Democrats Push for GOP Concessions as Debt-Limit Negotiations Continue

The weekend was not long enough to get the job done

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Senate majority leader Harry Reid in Washington on Oct. 13, 2013

The weekend was not long enough to get the job done.

While the Democrats and Republicans are much closer to an agreement to reopen the government and continue government borrowing than they were two weeks ago, there is still no certainty that President Obama and Senate majority leader Harry Reid can broker a deal with Republicans in the House and Senate before the next major deadline later this week.

On Thursday, the U.S. will run out of money to pay its debt obligations and continue the vital operations of government for the first time ever, unless Congress comes to a compromise on raising the legal limit on the amount of money the country can borrow. That compromise will likely also open the “nonessential” parts of government, which have been shuttered since Oct. 1, under a separate partial government shutdown.

Reid called Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday afternoon, but serious differences remain in their approach to raise the debt ceiling and open the government. McConnell believes the current funding levels set by sequestration should stay in place, which would cut $21 billion in mid-January from the $986 billion budget. Reid prefers to extend sequester funding only through mid-November. Senate Democrats, led by Budget Committee chairwoman Patty Murray — the Democrat from Washington — hope the short-term extension will allow long-term budget negotiations where they seek $1.058 trillion for 2014.

McConnell embraced a plan by Senator Susan Collins — the Republican from Maine — on Sunday, which would raise the debt limit through January and fund the government through the end of March, while delaying for two years Obamacare’s medical-device tax and require income verification in order to qualify for Obamacare subsidies. The plan is a far cry from what House Republicans asked for two weeks ago — which would have kept the government running at the same level, but also defund for a year the entire Affordable Care Act.

With polls showing steeper declines for Republicans, who kicked off the current brinkmanship by refusing to fund the government, Democratic leaders in Congress and the White House continue to believe they have a clear advantage as the negotiations enter the final days before the debt-limit deadline. Most Senate Democrats and many rank-and-file House Republicans rejected the Collins plan on Saturday.

“There is a bipartisan plan in place that has the support of Democrat and Republican Senators,” wrote McConnell in a public statement released on Sunday afternoon. “It would reopen the government, prevent a default, provide the opportunity for additional budget negotiations around Washington’s long-term debt, and maintain the commitment that Congress made to reduce Washington spending through the Budget Control Act — the law of the land. It does all this while maintaining our commitments to reduce spending, cutting an Obamacare tax and improving antifraud provisions in the law. It’s time for Democrat leaders to take ‘yes’ for an answer.”

Five of the Senate Democrats most likely to support the Collins plan — Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — as well as independent Maine Senator Angus King, countered McConnell’s charge. “We have been involved in productive, bipartisan discussions with Senator Collins and other Republican Senators, but we do not support the proposal in its current form,” they wrote in a public statement. “There are negotiations, but there is no agreement.”

While the House leadership is in close contact with McConnell’s office, it is unclear what Speaker John Boehner thinks of the Collins plan. “I believe the Senate majority leader rejected Senator Collins’ plan yesterday,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel wrote in an e-mail to TIME. “So that is moot.”

During the debt-ceiling negotiations of 2011 and the fiscal-cliff negotiations of 2012, Vice President Joe Biden and McConnell were the main players in brokering the deal. This weekend, McConnell and Reid finally began negotiations while Biden left town for Camp David. “Maybe we need to get Joe Biden out of the witness-protection program,” Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona quipped on CBS’s Face the Nation. “I hope the President will become engaged,” he added. President Obama welcomed both the House and Senate Republican conferences to the White House this week.

Reid has expressed concern about Biden’s involvement in the current round of negotiations because he believes Biden gave up too much in the 2011 and 2012 battles. Biden’s absence, and Reid’s unwavering position over the past two weeks, implies that the Democrats won’t yield much in the final negotiations. Reid, for his part, is perfectly happy filling the role as the lead Democrat negotiator.

“I’m optimistic about the prospects for a positive conclusion to the issues before this country today,” said Reid on the Senate floor on Sunday.

131 comments
drudown
drudown

Let me place some thoughts on the tips of your eyelashes.

