Sep 30 2013

Grand Bargain Circus – Midnight on the Highwire

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Midnight on the Highwire

tight rope bike

Welcome back circus fans!  The drama under the Beltway Bigtop is rising ever higher as the antics of the red clowns have captured the show.  The clowns are still refusing to get in their car and leave the stage.  

The red clowns have continued adding demands of the Ringmaster to their list and the Ringmaster is still refusing to negotiate.  If the clowns can’t resolve the issue amongst themselves by midnight tonight, the lights will be turned out on the audience, many of the circus employees will either be sent home or their paychecks will be suspended.  Many audience services will be disrupted, but the ticket booth will continue billing the audience as usual.  

While the audience will be left in the dark, many key services will continue, for example, the sneaky clowns (a division of the Killer Klowns) will keep spying on the audience continue to back up audience cellphone data.

Midnight Showdown: Government Shutdown Imminent

The back and forth between the House and Senate over a stop-gap budget bill to avoid a government shutdown continued on Monday, with the ball left in the Senate’s court to pass a bill that both sides might agree on before a midnight deadline.

House Republicans continued on Sunday to insist any budget bill that passes must include a provision that does away with funding for the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act. They passed their version of a bill on Sunday that goes beyond gutting Obamacare to include a host of other Republican-flavored mandates, including a provision that would give US employers permission to opt out of contraceptive coverage for employees. Senate leaders have vowed that this bill will never pass through their chamber. …

If a bill is not passed by midnight tonight, multiple government agencies and programs will shut down for the first time in 17 years forcing more than a million federal employees out of work for an indefinite period and many U.S. residents with major delays in social and public services.

uno elefante by Jessie Pearl, on FlickrThe red clowns seem quite determined to drive the Ringmaster into making key concessions. The red clowns disagree about the consequences of inconveniencing the audience; some red clowns have been warming up for another trick. The red clowns leadership would prefer, rather than inconveniencing the audience with a temporary shutdown of key circus services, to burn down the tent:

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and their allies are instead privately urging rank and file to forgo a clash over government funding – and a possible government shutdown – and instead dig in against Obama and the Democratic Senate when the debt ceiling needs to be lifted sometime next month.

Threatening to burn down the tent has worked well for the red clowns before. Last round, the red clowns got major concessions in the form of the sequester, which the Ringmaster was at pains to describe as a big win.  The red clowns almost got the Grand Bargain, in which the Ringmaster offered to slowly rob the audience of their old age security and other things that the audience has paid for.  Only the red clowns’ greed for even greater concessions saved the audience from that robbery.

The red clowns still want more and they have a plan to get it odds are they will get concessions from the Ringmaster, but what? Stay tuned

As Shutdown, Default Loom What Might Obama Give Away?

These dual and competing threats by the Republican lawmakers, however-and the legislative processes and machinations of Washington, DC politics that many in the media are focused on-tend to miss out on asking one of the key questions at the center of this latest episode in what has become the “new normal” of lawmaking during the his presidency: Will Obama cave?

Though the president has repeatedly said he will “not negotiate” under these circumstances, it’s clear from GOP lawmakers that their reading of history shows that if they push enough, take hostages, and make belligerent demands for the sun, that the president might at least give them the moon.

Will the red clowns get the moon from the Ringmaster?  The blue clowns and the Ringmaster are circling the wagons in the center ring to protect the Ringmaster’s solitary achievement, passing legislation to reward the insurance and pharmaceutical industries a health insurance mandate for everyone, except the millions who will fall through the cracks.  Can the blue clowns and the Ringmaster save his acheivement from the depredations of the red clowns?

Domestically, who ever heard of a presidency already into its second term that, according to just about all observers, has only one significant achievement — Obamacare (whatever you think of iThe Mystery of Washington’s Waning Global Powert) — and clearly hasn’t a hope in hell of getting a second one?  Just as he’s done in Syria, Obama will now be watching relatively helplessly as Republicans in Congress threaten to shut the government down and not raise the debt ceiling — and whatever happens, who expects him to be the key player in that onrushing spectacle?  …  In our lifetime, we’ve never seen a president — not even the impeached Clinton — so drained of power or influence.  It’s a puzzle wrapped in an enigma swaddled by a pretzel.

