Just about a year ago, prior to Congress breaking up for its August hiatus, the President summoned Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to the White House. Mindful of the fact that 2010 was a Midterm year, and that all of the House and a proportion of the Senate would be on the hustings during the month of October, the President had something important on which he wanted the House and Senate to focus after they returned to Washington in September.

He thought it important that the Hill tackle the Bush tax cuts before heading out on the campaign trail. The President was erring on the side of caution. There was still a sizeable Democratic majority in the House and a reasonable one in the Senate. Best deal with the Bush tax cuts now, before the campaign season started in earnest. Repeal the tax cuts for the wealthiest, and extend indefinitely those for the middle and working classes. That way, when the politicos were on the campaign trail, the fact that Congress had vouchsafed tax cuts for the neediest people, whilst raising taxes on the wealthy, would be a valuable selling point.

The Speaker of the House agreed. The Senate Majority Leader demurred. He was locked in a neck-and-neck battle in his home state with Tea Party Queen Sharron Angle, and raising taxes on a particular demographic in his state, unfriendly to his political persuasion anyway, just might tip the balance in Angle’s favour in the election.

Later, he was backed up in his position by no less than Russ Feingold, who requested a meeting with the President in order to implore him not to pursue this agenda until after the Midterms. Feingold, like Reid, had too much at stake.

Well, we know what happened. The Democrats lost the House – mostly Blue Dog seats, with the exception of Alan Grayson’s and Tom Perriello’s; the Senate was returned with a smaller majority. Reid retained his position. Feingold lost to a Teabagger. And the Republicans held the Lame Duck session to ransome, refusing to do business until the Bush tax cuts were extended. For everyone.

Fast forward to December, after the tax cut compromise. The President, again, spoke to the Senate Majority Leader and the outgoing Speaker of the House. As part of the legislation to pursue during the December Lame Duck session, the President suggested that a vote be undertaken then and there to raise and extend the debt ceiling. Best get this out of the way in a clean cut vote, whilst the Democrats were in the last gasps of their majority in both houses. The President foresaw difficulties in the types of people the public had chosen to represent them in the House, and the Democrats’ majority was weakened in the Senate as well. Get this done, dusted and out of the way.

Once again, Harry Reid demurred. He’d prefer to leave this to the time it came up for debate, at the earliest, in the spring of 2011. Already, the 24/7 talking heads were wondering how a Republican House full of Teabaggers would tackle an increase in the debt ceiling, a situation few of the incipient Freshmen Congressmen seemed to understand. Even some of the incumbents weren’t that certain what the debt ceiling was all about. But Reid insisted. Delaying the vote, he said, would ensure that the Republicans, who were now being called upon to govern, would own part of the responsibility.

And so we find ourselves on the brink of disaster.

Last Friday night, John Boehner, the current Speaker of the House, tanked, yet again, on the President, walking away from an overly generous offer on deficit reduction, because the President was insistent on raising tax revenues on the wealthier classes. Talks broke down, again; and Congress suddenly remembered that legislation – specifically, fiscal legislation – was the job they were elected to perform (and paid to do via peoples’ taxes). So the Democratic leaders and the Republican leaders decided to formulate their own plans for deficit reduction, and to cut the President out of any and all negotiations.

The Speaker’s plan is in total disarray because he cannot unite his caucus. Frankly, his plan stinks anyway, and it’s just designed to repeat all this unnecessary melodrama, sturm und drang as a pejorative sideshow in the middle of an election year. Besides, it’s an open secret that everything the Republican Party in Congress has done, is doing and will do, has only a single aim: to ensure that this Presidency fails.

Senator Reid’s plan is somewhat better, but not perfect. And, like the GOP’s effort, it includes no raisings of revenue.

Now, in an eleventh hour panic, the House announces – nay, the House tells the President to invoke the ambiguous 14th Amendment option, something that has never been tried before and may be impeachable.

Where this goes from here is anybody’s guess, but one thing is certain: whatever happens won’t please either the Right or the Left (and the extremes of both are united in their vicious, vindictive and vehemently ad hominem attacks on the President), and at the end of the day, the President will bear the castigation and the blame, when we really should be pointing the finger at Congress and some specific members.

