An exit strategy for Republicans

Like many other Americans and observers around the world, I find the ongoing spectacle in Washington both perplexing and distressing. But having seen the President follow the advice of our mighty blog for choosing the next chair of the Federal Reserve, I feel emboldened now to recommend a course of action for the House Republicans.

Problem 1 is that the debt-ceiling vote has always been, and always will be, a political charade. The real decision is how much the government is going to spend on programs and how much it is going to collect in taxes. Once Congress has made those two decisions, if spending exceeds taxes, of course the government needs to borrow more. The idea of holding a separate vote on borrowing, as if it was a separate decision from spending and taxing, serves only one purpose– allow representatives from the minority party to grandstand as if they were actually doing something about the deficit.

But what if representatives start to take their rhetorical posturing seriously, or repeat it often and fervently enough that the more gullible or ardent among their supporters won’t let them vote for an eventual debt-ceiling increase once the games are over? If the Treasury actually fails to honor promised interest payments, or fails to make Social Security disbursements on time, I think all reasonable people can agree the result would be an economic disaster, not to mention political suicide for the Republicans.

And that’s the basic problem with trying to use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip with which to achieve some real objective. Intellectually, the position simply cannot be defended. If your bluff is called, you’re left with no good options.

And so what I expect to see this week is the Republicans to cave, trading their vote on the debt ceiling for whatever fig leaf might offer meager political cover for having taken us to this point and then turning back.

Let me suggest to my Republican friends a bolder alternative. Seize the day as an opportunity to renounce this weapon of self-destruction. The President says he wants a clean debt-ceiling increase. So give him exactly that– a stand-alone debt ceiling increase, say $2 trillion. No strings attached, no riders, just do it.

What would Republicans gain from this? Well, one obvious thing– it would help them to avoid getting trapped in a self-destructive endgame for at least another year. For another, it would give them an intellectually defensible claim with independents that they are trying to find compromise and common ground, by giving the President exactly what he asked for, getting nothing in return.

And while I’m making suggestions that won’t be followed, here’s another. The President says he wants a clean continuing spending resolution. So give him this too. Say with a 60 day time limit, but otherwise no strings, no riders, just do it.

The benefit of that for Republicans? See point 1 above.

After those two votes, then begin the real work. I propose a series of individual spending bills, not in the recent fashion of some huge unwieldy patchwork coalition, but rather as finely broken down as possible. What’s the budget for defense? Let’s have the number, vote it up or down all by itself. And so on, down the line.

Here’s one final reason the Republicans might want to consider such a strategy– it’s the way grown-ups are expected to behave.

StumbleUponLinkedInReddit

71 thoughts on “An exit strategy for Republicans

  1. rana

    A disappointing post. Perhaps you have not been paying attention. But, the Republicans already tried that strategy, and it failed. It failed because their caucus cannot agree to the things you are suggesting because they have roughly 80 members who do not think at all like you. A more plausible approach to get to the same point that you are aiming for, would be for the Speaker of the House to act more like a speaker of the WHOLE House and look for budget proposals that would garner 218 votes.

  2. Joseph

    “I propose a series of individual spending bills, not in the recent fashion of some huge unwieldy patchwork coalition, but rather as finely broken down as possible.
    How is that supposed to work? You have just replaced one hostage situation with 100 hostage situations.
    The Republicans will vote only for Defense and the WWII memorial. Democrats will vote for Social Security, Medicare and the ACA. So who goes first. How can you trust the other side to vote for your priorities after you have voted for their priorities?
    The idea of a unified budget, the way it has worked for over 200 years, is that all of the negotiation takes place up front, making trades and concessions on both sides, and then both sides preferred priorities are voted on simultaneously.
    I mean, seriously, if you were buying a house, would you first sign a contract for the price, then another contract on whether the seller or buyer fixes the roof, and then another contract on whether the seller carries the loan or the buyer gets a loan, and then another contract agreeing on the move out date, etc? No, they are all one unified negotiation.

  3. ClearEye

    Your penultimate paragraph describes something called the appropriations process.
    The budget is made up of several thousand appropriation accounts and both the House and Senate Committees on Appropriation have a dozen subcommittees. After due consideration, the bills are adopted by each body, go to House-Senate conference, and the conference report is voted on by both bodies before the bill goes to the President.
    Not a single regular appropriations bill has been passed this year, just as the budget conference called for in law (the Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974) has been blocked by Republicans in both houses for the past six months.
    It is hard not to conclude that Republicans wanted to prevent the adult conversations that take place during the regular order so they could manufacture the ”defund Obamacare” crisis.

