Did They Paint Themsleves Into a Tight Corner?
July 21, 2011

The national Jjournals speculates on whethyer or not Congress and the White House rattled their sabres too loudy in the debt ceiling showdown.

Lawmakers’ bickering on the debt limit has so rattled investors that now, to pull the American economy back from the brink, they may need to execute a bipartisan “grand bargain” of a size that once seemed unfathomable, at a speed that appears near-impossible. The credit ratings agency Standard and Poor’s has indicated that it has so lost faith in Washington’s ability to tackle big problems – because of the difficulty in solving such a simple one as how to avoid default – that simply raising the debt limit won’t be enough to spare the United States from what would be an earth-shaking downgrade of its credit rating. Instead, the agency insists that lawmakers must agree to a $4 trillion package of deficit reduction, at least, as part of the debt-ceiling deal or soon thereafter.

1. As the August 2 deadline grows closer with multiple proposals on the table, including the “Gang of Six” framework and the McConnell plan for President Obama to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling, it is looking like Obama may have to accept a short-term increase if he wants a bigger deal to pass. On Wednesday, spokesman Jay Carney indicated the White House may accept a short-term increase to prevent a default – but only “in the event that both sides reach a deal on a long-term extension of the debt limit plus significant deficit reduction” and a deal needs time to work its way through Congress, Carney said.

Obama on Tuesday–Almost No Scheduled Events/Meetings
July 19, 2011

From the National Journal:

If ever there were a day for possible secret meetings and staff talks, it is Tuesday. The White House has kept the president’s schedule completely open, acknowledging only that he will meet with his senior advisers and get his usual daily briefing in the morning. In the past, when a schedule has been this open, it has usually meant the president wants to work the phones or sneak negotiators into the White House, as he did Sunday when House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., stopped by for some weekend deficit talks.

McCaskill Says GOP Senate Leader McConnell “Has Lost His Mind”
July 14, 2011

Politico:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has “lost his mind,” Sen. Claire McCaskill said on “Morning Joe” Thursday.

Speaking of her frustration with Republicans approach on the debt ceiling, the Missouri Democrat said she couldn’t figure out McConnell’s thinking.

“I think Mitch McConnell, frankly, has lost his mind,” she said.

McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday proposed a deal that would allow President Barack Obama to raise the debt limit with congressional approval, requiring three separate votes to do so before the 2012 elections.

Asked by host Joe Scarborough how she would justify her statement to McConnell, McCaskill said: “I would just say Mitch, honestly, with a straight face, do a press conference and say, ‘Here’s the solution to the problem: Let’s let the Democrats do it and we want them to do it three times before the next election and it will be OK with us if they do it as long as we don’t have to touch it.’ And people aren’t ridiculing that? This is when we’re supposed to come together.”

McCaskill, a chief attack dog for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, is now locked in a fierce reelection fight of her own.

“This is when we’re supposed to show the country that we’re capable of governing, not figuring out the best strategy for (McConnell) to become majority floor leader,” she said. “This is all about trying to take out me and other people in tough states so that Mitch can become majority floor leader.”

She called the McConnell plan “brazenly political” and said: “What’s the rationale to make us do it three times? These are the guys have said certainty, certainty, certainty. … “The way he proposed it, it was like putting a big sign around his neck that says, ‘This is all about winning for the Republicans.’”

Box Score on the Debt Ceiling Talks. Everything to Make You Sound Smart
July 13, 2011

Here’s a quick wrap by the National Journal on the major developments in the debt ceiling talks between the White House and Capitaol Hill:

MCCONNELL’S BUDGET ESCAPE ROUTE? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took a risk Tuesday with a plan that frustrated his caucus and shook debt-ceiling talks. He floated what he called a “last-choice” option that would let President Obama raise the debt ceiling without deficit cuts but would saddle Democrats with the political price. National Journal reports that the proposal would allow the United States to avoid default if negotiators fail to reach an agreement by August 2. The complicated three-tranch plan could provide an out for Republicans to put full ownership of the debt-ceiling increase on Democrats.

OBAMA: DEBT CEILING THREATENS SOCIAL SECURITY CHECKS. President Obama warned voters in an interview with CBS News that Social Security checks, among other government payments, could be left unsent if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling. “I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3 if we haven’t resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it,” Obama said, echoing warnings made by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as he works with Congress to reach a debt-reduction agreement and lift the government’s borrowing limit. During a similar standoff in the ’90s, President Clinton threatened to direct the anger of politically active seniors at the GOP with the same tactic.

WHITE HOUSE PUNTS ON McCONNELL PROPOSAL. The White House had little to say about a complex proposal offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Tuesday that would grant President Obama authority to raise the debt ceiling in a dire situation through a series of maneuvers that would foist full ownership on Democrats. Instead of commenting on the exact machinations of the proposal, press secretary Jay Carney chose to point to the proposal as a sign of agreement that the U.S. could not default on its bills. It may be something for negotiators to discuss when they meet again Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Obama’s Role in Debt Ceiling Talks Grows. Statement Later Tuesday Afternoon
July 5, 2011

AP:   President Barack Obama will speak at the White House late Tuesday afternoon on the status of the negotiations to cut government spending and raise the nation’s borrowing limit. (remarks expected at 3;40 CDT)

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have held a series of meetings with congressional lawmakers. Both parties say progress is being made, but an agreement has not been reached.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has invited Obama to come to Capitol Hill to meet again with Republicans, but the White House has yet to accept that offer.

One of the sticking points between the two parties is taxes.

Democrats want to raise taxes or end tax loopholes for wealthy Americans or oil and gas companies. But many Republicans have repeatedly said they would not accept any deal that includes tax increases.