Hoyer Press Staff Blog

Blog posts from the press staff of Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer

September 2, 2011

After 8 months with no jobs plan, House Republicans must be feeling the heat. One week after President Obama’s jobs address, Speaker Boehner plans to deliver remarks on “jobs and economic growth” at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. But we wouldn’t bet on the Speaker actually laying out a jobs plan. Since taking the House majority, Republicans have said over and over again that they are focused on jobs, and yet they still don’t have a jobs plan and have taken very little action to help put more Americans back to work. Democrats, on the other hand, do have a plan – the Make It In America plan to support job creation by promoting an encouraging environment for businesses to innovate and make products here in the U.S.

Here’s a recap of the year, so far:

August 30, 2011

Wanted to pass along this op-ed in the Washington Post highlighting how Republicans’ so-called “jobs agenda” isn’t about jobs at all.

Blocking 7 EPA regulations that don’t even exist yet is not a jobs plan. Neither is rolling back critical protections for our air and water. Yet that is exactly what Republicans are proposing.

Key excerpts:

“Now, Republicans have outlined a jobs agenda that mainly consists of eviscerating federal regulations they don’t like, with a particular focus on rules designed to protect the environment. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) released a memorandum to GOP lawmakers on Monday that targets the ten most “job-destroying” regulations in the federal register. Seven of them are rules the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is on track to impose.”

“But what’s the GOP alternative to EPA restrictions on mercury, acid gases, ozone and greenhouse emissions? Cantor’s memo only talks about delaying and weakening proposed rules, not some different approach to environmental protection. Maybe we just don’t need any more of that?”

“A recent Office of Management and Budget review found that existing EPA regulations, particularly those dealing with the air, are among the costliest to comply with — but also among the most valuable, with benefits often vastly exceeding costs, dollar for dollar. In fact, part of the reason the price of environmental regulation is known is that EPA must run rigorous cost-benefit analyses on its rules before finalizing them. That’s how it reckons that every dollar spent on some of the measures Cantor is targeting — those cutting cross-state particulate and ozone pollution — will result in $30 in economic benefits from employees taking fewer sick days, a lower incidence of many chronic illnesses, and fewer early deaths.”

Blocking EPA regulations that do not yet exist is not a jobs plan. Democrats, on the other hand, do have a jobs plan – the Make It In America plan to support job creation by providing an environment for businesses to innovate and make products here in the U.S., which will help more middle-class families Make It In America.

August 29, 2011

Today, Majority Leader Cantor unveiled a more-of-the-same agenda that isn’t a plan to create jobs. In their first eight months in the House majority, Republicans did not put forward a jobs plan and wasted taxpayer money trying to repeal Democratic policies that protect middle class families and seniors. And from what we’ve seen today, Republicans will return to Washington next week without a real plan to create jobs or grow the economy.

Need evidence it’s a retread of past policies that are more about ideology than about job creation?

Today:

“House Republicans have laid out their fall jobs agenda, and it mostly revolves around killing environmental and labor regulations…”

“For good measure, they’re also planning another round of attacks on the health care reform law.”

“Republicans seem particularly focused on overturning EPA regulations – some that haven’t been finalized or even proposed.”

Flashback:

“If the House ran America, what would America look like?”

“It would have no more sweeping health-care law. The House voted to repeal that in January. It would have no more federal limits on greenhouse gases. The House voted to ax them in April. And it would not have three government programs for homeowners in trouble on their mortgages. The House voted to end them all.”

“On major issues such as health care, climate change and bad mortgages, the House has affirmed that some new fix would be needed — if it can ever manage to repeal the old one. It just hasn’t said exactly what those fixes should be.”

“‘For substance reasons, and for credibility reasons, we also need to have a comprehensive ... alternative that goes beyond saying, ‘Your plan is bad,’’ [Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC)] said. If that’s the entirety of the GOP message, he said, ‘then people will be very skeptical of our ability to lead. And with good reason.’”

Americans need a plan to create jobs – which Republicans still don’t have. Democrats do have a plan, and we hope Republicans will work with us to move the Make It In America plan forward to support job creation by providing an environment for businesses to innovate and make products here in the U.S., which will help more middle-class families Make It In America.

