Obama sets July pre-midterm deadline for "Grand Bargain"
President Obama wants to complete a grand bargain to reduce the deficit by the end of July, an aggressive timeline coinciding with the expiration of the nation’s debt limit.
Obama told a small group of Republican senators who had dinner with him Wednesday evening that a deficit-reduction deal needs to happen in the next four to five months, according to three sources familiar with the meeting. ...
“The president said it would be good to do this in the next five months because that is when we’ll be considering the [continuing resolution] and the debt limit,” said the lawmaker. “After August you start getting ready for the mid-term.”
White House officials have previously made clear the timeline they are most interested in is the one for the budget resolutions the Senate and House will begin debating this month. They believe a deficit-reduction deal can be achieved by moving legislation through regular order. ...
“There is an opportunity here to do what some members of Congress and leaders have said they would like to do, and we agree, and that is return to some sense of normalcy here, regular order, engage in a budget process and negotiation and debate that hopefully produces a bipartisan compromise,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Thursday. ...
The beatings will continue until morale improves. Ya know, whenever the town just north of me gets into fiscal difficulty, they always threaten to close the swimming pool ("Even the children!"). Then the deal-making takes place, and the swimming pool stays open. The difference between hostage-taking at the local and Federal levels is that the Feds actually do close the swimming pool, but with a Kafka-esque admixture of not really closing it for everybody, setting the hours with byzantine and inscrutable regulations, privatizing bits of it, and on and on and on, with the net result that only those least in need of using the pool are able to do so. "You mean it costs me $35 to rent a pair of swimming trunks?"
“I think it has to happen outside of regular order,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who joined Obama and 11 Republican colleagues for dinner at The Jefferson Hotel, when asked about the prospect for reaching a grand bargain.
Senators described the Wednesday’s meeting as friendly and constructive. Some of them emerged more optimistic of the prospect of a reaching a grand bargain this year.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate Democrats’ chief political strategist, declined comment on Obama’s timeline but said Republican colleagues appeared encouraged by the meeting.
“I talked to three or four of my Republican colleagues who were there and they were very positive about the whole tone of the meeting,” he said.
GOP lawmakers said the meeting broke no new policy ground. They said the president shared a deficit-reduction plan that was very similar to one posted on the White House website.
Well, so much for that stupid Ezra Klein column. The Republicans "checked the web site!" Who was puffing Klein up, anyhow? The White House?
“It was all about optics,” said the aide. “He’s doing this to show that he’s working with Republicans because there’s been a dip in his poll numbers.” ...
But Republicans who sat down with Obama dismissed suspicions from colleagues that his outreach effort is purely for show.
“I think he’s very sincere. I think he wants to try to figure something out. Today was a good step and we’ll see what happens now,” Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) told The Hill after leaving the hotel meeting.
GOP senators say the test will be whether the president continues to invite them to private meetings. Obama has indicated that is his intention.
“He indicated that he would be meeting with other senators at different times,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) who spoke with the president on the phone earlier this week.
Obama did not give McConnell a heads up about his plan to invite a dozen rank-and-file GOP senators to dinner. Instead, the GOP leader heard about it from colleagues.
At a press conference Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) urged Obama to remember his pledge from the 2008 presidential campaign not to cut Social Security benefits.
Sanders, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and a group of Democratic liberals introduced legislation to extend the solvency of Social Security by applying payroll taxes to all income over $250,000.
Gawd, Democrats suck.
1. Sanders is a fool and/or corrupt. As we know, all Obama did was promise not to "slash" Social Security. He's definitely planning cuts (the "balanced approach") which everybody will agree aren't slashes.
2. The Democrats are fools and/or corrupt. They should be talking about increasing benefits, not avoiding cuts! Duncan Black is the most moderate person in the world, and he gets it. Why can't Democrats? (Well, I know why -- their owners said "No?! Hell no!" but repeat, repeat, repeat....)