Monday, July 25, 2011

Boehner Debt Plan DOA With His Own GOP "Nutters"

In case anyone out there was at all confused, a feisty British finance minister only needed to look around for a few minutes to figure out what, exactly, was wrong with Washington's inability to raise it's own, self-imposed credit limit.

"The irony of the situation at the moment, with the markets opening (Monday) morning," U.K. Business Secretary Vince Cable told the BBC Sunday, "is that the biggest threat to the world financial system comes from a few right-wing nutters in the American Congress rather than the Euro zone."

Quite right. Cheerio.

A bunch of those right-wing nutters just about killed House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) two-stage deficit-reduction plan to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling just about as soon as he got it out of his mouth.

"While I thank the Speaker for fighting for Republican principles," opined right-wing nutter Rep. Jim Jordon (R-OH) in a statement released shortly after Boehner announced his plan, "I cannot support the plan that was presented to House Republicans this afternoon." Jordon is a member of the arch-conservative Republican Study Group. It was not immediately known which Bible verses they were studying this week.

In his primetime address to the nation Monday night, President Barack Obama echoed Cable's warnings about the perils the nutters posed. "We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis - this one caused almost entirely by Washington," the President said without referring to the nutters by name.

Boehner's deficit plan was apparently DOA with his own caucus even before the ink from the Speaker's pen was dry. It would slash $1.2 trillion from the budget immediately and raise the nation's debt ceiling by $1 trillion, then reopen the excruciating can of worms in six or eight months after a bipartisan committee of 12 lawmakers offered up another $1.8 trillion in cuts primarily through voucherizing and privatizing Medicare and Social Security.

Boehner's plan would also float the Republican's feverishly coveted and irretrievably doomed balanced budget amendment. A Constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority in both chambers of Congress and ratification by 38 of 50 states, and there weren't nearly enough nutters in all of America to fill that order.

Despite Boehner's best efforts, the nutters weren't impressed. "We're just not running and gunning with this thing," said Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI).

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was meeting right-wing nutter resistance to his own plan to reduce the deficit and raise the nation's debt ceiling. Reid's plan would cut $2.5 trillion from the budget and raise the debt ceiling by that amount.

The Senate plan didn't raise taxes, but would doubtless draw Republican ire for not handing all of Medicare's money to insurance company fat cats and throwing seniors to the dogs.

"This proposal satisfies Democrats' core principles by protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and providing long-term extension of the debt ceiling that the markets are looking for," Reid said, apparently unaware those very features were anathema to Republicans.

In Reid's plan, $1.2 trillion in savings came from cuts to discretionary spending, including $400 billion in interest savings, $100 billion already agreed upon during bipartisan talks led by Vice President Joe Biden last spring, $40 billion in "program integrity savings," and $60 billion reforming Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, agricultural programs, and the Universal Service Fund.

Another $1 trillion came from winding down the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

"It's an accounting gimmick," snivelled right-wing nutter Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) about the war savings. "I know they rationalize that, well, that appeared in the Ryan budget, too," Kyl said, referring to Rep. Paul Ryan's 2012 budget scheme, which was most infamous for voucherizing Medicare.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said Republicans, "included the exact same savings in the Ryan budget that passed the House. They never criticized such accounting then, it's hard to see how they could do so now."

Nonetheless, Kyl, in true nutter fashion, said, "Republicans, I don't believe in the Senate, will support a bill that purports to cut spending if that's the kind of the spending that it purports to cut."

As onerous as Reid's plan was, lacking any revenue reforms to address the nation's revenue crisis, it faced a serious uphill climb, as it was not nearly as onerous as Boehner's plan. And, as onerous as Boehner's plan was, even that wasn't onerous enough for the right-wing nutters.

Some nutters were distressed Boehner's measure required only a vote on the Constitutional amendment, not an outright amending of the Constitution. It was not immediately known whether Republicans understood the American people had to voluntarily approve an amendment before they got to change the Constitution of the United States of America.

Others disapproved of the idea of allowing Democrats onto a bipartisan committee. "That is a very legitimate concern," muttered nutter Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK).

At any rate, Reps. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) announced the Boehner plan was DOA with them. The right-wing Heritage Action group also nixed the idea.

Many Republicans have pledged not to raise the debt ceiling under any conditions, including right-wing nutterette Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). Others, such as Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Jeff Landry (R-LA), allowed they would have to read Boehner's bill first before making up their minds, discrediting the notion that the entire GOP caucus was illiterate.

Reading was one thing, but counting was quite another. Asked whether he had the votes to pass his measure, Boehner deferred to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

"We believe we laid out the position that we would not raise if we did not have the cuts and we would not have tax increases," McCarthy stumbled and mumbled. Well, a group that advocates home-schooling on Bible verses and Ku Klux Klan bylaws would understandably be light in the arithmetic department.

Boehner needs 218 votes to pass a bill in the House of Representatives, and, although his caucus numbered 240, right-wing nutters from various hot beverage coalitions and Bible study groups limited the votes he could count on.

Among the votes Boehner likely couldn't count on were the 193 Democratic ones Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) presided over.

"The latest proposal from the House Republicans is a short-term plan that burdens the middle class and seniors, and continues this debate about whether we will default in a few months from now," Pelosi said, ignoring imploring looks from Boehner and stubbornly indulging her annoying habit of constantly championing the needs of the American people rather than simply coddling billionaire plutocrats.

Rep. Chris Van Hollern (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, was less sanguine, calling the GOP plan, "a dangerous, reckless path."  

As to whether Boehner's plan might succeed in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said any two-step proposition was a "non-starter." Apparently, that would be a "no."

"The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn't vote for a dysfunctional government," Obama said, without explaining how any government that included Republican right-wing nutters could be expected to be anything but dysfunctional.

Reid and Boehner promised votes on their respective plans in their respective chambers by midweek. The nation hits its credit deadline Aug 2, and if the debt ceiling hasn't been raised by then, the government will no longer be able to fund operations, pay back loans, send out Social Security checks, or, to Rupert Murdoch's enormous relief, fund Justice Department inquiries.

Which, of course, is what the nutters hope.

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