  4. Jeffrey J. Brown

    In the Salon.com article linked below, the author noted that according to a poll, 20% of Republicans believe that Obama is literally the Antichrist. I’m sure that this percentage is much higher for the Tea Party folks, and I suspect that the percentage of Tea Party folks who believe that Obama is literally or figuratively the Antichrist verges on 100%.
    Therefore, I just don’t think that there is any realistic expectation that the Tea Party caucus will agree to any kind of clean CR and debt-ceiling extension.
    I am beginning to suspect that the only way out of the current gridlock is for the dwindling number of moderate Republicans in the House to work with the Democrats to bring a series of discharge petitions to the House floor. Of course, the moderate Republicans would presumably face furious Tea Party challengers in GOP primaries. But on the other hand, there are signs that a GOP backlash is building against what the HBO “Newsroom” program writers referred to as the “American Taliban.”
    Christian delusions are driving the GOP insane
    Why aren’t Republicans more frightened of a shutdown and a default? Part of the reason is magical thinking
    http://www.salon.com/2013/10/10/christian_delusions_are_driving_the_gop_insane/singleton/

  5. Joseph

    JDH: “Negotiation doesn’t seem to be working as a strategy.”
    And so 100 individual failed negotiations is better? I’m failing to follow the logic. How does that solve anything? Why would one side sign on to an individual appropriation they don’t favor if there is no reason to believe that the other side will reciprocate.

  6. jonathan

    Since the GOP will not allow discussion of taxes, the idea of negotiations is a non-starter.
    As I see the dynamic, they can play around and then Boehner and Cantor, who hold all the GOP strings, can let the House vote on a clean bill. That would pass with some GOP votes and the entire rest voting against it. That would let them appease their own people by saying they didn’t cave.

  7. Patrick R. Sullivan

    ‘The idea of holding a separate vote on borrowing, as if it was a separate decision from spending and taxing, serves only one purpose– allow representatives from the minority party to grandstand as if they were actually doing something about the deficit.’
    The separate vote on borrowing is required by the Constitution. It’s one of the ways the Founding Fathers protected the people from avaricious government. By design, it’s supposed to be hard for politicians to spend the public’s money.
    The only thing new in this particular episode of raising the debt ceiling is that the Democrats are whining about how unfair it is that they should have to do what every President and Congress had to do. The Republicans are incredibly inept in not pounding this fact home to the electorate.

  8. Bruce

    About every 32-36 years (give or take) since the founding of the republic (now global empire), and coincident with the coming of age of a new peak demographic cohort, a political party has disappeared during what Arthur Schlesinger referred to as the “Turning Point” (often coinciding with financial, economic, social, political, and currency crises), beginning with the Federalists and down through the years to the Democratic-Republicans, Whigs, Populists, Coolidge Republicans, and the post-FDR New New Deal Democrats, the latter being supplanted by the post-Goldwater, post-Dixiecrat Reagan “Conservative” Republicans.
    However, the Republican constituency is now increasingly outnumbered, aging, angry/curmudgeonly, “Christian”, middle- and upper-income White males facing increasing political competition from low- and middle-income young, Hispanic, Black, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, female, lesbian, gay, transgender Americans, i.e., “everyone else”.
    Of course, the US has become since the ’80s a militarist-imperialist, one-party, rentier corporate-state HQ’d in Wall St. and The City and administered in the occupied military district of DC. Therefore, it’s not apparent that the demise of the Republican Party will be replaced by a competitive, pluralistic, representative multi-party system; rather, history suggests that when wealth and income concentration becomes as extreme as in the US today to the top 0.01-0.1% to 1%, military overstretch occurs, and the primary energy source is no longer readily accessible at an affordable price, authoritarianism, dictatorship, i.e., one-man or one-clan rule, nepotism, and tyranny are much more likely than not.
    Further, in reality, the US is at least 4-5, if not 6-7, distinct cultural regions, and arguably countries/states, and historically such imperial, multicultural arrangements have ALWAYS disintegrated and self-organized along racial/ethnic/religious, geographic, resource-dependent, and socioeconomic divisions into self-limiting, self-sustaining, autonomous regions or states.
    China is not dissimilar, albeit more divided socioeconomically and geographically, rather than racially/ethnically/religiously.
    Thus, the current political dispute is a desperate attempt by the Republicans, i.e., the incipient, if not actual, White minority male population, to survive and retain some measure of status, influence, and power against the structurally deterministic demographic forces allied against them, which is supported and encouraged by Wall St., The City, and the Anglo-American imperial establishment as a kind of divide-and-conquer tactic that is working, for better or worse.

  9. tj

    Essentially, the left wants the Republican controlled House to act as if it were controlled by Democrats. Can you imagine how much damage Democrats would have done to America if they controlled both Houses of Congress? Frightening.

  10. Jack

    “The separate vote on borrowing is required by the Constitution.”
    Oh, yes? And which Article may that be?

  11. Greg Hill

    Patrick R. Sullivan writes, “The only thing new in this particular episode of raising the debt ceiling is that the Democrats are whining about how unfair it is that they should have to do what every President and Congress had to do. The Republicans are incredibly inept in not pounding this fact home to the electorate.”
    Why don’t people who share your views get together and elect a President and majorities in Congress instead of threatening to blow everything up. We had a Presidential election over these issues, and your side lost. Your side managed to win a majority in the House even though Republican candidates received only 45% of the total votes cast. Your side conducted an incredibly cynical voter suppression campaign, but you still lost. Get over it. Look to the future. Maybe Ted Cruz’s arguments against the liberty-destroying policies of liberalism will turn future elections in your favor (but I doubt it).

