Hoyer Press Staff Blog

Blog posts from the press staff of Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer

July 29, 2011

Good afternoon, and welcome to “The Blame Game.” Let's meet our contestants:

John Boehner: Downgrade Of U.S. Credit Rating “Beyond My Control”

Boehner Spokesperson: “If we pass this today, we will have sent not one, but two bills to the Senate that would end this crisis.”

While we all know that we never get anywhere in this world until we place blame [said the Dem Whip press shop, riddled with sarcasm], Republicans are getting a jump-start on whose “fault” a default would be. Bottom line: Republicans have had months and months, opportunity after opportunity to work with the President and Democrats on a plan to end this economic uncertainty, and it’s long past time for Republicans to work with Democrats on a long-term, balanced compromise to pay America’s bills and reduce the deficit.

July 29, 2011

A look at the headlines show the markets are looking for certainty. But instead of working with Democrats on a long-term, balanced compromise to pay our bills, reduce the deficit and give certainty to our economy, Republicans are wasting time with their partisan, short-term Default Bill.

Reuters: Futures drop after vote delayed on debt deal

Bloomberg: U.S. House Bids to Salvage Boehner Debt Bill

CNN: Stocks falter on GDP and debt uncertainty

AP: Stocks plunge on dismal economic growth and worries over Congress’ failure to end debt dispute

July 29, 2011

Today’s headlines show it was a tough morning for House Republicans as they continue to push a short-term debt limit proposal that doesn’t have support within its own party and is destined to fail in the Senate. Rather than wasting time with a bill that will never reach the President’s desk, Republicans need to work with Democrats on a long-term, balanced agreement to pay our bills and reduce the deficit.

NY Times: House Puts Off Debt Vote as Press by Boehner Fails

Washington Post: Debt-limit vote is canceled in House as Boehner, GOP leaders struggle to gain votes

WSJ: House Postpones Vote on Boehner Debt Plan

LA Times: Boehner, hitting another wall on debt limit plan, calls off vote

Roll Call: Boehner Delays Vote, Considers Changes to Debt Bill

July 29, 2011

Harsh words for Republicans, but true ones, from economics writer Andrew Leonard:

The Republican Party is on the cusp of one of the greatest self-inflicted disasters since a crack cadre of two-bit bumblers broke into the Watergate Hotel. Early Thursday evening, John Boehner could not count on enough Republican votes to pass his own debt ceiling bill. Tweets from news reporters at the Capitol reported that the speaker was summoning recalcitrant representatives to his office and presumably using every means at his disposal to switch their votes from no to yes, but on Thursday he failed….

The Boehner bill is already a conservative bill that won'tpass the Senate. Making it more conservative only reduces its viability. House Republicans are doing their absolute best to demonstrate that they are incapable of supporting any kind of compromise deal acceptable to both parties. They are effectively declaring themselves incapable of governing….

If the House can't pass the speaker's own bill, with the entire nation (and the world) watching, with Wall Street on edge, and most amazingly of all, already having secured a deal that includes significant spending cuts without any revenue increases, House Republicans will be exposed as both irresponsible and incompetent.

But no pressure, Republicans! We’ve still got four whole days until you make America default!

July 29, 2011

Wanted to be sure you saw today’s Washington Post editorial on Republicans’ inability to say yes to any agreement and the need for bipartisan compromise in order to pay America’s bills. Instead of wasting time we don’t have on a short-term bill that Republicans can’t even convince their own party to support, it’s time for Republicans to work with Democrats on a long-term, balanced compromise to pay America’s bills, reduce the deficit and bring certainty to our economy.

Key points:

“The no-way caucus is the modern incarnation of the Flat Earth Society, denying the reality that the ceiling must be lifted and that the consequences of failing to act would be devastating to the economy.”

“At this point, the only path forward in the House is one that brings together the relative moderates in both parties to what passes for a middle ground.”