As a threshold matter, the LAW of Judicial Estoppel precludes the Speaker and/or ANY member of the GOP Congress from advancing any "subjective" theory of interpretation of the Constitution, including but not limited to the PLENARY power and EXPRESS responsibility to RAISE REVENUE on behalf of the People. Does anyone deny that the members of Congress have to OBEY the law? Or was the “message” behind Sen. Cruz’ propaganda stunt that defiles all Veterans that fought and died for the rule of law he and his anarchists seek to overturn with no consideration at all to the People.

In this regard, it is a farce for the Speaker (or anyone else) to even intimate that the Congress can “shut down” the government when the Constitution’s EXPRESS language and ENTIRE body of Supreme Court precedent interpreting same holds that they CANNOT subvert the interests of the State without committing TREASON.

***Treason (noun): the crime of betraying one's country, esp. by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.***

Tell me, how is the very charter and rhetoric of the Tea Party not a form of Treason? They are literally in mid-stream of a pre-meditated plan to “defund” the entire Federal government (and therefore materially injure the Several States). Who can DENY that the evidence in the RECORD doesn’t already establish this Scienter? 

Just this: there can't be "strict construction" only with regards to issues that the GOP cares about (e.g., denying competent jurists from being installed), nor can you (or anyone) contend that the People don’t have DISCOVERY rights to see WHERE THE SOURCE OF FUNDS behind this damaging “shut down” originated.

Surely one cannot credibly contend that the legal principle of "judicial estoppel" is not incumbent on members of Congress? Namely, the GOP leaders cannot invoke "strict construction" at one point of Obama's tenure and then flip flop at a later point (i.e., the words “shall raise revenue” in Article I, Section 8” somehow means “optional” [read: it is a PLENARY power]) simply because they deem it politically advantageous or their Foreign super-PAC donors want to injure the United States.  

Conspicuously, any law school graduate can attest that the proposed Legislative Veto will NEVER pass Constitutional scrutiny. Period.

So why propose State Action that is void ab initio, much less State Action that contravenes the very Tax and Spend Power our Founding Fathers delegated to the Legislative branch?

The People are entitled to the DOJ investigation and should call their leaders in Washington, D.C. re same to learn the truth about what the GOP is hiding about the extent of this “shut down” and UNCONSTITUTIONAL LEGISLATIVE VETO.

Maybe it traces back to Crawford Ranch.

Either a pre-meditated "shut down" employing a Legislative Veto is lawful, or it is unlawful.

Either Foreign money is partially or mostly behind it, or it is not there at all.

The DOJ must investigate to get a full disclosure of all material facts that relate to the “shut down” and establish TRANSPARENCY.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of Liberty.” – John Philpot Curran

j45ashton
j45ashton

Time for the Republican National Committee to have a talk with John Boehner.  If they think he's hurting the brand, they should tell him to get off it or they won't support his bid for re-election.  Apparently the only way to get to Boehner is to threaten his job.


leonvang
leonvang

""""""""""" "U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, is one of a small group of Republicans calling for an end to the government shutdown.

After all, Republicans have succeeded in reining in government spending, Ross wrote in an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times(the parent of PolitiFact), on Oct. 7, 2013.

"In the few years since I was elected to Congress in 2010, we have achieved huge savings and taken monumental steps. For the first time since the Korean War, total federal spending has gone down for two years in a row," Ross wrote, adding, "That is why I would support a continuing resolution that funds the government at sequestration levels for one year."""""

http://www.politifact.com/trut...

Obviously not a member of the stupid party.and is not an anarchist. First time since 1953 that federal spending went down two years in a row!!!! And the GOP wants more concessions????

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

I like the proposal from Senator Collins with one caveat:  Once the budget and the debt ceiling increased there must be a provision for Congress to seriously address and pass a realistic budget that A) reduces spending, B) reduces the debt, and C) addresses entitlement including Obamacare.  Bowles/Simpson is a reasonable way forward and should be used as a guide.

LyndaEPostal
LyndaEPostal

On AUGUST 3, 2011 Mitch McConnell stated:

I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting,” he said. “Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this —it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming. And it focuses the Congress on something that must be done.”

