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The Value of Strength and Power The Value of Strength and Power

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The Value of Strength and Power

Captain America, fresh off his first-place showing at the box office, weighs Boehner and Reid and the abyss.

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A Party favorite: Jim Griffin of Port Washington, Md., dresses as Captain America at every Tea Party rally in Washington. He has the stickers to prove it on the back of his shield. For Griffin, being a party of the Tea Party is a matter of patriotism. "I do this for my country, flat out and nothing else."(PHOTO: Julia Edwards)

Whereupon our hero, Captain America, takes calls—he hopes for the last time—on the debt-crisis hotline.

Caller: So, this is what the abyss looks like?

 

CA: Actually, we’ve been in it for a while. The pressure’s just starting to get to you.

Caller: Me and everyone else. Is there a way out?

CA: There’s always a way, if there’s a will.

 

Caller: Hey, if I wanted a Hallmark card, I’d have gone to the drugstore. I need something tangible, something I can hold onto.

CA: So do markets from Tokyo to London to Wall Street. They’re still searching.

Caller: Can Speaker John Boehner’s bill pass the House?

CA: It doesn’t have the votes now. Grassroots GOP groups are divided, but Boehner’s gaining strength. That makes it a jump ball—with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor doing the toss (bet Boehner).

 

Caller: How many GOP votes can Boehner afford to lose?

CA: No more than 33. And that assumes he picks up 10 Democrats—a stretch since the stronger medicine, “cut, cap, and balance,” pulled only five Democrats.

Caller: What’s the conservatives’ biggest beef?

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CA: One big reason is that Boehner cut a deal with Senate Democrats on discretionary spending whereby this year’s discretionary budget will be reduced by $7 billion. The House GOP budget cut $31 billion. Conservatives think a $7 billion first-year cut is too small and a woeful compromise compared with their budget.

Caller: What about the guy who wrote that budget?

CA: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he’s with Boehner. That means he knew he’d never get those cuts through the Senate.

Caller: Speaking of the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid’s got a bill that supposedly cuts more over time than Boehner. What’s his first-year discretionary cut?

CA: $5 billion.

Caller: Damn close to Boehner.

CA: This is the story everyone seems to be missing. If you look at Boehner’s plan and Reid’s plan, the discretionary spending cuts in 2012 and 2013 are almost identical. Boehner cuts $1 billion more in 2012, but their numbers are the same in 2013. The numbers that matter most in any budget deal are in the first and second year. Why? Because that’s what Congress has to do immediately and before the next election. Everything else is negotiable later.

Caller: Would these numbers, if agreed to, avoid a government shutdown later this year?

CA: Yep. That’s another reason they matter so much. President Obama, Boehner, and Reid don’t want to live through another shutdown scenario—not after this default hair-pull.

Caller: I saw on Twitter the White House will veto Boehner’s plan.

CA: The release said that his advisers would recommend a veto. Advisers can and have been ignored. Plus, Obama didn’t say that in his prime-time address. That means there’s room to bargain. Not much time, but room.

Caller: But what if Boehner’s plan dies in the Senate?

CA: Reid’s will probably die too. And then something will have to be patched together. You can find the glue, at least a dollop of it, in those spending numbers for 2012 and 2013.

Caller: That still doesn’t give me a lot of hope.

CA: To find hope, politicians are going to have to change.

 

This article appears in the July 27, 2011 edition of NJ Daily.

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