Tag Archive: John Boehner


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US Puts off Decision on Keystone XL Pipeline

 

The Obama administration is putting off its decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, likely until after the November elections, by extending its review of the controversial project indefinitely.

In a surprise announcement Friday as Washington was winding down for Easter, the State Department said federal agencies will have more time to weigh in on the politically fraught decision — but declined to say how much longer. Officials said the decision will have to wait for the dust to settle in Nebraska, where a judge in February overturned a state law that allowed the pipeline’s path through the state.

Nebraska’s Supreme Court isn’t expected to hear an appeal to that ruling until September or October, and there could be more legal maneuvering after the high court rules. So President Barack Obama will almost surely have until after the November congressional elections to make the final call about whether the pipeline carrying oil from Canada should be built.

Approving the pipeline before the election would rankle Obama’s allies and donors in the environmental community, but nixing it could be politically damaging to vulnerable Democrats running this year in conservative-leaning areas.

“This decision is irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable,” said Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who faces a difficult re-election in oil-rich Louisiana. Landrieu said Obama was signaling that a small minority can tie up the process in the courts, sacrificing 42,000 jobs and billions in economic activity.

In an ironic show of bipartisanship, Republicans joined Landrieu and other Democrats like Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska in immediately condemning the announcement — the latest in a string of delays in a review process that has dragged on for more than five years.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused Obama of kowtowing to “radical activists” from the environmental community, while House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the decision “shameful” and said there were no credible reasons for further delay.

“This job-creating project has cleared every environmental hurdle and overwhelmingly passed the test of public opinion, yet it’s been blocked for more than 2,000 days,” Boehner said in a statement.

But environmental groups fighting the pipeline hailed the delay, arguing that it shows the State Department is taking the arguments against the pipeline seriously.

“This is definitely great news,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president for the League of Conservation Voters. “We are very confident as they continue to examine the issues with the lack of legal route in Nebraska and the terrible climate impacts, at the end of the day the pipeline will be rejected.”

Keystone XL would carry oil from western Canada’s tar sands to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. The project requires State Department approval because it crosses an international border. The State Department vowed to move forward with other aspects of its review even while the situation in Nebraska remains in limbo.

“The agency consultation process is not starting over,” the State Department said in a statement.

State Department officials said other U.S. agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, won’t be notified of their new deadline for comment until the legal situation in Nebraska becomes clearer. Driving the delay is a concern that the legal wrangling could lead to a change in the pipeline’s route that would affect agencies’ assessments, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to comment by name and demanded anonymity.

 

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ABC News

US Extends Keystone Review as Pipeline Supporters Cry Foul

By Ali Weinberg

Apr 18, 2014 3:16pm

The State Department says it needs more time to make a decision about whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project, citing uncertainty about the route’s direction through Nebraska, which is currently under litigation there.

The department is delaying the deadline for eight federal agencies to submit their recommendations to on the pipeline, which President Obama had requested they do via an executive order. The original deadline was early May, but because Nebraska’s Supreme Court is hearing a case on the proposed Keystone route through that state, the agencies will have about two weeks after the case is closed to submit their recommendations.

The process ahead, including whether the State Department will have to redo its initial assessments on the project, now depends on the outcome of the Nebraska case – the conclusion of which a senior State Department official declined to speculate about Friday.

“I can’t render a judgment on when the final decision could take place. We want this to move as expeditiously as possible,” the official told reporters on a conference call.

The officials also noted that there had been an unprecedented 2.5 million public comments regarding the pipeline, which State Department staff and private contractors are still going through. Usually, the official said on the call, there are less than 100 public comments on pipeline projects.

 

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Compromise spending package contains provisions asking the NSA to quantify the effectiveness of its surveillance program

House Boehner budget
House speaker John Boehner of Ohio leaves the House chamber after the final vote on a massive spending bill. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

Congress is calling on the National Security Agency to detail the effectiveness of its bulk data collection programmes and will outlaw certain types of domestic surveillance, using two little-noticed clauses included in its giant federal spending bill.

The $1.1tn budget bill passed the House of Representatives Wednesday afternoon by 359-67 votes and is expected to become law after clearing the Senate as soon as Friday.

But in a sign of pent-up reform pressure on Capitol Hill, two measures dealing with the NSA were quietly included in the 1,600-page spending text with relatively little fanfare – or opposition from the White House – and are likely to pave the way for more binding legislative efforts once President Barack Obama outlines his own response to the surveillance scandal on Friday.

The first, and more unexpected, of the two NSA budget measures directs the agency to reveal “the number of records acquired by the NSA as part of its bulk telephone metadata program” over a five-year period, and to turn the data over to the House and Senate judiciary committees within 90 days.

“This report shall provide, to the greatest extent possible, an estimate of the number of records of United States citizens that have been acquired by NSA as part of the bulk telephone metadata program and the number of such records that have been reviewed by NSA personnel in response to a query,” it demands.

