After months of advocating for a “balanced approach” to our debt and deficits, it seems like the administration is pulling a 180 on the debt ceiling. Despite the overwhelming support from Americans (73 percent) to tie a debt ceiling increase to spending cuts, the administration is saying they “will not negotiate.” A “balanced approach” to raising the debt ceiling would take steps to address our long-term fiscal crisis (as outlined in the latest CBO report). What’s “balanced” about a clean increase?
WHAT HAPPENED TO BALANCE?
Administration Demands Clean Increase In Debt Limit:
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew: “We Will Not Negotiate Over The Debt Limit.” (Peter Schroeder, “Extraordinary measures become standard as US hits debt limit again, The Hill, 5/19/13)
Despite Months Of Advocating For A “Balanced Approach” To Debt And Deficits:
UPI: “Obama Urges ‘Balanced Approach’ On Debt.” “President Barack Obama Saturday renewed his call for a ‘balanced approach’ to reducing the federal debt.” (“Obama urges ‘balanced approach’ on debt,” UPI, 2/16/13)
Yahoo! News: “Obama Calls For ‘Balanced Approach’ To Avoid Fiscal Cliff.” (Deborah Lutterbeck, “Obama Calls For ‘Balanced Approach’ To Avoid Fiscal Cliff,” Yahoo! News, 11/9/12)
Press Secretary Jay Carney “Balanced” Deficit Reduction: “It is the president’s position that in pursuit of balanced deficit reduction that includes both entitlement reforms and revenues from tax reform…” (Press Secretary Jay Carney, Press Briefing, 3/11/13)
Jay Carney Touts “Balance” In The President’s Budget: “The president’s budget proposal … continues the work of reducing our deficit in a balanced way.” (Jay Carney, Special Report with Brett Baier, Fox News, 4/10/13)
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Calls For “Balanced, Long-Term Approach” On The Sequester: “We think that the sequester is irresponsible and it should be replaced with a more balanced longer-term approach …” (“Treasury Secretary Lew on Long-Term Unemployment, Party Divide on Spending Cuts,” PBS Newshour, 5/8/13)
AMERICANS OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORT A BALANCED APPROACH TO THE DEBT LIMIT
Public Notice Poll: 73 Percent Of Voters Say That If Congress Increases The Debt Limit, Then Congress Should Also Require The Government To Cut Spending. (“New Poll: Majority of Americans Want Spending Cut, Taxes Lowered To Balance Budget,” Tarrance Group Survey, 4/22/13)
Latest CBO Report Says Long-Term Debt Will Continue To Rise, Warns Of “Serious Negative Consequences”: “Under current law, the debt is projected to decline from about 76 percent of GDP in 2014 to slightly below 71 percent in 2018 but then to start rising again; by 2023, if current laws remain in place, debt will equal 74 percent of GDP and continue to be on an upward path. Such high and rising debt later in the coming decade would have serious negative consequences: When interest rates return to higher (more typical) levels, federal spending on interest payments would increase substantially. … Finally, a large debt increases the risk of a fiscal crisis, during which investors would lose so much confidence in the government’s ability to manage its budget that the government would be unable to borrow at affordable rates.” (“Updated Budget Projections: Fiscal Year 2013 to 2023,” Congressional Budget Office, 5/14/13)
Jedediah Tucker Ward: It’s not hypothetical to Dr. Pavel, he wrote it
Michael Grazier:So he says.
Jedediah Tucker Ward:So he says under oath
Class Action 1991
PM James Hacker: (On Phone): No, no, leave me out of it. A routine visit. (Listening) All right – a routine surprise visit. (Listening) Well, say they were invited earlier, but the NATO exercise got in the way. Now they’re not needed, they’re going anyway. (Listening) All right. Nobody knows it’s not true. Press statements aren’t delivered under oath.
Yes Prime Minister A victor for Democracy 1986
Yesterday the White House apparently learning nothing from the precedent of sending Susan Rice on every cable network decided to send Dan Pfeiffer to every single Sunday Show State of the Union on CNN, Face the Nation on CBS, This week on NBC, Fox News Sunday and Meet the Press on NBC.