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Well done Marion. Well written and painfully true. I DO think sometimes that the GOP is bluffing and will continue to do so up until the last moment. They have to know that if they are seen to have caused a worldwide financial disaster, that their true colors will be quite evident. They can’t really be so arrogant as to believe that their constituents won’t notice. Then again, maybe they are that arrogant.


KT – don’t underestimate their capacity for self delusion. You keep expecting ultimate rationality, you are going to be very disappointed. These baggers are mostly Dominionists who REALLY believe that they know more about how our system works than long time representatives and – OK they ARE based in mystical self delusion to begin with – they are wedded to magical thinking. This is NOT an act. They are not paying lip service to “destroy the beast (democratic government) and rebuild it as we see fit” – they MEAN it.

They have the capacity for the next 18 months to destroy this nation by holding votes hostage, and the ONLY way around it is for Boehner to get off HIS loyalty to them, ally with mod Dems, and move forward. I think he cannot do it – he is under the thumb of the Baggers, and you can see the impact on Cantor, McCarthy, and other “leaders” (bad term for wimps) who have caved to Bagger pressure.

This is a very dangerous crowd. Remember swearing in day when two of ’em held an ILLEGAL fund raiser in the Capitol visitors’ center AND took their oath over the TV? Nothing ever happened to them – everyone was afraid of them. That is when the destruction of America is exposed: Baggers rule even as a minority even as their numbers dwindle, even as they fall in the polls. That’s not going to change until WE vote them OUT.


I do understand what you are saying, but I really find it hard to believe that they are really that stupid. At least, not enough of them, hopefully. They have to be somewhat aware of how the game of politics is played. I don’t know, maybe you are right and they really are that delusional.


Spot on Marion.

IMO, Congresscritters (sorry) are often more concerned with keeping their jobs than doing what’s right for the country. Of course, there are exceptions. But the thing is, in many instances they are simply wrong in their beliefs of what will or will not keep them in their jobs. Blue Dogs thought that being ultra-conservative would keep their paychecks flowing. Wrong. Far lefties thought the same thing – in at least 2 cases that I can think of they were wrong.

The President has given the Dems and the Repubs advice on more than one occasion and both have refused to listen and it’s been at their own peril.


Sabreen, it’s really been the people’s peril. These people in Congress are rich. They won’t have to struggle and scratch out a living if they lose their jobs. Not so for the majority of Americans. Many of those in Congress simply do not deserve to be there. They aren’t at all interested in “the common welfare,” of this nation. Some of these people really are on the verge of treason. Instead of selling out to a foreign power, they are selling out to the corporate CEOs, which isn’t much different. They are working against the common interests of most Americans. But alas, we have too many brainwashed people that have no idea how their votes will work against their own interests. The right wing spin machine is so powerful and broad, that they can easily keep people in the dark, like mushrooms, being fed a steady diet of manure.


Congresscritters is an insult to critters everywhere! 😉
IMO Only when the GOP feels their jobs Are on the line, will they feel a need to act prudently. With Citizen’s United backing, and subversive campaign funding in their pockets, I don’t think they feel any threat whatsoever.
Until the voters find a way to send the message that without cooperation they won’t be given ANY do-overs, will they start to feel the heat. That may not come until elections- and I’m not feeling reassured about that, either.


Marion – you have nailed down a key problem with this presidency, namely a weak Congress even before 2010. Dems are cowardly about their own values that are in sync with the majority of Americans while Tea Baggers are blustering boldly about theirs – never minding being told they’re wrong legally, fiscally, and morally.

That Obama has gotten done all he’s accomplished is nothing short of breathtaking since he’s fought his OWN party every inch of the way.

One possible alternative – don’t know if it would work – is for the Fed to buy up some of the US gold reserves, give us the money, and we’d buy the gold back in the future. That would help pay the bills even without raising the debt limit.

Problem is – whatever the president does, if he does it alone, Darrel Issa and Michelle Bachmann will move to impeach him. That is a dead cert. They’ve already said so. And that will make this country even more of a mess than it is.

Don’t have the answers. Not sure anymore I even understand the questions.