And they are doing it again. And they will continue taking our government hostage until we face them down. We DO NOT negotiate with terrorists. And that is the role the Republican party has taken. They are playing the little rich kid who says "If you wan't do things MY way, I'm just gonna take my ball and go home." Shame on them.

ApostasyUSA
ApostasyUSA

Looks like Republicans gamble to crush Obamacare might result in China and other countries buying bonds in other major currencies instead of relying on the US dollar.  What a mess.

 Now Republican are eager to change their tune and make it about spending levels, which to any objective observer, is really comparing apple to apples.  Dems want 1.05 trillion in spending and Republicans are fighting for the sequester levels at 0.98 trillion.  Those two numbers aren't that far off, so Republicans did all of this for almost nothing.  

What a waste.  It's time American flush the Republicans out.  They stink as leaders.  History shows the economy is better run by Democrats. 

rraaww
rraaww

To be pushing INCREASING spending, at this time, with no budget by Obama and the Dems for 5 years, is just plain nuts.

Mickiee
Mickiee

Knuckleheads on both sides:

If you're house is on fire, you don't look for the cause. You just put out the fire. Investigate later.

And for those politicians who aren't concerned about what they're doing to ignited this fiscal fire, they might want to call...

Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank warned Tuesday that congressional maneuvering over raising the debt limit could have dire consequences on the global economy and the world's poorest people. The effects of a default would be "really severe," he added. (USA TODAY)

After they hang up, if they're still not convinced, call Warren Buffet who recently said.

"Debt-Ceiling Politics Should Be Banned Like A-Bomb."

And if you're not "scared" after these calls, see if you can get an appointment to see Dr. Phil.

As an American pawn in this chess match of "what's best for the American people," I'm disgusted. And I will not forget.

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

Clearly, Congress has now branded itself as a non-essential government function, and should be shuttered

Ahu
Ahu

"The Democrat from Washington" and "the Republican from Maine". Evidently, there is only one in each state.

j45ashton
j45ashton

On Oct 1, the House Rules Committee with a GOP majority voted to change standing House Rule XXII Clause 4, which states: “When the stage of disagreement has been reached on a bill or resolution with House or Senate amendments, a motion to dispose of any amendment shall be privileged.”

This standing rule would have allowed any representative to bring to the house floor a vote on a clean CR, stripped of amendments.  The shutdown would be over by now.  The rule was changed allowing only the House Majority leader (Eric Cantor now) to allow such motions.

Tell me this isn't a GOP shutdown.

I have only one question.  Why the bloody hell isn't the media covering this up and down?


AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

McConnell wrote - ".....and maintain the commitment that Congress made to reduce Washington spending through the Budget Control Act — the law of the land."

Sequestration is the "law of the land" and must be honored.  But Obamacare, well, that's another story.

It was your party's decision to abort their duty to honor the legislative process and dismiss the law of the land that is Obamacare that precipitated this crisis Mr. McConnell.

Nice cherry picking.

HazeAndDrizzle
HazeAndDrizzle

Note to House. The legislative process that you have blown up also belongs to the Senate. The President is an outside player.

The Senators don't like being dissed. In fact it infuriates them. Ok, they do consider you their inferiors, truly the lesser house with tiny districts and laughably fast election cycles. Maybe that is annoying but treating them like dirt won't make you anymore popular or respected. Wake up and smell the blood, it is your own.

j45ashton
j45ashton

You know...I feel as if I'm strapped into the passenger seat of a flimsy old Chevy with a lunatic John Boehner at the wheel, he's floored the gas pedal, we're doing close to 100, and he's deliberately heading us right toward a cliff.  Is there no procedure at all that can be invoked to take the power away from this man so that there are full votes on the house floor on bills that can stop what's about to happen?   This whole situation is insanity.  Totally nuts.

romano70
romano70

@leonvang Typical conservative...trying to steal the credit for things that they have nothing to do with...like when they kept saying that the Soviet union collapsed because Reagan told the Russians to "bring down this wall"....what losers

barneydidit
barneydidit

@leonvang So when government spending goes down- under Obama...it's because of a select group of Repubican Representatives in the House..but when the government shuts down...uhm...because Republicans feel that the government is spending too much...it's Obama's fault...Ok, got it. 

