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US Politics - Super-Congress Edition


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#1 Shryke

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 12:41 PM

And so, the debt ceiling continues to go unraised.

But wait! The Senate GOP, along with Reid the Spinless, have come up with a solution to the problem the Republicans manufactured out of nothing.

SUPER-CONGRESS!!!!!!!


That's right, in a desperate attempt to avoid responsibility for the problem they've created, the Senate is thinking of creating an entire new legislative body who's sole purpose is to act like fucking adults and actually pass things that need to be passed.
http://www.huffingto...g_n_907887.html

Debt ceiling negotiators think they've hit on a solution to address the debt ceiling impasse and the public's unwillingness to let go of benefits such as Medicare and Social Security that have been earned over a lifetime of work: Create a new Congress.

This "Super Congress," composed of members of both chambers and both parties, isn't mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but would be granted extraordinary new powers. Under a plan put forth by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his counterpart Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), legislation to lift the debt ceiling would be accompanied by the creation of a 12-member panel made up of 12 lawmakers -- six from each chamber and six from each party.

Legislation approved by the Super Congress -- which some on Capitol Hill are calling the "super committee" -- would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn't be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who'd have the ability only to cast an up or down vote. With the weight of both leaderships behind it, a product originated by the Super Congress would have a strong chance of moving through the little Congress and quickly becoming law. A Super Congress would be less accountable than the system that exists today, and would find it easier to strip the public of popular benefits. Negotiators are currently considering cutting the mortgage deduction and tax credits for retirement savings, for instance, extremely popular policies that would be difficult to slice up using the traditional legislative process.


Of course, as they themselves say, the whole purpose of this is so that the GOP can avoid having to do what they know and have said needs to be done: raise the debt ceiling. They are so desperate to avoid the consequences of doing it because of the political movement they have created that they are ceding their authority.

They want to continue to grand-stand and squabble like children over issues they know and have admitted are wrong for political gain and have someone else make the hard decisions that, you know, is the fucking job these people are paid for and that they have publicly admitted need to be done.


Also, I love the way they split it as an explicit fuck you to both 3rd parties and voters (voters will always vote 50/50, am I right?). Go Democracy!


So we have massive institutional failure leading to the attempt to create a new institution that might actually work ... and that attempt is itself yet more failure.

#2 Asarlai

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 12:49 PM

six from each chamber and six from each party.

Further strengthening the joint power monopoly of the two party system. Because it isn't a government of the people, it's a government of Republicans and Democrats.

I'm just glad this wasn't done in the early 1800s; we'd have to find six Whigs to give extraordinary powers to.

#3 Commodore

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 12:57 PM

Of course, as they themselves say, the whole purpose of this is so that the GOP can avoid having to do what they know and have said needs to be done: raise the debt ceiling.


GOP already raised the debt ceiling. There is no other proposal offered by anyone that raises the debt ceiling.

#4 Shryke

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 01:00 PM

GOP already raised the debt ceiling. There is no other proposal offered by anyone that raises the debt ceiling.


Ahh yes Commodore, continue this bullshit. They attached a bunch of huge riders they know won't pass the Senate to the bill.

If they really had meant to raise the debt ceiling, they'd just raise it. Clean. Easy. Like usual.

#5 Commodore

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 01:04 PM

Ahh yes Commodore, continue this bullshit. They attached a bunch of huge riders they know won't pass the Senate to the bill.

If they really had meant to raise the debt ceiling, they'd just raise it. Clean. Easy. Like usual.


That would guarantee a credit rating downgrade by Moodys and S&P.

Edited by Commodore, 24 July 2011 - 01:04 PM.


#6 Shryke

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 01:07 PM

That would guarantee a credit rating downgrade by Moodys and S&P.


What? The only thing that's making Moodys or S&P think of downgrading US credit rating is the GOP making it look like they might not raise the debt ceiling.

#7 Triskan Peersman

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 01:10 PM

That would guarantee a credit rating downgrade by Moodys and S&P.


Is this what Rush is telling you guys now?

#8 The Iceman of the North

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 01:10 PM

That would guarantee a credit rating downgrade by Moodys and S&P.

Of course defaulting would have no such consequences /rolleyes2.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':rolleyes:' />

#9 Triskan Peersman

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 01:12 PM

What? The only thing that's making Moodys or S&P think of downgrading US credit rating is the GOP making it look like they might not raise the debt ceiling.


I'm guessing that the fringe is now pushing the notion that just raising the debt ceiling alone is not enough to avoid a downgrade. It must also involve cuts or, as you say, we're all gonna die.

#10 Shryke

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 01:20 PM

Shit, the 10 year bond rate is still ridiculously low. Because no one thinks the US is actually going to default (or they hope not) and thus, everyone still thinks the US is a solid investment.

The US is not when it comes to it's credit rating. The only problem here is that the GOP decided not to raise the debt ceiling. They have manufactured an economic crisis from nothing.


I'm guessing that the fringe is now pushing the notion that just raising the debt ceiling alone is not enough to avoid a downgrade. It must also involve cuts or, as you say, we're all gonna die.


Which doesn't make a lick of fucking sense. The only reason raising the debt ceiling might not be enough is because investors would be scared this might happen again. The only people who give a shit about cuts are US politicians.

#11 Shryke

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 01:24 PM

Also, I'm re-quoting the Chimpanator General because this video was a good, super quick breakdown of what this means:

Thisis a handy little video. In one minute former CBO chairman Douglas Holtz-Eikin explains the debt ceiling situation in very clear fashion (with charts!). This guy was a economic adviser to McCain in 2008 for what it's worth.