Pfeiffer’s line was pretty much the same all over, Fox & CBS gave him the hardest time, Not surprisingly David Gregory on NBC gave him the easiest time but hard or easy the story was essentially the same. Nothing to see here, of course the IRS stuff was wrong, Republicans lying on Benghazi blah blah blah …
There is a lot of talk online about what was said as Jazz Shaw put it:
Man, I wouldn’t want to be Dan Pfeiffer today. That’s got to be a really ugly job and leave him with ashes in his mouth pedaling this crap.
— Jazz Shaw (@JazzShaw) May 19, 2013
I disagree, in this economy plenty of people would love to get Pfeiffer or Jay Carney’s paycheck to say what they’ve been told to say for Obama but what they say means nothing for one simple reason.
Not a word of it was under oath.
— Peter Ingemi (@DaTechGuyblog) May 19, 2013
Susan Rice, Jay Carney, Dan Pfeiffer et/al can say all they want to the press to the media and to the American people but it’s all about propaganda and frankly not worth the time to bother to make fun of it.
But if administration in general & Dan Pfeiffer in particular want me to take him seriously there is a simple way to do it:
— Peter Ingemi (@DaTechGuyblog) May 19, 2013
There is a huge difference between risking the scorn of reporters, republicans and advocates on twitter and risking jail time for perjury by testifying falsely before congress.
I suspect there are going to be many weeks of hearing on this scandal with people from the Cincinnati office, the White House and many more people going before the house under oath. I’m sure the congress would be happy to save a spot for Mr. Pfeiffer if he is willing to make the time.
What will it be?
Update: I should have also mentioned the Test for the media that I blogged before. Bob Schieffer passed it:
Bob Schieffer was born in 1937, he was working for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the day JFK was shot, and he’s not likely to be impressed by a 37-year-old “senior advisor.” And when it came to Benghazi, Schieffer didn’t let Pfeiffer bulldoze him:
The bottom line is what [Susan Rice] told the American people [Sept. 16] bore no resemblance to what had happened on the ground in an incident where four Americans were killed. . . .
[T]hat was just PR, that was just a PR plan to send out somebody who didn’t know anything about what had happened. Why did you do that? Why didn’t the Secretary of State come and tell us what they knew and if you knew nothing say we don’t know yet? Why didn’t White House Chief of Staff come out? I mean I would, and I mean this is no disrespect to you, why are you here today? Why isn’t the White House Chief of Staff here to tell us what happened?
At his age Pfeiffer might not mind selling his credibility for his higher-ups, it might even be a good career move long-term but Schieffer is 76 years old and his credibility is the most valuable asset he has.
Jon Stewart tonight targeted President Obama for his reactions to major administration scandals in the past week and how every time there’s a big news item involving his administration, Obama always seems to have found out about the news at the same time as the rest of the public did. Stewart found it odd that Obama wouldn’t have found out about IRS targeting Tea Party groups or the Justice Department seizing journalists’ phone records from, say, people inside the government instead.
Stewart noted how at Obama’s big press conference on Monday, there was a “question limit of one, total, from the entire American press corps,” but a reporter smartly exploited a loophole by asking four questions in the same question. Obama began his answer explaining that he learned about IRS targeting in the same news reports that the rest of the public found out about from.
Stewart mocked the blasé manner in which Obama answered the question, and pointed out that this is not the first time Obama has claimed to find out news at the same time as the rest of us. Stewart highlighted how Obama said the same thing about the Fast & Furious ATF gun-running scandal and the time when a low-flying plane freaked out everyone in New York City. And Jay Carney admitted that’s the same way Obama found out about the Justice Department seizing AP phone records.
Stewart quipped, “I wouldn’t be surprised if President Obama learned Osama bin Laden had been killed when he saw himself announce it on television.”