It is also calls for more information on the vexed question of how helpful such metadata has been in foiling terror plots, something that both NSA critics and Obama’s own review panel say has been greatly exaggerated.

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Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Representative Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, left, and Senator Patty Murray,

 

The U.S. House passed the first bipartisan federal budget in four years, which would ease $63 billion in automatic spending cuts and avert another government shutdown. The legislation now heads to the Senate.

 

The House voted 332-94 today for the $1.01 trillion compromise budget crafted by Senator Patty Murray and Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of a special bipartisan panel. President Barack Obama said he’ll sign the final measure.

 

The agreement’s main accomplishments are to ease automatic spending cuts that neither party likes by $40 billion in 2014 and about $20 billion in 2015 and cushion the military from a $19 billion reduction starting next month. The accord doesn’t include changes to taxes or spending on entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

 

“It’s progress,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a floor speech before the vote. “It’s doing what the American people expect us to do,” which is to “stick to our principles but find common ground.”

 

The budget deal replaces about half of the automatic cuts to defense and non-defense discretionary spending in 2014 and 25 percent of the reductions in 2015, which means most of the automatic cuts enacted in 2011 still take effect. It includes $23 billion in deficit reduction.

 

“This agreement is better than the alternative, but it misses a huge opportunity to do what the American people expect us to do, and that is to put this country on a fiscally sustainable path,” said Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking House Democrat.

 

Doctors Spared

 

The accord also spared doctors for three months from cuts in the Medicare payment rates set to start in January. The measure doesn’t extend emergency benefits for 1.3 million unemployed workers, an omission that frustrated Democrats, who say they plan to continue the fight when Congress returns in January from a holiday break.

 

The deal won bipartisan support because it doesn’t touch entitlement programs Democrats have pledged to protect or the corporate tax breaks Republicans favor.

 

It also doesn’t raise the U.S. debt ceiling, setting up a potential fiscal showdown after borrowing authority lapses as soon as February.

 

Lawmakers and some economists said adopting a formal budget will provide some certainty to the U.S. economy after three years of spending feuds that led to a government shutdown, rattled investors and prompted a downgrade in the nation’s credit rating.

 

Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist for Standard & Poor’s Corp., said in a recent newsletter that adoption of a bipartisan budget will be a boon to the U.S. economy.

 

Uncertainty Reduced

 

“The budget would reduce a key risk, political uncertainty,” she wrote. “The private sector will probably be more confident when planning investment and spending for next year, which would directly boost growth.”

 

The deal is far from the $1 trillion to $4 trillion grand bargain on taxes and spending that previous budget negotiators sought. The plan would set U.S. spending at about $1.01 trillion for this fiscal year, higher than the $967 billion required in a 2011 budget plan.

 

Much of the deficit reduction will come in later years, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The plan would lower the deficit by $3.1 billion in 2014 and $3.4 billion in 2015 and exceed $20 billion a year in 2022 and 2023, the CBO said.

 

Medicare Payments

 

A big portion of the savings is tied to extending the cuts in Medicare provider payments into 2022 and 2023, rather than letting them expire in 2021 as under current law.

 

The accord may help lawmakers repair their image after a 16-day government shutdown in October that caused congressional approval ratings to fall to the lowest level recorded by the Gallup Organization polling group.

 

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House approves budget deal, handing major victory to Boehner

 

 

 

 

The House on Thursday approved a two-year budget deal that turns off $63 billion in sequester spending cuts, handing a major victory to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio.).

Large majorities in both parties backed the bill in a 332-94 vote.

Only 62 Republicans defected despite harsh criticism of the deal by conservative groups that said it did too little to cut spending, compared to 169 Republicans who backed it. The Democratic vote was 163-32.

Heritage Action, the Club for Growth and other groups said they would negatively score votes in favor of the legislation, but those threats failed to create a stampede against the bill.

Instead, members rallied around Boehner, who had strongly pushed back at the criticism from the outside groups, who he charged had “lost all credibility.”

During the debate, he said the does everything conservatives want.

“If you’re for reducing the budget deficit, then you should be voting for this bill,” Boehner said. “If you’re for cutting the size of government, you should you be supporting this budget.

“If you’re for preventing tax increases, you should be voting for this budget. If you’re for entitlement reform, you ought to be voting for this budget. These are the things I came here to do, and this budget does them,” he said.

Boehner was aided by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who negotiated the budget deal with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

While the 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate also came under fire from the right, Ryan’s credentials with conservatives helped GOP leaders win votes.

While the deal did not represent the “grand bargain” of entitlement reforms and tax hikes Boehner and President Obama flirted with in 2011, Ryan argued it represented a victory for conservatives since it will reduce deficits by $23 billion over 10 years.

