Monday, December 3, 2012

December 3, 2012

Republicans Reprise 2011 Debt-Limit Fight in Budget Talks
by Bloomberg News
December 3, 2012

Republicans are renewing attempts to use a debt-limit increase to force deeper spending cuts, replicating the 2011 showdown that caused the U.S. to come within days of default and led to a credit-rating downgrade.

As in 2011, many Republicans in Congress see the need to raise the $16.4 trillion limit on public debt in early 2013 as leverage to force President Barack Obama to cut entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. House Republicans view the U.S. budget deficit, which topped $1 trillion in each of the past four years, as a crisis requiring immediate action.

“There has to be a reality out there that says we are in serious trouble,” said Representative Tim Walberg, a Michigan Republican. “We can’t just keep raising it because it’s been traditional to do it.”

The prospect of another debt-ceiling showdown is complicating the stalled talks to prevent more than $600 billion of spending cuts and tax increases from taking effect in January. Republicans, who say they didn’t suffer politically from the 2011 fight, are reprising their tactics. The administration wants to include a debt limit increase in a fiscal cliff deal and prevent Congress from wielding default as a weapon in the future.

Talks on averting the fiscal cliff are at a standstill. Democrats continue to demand higher tax rates for top earners, while Republicans want to cut spending on entitlements and other programs.

Bond Market

While lawmakers are making deficit reduction a rallying cry, the bond market shows nowhere near the same level of concern. As the national debt exceeded $16 trillion from less than $9 trillion in 2007, U.S. borrowing costs tumbled. The yield on the 10-year note touched a record low 1.379 percent July 25, down from more than 5 percent in mid-2007.

House Speaker John Boehner last week said a debt-limit increase would come with a “price tag,” which he has defined as spending cuts equal to the size of the additional borrowing.

Congress followed the “Boehner Rule” in 2011, which led to the $1.2 trillion of automatic cuts set to start in January. Replacing those spending reductions would require other cuts beyond what would be needed to pay for another debt-limit increase, said Representative James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who will be a member of his party’s House leadership next year.

Long Term

“To get our members to support anything, there’s going to have to be a commitment by Senate Democrats and the White House to undertake fundamental spending reforms over the long term,” said Representative Jim Gerlach, a Pennsylvania Republican. “If that’s not included in any proposal, then it’s going to be very difficult to pass anything in the House.”

The Obama administration, which accepted a deal in 2011 that didn’t guarantee higher taxes, is entering this set of talks with a bolder position. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner told Republicans last week that the administration is proposing to eliminate the 95-year-old requirement that lawmakers approve additional borrowing authority.

Failure to enact a debt limit increase would cause the U.S. to default on some of its obligations, either promised spending such as Social Security payments and federal workers’ paychecks or interest on bonds.

Era Over

“Democrats and Republicans should all come together and say now that the era of threatening the default of the United States is over,” Gene Sperling, director of the president’s National Economic Council, said on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” Nov. 30. “That should not be part of our budget negotiations going forward.”

Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid want Congress to address the debt limit as part of the fiscal cliff, rather than setting up a two-step process. The U.S. will reach the limit late this year and the Treasury Department can use so- called extraordinary measures to delay the need for an increase until at least mid-February, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

“It’s anachronistic,” said Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat and chairman of the Finance Committee. “We’ve already voted on spending and revenue, and so the debt ceiling is just a confirmation of what we voted on.”

More Latitude

In 1917, during World War I, Congress created the forerunner of the debt limit as a way to give President Woodrow Wilson’s administration more latitude. The limit was designed to “eliminate the need for Congress to approve each new debt issuance and provide Treasury with greater discretion” in how it finances government borrowing, according to a 2011 Government Accountability Office report.

Congress in 1939 consolidated several limits into a single one, according to the Congressional Research Service. Lawmakers have raised the limit dozens of times since then, including 11 times since 2001, according to CRS.

The debt limit has become a political weapon because of the severe effects of inaction, and it’s one that Democrats and Republicans have used in the past. As a senator, Obama voted against a 2006 debt-limit increase, a decision he regrets, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said last year.

In some ways, the debt limit mirrors the automatic tax increases and spending cuts in the fiscal cliff that Democrats see as leverage, because one side’s unwillingness to act has consequences.

