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Sleepless in the hinterlands.

15 Oct

It is 3 a.m. on Tuesday.  We are set to default on Thursday.  One might expect a plethora, a cornucopia, a veritable Roman feast of news on the budget negotiations – you know, the kind of news coverage on one single topic that is so repetitive that one wants to visit the vomitorium in short order.  But, no, there is, in fact, rather a dearth of real information on what our dear leaders have in store for us.  Wall Street took an upswing yesterday after a really bad day on Friday.  Apparently they were buoyed by some news (I’m not sure where they get this information – they must have better sources than I do) that the parties in Washington may be coming to some accord.  Or, and this is more likely, the Wall Street power brokers are going to make big bucks on the default.  They know how to make a shitload by shorting the market.

Of course, one would have to be an idiot (i.e., an average American) not to see what is coming.  If we actually default on our debts, expect Mafia-like hikes in interest rates and the value of your house to plummet very quickly; these things will happen anyway, but much more rapidly with a default.  The big banks don’t feel they got enough from you in ’08 – now they want the rest.  Congress is happy to distract you while your pockets are picked.  No matter how the specifics of this particular debt ceiling debate end, the plan is for austerity.  Lots of austerity.  Any excuse for austerity.  An end, or broad defunding, of most of the New Deal programs, including social security, Medicare and Medicaid.  The end of food stamps, WIC, housing aid, the FDA, USDA, EPA – any program that serves the public.  Privatization of the commons.  The approval of the Keystone pipeline and the secret passage of the TPP.

The very vocal and sadly deluded group of Americans who think all the jobless and homeless amongst us can magically conjure up income out of thin air while there are no jobs and the corporations continue to lay people off will welcome all this.  Because, if I may be so blunt, they are stupid.  They really believe, with a fervor heretofore unseen in any group of hostages in the history of humankind, that the enforced misery of their own group is a Good Thing.  They do not think the masters will turn on them.  They truly believe that all government programs – run with our tax money, mind – that help anyone in any way are examples of horrible governmental overreach, while funding the military, giving no-bid contracts to Raytheon, and invading other countries at random is some good shit.  These are the people who cheered for Ted Cruz on Sunday as he spoke about the unfair closing of the war memorials and parks.  “Let the people in!  These are our parks!”  And the crowd chanted, “USA!  USA!”   And Sarah Palin, also present for some vague, but doubtless deity-driven reason, signed autographs – without a single misspelling – for the crowd.  Dumb fucks.  Ted Cruz is the one who made sure your war memorials were shut down.  You think they aren’t coming after your job, your house, your retirement?  Think they won’t take your back yard in some ginned up “eminent domain” flimflam and give it to a fracking company?  Think your family won’t die from drinking that water?  Ain’t you special, though?

So I finally found an article on CNN about the “negotiations” vis-a-vis the debt ceiling.  Here it is, in toto, with my own notes in bold.

Reid urges patience, remains optimistic over deal prospects
By Tom Cohen and Matt Smith, CNN

Washington (CNN) — Two steps forward, one step back.

A surge of optimism on Monday for a possible compromise to end the partial government shutdown and avoid a U.S. default as soon as this week got jolted by the sudden postponement of a White House meeting between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders.

In a brief statement, the White House said the meeting announced earlier in the day was put on hold “to allow leaders in the Senate time to continue making important progress” toward a solution.

It was unclear if the development signaled a problem or was needed to give more time for talks between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, to finish an agreement that could win approval in the Senate and the House.

Negotiations heated up with the Democratic and Republican leaders signaling progress. Both Reid and McConnell took to the Senate floor to express optimism for a compromise on the twin priorities that they expected to be reasonable and acceptable to both sides.

Reid’s tone remained positive as night fell over the Capitol.

“We’ve made tremendous progress,” he said, saying that “everyone just needs to be patient” and that “perhaps tomorrow will be a bright day.”

Key negotiators also maintained an upbeat posture and financial markets, which Washington is watching very closely considering their volatility over the political impasse, also ended the day higher with Wall Street heartened by news of a possible deal, especially on the debt limit.

At the same time, both sides noted that nothing had been finalized and the postponement of the meeting between congressional leaders and Obama and Vice President Joe Biden raised a new question mark in the process.

During a visit Monday to a local food pantry, Obama cited progress in the Senate negotiations but also warned of what he called continued partisan brinkmanship by House Republicans who “continue to think that somehow they can extract concessions by keeping the government shut down or by threatening default.”

[How appropriate that he spoke while at a food pantry, considering that this is where most Americans will be obtaining their food in the future.  That is, if the Koch brothers and Jamie Dimon feel uncharacteristic charitable inclinations run up their hind legs.]

“My hope is a spirit of cooperation will move us forward over the next few hours,” Obama said.