The bill cuts the deficit, avoids tax hikes, and makes permanent reforms to save money, such as stopping welfare checks to criminals, Ryan said.

He also said it reflected the reality of divided government in Washington, where Republicans hold only the House, and that it would prevent another government shutdown.

Near the end of the debate, Ryan noted that as the GOP’s vice presidential candidate in 2012, he was part of the GOP effort to return Republicans to the White House.

“We tried defeating this president,” he said. “I wish we would have.”

“Elections have consequences,” Ryan added. “And I fundamentally believe — this is my personal opinion, I know it’s a slightly partisan thing to say — to really do what we think needs to be done, we’re going to have to win some elections.

“And in the meantime, let’s try to make this divided government work.”

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By  Poco a poco

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New York Post

WASHINGTON — Senate leaders announced last-minute agreement Wednesday to avert a threatened Treasury default and reopen the government after a partial, 16-day shutdown. Congress raced to pass the measure by day’s end.
The Dow Jones industrial average soared on the news that the threat of default was fading, flirting with a 200-point gain in morning trading.

“This is a time for reconciliation,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of the agreement he had forged with the GOP leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

McConnell said that with the accord, Republicans had sealed a deal to have spending in one area of the budget decline for two years in a row, adding, “we’re not going back.”

One prominent tea party lawmaker, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, said he would oppose the plan, but not seek to delay its passage.

That was a key concession that signaled a strong possibility that both houses could act by day’s end. That, in turn, would allow President Barack Obama to sign the bill into law ahead of the Thursday deadline that Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had set for action to raise the $16.7 trillion debt limit.

Officials said the proposal called for the Treasury to have authority to continue borrowing through Feb. 7, and the government would reopen through Jan. 15.

There was no official comment from the White House, although congressional officials said administration aides had been kept fully informed of the negotiations.

In political terms, the final agreement was almost entirely along lines Obama had set when the impasse began last month. Tea party conservatives had initially demanded the defunding of the health care law as the price for providing essential federal funding.

Under a strategy set by Obama and Reid, Democrats said they would not negotiate with Republicans in exchange for performing what the White House called basic functions of keeping the government in operation and preventing Treasury from defaulting on its obligations.

A long line of polls charted a steep decline in public approval for Republicans in the course of what Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., pronounced a “shameful episode” in the nation’s history.

While the emerging deal could well meet resistance from conservatives in the Republican-controlled House, the Democratic Leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, has signaled she will support the plan and her rank and file is expected to vote for it in overwhelming numbers.

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Will Boehner break the “Hastert Rule” today? The Hastert Rule explained

By | Get In Touch: @lynnsweet | lsweet@suntimes.com Sweet – October 16, 2013 9:19 am

WASHINGTON–In a 2003 speech, then Speaker Denny Hastert (R-Ill.) discussed his House management guidelines that became known as “The Hastert Rule.” The rule calls for a leader not to send legislation to the House floor for a vote unless it has the support of the majority of the majority. On Wednesday, with just hours left to raise the debt ceiling or risk default, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)–who has been holding fast to the Hastert Rule–has to decide whether to break it.

My column on the role the Hastert Rule played in the runup to the partial government shutdown–Wednesday is Day 16–is HERE. Read the 2003 Hastert speech HERE.

Excerpt: Here is the Hastert Rule background and math:

At present, there are 232 Republicans and 200 Democrats, with three vacancies. If the House Democrats stick together — and so far they have — they would just have to pick off a handful of House Republicans.

While there are not many moderate Republicans — and they are drowned out by their Tea Party colleagues — there are enough to get to 217 votes to pass a bill.

But if Boehner went that route, he would violate the informal “Hastert Rule,” which calls for any legislation first mustering the support of the majority of the majority. The reality is that any measure with provisions to win the backing of 116 House Republicans will not be supported by House Democrats.

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The Washington Post
Shutdown Live Updates

Boehner concedes ‘we just didn’t win’

In an interview on a local radio station, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) conceded that Republicans “didn’t win” the current budget debate.

“We’ve been locked into a fight over here, trying to bring government down to size, trying to do our best to stop Obamacare,” Boehner said. “We fought the good fight; we just didn’t win.”

Boehner also said he would “absolutely” allow a vote on the Senate plan even if a majority of House Republicans don’t support the bill.

“There’s no reason for our members to vote ‘no’ today,” Boehner told conservative radio host Bill Cunningham, adding that he expected the government to open again Thursday.

Listen to the  Interview Here

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McConnell’s primary foe bashes his ‘surrender’

Not surprising, but worth noting: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) primary opponent, businessman Matt Bevin, is out with a statement denouncing the deal McConnell helped craft

Here’s part of Bevin’s statement:

“McConnell just negotiated the GOP surrender to Harry Reid, leading the charge to give President Obama a blank check and lifting the debt ceiling once again without any spending reforms. Harry Reid has even praised McConnell for his ‘cooperation.’

