Remember that split among congressional Republicans on fiscal strategy? Well, now it seems the Democrats have the makings of a similar problem.
In recent weeks, congressional D’s have been uncharacteristically independent, breaking with their leadership and the Obama administration. First they opposed military action in Syria, warning the president they would deny his request to strike. And then came Larry Summers, who was brought down by a handful of Senate Democrats who let the White House know they would not confirm him as Fed chief.
All this bodes quite poorly for President Obama (and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi) as the spending and debt fights approach.
If Obama’s advisers take anything away from the Syria and Summers episodes, Capitol Hill aides and lawmakers suggest it should be the message that Democrats are not going to get in line with a budget deal that compromises their liberal positions. No longer should the White House feel free, as it has in the past, to consider tweaks to programs like Medicare or Social Security, for instance (unless, of course, Republicans agree to extract more money from taxpayers).
Reid and one of his primary deputies, Sen. Patty Murray, continue to oppose the “chained CPI” proposal that would change the way government benefits are calculated and make them less generous — one of the ideas the president offered up in past budget negotiations. House Democrats largely are not in favor of one of the president’s other previous budget offers — to cut Medicare by $400 billion.
These concessions would be an incredibly hard sell to Democrats during a year where the country’s annual deficit continues to fall, says a House Democratic leadership aide.
“A lot of our members were concerned about the drift of the negotiations during the fiscal cliff,” the aide said. “Our sense is that any deal this fall would not be as large so there is not as much of a necessity to offer up those items.”
The White House hasn’t ruled those items out though; it’s not really even engaging in the discussion at all yet. If lawmakers start to draw lines in the sand, the president will have fewer tools to use and fewer levers to pull to score a deal that keeps the government running and the United States current on its debt.
Democrats hope it doesn’t come to that — and many think it will not. The prospects for a major budget deal are so slim, they say, that the president will not get to the point of offering any deal-sweeteners that congressional Democrats dislike, like Medicare cuts or chained CPI.
Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen says the White House, for weeks, has promised House Democrats that it would only offer these cuts as part of a major budget deal. Now, that elusive grand bargain seems unlikely, given the short time frame of the fall’s fiscal battles and overall budget fatigue. “It’s all a moot point,” says Van Hollen, a close ally to the White House on fiscal matters. “The Republicans have refused to raise one penny of revenue for the purpose of reducing the deficit. They are not even talking about it.”
In the end, that may be the greatest force uniting Democrats. While they don’t agree on the particulars of budget politics, they can come together around their disdain for the House Republicans and their attempts to cast them as extreme leading up to the debt ceiling fight.
“I think the president continues to enjoy broad-based support on our side of the aisle,” says House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer. “I think there is nobody in the Democratic Party who wants to shut down the government — the president certainly does not want to shut down the government. I think we’re talking about tactics to make sure we don’t do that.”
What We're Following See More »
Not since Eagles fans booed Santa Claus have this many people been dismayed at Philadelphia. Traffic gridlock, poor logistics, and the inevitable summer heat and thunderstorms are drawing the ire of convention goers, as "peeved" delegates complained about "Homerian odysseys" to get from place to place. "On Twitter, out-of-town media complained about the logistics of the convention, spread out between the sports complex in South Philadelphia, media tents a hike away, and the daytime events at the Convention Center in Center City."
"Two attackers killed a priest with a blade and seriously wounded another hostage in a church in northern France on Tuesday before being shot dead by French police. The attack took place during morning mass at the Saint-Etienne parish church, south of Rouen in Normandy. Five people were initially taken hostage." The case has been referred to anti-terrorism officials in Paris.
"Sometimes, unity is procedural. Mr. Sanders’s delegates will get the chance to back him in a roll-call vote from the convention floor on Tuesday, a largely symbolic gesture intended to recognize the breadth of Mr. Sanders’s support as the former rival campaigns negotiate an awkward peace." Around 6 p.m., they'll begin calling the states to vote. Sanders won't be in a generous mood—at least at the beginning. Last night from the stage, he said, "I look forward to your votes during the roll call tomorrow night." Indeed, in 2008, Clinton herself insisted on a roll call, before halting it "midway through, asking that Mr. Obama be approved by acclamation."
Instead of his usual stump speech, Bernie Sanders tonight threw his support behind Hillary Clinton, providing a clear contrast between Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump on the many issues he used to discuss in his campaign stump speeches. Sanders spoke glowingly about the presumptive Democratic nominee, lauding her work as first lady and as a strong advocate for women and the poor. “We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor,” he said. “Hillary Clinton will make a great president, and I am proud to stand with her tonight."
In a stark contrast from Michelle Obama's uplifting speech, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke about the rigged system plaguing Americans before launching into a full-throated rebuke of GOP nominee Donald Trump. Trump is "a man who has never sacrificed anything for anyone," she claimed, before saying he "must never be president of the United States." She called him divisive and selfish, and said the American people won't accept his "hate-filled America." In addition to Trump, Warren went after the Republican Party as a whole. "To Republicans in Congress who said no, this November the American people are coming for you," she said.