Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rumor Mill, Body Language, And Betrayal

The so-called "cut, cap, and balance" plan passed by the House is a REPUBLICAN feint; it will not pass the Senate, and if it does it will not be signed by the President. It's an insane Tea Party bill. Which would give the Betrayer-in-Chief the perfect cover to sell his "Grand Bargain" negotiated principally with Speaker Boehner. The President is content, I think even looking forward, to stab progressives in the back once he has assured himself of a head count sufficient to pass his plan in the House and Senate. John Boehner wasn't whistling past the New Deal graveyard after meeting with his caucus, as the aroma of cigarette smoke wafted out into the corridor — a sign of Boehner's relaxed/victorious mood. He was singing "Zippy-Dooh-Dah, it's a wonderful day," hardly a subtle sign that things are going his and the Republicans' way.

Boehner seems confident he can peel off enough Tea Party caucus votes to craft a majority for passage in the House along with Blue Dog corporatist and moderate Democrats who will go with the President. The Progressive Caucus "NO" votes will probably be irrelevant as a bargaining chip. Similarly, in the Senate, the President is confident there will be 60 votes to pass his BETRAYAL. I have never seen the combative Senator Bernie Sanders, a progressive champion, looking so dejected. His shoulders were sagging and he seemed on the verge of tears as he was interviewed by the Rev. Al. He said he could not speak for Democrats in the Senate. He was headed for a meeting with "about ten progressive senators" to "map out strategy." Then he shrugged as his voice trailed off: "But ..."

That's my interpretation of events. Boy, do I hope IT (the "Grand Bargain") doesn't come to pass. As Sam Stein from the Huffington Post reports:
The administration pressed, as it has in the past, for lawmakers to coalesce around as big a deficit reduction package as politically possible. There are conflicting reports as to what was discussed. But according to multiple sources from both parties, the administration signaled a willingness to tackle a bigger plan than even that proposed by the bipartisan Gang of Six.

hat such a deal would look like is difficult to pin down in detail, as much of the Gang of Six proposal requires congressional committees to write in the specific cuts to programs under their purview. But it would involve steep reductions in health care spending -- both in Medicare and Medicaid. In previous debt ceiling negotiations, the administration has supported further means-testing elements of Medicare as well as raising the eligibility age of the program. Cuts to Medicare suppliers would also be part of a larger package, as would adjusting the payment structure of Social Security so that a lower level of benefits was paid out over time.
So much for escapist West Wing entertainment. The reality is much too harsh and depressing. Sure, I'll take The West Wing in a heartbeat. But I fear that's not what's happening in Washington right now.

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