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President Barack Obama meets with Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the Oval Office, Aug. 4, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news or
Good news for Majority Leader McConnell:
The White House is trying to jump-start budget talks with Senate Republicans to avoid a showdown over the raising the national debt ceiling later this year.
Given that the president has repeatedly pledged he will not negotiate over Congress's responsibility to raise the debt limit, what's the purpose of having a negotiation to avoid negotiating over the thing that is non-negotiable?

Not only that, why start negotiations with Senate Republicans when you know you'll have to renegotiate with House Republicans? This isn't an issue like immigration reform, where the House would gladly sit on its hands in the absence of Senate action. Congress needs to fund the government and raise the debt limit or government will shut down.

Moreover, thanks to the Budget Control Act of 2011 (aka the debt limit hostage crisis), Congress and the White House have already agreed on spending levels for next year. So unless there's a chance of improving on that, what could be gained by having serious negotiations with the Senate's minority party? I guess one answer is that there might still be a flicker of "hope" for a Grand Bargain, but as NRCC head Greg Walden already made clear, Republicans will use talk of a Grand Bargain to attack Democrats on Social Security. Even if Obama continues to push it, congressional Democrats should run as fast from it as they can.

Taking a hard line worked pretty well with the fiscal cliff and the most recent debt limit extension. On the other hand, the long drawn out debt ceiling and budget negotiations of 2011 ended in disaster. Why not give another shot at doing what worked instead of falling back on failure?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Body Language. (9+ / 0-)

    Barack is not quite as intimidating as LBJ.

    Just saying . . .

  •  Another attempt to get the chained CPI (12+ / 0-)

    How much you wanna bet it's offered?

  •  Body language analysis: (7+ / 0-)

    McConnell is leaning away from Obama, as though to increase the distance between them. His left leg is crossed over his right, which puts a physical barrier between him and Obama. His palms are facing down, indicating that he is unwilling to "accept" or "hold" anything Obama offers.

    Obama's upper body is slightly shifted toward McConnell in a posture that suggests an attempt at appealing to McConnell. He has the same leg crossed as McConnell, indicating not only a mirroring position, which is conducive to cooperation, but an "open" position in which his crossed leg doesn't make a barrier but indicates friendliness and openness. Obama's palms are facing up, a universal gesture of giving and peace.

    A fitting metaphor for the overall debate between Repubs and Dems, seems to me.

    Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead. ~K. Vonnegut

    by Greek Goddess on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 02:34:35 PM PDT

  •  The more you talk with Republicans today, the more (0+ / 0-)

    they get all caught up in their childish games and grandstanding, and the more Barack has to bring all the reasonableness in the room.

    He should send Michelle to talk to them.

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 02:35:48 PM PDT

    •  I'm wondering if jj32 knows who Michelle is. n/t (0+ / 0-)

      The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life. Jane Addams

      by Alice Olson on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 02:37:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Bwhahahahahaha.... (0+ / 0-)

      Yeah- Barack sure brings that reasonableness to the room when he gives into the rethugs childish grandstanding while getting nothing in return.

      Keep dreaming.

      "I'm not scared of anyone or anything, Angie. Isn't that the way life should be?" Jack Hawksmoor

      by skyounkin on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 07:24:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yawn...nothing will come of it (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jj32, kitebro, satrap, eps62

    All it will accomplish is another round of bitching and moaning from the usual voices here about how Obama is selling us out and whatnot.

    I've seen this movie before and it bores me.

    •  Theatre Exit ---> eom. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OldSoldier99, shmuelman

      The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

      by Wolf10 on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 02:41:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  it can be argued that chained CPI will never... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      musiccitymollie, OldSoldier99

      happen because the Republicans won't vote for it, for their own absurd reasons.

      It can also be argued that the whole concept of offering it and counting on it not being accepted doesn't do a whole lot of good to push actual Democratic values. It only keeps the status quo.

      I can see that keeping the status quo is superior to other options. Perhaps that's what the President wants and why he's doing what he does. However some day the Republicans will kick out the loonies (as they realize they will never win national elections again with those people making the decisions) and on that day the discussion will include chained CPI and then we're screwed.

      •  Shahryar, please see the video I posted above. (6+ / 0-)

        Democrats are still attempting to 'strike a Grand Bargain,' which of course includes cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

        I heard on XM Radio's The Press Pool (which interviews mainstream media print reporters) that the Administration is courting 24 Republicans to work out a "Grand Bargain."

        It appears that the effort has not let up, just going on 'under the radar,' after the backlash that they received a couple of months ago.

        So don't pop the ol' champagne corks quite yet, LOL!


