Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) isn't saying why both sides aren't any closer to a debt deal after a day filled with feverish negotiations Saturday, but Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) spelled it out during a floor speech Saturday night.
The sticking point for Dems, Kerry said, involves detailed negotiations over an enforcement mechanism that would require Congress to act on entitlement and tax reform by a date certain or faces the consequences. Democrats want to ensure that such a trigger does not simply mandate severe spending cuts, but also includes tax increases -- the so-called "shared pain" Democrats have cited lately.
Naturally, the GOP in the Senate aren't biting, and as such the vote has been postponed 12 hours from 1 AM Sunday morning to 1 PM Sunday afternoon.
As noted here, Republicans are insisting on skewed triggers. The source provided some fresh details on precisely what they're asking for. One of their proposals would alter the way the government calculates inflation. It would thus reduce automatic increases in tax bracket levels and Social Security cost of living adjustments -- in effect a regressive tax increase, and a Social Security cut, each of which would result in modest savings.
Democrats reject this so called "chained CPI" option because they fear Republicans would happily block a balanced spending cut/tax increase package in favor of an automatic Social Security cut.
Republicans have also proposed "automatic sequestration" -- across the board spending cuts, including to entitlements -- with no corresponding revenue increases.
And we're right back to square one: Republicans refuse any revenue increases whatsoever and insist we have to cut spending...and cut it from Social Security. Once again the GOP is playing for "When the clock runs out we get everything we want" so they will run the clock out. It's what they are playing for right now. They never, ever, ever, ever were going to make a deal in good faith.
Time for the 14th.
"I'm talking about that there's precedents for presidents to do things where the Constitution doesn't give the president explicit authority but it doesn't prohibit the president from doing it, and I believe there's a basis in the 14th amendment as decided in Perry v. United States," Sen Tom Harkin (D-IA) said on the Senate floor. "I think the president - barring action from the Congress - not only has the authority to do so, he has the responsibility to not let this country default."
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who already called on Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment days ago, repeated the suggestion on the floor tonight as time marched on and the sun outside grew increasingly faint.
The Huffington Post's Jennifer Bendery reported Saturday night that Pelosi may be changing her tune on the idea. Citing an unnamed member of Congress, Bendery reports that Pelosi is supportive of a 14th Amendment option behind the scenes.
Now we're getting somewhere. What are the Republicans going to do, impeach Obama? They were going to do that anyway, you know. Let them play that card when a vast majority of the country, some 71% mind you, disapprove of how the GOP has handled the debt ceiling mess.
Take the gloves off. No reasonable deal is forthcoming.