The failure of Congress to authorize spending for the new fiscal year triggered the shutdown on October 1.

Another deadline looms on Thursday, when the Treasury says it will need Congress to raise the debt ceiling so it can borrow more money to pay all the government’s bills.

During his visit to Martha’s Table in Washington, Obama said the congressional leaders could “solve this problem today.”

He warned that a default, in which the government would lack enough cash on hand to pay down its debt obligations as well as other daily bills such as Social Security checks, “could have a potentially devastating effect on our economy.”

[Here ya go.  The old Social Security dun.  I’ll type this slowly for y’all: by law, social security does not affect the budget or the deficit.  If they fail to send out SS checks, they are doing it simply to keep your money.  Because they are grifters and scam artists and this is part of the con.]

“We’ve already had a damaging effect on our economy because of the shutdown,” he said. “That damage would be greatly magnified if we don’t make sure that government’s paying its bills, and that has to be decided this week.”

The Treasury Department said it will be unable to pay the government’s bills unless the debt limit is increased by Thursday.

[Jack Lew has apparently run out of Extraordinary Measure rabbits to pull out of the hat.  The $85 billion per month, however, will continue to be printed and handed over to the Godfathers at the big banks on its regular and timely schedule.  Like Mussolini and the trains, baby.]

As reported by CNN’s Dana Bash and CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta, the main sticking point involves how long an agreement would fund the government to end the shutdown and increase the debt limit.

Democrats want the debt ceiling increase to extend as long as possible to avoid similar showdowns in coming months.

At the same time, they seek a temporary spending plan to reopen the government while formal budget negotiations work out a longer-term agreement that can negate the impacts of the forced sequestration cuts.

[Oh, yeah, we forgot about the sequestration crap in the excitement over the debt ceiling, didn’t we?  Dumb as a bag of rocks.]

Republicans, however, want a longer spending proposal that would lock in the planned sequestration cuts in coming months, with a shorter debt ceiling extension in order to negotiate further deficit-reduction measures.

[Shocking.  I know.]

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and moderate GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine have spearheaded the bipartisan talks. Separately, Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee also cited progress.

“We’ll get this done. We’re gonna get this done. I feel real confident,” Manchin said.

[We got a really big shew for you tonight, America, a really big shew.]

Manchin said the goal was to get at least 65 Senate votes — which would mean 10 or more from Republicans — to help Speaker John Boehner generate GOP backing in the House despite certain opposition from the tea party conservative wing.

Manchin said Reid and McConnell must work out specifics.

The two party leaders met twice in the morning and early afternoon, and they offered their optimistic assessments after their second face-to-face discussion. Boehner also dropped by McConnell’s office to get an update on the talks, his aide confirmed.

Democratic sources told Bash and CNN’s Deirdre Walsh that the proposal under consideration by Reid and McConnell would fund the government through January 15, allowing it to reopen for at least three months or so.

At the same time, negotiations on a budget for the full fiscal year would have a deadline of some time in December, the sources said.

[“Because,”  the sources continued, “we’d like to have the chance to fuck up Christmas while we’re at it.  It’s just how we roll.”]

Meanwhile, the debt ceiling would be increased through February 7 to put off the threat of default for almost four months, according to sources in both parties.

The budget negotiations were expected to address deficit reduction measures and therefore could impact when the debt limit would need to be increased again.

[Ignore those stories about how the deficit is going down without Congress doing anything about “deficit reduction”.  We need austerity, people.]

In addition, provisions involving Obama’s signature health care reforms could be included, such as strengthening verification measures for people seeking federal subsidies to help them purchase health insurance required by the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the sources said.

[Hm, more data collection.  Cleverly aimed at making sure fewer actual poor people can get this Obamacare of which we speak.]

Another possible change to the health care reforms would delay a fee on employers, unions and other plan sponsors that raise money to compensate insurance companies for taking on high-risk customers in the early years of Obamacare.

[Fees, on the other hand, are bad by their very nature.  Boy, this idea must be causing all sorts of mental anguish on the Hill.  We don’t like fees, and yet we are really committed to giving the big insurers extra compensation on top of the captive customer pool income we have handed them.  What to do, what to do?  And who thought of this fucking idea, anyway?]

CNN political analyst John Avlon said Monday that Democrats wanted to press what they perceive as an advantage over Republicans on how the public is perceiving the latest round of Washington budget and deficit brinkmanship.

“What’s behind it (are) poll numbers that saw Republicans getting their butt kicked because of this whole gamesmanship,” Avlon said.

Mindful that the Thursday debt deadline is days away, House Republican leaders are considering all their options even as Republican and Democratic Senate leaders try to craft a deal on the debt ceiling, said a GOP leadership aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/14/politics/shutdown-showdown/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

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Posted by on October 15, 2013 in austerity, Congress

 

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