        "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible."-- Frank L. Gaines


        by musiccitymollie on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 03:50:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Apparently, the President has been meeting with (3+ / 0-)

          at least twelve Republicans.  I heard 24 on the radio, but so far have not found an article that supports this.

          Since I attempt to be accurate, I thought that I should point this out.  ;-)

          The excerpt below refers to a March meeting.

          Apparently, there was one very recently (today?), but I haven't found anything on it yet.

          But the president held a dinner meeting Wednesday (March 2013) meeting, days in the making, was held on neutral territory -- a downtown Washington hotel -- the snowstorm blowing through D.C. did not postpone the rendezvous.

          "The President greatly enjoyed the dinner and had a good exchange of ideas with the Senators," a senior administration official said.

          The guest list included Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Dan Coats of Indiana, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, John Hoeven of North Dakota and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.

          Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell claimed he didn’t mind that Obama was going around Republican leaders.


          "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible."-- Frank L. Gaines


          by musiccitymollie on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 04:25:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Having this POTUS does make one fully appreciate (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      today's insane Republican party. In days of yore, they would have leaped to take yes for an answer. Maybe there is a glimmer of "hope" here.

      "The President is trying to make it tough on members of Congress. It's just sick." -- John Boehner (R-WATB)

      by OldSoldier99 on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 04:31:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I dont see why Republicans would want (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to use a 30 year budget window.

    I mean, I could see Dems accepting "cuts" to Medicare and Social Security from 2030-2040, while getting something in return right now.

    Now, GOP would probably not accept such a deal, but I dont really see the benefit in embracing the 30 year window.

  •  The article makes it sound like it didn't go well (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alice Olson

    and makes not much mention of debt ceiling, i won't get too worked up.

  •  Turtle holds the football... (6+ / 0-)

    while Obama comes rushing forward...yeah, we have no idea how this ends!

  •  O's persistence in trying to give away the store (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rbird, OldSoldier99, vigilant meerkat

    is truly remarkable. Nearly as remarkable as the irony of our being saved from social security cuts by Republicans.They aren't the only ones who "will use talk of a Grand Bargain to attack Democrats on Social Security." Real Democrats will join them.

    The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

    by Wolf10 on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 02:38:27 PM PDT

  •  More 11th. dimensional chess? n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wolf10, OldSoldier99, eps62

    Fuck me! He made it. Will Scarlet

    by dagolfnut on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 02:38:30 PM PDT

  •  Why not give another shot at doing what worked? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stude Dude

    It depends on whether you're giving the President the benefit of the doubt, or not.

    If you are, then the President is (a) being the adult in the room, and (b) giving the Republicans a chance to grow up. Most admirable, no doubt - although I would have some pointed words for the President about the futility of trying to bargain with Republicans.

    If you are not, then the President doesn't much care what he has to give away, so long as he has a deal that the Beltway media will fawn over him for reaching.....until the next manufactured fiscal crisis.

    "Violence never requires translation, but it often causes deafness." - Bareesh the Hutt.

    by Australian2 on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 02:40:45 PM PDT

    •  I don't know. In the real world, and not the (0+ / 0-)

      best of all possible worlds which is the one we'd prefer to live in but do not, I don't suppose that there really is an alternative to this.  And you never know -- maybe a picture of himself with the pres is what Mitch really wanted all along.

      The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

      by helfenburg on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 03:01:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  More like pallin around with terrorists. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joealan, helfenburg, OldSoldier99

    "It strikes me as gruesome and comical that in our culture we have an expectation that a man can always solve his problems" - Kurt Vonnegut

    by jazzence on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 02:41:18 PM PDT

  •  Photo Caption (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kitebro, Stude Dude, OldSoldier99, eps62
    "If I stare him in the eye and keep my balls covered maybe the black man won't attack me."

    Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

    by Mike S on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 02:41:58 PM PDT

  •  If the President can end the sequester (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and end the budget wars through a long-term grand bargain, I would be for such a deal.  We have a golden opportunity, based on Obama's efforts to revive the economy during his first term, to really take off economically and build a solid foundation for the younger generations.  

    Alternative rock with something to say. Check out Global Shakedown's latest album, "A Time to Recognize": Available on iTunes/Amazon, or stream it at

    by khyber900 on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 02:49:10 PM PDT

    •  Grand Bargain, no way! (5+ / 0-)

      No. No deal that includes SS cuts. None. Nada.

      Time to kickass in our Party for those that vote for this.

      Congressman Grayson

      Grayson: 170 Dems Need To Get Primaried

      Yes to retasking Military and Security spending for creating the type of   jobs you describe.  That's what's needed and wanted.    

      Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

      by divineorder on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 03:32:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No. (0+ / 0-)

      "The President is trying to make it tough on members of Congress. It's just sick." -- John Boehner (R-WATB)

      by OldSoldier99 on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 04:38:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The only problem is, nothing that he proposes in (0+ / 0-)

      the Grand Bargain (austerity--cutting Social Security and Medicare) is going to do what you are hoping for, that I can see.

      Presently, there are approximately 55 million Social Security beneficiaries, who will lose benefits, and take a haircut on their monthly benefit checks.  (Bear in mind, this includes the SSDI folks.)  The majority of these beneficiaries are low to moderate income (millions, of course, are poor.)

      And remember the 2010 Census Bureau findings:

      'Dismal' prospects: 1 in 2 Americans are now poor or low income

      Somehow, I fail to see how "cutting the benefits of" an additional 75 to 80 million Boomers who are scheduled to retire over the next decade plus, which will obviously erode their expendable income (therefore reducing their ability to make purchases), is supposed to fuel, and therefore revive the economy.

      Remember, the infrastructure projects that are being discussed are going to be "privatized," so it's mainly a giveaway to the One Percent.

      Pete Peterson is one of the major proponents of this 'project.'

      Even Democratic economist Robert Reich has warned against this plan, because it will hurt the poor and working classes, due to the "tolls" that will be put in place in many of our interstate highways and expressways that are now "toll free."

      I'm in favor of an Eisenhower-like infrastructure project, but not this "boondoggle."

      This was hatched up by John "I'm not a redistributionist Democrat" Kerry, and that right-wing Republican Texas Ex-Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, for Pete's Sake!

      In my opinion, it is counterintuitive to believe that a "Grand Bargain" will help fuel the economy.  It will simply bring more misery for those who can least afford it.


      "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible."-- Frank L. Gaines


      by musiccitymollie on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 08:54:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Since when... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Is McConnell the Majoity Leader?

    I would never belong to a club that would have me as a member--Groucho Marx.

    by DaveS002 on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 02:49:44 PM PDT

  •  Of course (0+ / 0-)

    there's no "negotiation" here. Just the Republicans making demands. Then President Obama will say "at least I tried" and Senator Reid will complain about the inevitable Republican filibuster but will refuse to use his power to do something about it.

  •  As soon as I read the title of this article, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldSoldier99, vigilant meerkat, eps62

    I asked myself, "Why?"  After reading Jed's explanation, I'm still asking myself, "Why?" but the subject of the question has changed.  Why does the president seem so dead-set on "reforming" Social Security?  With this congress, the program can't be reformed the way it should be, ala Tom Harkin's  proposals, so WTF is he doing?

    "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

    by SueDe on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 02:54:18 PM PDT

    •  Obama sure gets lampooned for trying (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NedSparks, satrap, eps62

      make a representative government work.

      He also gets ripped for his policies and how weak and feeble they are but certain facts pop up that sometimes tell a different story.

      Global demand for energy slows

      Some of the Enviros probably don't like it but the US saw the largest yearly increase in energy production while overall energy consumption was down.  It seems like his "All of the above" energy strategy is working and affordable energy drives the economic recovery.  His accomplishments are ignored by both sides while he is flayed for his failures and flaws.  Who in the hell would want such a job?

    •  Harkin's proposals plus petition (4+ / 0-)
      Congress: Cosponsor the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013 (S. 567).
      Petition Background

      The American people know that our Social Security system works, and during the economic collapse of 2008 they saw that while their home equity, 401k’s and savings were devastated, Social Security was the one source of retirement security that people could rely on.

      With so much uncertainty about the future, we will rely more than ever on our Social Security benefits. That’s why now is the time to build upon the one retirement security system that we know we can count on.

      We can expand Social Security benefits. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has a proposal that will do just that: The Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013.

      According to Senator Harkin's office, The Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013 (S. 567) would:

      • Strengthen Benefits by Reforming the Social Security Benefit Formula: To improve benefits for current and future Social Security beneficiaries, the Act changes the method by which the Social Security Administration calculates Social Security benefits. This change will boost benefits for all Social Security beneficiaries by approximately $70 per month, but is targeted to help those in the low and middle of the income distribution, for whom Social Security has become an ever greater share of their retirement income.
      • Ensure that Cost of Living Adjustments Adequately Reflect the Living Expenses of Retirees: The Act changes the way the Social Security Administration calculates the Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA). To ensure that benefits better reflect cost increases facing seniors, future COLAs will be based on the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E). Making this change to Social Security is expected to result in higher COLAs, ensuring that seniors are able to better keep up with the rising costs of essential items, like health care.

