The “sugar-coated Satan sandwich” – The Debt Deal

Update: August 1-House passes debt deal bill 269 to 161. Bill moves on to Senate following. Unanimous consent is required from all Senators for the vote to occur tomorrow. Pundits say it’ll happen.

By the way- Gabby Giffords [Rep shot in head in AZ] came in to vote in the House to the great surprise and welcome of all House members.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said early reports of the new deal appeared to be “a sugar-coated Satan sandwich.” I’d probably call it a shit sandwich, but that’s not nearly as funny.

You know something bad’s been served when you hear Eric Cantor call the debt deal a “win for the conservative movement” that will help defeat “this President in 2012”.

The White House is laying as much positive spin on the situation as possible (White House fact sheet), even sucking up to the twitter crowd, saying that the American public’s tweets and emails to congress did push leaders to act. On the surface it looks like a crisis has been averted. Nice message to broadcast to a world appalled at U.S. debt theatrics. In reality the curtain rises on more drama today.

Boehner wants a House vote today according to Reuters. In a conference call to Republicans he said
“There is a framework in place that would cut spending by a larger amount than we raise the debt limit, and cap future spending to limit the growth of government.”

There could be enough votes in the Senate. But the House will be more complicated. It depends on progressive Democrats who are angered that Obama conceded too much and got no increase in taxes on the rich.

Pelosi is not revealing much:
“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said many Democrats in her chamber might decide not to support the deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling when they meet on Monday, Reuters reports.

Said Pelosi: “We all may not be able to support it, or none us may be able to support it.” ” –Political Wire

Plus Tea Party freshmen in the house who refused to work with Boehner last week could still push for their Balanced Budget Amendment. There are a core group of them that refuse to believe that the debt ceiling is a big deal. When I read that this group got a lecture from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week, I mentally said, “Yay Chamber of Commerce!”. Then I knew the world had really gone mad.

One of those Tea Party types, freshman Rep. Mike Lee of Utah, threatened to filibuster when he talked to Wolf Blitzer Sunday night. He’s the fellow who said in March that federal child labor laws should be eliminated because labor and manufacturing are “by their very nature, local activities” and not “interstate commercial transactions.” –care2

This conversation Rep. Lee had with Chris Matthews makes it sound like Lee lacks the crucial brain cells and firing synapses required to understand the words “negotiation” and “compromise” (1 min. 14 sec.):

Also, it looks like automatic defense cuts that could come in the Part 2 of the plan are making Republican hawks and Joe Lieberman skittish.

The deal’s basics:

from NPR.org:

“The debt ceiling is raised by about $1 trillion now. The House and Senate enact a series of spending cuts worth about the same. Next year, the ceiling goes up another $1.8 trillion while a committee of 12 members of Congress, half from each party, negotiate another $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction.

If they don’t, an automatic mechanism kicks in that would make cuts both parties find unacceptable. As we understand the deal, the second and larger increase in the debt ceiling takes place even if the Congress is still struggling with the second round of deficit reduction.

The plan also includes that “Plan B” business McConnell proposed earlier, whereby the president asks for a higher debt ceiling, Congress disapproves, the president vetoes their disapproval and the Congress fails to override his veto. I am not making this up.”

The Analysis

Experts: Debt deal avoids tackling hard questions
Most of the cuts agreed on during three-way negotiations between the White House and Senate leaders from each side of the aisle were in discretionary spending. They agreed to make steep cuts over 10 years to a segment of the budget that accounts for less than a fifth of federal spending….
It is business as usual..For people that bragged about not doing business as usual, it is business as usual.” – Bob Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan budget watchdog organization. –McClatchy

Tea Party Has Short-term Coup, perhaps long-term fail.
“..they have proved beyond all doubt that the Tea Party calls the shots in the Republican majority in the House of Representatives….The Tea Party has succeeded in making spending the dominant issue in Washington, even over job creation and the immediate recovery. But the movement played a large part in dragging the country to the brink of disaster, and many voters in the middle ground may not forgive them for that” – Alex Spillius, Telegraph

Paul Krugman’s comment: “The worst thing you can do in these circumstances is slash government spending, since that will depress the economy even further.”