Republicans criticized Geithner’s proposal on the debt limit.

Political Leverage

“Silliness,” Boehner said on “Fox News Sunday” yesterday. “Congress is never going to give up this power,” he said. “It’s the only way to leverage the political process to produce more change than what it would if left alone.”

In 2011, Republicans used the potential of default to force spending cuts. The legislation allowed a $2.1 trillion increase in the debt ceiling. It also required cuts of more than $900 billion in domestic spending and set up $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts, half to defense programs, scheduled to begin in January.

“Spending has to be dealt with, first and foremost,” said Representative Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican. “The position we have is really where the American people are, which is to cut the spending, get it under control and deal with the long-term systemic fiscal issues that we’re facing.”

House Majority

Republicans point to the fact that they kept their House majority after the 2011 debt-limit fight as proof that the party didn’t pay a political price. Republicans stayed in the majority after the 2012 election although they suffered a net loss of eight seats.

“I don’t think it matters,” said Representative Devin Nunes, a California Republican who said the administration and Democrats don’t share his view that spending is a “crisis” that must be addressed immediately. “At the end of the day we won, because we came back.”

In 2011, 66 Republicans voted against the debt-ceiling agreement that Boehner and Obama reached, many criticizing the deal because it didn’t go far enough in addressing entitlement spending and subjected the military to automatic spending cuts.

Democrats, who say failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause catastrophic harm they can’t countenance, are preparing to engage in what Representative John Yarmuth called the “same ridiculous pointless debate” as in 2011.

Republicans “do that at their peril if they try to hold any kind of deal hostage for that,” said Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat. “The government will stop functioning, because we won’t be able to pay for it, and that will send this country into a massive depression.”

Walberg and other Republicans see the long-term fiscal trajectory of the country as an urgent problem and one that demands immediate attention.

“People believe,” he said, “that Congress just doesn’t get it.”

Read more:

Why I'm Enlisting in Andrew Breitbart's War
by Matthew Boyle
December 2, 2012
I’m enlisting to fight in Andrew Breitbart’s war.

The political class in Washington has degraded America. Republicans and Democrats blame each other, and nothing gets done. The media exacerbates the problem, fans the flames and encourages false notions of “civility” and “objectivity” while pushing “bipartisanship” that doesn’t actually solve problems.

While this charade perpetuates indefinitely, America grows weaker. She’s digging herself deeper into debt and isn’t even searching for solutions to her problems. Entitlements and government overspending gets worse every day while laws go unenforced and Americans are murdered in terrorist attacks. Nobody in Washington seems to care.

The institutional left thrives in this declining environment. Record numbers of people are on the government dole instead of being excited to work and succeed. So-called “social justice” is implemented in place of real justice. Kids across the country are fed “Occupy” propaganda in school after their teachers take away their home-made lunches in place of “cafeteria nuggets.”

Many political consultants and career politicians on both the left and the right think this is a game. It’s not.

The journalists at Breitbart News know that. And they show it day in and day out. That’s why I’m joining them.

For the past few years, I’ve worked as a reporter at The Daily Caller. It’s been the best time of my life. I learned a lot. I broke several stories. But in my time there, I’ve seen some really bad things happening to our country.

Political consultants and politicians of both Democratic and Republican stripes profit off the status quo. So does the mainstream media. For instance, while it would have served everyone but Sen. Claire McCaskill (and her wealthy husband who cuts business deals on the Senate dining room floor) well for Congressman Todd Akin to step out of his race for U.S. Senate in Missouri after the “legitimate rape” magic vagina episode he created for himself, Akin stayed in – at the urging of the political consultants running his campaign. Those political consultants who convinced Akin to abandon logic to try to fight McCaskill cashed in on Akin. Win or lose, they walked away pockets loaded. They didn’t care about the country. Meanwhile, the mainstream media’s outright refusal to thoroughly investigate Sen. McCaskill and her husband’s business dealings means they’ll get handed freebie stories from McCaskill’s office over the next six years.

The Akin disaster is but one of many examples – albeit a much bolder one than average – of the political consulting class endangering the welfare of the American people as part of an effort to line its pockets and keep itself in power.