August 19, 2011

It’s been another rough week for Republicans back home in their districts as they try defending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while putting the burden of deficit reduction on the middle class and seniors. An article in today’s Washington Post highlights the pressure Americans are putting on House Republicans to take a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes both spending cuts and revenues.

We hope Republicans will listen to their constituents and work with Democrats on a balanced plan to bring down our deficit, strengthen the solvency of our entitlements, support job creation, and protect the middle class and seniors.

Key excerpts:

“On Wednesday morning, as his tinted black bus pulled into Randy Hultgren’s congressional district, President Obama told residents that Republicans like Hultgren must be willing to raise taxes to reduce the deficit.”

“A few hours and 90 miles away, Hultgren’s own constituents had picked up the message, repeatedly hectoring the freshman congressman at a town hall meeting to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations.”

“‘We have clear information that . . . tax cuts, especially to the super rich, has not increased any more jobs,’ one man told him. ‘I want to know under what conditions you would be willing to consider increasing taxes, especially on those who can afford it?’”

It is a scene that has been repeated at town hall meetings across the country this August as Democrats make a concerted effort to use this month’s congressional recess to change a national narrative on taxes.”

“But pushed on the issue, he offered something of an opening. He said he was willing to ‘look at’ ending subsidies to oil companies and closing tax loopholes.”

“But a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee insisted that the town hall reaction has not been coordinated. ‘People are responding because they are outraged about the priorities,’ said Jesse Ferguson, DCCC spokesman. ‘The president and congressional leadership have made sure that those are well-known. But the response is stemming from constituents.’”

“Democrats have been buoyed on the tax issue by poll numbers showing that a clear majority of Americans support higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations to reduce the debt. In July, a Washington Post-ABC poll found that 72 percent of respondents favored raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 to reduce the deficit.”

“Democrats have found new moral support from billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times this week titled ‘Stop Coddling the Super-Rich,’ in which he argued that higher tax rates should be imposed on capital gains earned by the mega-wealthy. Buffett’s words have quickly become a town hall staple, read aloud to Republicans, including Hultgren.”

Two hundred people, some chanting, confronted Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) at a town hall in Kalamazoo this week. That prompted Upton, who will serve on the new congressional committee, to say he is open to closing tax loopholes, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette.”

“Over the weekend, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), who is considering running against Hultgren in the 2012 Republican primary because both of their districts have been altered through redistricting, also faced a crowd that asked for higher taxes.”

August 18, 2011

Are Republicans finally ready to stop holding our economy hostage to their ideological agenda? They’ve done it twice this Congress (CR and debt limit, anybody?) which caused significant uncertainty for businesses and the markets. But in a memo to House Republicans yesterday, Leader Cantor admitted that while that’s been their tactic thus far, it’s now time to stop the brinkmanship and get to work on FY 2012 spending bills:

“While all of us would like to have seen a lower discretionary appropriations ceiling for the upcoming fiscal year, the debt limit agreement did set a level of spending that is a real cut from the current year level,” Cantor, R-Va., said in a memo to House Republicans. “I believe it is in our interest to enact into law full-year appropriations bills at this new lower level.”

Democrats warned Republicans of the uncertainty they were causing by holding our economy hostage to their partisan agenda. But it turns out it only took a couple weeks back in his district for Leader Cantor to realize the uncertainty those tactics created for Americans:

“He cited this as part of a strategy for addressing the uncertainty that is hampering the economy. In the memo, Cantor noted that Americans are concerned about Congress’ recent nail-biting finishes on what in other times were routine budget matters, including providing annual funding for federal agencies through appropriations and raising the nation’s debt ceiling.”

People in Cantor’s own district ‘are talking about the mess in Washington, the constant sense — fueled by those maniacal countdown clocks on cable TV — that we are ‘THIS CLOSE’ to going over the cliff,’ the leader said in his memo. ‘People feel like they have no idea what Washington will or won’t do next.’”

“To restore confidence, Congress must get to work on fiscal 2012 appropriations and the newly created deficit-reduction committee must deliver on its mandate to produce recommendations on savings, Cantor said.”