  12. Steven Kopits

    I am under the impression that debt ceiling crises in the past did, in fact, lead to substantial changes in the course of policy.
    However, the Republicans have not suggested broader in approach or philosophy, just changes in a particular piece of legislation. That was clearly doomed to failure from the outset.
    The FAA is the way forward.

  13. Steven Kopits

    Greg -
    I did skim your article on Rawls. I thought it was nicely structured and written, and the issue clearly is a topic close to your heart.
    I don’t have time to comment on it now, but I did think your piece was most certainly worth reading.

  14. Ricardo

    Dr. Hamilton goes to Harvard and leaves his brain in San Diego.
    So Dr. Hamilton has a child. He gives that child a credit card. The child overspends the limit and the credit card company stops acceptance. Dr. Hamilton calls the company and increases the debt limit. His child once again overspends the limit and the credit card company stops acceptance. Dr. Hamilton calls the company and demands that they remove all limits from his child’s credit card. He is infinitely wealthy and besides he owns a gun so he can take money from all of his neighbors if he needs to.
    So what is the credit card company to do? Isn’t Dr. Hamilton a wise professor?
    There is a principle in federal law that one congress cannot tie the hands of a future congress. If one congress overspends, these commitments cannot obligate a future congress.
    In the case of fiscal responsibility Dr. Hamilton should call his child into his room and lay down the law. Either the child spends responsibly or the credit card is removed.
    If a president and his party do not act fiscally responsible, it is the constitutional responsibility of the House, constitutionally holding the purse strings, to call them into the room and lay down the law. If the president and his party will agree to spend responsibly and work to pay down past irresponsible debt, they will raise the credit limit. If there is no agreement and the president and his party throw a tantrum, then no more credit will be approved and the credit card will be shut down until such time as the tantrum is over and discussion can resume reasonably.

  15. pgl

    “The separate vote on borrowing is required by the Constitution.” But as someone else said, the Republicans would vote for defense and that’s about it. Maybe we should have separate voting in the following sequence – transfer payments first, nondefense spending next, and THEN defense.

  16. Jay

    I, like Jack, am really very curious as to where in the Constitution I can locate the requirement for a separate vote on borrowing.
    Patrick?

  17. pgl

    A small controversy was started when Patrick R. Sullivan claimed that the debt ceiling was part of the Constitution. Actually – this claim is not true. A statutorily imposed debt ceiling has been in effect since 1917 when the US Congress passed the Second Liberty Bond Act. Before 1917, there was no debt ceiling. The 14th Amendment, section 4 to the Constitution states that “the validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned.” Some legal scholars suggest that this part of the Constitution requires the President to just ignore the Congressional statute over the debt ceiling as being a violation of the Constitution. I just leave it when Tea Party types try winning a debate with “read the Constitution” especially when they haven’t really bothered to read the Document.

  18. DeDude

    So unless the President gives in to the GOPsters demands they will hurt America. Why don’t they also add that they will spit on the apple pie and kill grandma?

  19. Ricardo

    I have a serious question that those from both sides of the argument should be able to help me with.
    I know that if you don’t sign up for Obamacare you have to pay a tax. I also know that if you have health insurance you do not have to sign up for Obamacare. Here is my question:
    If you sign up for Obamacare can you ever opt out? If after you sign up for Obamacare, you get a job that has health care, can you get out of Obamacare without having to pay the tax penalty, or is it once you are in the IRS computer you are there forever?

  20. benamery21

    Ricardo: if that’s a serious question you need serious help. You will file your 1040 and tell the IRS (via your signed return and per the instructions) whether and how much you should pay of this part of the income tax, much as you provide other (mostly unverified) info which goes into an itemized return. Folks who are exempt from filing are also exempt from penalty under the ACA. Folks who purchase a private plan via the exchanges, folks on Medicaid, folks on Medicare, and folks on employer group plans (all of whom, fyi, are on ‘Obamacare’ bwahahaha) will all communicate their non-penalty status to IRS in the same fashion–via their tax return.

  21. benamery21

    Ricardo: A more apt analogy would be of the man who kites a check to pay a bill, and then when asked by the bank manager if he would like the check to be honored via overdraft, decides his overdraft is already too large, and instead he will defraud the creditor.
    There is a principle in the Constitution, that one Congress can indeed effectively bind a future Congress–it’s known as Section 4 of the 14th Amendment.

  22. Patrick R. Sullivan

    It never ceases to amaze that so many people speak up before simply checking to see what the Constitution, does in fact say. Article I, section 8 (Powers of Congress);
    ‘The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States….
    To borrow money on the credit of the United States….’
    And, in the next section (The Limits on Congress);
    ‘No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law….’
    Ass for pgl’s risible claim that the debt limit comes from a statute, that’s merely the particular method congress has chosen to implement its Constitutional duty.

