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Posted at 6:45 AM ET, 02/24/2011

Wonkbook: One step closer to shutdown?

By Ezra Klein

PH2011010606597.jpg

Senate Democrats do not seem impressed with the proposal House Republicans have drawn up to delay a government shutdown by two weeks at the cost of $4 billion in immediate cuts. "This isn't a compromise," said Reid spokesperson Jon Summer. "It's a hardening of their original position. This bill would simply be a two-week version of the reckless measure the House passed last weekend. It would impose the same spending levels in the short term as their initial proposal does in the long term, and it isn't going to fool anyone." Er, perhaps things are going better behind the scenes?

This isn't just about the spending bill. The stakes are higher even than that. At this point, no one side really knows how the power dynamic between the House and the Senate will shake out. House Republicans feel their preferences should take priority because they won the last election. Sharp cuts to non-defense discretionary spending are nothing more than their due. Senate Democrats counter that they still control not just the Senate, but also the White House -- the House Republicans are a minority partner in this play, and don't get to decide what the government does or doesn't do merely because they control one of the three major legislative checkpoints. An uncompromising force is meeting an unimpressed object. But this won't get settled in an arm wrestling bout, and it's looking less and less likely that it'll get settled in negotiations, either. Unfortunately, it seems increasingly possible that this will ultimately get decided when both sides put their theory to the test and take their case to the people during a government shutdown.

Top Stories

The House GOP wants $4 billion in cuts in a two-week stopgap spending bill, report Felicia Sonmez and Paul Kane: "A stopgap government-funding measure being crafted by House Republicans would cut federal spending by $4 billion over two weeks in March, GOP aides said Wednesday. Senate Democrats criticized the plan as a 'hardening' of House Republicans' earlier-stated position that they will reject any stopgap measure that does not reduce federal spending. The measure currently keeping the government running is set to expire on March 4; if Congress doesn't act before then, a government shutdown could ensue. Senate Democratic leadership staffers sat down earlier Wednesday with aides to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in their first formal meeting to discuss the way forward on funding the federal government."

The facts and figures on a government shutdown: http://wapo.st/hIm4p1

Tim Geithner says the administration wants a five-year deficit reduction deal, reports David Wessel: "Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday said the Obama administration was hoping for a bipartisan deal to reduce budget deficits over the next five years or so, but stopped short of predicting an agreement could be reached this year. Staking out a position at odds with Republicans, Mr. Geithner said reducing the deficit to 3% of gross domestic product need not include restraints on benefit programs, known as entitlements...That approach would put the burden of near-term deficit reduction on economic growth, cuts in annually appropriated domestic and security spending and higher tax revenues. Republican leaders have vowed to tackle entitlement spending."

The Indiana GOP is dropping an anti-union bill, reports Thomas Burton: "The speaker of Indiana's House of Representatives said he and Republican colleagues are dropping a controversial labor bill that caused Democratic representatives to flee to Illinois, but the Democrats said they're not returning to Indiana for now. Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said the so-called right-to-work legislation is dead and will not be reintroduced during this session of the Indiana House. Democrats felt so strongly about that bill that they went to Urbana, Ill., Tuesday so that Republicans couldn't achieve a quorum to vote on the bill. The legislation would allow workers at unionized companies to refrain from being part of the union and paying union dues...In the view of the Democrats and many union leaders, it is an attack on the existence and financial clout of unions."

The Wisconsin battle has brought the union movement together, report Kris Maher and Melanie Trottman: "Leaders of major public and private sector unions have agreed to set aside longstanding divisions and turf battles and coordinate in a campaign to counter challenges to their political and contract-bargaining power in a growing number of states. The plan requires each union to commit a certain amount of money to fund a $30 million campaign. Funds will be dedicated to paid media, lobbying, work-site leaflets, and a range of other campaign items, including opposition research into groups that unions believe could be funding state efforts to restrict union rights, such as the Koch Brothers, and the Scaife and Walton Foundations."