“After falsely promising that he would fight to eliminate Obamacare ‘root and branch,’ Sen. McConnell has instead given us more spending, more borrowing, and the Obamacare train wreck with exceptions for liberal pet interests.”

Bevin’s primary challenge — which is likely to be well-funded thanks to Bevin’s personal wealth — has long hung over McConnell’s negotiations in the current budget debate. Expect Bevin to keep up this line of attack in the months ahead, as he seeks to be a formidable opponent to McConnell.

See  More  Updates Here

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Boehner urges House GOP to support Senate deal

 

Watch this video

Shutdown deal announced on Senate floor

 

By Tom Cohen, CNN

Washington (CNN) — Senate leaders on Wednesday announced a deal to end the partial government shutdown and avoid a possible U.S. default, and House Speaker John Boehner urged fellow Republicans to support it while a key GOP conservative said he wouldn’t try to block it in the Senate.

“We fought the good fight; we just didn’t win,” Boehner told a radio station in his home state of Ohio in reference to GOP efforts to dismantle or defund President Barack Obama’s signature health care reforms and extract deficit reduction concessions around the need to fund the government and raise the federal borrowing limit.

The Democratic-led Senate was expected to pass the agreement in a vote expected to take place by 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday night, followed within hours by a vote in the Republican-led House.

Both chambers will have to take special steps to get the legislation passed that quickly, raising concerns that tea party conservatives led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas would block or delay it in a final effort to include provisions intended to harm Obama’s signature health care reforms.

However, Cruz told reporters that he wouldn’t mount a filibuster or employ other procedural moves against the agreement. At the same time, he criticized his Senate colleagues for what he called their failure to listen to the American people and said the fight against Obamacare will continue.

National polls conducted since the start of the shutdown on October 1 indicate that while all sides are feeling the public’s anger over the partisan political impasse, Republicans are getting blamed more than than Democrats or Obama.

Boehner and other House Republican leaders told their caucus they would vote for the agreement at an afternoon meeting that participants said ended with a standing ovation for the embattled speaker.

“Blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us,” Boehner said in a statement. “Our drive to stop the train wreck that is the president’s health care law will continue.”

News of the deal brought some relief to Wall Street as well as Washington, where the shutdown reached a 16th day with the government poised to lose its ability to borrow more money to pay bills after Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hailed the agreement he worked out with his GOP counterpart Mitch McConnell as “historic,” saying that “in the end, political adversaries put aside their differences.”

Obama praised Senate leaders for reaching a compromise, and urged Congress to act quickly, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

“As soon as possible is essentially the recommendation we have from here,” he said.

U.S. stocks rose on the news of an agreement, with the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average jumping more than 200 points on the day.

Short-term plan

Reid said the Senate deal under discussion would reopen the government by funding it until January 15. It also would raise the debt limit until February 7 to avert a possible default on U.S. debt obligations for the first time.

It includes a provision to provide back pay to furloughed federal workers, leadership and congressional sources told CNN.

In addition, the White House supports a provision in the deal that strengthens verification measures for people getting subsidies under Obamacare, spokesman Jay Carney said.

Carney called the change “a modest adjustment,” and said it didn’t amount to “ransom” for raising the federal debt ceiling because both sides agreed to it and the White House supported it.

The Senate agreement also would set up budget negotiations between the House and Senate for a long-term spending plan.

McConnell fired an opening salvo for those talks, expected to begin soon and continue until December, when he said any ensuing budget deal should adhere to spending caps set in a 2011 law that included forced cuts known as sequestration.

“Preserving this law is critically important to the future of our country,” McConnell said of the Budget Control Act, which resulted from the previous debt ceiling crisis in Washington.

The focus on an agreement shifted to the Senate after House Republicans failed on Tuesday to come up with a plan their majority could support, stymied again by demands from tea party conservatives for outcomes unacceptable to Obama and Senate Democrats, as well as some fellow Republicans.

Cruz, despite being in the Senate, is credited with spearheading the House Republican effort to attach amendments that would dismantle or defund the health care reforms known as Obamacare to previous proposals intended to end the shutdown.

All were rejected by the Democratic-led Senate, and Obama also pledged to veto them, meaning there was no chance they ever would have succeeded.

Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire called the House GOP tactic of tying Obamacare to the shutdown legislation “an ill-conceived strategy from the beginning, not a winning strategy.”

However, Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa advocated continued brinksmanship to try to change Obamacare, which conservatives detest as a big-government overreach.

“If we’re not willing to take a stand now, then when will we take this stand?” he told CNN’s “New Day,” adding that if “the conservative Republican plan had been implemented five years ago, say at the inception of what is now the Obama presidency, we would have far less debt and deficit.”