MoveOn.org spoke up against the super committee that will do 2nd batch of cuts-
“The reason Republicans want a “Super Congress,” especially one that triggers automatic cuts if it fails to reach agreement, is because it would let them slash Medicare and other vital services with no accountability,” said MoveOn.org Executive Director Justin Ruben. “It is extremely troubling that it now appears that some Democrats are willing to give in to Republican demands to make this already disastrous plan worse for working families.”-HuffPo

Feared next result: Pain for states
Susan Haigh and Dinesh Ramde of AP predict cuts in federal aid to states when the deal cuts “discretionary spending. That will cut federal monies for transit, head start, education grants, and medicaid.

“The timing is lousy in every respect,” said Benjamin Barnes, secretary of the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management. “It will certainly have a recessionary impact on the overall national economy, and that’s the last thing we want right now.”

AND
A statement of Bernie Sanders to the Senate Saturday 7/30 says a lot and ends with a call for Obama to use the power of the 14th amendment and raise the debt ceiling if he needs to:

Peaceful Protest at U.S. Congressman Reid Ribble’s Appleton Office

http://www.youtube.com/user/AppletonWonk?feature=mhee#p/a/u/0/dHdxYFzau70

Approximately 60 people protested at Reid Ribble’s Appleton, WI office as part of a “Save the American Dream” national day of action through MoveOn.org. Reid Ribble is a U.S. Congressman representing Wisconsin’s 8th District. Here are some of the pictures from the event. Ann Muenster deserves a special thank you for stepping up and getting everyone organized at the event.

While waiting to go into his office the crowd shouted things like “we want compromise”, “Where is Reid Ribble?”, “Where are the jobs?”, and of course the standard “show me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like”.

Reid Ribble’s office is located at the Radisson Paper Valley, so the protesters had to walk through the hotel lobby to get to his office. At the main entrance we were asked to leave all protest signs by the front door as the hotel management did not want those in the building. Only one person was unhappy about that. Everyone else who had a sign left it at the door and quietly proceeded to Reid Ribble’s office.

While there, the protesters delivered a petition that asked Reid Ribble to agree to “support the Senate’s plan to raise the debt limit and reduce the deficit.”

Reid Ribble was not in his office, so his assistant, Carl Soderberg took the signed petition. He wrote down what everyone said to him. Carl appeared to be the only employee in the office when we were there. The conversation was calm and respectful as everyone waited their turn to speak. In fact, the protesters stopped talking when Carl had to answer the phone.

Retired school teacher, Mary Hoglund was one of the speakers at the protest.

One lady said she believed we should end the oil subsidies because the oil companies are making record profits. One gentleman mentioned that his son lost his job in January and was still unable to find employment. He wanted to know “where are the jobs?”. Concern was expressed that some politicians are thinking about the next election and not governing well. Another person said “they are playing with people’s lives”. One person even asked if Ribble is a member of ALEC. Carl said that he doesn’t know if he is. At that point, a few people asked what is ALEC. One of my favorite lines from the meeting was when someone asked that Reid Ribble not call the rich job creators, call them “rich”.

Reid Ribble has not had any in person town hall meetings and his constituents want a chance to speak with him face to face. He has breakfast and lunch meetings with business people. These events have a fee associated with them. His constituents shouldn’t have to pay a fee to speak openly with him. Ribble has telephone town halls instead of in person meetings. This leaves little room for any real discussion. Many people are still waiting for him to have in person town hall meetings with the people in his district.

People at the meeting are concerned with the way Reid Ribble is being perceived in the community. The activists are concerned the community sees him as representing corporations and special interest groups like the Tea Party.

Every speaker at the meeting was clear, to the point and aware of the issues. For me, the best parts of the event were the number of people that showed up and the fact that everyone acted respectfully and really listened to each other.

The Appleton Post Crescent also covered this story. Their story can be found here.