Stewart then brought on correspondent John Oliver, who explained how Obama shouldn’t have had the British prime minister at his press conference yesterday if he wanted a distraction from the press scrutiny, he should have palled around with Prince Harry.
Russia expels an American diplomat; O.J. Simpson goes to court again; a sinkhole swallows a car in Maryland and more.
*** URGENT LEGISLATIVE ACTION ALERT ***
IT’S TIME TO “LIGHT THE BURNERS” AND GET TO THE
BOTTOM OF THE BENGHAZI ATTACK.
by Lisa Piraneo, Director of Government Relations
Recently, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney noted this about the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi: “Let’s be clear, Benghazi happened a long time ago.”
We concur. It happened a long time ago. But we still don’t have answers.
As much as Jay and others in Washington, DC, hope it will go away—the Benghazi issue is here to stay until those answers are provided.
Why? Because the American grassroots, led by ACT! for America, have kept this issue front and center. They have spent the last 8 months calling and visiting their federal legislators asking for a real investigation into the attack.
As you may know, earlier this year, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) introduced H. Res. 36, legislation creating a select, short-term committee to investigate what happened in the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. From the very beginning, ACT! for America’s grassroots have been instrumental in educating their federal legislators about this legislation and, further, in asking them to cosponsor it. In fact, we’ve been so effective that Rep. Wolf recently sent a personal letter to Brigitte Gabriel thanking our members for their efforts.
And a lot of legislators have listened, but others have not—including the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives.
Over the last few weeks, we have seen an incredible momentum in support of H. Res. 36—from the grassroots, the media, and Members of both the House and Senate. Click HERE to read a recent Wall Street Journal editorial endorsing Rep. Frank Wolf’s efforts to see a select committee on Benghazi convened in the House of Representatives.
The legislation now has the support of 146 cosponsors (click HERE to see if your Member of Congress is one of them).
However, House Speaker John Boehner still does not think the issue rises to the level of requiring a special investigative committee—even after the explosive revelations made during last week’s congressional hearing by heroic whistleblowers who risked both their careers and reputations in order to do the right thing (Click HERE to watch the riveting testimony during the hearing if you missed it).
After last week’s hearing, Rep. Wolf sent a letter to Speaker Boehner once again asking him to convene the Special Committee. In his letter he notes, “After eight months, we can’t wait for more time to pass. Questions would remain unanswered, procedures unchanged and accountability unrealized. That is until another attack occurs and another life is lost. And then, shame on us if we, who have been entrusted with public service, have done nothing to prevent it.”
We wholeheartedly agree. Enough is enough.
As Brigitte Gabriel says repetitively, “If our legislators don’t see the light, we must make them feel the heat.”
Well folks, it’s time to light the burners.
Today, we are asking you to call and e-mail YOUR member of the U.S. House of Representatives to register your strong support for H. Res. 36 and to ask that he/she personally ask House Leadership to bring H. Res. 36 up for a vote before the FULL HOUSE—THIS WEEK.
Let them know that it’s time the Benghazi attack receives the attention it deserves. At this juncture, doing anything else demonstrates continued weakness to our enemies.
The overall message is this: The Benghazi attack deserves the attention of a Special Committee and House Leadership needs to convene such a committee NOW.
Click HERE to locate contact information on your Member of the House of Representatives.
Please relay the following message respectfully, but firmly, and in your own words. In addition, please pass this request on to everyone you know.
[Sample Script. Please modify as appropriate for call or e-mail.]
As a constituent, I am [calling/writing] to ask that Congressman [insert name] immediately contact House Leadership demanding that H. Res. 36 be brought to the House floor for a vote THIS WEEK.
H. Res. 36, legislation introduced by Rep. Frank Wolf, creates a special, short-term committee to investigate the Benghazi attack on the U.S. consulate.
It has been more than eight months since the attack. The five individual committees of jurisdiction have had ample time to investigate. As the recent congressional Oversight hearing has shown, this issue is much too complicated to be split between multiple committees. It must be investigated by one Special Committee devoted solely to the Benghazi issue.