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Senate stalls bi-partisan debt ceiling deal to end government shutdown

 

Published time: October 12, 2013 19:02
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada (2nd L) prepares to make a statement with US senators Chuck Schumer (L), D-New York, Patty Murray (2nd-R), D-Washington and Dick Durbin, D-Illinios, during a press conference on Capitol Hill about the debt ceiling in Washington, DC, October 12, 2013. (AFP Photo / Jim Watson)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada (2nd L) prepares to make a statement with US senators Chuck Schumer (L), D-New York, Patty Murray (2nd-R), D-Washington and Dick Durbin, D-Illinios, during a press conference on Capitol Hill about the debt ceiling in Washington, DC, October 12, 2013. (AFP Photo / Jim Watson)

 

With only five days left to a possible default, there is yet no unity in the US senate with Republicans and Democrats rejecting each other’s proposal to end the 12-day-old government shutdown.

 

On Saturday the focus of efforts to end the shutdown shifted to the Senate, where the two sides held negotiations in a bid to resolve the stalemate. However, the talks yielded no agreement.

Follow RT’s LIVE UPDATES on the US budget crisis

The US Senate Republicans rejected a Democratic plan to raise the debt ceiling through 2014 without making any cuts or changes to Obamacare. Voting 53 against and 45 in favor, Republicans, who want the extension to be accompanied by spending cuts, blocked the bill, which needed at least 60 votes to overcome the objections.

The move was followed by Senate Democratic leaders’ opposition to Republican proposal to end the fiscal stalemate.

Rejecting an offer by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to end the budget impasse, Democrats argued that her offer asks for too much in return for too little, the POLITICO cited senators and aides.

The so-called Collins plan, which has bipartisan support, offered a six-month extension of government funding and an increase in the government’s borrowing limit through January. It was also calling for a two-year delay on Obamacare’s medical device tax as well requiring income verification for Americans seeking subsidies for President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Democrats say a new medical device tax that would raise $30 billion over 10 years for the President’s healthcare law.

 

Read More Here

 

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POLITICO

Focus on Senate after Obama rejects House plan

 

 

 

 

Speaker John Boehner told House Republicans Saturday morning that his efforts to strike a deal with President Barack Obama are at a standstill.

There is no agreement, Boehner said in a room in the Capitol Saturday, and there are no negotiations between House Republicans and the White House, since Obama rejected the speaker’s effort to lift the debt ceiling for six weeks and reopen government while setting up a budget negotiating process.

With that, a familiar dynamic has resurfaced 12 days into the government shutdown and five days before Treasury says the nation runs out of borrowing authority: The pendulum has swung back to Senate Republicans, who now look more likely to cut a deal with Obama to end the first government shutdown since 1996, and avoid the first default on U.S. debt in history.

(Also on POLITICO: Democrats reject Susan Collins proposal)

After the news that talks between Boehner and Obama have broken down, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) emerged on the floor to emphasize that the nation’s eyes are firmly fixed on the chamber.

“I was happy to see the Republicans engaged in talks with the president, the House Republicans. That’s over with. It’s done. They’re not talking anymore,” Reid said. “I say to my friends on the Republican side of this Senate, time is running out.”

House Republicans are, for the first time, acknowledging that reality. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told the closed meeting of GOP lawmakers that, “Senate Republicans need to stand strong and fight,” according to sources in the room.

 

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Video: During a news conference Tuesday at the White House, President Obama stressed the importance of raising the debt ceiling.

Concern deepened in financial markets Tuesday about the potential for a U.S. default as President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner clashed publicly without breaking an impasse over how to reopen the government and pay the nation’s bills.Short-term borrowing by the Treasury Department became twice as expensive Tuesday as it had been the day before, one of the most significant signs of alarm in the bond markets since the financial crisis of 2008.

The stock market, meanwhile, continued the steady slide that began in mid-September, when Boehner (R-Ohio) embraced a right-wing strategy for using the budget battles to try to dismantle Obama’s signature health-care initiative. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell 20.67 points to 1,655.45 on Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped nearly 160 points to 14,776.53 and has lost nearly 6 percent of its value since hitting a one-year high Sept. 18.

In a hastily planned news conference at the White House, Obama warned that default would be “insane, catastrophic, chaos,” and demanded that Boehner take the weight of that threat off the U.S. economy.

Once that happens, Obama said, “I am happy to talk with him and other Republicans about anything.” But Obama said he also told Boehner in a telephone call Tuesday morning that “having such a conversation, talks, negotiations shouldn’t require hanging the threats of a government shutdown or economic chaos over the heads of the American people.”

An hour later, Boehner fired back that Republicans will not yield until Obama comes to the bargaining table.

“I didn’t come here to shut down the government, and I certainly didn’t come here to default on our debt,” Boehner told reporters at the Capitol. But Obama, he said, is seeking “unconditional surrender by Republicans” before “he’ll sit down and talk. That’s not the way our government works.”