  23. benamery21

    pgl: Prior to 1917, each debt issuance was a separate Act of Congress, since no legislative provision had been made to allow borrowing by the Treasury on an as needed basis (think minimum wage, Social Security COLA’s pre-indexing, etc). Since this, literally, ‘took an Act of Congress,’ it became a bit unwieldy as time went on. The debt limit was actually a then-modern innovation effectively delegating the constitutional authority to ‘borrow money on the credit of the United States’ to the Treasury, in an amount up to the ‘debt limit.’ However, contra-Patrick nothing constitutionally prevents the Congress from further modernizing that delegation of power, and effectively abolishing the debt limit legislatively.

  24. ricardo is baffling

    ricardo,
    responding to your bizarre comment on Dr Hamilton and his childrens spending habits, you conveniently forgot to mention that while Dr Hamilton will not be pleased with his children’s spending, he will CONTINUE TO PAY THE BILLS OWED to the credit card company. same thing the government needs to do, pay its obligations. don’t live in a fantasy land
    your question on obamacare shows obvious ingorance of the subject-enough that you should not be commenting on the good and bad of the program because you know not of what you speak. educate yourself before you rant, just like tj and stryker. how can you be sooooo against a program you obviously do not understand?

  25. fladem

    A portion of this country is part of a right wing echo chamber that has taken leave of their senses.
    The stuff they believe is nonsense. Read Ricardp’s post – it is clear he has no real idea about Obamacare.

  26. JBH

    Decisions on taxing and spending are fluid. Both from one Congress to the next, and because tax rates and spending may need adjustment after a crisis. In this crisis, the spending level ratcheted the government’s share to an historic high. This is not to be looked on lightly, as there is no law of economics that says more government is better. Today, a plurality if not majority want spending cut back. Of course there is also a plurality that wants even more expansion.

    The power of the purse is constitutionally vested in the House. Whenever the executive branch, aided or not by the Senate and whether Democrat or Republican controlled, subverts the wishes of the House, then the debt ceiling vote is a recourse for the people. Like Gramm-Rudman, the debt ceiling is a governor on government. This past century, the power of the presidency has grown in myriad ways. Some of these are legislation by executive order in defiance of Congress’s wishes, by bully pulpit, by demagoguery and propaganda through the media, and by executive branch favoritism with key representatives in Congress in unscrupulous ways. The debt ceiling is a very real tool that gives the House leverage to help redress and tamp down this imbalance of power.

    In a Democracy, the rights of the minority must be protected. Also those of the majority. Often enough it happens that the constellation of power in Congress and the executive branch forms in a way that enables these rights to be subverted. To say that the debt ceiling vote has the sole purpose of political charade is to grossly distort. Therefore, certain threads of the further argument do not stand either.

  27. Strat

    Patrick A. Sullivan:
    What part of this statement don’t you get?
    “Once Congress has made those two decisions [how much to spend, how much to tax], if spending exceeds taxes, of course the government needs to borrow more.”
    Borrowing is not a separate decision from taxing and spending. Alternatively, if you hold that it is a separate decision then you are advocating that the default action when there’s a deficit is to print money. Except that’s limited by statute as well, or we wouldn’t be considering that silly trillion-dollar coin. The sensible thing is to keep the budgetary focus on spending and taxation, borrow as needed, and abolish the debt ceiling altogether. This should not be controversial, and I don’t think it is among anybody that isn’t either deeply obtuse or cynically seeking to score political points without regard to the safety and welfare of our Republic. Which are you?
    The right-wing commenters on this blog are discovering new worlds of obtuseness on this Columbus Day!

  28. Hans

    There has yet been an honest liberal, whom has blamed both parties…
    This website has followed convention…

  29. don

    “Problem 1 is that the debt-ceiling vote has always been, and always will be, a political charade. The real decision is how much the government is going to spend on programs and how much it is going to collect in taxes.”
    This kind of logic always baffles me. True, the decision to borrow is just the other side of the coin from the decisions on how much to spend and how much to tax. But then why should we call one side of the coin a “charade,” and the other side the “real decision(s)”? Decisions on spending and taxes are made using guesses (called “revenue estimates”) and on economic forecasts. Either can be very wrong. The debt consequences offer a different perspective on the spending and taxing decisions, one that may cause us to reconsider. The main issue seems to me to be one of timing: Is it reasonable to have a mechanism to demand an immediate stop to profligate habits, or should we allow them to continue with no hard deadlines?
    You seem to me to have accepted too readily some of the slanted characterizations in this debate. Also, I think you take too seriously the notion that interest on the national debt would be in jeopardy if the debt ceiling is not raised.

  30. Ricardo

    baffling,
    Since you did not answer my question you obviously don’t know the answer. Perhaps someone less baffled does.

  31. ricardo is baffling

    ricardo, it is difficult to answer a stupid question. a well posed question or problem is essential for proper feedback. provide one and get an answer.