Basically, without a debt ceiling raise, you either see MASSIVE cuts or a default. Or both.

Either way, the US is in for a world of pain and a brutal economy.

#12 Commodore

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 02:07 PM

What? The only thing that's making Moodys or S&P think of downgrading US credit rating is the GOP making it look like they might not raise the debt ceiling.


S&P credit analyst David Beers:

It's not just about the debt ceiling...there is an underlying issue and that's the increase in the debt burden of the US government, and that's what we're looking to see if some agreement is possible to change the rising trajectory of US government debt...We compare the rising debt trajectory of the US with the other AAA sovereigns that we rate and we've observed many times that that gap is opening up, and it will continue to open up unless and until the government decides to change its fiscal policy.


http://www.reuters.c...E76H0ZH20110718

(Reuters) - Credit rating agency Egan-Jones has cut the United States' top credit ranking, citing concerns over the country's high debt load and the difficulty the government faces in significantly reducing spending.



#13 Former Lord of Winterfell

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 02:31 PM

The so-called "Super-Congress" has no legislative power. It is simply a modification of the non-legislative procedural rules each chamber adopts during a session. I don't see how it is any less constitutional than any of the other essentially arbitrary rules relating to process, such as committee power, reconciliation, rules.

Is it a gimmick? Sure, to some extent. But that's about all that can be done at this point given that the various sides are too far apart to pass more substantive legislation addressing the deficit.

#14 mcbigski

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 03:18 PM

What? The only thing that's making Moodys or S&P think of downgrading US credit rating is the GOP making it look like they might not raise the debt ceiling.


What a flimsy talking point.

So Moody's and S&P think that the way to make sure creditors of the US remain whole is to run up debt ad infinitum? When do we reach too much public debt? And how does limiting the amount of debt you take on impair your ability to pay your debts?

We're already on an unsustainable path. Let's get off it sooner rather than later.

#15 Altherion

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 03:44 PM

So Moody's and S&P think that the way to make sure creditors of the US remain whole is to run up debt ad infinitum? When do we reach too much public debt?

When nobody wants to buy the debt anymore.

And how does limiting the amount of debt you take on impair your ability to pay your debts?

Same way as the credit crunch impaired the economy: if you rely on debt for operations (particularly during bad times), limiting the amount of debt means you're screwed.

We're already on an unsustainable path. Let's get off it sooner rather than later.

Hard to see that happening. To make serious inroads into the debt, Congress would either have to raise taxes or make substantial cuts to discretionary spending and either Social Security or Medicare. Both paths cost jobs and neither is politically tenable.

#16 Former Lord of Winterfell

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 04:13 PM

That's why an amendment is so important. The virtue of passing a debt ceiling increase with only an amendment attached is that it permits politicians to avoid making any difficult choices in the short term, which they love. But once an amendment, with some phase in period, is passed, they won't be able to kick the can down the road anymore in future years.

#17 Commodore

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 04:15 PM

Out year cuts are utterly meaningless, Congress can't bind a future Congress.

#18 Shryke

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 04:41 PM

S&P credit analyst David Beers:
http://www.reuters.c...E76H0ZH20110718

But the United States bond market is one of the largest, most-liquid, most-studied, most transparent markets in the world. Thereís nothing the ratings agencies have that any else doesnít have.

And whatís more important, the ratings agencies own internal analysis shows that they are terrible at rating government debt. Their ratings are all off, as government, especially those with a printing press for their own currency, simply donít behave like the corporate world they were designed to analyze. And rather than just being wrong, they are wrong in that they are always overestimating the liklihood that governments will default.

http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/the-activist-ratings-agencies-and-their-poor-public-sector-predictions/

You can go read the whole thing if you want, but the rating agencies are terrible at predicting government debt, constantly predicting governments are more likely to default then they are and their effect on government's ability to borrow is, at best, utterly random. At worst, meaningless. (seriously, look at this spring or Japan in 2002)

There's no reason to give a shit what they think.

Again, look at the bond rate. It's ridiculously low. Even as of friday, no one thinks the US isn't a secure investment.

#19 Shryke

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 04:44 PM

The so-called "Super-Congress" has no legislative power. It is simply a modification of the non-legislative procedural rules each chamber adopts during a session. I don't see how it is any less constitutional than any of the other essentially arbitrary rules relating to process, such as committee power, reconciliation, rules.

Is it a gimmick? Sure, to some extent. But that's about all that can be done at this point given that the various sides are too far apart to pass more substantive legislation addressing the deficit.

Legislation approved by the Super Congress -- which some on Capitol Hill are calling the "super committee" -- would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn't be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who'd have the ability only to cast an up or down vote.


It's a bit more then a gimmick.

And even if it is, the whole thing is a transparent attempt to make someone else do the job they know needs to be done, are paid to do but that they don't want to do ecause that would involve going against the political tide they've created to get themselves into power.

#20 Former Lord of Winterfell

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 04:53 PM

Shryke, I actually agree with you that it is basically an attempt to pass the buck, although whatever it does must still be voted on and approved by both chambers. And the reality is that the so-called fast tracking could be ignored if a majority wanted to ignore it.

The problem is that Republicans are insisting on hard spending cuts as a price for tax hikes, and Democrats are unwilling to cut entitlements or provide legislative triggers to force future cuts. It's simply a disagreement as to policy that can't really be resolved before the next election. So, we get this stop-gap/gimmick instead.

Nothing malevolent or bad about it, really. Sometimes, there are honest disagreements to which no negotiated solution is possible.