Quotes of the day

President Barack Obama is once again warning House Republicans that he will not negotiate over a debt-ceiling increase, even as the U.S. government moves closer to its borrowing limit.

Obama called Speaker John Boehner Friday night to reiterate his hard-line stance. The Ohio Republican’s office said the president called to say “he wouldn’t negotiate with him on the debt limit.”

“Given the long history of using debt limit increases to achieve bipartisan deficit reduction and economic reforms, the speaker was disappointed but told the president that the two chambers of Congress will chart the path ahead,” a Boehner aide said in an email. “It was a brief call.”


“The key thing is we are going to negotiate over the debt limit. The president isn’t going to be able to say, ‘I’m just simply not going to talk with anybody,’ ” Rep. Tom Cole (R., Okla.) told reporters Friday…

The emergence of the defund campaign marks a shift that eclipses the Republican Party’s traditional focus on demanding spending cuts and long-term deficit-reduction measures in exchange for lifting the debt limit.

“The defunding or delay of Obama care has become pre-eminent,” said Rep. Tom Rooney (R., Fla.). “It’s a little frustrating to those of us who look at this time of year as the time to address the debt.”


And then comes Obama’s extraordinary claim that in the history of the United States, non-budget items have never been attached to the debt ceiling. He is essentially calling Speaker John Boehner and the other GOP congressional members extortionists.

Well, according to “Fact Checker” columnist Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post, the president’s claim is completely wrong. Going back decades, the debt ceiling bills have been linked to campaign-finance reform, Social Security, ending the bombing in Cambodia, voluntary school prayer, banning bussing to achieve integration, and proposing a nuclear freeze. Way back in 1982, then-Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker unleashed a free for all, allowing 1,400 non-germane amendments to the debt ceiling legislation. Kessler rightly gives Obama four Pinocchios.

Actually, in terms of renewing the government’s borrowing requirement, Boehner is proposing what I would term financially related, germane amendments. Though final decisions have not yet been made, the speaker is talking about a one-year delay of Obamacare, including all taxes and regulations related to the health plan, instructions for revenue-neutral tax reform, and additional instructions for entitlement reform, all as part of a one-year extension of the debt ceiling. Only the passage of the Keystone pipeline — a pro-growth job creator — could be termed non-germane.


A Democratic congressman from Virginia raised his voice on the House floor Friday and lamented how the Republican push to defund Obamacare makes him less “proud” to be a member of Congress.

“I used to be really proud of this institution,” Virginia Rep. Jim Moran said before the body voted Friday on a continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare. “I used to be able to go through my community and, many of those who have served as long as I have, know what it was like to be proud to be a member of Congress.”…

“We know what the government can do,” Moran said. “This bill doesn’t allow the government to do what it can to improve the lives of our people. We need to believe in this government again. We need to do what this Congress is meant to do!


A GOP-drafted resolution to keep the government operational until mid-December while cutting spending by defunding President Obama’s Affordable Care Act passed the House of Representatives Friday 230-189, almost entirely along party lines – except for three members who bucked their parties…

In a statement, McIntyre said, “Among many other crucial services, it is essential that we honor our senior citizens, veterans, and men and women in uniform by ensuring there is no delay in their monthly retirement checks, health care coverage or military benefits. Keeping our government operational is vital and today’s vote does that.”

Not surprisingly, McIntyre also cited his strong opposition to Obamacare.

“My record on the health care law has been crystal clear – I voted against it when it was first considered, have voted to repeal it dozens of times and today voted to defund it,” the North Carolina lawmaker said. “The need for health care reform is clear, but this law is not the right approach for our citizens, communities and businesses.”


Obama’s attempting to duplicate Clinton’s victory over Gingrich will fail on a number of fronts. First of all Obama v. Boehner doesn’t have the same ring as Clinton v. Gingrich…

ObamaCare obviously wasn’t popular in 2010 and stories of universities and hospitals as well as retailers and manufacturers cutting hours and laying people off to keep their health care costs from skyrocketing has not made it any more popular today.

Obama can’t hope to duplicate the chessboard as it was in 1995-96. I said after the shutdown in 1996 that a skilled White House, aggressively on message is an unstoppable political force in America.

Obama’s White House is not skilled (as he proved to the world over the past three weeks), and it has no message to stick to at all.


This bill has no chance of passing in the Senate, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to gum up the works and to force vulnerable Democrats in heavily red states to go on record as refusing to defund the health care law.

These Republicans aren’t afraid the law will fail as much as they’re afraid that it will succeed and become part of the fabric of the collective conscience — and worst yet, be a clear legacy victory for President Obama.