  32. Ricardo

    benamery21,
    Your analogy is that the federal government has committed fraud when it “kites a check.” I do not believe that the federal debt is fraud and I do not suggest that the creditor be defrauded.
    Dr. Hamilton would still owe the debt incurred by his child and would have to pay it. The US government owes its debt. There is more than enough tax revenue coming in every month to pay the Treasury debt. Now granted the budget would have to take a 40% cut in its budget but there is enough revenue coming in to pay the debt.
    My analogy is that Dr. Hamilton should discipline his child before the child incurs so much debt that he cannot pay his debt. The US still has time to deal with irresponsible spending but if it simply continues its irresponsible spending there will come a time when default will be the only solution. Dr. Hamilton’s child would suffer because of the inability to engage in activities as in the past: no gasoline, no movies, no eating out; no new clothes, but forcing the child to get a job and pay without incurring debt that Dr. Hamilton must pay is a better option. Discipline is not an outdated concept.

  33. don

    Some gossip on the proposed changes to the ACA that might come from the debt ceiling debate:
    Repeal or delay of the medical device tax.
    Delay the reinsurance tax.
    Require income certification of those who get a health insurance subsidy.
    Sounds to me like fiscal irresponsibility combined with greater incentive for the underground economy to grow. (I wonder if revenue estimators added in the increased incentive to hide income?)

  34. anon2

    So much heat. So little light.
    “Problem 1 is that the debt-ceiling vote has always been, and always will be, a political charade. ”
    If problem 1 is real, then this (and I believe it is):
    “So give him exactly that– a stand-alone debt ceiling increase, say $2 trillion. No strings attached, no riders, just do it.”
    is no solution.
    “Say with a 60 day time limit”
    Who are you kidding? Yourself?
    Hostage-taking is for Somali pirates.
    I am so sorry that our politicians live in such an insulated world that they know nothing and, apparently, care nothing for those they represent.
    The problems our nation faces have been years in the making and there are no quick or certain solutions. Those who think so, are just wrong.

  35. Hans

    “However, the Republican constituency is now increasingly outnumbered, aging, angry/curmudgeonly, “Christian”, middle- and upper-income White males facing increasing political competition from low- and middle-income young, Hispanic, Black, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, female, lesbian, gay, transgender Americans, i.e., “everyone else”.”
    Bruce, I hope you enjoy the Balkenzation of America..You better place the word liberal on your forehead to protect yourself and your family from this third-world invasion…Of course it will be to late by then, but you can smile that the middle aged white man has been wiped out…
    Fladem, perhaps you can tell us about BarrockOcare.?

  36. Darren

    Here’s one final reason the Republicans might want to consider such a strategy– it’s the way grown-ups are expected to behave.
    When is the last time Democrats behaved like grown ups?
    And what is with James becoming more like Menzie? James usually did an admirable job of keeping politics out of his posts….

  37. Anonymous

    “Article I, section 8 (Powers of Congress); The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States….
    To borrow money on the credit of the United States….’ And, in the next section (The Limits on Congress); ‘No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law….’” – Our resident Constitutional scholar Patrick R. Sullivan has found where it is Congress that has the right to pass tax laws as well as laws about how much the Federal government spends. But this was all conceded in Dr. Hamilton’s blog post. The question – which our resident Constitutional scholar has failed to answer – goes to Dr. Hamilton’s original point. A debt ceiling is mathematically inconsistent with what Congress has passed in terms of spending and taxes. So let’s repeat the question this way – where does our Constitution set up this mathematical inconsistency?

  38. Ricardo

    benamery21,
    Sorry I did not respond to your answer to my question. I was laughing so hard at baffling’s attempt to cover his ignorance that I did not recognize your thoughtful response.
    I think you misunderstood my question. I understand that before someone signs up for Obamacare they can opt out by having their own insurance, or paying the tax penalty and that is controlled questions on the tax return.
    My question is once you are in Obamacare can you ever get out? Once you are in will IRS regulations allow you to opt out if your circumstances change?
    Everyone I have talked to assumes that the tax return will allow you to change from one to the other, but as Nancy Pelosi told us we really won’t know until it is implemented. There have been so many things that have been different from what we have been told, and even from what the original law states, that I am looking for verification of what has been assumed.
    My question is not intended to be a trick question and I am not biased one way or the other. It is not a pro or con Obamacare question. I am simply looking for facts.

  39. tj

    My question is once you are in Obamacare can you ever get out?
    Posted by: Ricardo at October 15, 2013 04:57 AM

    The simple answer is yes, but it’s not as simple as baffled implies. Oh wait, Baffled didn’t imply anything becasue Baffled was baffled.
    Baffled should google – proof of insurance – open enrollment – maximum number of days without coverage-minimum value.
    Let’s wait for baffled to fill us in on the details. I am sure baffled can do the google search for us now that I’ve pointed baffled toward the light.

  40. Ricardo

    This article does not really answer my question but it gets us closer to an answer.
    Once you open an Obamacare account there is no way to delete your record even if you do not intend to sign up. But this does not answer the question concerning whether you can cancel your account in the future. A friend noted that with Food Stamps you are encouraged to continue receiving them even if you are working, because there are incentives and awards given to those in Food Stamp offices who have the most on their rolls. There is a motive to sign people up but no incentive to remove people.
    As noted most programs that require you to sign up have a way to delete your record, but Obamacare is different because it falls under government records retention regulations. It appears that your private information can never be deleted once you sign up.

