Monday, May 9, 2016

Last Call For Just (San) Juan More Time

Now that Puerto Rico has defaulted on its debt repayments, the scramble by the Obama administration is on to try to fix the problem before it gets out of control.  The problem is, Republicans in Congress don't actually want to fix the problem at all, as it would require a bailout that would hurt our Precious Job Creators(tm) who bet wrong on the island's finances, and the thought of making them actually pay up is giving the one-percenters a heart attack.

Lawmakers have missed one deadline to prevent Puerto Rico from defaulting on its debt, and they’re trying to figure out how to build support for legislation that could prevent a second missed payment. 
Republicans are seeking to produce a revised bill as early as Wednesday, while U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew is heading to the commonwealth Monday to keep up the pressure for Congress to act. 
All sides are under pressure after a week-long congressional recess, punctuated by Puerto Rico’s default a week ago on most of a $422 million debt payment. Puerto Rico is in an economic recession that’s poised to worsen as residents continue to leave, threatening to deepen the fiscal crisis that’s pushing the island to default on a growing share of its $70 billion of debt.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop of Utah plans to craft the Republican legislation that would create a federal oversight board to help manage the island and supervise a debt restructuring, according to a committee aide who asked for anonymity to discuss the matter. It will be similar to an earlier version that ran into snags, the aide said, adding that the measure could be advanced by the panel as early as next week. 
The top Democrat on the panel, Raul Grijalva of Arizona, said he’s not sure Republicans will be able to agree on legislation by Wednesday. He and other Democrats have begun to link the impact of the debt crunch to the strain on public services for an island grappling with a health crisis brought on by the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Lew, in his one-day visit, intends to highlight “how the debt crisis has already harmed the health, safety and welfare” on the island, according to a statement. 
The next deadline in Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt crisis is July 1, when a $2 billion payment is due, including $805 million for the island’s general-obligation bonds, which are seen as its most sacrosanct debt.

It's that "federal oversight board" that's the problem, effectively ceding control of the island directly over to Congress, controlled by the GOP. The other problem is of course making the people of Puerto Rico cough up $74 billion that they don't have in order to full pay off the creditors, because no Republican up for re-election in November is going to want to "bail out" Puerto Rico, not when they're all lining up behind Trump and his mass deportation scheme.

The problem is a municipal bond default that size is going to hurt other states, counties and cities in the US if bond market gurus think that the US Treasury might stiff them, too.  That's kinda bad for things all over, and the GOP knows it.

If that July 1 deadline goes by without a payment, it could seriously hurt the economy in an election year, and not even the GOP wants that albatross around its neck (they have too many large and heavy metal birds to deal with already).

We'll see what happens but I'm tending to think the GOP will get off their ass and take whatever deal Jack Lew can work out.

North Carolina Goes Into The Crapper, Con't

NC GOP Gov. Pat McCrory isn't waiting around for the Justice Department to make good on its implied threat (deadline today) to withhold Title IX federal funding over civil rights violations in the state's HB2 "Bathroom Bill".  Rather, it seems the state's Republicans are going to sue the Obama administration for the right to discriminate against transgender people instead.

Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina on Monday escalated the nation’s clash about transgender rights and sued the Justice Department, which said last week that the state had violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it passed a law that prohibited people from using public restrooms that do not correspond with the gender listed on their birth certificates. 
In the suit, the governor accused the Justice Department of a “radical reinterpretation” of the law. 
“The department contends that North Carolina’s common sense privacy policy constitutes a pattern or practice of discriminating against transgender employees in the terms and conditions of their employment because it does not give employees an unfettered right to use the bathroom or changing facility of their choice based on gender identity,” said Mr. McCrory’s lawsuit, which was filed in a Federal District Court in North Carolina. “The department’s position is a baseless and blatant overreach.” 
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a message.

McCrory is betting that he can run out the clock on the Justice Department taking any actions while the suit is pending, and clearly he's hoping for both a a friendlier administration in 2017 who will drop the case completely, and a banner issue for NC Republicans to rally around for his re-election campaign in November. By saying that the law "needs to be resolved at a federal level" and that he's "taking the initiative to protect federal funding" for the state, he's framing the left as the bullies here, rather than "suing for the right to tell trans folks where to pee."

It's not an entirely stupid move, that is if you're going to stick with the entirely stupid move of HB2.

We'll see how far he gets, but he's clearly fishing for an injunction preventing any DoJ action pending a Supreme Court ruling, and that could take years.

As a countermove, the Justice Department sued NC right back.

The Department of Justice sued North Carolina on Monday, saying the state’s recently-passed “bathroom law” violates federal civil rights laws. 
The move comes hours after North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory sued the Department of Justice over its interpretation of the law. 
Last week, the Department of Justice sent a letter to McCrory saying the controversial law — which bans transgender people access to restrooms that match their gender identity in government buildings and schools — violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 
“The state is engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender state employees,” U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta wrote in the letter to McCrory. 
Gupta gave McCrory until Monday, May 9, to respond with a solution to “remedy the situation.”

So now the battle begins.

He Can't Help Himself

My distaste for the King Of False Equivalency, Ron Fournier, and his both-siderism has long been evident, but he may have finally gone off into the abyss with this one.

Now, let's take a look at this.  Fournier is taking an NY Times piece detailing the crack-up of the GOP and because everything must be "Democrats are as bad the Republicans" to him, it's the "Dem Party will also unspool."

He presents no evidence of this, nor is any evidence of this cited in the article he links.  It's just "because both sides."  He goes on.

It's just going to happen. People hate the parties so they will collapse. It will happen to the Dems too, simoply because it has to happen. You see, if it doesn't, then it was never "Both sides are bad." Just one side, the GOP, crushed by demographics and intolerance. Fournier would be wrong. He can't abide that.

The Democrats are always one election away from extermination.  That won't change in the Village zeitgeist after 2016.


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