debt ceiling

Obama, House Republicans discussing debt ceiling deal

There has been considerable movement in talks between House Republicans and the White House on the debt ceiling over the last 24 hours. There is no definite deal yet, but the wheels are moving.

House Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), have floated the idea of a six-week debt ceiling increase, which conservative groups have indicated they will not oppose and which the White House has said that President Barack Obama would “likely” sign.

Senate, however, is still pushing forward on a long-term debt ceiling increase. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will hold a vote tomorrow on one-year, $1 trillion dollar increase. Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and other moderate Republicans, are working with some Democrats to repeal ObamaCare’s medical device tax and subsidy verification requirements as part of the debt ceiling deal. This potential deal would also give the Obama Administration flexibility on sequester cuts.

No, control of the House of Representatives isn’t in play next year

The political stalemate in Washington that has led to a government shutdown has Democrats salivating at the prospect of winning back the House of Representatives in the 2014 mid-term election., a leftist organization, released a set of polls earlier this week showing that 24 Republicans could be vulnerable next year, alleging that the government shutdown “has significant electoral implications” in the district they represent. The polls, which were conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP), were immediately seized upon by Democrats, who need a net-17 seats to win control of the chamber.

While it’s true that many polls show Republicans taking the brunt of the blame of the government shutdown — though a recent CNN poll shows that blame is pretty close to evenly spread — Stu Rothenberg, a political analyst and namesake of the Rothenberg Political Report, disputes the notion that control of the House is up for grabs.

“Is the House in play now? Of course not. My newsletter’s most recent race-by-race assessment, completed just days before the shutdown began, found that the most likely overall outcome next year is a small gain for one of the parties,” wrote Rothenberg, who spent a fair amount of the column picking apart the Public Policy Polling surveys.

Paul Ryan urges Obama to discuss entitlements in op-ed, doesn’t mention ObamaCare

One of the most notable absences from the debate over funding the federal government has been Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee and House Budget Committee Chairman.

Aside from participating in a photo op last week with other House conferees ready to negotiate with their missing Senate counterparts, Ryan has been relatively quiet as of late, which is peculiar since he is one of the most prominent Republicans in Congress and the architect of two House-passed budget plans.

But Ryan spoke out about the budget stalemate yesterday in the pages of the Wall Street Journal and urged President Barack Obama to talk with Republicans, who he said are ready to negotiate, and also noted precedent for such discussions in a divided government. The Wisconsin Republican also talked up the idea of reforming entitlements, which are the drivers of federal spending.

“The president is giving Congress the silent treatment. He’s refusing to talk, even though the federal government is about to hit the debt ceiling,” wrote Ryan in an op-ed at the Wall Street Journal. “That’s a shame—because this doesn’t have to be another crisis. It could be a breakthrough.”

Ryan noted that President Obama is misleading the public he says that negotiations on the debt ceiling would be “unprecedented,” pointing to agreements forged under Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. He also pointed out that President Obama himself has negotiated on the debt ceiling in the past, citing the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was passed with bipartisan support and backed by the White House.

Movement on debt ceiling negotiations between Obama, Republicans

It appears that there may be some movement on negotiations between House Republicans and President Barack Obama on the budget and debt ceiling, nine days after the government shutdown began.

A group of House Republican leaders went to the White House last night, where President Obama insisted that he wouldn’t negotiate “with a gun at [his] head.” He apparently told Republicans that he was open to short-term a spending agreement and debt ceiling hike, which would pave the way for talks.

For their part, Republicans are at least considering the short-term debt ceiling hike, which would be considerably less than the $1 trillion request made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Robert Costa of the National Review called this a “half-way” approach, meaning that President Obama would have to meet them on funding the government.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is also talking to his caucus about possibly making a deal with the White House to end the government shutdown. Politico notes that the Kentucky Republican would support “temporarily raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government in return for a handful of policy proposals.”

Obama dares Boehner to pass clean CR, turns over negotiations to Reid

The finger-pointing continues as Congress enters the eighth day of the government shutdown and there doesn’t seem to be a resolution in sight.

Tuesday began with President Barack Obama daring House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to pass a clean Continuing Resolution (CR). Boehner has insisted that such a measure can’t pass the House, but President Obama wants the Ohio Republican to “prove it.” Yes, folks, Washington is apparently governing by double-dog dares.

The Washington Post noted yesterday that are enough moderate Republicans willing to join Democrats to pass a clean CR. But that’s questionable. While there may be enough House Republicans unhappy about the stalemate, they’ve rejected a procedural trick by Democrats to bring the measure that President Obama wants to the floor.

The interesting aspect in all of this is that President Obama, despite all of his rhetoric, has distanced himself from the CR and debt ceiling debate. The Hill noted yesterday that the White House is now deferring to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), putting him in charge of negotiations with House leadership. For his part, Reid is has been just as unwilling to move from his position as the White House.