  41. ricardo is baffing

    ricardo,
    you gain access/loss of obamacare just like any other insurance program. through an enrollment period, and subject to life changing events (marriage, birth of child, employment change. etc) does not take a rocket scientist to understand this. the irs is involved in the subsidy, not the insurance program itself.
    furthermore, are you even a prospect for obamacare. do you have insurance already? are you looking to change into obamacare? or are you looking to complain further from your unbiased question, just in search of the facts? i did chuckle at that one, because even if you stepped on the facts you wouldn’t even know it!

  42. Tom

    On one hand I agree that the Republican strategy is uncivilized. Compare it to a dispute at a company where the board is bitterly split, with half desperately trying but unable to get rid of the CEO. However, through some technical quirk of company bylaws, the CEO’s opponents on the board are able to freeze salary payments to company employees. And so they do that, to try to force the CEO to cave in on some other issue. An awful way to run a company, to be sure.
    On the other hand, I disagree that this is ineffective or suicidal politics. The fact is that it worked for Republicans to some extent last time, in 2011. They got the big fiscal cuts they were looking for, even if more were in defense than they wanted. There’s a very good chance Obama will cave again this time, to some extent. He’s unlikely defund Obamacare, but he’s likely to negotiate away something.
    Obama too has a weakness: he’s been falsely claiming that a debt ceiling collision would force him to default on the public debt. If this goes on another couple weeks everyone will see that he was being deceitful and that actually he can prioritize payments. Frankly he could have played this much smarter by emphasizing that the true victims being held hostage in this crisis are federal employees. Pretending that global financial markets are being held hostage only invites responses showing that in fact there are enough revenues to pay debt interest. Are federal employees so unpopular that there’s political gain in downplaying their plight while radically exaggerating the threat to bond markets? I just don’t get it.
    As for Republicans, remember that our next elections will be midterms, for which right-wing voters tend to turn up in disproportionate numbers while left-wing voters tend not to show up. Republicans are divided among those in solidly Republican districts who more fear a primary challenge and those in swing districts who more fear a general election challenge. The former need to wave their anti-Obama flag and the latter need to compromise. This is not a simple case where all Republicans having a clear-cut interest in compromising.

  43. Patrick R. Sullivan

    ‘…contra-Patrick nothing constitutionally prevents the Congress from further modernizing that delegation of power, and effectively abolishing the debt limit legislatively.’
    You can change the mechanism for authorizing the borrowing, but you can’t make the Constitution’s requirement that Congress authorize the borrowing disappear.
    Which several here seem to think they can with sophistry.

  44. Ricardo

    Politico provides more information concerning my question about getting out of Obamacare in an article today.
    Excerpt (baffled, this may help you some):
    But if the online system for getting into Obamacare coverage is rickety, the system for getting out of the mandate doesn’t even exist yet. HHS says it will take another month at least for the administration to finalize the forms.

  45. benamery21

    Patrick: you can easily change the law so that Treasury is authorized to borrow as needed to meet any draws on the Treasury authorized by appropriations, and no debt limit vote would ever again be needed, or you could include a debt authorization as part of each appropriations bill. In neither case would a separate vote be required to authorize debt for future appropriations. It’s this unnecessary separation that folks are questioning.

  46. Ricardo

    We all know that the congress voted to pay back pay to all the laid off government employees. A friend just told me that they are also being allowed to claim unemployment while they are off and since the government has no mechanism they will not have to pay it back. If this is true not only are they getting a paid vacation they are getting paid a bonus. Isn’t the government great!!!

  47. benamery21

    Ricardo: I don’t have a way to delete my FBI/CIA/NSA records, or my Von’s card record (I don’t have one), or my footprint here on the web, either.
    If you want to get off the private insurance which you purchase thru the exchange, don’t pay your premium and watch how fast your coverage lapses.
    As far as food stamps, SNAP is administered differently in each of the 50 states. In most states the data says that there is a MUCH bigger number of eligible people NOT receiving benefits than ineligible people who are receiving benefits (I think in CA only about half of those eligible draw SNAP benefits). Note that working does not necessarily make one ineligible (since working doesn’t necesarily imply non-poor). You do generally have to regularly (3,6, or 12 months depending on state) certify income and assets to maintain benefits, so most people do drop off if their income increases substantially. The average new participant is off the program in 8-10 months.

  48. Joseph

    Ricardo: “congress voted to pay back pay to all the laid off government employees.”
    Ricardo: “they are also being allowed to claim unemployment while they are off and since the government has no mechanism they will not have to pay it back.”

    False and false. Do you often have these delusions? Wait, no need to answer that.