There is no more bitter Tea Party loss than a perceived Obama victory. The president is the focal point of the party’s frustrations. Tea Party representatives have been sent to Washington with a singular mission: obstruct Obama.

These Kamikaze members of Congress have made the House of Representative a house of horrors, where smart thinking is smothered, where rabble demand respect.


The focus on Boehner has been more intense because House Democrats have abdicated any meaningful role in passing legislation. Few bills are able to garner Democratic support, often not because of policy differences but because House Democratic leaders have decided they would rather wash their hands of responsibility for governing and, instead, focus on winning back the majority.

The role of the minority party is to be the “loyal opposition,” and Democrats have gotten it half right — they are opposed to everything House Republicans do, but there is not much loyal about it…

It is time for Democrats and the [tea party] No On Everything caucus to step up and become meaningful participants in the legislative process.

It is said that politics can make strange bedfellows. Progressives may say they bemoan the “radicalism” of the tea party, and tea party advocates may claim to despise the “tactics” of liberals, but the truth is that both sides have abdicated the most basic responsibilities of elected officials. Both sides are complicit in creating an environment in which nothing can be accomplished.


Benen ends with a line that resonates with us the people of Wisconsin: “Democracies aren’t supposed to work this way.” Back in 2011, we had weeks of loud protests with chanting over a drumbeat: “This is what democracy looks like.” And those were Democrats who’d lost the 2010 elections. They were making all the noise they could because they didn’t have the votes in the legislature, and yet they still shouted all day and night that what they wanted was democracy. The idea — to the extent that it made any sense — was that the minority opinion also matters and free expression and dissent are part of the process, adding friction and restraint to the imposition of the will of the majority.

But in Congress, there are members who form a majority in one house and a sizable minority in the other. These people were elected, and we have a system of separated powers that was designed to slow things down, force deliberation, and prevent the abuse of power.

There was a time when Obama said “I won.” It was arrogant back then, and in a democracy, that kind of arrogance invites comeuppance.


‘This is the United States of America,” declared President Obama to the burghers of Liberty, Mo., on Friday. “We’re not some banana republic.”

He was talking about the Annual Raising of the Debt Ceiling, which glorious American tradition seems to come round earlier every year. “This is not a deadbeat nation,” President Obama continued. “We don’t run out on our tab.” True. But we don’t pay it off either. We just keep running it up, ever higher. And every time the bartender says, “Mebbe you’ve had enough, pal,” we protest, “Jush another couple trillion for the road. Set ’em up, Joe.” And he gives you that look that kinda says he wishes you’d run out on your tab back when it was $23.68.

Still, Obama is right. We’re not a banana republic, if only because the debt of banana republics is denominated in a currency other than their own — i.e., the U.S. dollar. When you’re the guys who print the global currency, you can run up debts undreamt of by your average generalissimo. As Obama explained in another of his recent speeches, “Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt.” I won’t even pretend to know what he and his speechwriters meant by that one, but the fact that raising the debt ceiling “has been done over a hundred times” does suggest that spending more than it takes in is now a permanent feature of American government. And no one has plans to do anything about it. Which is certainly banana republic-esque.


But there’s also a faction on the far right of the Republican party who’ve convinced their leadership to threaten a government shutdown if they can’t shut off the Affordable Care Act. Some are actually willing to plunge America into default if they can’t defund the Affordable Care Act.

Think about that. They’d actually plunge this country back into recession – all to deny the basic security of health care to millions of Americans.

Well, that’s not happening. And they know it’s not happening.

The United States of America is not a deadbeat nation. We are a compassionate nation. We are the world’s bedrock investment. And doing anything to threaten that is the height of irresponsibility. That’s why I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States. I will not allow anyone to harm this country’s reputation, or threaten to inflict economic pain on millions of our own people, just to make an ideological point.


DAVID BROOKS: I’m Mr. Pollyanna on this. I think we’re — it will be fine.

I think what happened, there was a minority of House Republicans who upset the majority, upset the leadership. They wanted to have this big thing, we’re going to defund Obamacare, or else shut we’re going to down the government. The leaders didn’t really want to do this. They thought it was a dead end or, as they’re now calling it, a box canyon, which is the metaphor of the week.

And — so, but they have got these people. They are going to give them what they want, from pressure from the right. So they give them what they want. They pass this thing, no funding for Obamacare. It’s going to die in the Senate. And then I think they are going to come back or either fudge or cave in. And I suspect we will not be shutting down the government.

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David Strom 8:41 PM on January 30, 2023