      • Improve the Long Term Financial Condition of the Trust Fund: Social Security is not in crisis, but does face a long-term deficit. To help extend the life of the trust fund the Act phases out the current taxable cap of $113,700 so that payroll taxes apply fairly to every dollar of wages.

      Combined, these changes will increase benefits for current and future beneficiaries while making Social Security stronger for future generations by extending the life of the Trust Fund through 2049.

      By making millionaires and billionaires pay the same rate as the rest of our do, we can expand Social Security for all Americans. That is what we must do.

      We need every single member of Congress to hear from their constituents. Tell them you are sick and tired of these conversations about how much to cut from our earned benefits, tell them now is the time to expand Social Security.

      Tell them to sponsor The Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013 (S. 567) or its companion in the House.

      Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

      by divineorder on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 03:35:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Poor pres! Has to sit for a photo op with (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Mitch McConnell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Tough day at the Oval Office.

    The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

    by helfenburg on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 02:58:24 PM PDT

  •  Charades (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't know what Obama is going to do, but if he does plan to take a hard line he presumably gets points with the media and some voters by going through with the charade of negotiation first - he needs to call the Republicans bluff about their willingness to reach agreement.

  •  Yes, indeed, Jed! (3+ / 0-)

    Congressional Democrats SHOULD RUN as fast as they can from President Obama's social security cuts and his "Grand Bargain."  If they don't, many of us are going to run away from them!

  •  Welcome. Please take a seat. (3+ / 0-)

    The show will commence shortly.

    Before starting, let us consider something:

    will use talk of a Grand Bargain to attack Democrats on Social Security
    From Reuters:
    (Reuters) - Republicans, Democrats and even the White House distanced themselves Thursday from President Barack Obama's proposal to trim Social Security and other safety-net benefits, illustrating yet again the difficulty of reaching a bargain to reduce spending and tame the deficit.

    Republicans, including House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, said Obama's offering - made Wednesday in his budget plan for the 2014 fiscal year - did not go far enough to cut spending.

    Many Democrats thought it went too far, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California saying that it should be debated, but not be part of any deficit reduction deal or budget proposal.

    And White House spokesman Jay Carney said it was not originally Obama's idea, but was included in the budget because the president thought Republicans wanted it as part of any deficit reduction deal.

    "This is a Republican proposal," he said in his daily briefing.

    Well golly gee Beav.  Of course Obama had to offer cuts to Social Security, I mean.. what else is he supposed to do if he thinks it's what the GOP wants?

    Perhaps Obama can create, via Executive Order, a Deficit Commission stacked with anti-Social Security zealots to come up with some ideas?

    Maybe Alan Simpson is available to help craft a way forward?

    Coming Up Next:

    Plutocracy debates itself on how quickly cuts can be made, who will be held up to take the blame, and if any crumbs need to be tossed to the masses as a distraction.

    The excuses for Obama's behavior have long since passed the point of predictability neccessary to qualify as an absurd production of Kabuki Theater.

    by Johnathan Ivan on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 03:05:11 PM PDT

  •  Say What? (0+ / 0-)

    "Good news for MAJORITY Leader McConnell:"

    Surely you jest!

    Or, do you?

  •  I guess Obama... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Capt Crunch

    ... can't wait to give Social Security away.

  •  Now Mr. President... (0+ / 0-)


  •  why wait till next year to surrender when (3+ / 0-)

    you can start now and surrender twice as much?

  •  Hard line? (3+ / 0-)

    How was his response to the "fiscal cliff" a "hard line"?  After campaigning on ending the tax breaks for income over $250,000 and trying to use OFA for that after the election, he gave that up (Thanks, Biden!).  The fiscal cliff deal was ridden with corporate giveaways--for Amgen, NASCAR, Hollywood, and the financial industry.  It even had a provision that was little more than "Help Goldman Sachs refinance a new building." And sequestration, which was Jack Lew's misguided and idiotic idea of a proposal to threaten progressive Democrats and militaristic Republicans, went into effect. Yes, there were some good parts to the deal, but Obama didn't take a "hard line" at all.

  •  What's the purpose? (0+ / 0-)
    Given that the president has repeatedly pledged he will not negotiate over Congress's responsibility to raise the debt limit, what's the purpose of having a negotiation to avoid negotiating over the thing that is non-negotiable?
    Because Obama just knows his Obama magic is going to work this time.  

    What was that classic definition of insanity?  

  •  I think that pic is over 2 years old btw (0+ / 0-)
  •  I care a lot more about this.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...than the NSA thing.  I'm a materialist.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 05:13:16 PM PDT

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