We hope you will do the right thing and relay this message to House Leadership today. The world is watching.
REMEMBER, YOUR VOICE COUNTS!
IF EACH OF US DOES JUST A LITTLE, TOGETHER WE CAN
ACCOMPLISH A LOT!
Amb. Pickering Declines to Defend White House, State Department Accounts of Attack
Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press today, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said on Monday the Committee will formally ask the Benghazi Accountability Review Board co-chairs, Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Mike Mullen, to submit to bipartisan depositions with Committee investigators. The Oversight Committee seeks the input of the co-chairs in response to assertions made by career State Department officials that the ARB report and process was flawed and let senior officials off the hook. After the interview, Ambassador Pickering told Chairman Issa that both he and Admiral Mullen would accept the invitation.
Issa on Unanswered Questions:“There are three distinct areas that haven’t been answered. First of all, a full understanding of why urgent requests repeatedly for more security before the attacks were denied. We’ve had statements that it wasn’t about money, but at the same time, people are asking for more security – they got less. The British ambassador has two assassination attempts and yet we keep a facility that was not able to withstand even a few minutes of attack. Then, those seven hours while the attack was going on: Was the response correct? Could it have been better? Why wasn’t – why weren’t things at least tried or revved up to be tried? Those are important questions. And then afterwards, how could you change talking points twelve times from what seems to be relatively right to what seems to be completely wrong.”
Issa on Next Step in Investigation:
“On Monday, I’ll be sending Ambassador Pickering a request for a deposition. We’re going to want to go through at length how the ARB reached its conclusions, who it interviewed, and why we believe there are shortcomings .. We have one witness who says I wanted to be interviewed and I wasn’t. One of the questions that came out of our hearing, Gregory Hicks – the acting ambassador – has not been allowed to look at the classified ARB report even though he is the foremost authority on at least what was happening in Tripoli and what the communication was.”
[After the interview, Ambassador Pickering told Chairman Issa that both he and Admiral Mullen would accept the invitation.]
Pickering Declines to Defend White House on Dishonest Account of Events:
David Gregory: “The Press Secretary to the President, Jay Carney, said back in November … this is what he said:”
Carney (video): “The White House and State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of these two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because consulate was inaccurate. Those talking points originated from the intelligence community, they reflected the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened.”
Gregory: “We know that’s not accurate. We know that, in fact, the State Department, Victoria Nuland was involved in removing from the talking points previous warnings about security and references to a terrorist group – an extremist group – being involved in the attack based on what was being reported on the ground and by intelligence. Is the Administration guilty of playing politics with terrorism?”
Pickering: “With full respect, the Accountability Review Board was there to look at the question of security. We did not examine talking points after the fact. It was not in our remit.”
Click here to watch the full interview with Chairman Issa and Ambassador Pickering on Meet the Press.
We watch the Sunday morning political talk shows so you don’t have to.
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Obama nominates Pritzker, Froman for economic jobs
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Gitmo closure elusive, Obama looks at other steps
Obama considers naming official to work on moving Guantanamo detainees
Obama Nominates Wheeler to Lead FCC
SHOCK: White House Can’t Avoid Furloughs
Bloomberg reports, “President Barack Obama began experiencing first-hand the effects of across-the-board federal spending cuts as the first wave of White House furloughs kicked in yesterday. The $85 billion in cuts known as sequestration hit White House staffers with day-long furloughs scattered throughout the next two weeks. All staff classified as non-commissioned will miss one work day without salary during May’s first pay period while commissioned officers who, as assistants to the president don’t qualify as leave-earners, will have to take a pay cut commensurate with the planned furlough, spokesman Jay Carney said. ‘It affects everyone in the White House,’ Carney told reporters at yesterday’s daily briefing. Administration officials said about 468 people work at the White House, though they cited for that figure a payroll report from July 2012 — which doesn’t reflect turnover in the administration — and declined to provide updated numbers.”
