Senate Republicans have been hammering Democrats and the Obama Administration for negotiating the debt limit and deficit deal behind closed doors and out of the public view. They have a point. Unless there's something you're bringing to the table that you'd rather hide from the public, why not put a camera in the negotiating room and broadcast the talks?Read Full Article
We already know that the House Republicans support increasing the debt limit. All but four of them recently voted in favor of a budget blueprint that calls for adding $9 trillion to the debt subject to limit over the next decade. Yet somehow they have convinced Obama and the Democrats that they have to get something in return, like spending cuts that make tax increases less likely, in exchange for actually voting for the debt limit increase they've already endorsed.Read Full Article
The Washington Post had an important article yesterday reminding us how hard it is for Congress to think independently about spending cuts when it affects politically-active corporations:
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The panel’s subcommittees last week voted to prohibit a proposed increase in fees paid by retired service personnel for Tricare, the military’s health program; set the stage for possible recompetition of the controversial engine for the Air Force F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; and required studies before the Marine Corps can go ahead with a new proposed amphibious landing craft to replace the multibillion-dollar Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV).
The subcommittees have also added funds to programs that the Pentagon did not seek. For example, $425 million has been added to the proposed budget to keep production lines open for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the Abrams M1 tank. The Pentagon had proposed shutting down those lines for three years to save money.
Should taxes be on the table for balancing the budget, or should we look at spending cuts only? This is they key partisan debate right now in Congress, and it's going to come to a head in the next few weeks when the House and Senate vote on the debt limit and, likely, some kind of structural enforcement mechanism for bringing annual deficits down to zero.Read Full Article
In other words, if the Republicans in the House do not pass a debt limit increase, this bill would automatically enforce a deep domestic austerity program. The guiding idea here is to avoid an international default scenario that could permanently destroy U.S. creditworthiness by, apparently, defaulting instead on legal obligations at home, like Social Security payments and benefits for veterans. Toomey himself noted in a recent op-ed that if his bill was triggered, "projects would be postponed, some vendor payments would be delayed, certain programs would be suspended, and many government employees might be furloughed."Read Full Article
If Sen. Mitch McConnell [R, KY] actually values making Obama a one-term President above all else as he told the National Journal recently, he and his fellow Republicans will have a perfect chance to muck things up in the very near future when debt ceiling legislation comes up in order to avoid defaulting on the national debt. Howard Fineman at the Huffington Post explained recently that we can expect a vote on the debt limit early in the next session, and that, so far, the Republicans have no plans to go along with it.Read Full Article
Congress felt like the center of the universe this week with the State of the Union on Wednesday, continuing negotiations on a number of issues and even a couple tough votes going down. Here's what we've been up to here at OpenCongress:Read Full Article
Senate Republicans today voted in lock step against a bill to raise the federal debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion. But they haven't always been against raising the debt limit. In fact, on most of the votes in recent history to raise the debt limit, the Republicans provided a majority of the votes.Read Full Article
After a rocky and lengthy process, the Senate today finally voted to raise the federal debt limit to $14.4 trillion, essentially avoiding a scenario where the government defaults on its debt.Read Full Article
Despite being one day shorter than usual, this week felt like non-stop parade of big news – almost all of it bad for the Democrats. Click through for a point-by-point rundown of what's happened over the past week and how it effects the biggest issues in Congress going forward.Read Full Article
Of all the things Congress does every year, raising the federal debt limit is definitely the least popular. Unfortunately for them, the Democrats chose the day after their major rebuke in Massachusetts to do it.Read Full Article