Both men spoke in calm tones, striving to appear reasonable. But with the shutdown in its second week and a critical deadline for government borrowing just eight days away, anxiety was building in Washington and on Wall Street.

Read More and Watch Video Here

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The Wall Street Journal

Tensions Ratchet Up in Debt Battle

By
CAROL E. LEE, JANET HOOK and PATRICK O’CONNOR

President Obama looked to raise pressure on Congress to end a week-old partial government shutdown as the House and Senate headed down separate tracks to break a stalemate on government spending and the nation’s borrowing limit. Photo: AP.

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama warned Tuesday of “economic chaos” if a political stalemate causes the U.S. to no longer be able to pay its bills, and said he would accept even a short-term increase in the borrowing limit to give lawmakers time to negotiate.

Mr. Obama’s comments underscored rising concern at home and abroad, including in financial markets, that the U.S. could default on its financial obligations should the standoff continue through next week. The remarks were intended to pressure Republicans to pass bills to raise the debt ceiling and to fully reopen the federal government without GOP policy demands attached.

 House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) quickly shot down the idea of a short-term reprieve that excludes Republican priorities, saying any increase in the nation’s statutory borrowing limit must be paired with deficit-reduction measures.

“What the president said today was, if there’s unconditional surrender by Republicans, he’ll sit down and talk to us,” Mr. Boehner said after Mr. Obama held a news conference at the White House.

“We can’t raise the debt ceiling without doing something about what’s driving us to borrow more money and to live beyond our means,” the speaker said.

The exchange left the stalemate no closer to resolution, with the parties dug in even on terms over which they would conduct negotiations.

Many federal agencies have been partially closed since Oct. 1, and the Treasury predicts it will run out of cash to pay its bills if the debt ceiling isn’t raised this month.

The standoff prompted financial regulators to meet via phone Tuesday to discuss the government shutdown and the potential impact of a debt-limit breach, a Treasury spokesman said. The Financial Stability Oversight Council, which includes the Federal Reserve, banking and markets agencies, is monitoring effects of a possible U.S. default on short-term lending markets, including repurchase agreements and money-market mutual funds, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Financial markets are increasingly showing signs of stress. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 159.71 points Tuesday, or 1.1%, to 14776.53, its lowest close since Aug. 27 and its 11th drop in 14 trading sessions.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange’s Volatility Index—the stock market’s “fear gauge”—jumped to its highest level this year, reflecting rising demand for stock options affording protection from extreme price movements. The VIX is up 22% since the shutdown began Oct. 1.

The rate the government pays to borrow for a month rose to its highest level in five years, following a $30 billion Treasury bill auction that was deemed “awful” by Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Priya Misra, the firm’s head of U.S. rates-strategy research. The cost of hedging for a year against a possible U.S. default via credit default swaps rose as much as 10%. The price of one-year U.S. CDSs has risen tenfold since Labor Day.

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Boehner, shown, and Obama traded barbs over the approaching debt ceiling.

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saul loeb/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Mr. Obama’s comments underscored rising concern at home and abroad.

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Reuters

Jeffrey Wismer, furloughed from his job at AmeriCorps, a federal community-service program, protests the government shutdown on the Washington Mall on Tuesday.

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politics

John Boehner To Ask House GOP For Short-Term Debt Ceiling Increase

Posted: 10/10/2013 10:08 am EDT  |  Updated: 10/10/2013 1:01 pm EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — GOP aides say House Speaker John Boehner will ask House Republicans to approve a short-term extension of the government’s ability to borrow to meet its bills.

The Ohio Republican is slated to urge his staunchly conservative GOP colleagues to act before the government runs out of borrowing authority next week.

Republicans have been insistent that budget cuts and other measures be added to the so-called debt ceiling legislation but the aides wouldn’t say whether he’ll seek to add other material to the measure.

The aides required anonymity to reveal the information before Boehner makes an announcement after a closed-door meeting with his GOP colleagues.

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NBC News

House GOP, White House to keep up fiscal talks after ‘useful’ meeting

House Republicans are continuing closed-door talks after meeting with President Barack Obama for almost 90 minutes Thursday to discuss a possible short-term extension of the nation’s debt limit. Those negotiations – the most serious talks to date on the fiscal impasse – were expected to continue into Thursday evening.

“We had a very useful meeting, it was clarifying for both sides as to where we are,”  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters after the White House meeting. “Our teams are going to be talking further tonight. We’ll have more discussion. We will come back to have more discussion. The President said that he would go and consult with the administration folks and hopefully we can see a way forward after that.”

In a statement, the White House called it a “good meeting,” although “no specific determination was made” about how to fix the fiscal impasse.