Washington Post

Time for the grown-ups to enter the debt showdown

By Editorial, Published: July 28

THE DEBATE over raising the debt ceiling has passed the point of usefully concentrating the mind on the need for debt reduction. Now the hanging moment is nigh. It is time for the remaining grown-ups in Washington — and we trust there are some of them— to figure out how to help the country slip off the noose. The debt ceiling needs to be lifted. The alternative is unthinkable.

The House spent the day Thursday debating a plan that it knew the Senate would not pass and the president would not sign. Then, as time was running out, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) abruptly postponed the vote, an indication that he lacked the necessary votes from his out-of-control caucus. Even if the speaker manages to push his package across the finish line, it will be dead on arrival in the Senate.

It is an ominous sign that House Republicans have become so extreme that they have difficulty mustering enough votes to pass a plan that includes close to $1 trillion in cuts now and sets the stage for another $1.8 trillion to be identified later as the price of lifting the debt ceiling. The no-way caucus is the modern incarnation of the Flat Earth Society, denying the reality that the ceiling must be lifted and that the consequences of failing to act would be devastating to the economy...

July 28, 2011

While Wall Street is urging Congress to take action quickly to pay America’s bills, Republicans are wasting time we don’t have on a short-term debt limit proposal that doesn’t solve our problems and kicks the can down the road.

Key Point: "A default on our nation’s obligations, or a downgrade of America’s credit rating, would be a tremendous blow to business and investor confidence — raising interest rates for everyone who borrows, undermining the value of the dollar and roiling stock and bond markets — and, therefore, dramatically worsening our nation’s already difficult economic circumstances," they wrote. "Given this very real risk, policymakers must correct our fiscal course now, inspire market confidence by paying all of our bills on time, and demonstrate that America is a democracy capable of putting differences aside to solve our most challenging problems."

Wall Street tells Washington: Strike a deal

By Peter Schroeder - 07/28/11 10:39 AM ET

A group of top financial executives is pressuring policymakers to strike a deal on the debt limit, warning that inaction would yield "very grave" consequences.

Top Wall Street executives such as Bank of America's Brian Moynihan, Goldman Sach's Lloyd Blankfein and JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon signed on to a letter sent to the president and members of Congress on Thursday. The letter was officially sent by the Financial Services Forum, a nonpartisan group that represents the chief executive officers of the largest financial firms.

The 14 CEOs warned that a failure to raise the debt limit would endanger the economic recovery, and that the fallout from such inaction would spell doom for the economy. However, they declined to pick sides as both parties push their own plan to hike the debt limit...

July 28, 2011

We thought you should read this letter to the editor, in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, on the debt ceiling, written by former Republican Congressman Jim Ramstad. We hope Republicans are paying attention:

Flat-earthers in Congress are playing with fire on the debt-ceiling controversy, and the American people are about to get burned. Their denial of economic reality is both outrageous and dangerous.

The United States simply cannot default on its obligations and risk a financial system disaster. I plead with my former colleagues to wake up before they bring our country to its knees and do irreparable harm.

It's time for reasonable heads to prevail and for Congress members to reach a bipartisan, pragmatic compromise before it's too late.

JIM RAMSTAD, WAYZATA

The writer, a Republican, represented Minnesota's Third Congressional District from 1991 to 2009.

July 28, 2011

As we begin debate on the Boehner Default Act that has no chance of passing the Senate, it is clear that Republicans are putting our economic security at risk by refusing to compromise on a debt limit proposal.

We already know what the polls say: The American people want a balanced compromise.

And now, editorial pages around the country are weighing in against Speaker Boehner’s plan.

Some highlights:

St Louis Post Dispatch: Boehner's business analogy fails on several levels

Boston Globe: Boehner can’t please Tea Party, but bipartisan deal could work

Denver Post: Grand bargain or not, let's make a deal

July 28, 2011

With less than a week until possible default, Republicans are putting an already weak housing market at risk by refusing to work with Democrats on an agreement to pay our nation’s bills and reduce the deficit. An article in today’s National Journal explains how failing to pay America’s bills would cause interest rates to soar, which would weaken the housing market and have a real impact on American families:

National Journal

Another Hit for Housing?