Pentagon Seeks More Flexibility to Manage Sequester
Reuters reports, “The Pentagon is preparing to ask Congress soon for more authority to shift funds to cope with automatic spending cuts, confronting lawmakers with another exception to the ‘sequester’ just days after they gave a break to the flying public and the airline industry. The request may be sent to the House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee as early as next week, a House Republican aide said on Wednesday. The Pentagon won increased budget flexibility in March, but officials have told members of Congress they believe it was insufficient to cover shortfalls intraining and operations. The Defense Department move would follow closely the fix last week to ease airline flight delays caused by the temporary furloughs of air-traffic controllers by the Federal Aviation Administration. … The Pentagon was one of several government agencies that won some budget flexibility in a stop-gap government funding measure passed in late March. That allowed more than $10 billion that was locked up in other accounts to be shifted to the Pentagon’s operations and maintenance account, which funds training exercises and military readiness.”
“Promises, Promises: Obama $4T Deficit Cut Plan”
The Associated Press reports, “Even after a hard-fought deficit-cutting deal in 2011 and a tax-increase measure in January, Washington still has a considerable way to go to wrestle intractable budget deficits under control. The Congressional Budget Office estimates cumulative deficits of roughly $7 trillion over the coming decade and warns ‘such high and rising debt would have serious consequences,’ including higher interest costs for the government, reduced national savings and investment and a potential fiscal crisis.” During his campaign, President Obama said, “’ I’ve put forward a specific $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan.’ … Obama based the $4 trillion claim on last year’s budget and updated it in the budget he released in April. It incorporates $2.6 trillion in deficit savings already achieved by capping annual appropriations bills over a decade, the January tax increase on wealthier earners and the resulting savings on interest payments on the debt. The rest would come from a 10-year $583 billion tax increase, an additional layer of tax increases from slower indexing of tax brackets for inflation, modest curbs to federal health care programs and further savings on interest payments on the $16 trillion national debt.”
“The next sequester victors?”
POLITICO reports, “Congress and President Barack Obama spared the FAA from the full brunt of sequester, sending a clear message: We’re willing to cave. Now advocates for other agencies and programs are lining up by the newly opened door, looking for fixes to their own across-the-board budget cut woes. Some are better positioned than others to come out ahead, especially causes with a powerful story: Think of long waits, terrorism threats or deadly disease outbreaks. It also helps to have powerful lawmakers willing to go to the floor for you and weather criticism that they’re picking favorites in a law designed to hurt everyone equally.” Click here to see other agencies and programs that might be able to work their way around the sequester.
Reid Agrees Health Care Law A “Train Wreck” Without More Funding
The Hill reports, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says he shares colleagues’ concerns that the Affordable Care Act could become a ‘train wreck’ if it’s not implemented properly. Reid warned that people will not be able to choose health insurance plans on government health exchanges if federal authorities lack the resources to set them up and educate the public. ‘Max said unless we implement this properly it’s going to be a train wreck and I agree with him,’ Reid said, echoing a warning delivered last month by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.).Reid warned the federal government is not spending enough money to implement the law because of Republican opposition to ObamaCare. ‘Here’s what we have now, we have the menu but we don’t have any way to get to the menu,’ Reid said.”
ACA “still not well liked or well understood”
The New York Times reports, “Three years after President Obama signed the health care reform law, there are concerns that the process of implementing it will be rocky. Even some of the law’s supporters are worried. Perhaps more troubling for the White House, the Affordable Care Act is still not well liked or well understood. The Obama administration had hoped that over time, the legislation would gain enough support to help smooth over the rough patches of putting it into practice. Instead, public opinion has remained mostly static: a plurality of Americans still disapprove of the law, and a substantial portion of the public remains uncertain about what it says, according to recent polls.”
