Why Obama’s Gamble on the Debt Ceiling Depends on the GOP Being More Sane Than It Is

robertreich:

A week before his inaugural, President Obama says he won’t negotiate with Republicans over raising the debt limit. 

At an unexpected news conference Tuesday he said he won’t trade cuts in government spending in exchange for raising the borrowing limit. 

“If the goal is to make sure that we are being responsible about our debt and our deficit - if that’s the conversation we’re having, I’m happy to have that conversation,” Obama said. “What I will not do is to have that negotiation with a gun at the head of the American people.”

Well and good. But what, exactly, is the President’s strategy when the debt ceiling has to be raised, if the GOP hasn’t relented?

He’s ruled out an end-run around the GOP. 

The White House said over the weekend that the President won’t rely on the Fourteenth Amendment, which arguably gives him authority to raise the debt ceiling on his own. 

And his Treasury Department has nixed the idea of issuing a $1 trillion platinum coin that could be deposited with the Fed, instantly creating more money to pay the nation’s bills.

In a pinch, the Treasury could issue IOUs to the nation’s creditors — guarantees they’ll be paid eventually. But there’s no indication that’s Obama’s game plan, either. 

So it must be that he’s counting on public pressure — especially from the GOP’s patrons on Wall Street and big business — to force Republicans into submission. 

That’s probably the reason for the unexpected news conference, coming at least a month before the nation is likely to have difficulty paying its bills.

The timing may be right. President is riding a wave of post-election popularity. Gallup shows him with a 56 percent approval rating, the highest in three years. 

By contrast, Republicans are in the pits. John Boehner has a 21% approval and 60% disapproval. And Mitch McConnell’s is at 24%. Not even GOP voters seem to like Republican lawmakers in Washington, with 25% approving and 61% disapproving. 

And Americans remember the summer of 2011 when the GOP held hostage the debt ceiling, bringing the nation close to a default and resulting in a credit-rating downgrade and financial turmoil that slowed the recovery. The haggling hurt the GOP more than it did Democrats or the President. 

But Obama’s strategy depends on there being enough sane voices left in the GOP to influence others. That’s far from clear. 

Just moments after the President’s Tuesday news conference, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called on the President to get “serious about spending,” adding that “the debt limit is the perfect time for it.” 

And House Speaker John Boehner said “the American people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time.”

The 2012 election has shaken the GOP, as have the post-fiscal cliff polls. Yet the Republican Party may not care what a majority of Americans thinks. The survival of individual members depends on primary victories, not general elections — and their likely primary competitors are more to the right than they are. 

All that day I heard from people with disabilities, literally in tears, telling me how hurt and angry they were by this vote. I feel their pain. Crazy conservatives ginned up the rhetoric around this issue, suggesting it would somehow require U.S. citizens to end home-schooling. I have nothing against home schooling (in fact many of my viewers and listeners are passionately in support of it), but this treaty has NOTHING to do with home schooling. The GOP invented the issue and, not having learned any lessons from Mittens’ campaign, they refused to be persuaded by “fact checkers.”

Thirty-eight Republicans walked by Bob Dole, the 1996 GOP presidential nominee, shook his hand and voted, “NAY.” These people are both clueless and heartless. When the U.S. Senate has sunk so low and become so blindly partisan, the entire country suffers for it.

Stephanie Miller: They’re Just Mean

In which Mama takes down the GOP for not ratifying the U.N. disabilities treaty.

Does Jim Demint’s departure from the Senate mean the tea party’s giving up on gaining major control in government? 

Watch “The Young Turks” TONIGHT at 7E/4P on Current TV to see Cenk break down the news.

As Bob Dole looked on from his wheelchair, the Senate GOP shot down the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) treaty, which would grant people with disabilities equal rights in other countries.

“Those opposing the treaty argue that it would then potentially change U.S. law on issues, such as abortion and home schooling.”