We hope when House Republicans return to Washington, they’ll abandon their ideological agenda and work with us to fund the government and reduce the deficit in a balanced way.

August 17, 2011

With No Plan Of Their Own, GOP Walks Away From POTUS Job Ideas Before They Even Hear Them Those who don’t have a plan, criticize:

Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor haven’t seen a draft of President Barack Obama’s upcoming jobs speech, but they took a swipe at it Wednesday anyway.

Those who do have a plan, will help put more Americans back to work:

“Meanwhile, news of Obama’s proposal won praise from House Democrats, particularly House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who has pushed for a jobs initiative focused on the manufacturing sector named ‘Make it in America.’”

“‘I am pleased that President Obama will outline a plan to create jobs and grow our economy,’ the Maryland Democrat said in a statement to POLITICO. ‘This again shows that Democrats continue to be focused on creating jobs, while congressional Republicans still have yet to offer up a plan to get America working again.’”

With no plan of their own, it’s time for Republicans to abandon their partisan agenda and work with us on our Make It In America plan to help create jobs and strengthen our economy.

August 17, 2011

Wanted to be sure you saw this Washington Post article today highlighting the Republicans’ agenda since taking the House majority eight months ago. You’ll notice the article says little about action they’ve taken to support job creation. That’s because Republicans have been focused on passing bills that have more to do with their ideological agenda than creating jobs. While Republicans have made it clear what they are against, it’s not clear what they are for. They haven’t put forward a comprehensive jobs plan, and they haven’t put forward any credible plans to replace the Democratic policies that protect middle class families and seniors and that they have wasted taxpayer money trying to repeal.

Democrats, on the other hand, are focused on our Make It In America plan - a plan to support job creation by providing an environment for businesses to innovate and make products here in the U.S., which will help more middle-class families Make It In America. We hope when Republicans return to Washington, they’ll abandon their ideological agenda and work with us on our plan to grow the economy and help put more Americans back to work.

Key excerpts:

“If the House ran America, what would America look like?”

“It would have no more sweeping health-care law. The House voted to repeal that in January.”

“It would have no more federal limits on greenhouse gases. The House voted to ax them in April.”

“And it would not have three government programs for homeowners in trouble on their mortgages. The House voted to end them all.”

“On major issues such as health care, climate change and bad mortgages, the House has affirmed that some new fix would be needed — if it can ever manage to repeal the old one. It just hasn’t said exactly what those fixes should be..."

August 17, 2011

Today’s op-ed by Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor is pretty remarkable for several reasons. First, they’re already taking revenues off the table before the Joint Committee has even begun its work. And second, they’re completely incorrect in suggesting that Democrats agree that we should tackle entitlement reform while leaving revenues off the table:

“Over the next few months, as a result of the Budget Control Act, lawmakers of both parties on the newly formed joint select committee will be in a position to make tough choices to rein in the mandatory and entitlement spending that is driving our long-term debt. We believe this work can be done without imposing job-crushing tax increases. We should be able to move forward on the areas in which we agree on the former, without tying them to areas of disagreement — such as the latter.”

Unfortunately for them, Democrats and even some of their own Republicans colleagues disagree with this unbalanced approach. Rather than putting the entire burden of deficit reduction on the middle class and seniors (as their op-ed proposes), Republican leaders should take note of their Joint Committee appointee Rep. Dave Camp’s willingness to consider all options to reduce the deficit:

“‘I don't want to rule anything in or out,’ Camp said. ‘I am willing to discuss all issues that might help us reduce our short and long-term debt and grow our economy… Everything is on the table, until we as a group rule it out,’ he said.”

Perhaps there’s hope yet that we can reduce the deficit in a balanced way, strengthen the solvency of our entitlements, help support job creation and protect the middle class, seniors and the most vulnerable.

August 15, 2011

Wanted to be sure you saw this NY Times article highlighting Republican economists’ support for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes both spending cuts and revenues. We hope Republicans will take note, stop “insist[ing] that taxes will not be on the table for the bipartisan Congressional committee,” and work with Democrats on a balanced plan to reduce the deficit, strengthen the solvency of our entitlements and help support job creation.