New Study Undermines Assumptions Behind Medicare Expansion
The Washington Examiner reports, “During the health care debate, liberals argued that government had to a moral duty to enact legislation that expanded health insurance among lower-income individuals. But a landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine dramatically undermines this assumption and shatters the rationale behind the law’s Medicaid expansion. In 2008, Oregon expanded its Medicaid program, but because the state could not cover everybody, lawmakers opened up a lottery that randomly drew 30,000 names from a waiting list of almost 90,000 and allowed them to apply for the program. This created a unique opportunity for health researchers, ultimately allowing them to compare the health outcomes of 6,387 low-income adults who were able to enroll in the program with 5,842 who were not selected. … Ultimately, the authors concluded that, ‘This randomized, controlled study showed that Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured health outcomes in the first two years, but it did increase use of health services, raise rates of diabetes detection and management, lower rates of depression, and reduce financial strain.’ So, the study suggests that expanding Medicaid is one way of reducing financial pressure on low-income groups, but it’s costly and does not improve their health.”
“Democrats Dissing ObamaCare”
The Wall Street Journal reports, “Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch on Monday held their first and (likely) only debate in the run-up to next week’s special election for the 1st congressional district in South Carolina. The media tittering over Mrs. Colbert Busch’s decision to publicly slap the former Republican governor over his extramarital affair obscured the more notable political comment of the night. That moment came when Mrs. Colbert Busch slammed her own party’s health-care law: ‘Obamacare is extremely problematic, it is expensive, it is a $500 billion [higher] cost than we originally anticipated, it’s cutting into Medicare benefits and it’s having companies lay off their employees because they are worried about the cost of it. That is extremely problematic, it needs an enormous fix.’ South Carolina’s first district is a conservative place—it voted overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney in last year’s election—so Mrs. Colbert Busch has every political reason to distance herself from her party and its health law. Yet she becomes one of the first Democrats to attempt to win an election on the back of criticism of her president’s signature achievement.”
‘Permission Structure’ Phrase Used By Obama Draws Criticism
Reuters reports, “It sounds like something teenagers need before borrowing their parents’ car, but ‘permission structure’ is actually a phrase being tossed around by President Barack Obama to describe his efforts to make deals with Republicans. At a news conference on Tuesday, Obama expressed frustration with resistance to his ideas among congressional Republicans, saying that he thought ‘deep down’ some of them wanted to ‘do the right thing’ but worry about such consequences as being challenged in primary elections. He said the only way to break the impasse might be to ‘create a permission structure’ to allow them to do what’s best for the country. … The phrase puzzled reporters and was mocked by Republicans seeking to highlight what they see as Obama’s ineffectiveness in pushing his agenda in Congress. … The phrase has been used frequently within Obama’s inner circle, dating back at least as far as his 2008 presidential campaign and a former Obama aide said it is a favorite term of Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer. ‘Sometimes there is an issue that seems intractable and in order to help someone find a path your point of view, you have to build in a process that helps them see your point of view more clearly,’ the former Obama aide explained.”
“Debt and Growth In A Time of Controversy”
Salim Furth writes for The Heritage Foundation, “The weight of the evidence indicates that high debt slows growth, but there is no magic threshold above which any country at any time will experience slower growth. This truth has been illustrated in the recent controversy around ‘Growth in a Time of Debt,’ an academic paper by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. ‘Growth in a Time of Debt’ has been widely cited in the policy world for its conclusion that gross debt above 90 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) is associated with lower economic growth. ‘Growth in a Time of Debt’ argues that episodes of high debt tend to last a long time. … Growth in a Time of Debt” showed that very-high-debt countries grow more slowly, on average, than other countries. That finding remains valid after a vigorous and hostile critique, but that single paper was never more than a small part of the broader understanding of how debt can hurt growth. In the United States, the question is not whether gross debt at 90 percent of GDP is acceptable. With gross U.S. debt now over 100 percent of GDP, that milestone has been passed. Rather, the question is whether the nation will continue on a path that promises to take us to debt at 200 percent of GDP within 25 years. If the U.S. continues to borrow at profligate levels to pay for routine spending, it may not be able to borrow to defend itself in an unforeseen war or to ease the pain of the next great recession.”