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@LyndaEPostal  Next year, there will be mid-term elections.  Vote a straight Democratic ticket.  That is the ONLY message the Republicans will understand.

Keep in mind the Tea Party Republicans have a dedicated constituency that will re-elect every one of them.  The only way around them and to prevent future extortion is to vote in a super majority of Democrats.  It would be worth it for two years.

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@ApostasyUSA   Agreed.  The international damage they have brought onto us because of pure partisan politics is treasonous to say the least.

Take a look at Richard Haas's commentary on putting our house in order in "Foreign Policy begins at Home."  It should be a must read for every person in government.  http://www.cfr.org/world/richard-haass-makes-case-foreign-policy-begins-home-new-book/p30601

April 30, 2013—The biggest threat to the United States comes not from abroad but from within.

"Many of the foundations of this country's power are eroding," Haass warns. "The effect, however, is not limited to a deteriorating transportation system or jobs that go unfilled or overseas owing to a lack of qualified American workers. To the contrary, shortcomings here at home directly threaten America's ability to project power and exert influence overseas, to compete in the global marketplace, to generate the resources needed to promote the full range of US interests abroad, and to set a compelling example that will influence the thinking and behavior of others."

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@rraaww Note to self. Please check best-used-by date on talking points.


fitty_three
fitty_three

@rraaww  

You're wrong both ways.  Not raising the debt ceiling will result in a higher interest rate.  The outlay to service existing debt will explode at worst and rise significantly at best.

Have you ever had an adjustable rate mortgage?

barneydidit
barneydidit

@rraaww And both the President and the Democrats have submitted a budget request every year, they've just never received a single Republican vote. 

tom.litton
tom.litton

@rraaww It's eliminating a law that was never intended to be law. 

Besides, there is no spending problem.  We could hold that spending (with yearly increases) forever.  It isn't the problem.  It's only when entitlements start increasing their spending that the debt becomes a problem.  Even so it's a gradual rise, giving us plenty of time to deal with it AFTER the economy recovers.

jmac
jmac

@Mickiee Bull.   Knuckles heads on one side.  That's clear if you're paying attention.

  If you're going to douse a fire that's going to turn around and burn the entire country next time,  let the fire consume itself.  Republican's are determined to burn  themselves alive  and don't care who they hurt - and their doing a good job of it.   

barneydidit
barneydidit

@j45ashton I loved the dialogue when the Democratic Rep. asked if this rule had been established in order to assure that a shutdown happened- the Republican Rep. replied (paraphrased)- "Uhhh, next!". 

jmac
jmac

@j45ashton   It seems all that's  changed is Boehner's neck isn't in the noose as Cantor takes the heat.  Cantor's not up for re-election (?).   Didn't Boehner have the right to block any vote before this reverted to Cantor?  


allthingsinaname
allthingsinaname

@j45ashton  

Well the Fourth  Estate has to be fair. IWhat would GOP say? They would be called a Libatard Press. Joe Klein, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, doesn't approve.

rohit57
rohit57

@mantisdragon91 .. While I do not sympathize with Republicans, Democrats should not consider themselves to be angels.  Medicare and Medicaid, enacted by Johnson with no price controls and enacted as "entitlements' are the elephant in the room.  The other elephant is our excessive defense budget.

retiredvet
retiredvet

@AlphaJuliette History shows that Democrat administrations pay the debt run up by Republican administrations. The last Republican administration didn't even add the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. That was added by Obama - after the fact.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@doriangrey_grey "The Fifth Column Treasonous Media..."

Treason n.

1. Violation of allegiance toward one's country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one's country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies.

