Tag Archives: Party leaders of the United States Senate

USA Has Reached Its Debt Limit

The United States reached its predefined national debt limit Monday morning. That means that the US government no longer is able to meet its obligations by borrowing more money. According to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner the nation will default if the Congress doesn’t lift the debt ceiling by August 2.

“Failing to do something about the debt would be far worse in the long-run than failing to raise the debt limit.”

According to TPMDS, the US Congress has ordered that interest must be paid on existing debt, since incoming revenues aren’t sufficient to pay for the services , and the Treasury department is planning a series of ever-more extraordinary measures to pay of its bills.

According to US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the US may get away with this – but only until August 2.

If Congress doesn’t lift the debt ceiling by then, the country will default, triggering a number of severe economic consequences.

Geithner has already stopped issuing securities to states that help them keep their books in balance and maintain infrastructure, TPMDC writes on their website.

Pointing out that today, the government will defer payments to and investments in federal pension funds – pensions Republicans want federal workers to pay more money into than they currently do.

But despite the serious situation, you won’t get the impression that time is of the essence from congressional Republicans.

They are refusing to raise the debt limit without substantial cuts to government spending and entitlement programs. GOP leaders on Capitol Hill continue to vacillate between claiming that the consequences of default would be smaller than the consequences of not cutting spending.

“Failing to do something about the debt would be far worse in the long-run than failing to raise the debt limit,” says US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor Thursday.

Admitting that they’re using the threat of a default to make good on long-standing conservative commitments.

“What better time to do something about the debt than in connection with raising the debt ceiling?” McConnell says.

Still, Republicans have thus far set the terms of the debate, at least in the public realm. They insist they will not accept increasing revenues as part of any deal.

They want to implement budget process reforms that will make it easier to cut spending in the future, and say they’ll only raise the debt limit by as much or less than the trillions in spending cuts they’re able to enact as part of a deal.

Underneath that, they’ve expressed willingness to negotiate the precise cuts to discretionary, defense, and entitlement spending, TPMDC highlights.

However, their opening bid – the House GOP budget – includes enormous cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday that he sees no substantial movement from the Obama administration in his direction, increasing the sense that a deal is still far off.

However, the precise details of negotiations between House and Senate leaders and the White House, led by Vice President Joe Biden, remain tightly held.

“There’s likely a gap between the perceptions presented in public statements and the reality behind the scenes. And that gap will likely grow as we approach August, and the consequences of dithering and the pressure to avoid calamity mount,” The Taking Points Memo concludes.

And perhaps SAXO Bank will hit bullseye with their number one Outrageous Predictions for 2011:

“As we move into the second half of 2011, politicians and pundits increasingly succeed in putting the Fed in the hot seat for having been the critical enabler of the US housing debacle and resulting bank bailout and public debt catastrophe. Meanwhile, the too-big-to-fail banks are back in deep trouble again as their troubled mortgage portfolios once again threaten their solvency. The Fed‟s Bernanke rallies the FOMC to indicate a strong new expansion of monetary policy to once again bail out the troubled banks and/or local governments. Emboldened by the political and popular winds blowing, however, a Ron Paul led challenge of the Fed‟s authority sees the Congress blocking the Fed‟s authority to expand its balance sheet, and sets up an eventual challenge of the Fed’s dual employment/inflation mandate.”

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Filed under International Econnomic Politics, Laws and Regulations, National Economic Politics

Signs Of Depression In The USA

Pessimism reigns with American public. The public is deeply dissatisfied with Congress, the two political parties and the broad direction of the country, according to a  new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. Just one in five approve of the job Congress is doing while a whopping 72 percent disapprove. Some are even talking about an armed revolution.

“Voters dissatisfied with the direction of government should take to second amendment remedies.”

Sharron Angle

The numbers in the survey are stark, the Washington Post writes. Just one in five approve of the job Congress is doing while a whopping 72 percent disapprove. Six in ten say that this Congress’ performance has been either below average  or “one of the worst.”  Just six percent describe it as “one of the best” or “above average”.

The two political parties fare little better. Thirty-three percent of the sample view the Democratic party positively while 44 percent view it negatively; the news is even worse for Republicans who are seen in a positive light by by 24 percent and a negative one by 46 percent – the worst showing ever for the GOP in the NBC/WSJ poll.

Pessimism Is Everywhere

At a more macro level, evidence of a persistent pessimism is everywhere. Less than one in three people believe the country is headed in the right direction while 58 percent believe it is off on the wrong track.

Nearly two-in-three of respondents says there is “still a ways to go” in the economic downturn as compared to 29 percent who says the economy had already hit the “bottom”.

The extent of the dissatisfaction apparent in this poll is not new – surveys have shown a public growing increasingly unhappy with the state of affairs in the country and the Congress for some time now – but does reinforce the idea that the final three months (or so) of the midterm campaign will be extremely unpredictable.

While Democrats will almost certainly bear the brunt of the pessimism running rampant in the country due to the fact that a) they control all levers of power in Washington and b) they hold far more seats in the House and the Senate, it’s clear that the public is far from sold on Republicans, or any politicians.

Something Totally Different

In an election cycle like this one, volatility appears to be the name of the game.

Rick Snyder

Rick Snyder


The more unhappy voters are with the state of affairs in the country and the less conviction they have that politicians or Washington can fix it, the more they are open to change – to trying something (or someone) totally different.


Victories by people like Rick Snyder, the wealthy businessman who rode his “one tough nerd” slogan to victory in the Michigan Republican governor’s primary, are the leading edge of that “someone different” mentality.