The debt-ceiling impasse could make the biggest economic weight even heavier.

by Jim Tankersley

It’s tough to remember now, given the onslaught of brutal economic and political news that has followed, but last month actually brought a sliver of good news about the beleaguered housing market: The National Association of Realtors reported that its measure of pending home sales rose by 8.2 percent in May.

Analysts don’t expect repeat cheer when the index for June drops on Thursday morning—the Bloomberg consensus forecast is a 2 percent drop. And potentially far worse news looms on the horizon. If Congress and President Obama can’t find agreement on raising the nation’s borrowing limit, the housing sector could suffer another big hit.

Housing remains the economy’s most troublesome problem child. Unlike consumer spending and hiring, which each surged briefly during this slow-and-go recovery, housing has stayed in near free-fall (except for the period when federal tax credits were propping it up artificially) throughout the country since the financial crisis...

July 28, 2011

There’s a USA Today editorial about how far House Republicans have strayed from their conservative hero, President Ronald Reagan, which begs the question:


Rather than cling to the Republican Default Act that has no chance of passing the Senate, House Republicans should take a page from President Reagan’s playbook and work with Democrats on a long-term, balanced agreement to pay our bills, reduce the deficit and bring certainty to our economy. Here’s the full editorial for your enjoyment:

 

Our view: Conservatives have strayed from the Reagan model

As Washington continues wrangling over plans to raise the federal debt limit and cut long-term deficits, a fair question for Republicans to ask is: What would Ronald Reagan do?

The answer, based on a fair-minded reading of Reagan's record as president, is this: He would raise the debt ceiling. He would agree to tax increases as part of a balanced package to rein in deficits. And all this would be accomplished by compromising with the Democrats after tough but civil negotiations.

None of this is to suggest that Reagan wasn't a stalwart conservative. He surely was. On balance, he lowered taxes while showing that free enterprise was a powerful engine of job growth and social progress...

July 28, 2011

Today’s NY Times editorial highlights how Republicans are putting our economic security at risk by refusing to compromise on a debt limit proposal. With the Dow dropping over 400 points in four days and our credit rating at risk of downgrade, we’re running out of time to ensure we pay America’s bills. Democrats continue to urge Republicans to work with us on a long-term, balanced agreement to pay America’s bills, reduce the deficit and bring certainty to our economy.

NY Times Editorial

July 27, 2011

America’s Credibility Is at Risk

Until this week, Wall Street has shrugged off each new low in the debt-limit debate, confident — in a whistling-past-the-graveyard kind of way — that Washington would raise the debt limit on time.

Many Republican politicians have insisted that the economy and the country could shrug off a default. Up to Wednesday, the most conservative members of the House seemed to be welcoming a default. They refused to support a plan to raise the limit — and impose overly harsh spending cuts — put forward by Speaker John Boehner.

The cost of this fecklessness should now be clear to everyone. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped nearly 200 points on Wednesday and is down 421 points since Friday when Mr. Boehner left President Obama waiting for a phone call that never came about a deal that never closed...

July 27, 2011

Wanted to be sure you saw this WSJ article about the uncertainty American businesses are feeling as Republicans continue to hold our economy hostage to Speaker Boehner’s short-term debt limit proposal that is dead on arrival in the Senate.

Key Point: “All the uncertainty comes just as businesses were starting to spend some of their record piles of cash. The confusion is also giving them another reason to delay hiring and investment.”

Will Republicans continue to step on the hose just as capital starts to flow back into the economy? Or work with Democrats so that we can take action quickly on a long-term, balanced solution that will reduce the deficit, avoid the catastrophic consequences of default and create certainty so businesses can invest and hire?

July 27, 2011

There are three reasons Democrats want to pass a long-term deal to get a handle on our deficit problem, avoid default and give businesses certainty:

1.) Jobs
2.) Jobs
3.) Jobs

There are three reasons Republicans are insisting on an irresponsible short-term deal that has no hope of passing the Senate. As John Boehner told a radio host today, according the New York Times:

1.) “Barack Obama hates it”
2.) “Harry Reid hates it”
3.) “Nancy Pelosi hates it”

July 27, 2011

According to this Weekly Standard column by Bill Kristol, conservatives should side with Speaker Boehner. Not because it will avoid economic catastrophe or stave off our country’s first default in its history, but because it will be a “victory over Obama.”