The Obama administration wants to force a compromise requiring banks to reduce mortgage principals, report Nick Timiraos, Dan Fitzpatrick, and Ruth Simon: "The Obama administration is trying to push through a settlement over mortgage-servicing breakdowns that could force America's largest banks to pay for reductions in loan principal worth billions of dollars. Terms of the administration's proposal include a commitment from mortgage servicers to reduce the loan balances of troubled borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth, people familiar with the matter said...If a unified settlement can be reached, some state attorneys general and federal agencies are pushing for banks to pay more than $20 billion in civil fines or to fund a comparable amount of loan modifications for distressed borrowers, these people said."

Radio session interlude: The Decemberists play "All Arise!" for NPR.

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Still to come: Last year's foreclosure mess is nearing a resolution; states opposed to health care reform are fighting the administration's attempt to move ahead with implementation; federal agencies are updating plans for a government shutdown; Obama and green activists are in conflict on permits for renewable energy; and a corgi hangs out with a baby goat.

Economy

State and federal officials are nearing a settlement on the foreclosure mess from last year, reports Brady Dennis: "State and federal officials, who have been negotiating with financial firms over how to address widespread abuses in foreclosure practices, are moving closer to a settlement that could force banks to reduce the principal on mortgages for some borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth. An official familiar with discussions between the government and the financial industry said the settlement also could require that banks increase their efforts to modify mortgages for distressed borrowers and pay penalties that could be used as restitution for homeowners who have wrongfully faced foreclosure...Multiple state attorneys general and nearly a dozen federal agencies are involved in the discussions"

The Treasury official behind AIG's turnaround is leaving: http://wapo.st/fj8i7t

Chris Christie isn't quite the brave truth-teller he's selling himself as, writes Matt Miller. "'Look,' Gov. Chris Christie said to a packed house the other day. 'We have to get real. We're going to double the number of people on Social Security and Medicare as the boomers retire. Even with aggressive cuts in the growth of these programs, taxes are going to have to rise. We've already got trillions in unfunded liabilities here. The math doesn't work without higher federal taxes.'...Maybe you heard about this. And about how all of Washington swooned. But of course I made this up. The 'truth-teller' du jour (who unveiled a tough New Jersey budget Tuesday that sensibly asks public workers to pick up more of their health and pension costs) did not have the guts to speak this particular truth. Christie merely said that Social Security's retirement age would have to be raised and Medicare would need to be tweaked lest it bankrupt us - things that less sexy pols, such as Democrats Dick Durbin and Mark Warner, have noted without anyone fainting in admiration.

A government shutdown could backfire for Republicans, writes Jamelle Bouie: "Compared to 1995, today's GOP is far more anti-government and far more ideological than it was under Gingrich. These Republicans support deep spending cuts as a matter of conviction and appear willing to shutdown the government over their vision. With that in mind, it's worth noting how this ended for Gingrich and his Republicans. President Clinton refused to back down -- to conservative chagrin -- and the huge public outcry forced Republicans to compromise. The standoff severely damaged the GOP's credibility with the public and was partly responsible for Clinton's re-election in 1996. If we have to relive a government shutdown, then let's hope that history repeats itself for Barack Obama."

Delaying foreclosures doesn't help homeowners, writes Joseph Mason: http://on.wsj.com/gcNFpf

Global imbalances will dissipate with time, writes Jagdish Bhagwati: "Economists inevitably generalize from the current situation, so that today’s Chinese and German current-account surpluses and America’s deficit, for example, are seen as being here to stay. But history is littered with surplus countries that became deficit countries. One of my teachers when I was a student at Oxford, Donald MacDougall, a man who had once been Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s adviser, wrote a book entitled The Long-Run Dollar Problem, which suggested that the dollar was what the International Monetary Fund called a 'scarce currency.' By the time the book appeared, however, the problem had vanished."

Cold fun in the wintertime interlude: A giant snowman / slide.

Health Care

States are resisting the Obama administration's attempt to move ahead with health care reform implementation, reports Tim Grieve: "The 26 states who came out on the winning end of a federal court decision invalidating the health care reform law say an Obama administration request for clarification is nothing but 'wishful thinking.' The administration has asked U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson to clarify his order invalidating the Affordable Care Act. But in a brief filed Wednesday night, the states say the administration is effectively seeking a stay of Vinson's order - and that it hasn't met the standards for one...The states ask Vinson - who's indicated that he'll rule quickly - to 'make clear' that he 'does not mean to entertain a subsequent stay motion with the attendant further delay.'"

Under a new plan, young patients will have priority for kidney transplants: http://wapo.st/gN4DtL

All judges agree the individual mandate is not a tax, reports Julie Rovner: "So far, the five U.S. District Court judges who have ruled on the merits in the various lawsuits against the Patient Protect Act haven't agreed on much. But they do agree on one thing: The penalty for people who don't get health insurance starting in 2014 is NOT a tax. That may make things tough for the Justice Department, because arguing that the penalty IS a tax has been Plan B. It's the argument Justice will pull out of its pocket if it doesn't prevail on its main argument, which is that the requirement for most people to have health insurance falls under the 'Commerce Clause' of the Constitution. Unfortunately for Justice, legislators' active avoidance of the 'T' word during the drafting of the health law is so far working against them in court."

Half the country thinks health care reform has been repealed, or isn't sure: http://bit.ly/ekHQOS

Domestic Policy

Federal agencies and contractors are drawing up plans for a shutdown, reports Ed O'Keefe: "Federal agencies continued reviewing shutdown plans Wednesday in anticipation of a possible closure of the federal government that could begin as early as next week. Most of this week's planning probably revolves around determining which employees would need to work...A series of memos written by Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti in the closing days of Jimmy Carter's administration still dictate how agencies should make those determinations. Federal programs drawing funds from annual appropriations should continue to operate if there is a 'reasonable and articulable connection between the function to be performed and the safety of human life or the protection of property,' Civiletti wrote."

A group of law professors wants the Supreme Court to adopt a code of ethics: http://wapo.st/fKWMhk

Obama is stepping back from state union battles, reports Jonathan Weisman: "President Barack Obama, after initially lending his support to organized labor, has stepped back from the fights spreading in state capitals from Wisconsin to Tennessee, leaving union officials divided about his tactics. Democratic officials said that with Mr. Obama heading into battles over the federal budget, a plunge into the fray over public-sector collective bargaining could weaken his position as a deal-maker in Washington...For their part, many union leaders worry that White House involvement could harm their case that the protests and political actions in the capitals of Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana are grassroots, organic movements."

Wisconsin's governor wants other governors to join him in battling unions: http://wapo.st/fCYasi

Arizona is passing yet more anti-immigration legislation, reports Jennifer Epstein: "An Arizona state Senate panel passed a pair of bills on Tuesday that would block illegal immigrants from driving, getting married or sending their kids to school and would also challenge birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented parents. The Senate’s appropriations committee became the first state Legislature panel in the country to approve a bill that would end birthright citizenship for children born in the United States to illegal immigrant parents -- a measure that, if passed, could set up a showdown that might ultimately land in the Supreme Court. It also passed another bill, which would block undocumented children from attending public or private schools and colleges and universities, bar illegal immigrants from buying or driving a car and forbid them from getting a marriage certificate in the state."

Corgis are excellent interlude: A corgi hangs out with a baby goat.

Energy

Obama and environmental activists are fighting over permits for renewable energy, reports Patrick Reis: "The Obama administration wants to double the amount of renewable power permits awarded this year but is running into a potential problem: environmentalists. Partly driven by the presidential election, the Interior Department has set a goal of approving permits for 9,000 megawatts’ worth of renewable energy on public lands by the end of 2011. That’s more than twice what Interior approved in 2010 through its Fast Track program for a dozen renewable projects. Environmental groups can ill-afford to fight forms of energy that they are promising will keep the lights on without contributing to climate change...But there is already grumbling at the margins that one side or the other isn’t holding up its end of the bargain."

The EPA is easing air pollution rules: http://wapo.st/e2balQ

Federally-backed solar projects are running into legal trouble, reports Todd Woody: "Just weeks after regulators approved the last of nine multibillion-dollar solar thermal power plants to be built in the Southern California desert, a storm of lawsuits and the resurgence of an older solar technology are clouding the future of the nascent industry. The litigation, which seeks to block construction of five of the solar thermal projects, underscores the growing risks of building large-scale renewable energy plants in environmentally delicate areas. On Jan. 25, for instance, Solar Millennium withdrew its 16-month-old license application for a 250-megawatt solar station called Ridgecrest, citing regulators’ concerns over the project’s impact on the Mohave ground squirrel."

The House GOP is using the Libya crisis to push offshore drilling: http://bit.ly/fUn4Fs

The White House unveiled a report defending a "clean energy standard", reports Ben Geman: "A White House economic report unveiled Wednesday seeks to rebut GOP claims that President Obama’s energy proposals amount to 'picking winners and losers' among energy technologies and are too costly. The energy chapter of the annual Economic Report of the President touts Obama’s proposed 'clean energy standard' (CES) that would require utilities to supply increasing amounts of power from low-carbon sources. The report delivered to Congress says a 'clean standard' would complement the White House push for increased spending on green-energy research and development (R&D) without playing favorites."

Closing credits: Wonkbook is compiled and produced with help from Dylan Matthews and Michelle Williams. Photo credit: Susan Walsh.

By Ezra Klein  | February 24, 2011; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Next: Andy Stern: 'It may not end beautifully in Wisconsin.'

Comments

Ezra,
The EPA isn't "easing air pollution rules", it's just not making the boiler rules as strict as they originally planned.

Posted by: mschol17 | February 24, 2011 7:31 AM | Report abuse

"A poll released Thursday found extensive public confusion about the health care law, with 22 percent of Americans incorrectly believing it has been repealed and another 26 percent unsure or unwilling to say."

Simply stunning.

Posted by: justin84 | February 24, 2011 8:01 AM | Report abuse

"Simply stunning."

Are you being sarcastic?

I've learned long ago that the American public is capable of being egregiously misinformed, either because it subconsciously comforts them or because of other reasons.

After the Iraq Invasion, for example, a large percentage of US soldiers, and Americans, believed Saddam was involved with 911.

And many Americans believe that tax cuts always increase fed revenues.

To not know that Americans are often egregiously misinformed is itself an example of being egregiously misinformed.

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 24, 2011 8:09 AM | Report abuse

So, any guess as to whether or not Reid and/or Obama will choose to shut down the government?

Yes?
No?

Posted by: illogicbuster | February 24, 2011 8:28 AM | Report abuse

illogic' is an example of someone who intentionally chooses to be, or act, misinformed.

Truly pathetic.

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 24, 2011 8:57 AM | Report abuse

lauren2010 babbled, "illogic' is an example of someone who intentionally chooses to be, or act, misinformed."
-----------------------------------------
Ah yes. Ad hom rather than facts. Well rebut this if your IQ >50.

At this point in time, the ONLY way the GOP could shut down the gov would be if the Senate Repubs filibustered the House spending bill. That is the ONLY way.

Lightening could kill the ENTIRE House membership and make it impossible to negotiate and Reid could run the government for the next year with the $ the House already approved and sent to the Senate.

Posted by: illogicbuster | February 24, 2011 9:09 AM | Report abuse

illogic, passing a budget in the House that the Repubicans knew the Dems couldn't (or likely couldn't) accept is a choice. Saying the shutdown would rest only on the shoulders of the last person to act is so silly that you either can't be serious, are misinformed, are are arguing in bad faith.

The reasonableness of the positions of the parties is a debate to be had, but your post is just vaccuous spin.

Posted by: MosBen | February 24, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Yep lauren, didn't think you had the mental capacity to respond with facts. LOL

Posted by: illogicbuster | February 24, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: MosBen: "illogic, passing a budget in the House that the Repubicans knew the Dems couldn't (or likely couldn't) accept is a choice."
-----------------------------------------
Irrelevant to the question posed and the ABILITY of Repubs to shutdown the gov.

The Repubs can't shutdown the gov. (except by filibuster). ONLY the Dems have that POWER.

So, answer the question, if you dare.

Any guess as to whether or not Reid and/or Obama will CHOOSE to shut down the government?

Yes?
No?

Posted by: illogicbuster | February 24, 2011 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Dems clearly want the gvmt to stay in business.

And the GOP has loudly announced intentions to add highly ideological provisions (such as provisions to cut or neuter the EPA) to their bill.

You may fool some of the people illogic', but not this former Republican.

Propagandists like you are one of the reasons I am no longer a Republican.

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 24, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

lauren2010 incoherently babbled some more and refused to answer a straightforward question: "Dems clearly want the gvmt to stay in business..."

----------------------------------------
Must suck to have an IQ <50.

Posted by: illogicbuster | February 24, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

MosBen,

you're right that its an agreement that both parties will need to come together to agree on. The facts are though that neither party is moving on it (even though Dems admitted cuts needed to be made) and the President really should be stepping in and providing some leadership here. Personally they should meet in the middle but that's just my opinion and the media seems to be framing it that Repbulicans are doing the "shutting down" as opposed to both parties being responsible for the shutdown.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 24, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Any guess as to whether or not Reid and/or Obama will CHOOSE to shut down the government?

Yes?
No?

Answer: YES!

Reid and others have said it's Dead in the Water on Arrival in the Senate.

Obama Claims if it does pass Congress as is he will VETO. BUT Obama has Flip Flopped on too many Important Bills a majority of people wanted. Obama's Threat is a Maybe; will he keep his Word?

Posted by: ddoiron1 | February 24, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

This writing is laden with nothing but baloney mined from all over the spectrum. If the "main thrust" of this piece was to talk about a government shutdown, someone dropped the ball. There was no mention of the dire consequences of a government shutdown as what happened many years ago. Missing is any mention of how different the circumstances are.....an economy in the dumpster and an electorate increasingly furious at an administration that shows no real intention of curtailing it's usual reckless spending.

If there were to be a government shutdown today, the outcome would be a whole lot different than in the past. The American public, except for that portion of it which hangs off the government like a bunch of bloated leeches is sick and tired of government spending which stimulates nothing in a time when John Q Taxpayer is having to cut his expenses wherever possible. If there's a government shutdown, so be it, the taxpayers with brains and there are plenty of them, you know....the ones who threw the former House members out on their ears, are solidly behind whatever it takes to stop the spending and start cutting. If those who were elected to do it are waffling, there will be even more of the "old guard" out on their ears at the next election until we find someone willing to do the right thing. If you've noticed, some of those "old guard" have said they do not plan to run again.....They at least have measured the temperature of the opposition to the waffling and indecision in the Senate. They see the handwriting on the wall and you can use that as your indication of what the public wants! First the House and next the Senate......all really good things take time to accomplish.

Posted by: OregonStorm | February 24, 2011 10:05 AM | Report abuse

The insanity of continuing to spend, spend, spend has got to stop. Even though, I am a social security and medicare receipient, I hope the federal government IS shut down for a few days to make the point that the world will NOT come to an end; and to reinforce the point that the fiscal madness must be addressed. Personally, I think the GOP will cave in....not much leadership in the GOP either! Common sense, folks! If you have $4,000 per month income, YOU CANNOT SPEND $5,000 per month for an extended period. The Obama administration should do what it expects American families to do----LIVE WITHIN A BUDGET!!!

www.eclecticramblings.wordpress.com

Posted by: my4653 | February 24, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

illogic, no, you missed the point entirely. If Republicans pass a budget which they know is likely to force a government shutdown, they're making the choice to shut down the government just as much as the Dems who reject the budget. If Republicans refuse to compromise or negoatiate to get a budget passed that both sides can agree to, then they're choosing to shut the government down just as much as the Dems that don't accept their proposal.

The only important question is which position is reasonable and which is unreasonable. Is it reasonable to have deep cuts in the budget out of the tiny sliver that is non-security discretionary spending in a year when we've got a fragile recovery? That's a debate to have, but framing the question as if the choice to shut down the government or not is solely up to the Dems is, as I said, either born of ignorance or bad faith.

visionbrkr, personally I don't think there should be any cuts this year and that instead there should be more stimulus. The long term debt is definitely a problem, but we're not going to solve it by cutting assistance for schools this year. I think we should have an agreement for automatic cuts in spending and increases in taxes when unemployment reaches certain targets.

Shutting down the government due to a budget standoff is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on the circumstances. Yeah, there's immediate negative effects of a shut down and it should be avoided, but whether it's worth it or not depends on what's on the table and how it plays out. If a relatively short shutdown leads to a compromise that maintains/speeds up the recovery and has some solid long-term deficit plans, then that'll be good. A longer shut down that ends with a budget that drags on the economy and doesn't really address long term debt problems is a disaster.

Posted by: MosBen | February 24, 2011 10:32 AM | Report abuse

@MosBen,

I respectfully disagree. Our state of NJ took a big loss in aid last year ($800 Million) and we all tightened out belt and this year and survivied (in Governor Christie's latest address) he's increasing it back up by $250 million because its the right thing to do. The longer we forgo cuts to responsible levels the larger and more stressful the cuts are going to be in the future.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 24, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

visionbrkr, the NJ example doesn't hold well because the states have to balance their budgets every year. Increasing the budget makes sense if the increase will provide something of value and the economy supports it. At the federal level we don't have to cut in this year because we've got debt problems further down the road. Indeed, cutting when the economy is weak might weaken the recovery and make the debt problem worse down the road. That's not to say that nothing should ever be cut in a weak economy. A weak economy is the perfect time to look at our programs and evaluate which ones are working, which ones aren't, and which ones were designed to address a problem that doesn't exist or which can be addressed better in some other way. When we cut, however, we should make up the difference with either increases in funding for the stuff that works or temporary stimulus spending on things we know are stimulative.

While the states are going to have to be making hard choices no matter what this year, dragging on the recovery, the federal government needs to avoid being a further drag. Deep cuts in non-security discretionary spending doesn't fix our long-term debt problem. It's a nice talking point to say how many billions you've cut without actually fixing anything and where you've actually slowed down recovery.

But regardless of everything I said above, this debate we're having is what's important, not, as I was trying to say to illogic, some kind of logic twisting about the Dems choosing to shut down the government.

Posted by: MosBen | February 24, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

"The Obama administration wants to force a compromise requiring banks to reduce mortgage principals, report Nick Timiraos, Dan Fitzpatrick, and Ruth Simon:"

DOA

I already told you several months ago that there will be a tobacco style settlement covering this issue before the end of this year, possilby by summer. However the idea that it will include any significant principal write down is a fantasy.

Obama is long past the point when he had enough power to do this. If he had tried it two years ago, he had the sentiment of the country overwhelmingly against the banks on his side. He could have gotten nearly anything in the way of finanical reform then. But his politically inept advisers chose to spend all their time on HCR instead.

So we now fact the ongoing mess you see today.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 24, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"Under a new plan, young patients will have priority for kidney transplants:"

DEATH PANELS, DEATH PANELS!

I wanted to get it in before anybody else did. LOL

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 24, 2011 11:47 AM | Report abuse

"To not know that Americans are often egregiously misinformed is itself an example of being egregiously misinformed."

Always able to find a way to turn it into a personal attack, I see.

That tax cuts always increase revenue and that Saddam was involved in 9/11 were either directly stated or implied by public figures all the time, hence the possibility for confusion.

Who has been saying that ACA has been totally repealed?

Posted by: justin84 | February 24, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

and justin I'll add that while I don't watch Fox news at all I'd think we'd hear about it if they started telling people regularly that PPACA was repealed.

