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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This is Getting Really Crazy

First, the House Republicans insisted on voting on their insane "Cut, Cap and Balance" plan for cutting the deficit, despite the fact they knew it was DOA in the Senate. But they went through this little vanity act anyway, wasting time, and then -- as was expected -- the Senate killed the beast last Friday by voting to table it.

Then John Boehner and Harry Reid announced they were working on their own, competing deficit reduction bills. Reid's bill gives the Republicans everything they've asked for: $2.7 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years, with absolutely no revenue increases. However, Reid's plan (i) cuts costs by closing out the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and (ii) does not cut Medicare or Social Security spending. Since the GOP doesn't believe a spending cut is really a spending cut unless it hurts old, poor or sick people, the Republicans already have announced their opposition to Reid's plan.

And then there is John Boehner's "two-step proposal," which is supposed raise the debt ceiling by $1.2 trillion (which will carry us through about 6 months) and slash entitlement spending for the old, poor and sick people the GOP considers such lazy parasites. Afterward, Boehner anticipates we go through this entire hostage-taking exercise again six months from now by having another round of debt-limit wrangling while the Republicans look for more safety net programs they can slash.

But Obama has announced an intention to veto Boehner's plan if it gets to him, which it won't because Reid has announced it won't pass the Senate, which is moot because Republican leaders themselves acknowledge that Boehner doesn't have enough votes to get his bill past the House either.

In light of all this, Reid indicated earlier today that he was going to wait to watch Boehner's proposal get shot down in the House before presenting his own bill in the Senate. I suppose the thinking was that - by then - we'd be so close to the Aug. 2nd drop-dead date that Reid's plan would be the only way to avoid defaulting on our debt, and that enough sane Republicans could be found in the House to get his plan passed and onto President Obama's desk before Defaultageddon.

But then the Congressional Budget Office announced that Boehner's plan doesn't actually save very much money. So then Boehner said that he is re-writing his proposal (and scrambling to try to get some more support from his own party) and is delaying a vote on his plan until Thursday. Oh, yeah . . . and get this: Boehner also has scheduled another vote on Thursday to have a balanced budget amendment added to the Constition. That's right. Apparently, for the GOP, 5 days before the United States defaults on its debt obligations is the perfect time to have a vote about amending the frigging Constitution.

There is no word yet if Harry Reid still intends to wait for Boehner's bill to be shot down before bringing his own proposal before the Senate, but it seems clear that while the House Republicans are dicking around with balanced budget amendments and bills that can't even get past the chamber that they themselves control time is getting very, very short.

Here's a proposal: Why doesn't Congress just raise the debt ceiling, without worrying right now about slashing the deficit, exactly the way it has 89 times before? Seriously, this wholly manufactured "debt ceiling crisis" could be resolved in 30 seconds with a coupla voice votes, and then Congress could go back to arguing about the deficit -- without the Sword of Damocles hanging over its head -- while it tried to work out the 2012 budget.

Simple, no?

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