Ringmaster by simpleking, on FlickrThe Ringmaster has taken to his soapbox and called in the staff of the Beltway Bigtop Promotions Office to get out the message of the dire consequences of the red clowns’ plan.  

The Ringmaster says that if the stalemate continues, the Beltway Bigtop Guards will not be paid on time. The Ringmaster issued a shout-out to the Beltway Bigtop Funders to intervene with the red clowns and stop them before they blow up not only the circus, but the larger economy from which the Beltway Bigtop’s money and perks come.

Barack Obama slams Republicans for threat to ‘blow up entire economy’

President Barack Obama on Friday issued a stark warning over the consequences of the continued stalemate in Congress over funding the federal government, saying US troops face disruption to their pay in the event of a shutdown and castigating his opponents for threatening to “blow up the entire economy”.

The Ringmaster has become so exercised by the red clowns’ antics that he has called out the manager of the Ticket Office to make an impassioned appeal to the Beltway Bigtop Promotion Office and Funders.

Some of the Banker Bozos who rely on the Beltway Bigtop management to keep their receipts coming in have responded.

Debt standoff could ‘all but wipe out’ US recovery, economists warn

Treasury secretary Jack Lew warned Congress this week that unless it imminently approves an increase in the borrowing limit, the US government will be unable to meet its bills by 17 October. But Barack Obama is refusing to bow to Republican demands that he defund his landmark healthcare reforms in return for an agreement. …

The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its latest jobs report next Friday and important manufacturing data will also be released next week. In both cases, economists expect the figures to underline the strengthening US economy. But PNC bank senior macroeconomist Gus Faucher said a failure to raise the debt ceiling would “all but wipe out” that recovery.

“There will be an immediate drag on the economy, interest rates will rise for everyone. Social security, federal wages and contracts will not get paid. It would be disastrous,” he said.

“The economy would basically stall.”

The Beltway Bigtop Promotions Office checks in:

A Republican Ransom Note

On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew sent the House a very serious warning that, for the first time, the United States would be unable to pay its bills beginning on Oct. 17 if the debt ceiling is not lifted. House leaders responded on Thursday with one of the least serious negotiating proposals in modern Congressional history: a jaw-dropping list of ransom demands containing more than a dozen discredited Republican policy fantasies.

Will the Beltway Bigtop funders step in to chastise the red clowns?  The Ringmaster and the manager of the Ticket Office have laid out what is on the line.

The Ringmaster has been relying on the work of the Grand Illusionist to create for the audience a sense of calm and well-being, even as the seating and accommodations of the circus become shabby and worn out, the services decline in quality and quantity, and the audience’s employment opportunity and pay decline against the cost of the tickets.

The Illusion of “recovery” is important as well to distract the audience while the Union of Pickpockets and Banker Bozos loots the economy and the biggest thieves are allowed to continue their theft with only a slap on the wrist.

The Grand Illusionist’s work hyping “the recovery” could be wasted in a single day.  If “the recovery” ends, then the party could be over for the Beltway Bigtop funders.  If the audience is given proof that the whole game is a fraud, a hostile audience will start making demands and throwing things.  If they head for the exits, the whole circus could fold.

Recovery hype: American capitalism’s weapon of mass distraction

From President Obama on down, defenders of the status quo insist that the US economy has “recovered” or “is recovering”. …

From 2007 – the last year before the current recession hit – until now, the median income of Americans has dropped by nearly 10% with no recovery evident.

Yes, the stock markets and profits for large banks and corporations have recovered, more or less. That explains the good fortune of the top 1%. …

Hyping a recovery helps politicians to boost their popularity (or at least, slow its decline). It also serves to give masses of people with growing economic difficulties the impression that “other people” are experiencing a recovery. So they blame themselves (their age, skill set, education and so on) for missing out. The recovery hype thereby functions as a massive “blame-the-victim” program, in which a dysfunctional capitalism escapes criticism, while its victims instead turn criticism inward upon themselves.

