"Wasted Away in Margaritaville"

Friday, June 24, 2011

The GOP’s Budget Blame Game

ThinkProgress War Room
Progress Reports
June 23, 2011

Republicans Take Their Ball and Go Home

Vice President Joe Biden has been leading negotiations among a bipartisan group of lawmakers to hammer out a long-term deficit reduction package in time to avert a U.S. default on its obligations caused by the GOP’s refusal to raise the debt ceiling (more on that here) — something that must happen by Aug. 2.
Today, just hours before the group was to hold another meeting, the Republican negotiators abruptly pulled out of the talks.  Here’s the rundown of what happened and why:
Who: Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ), the Republican negotiators taking part in the bipartisan budget talks being led by Vice President Biden.
What: Republican negotiators bailing on the bipartisan talks being led by Vice President to avert an economically calamitous U.S. default on its obligations.
Why: Republicans offered two complaints today. The faux process complaint, offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor this morning, was that president has been not involved enough, which apparently somehow justifies the Republican negotiators becoming completely uninvolved.
Their substantive complaint was that Democrats are insisting on “tax hikes” to balance out the trillions in entitlement and other spending cuts being demanded by Republicans.  What Republicans don’t tell you is that when they say “tax hikes,” they really mean things like closing tax loopholes and taking away the billions in wasteful subsidies lavished on Big Oil every year.
What’s really going on: Republicans are playing a game of political musical chairs, knowing full well that they will have to eventually concede to some revenue increases (e.g. a recent poll found that 64 percent of voters would be in favor of eliminating the oil tax breaks). It seems that Cantor would rather have Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), whom Cantor suggested needed to be brought in to resolve the tax issue, be the one without a chair when the music stops and a Republican leader has to agree to some revenue increases — something that is bitterly opposed by Boehner’s fractious, Tea Party-dominated caucus in the House of Representatives.  The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein explains:
Cantor has the credibility with the Tea Party that Boehner lacks. But that’s why Cantor won’t cut the deal. The Tea Party-types support him because he’s the guy who won’t cut the deal. He can’t sign off on tax increases without losing his power base. But if he’s able to throw it back to Boehner, and Boehner cuts the deal, that’s all good for Cantor: Boehner becomes weaker and he becomes stronger. Which is why Boehner will also have trouble making this deal. It’ll mean he made the concessions that Cantor, the true conservative, didn’t. That’s not how he holds onto the gavel in this Republican Party.
Cantor is putting personal power before country here, and in a very dangerous way. If Boehner actually does manage to cut a decent deal despite Cantor’s effort to throw him under the bus, he may not hold on as leader of his party, but unlike Cantor, he’ll deserve to. For better or worse, this is when we learn whether anyone on the Republican Party’s leadership team is actually prepared to lead.
In one sentence: Republicans are not only willing to risk economic calamity to preserve billions in tax breaks for Big Oil, the wealthy, and other special interests, but now it seems they may also be willing to do so just to maintain their own personal political power.

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed

In light of the gift scandal growing around Justice Clarence Thomas, Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT) is asking his fellow members of Congress and the public to sign a letter asking the House Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing on the Supreme Court Transparency and Disclosure Act.
There actually is a Republican governor who supports Medicaid.
Koch-sponsored House energy chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) shills for the Keystone XL pipeline and Alaska drilling at the Heritage Foundation.
On Tuesday, a bill that would allow pesticide users to bypass the Clean Water Act and spray pesticides over waterways passed through the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.
Is the jobs crisis Evan Bayh’s fault? The former governor and senator now has five jobs all to himself — a director of Fifth/ Third Bancorp, partner at lobbying firm McGuireWoods LLP, Fox News contributor, anti-regulation speaker for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and adviser to private equity firm Apollo Capital Management.
While the total number of people in prison increased less than 16 percent, the number of people held in private federal facilities increased by 120 percent, thanks largely to millions of dollars worth of lobbying efforts by the private prison industry.
On the campaign trail in Iowa, GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain told ThinkProgress that he would put coal and oil CEOs in charge of a commission to dismantle Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
The youth leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood broke from their party to form Egyptian Current Party, which advocates for a more centrist and liberal version of Islamist politics.
Key Democrats criticized President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan last night for falling short of his promise for more a more “significant” withdrawal.
© 2005-2011 Center for American Progress Action Fund

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