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Archive for Monday, August 1, 2011

House passes bill to raise debt limit, cut spending; Senate to vote Tuesday

August 1, 2011, 10:40 a.m. Updated August 2, 2011, 12:24 a.m.

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— Crisis legislation to yank the nation past the threat of a historic financial default sped through the House Monday night, breaking weeks of deadlock. The rare moment of cooperation turned celebratory when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords strode in for the first time since she was shot in the head nearly seven months ago.

The vote was 269-161, a scant day ahead of the deadline for action. But all eyes were on Giffords, who drew thunderous applause as she walked into the House chamber unannounced and cast her vote in favor of the bill.

A final Senate sign-off for the measure is virtually assured on Tuesday. Aside from raising the debt limit, the bill would slice federal spending by at least $2.1 trillion, and perhaps much more.

How they voted

Kansans in the House were split on their votes, with Reps. Tim Huelskamp and Kevin Yoder voting against the plan, and Reps. Lynn Jenkins and Mike Pompeo voting to pass it.

“If the bill were presented to the president, he would sign it,” the White House said, an understatement of enormous proportions.

After months of fierce struggle, the House’s top Republican and Democratic leaders swung behind the bill, ratifying a deal sealed Sunday night with a phone call from House Speaker John Boehner to President Barack Obama.

Many Republicans contended the bill still would cut too little from federal spending; many Democrats said much too much. Still, Republican lawmakers supported the compromise, 174-66, while Democrats split, 95-95

“The legislation will solve this debt crisis and help get the American people back to work,” Boehner said at a news conference a few hours before the vote.

The Democratic leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, was far less effusive. “I’m not happy with it, but I’m proud of some of the accomplishments in it. That’s why I’m voting for it.”

So, too, many of the first-term Republicans whose election in 2010 handed the GOP control of the House and set the federal government on a new, more conservative course.

“It’s about time that Congress come together and figure out a way to live within our means,” said one of them, Sean Duffy of Wisconsin. “This bill is going to start that process although it doesn’t go far enough.”

The measure would cut federal spending by at least $2.1 trillion over a decade — and possibly considerably more — and would not require tax increases. The U.S. debt limit would rise by at least $2.1 trillion, tiding the Treasury over through the 2012 elections.

Without legislation in place by the end of Tuesday, the Treasury would run out of cash needed to pay all its bills. Administration officials say a default would ensue that would severely damage the economy.

Beyond merely avoiding disaster, Obama and congressional leaders hoped their extraordinary accord would reassure investors at home and around the world, preserve the United States’ Aaa credit rating and begin to slow the growth in America’s soaring debt. In a roller-coaster day on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average surged, then sank and finally finished down for a seventh straight session but only slightly.

After months of suspense, Monday night’s vote was anti-climactic,

Not so the moment when Giffords’ presence became known.

She greeted some fellow lawmakers who crowded around her and blew kisses to others, beaming the whole while. Her hair was dark and close cropped and she wore glasses — nothing like the image America had of her six months ago when she was shot while greeting constituents outside a supermarket in Tucson.

She did not speak with reporters.

As for the legislation, after months of wrangling over a deal, there was little time left for lawmakers to decide how to vote.

The White House dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to the Capitol to lobby recalcitrant Democrats in both houses.

“They expressed all their frustration,” he conceded after a session with lawmakers of his party in the House.

He said the deal “has one overwhelming redeeming feature” — postponing the next debt limit battle until 2013 and putting the current fight behind. “We have to get this out of the way to get to the issue of growing the economy,” he said.

Republicans lobbied their rank and file as well, and the results were far more positive for them than a week ago when they were forced to delay a vote on an earlier measure.

GOP leaders swiftly drew public pledges of support from some first-termers as well as veteran defense hawks — two areas of concern with the agreement.

Rep. C.W. (Bill) Young, chairman of the committee that handles the defense budget, said, “We’re confident that we can make this happen without affecting readiness and without affecting any of our soldiers.”

There were critics on both sides of the aisle, some of them anguished.

“I did not come to Washington to force more people into poverty,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

“At the end of the day, Washington’s spending still has us sprinting toward a fiscal cliff. And this bill barely slows us down,” said Rep. Mark Mulvaney, R-S.C.