Key excerpts:

“To govern is to choose. To vote is to choose. To vote against John Boehner on the House floor this week in the biggest showdown of the current Congress is to choose to vote with Nancy Pelosi. To vote against Boehner is to choose to support Barack Obama. It is to choose to increase the chances that worse legislation than Boehner’s passes. And it is to choose to increase the chances that Obama emerges from this showdown politically stronger.”

“When wavering House Republicans think the current situation through, they won’t choose to join the pro-Obama right. They’ll choose to stand with John Boehner against Barack Obama. Because victory over Obama is no vice. And losing to Obama is no virtue.”

Words not appearing in this column:

Economy
Jobs
Debt
Deficit
Compromise
Default

Word appearing 8 times:

Defeat

Word appearing 13 times:

Obama

July 27, 2011

For those who’ve thought that House Republicans’ actions these past several weeks bear a close resemblance to a two year-old’s tantrum, you should check out this Business Insider piece. It should serve as a reminder to Republicans that they can’t just throw a hissy fit when they don’t get absolutely everything their way. Instead of “storm[ing] off” and “forcing the US into default,” it’s time for Republicans to work with Democrats to pass a long-term, balanced solution to reduce our deficit, pay our bills and give our economy the certainty it needs.

America cannot afford a GOP temper tantrum. The costs of default are too great.

Excerpts:

“But for some of the children in Congress, those gains aren't enough. They want... what they want.”

“And if they don't get it?”

“Well, then, they'll just throw a hissy fit and storm off, forcing the US into default.”

“Needless to say, this isn't admirable behavior. It's not leadership. It's not what the country needs as it struggles to find a way out of this mess. And it's certainly not something these Congress-folk should be commended for.”

“But the answer to our long term financial problems isn't to elect children. It's to elect adults, who can lead us out without clobbering the economy in the process.”

“Yes, the United States needs to focus on its long-term budget problem. Yes, it needs to cut spending. And, yes, the latest plans put forth by both parties probably don't cut spending enough.”

“But the United States also needs to be very careful about how and when it cuts this spending. It needs to cut spending in areas that many of the children blocking a debt deal consider sacrosanct (military, for example). And it also, almost certainly, needs to raise taxes--the mere mention of which makes the children start screaming and stomping their feet again.”

Being an adult means compromising as you strive to get what you want. It means working your way out of problems, not howling that everything must be the way you want it right now. In the case of the government leaders, it means doing the right thing, even if the right thing isn't exactly what your constituents want.”

“It's time for the children in Washington to grow up.”

July 27, 2011

Wanted to pass along this NY Timesarticle highlighting how a credit rating downgrade would be felt across the nation—slowing economic growth “for years to come,” hurting job creation and increasing the deficit.

Key excerpts:

“Some economists say the effects of lowering the federal government’s credit rating to AA from AAA can be measured in the billions of dollars in increased borrowing costs for the government, and in the billions more that consumers, corporations, states and municipalities will have to pay for their credit. It could also erode consumer and business confidence, slowing even further the economy and job creation.”

“The view among many on Wall Street on Tuesday was that long-term Treasury yields could edge up by 0.10 percentage points, to 0.70 percentage points. That would eventually increase the amount of interest the United States pays on its debt by as much as tens of billions of dollars each year. The government now pays $250 billion a year on interest costs to service its debt.”

“The size of the increase depends on how long the stalemate in Washington continues, Terry Belton, the global head of fixed-income strategy at JPMorgan Chase, said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.”

“On the high end, the government’s interest payments could climb an additional $100 billion a year, Mr. Belton said. ‘That is a huge number, representing a long-term permanent increase in U.S. borrowing costs.’”

“Rates would also increase on some markets priced off Treasuries, including mortgages, credit cards and student and auto loans, analysts warned.”