Key excerpts:

“The boasts of Congressional Republicans about their cost-cutting victories are ringing hollow to some well-known economists, financial analysts and corporate leaders, including some Republicans, who are expressing increasing alarm over Washington’s new austerity and antitax orthodoxy.”

“Their critiques have grown sharper since last week, when President Obama signed his deficit reduction deal with Republicans and, a few days later, when Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit rating of the United States.”

“But even before that, macroeconomists and private sector forecasters were warning that the direction in which the new House Republican majority had pushed the White House and Congress this year — for immediate spending cuts, no further stimulus measures and no tax increases, ever — was wrong for addressing the nation’s two main ills, a weak economy now and projections of unsustainably high federal debt in coming years.”

“Among those calling for a mix of cuts and revenue are onetime standard-bearers of Republican economic philosophy like Martin Feldstein, an adviser to President Ronald Reagan, and Henry M. Paulson Jr., Treasury secretary to President George W. Bush, underscoring the deepening divide between party establishment figures and the Tea Party-inspired Republicans in Congress and running for the White House.”

August 9, 2011

House Republicans have walked away from deficit reduction talks multiple times, but will they walk away from the Joint Committee before Congressional leaders have even appointed members to the Committee? While Democrats want to work together on a balanced approach to reduce the deficit, GOP leaders are already drawing lines in the sand – suggesting that both revenues and entitlements should be off the table:

“Cantor said Republicans should ‘demand’ the new joint committee focus exclusively on spending cuts. Cantor also predicted fundamental reform of entitlements will have to wait until after the 2012 elections…”

Achieving a majority on the Committee so that we can move forward with a plan to improve our nation’s long term fiscal outlook requires compromise from both Democrats and Republicans. We hope Republicans won’t start taking options off the table before the Committee even sits down to begin its work and will move forward willing to compromise on a balanced deficit reduction plan that includes both spending cuts and revenues and will strengthen the solvency of our entitlements.

From Roll Call:

“House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, meanwhile, criticized the S&P in a Monday memo for citing Republican opposition to revenue as one of the reasons for the downgrade.”

As a result of the downgrade, ‘There will be pressure to compromise on tax increases,’ the Virginia Republican wrote. ‘We will be told that there is no other way forward. I respectfully disagree.’”

Cantor said Republicans should ‘demand’ the new joint committee focus exclusively on spending cuts.”

Cantor also predicted fundamental reform of entitlements will have to wait until after the 2012 elections, and cited Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) comments on Fox News Sunday lowering expectations for the joint committee.”

Speaker John Boehner also reiterated his opposition to tax hikes.”

“‘Just as both parties contributed to our unsustainable debt, both parties must work now to cut spending,’ the Ohio Republican said.”

August 9, 2011

House Republicans have walked away from deficit reduction talks multiple times, but will they walk away from the Joint Committee before Congressional leaders have even appointed members to the Committee? While Democrats want to work together on a balanced approach to reduce the deficit, GOP leaders are already drawing lines in the sand – suggesting that both revenues and entitlements should be off the table:

“Cantor said Republicans should ‘demand’ the new joint committee focus exclusively on spending cuts. Cantor also predicted fundamental reform of entitlements will have to wait until after the 2012 elections…”

Achieving a majority on the Committee so that we can move forward with a plan to improve our nation’s long term fiscal outlook requires compromise from both Democrats and Republicans. We hope Republicans won’t start taking options off the table before the Committee even sits down to begin its work and will move forward willing to compromise on a balanced deficit reduction plan that includes both spending cuts and revenues and will strengthen the solvency of our entitlements.

From Roll Call:

“House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, meanwhile, criticized the S&P in a Monday memo for citing Republican opposition to revenue as one of the reasons for the downgrade.”

As a result of the downgrade, ‘There will be pressure to compromise on tax increases,’ the Virginia Republican wrote. ‘We will be told that there is no other way forward. I respectfully disagree.’”

Cantor said Republicans should ‘demand’ the new joint committee focus exclusively on spending cuts.”

Cantor also predicted fundamental reform of entitlements will have to wait until after the 2012 elections, and cited Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) comments on Fox News Sunday lowering expectations for the joint committee.”

Speaker John Boehner also reiterated his opposition to tax hikes.”