“The President looks forward to making continued progress with members on both sides of the aisle.  The President’s goal remains to ensure we pay the bills we’ve incurred, reopen the government and get back to the business of growing the economy, creating jobs and strengthening the middle class.”

“The president didn’t say yes, he didn’t say no,” Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., told NBC News. “It was a useful conversations. We’re now going to negotiate.”

GOP leaders are proposing extending the nation’s debt limit for six weeks to allow for budget negotiations, but the plan would do nothing to end the ongoing federal shutdown.

Obama met with 20 top House Republicans for over an hour at the White House Thursday to address the GOP proposal.  The government is slated to run out of borrowing power on October 17, the Treasury Department says.

Republicans were tight-lipped about the meeting, avoiding a gaggle of press after the leaving the White House.

Earlier Thursday, the prospects for compromise looked somewhat bright.

White House press secretary Jay Carney called the GOP proposal “encouraging” and told reporters Obama would likely sign such legislation.

“The president is happy that cooler heads at least seem to be prevailing in the House,” Carney said at the daily press briefing. He added: “I think the president said the other day, if they were to send him a clean debt ceiling extension, no partisan strings attached he would sign it.  But we don’t know that’s what we’re going to get here.”

Stocks were up sharply Thursday morning amid the signs of potential progress on the debt ceiling extension, something Wall Street has been paying close attention to as next week’s expected October 17 debt ceiling deadline looms.

 

Read More and Watch Video Here

 

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The Hill Newspaper

House GOP unveils six-week debt hike that continues shutdown

 

By Russell Berman and Erik Wasson 10/10/13 12:14 PM ET

House Republican leaders will offer President Obama a six-week extension of the nation’s debt limit that would not end the government shutdown now in its 10th day.

In exchange, Republicans want a commitment from the White House to negotiate a longer-term budget plan that would reopen the government.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) presented the proposal to rank-and-file Republicans in a closed-door meeting Thursday, hours before more than a dozen GOP lawmakers head to the White House to meet with Obama.“It is our hope that the president will look at this as an opportunity and a good-faith effort on our part to move halfway, halfway to what he’s demanded in order to have these conversations begin,” Boehner told reporters after the meeting.

Boehner said the ending of the shutdown would depend on how the president responded.

“That’s the conversation we’re going to have with the president today,” he said.

The Speaker acknowledged that the fiscal crisis that has gripped the capital could come back if no agreement is reached by Nov. 22, the date that Republicans would set as the new debt-limit deadline.

“Clearly, you could end up back in the same place, and we don’t want to be here,” Boehner said.

The House hopes to move quickly on the plan, but a vote would not occur before the White House meeting, scheduled for 4:30 p.m., aides said.

The debt limit bill would also restrict the Treasury Department from using “extraordinary measures” to increase borrowing after Nov. 22, aides said.

“The date in the bill is the real date — no more monkeying around,” a leadership aide said.

A separate resolution would appoint Republican negotiators for a House-Senate budget conference committee, which Democrats have demanded for months.

It is far from clear that the Speaker’s plan would succeed, either with Democrats or with members of his own conference.

The White House on Thursday reiterated Obama’s demand that the GOP both lift the $16.7 trillion debt limit and reopen the government before negotiations begin.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced plans for a procedural vote Saturday on legislation to raise the debt ceiling by $1 trillion and through the end of 2014.

The White House backs the longer extension, but it is unclear whether Reid can muster the 60 votes necessary to pass it.

A White House official said Thursday that the administration was “willing to look at any proposal Congress puts forward,” while again insisting that Obama would “not pay a ransom” and preferred a longer debt-ceiling extension.

“It is better for economic certainty for Congress to take the threat of default off the table for as long as possible, which is why we support the Senate Democrats’ efforts to raise the debt limit for a year with no extraneous political strings attached,” the official said.

The official also said that Obama would be willing to negotiate a broader budget agreement only after Republicans pass a debt-ceiling increase and reopen the government.

Read More and Watch Video Here

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POLITICO

John Boehner’s offer puts President Obama on the spot

 

 

 

President Barack Obama may get the clean debt limit extension he’s been demanding, but it wouldn’t be a clean victory.

By adopting the House GOP plan to raise the debt ceiling, Obama would avoid a potentially crippling blow to the economy and, in the White House’s view, finally break Republicans of their habit of seeking concessions each time the debt ceiling needs to be raised.

But the downsides are significant. The federal government might not immediately reopen, there’s no guarantee Republicans would stop using the debt limit as leverage in the future and Obama could find himself in the same position once the temporary extension expires.

And yet, Obama may have little choice but to accept House Speaker John Boehner’s offer because it delivers what the president wanted: a debt limit hike with no ideological strings attached.

“If a clean debt limit bill is passed, he would likely sign it,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday. “The key is they don’t get anything in exchange.”