There is little suspense about the outcome for the debt-limit legislation in the Senate on Tuesday.

A member of the Republican leadership in the Senate predicted strong GOP support. “Maybe 35 (of 47) will support it in the end. There will be some who will pull back,” said Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho.

Already, the legislation was emerging as an issue in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announced their opposition, while Newt Gingrich issued a statement without saying how he would vote.

The final legislation reflected the priorities of the two political parties.

It would immediately increase the debt limit by $400 billion, with another $500 billion envisioned unless Congress blocks it. At the same time, it would cut more than $900 billion over 10 years from the day-to-day operating budgets of Cabinet agencies. For the budget year that begins Oct. 1, spending would be held $7 billion below current levels.

The measure also establishes a 12-member House-Senate committee that will be charged with producing up to $1.5 trillion in additional deficit cuts over a decade. If the panel succeeds, Congress will be required to vote on the recommendations without possibility of changes.

If the panel deadlocks or fails to produce at least $1.2 trillion in deficit savings, then spending cuts are to take effect across much of the federal budget. The Pentagon, domestic agencies and farm subsidies would be affected, as would payments to doctors and other Medicare providers. But individual benefits under Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and programs for veterans and federal retirees would be exempt.

At the same time, the debt limit would rise by at least another $1.2 trillion, and perhaps — depending on the results of the committee’s work — as much as $1.5 trillion.

Additionally, the legislation requires both the House and Senate to vote on a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

The measure also increases funding for Pell Grants for low-income college students by $17 billion over the next two years, financed by curbs on federal student loan subsidies.

The result of weeks of negotiations and harsh arguing, the final result represented a product of divided government that gave neither side everything it wanted. Leaders in both parties were emphatic on that point.

“As with any compromise, the outcome is far from satisfying,” conceded Obama in a video his re-election campaign sent to millions of Democrats. In a tweet, the president was more positive: “The debt agreement makes a significant down payment to reduce the deficit — finding savings in both defense and domestic spending.”

Comments

tbaker 2 years, 8 months ago

This no solution - it's just another "deal." The President's reckless spending continues. The debt keeps growings. We continue to borrow 40 on the dollar. There are absolutly zero budget cuts in th bill. The federal government will still run a deficit of $1 trillion next year. This deal will “cut” the 2012 budget of $3.6 trillion by just $22 billion, or less than 1 percent. They made the problem worse and put fixing it off till later. Same crap, different day. They all need to be un-elected.

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markoo 2 years, 8 months ago

Matt Taibbi's piece in the Rolling Stone is well worth the read. I'm quoting the last few paragraphs because I feel they are extremely poignant:

"The Democrats, despite sitting in the White House, the most awesome repository of political power on the planet, didn't fight at all. They made a show of a tussle for a good long time -- as fixed fights go, you don't see many that last into the 11th and 12th rounds, like this one did -- but at the final hour, they let out a whimper and took a dive.

We probably need to start wondering why this keeps happening. Also, this: if the Democrats suck so bad at political combat, then how come they continue to be rewarded with such massive quantities of campaign contributions? When the final tally comes in for the 2012 presidential race, who among us wouldn't bet that Barack Obama is going to beat his Republican opponent in the fundraising column very handily? At the very least, he won't be out-funded, I can almost guarantee that.

And what does that mean? Who spends hundreds of millions of dollars for what looks, on the outside, like rank incompetence?

It strains the imagination to think that the country's smartest businessmen keep paying top dollar for such lousy performance. Is it possible that by "surrendering" at the 11th hour and signing off on a deal that presages deep cuts in spending for the middle class, but avoids tax increases for the rich, Obama is doing exactly what was expected of him?"

Just broke out Howard Zinn's "People's History of the United States" again for another read.

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somedude20 2 years, 8 months ago

I truely hope the rich enjoy getting richer now! I was getting worried that they may run out of shekels to count. I am voting for Mr. Hanky next time cause with him, you know what you will get! Mr. Hanky Mr. Hanky Mr. Hanky

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 8 months ago

"“As with any compromise, the outcome is far from satisfying,” conceded Obama"

This wasn't compromise. It was capitulation.