Yes, you read that correctly: the GOP is so insensitive that 38 of them refused to sign a treaty on rights for disabled people because it might "violate US sovereignty" or [positively] impact standards for home-schooling disabled children. Or maybe something something abortion something. By the way:

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities essentially makes the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act a non-binding international standard. It requires no change to U.S. law.

Why the GOP’s House committee appointments just disappoint 
In the last election, Republicans got roundly panned as the party of angry, old white men — 71 percent of Hispanic voters chose President Obama. So did 93 percent of African-Americans and 55 percent of female voters. So you would think Republicans would finally reach out to women and minorities. But you would be wrong.
Which brings us to our number of the day: 0.
That is the number of women or people of color who will chair a committee in the House of Representatives next year. Somehow, out of 19 chairmanships, every single one had to go to some old or middle-aged white guy.
Just look at some of the new committee leaders: Jeb Hensarling on Financial Services; Ed Royce on Foreign Affairs; Mike McCaul for Homeland Security; and Lamar Smith — who still doesn’t think climate change is caused by human behavior — is now in charge of, you guessed it, the Science Committee.
Wow. You could find more diversity at a Glenn Beck book signing. Way to change your image, guys.

Why the GOP’s House committee appointments just disappoint

In the last election, Republicans got roundly panned as the party of angry, old white men — 71 percent of Hispanic voters chose President Obama. So did 93 percent of African-Americans and 55 percent of female voters. So you would think Republicans would finally reach out to women and minorities. But you would be wrong.

Which brings us to our number of the day: 0.

That is the number of women or people of color who will chair a committee in the House of Representatives next year. Somehow, out of 19 chairmanships, every single one had to go to some old or middle-aged white guy.

Just look at some of the new committee leaders: Jeb Hensarling on Financial Services; Ed Royce on Foreign Affairs; Mike McCaul for Homeland Security; and Lamar Smith — who still doesn’t think climate change is caused by human behavior — is now in charge of, you guessed it, the Science Committee.

Wow. You could find more diversity at a Glenn Beck book signing. Way to change your image, guys.

Grover Norquist is an impediment to good governing. … The only good thing about Grover Norquist is, he’s named after a character from ‘Sesame Street.’

Republicans are denouncing Mitt Romney’s comment to donors that Obama won voters over with “gifts,” but it doesn’t mean politicians are 100% on the president’s side. Rep. Bernie Sanders joins Cenk Uygur tonight to talk about congressional reactions to the looming “fiscal cliff.”

Watch the Young Turks TONIGHT at 7E/4P (that’s in 15 minutes!) on Current TV.

The conservatives lost, and now, now is the time for progressives. … We can obsess about every stupid thing that conservatives do, and they will keep doing stupid things, but really what we need to do, I think, is turn our attention to the president and hold his feet to the fire on those issues like getting out of Afghanistan, civil liberties, stopping the drug war, climate change.

Bill Maher: “Stop obsessing over GOP stupidity”

HBO’s “Real Time” host Bill Maher came on ‘Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer’ Tuesday night to talk about Karl Rove’s state of denial, Chris Christie’s 2016 chances, and what the next step should be for progressives. Watch the whole interview here, and catch ‘Viewpoint’ weekdays at 8E/5P on Current.

The Gavin Newsom Show: “GOP wasted congressional campaign money on Romney”

Did the GOP and Karl Rove miscalculate their advertising war chest? As longtime politico Willie Brown explains, the money would have done a lot more good going to Republican congressional races and late general election ad blitzes.

But, he says, they will learn from their mistakes and redirect their focus to target the shifting American voter demographic.

Every day, we have a BFD, or Big Featured Discussion, where we ask you to weigh in. Last week’s crushing defeat of both the Republican presidential ticket and a number of Congressional representatives has party strategists wondering if it’s time for a makeover. The GOP is swiftly losing every demographic except the white straight male mainstay. Who will be the future of the Republican party, and who will be cast aside as a fossil of conservative values past? Which brings us to today’s BFD:

Now that the GOP realizes it has to revamp its image, where should they cut the fat?