Protecting the illusion of “recovery” is important not only to distract the audience from the decline of the Beltway Bigtop’s services and the decline of the economy brought on by the Ringmaster’s refusal to prosecute his savvy criminal friends, but also to draw their attention away as the Kapitalist Klowns ship their gains out of the country.

As long as the audience is busy and focused on the indirect process of getting the clowns in the Beltway Bigtop to correct their “errors” in expectation that the clowns actually represent the audience’s interests, they are less apt to directly interdict the Kapitalist Klowns sneaking off with the loot.

Hyping recovery is also supported from darker, more cynical motives. Leaders of large corporations who have already moved many of their operations out of the US call the current situation a “mature” economy. This euphemism reflects their sense that rapid growth now happens more outside the US than inside and, therefore, higher profits beckon overseas where wages and taxes are lower. They want to keep freely relocating over the coming years with minimal opposition as they depart.

The leaders of these companies especially prefer to be less heavily invested here when the American working class is realizing that the capitalism that raised their wages across earlier decades of growth is fast departing for more profitable opportunities abroad. That departure abandons the American working class to steady decline – as countless indicators show: falling real wages, reduced public services, high unemployment, etc.

Business leaders and their elected friends fear workers’ rage and resentment, should they be able to identify who and what did them in. Hyping recovery provides “delaying cover” as businesses executives relocate their facilities abroad, their homes and offices inside “gated communities”, and their workplaces into “heavily secured enterprise zones”.

Meantime, the red clowns have been working with Beltway Bigtop funders who are focused on smaller issues of immediate gain.

Tea Party Lawmaker Letter on Med Device Tax Repeal Authored by Lobby Group

Today, House Republicans pushed one more step towards a government shut down by coalescing around a continuing resolution that delays the implementation of the Affordable Care Act by one year, while permanently repealing one of the primary funding mechanisms for the law, a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device companies.

While its clear that Democrats will reject any delay of health reform, the move to revoke the medical device tax can be seen as a coup by industry lobbyists. The medical device industry, led by AdvaMed, a trade association that spends $29 million a year, has pushed aggressively to ensure that medical device companies contribute nothing to the financing of the Affordable Care Act.

After the Tea Party catapulted House Republicans into the majority, seventy-five right-wing lawmakers wrote a letter to Speaker Boehner demanding that a vote to repeal the device tax occur “as soon as possible.” The metadata of the letter shows that it was authored by Ryan Strandlund, a member of AdvaMed’s government affairs team.

With a deadline for keeping the circus’ lights on, the red clowns and the blue clowns are practicing their brinkmanship and will carry the wrangling down to the wire.  Will there be a midnight tightrope walk?

tight rope headstand

US government shutdown: House votes to delay Obamacare law

The US government is on the precipice of a historic shutdown that would result in hundreds of thousands of federal workers being placed on unpaid leave, after House Republicans refused to pass a budget unless it involved a delay to Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reforms. …

The resolution passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in the early hours of Sunday morning makes funding the government until the middle of December contingent upon a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act. It also strips the new healthcare law, which is due to come into force on Tuesday, of a key tax on medical devices.

Senate Democrats and the White House have said they will block any budget resolution that is tied to the healthcare law – known as Obamacare – which was passed three years ago and upheld by the US supreme court last year.

Undermining the healthcare reforms – the flagship legislative achievement of Obama’s presidency – has been a priority for the conservative wing of the Republican party for years and the spectre of government shutdowns has been used in the past.

As the drama winds up, the Ringmaster’s Grand Bargaineer friend, Pete Peterson is warning the clowns to come back to their senses and settle for robbing the audience his way, and provided a guide to the shutdown.

Are the red clowns crazy enough to shut off the lights, send many of the key performers home and cut off the pay of others?  Are they crazy enough to burn down the tent?

Stay tuned!  We’ll have an answer to the first question by midnight tonight!

High wire acrobatics

“Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.”

 — H. L. Mencken