  49. Jay

    Patrick,
    I have to admit that the debate in this comment section has been a bit ambiguous, and, that I thought when you said that the constitution requires a separate vote for borrowing, that you were saying that the debt ceiling is required by the constitution (since the debt ceiling frames so much of this discussion). I would have thought the context of this discussion frames what we’re talking about, but apparently not.
    See, you’re saying that the appropriations process divvies out money, and this process is constitutionally required to fund Federal programs. Fine. But so much of what we’re discussing is that the debt limit is a limit on the ability of the United States to meet its contractual obligations to pay, whether appropriated or not. The necessary connection between appropriations and debt ceiling you are asserting does not hold – debt ceiling stand offs could in principle result in failures to pay with no rhyme or reason as to where and why (imagine if we entered a severe depression and were on the hook to pay for X, Y, and Z program but tax revenue didn’t cover the obligations, and a debt ceiling prevented Treasury from borrowing to close the gap).
    The government shutdown occurred because of serious disagreement during the appropriations process. The debt ceiling is another matter. The constitution doesn’t say that all borrowing that takes places must be approved over and above the process of the way mandatory and discretionary spending is approved.

  50. benamery21

    Ricardo: Per my check kiting and overdraft refusal analogy, I stand by my analogy. My analogy does not posit that Federal debt is fraud, it posits that promising to pay and then defaulting when one has the ability (i.e. credit) to pay is fraud. This is EXACTLY what failing to raise the debt ceiling does. Interest is not the only fiscal obligation of the federal government.

  51. Ricardo

    benamery21,
    As you note, there are many government agencies that keep databases on citizens and violate privacy and engage in unconstitutional searches. That is my point with Obamacare. It is just more government “1984″ data collection. When will they install the video cameras in our homes? Since you seem to be comfortable with the current violations of privacy how do you feel about government listening to your private conversations in your home? How about cameras in your home? Do you support that?
    I am not paranoid but I do see “1984″ when the police view into homes with inferred cameras and use long-distance listening devices to snoop on private conversations. What was once paranoia is today’s routine government data gathering.

  52. Ricardo

    Benamery21,
    Neither my analogy using Dr. Hamilton nor the Republican Party ever suggested not paying legally incurred debt. The only people talking about default are the Democrats and the president.
    Currently we are receiving tax revenue at 10 times the amount needed to pay the debt. For this reason there are many making the point that if those responsible for paying the debt default, they should be prosecuted. Paying the debt has nothing to do with raising the debt limit. The politicians want to raise the debt limit to continue their extravagant spending of the other 90%.

  53. Jay

    Patrick,
    Just to be as clear as I can, the allocation of funds during appropriations might mean we then have to borrow. But not necessarily. Imagine we paid down the national debt, were in a booming economy, etc. Also, once the money is allocated, if borrowing is required to meet any gap in funds created by sending commitments, the provision you cite tells us nothing. In other words, your claim that the constitution requires an additional vote for *borrowing* has yet to be demonstrated.

  54. Ricardo

    benamery21,
    This quote from Congressman David Schweikert speaking to a reporter might be helpful to you.
    …there is no such thing as default unless there is an actual evil attempt from the administration. When you have 18 percent of GDP coming in in cash, less than 2 percent going out in debt coverage—I’m stunned you all fall for it in the press.

  55. Anonymous

    The republicans should have said “our offer is a clean bill and obamacare is funded with zero exceptions for unions of congress/staffers.” Then when it implodes and people hate it, they can regain power.

  56. ricardo is baffling

    ricardo,
    if the government owes me $1000 per month in social security, is that not a debt to be paid by the government to me?
    if i am a contractor for the government, and am owed $1000 for work performed, is that not a debt owed to me by the government?
    you people are confusing debt with borrowing. borrowing, or selling treasuries, is a method for paying for the debt. and the constitution explicitely states in the 14th amendment section 4:
    “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”
    it’s baffling how you do not understand, once you create a budget you have defined what your liabilities (debt) has become. the argument for the debt limit is actually unconstitutional. the constitution protects those who do financial business with the us government so that certain segments of the congress cannot avoid paying these obligations. you are acting just like the southern states who said they would not pay for the unions obligations because they disagreed with the outcome of the civil war!

  57. Ricardo

    baffled,
    I understand some of your confusion because the government obscures the truth. Social Security is funded out of current revenue. The government only owes Social Security under current law. If tomorrow the law changes then Social Security is not owed. Now Social Security is a separate tax and has its own fund that is supposed to be used to pay based on current law. But to enlighten you, the government could stop your SS check tomorrrow.
    Obamacare is the same. It is only as valid as today’s law. Tomorrow it can change. Just look at all the exemptions the President has given. He has actually changed the law.
    You are also baffled by the budget – or lack there of. There is enough revenue coming in to pay current commitments. That does not mean that the government has a right to be frozen in place at its current staffing levels.
    The fact that you want the government to spend more than 20% of our GDP is truely baffling, especially since the government spends but does not produce any goods, only heartache.
    The biggest fear of the government is that the people will wake up tomorrow and see that all the political breast beating was much ado about nothing. The average person has not been touched at all by this foolishness. What has been proven is that the National Parks for example can get along perfectly well with state support. The FED should butt out.

  58. Patrick R. Sullivan

    ‘…your claim that the constitution requires an additional vote for *borrowing* has yet to be demonstrated.’
    As I said, sophistry. The two things are mentioned in two different sections of Article 1.