The November election could produce many more Snyders if these numbers hold.


Armed Resistance

Sharron Angle

Sharron Angle

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is up with a new TV ad slamming former Nevada Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R) for comments in which she suggested that voters dissatisfied with the direction of government should take to “second amendment remedies.”

The ad features Bill Ames, the president of the Peace Officers Research Association of Nevada, calling Angle’s comments “way over the line.”

“It’s crazy, but what she’s actually talking about is armed resistance,” Ames says. “Look, I’m a member of the NRA and a Republican, but that kind of talk is dangerous and way too extreme.”

Angle’s camp shrugged off the ad. “Reid is desperate to talk about anything except the economy because his policies as Majority Leader have caused over 14 percent unemployment in Nevada and voters hate him for it,” said Angle spokesperson Jarrod Agen.

The commercial is the latest effort by Reid to paint Angle outside of the Nevada mainstream on issues; he has previously attacked Angle’s past statement on Social Security.

Government Is The Problem

Team Angle’s strategy on the airwaves, meanwhile, has been to blame Reid for Nevada’s record high unemployment while charging that “government is the problem” and “we, the people, are the solution.”

Angle has undoubtedly given Reid plenty of fodder for ads, but the new spot comes after the Senate Majority Leader made a gaffe of his own when he told a crowd earlier this week: “I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, okay?”.


Reid’s camp later sought to clarify those remarks, saying that Reid’s “contention was simply that he doesn’t understand how anyone, Hispanic or otherwise, would vote for Republican candidates.”

A Reuters-Ipsos poll released last week showed Reid leading Angle 48 percent to 44 percent among likely voters – a much narrower lead than Reid’s 52 percent to 36 percent advantage among registered voters.

Polling conducted since Angle’s June 8th primary win has consistently shown her trailing Reid.

The Tonya Harding Of Florida Politics

Free-spending former health care executive Rick Scott is up with two new TV ads bashing state Attorney General Bill McCollum, his opponent for Florida’s Republican gubernatorial nod.

Bill McCollum

Bill McCollum

The first ad charges that McCollum “promised to spend tax dollars wisely, but then he spent $280,000 taxpayer dollars on chartered aircraft, even for personal use.” The second claims that McCollum has been “caught in a lie again” for conflicting statements he’s made on Arizona’s immigration law.

Both spots, which will be running statewide, refer to the gubernatorial hopeful as “career politician Bill McCollum.”

Scott has been relentless in attacking McCollum on his long tenure in politics as well as his position on the immigration law while McCollum has countered by taking aim at Scott’s political Achilles’ heel – the $1.7 billion fraud case involving his former company, Columbia/HCA.

This week has marked some of the more colorful developments for Scott and McCollum along the campaign trail. Scott held a press conference yesterday in order to defend himself from accusations regarding his current company, the Solantic walk-in clinic chain, but instead was hit with a subpoena in a new lawsuit.

At the same event, Scott decried McCollum as “the Tonya Harding of Florida politics.”

A Mason-Dixon poll released late last week showed Scott leading McCollum 37 percent to 31 percent, with 29 percent undecided. Early voting ahead of the Aug. 24 primary began Monday.

State CFO Alex Sink will be the Democratic nominee.

Bud Chiles, the son of former Gov. Lawton Chiles (D), is running as an independent.

Will Fight For Them

Richard Blumenthal

Richard Blumenthal

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal wasted little time in starting the general election fight against former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon (R) by launching his first ad designed to re-introduce him to voters.

Blumenthal, who has very high approval numbers from his two decades as the state’s top cop, notes his battles against pharmaceutical companies, utilities and “big tobacco” in the ad. “The people of Connecticut know me, and one thing they know about me for sure is that I will fight for them,” Blumenthal says, as images flash of him visiting various constituents.

The ad plays to Blumenthal’s strengths and what has made him a popular figure in the state over the last two decades. While McMahon’s professional wrestling empire will be on trial in the coming weeks, Blumenthal is setting a tone that is above-the-fray, even as plenty of other Democrats have been going negative in their first ads.

It’s likely Republicans will work to quickly change that tone – perhaps bringing up Blumenthal’s exaggerations regarding his Vietnam service.

Blumenthal is also staffing up as the general election begins, adding Tyler Matsdorf, a communications operative for Montana Sen. Max Baucus (D), to his team.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed Blumenthal leading McMahon 50 percent to 40 percent, and she had been closing the margin in recent months thanks to her heavy spending in advance of Tuesday’s primary.

Political Handicappers

Washington State Democratic Sen. Patty Murray leads former gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi (R) 41 percent to 33 percent in Washington’s top-two primary next week, according to a new SurveyUSA poll.

Patty Murray

Patty Murray

But Rossi and a pair of GOP candidates are combining to take nearly half the vote, which could be bad for Murray in the second round of voting a.k.a. the general election.

Washington features an unusual voting system in which all candidates are thrown into one field in the Aug. 17 primary with the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advancing to the general election.

The poll suggests that Rossi faces little danger of not finishing in the top two; former NFL player Clint Didier (R) takes 11 percent and Paul Akers (R) receives five percent.

(Didier has the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and he and Akers are running an unorthodox joint campaign to take down Rossi as the establishment candidate.)

Murray, first elected in 1992, has consistently overperformed expectations in her re-election races. But, Rossi is widely seen as her most serious opponent yet and leading political handicappers rate the race as a toss up, the Washington Post concludes.


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Filed under International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics