Tag Archives: Debt Ceiling

News & Comment

Tea Partyists Cheer When They Learn They Are Being Held Responsible for U.S. Credit Downgrade

Dave Weigel compares this incident to a caught-on-tape moment from a year or so ago when tea partyists at an Americans for Prosperity meeting cheered when they learned that the United States would not be hosting the 2016 Olympics:

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News & Comment

S&P Cites Tea Party’s Extortion Politics, Which It Calls ‘Political Brinkmanship,’ in Downgrading U.S. Credit Rating

In explaining why it was lowering the U.S. credit rating late on Friday, Standard & Poor’s singled out tea party obstructionism on the economy:

“The political brinkmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective and less predictable than what we previously believed,” said S&P, one of three leading credit rating agencies.

“The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy.”

“Brinkmanship” is putting it politely, of course. A better description is economic terrorism or political extortion.

It was the tea party, not the Democrats, who took the economy to the brink in the debt-ceiling negotiations, and yet, predictably, conventional wisdom in the Beltway has it that S&P was referring to everyone in Washington — that the hostage negotiators are just as bad as the hostage takers.

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McConnell on Extortion Politics: Debt Ceiling Was a Hostage ‘Worth Ransoming’

I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting. Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming. And it focuses the Congress on something that must be done.

– Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell


Extortion Politics: Koch Brothers Operative Confirms That Tea Party in Congress Is Not There to Negotiate

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Like you, I’m sick to death of the debt ceiling crisis, but before we move on, there was one moment in the debate in the media that requires attention. On MSNBC’s “Hardball” Monday, Matt Kibbe, a longtime Republican Party operative who is the president of Freedomworks, the Koch brothers-funded tea party astroturf group, confirmed to Chris Matthews that members of the tea party in Congress are not there to negotiate — in other words, to govern. They are not there, he says, “to cut deals,” which means, by default, they are there to use the politics of extortion to impose their will on the American people. Where is that in the Constitution?

Transcript, starting around minute 5:00:

MATTHEWS: This is the problem with your argument. You have an ideology behind you which makes sense. But the trouble with it, when it comes down to running the United States government, you guys don’t accept the fiduciary responsibility to be part of the United States government, do you? Your base is still carrying placards, and you’re still standing outside the Capitol yelling. But you’re not willing to come inside the building and help run the government, which means paying the bills, because you don’t accept that responsibility, do you? To pay the bills.

KIBBE: It’s not the job of the Tea Party to cut a…

MATTHEWS: Right. Thank you.

KIBBE: It’s not our job to cut a deal.

MATTHEWS: THANK YOU. You’ve admitted it.

KIBBE: It’s our job to force politicians to accept their responsibilities.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. The trouble is the Tea Party has found its way in to the government. And there are guys on the Hill, and women, who are getting paychecks from the United States government, who won’t pay the bills of the United States government.

News & Comment

Raw Deal: 28 Tea Party Caucus Members Voted Against Debt Ceiling Bill

As has been noted here before, one of the tea partyists’ sacred campaign pledges — along with not raising taxes or voting for debt ceiling increases — was that they would “fight efforts to use a national crisis for political gain.”

But that was 2010. In 2011, they broke that pledge — big time — when they created a bogus national crisis over raising the debt ceiling, despite the fact that the ceiling had to be raised in order to borrow the funds to cover the billions in new spending in the budget they voted for.

By choosing to negotiate with them, and then by giving into their demands over and over, Pres. Obama enabled the tea baggers’ extortion politics. In doing so, he handed them a big political win, in the short term at least.

That did not stop them from turning the weeks of negotiations into one long temper tantrum. And even after all that, even after they cowed the president of the United States into giving into their demands and agreeing to their Raw Deal, 28 tea partyists voted “no” against the final bill in the House yesterday:

Here’s a list of the economic terrorists who held the U.S. economy hostage and then voted against taking the ransom they had extorted from the American people because it wasn’t enough:

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News & Comment

Krugman: Obama-Tea Bagger Budget-Ceiling Deal Will Kill Jobs

On ABC’s “This Week” yesterday, Nobel Prize winner economist Paul Krugman predicted higher unemployment as result of the deal tea baggers in the House extorted from Pres. Obama over the weekend:

Partial Transcript:

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News & Comment

Welcome to the Era of Extortion Politics

By manufacturing the crisis over the extension of the debt ceiling for their own political gain, tea bagger Republicans not only broke one of their many sacred campaign pledges to voters last year, they also managed to regress American politics farther than ever from their constitutional ideals by ushering in a new era of what Steve Benen calls “extortion politics”:

I think this is arguably one of the more important realizations to take away from the current political landscape. Republicans aren’t just radicalized, aren’t just pursuing an extreme agenda, and aren’t just allergic to compromise. The congressional GOP is also changing the very nature of governing in ways with no modern precedent.

Welcome to the normalization of extortion politics.

In the debt-ceiling hostage fiction, Republicans are the hostage takers — the extortionists — while the U.S. economy and the financial well-being of American families are their victims. The hostage negotiator, of course, the would-be hero in the piece, is Pres. Obama.

Unfortunately, in this political drama, the hero did not ride to the victims’ rescue. Instead, he legitimized the terrorists’ demands by negotiating with them. By negotiating with them, he allowed them to win — not on points but on politics, which was really all that mattered to them.

Jonathan Chait traces the president’s undoing back to his budget battles with the Republicans in December, when he allowed them to pass a budget that required the Treasury to borrow billions more for additional spending without also raising the debt limit to accommodate the billions in over-spending they voted for:

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News & Comment

Pelosi on House Floor: Boehner ‘Chose to Go to the Dark Side,’ Is Leading US to Default

Give ’em hell, Madame Speaker:

“Let me repeat. And I repeat, he chose to go to the dark side by putting forth a bill that he himself told his Members [it] would sink in the Senate—and I add, lead to default, lead to default.”
– Speaker Nancy Pelosi

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) of choosing “the dark side” in making his debt ceiling bill more amenable to House conservatives in securing passage.

Pelosi also argued the Speaker had set the U.S. on a path towards default during her floor speech in favor of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s debt ceiling plan on Saturday.

“The Speaker chose, when he didn’t have the votes, instead of to reach out in a bipartisan way to see how we could work together, he chose to go to the dark side,” Pelosi said to disapproval from Republicans in the chamber.

“Let me repeat. And I repeat, he chose to go to the dark side by putting forth a bill that he himself told his Members [it] would sink in the Senate—and I add, lead to default, lead to default. We cannot default. We are the greatest country that ever existed in the history of the world.”

News & Comment

Bitter Friday Fun Break


Time to laugh in the final hours of life as we knew it before Congress said, “Hold my hand. We’re jumping!” and took us all over the cliff of welshing on America’s debt, which they — Republicans included — authorized when they voted to spend all that money. As we call our collective Visa companies, we say, “You know all those restaurants I already ate at, and all the Netflix I already watched, and oh yeah, that big ol’ car repair bill I already used my card to pay for? Well I don’t want any of it now and I’m not going to pay for it. See ya!” We will pass the time waiting for Visa’s response by futilely contacting our elected officials and then blaming it all on Pres. Obama. Happy times.

News & Comment

Boehner Wept – Again

New York Times:

“He wasn’t sobbing, but he definitely teared up.”
– Speaker Boehner’s spokesman

At a meeting of the House Republican freshmen and their leaders on Wednesday, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room — including the speaker’s.

Representative Martha Roby of Alabama had just finished reading an e-mail of support from a one-time Tea Party opponent, recognizing the tough choices that the new Republicans faced in the vote to raise the debt ceiling.

Mr. Boehner, who has become well known for his occasional displays of emotion, joined others in the room by crying a bit during the closed-door session.

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