  59. Patrick R. Sullivan

    ‘Patrick: you can easily change the law so that Treasury is authorized to borrow as needed to meet any draws on the Treasury authorized by appropriations…’
    That would be tricky and depend on the Supreme Court’s mood swings as whether or not it was Constitutional.
    ‘…or you could include a debt authorization as part of each appropriations bill.’
    Which has been done dozens of times (Tip O’Neill holding Ronald Reagan’s defense spending hostage, for instance, or the history of how we got Gramm, Rudman, Hollings).
    But neither of your arguments makes the separate requirement for borrowing authorization go away.
    If you have a library card, go to the NY Times historical data base and type in ‘debt limit’ for the period 1985-1987. If you’re not afraid to find out what a phony Harry Reid or Barack Obama is.

  60. Jay

    Patrick,
    You cited Article 1 but nothing in what you cited says a separate vote is required for borrowing. When I painstakingly and patiently explained myself you simply referred back to your citation which didn’t show what you claimed, and asserted that I’m engaging in sophistry.
    Now it is obvious that talking to you is a waste of time. Goodbye.

  61. ricardo is baffling

    ricardo,
    your statements are meaningless drivel. two programs now exist in law, SS and obamacare. hence they produce liabilities which must be paid. you need to raise the debt limit. period.
    i don’t argue that if the law changes for SS or obamacare, then the liability changes. but you are getting yourself ahead of the wagon. those laws have not changed, so you still need to pay the liabilities. this isn’t rocket science folks. it’s basic math.
    now obviously you don’t like obamacare and would prefer not to fund it. but like SS, it is the law of the land until changed. and right now in a democratically elected Congress and Executive office, you do NOT have the votes to change it. DEAL WITH IT!
    as you stated:
    “especially since the government spends but does not produce any goods, only heartache”
    this shows a blind ideology, and such extremism is stupid and dangerous. i guess government funding of biomedical research is garbage. SS and medicare are a waste of time. your civil infrastructure such as highways, airports, water and sewer would all be built, profitable and improved under private enterprise? the internet which provides you opportunity to rant daily most certainly could not result from our bumbling government, could it?
    don’t be an ideological idiot!

  62. Ricardo

    Baffled,
    You are truely baffled. If congress does not appropriate money to be spent there is no commitment by the government to pay any bill. The government must appropriate spending. That is what the CR is all about. No continuing resolution no spending. That is a different process from extending the debt limit. Treasury debt is a debt that must be paid. No Social Security recipient has any bond that must be paid, only a promise from the government but by not appropriating the funds there is no longer any promise. Same as with the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, Commerce, or any other arm of government. You confuse debt with appropriations.

  63. benamery21

    Ricardo: If you’re going to opine on budgetary topics you should probably educate yourself on the difference between mandatory and discretionary spending. Most spending doesn’t stop during a lapse in appropriations.

  64. ricardo is baffling

    ricardo,
    you want to change the laws and reduce spending. fine. you win the house, senate and president’s office and you can make all the changes you want. but spanky, right now you don’t own those so you can’t make changes to the law. your problem is a lack of reality. you want to make changes that cannot be made at this time. all the tea baggers have done is created damage to the economy with this hostage taking. this recent behavior took stupidity to new heights.
    you want to reduce appropriations, win some elections, enough to gain a majority, and do it. but what right do you have to say no appropriations when you own barely 1/2 of a single house in congress? talk about overreach!

  65. Anonymous

    Baffled—
    “if the government owes me $1000 per month in social security, is that not a debt to be paid by the government to me?”
    No, congress A of the past can not force future congress B to fund it’s programs. SS can be changed at any time.
    “if i am a contractor for the government, and am owed $1000 for work performed, is that not a debt owed to me by the government?”
    Yes, if you performed work on contract, you are owned what the contract states.
    “it’s baffling how you do not understand, once you create a budget you have defined what your liabilities (debt) has become.”
    First off, we don’t create budgets. Second, I think your point is once you pass a law it must be funded into eternity and this is simply not true. Any future congress can choose to fund or defund anything. They are not obligated to pay for what previous congresses have passed.

  66. benamery21

    Anonymous: and a bare majority of one house of a present congress hasn’t changed the legal obligations of the U.S. with respect to SS, and does not have the ability to do so alone. Therefore, SS payments ARE legal fiscal obligations of the U.S. government and will continue to be so for the rest of this congress, even if you teabaggers stand on your head and hold your breath until you turn blue. That’s actually a good thing for the GOP, if you want to be relegated to perpetual minority status, find a way to cut off checks to almost every (extended) family in America. Most of those over 66 will be directly impacted, and the slightly better off among their descendants will get tapped for subsistence. Both groups skew GOP today. I can’t think of a more effective way to fix that than the Tea Party interrupting SS payments.

  67. baffling

    benamery21, it’s like talking to a brick wall. anonymous does not want to deal with reality. as both of us stated, right now SS is the law, so the SS check is a legal liability until overturned. he just hates the idea of an “entitlement”. but by anonymous’ logic, if the current congress does not want to pay that contractor (whose contract was made during the previous Congress) then needn’t pay him either. baffling!

Comments are closed.