Top lawmakers target ‘grand bargain’ for debt plan
Even as President Obama and congressional leaders focus on a fallback plan to lift the nation’s debt ceiling, top Democrats and Republicans have begun to map a new way to craft the same sort of ambitious deficit-cutting plan they abandoned last week.
As part of the deal being discussed to raise the debt ceiling, leaders on Capitol Hill are forming anespecially powerful congressional committee that would be charged with drawing up a new “grand bargain,” possibly by the end of the year.
Key elements for a big deal remain in place. Obama has been clear that he wants one and has started making the case to skeptical factions of his own party that getting the nation’s fiscal house in order is in their best interest. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) also remains committed to an ambitious plan, having told his troops that he didn’t become speaker to do small things. And, perhaps most critically, the markets are demanding it. The credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s says Washington must agree to reduce the debt by $4 trillion over 10 years to avert a downgrade.
“We cannot as a country fail to deal with the debt threat,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), one of the bipartisan “Gang of Six” senators who tried to reach an agreement in recent months.
The article is chock full. For example, there’s the “balanced budget amendment” dance still on the Kabuki Card. And if you start reading here…
To get backing from House Republicans, McConnell and Reid are adding $1.5 trillion in spending cuts. And they are drawing up the committee, with six lawmakers from each party, which would report by the end of the year.
…you’ll learn about that “especially powerful” congressional committee, whose report would be “protected from Senate filibuster” and “not … subject to amendment.” Take that, sixty votes; I knew there was a way if they really wanted one. (NOTE FROM JOHN: Funny how they found a way around the filibuster in order to do something the Republicans want.)
A few things to note:
(1) Obama seems to get a “Lawrence O’Donnell eleventy-mensional” pass in the first sentence, but is handed responsibility lower down.
(2) A snarky headline writer might have titled this article: Obama to Republicans: “You know you want it; it’s here in my hand.”
(3) Note the role of the S&P in this. They’ve been banker-handmaidens for decades. They created the illusion of safety in the housing mortgage fraud-scheme (sorry, derivatives crisis). Now they’re creating the illusion of danger, by playing “confidence fairy of last resort,” since no other bond vig has shown up. Nice of them. I’m sure there’s a Thank You down the road. (Prosecution? Nah, they’ve “suffered” enough.)
(4) Digby notes the role of the “U.S.” (my snark) Chamber of Commerce in this article. Everyone has a role.
It’s kind of over, isn’t it, unless the progressives in both houses grow an unbending spine. (Mr. Franken, Mr. Sanders — don’t senators get “holds” on legislation?)