The big question for the White House and Republicans in Congress is the definition of the word “clean.” It may be that the White House has to look at yesterday’s shirt — presentable, if not just-starched — as clean enough.

Read More Here

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Devastating Trump Card

Business Insider

bridge cards trump card

Bruno Vincent/Getty

The shutdown battle has become, essentially, a high-stakes blame game.

Republicans tried to raise those stakes yesterday by offering a piecemeal plan to reopen popular parts of the federal government, in the hopes that it would be politically costly for the Democrats to oppose things like aid to veterans. The bill failed to move forward.

But in a note to clients, Potomac Research Group’s Greg Valliere says that President Obama still has one “trump card” of his own left to play, Social Security:

THE HEAVY ARTILLERY:  We have thought for weeks that Obama would play the Social Security trump card if there was no deal on the debt ceiling by mid-October. This is one of several reasons why we think a default is unlikely, and it’s one of several reasons why Boehner will capitulate; the only questions are when and under what terms. We think he may get a few crumbs, but no major concessions.

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Obama Just Played His Big ‘Trump Card’ On The Debt Ceiling

Business Insider

Brett LoGiurato Oct. 3, 2013, 11:59 AM
Barack Obama
Early Thursday morning, Potomac Research Group analyst Greg Valliere predicted that if the debt-ceiling deadline grew closer, President Barack Obama would play his “trump card” in the debate. He would remind seniors that if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling, seniors wouldn’t get their Social Security checks.”GOP strategists like Karl Rove surely know that it’s just a matter of time before President Obama throws a game-changer — warning senior citizens that their Social Security checks won’t be mailed because of John Boehner,” Valliere wrote in a note to clients.A few hours later, Obama did just that during a speech at M. Luis Construction Company in Rockville, Md. He spent much of the speech warning that while the ongoing government shutdown was damaging, failure to raise the debt ceiling by an Oct. 17 deadline would be even worse.

“In a government shutdown, Social Security checks still go out on time. In an economic shutdown — if we don’t raise the debt ceiling — they don’t go out on time,” Obama said. “In a government shutdown, disability benefits still arrive on time. In an economic shutdown, they don’t.”

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NBC NEWS

How a medical device tax has stirred the budget debate

House Republicans on Monday tried to use a defibrillator to jolt Congress into averting a government shutdown — or at least repeal a tax on the heart-starting device.

A tax on medical devices is a provision being debated in the fight over the new health care law as a government shutdown looms.  Hospitals around the country have spent millions of dollars to buy automated defibrillators such as this device.

Lilly Fowler / Fair Warning
A tax on medical devices is a provision being debated in the fight over the new health care law as a government shutdown looms. Hospitals around the country have spent millions of dollars to buy automated defibrillators such as this device.

A group of diehard opponents of the White House’s health care law, set to blow up the federal budget to try to slow or stop the new law, have apparently failed in their bid to float a possible compromise to head off a costly and disruptive government shutdown.

And it’s all been about a tax projected to raise annual revenues a tiny fraction of the federal budget.

(Read moreSenate rejects House bill, shutdown looms)

House Republicans have spent months pursuing a series of unsuccessful gambits aimed at thwarting the new law. One proposal survived and landed Monday in the House’s last-ditch, take-it-or-leave-it budget proposal — the repeal of a tiny corner of the new law that imposes a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices.

But by midday Monday, the Senate had stripped the provision from the bill aimed at keeping the federal government funded past midnight. House leaders had just hours to approve the “clean bill” — or let the measure die and force the government to begin furloughing workers.

Here’s what the tax — and the bid to repeal it — is all about:

House Republicans are just trying to stop Obamacare because it’s too expensive. The government’s broke. How can we afford it?

The only honest answer is: No one knows what the new health law will cost — or save the government. Much depends on how consumers, hospitals, health care providers, insurers and others respond to the incentives and penalties included in the law.

But the best guess from the Congressional Budget Office in a report requested by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is that the law will save the government roughly $109 billion through 2022.

In round numbers, the math goes like this: Expanding coverage will cost about $1.7 trillion over 10 years — including subsidies for low income households, expanded Medicare coverage and tax credits for employers.

That will be offset by $506 billion in penalties from companies and individuals who don’t sign up, along with other savings over the same decade. The law will also save the government some $711 billion in overall health care spending, mostly savings on Medicare. And a list of other taxes, fees and revenue raisers will bring in another $569 billion over 10 years, the CBO figures.

One of those revenue raisers is the $29 billion in estimated taxes on medical devices — or about $2.9 billion a year. The 2.3 percent tax, which the government began collecting in January, covers devices like pacemakers and CT scanners. (Consumer devices such as wheelchairs, eyeglasses or hearing aids aren’t taxed; equipment sold outside the U.S. is also excluded.).

So why pick on medical devices?

Read More Here

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