“‘Just as both parties contributed to our unsustainable debt, both parties must work now to cut spending,’ the Ohio Republican said.”

August 8, 2011

Last week Republicans returned to their districts and were “shocked” to hear that job creation was the dominant issue constituents wanted to discuss. Since taking the House majority, Republicans have said that job creation would be a top priority. Unfortunately they’ve taken little action on jobs. While Americans are focused on jobs and the economy, Republicans have wasted time on bills that have more to do with their partisan agenda than actually helping create jobs.

Democrats, on the other hand, remain focused on the Make It In America plan – a plan to support job creation by providing an environment for businesses to innovate and make products here in the U.S., which will help more middle-class families Make It In America. We hope after hearing from their constituents back home, Republicans will return to Washington ready to work with Democrats to help grow our economy and give Americans what they want: jobs.

From the Hill:

“Yet other members who hosted events last week said they were surprised by the lack of comment from constituents about the debt-ceiling vote.”

‘I was shocked. Although I talked a lot about the debt ceiling, there wasn’t a lot of talk about the debt ceiling [from constituents],’ Griffin said. ‘I thought that would dominate the discussions and it just didn’t … [People asked about] jobs, taxes and our debt.’”

Jobs seemed to be the dominant issue. A Gallup poll last month showed that 27 percent of voters named unemployment and jobs as the most important problem facing the United States.”

The House Democrats’ recess packet emphasized jobs and protecting entitlements..."

 

August 4, 2011

Wanted to be sure you saw this article in The Hill highlighting how the Affordable Care Act has saved seniors $460 million on prescription drugs. While Democrats are working hard to help lower health care costs for seniors, Republicans have voted multiple times to end Medicare and re-open the prescription drug donut hole, which would affect four million seniors and cost them an additional $44 billion by 2020, including $2.2 billion in 2012 alone.

Healthcare law has saved seniors $460M on drugs, HHS says

By Sam Baker - 08/04/11 12:03 PM ET

Seniors have saved more than $460 million on prescription drugs because of healthcare reform, the Health and Human Services Department said Thursday.

As part of the reform law, the pharmaceutical industry agreed to offer a 50 percent discount for brand-name prescription drugs in the Medicare “doughnut hole” — the coverage gap in which seniors pay for their drugs out of pocket.

Nearly 900,000 seniors have received that discount, at a total savings of $461 million, according to HHS...

July 29, 2011

While Republicans wasted time this week on a partisan Default Bill, U.S. stocks posted the biggest weekly decline in a year. Our economy needs certainty, but Republicans continue to hold it hostage to their ideological agenda. With only a few days left until a potential default, Republicans must work with Democrats on a long-term agreement that pays our bills, reduces the deficit and gives businesses and the markets certainty they need.

From the Wall Street Journal:

“U.S. blue-chip stocks fell, posting the biggest weekly decline in a year, as a blur of debt-ceiling developments left the market uncertain over the course of Washington's deadlocked negotiations.”

“The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 96.87 points, or 0.79%, to 12143.24, in a volatile session. The blue-chip index, which dropped as much as 157 points earlier in the day, has suffered six straight declines dating to last Friday.”

“Stocks recovered much of the early losses and even briefly turned positive after President Barack Obama stepped up pressure on Congress to compromise on raising the nation's debt ceiling. But the market languished through much of the afternoon before closing lower...”

July 29, 2011

How much is Republican hostage-taking costing America? According to Third Way’s analysis of the S&P 500 Index, “from the moment Speaker Boehner walked away from the table last Friday to the opening bell this morning, shareholders in U.S. stocks have lost $405 billion.” In addition, the Down Jones Industrial Average has dropped 483 points since Speaker Boehner’s most recent walk-out.

To put that in perspective, we’ve lost almost as much in five business days as Republicans want to cut from the budget over five years. Republicans always say that they don’t want to raise taxes on job creators—but their irresponsible actions are already taxing businesses and investors to the tune of $405 billion, and counting. There’s no doubt: Republicans’ reckless refusal to compromise—and their willingness to push America toward an historic default—is economically destructive. It’s time for Republicans to put their country first. Let’s compromise on a balanced solution to pay our bills and reduce our deficit.

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...

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