“For a typical consumer with a $200,000 mortgage, the increase in yields could translate into an increase of $200 to $400 a year in their loan payments, according to Citigroup analysts.”

July 27, 2011

A look at the morning headlines shows Speaker Boehner is facing opposition from a significant number of conservative Republicans, who won’t vote for his short-term proposal to pay America’s bills. With less than a week until possible default, we don’t have time for the Speaker to rewrite his bill, which is destined to fail in the Senate. Instead, it’s time for Speaker Boehner and House Republicans to work with Democrats on a long-term, balanced approach to ensure we pay our nation’s bills, reduce the deficit and give certainty to the markets.

WSJ: Boehner Plan Faces Rebellion

NY Times: Vote on Boehner Plan Delayed Amid Opposition 

Politico: Markets slip after Boehner delay

CNN: House delays vote on Boehner plan

Fox News: Boehner Rewriting Debt Plan, Vote Delayed Until Thursday

July 27, 2011

Not only does Senator Reid’s long-term, balanced debt limit proposal give our economy more certainty than Speaker Boehner’s short-term bill, but it also reduces the deficit more than the GOP plan. So, our question of the day is this: which proposal should the House consider?

Senator Reid’s Proposal: “CBO estimates that this legislation would reduce budget deficits by about $2.2 trillion between 2012 and 2021 relative to CBO’s March 2011 baseline adjusted for subsequent appropriation action.”

Or

Speaker Boehner’s: “CBO estimates that the legislation would reduce budget deficits by about $850 billion between 2012 and 2021 relative to CBO’s March 2011 baseline adjusted for subsequent appropriation action.”

For House conservatives, who argue they are committed to cutting spending, the choice should be a no-brainer.

July 26, 2011

A look at this afternoon’s headlines shows Speaker Boehner is going to have a tough time passing his short-term debt limit proposal:

TPM: Jim DeMint: Boehner Plan Doesn’t Have The Votes

NY Times: ‘Very Few’ Democrats Will Back Boehner Plan, Hoyer Says

Roll Call: Jim Jordan Pushes Back on Boehner Plan

Politico: Pelosi warms to Reid plan

There isn’t a lot of time to waste. When will House Republicans abandon their ideological agenda and work with us to pass a long-term, balanced proposal that will ensure we pay America’s bills, reduce the deficit and bring certainty to our economy?

July 26, 2011

Wanted to be sure you saw the Washington Post article highlighting the uncertainty felt by the business community as Republicans continue to hold our economy hostage. Republicans often say that we need to give our economy certainty so that we can create jobs, but rather than move forward with a long-term plan that ensures we pay our nation’s bills and reduces our deficit, they are advocating for a short-term proposal that kicks the can down the road and doesn’t give businesses the certainty they need. It’s time for both parties to come together and act quickly on a compromise that pays America’s bills, reduces our deficit and creates certainty so businesses can grow and hire.

Key Excerpts:

Business leaders are becoming exasperated with Washington. And the dysfunction they see in the political system is holding them back from hiring and investing.

Executives lack confidence that political leaders can execute the basic nuts and bolts of governing, as exemplified by the current brinksmanship over raising the debt ceiling, based on interviews with more than a dozen corporate leaders in the Chicago area last week. Indeed, the frustration over the political climate and Washington’s seeming inability to solve problems seems to weigh more heavily in their minds than any specific government policy.

…But in contrast to claims by congressional Republicans that any tax increases whatsoever would stop job creation in its tracks, many executives say they could tolerate somewhat higher taxes if it were part of a broader plan that offered clarity on the nation’s future policies, particularly one heavy on spending cuts.

“What are the rules of the game going to be in the long term?” said Lyle Heidemann, chief executive of the 5,000-store hardware chain True Value. “What our retailers would like to have is consistency and predictability. We can handle decisions we don’t agree with, but that’s easier than not knowing what the decision is going to be.”