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niles 2 years, 8 months ago

Congratulations Socialist Baggers. You get to keep your programs. Sorry kids, you have to pay. As a consolation however, the socialist's lives DEPEND ON THOSE PROGRAMS. Hope that will make you feel better when you see your hard work be punished more aggressively than ever in the year 2035.

JOBS for EVERYONE! clearly the government's responsibility. ... Perhaps half the people could be employed to pile up rocks and the other half to spread them out. PROBLEM SOLVED!

ENGLISH MAJORS - the right of every citizen to borrow money to pay for these MUST BE DEFENDED! NO DISCRIMINATION!

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tbaker 2 years, 8 months ago

House passes "bill." Exactly. A bill is all they passed. They certainly did not pass a solution to the problem.

Assuming every penny of the proposed cuts in the "bill" actually does occur (huge assumption) then our national debt will still rise to about $20 trillion by 2020. If congress would have done nothing at all? The debt would rise to $23 trillion by 2010.

These clowns just don't get it. Our country is headed for the fiscal cliff and this is the best they can do. It is going to take an election to fix this. Since congress won't, the voters will have to the work in 2012.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 8 months ago

This is a good start, the best that could be expected when Republicans control only one house. The most significant byproduct of this has been the realization by a much greater portion of the voting public of the fact that liberal Democrats have no interest whatsoever in significantly reining in spending, and the extremely serious problems that we will face if we don't quickly take appropriate steps to do just that. Obama's pitiful lack of leadership has again come to the fore, causing him to look more like Jimmy Carter every day. If the Republicans can nominate an electable candidate and counter Obama's limousine liberal money with freedom-based ideas and goals, Obama and his socialist cronies will be toast in 2012.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

The largest obstacles are fear of losing special interest campaign money, guts to terminate Bush tax cuts and backbone to cut off pork barrel corporate subsidies. Bribery of elected officials is the most stinky of all bribery!

The remedy:

1.CUT OFF special interest financing of elections! YES even at the local level.

  1. Our government bodies are always claiming the USA is about democracy. In that case allow the citizens to practice democracy by allowing citizens to vote in these measures come 2012:

A. Let's demand a new system and vote in Fair Vote America : http://www.fairvote.org/irv/ Demand a change on the next ballot.

B. Let's have public financing of campaigns. Citizens cannot afford special interest money campaigns for it is the citizens that get left out. Let citizens vote on this issue. http://www.publicampaign.org/

  1. The “Peoples Budget” does everything this country needs:

    • Creates good-paying jobs
    • Fully maintains our social safety net
    • Invests in education
    • Ends our costly wars
    • Closes the tax loopholes that have made offshoring jobs profitable
    • Ends oil and gas subsidies that pollute our country at taxpayer expense
    • Creates a national infrastructure investment bank to help us make intelligent investments for the future

The “People's Budget” represents not just common sense; it represents the will of the American people.

What the “Peoples Budget” does very specifically:

http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=70&sectiontree=5,70

http://www.npr.org/2011/04/15/135435883/the-nation-obama-should-fight-for-peoples-budget

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/4/14/while_obama_touts_compromise_with_gop

http://www.thenation.com/blog/159939/fighting-peoples-budget

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 8 months ago

Tea-baggers and democrats in the house should work together to block this bill.

The fact that tax increases are not part of this deal is ridiculous.

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Gregory Newman 2 years, 8 months ago

They all are lying. There will never be job creation the manufacturing base is gone forever the best one can do is work retail or for private security. The health care field is viable but extremely hard to qualify. Janitorial and construction has gone to the illegals. We are a consumer Nation period. NAFTA/GATT is the demon. If they all are serious Obama and the Senate and the House should repel NAFTA/GATT and get rid of all subsidies. We don’t need corporatism we need capitalism. They all are sold-out to Wall Street lobbyist at 4-500 thousand a month. That answers for the cry “don’t tax the rich.” President Reagan created the large work force from 20-36 hr. work week with no benefits mainly in the retail market but those jobs were 2nd jobs with older adults and now they are down to just Target, Walmart and Walgreens. In addition, he started the wave of illegal immigration. No one should blame Obama they never wanted him on the team the voters did. They say no to him for everything Presidents are not law makers it’s the house and senate period. There are so many of you that are so full of anxiety that you cannot see who it is that is slapping you. http://youtu.be/xOnBoYygcNc

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