Government shutdown continues, furloughed workers likely to be paid

If you were hoping the impasse over the Continuing Resolution (CR) and ObamaCare would be solved over the weekend, you no doubt woke up to disappointing news this morning. Today is the seventh day of the government shutdown and it appears that the White House and Congress are no closer to a resolution.

While ObamaCare was the initial focus of House Republicans, they’ve now shifted their strategy to get a deal that would fund the federal government and raise the debt limit, which will be reached in 10 days.

The White House believes that they “are winning,” according to an anonymous source quoted in the Wall Street Journal, and that “[i]t doesn’t really matter” how long the government shutdown lasts “because what matters is the end result.” Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had harsh words in response to that quote, telling reporters on Friday that “[t]his isn’t some damn game.”

Government shutdown puts Republicans in a corner on debt ceiling

Whether they like it or not, congressional Republicans may have squandered their chance to deal on the debt ceiling because of the current government shutdown.

House Republicans are absolutely right when they say that President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have been unwilling to negotiate on a Continuing Resolution that would keep the government open. But they made a tactical political mistake by trying to defund and delay ObamaCare through a measure that would keep the federal government running.

Poll after poll shows that Americans disapprove of ObamaCare, the 2010 healthcare law, and they want it repealed. They’re seeing the effects of the law through higher insurance premiums and its effects on workers as many employers drop or change benefits, cut hours to avoid mandates and/or have scaled back plans to hire. Republicans have won the messaging battle on ObamaCare.

But early polls show Americans placing more blame on Republicans for the government shutdown than President Obama and Democrats. This isn’t entirely self-inflicted; after all, the media isn’t exactly doing them any favors by framing the narrative in a manner that helps the White House.

Legendary journalist knocks Obama for refusal to negotiate with Republicans

Bob Woodward spared no side from criticism over the fiscal debates raging in Washington, during an appearance yesterday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Woodward, a Washington Post columnist renowned for his coverage of the Watergate scandal, criticized Republicans for their handling the budget situation and debt ceiling negotiations. But he reserved heavy criticism for President Barack Obama, noting that his failure to strike a deal is ultimately a failure of leadership on his part.

“[T]here is something [President Obama] could be doing. He said he will not negotiate on the debt ceiling — a reasonable position. But he should be talking,” Woodward explained to other panelists. “They should be meeting, discussing this, because…the American economy is at stake and the president, if there is a downturn or a collapse or whatever could happen here that’s bad, it’s going to be on his head.”

Drawing from history, Woodward notes that the onus is ultimately on President Obama to make sure that these debates are settled, regardless of House Speaker John Boehner’s role in the situation.

No, President Obama, the federal government isn’t the economy

The speechwriters at the White House have dug deep into their rhetorical bag of tricks to help President Barack Obama get public sentiment on his side over funding for the federal government and the debt ceiling.

During a speech last week in Maryland, President Obama told those in attendance that not only were Republicans threatening a government shutdown, they were threatening a so-called “economic shutdown” as they tried negotiate changes or delays to ObamaCare for a debt ceiling increase.

“Some of the same Republicans who warned three years ago that this law would be “Armageddon” — that’s what they said — “Armageddon” — now they’re threatening steps that actually would badly hurt our entire economy — not because of the Affordable Care Act but because of what they’re threatening to do,” said President Obama last Thursday in Largo, Maryland.

“Some have threatened a government shutdown if they can’t shut down this law. Others have actually threatened an economic shutdown by refusing to pay America’s bills if they can’t delay the law,” he added. “That’s not going to happen as long as I’m President. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”

There would be some short-term economic effects if the debt ceiling weren’t increased, but the economy wouldn’t shutdown. House Republicans did offer a fix for this, by the way. They’ve twice passed legislation (back in May and again in the Continuing Resolution) that would require the Treasury Department to prioritize debt spending in the event of fiscal turmoil. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats, who would rather use the debt ceiling as a political tool, wouldn’t take it up.

Senate passes stop-gap spending measure, funds ObamaCare

 David Freddoso via Twitter (@Freddoso)

The United States Senate approved a cloture motion cloture to end debate on the Continuing Resolution, allowing Majority Leader Harry Reid to offer an amendment to strike the language that would defund ObamaCare from the measure.

In a 79 to 19 vote, the Senate ended debate on the Continuing Resolution (CR), with 25 Republicans joining all 54 Democrats (including two Independents who caucus with the majority) in advancing the measure. Just 19 Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), voted against the cloture motion.

A conservative news outlet reported on Thursday that as many as 30 Senate Republicans would vote with Cruz, who spoke for over 21 hours early this week against ObamaCare. Some observed that Senate Republicans were waiting for Reid to get 60 votes before they voted with Cruz.

Shortly after ending debate, a motion to wave points of order concerning the budget passed by a vote of 68 to 30. This was necessary because the CR violated the spending limits set in the Budget Control Act of 2011, appropriating roughly $20 billion more than the law allows.

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