But at least you weren't called an idiot, liar or worse.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 24, 2011 12:19 PM | Report abuse

@MosBen,

yes the honest conversation is what's most necessary but the debt is $14 Trillion. the problems' not down the road, its here. What's down the road is millions of seniors going into retirement and increasing the burden on Medicare that is already unsustainable (and less so but still) on Social Security. Again we repsectfully disagree. The time is now to at least act like you're serious about fiscal responsibility.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 24, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

justin

That wasn't a personal attack.

Indeed, saying I "always" find a way to make personal attacks is a personal attack.

I am attacked here almost every day by one or more people. Every once in a while I will respond myself. But I am not the provocateur you make me out to be.

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 24, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"Who has been saying that ACA has been totally repealed?"

No one I know of.

But that refutes nothing I have said.

People are misinformed for many reasons, one of them being they choose to rationalize things incorrectly for whatever reason.

By the way, if you noticed in my post to you, I asked whether you were sarcastic about your observation. I sort of assumed you were.

My last comment that you took as an attack was not even directed at YOU (because I implied earlier you were being sarcastic).

I was indeed wondering if you BELONGED in that group of people who were truly shocked to learn of American capability for idiocy, then I might have accused you of something.

I have often responded to certain things as you did, with surprise or shock, and have admitted feeling such or made similar utterances as you did even though I knew I should never be surprised by the things people can believe.

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 24, 2011 12:59 PM | Report abuse

"That wasn't a personal attack."

So no, you don't bite your thumb at me, but you do bite your thumb. Got it.

Posted by: justin84 | February 24, 2011 1:09 PM | Report abuse

get real

go back and look and what your brethren routinely call me (even in this thread) and then try to convince me you are under attack.

Debating politics requires a thick thin, so if you can't handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 24, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Ooops, I thought I was in Ezra's column, but it looks like I wound up in Greg Sargent's by mistake.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 24, 2011 3:44 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr, the risk isn't the debt, it's the growth, and that's only a problem because of a risk that other countries will stop lending money to us or raise the rates at which we can borrow. We can borrow extremely cheaply now despite the $14 trillion that we're in debt. There's no crisis *right now* that requires immediate drastic measures. $14 trillion isn't a magic number that we should immediately be terrified of. The fear is that high debt will lead to bad things at some point in the future.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't start addressing our long term debt now. We should revisit healthcare and put in more cost saving measures. We should reduce defense spending and put in some kind of independent panel to regularly review and kill off projects that are either not producing anything of use or which are designed for global situations that aren't relevant anymore. We should get rid of a lot of tax expenditures like tariffs on sugar, breaks on corn, deductions for mortgages, etc.

And, of course, some of this might be temporary drags on the economic recovery, so we can tie their implementation to a certain plateau of growth or a certain unemployment rate, or whatever. Or we could implement the cuts now and put in some short term stimulus to cover the balance and spur on the economy in the short run but which will leave us with a better position on the debt once the economy recovers more.

Posted by: MosBen | February 24, 2011 4:36 PM | Report abuse

@MosBen,

so then you disagree with President Obama that we shouldn't reduce spending in the next fiscal year? So then when is too much debt a problem? 15 Trillion, 20 Trillion, 30 Trillion? or do we have to wait until interest rates on us go up and then be reactionary instead of correcting ourselves before a reaction is necessary? Inflation is already happening in China. How long before the Chinese act upon that? If we would have listened to the handful of people who were cautious about the housing bubbles then maybe our mess wouldn't have been so bad. Why not listen to those that are concerned about the debt or is it just that its deemed political in nature and thus deemed not a problem?

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 24, 2011 7:32 PM | Report abuse


When getting health insurance I usually go through wise health insurance website. The reason for this approach is because I get more personalized service and assistance. Once I went though ehealthinsurance and it offered no customer support.

Posted by: velmacarol123 | February 25, 2011 3:38 AM | Report abuse


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