The groups that represent businesses in Washington, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, have been urging Congress to raise the debt ceiling to avoid the risk of a default or downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, even as many newly elected Republican members of the House — who received support from business interests when running — are reluctant to vote for such a measure. A group of major business groups sent a letter to the president and every member of Congress two weeks ago imploring them to raise the debt ceiling.

The tenor of the debates in Washington has damaged the executives’ sense — long taken for granted — that the taxes and regulatory policies they face will be predictable and reasonably constant. The executives are horrified that the nation might be on the verge of losing its AAA credit rating, and their hunger for a grand bargain — a master plan to determine the nation’s fiscal future over the coming decade — is deep.

July 26, 2011

Yet another poll is out showing that Americans support a balanced agreement to pay our bills and reduce the deficit. This one’s particularly significant, having been taken last night after the President and the Speaker laid out their respective positions. Unfortunately for Speaker Boehner, his short-term, kick the can down the road plan didn’t fare so well:

‘“It does seem to be that the popular narrative is falling on the side of the president on this one,’ Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said.”

“56 percent said they want to see a mix of approaches used in an agreement to raise the debt ceiling.”

“Just 19 percent of Americans said they favor a plan like Boehner’s, which would rely solely on spending cuts to existing programs to reduce the
deficit.”

July 26, 2011

Republicans are holding our economy hostage to their ideological agenda, putting our nation at risk of default just a week from today. Default would have a real impact on middle class families, and at a time when our economy is still recovering, American families can’t afford to pay the price. Take a look at the numbers:

Over $1,000: Increase in mortgage payments for the average family

$250: Increase in credit card interest for the average family

$318: Additional amount families could pay per year on food

$100: Additional amount families could pay per year on gas

$182: Additional amount families could pay per year on utilities

July 26, 2011

As Republicans continue to argue for a short-term compromise, which would not give our economy certainty and hurt job creation, business leaders are calling on Congress to quickly take action and compromise so that we pay our nation’s bills and avoid the catastrophic consequences of default:

Key point: “All of us in the business community have been watching that issue unfold. I think like most Americans, we’ve been confident that people will come to a common agreement,” Smith told POLITICO. “Of course with each passing day and the approaching deadline, there is a heightening sense of nervousness in the business community.”

July 26, 2011

Wanted to make sure you all saw this AP story where Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan said that when it comes to the Boehner plan, he is confident "that as of this morning there are not 218 Republicans in support of this plan."

At this late hour, Speaker Boehner should heed this warning from his own conference, drop his insistence on an irresponsible short-term bill and pass the proposal outlined by Senate Majority Leader Reid. As Mr. Hoyer said this morning at his weekly pen and pad briefing, Speaker Boehner should not count on Democratic votes to support his short-sighted proposal.

And now it appears he may not be able to count on Republican votes either.

AP: GOP lawmaker: Boehner's debt bill lacks support

By CHARLES BABINGTON Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A top Republican House member says he thinks Speaker John Boehner lacks the GOP votes needed to pass his debt-ceiling plan in the House.

Jim Jordan of Ohio told reporters Tuesday that he's confident "that as of this morning there are not 218 Republicans in support of this plan." That's the number needed to pass bills in the House. Democrats are expected to overwhelmingly oppose Boehner's plan for a two-step debt-reduction process.

Jordan chairs the Republican Study Committee, which includes scores of House conservatives. He says he opposes Boehner's plan because it would not cut spending enough and it would not require a balanced budget.

July 26, 2011

We already know that Speaker Boehner has offered a short-term debt limit plan that would return our country to a state of imminent default within months, subjecting our economy to high levels of uncertainty. Now, CNN has reported that passing the Boehner plan would likely lead the rating agencies to downgrade America’s AAA credit—a step that would destroy jobs by dramatically raising interest rates for millions of Americans. On the other hand, passing the compromise plan put forward by Senate Majority Leader Reid would reduce the deficit by enough, and extend the debt limit by enough, to preserve our top-rated credit. A compromise to raise the debt limit through 2013 would show the world that America can be counted on to pay its bills—but Republicans’ radical and unpopular approach is inspiring no such confidence. Watch the video here.

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