2. A betrayal of trust or confidence.

CNN has a bad habit of covering for traitors but they are not the traitors themselves. It's Republicans in Congress, the "conservative" plutocrats who fund their campaigns and the useful idiots who vote them to power, who are to blame for repeatedly bringing the country to it's knees.

tommyudo
tommyudo

@AlphaJuliette


So you want a straight Dem ticket, yet you believe Bowles/Simpson and cutting entitlements is a reasonable way forward. It's this type of centrist thinking that keeps us in quicksand. The fact is that the 99% who have earned their SS and the Medicare and Medicaid should not be the ones who have to feel the pain.  That is Joe Klein-like thinking. If we didn't have a campaign system where pols represent only those that bank roll them, we could then get something done. Things such as raise the taxes on the 1%, eliminate off shore tax sheltering, closing un-needed subsidies to oil&gas and agriculture, etc. etc. There is a boatload of money in this country that is held by a small group to their benefit, and we hardly have any Dem in DC who fights regularly for the 99%, other than Bernie Sanders and a few members of the House

j45ashton
j45ashton

@jmac @j45ashton   Boehner could only block up to a point.  The standing rule said:   “When the stage of disagreement has been reached on a bill or resolution with House or Senate amendments" ,  then a voite could be introduced from the floor by anyone.

Well, they quickly reached that state of disagreement on amendments.  So the long standing rule would have allowed a vote on a clean bill.

No, this was a big change by the GOP.   Completely fascist.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@rohit57 @mantisdragon91 The conversation about medicare and medicaid starts with how to reduce healthcare costs in general.  Only after you do that, does it make sense to talk about ways to reduce spending on those 2 specifically.


barneydidit
barneydidit

@rohit57 @mantisdragon91 Granted rohit, Medicare, Medicaid and the defense budget require discussion, I just fail to see the value in "discussing" any of these subjects with Tea Party members, when they don't want any of those three touched right now (maybe in 10 years after they've "gotten what they paid for"), yet are the ones screaming the loudest about "Obama's excess spending". 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@rohit57 @mantisdragon91 Democrats did no create the crisis. They did not hold past debts hostage threatening our credit rating yet again and destabilizing world markets.

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@retiredvet Not refuting that at all Vet. (thank you for your service)

I'm pointing out the hypocrisy of the Republican party as they cherry pick which law of the land they want to honor vs. which one(s) they don't.

I'm mindful that despite the fact that Ronald Reagan ran a campaign attacking the national debt (at the time around 889 Billion, I believe.  Need to fact check this) he ended up doubling it.

I'm also mindful that George Bush cut taxes twice (vote buying) and started two global wars.

jmac
jmac

@retiredvet @AlphaJuliette  Obama inherited a bloody mess.   How many president's have been inherited what he was handed?   (Bush inherited a dream that he immediately turned into a nightmare).  

How anyone can vote Republican based on economic issues is mind-boggling.  

tom.litton
tom.litton

@AlphaJuliette @tommyudoThe debt isn't a problem for the next few years.  The focus now should be on unemployment.  It is a problem now, and will only make the debt worse the longer it drags on.  

It's stupid to ignore and/or make worse (if spending cuts happen) the current crises in favor of something that won't happen for a decade or more (according to the CBO).

We need at least a year or 2 of increased spending to get us out of the rut we are in, even if it means increasing the deficit.  That isn't to say we shouldn't be smart with the spending and/or shouldn't cut or raise taxes where it makes sense.  We should, for example, invest in infrastructure, education, etc.  Basically anything that will make us more competitive and/or we will need to spend in the near future anyways.

That isn't to say we can't look at decreasing spending in the future, but that shouldn't be the focus (like it is currently).  It isn't causing nearly the harm unemployment is, and there isn't definitive evidence it will cause a problem for the foreseeable future. 

Unrelatedly, you may or may not find this interesting:  http://www.voxeu.org/article/debt-deleveraging-and-liquidity-trap-new-model

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@tommyudo  I'm suggesting voting a straight Dem ticket to by-pass the Tea Party reps who are going to be re-elected (as I said) so they can't hold the nation hostage any more.  While I'm not comfortable with a SuperMajority in Congress it would be worth it for just two years when we can balance the ticket. 

As far as a budget plan going forward, yes!  Bowles/Simpson needs to be looked at very carefully and used as a guide.  These guys have been studying our fiscal situation for years and have the best ideas.  Members of Congress are enacting knee-jerk "solutions" in comparison.  And, EVERYTHING must be on the table including entitlements, tax reform, spending cuts and tax increases.  But, no doubt, there will be grandfather provisions to protect those who are about to need those entitlement benefits.