remaining of benefit to them, which THEY paid for.

    The goal, IMHO, is to drive down the wages to $2.00 an hour, eliminate education for all those who can’t afford it (should they succeed in privatizing the educational system altogether) and thrust us into 3rd world status . . . and, we’re not far from it.  The point?  Keep the people poor and ignorant so that they can be controlled by the “uber elite” and shine their shoes.  

  26. banger

    Some ideas are to ban all political ads. Maybe have a fixed number of opportunities for candidates to display themselves in public. Also, I think voting should be mandatory and easy so that we all really feel we’re in it together.

    Our problem is that our country has been destroyed, in my view by a permanent government that has its own agenda such that elections or no elections virtually the same policies are followed. Note the new CIA chief and his background and career as a CIA agent often is very strategic positions (Saudi Arabia in the 90’s, was instrumental in quashing the full investigation into Bin Laden and others implicated in 9/11. He’s also been instrumental in proposing torture and drone attacks as instrument of terror this from a President that most on the left endorse.  

  27. tahoebasha3

    “Maybe have a fixed number of opportunities for candidates to display themselves in public.” that’s what I meant:  “as well as media time limits across the board.”

    I haven’t completely thrown in the towel.  Though I spend much less time on-line these days, I have “active” . . . actually out there protesting, etc. . . . . for whatever it’s worth!

    There has to be some way for the PEOPLE to cut off their water. . . . . since they only feign to listen to us.

  28. TMC

    I believe it included all tax cuts that were in the bill

  29. tahoebasha3

    Yes, that would do it!

  30. banger

    I don’t have much faith in demonstration or most political activities. The problem is cultural–the idea of the commons and community is in decline because we live in the Culture of Narcissism. We need to realize that and then work form that point. The problem lies within us more than we think. Consumerism is the prime reason neoliberalism thrives and is the official religion nearly all Americans subscribe to–in that case what hope is there for the left? I have yet to hear a good answer anywhere.

  31. banger

    …is that so many people are happy to go along with that agenda even if you and I can see it harms them. We are headed for a basically neo-feudal system, gradually. We still have time, but as I commented to you earlier, that involves addressing the cultural problems that lead to our situation.

  32. tahoebasha3

    just do nothing!

    Yes, I believe we had a conversation about the me, me, me, I, I, I, culture quite a while back.  

  33. banger

    Of course we must react and do what we can. We all have different roles and I definitely honor yours.

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