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign operated similarly – consultant-driven, populous-ignored. Romney should have waltzed into the White House as the next president of the United States. Instead, he strolled into the presidential residence last week to have lunch with the man he should have beaten.

President Obama was running for re-election in a broken economy and had an onslaught of scandals ripping his administration apart from every angle. He’s poured billions of taxpayer dollars down the failed Solyndra green energy drain and armed the murderous Mexican drug cartels with Operation Fast and Furious weapons. His administration has misled the American people about the terrorist attack in Benghazi, created a scapegoat out of a filmmaker whose YouTube video had nothing to do with the al Qaeda assault that claimed four Americans’ lives. The Department of Justice put the man in jail, making him Obama’s political prisoner.

To top it all off, Obama is an ideological extremist liberal who’s demonstrated he’s incapable of compromise. That’s not even to mention the fact the president’s radical past has never been fully examined for the American people.

Romney’s consultants let the mainstream media and Team Obama use Chicago tactics to denigrate their candidate’s success as a businessman. Chicago pushed the silly notion that success in America was evil and unfair, and Boston didn’t fight back.

The Romney campaign chose to trust The New York Times, Politico, NBC News and other leftwing outlets – even though nobody put a gun to their head and forced them to talk to the liberal media.
Political consultants are in it for the money – not necessarily to win. No matter what they tell you from their luxurious Washington, D.C., offices, they’re out of touch with what the American people really want. And they’re desperate to keep the truth from coming out about themselves because if it does, there will no longer be any need for their services.

Ironically, the reason why Obama was elected in the first place is because he campaigned against this political consulting class. Those who voted for him in 2008, myself included (yes I’ll admit it right here and right now), believed he’d really bring hope and change to Washington. He’s done anything but change Washington or bring to hope to America. Since he got into the White House, it’s only gotten worse (it’s partially his fault and partially Republicans’ fault).

The people behind liberal nonprofits – the same people who coordinated “movements” like Occupy and the anti-war protests during the Bush administration – benefit from and in many cases promulgate this chaos.

It reminds me of a conversation I had with Andrew right around the time the Occupy movement started. I had at first, like many others, wrongly brushed it off as nothing more than a moronic bunch of college kids crapping on police cars. Then, I saw it for it was. So even though it was late I called Andrew that night and told him I had figured out Occupy was just another front that the institutional left was using to push its agenda.

“I know, Matthew,” Andrew simply responded.

There are some true believers – people who won’t stand for corruption and won’t let Washington politicians from either party get away with gimmicky fake solutions – out there. I’d like to think I’m one of them. Andrew Breitbart, the conservative firebrand who founded this outlet, was another.

That what makes Andrew’s websites different – and better. Breitbart News is a place where we can expose corruption in both political parties, the dirty tactics of the institutional left and the mainstream media’s leftwing pandering. To Andrew, it was war. And he made sure everybody knew that.

War means that everything is on the line. The nation’s future rests in the hands of warriors fighting this political war. It’s a tall order.

It’s not a traditional war that we’re fighting. There are no swords and no bullets. This is a war of ideas.

We’ll fight the war on the battlefield of new media. Sunshine disinfects. Light needs to be shined into each crevice and around each corner in Washington.

The mainstream media is supposed to shine that sunlight into those holes and under those rocks. But, by and large, the media has failed. So many times over the past several years, I’ve heard stories about how once-respected journalistic institutions – newspapers, wire services, television networks, even websites – refused to run articles because the reporters or editors were friends with the politicians they were going to write about. The establishment media has become a part of the establishment class. That means it’s against their best interests to do the right thing and expose the corruption that plagues Washington – if they did, they’d be fighting against themselves.

At Breitbart News, I plan to investigate these people. Together with Breitbart News, I’m going to expose corruption in Washington.

It’s going to be a long fight. It’ll probably take the rest of our lives – if not longer (and I’m young – I’m only 25. That’s a long, long time for me, hopefully).

I’m going to put it all on the line because we need to stop these people. And the way to do it is to expose them for what they really are – and catch them in the act. That’s why I’m enlisting in Andrew Breitbart’s army. I’m joining Breitbart News, effective immediately. I’m shipping out today. It’s time to go to war. Will you join us?

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