Obama Dems Don’t Listen to Pres Clinton on Debt

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    May 26, 2011 9:58 PM GMT
    Senate Dems Ignore Bubba’s Debt Warning
    "The Democrats want to cherry-pick issues and make it just about Medicare, whereas the challenge for Republicans is to broaden it to make it about economy, jobs and making government solvent, and Medicare is part of that"
    -- Republican strategist David Winston, talking to the Wall Street Journal.

    Former President Bill Clinton provided a stark warning to his fellow Democrats about the consequences of failing to take the lead on issues of debt and deficit.

    “The Democrats are going to have to be willing to give up maybe some short-term political gain by whipping up fears on some of these things if it's a reasonable Social Security proposal or a reasonable Medicare proposal,” Clinton said at a bipartisan debt forum in Washington. “We have to deal with these things. You cannot have healthcare devour the economy.”

    Clinton also downplayed administration warnings that the current impasse over raising the government’s maxed-out $14.3 trillion credit limit.

    His message, made more explicit in a caught-on-camera exchange with Rep. Paul Ryan recorded by ABC, was that Democrats shouldn’t let their Tuesday victory in a three-way race in a Republican-heavy House district in Western New York go to their heads.

    Democrats have been crowing non-stop about the win and, as Vice President Joe Biden told supporters that night in New Hampshire, bashing Ryan’s budget proposal and his overhaul of Medicare is the primary path to Democratic success in 2012 (along with taking lavish credit for the mission that killed Usama bin Laden).

    Neither had the Big Dog’s message seeped in at the Democratically controlled Senate by Wednesday evening. Senate Democrats forced Republicans into an explicitly political vote on Ryan’s budget plan. The result was a bit of a surprise. Rather than jumping away from the plan, Senate GOP mostly embraced the plan, with only five members voting against it.

    The four most liberal Republicans, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted against the measure. And Rand Paul of Kentucky, now fully exploring his role as the skunk at the Senate garden party, also voted against the budget plan, but he said it was too wimpy.

    But even Paul’s budget alternative did better than Obama’s. Paul got six Republicans to join him in his plan, which makes Ryan’s austerity proposal look like the New Deal. The slashing seven are: Paul, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch of Utah, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, David Vitter of Louisiana and, most interestingly, Senate Majority leader (and fellow Kentuckian) Mitch McConnell.

    No Democrats, though, cast any votes for any budget proposal – not even President Obama’s proposal for 2012, which garnered zero votes.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has maintained it is not necessary for Democrats to have any budget plan whatsoever, despite it having been more than two years since congressional Democrats put forward any annual spending plan.

    When Paul’s budget can draw more support in a Democratic Senate than Obama’s one begins to see what Clinton was warning about. Remember, even though Obama’s budget got low marks from fiscal conservatives for punting on long-term debt drivers, the president still took heat on the left for being too aggressive on debt reduction.

    While Obama might not like the idea of Clinton looking to reach a separate peace with Ryan and the Republicans, potentially forging a deal that would diminish the current president, it’s also clear that the status quo of bashing Republican plans for fiscal reform while crying only for tax increases is not a sustainable plan.

    Republicans, now aware of the costs of their support, are going to hold the rope on fiscal reform. The Obama Democrats, unwilling to embrace Clintonian triangulation on the subject, seem to be paralyzed by their own desire to retain fodder for negative campaign ads.

    House Republicans today will lay out a broad proposal for tax and spending overhauls that Team Boehner says will kick-start the sputtering economy.
  • creature

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    May 26, 2011 10:48 PM GMT
    Murkowski is an Independent.
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    May 26, 2011 10:58 PM GMT
    creature saidMurkowski is an Independent.

    Although she ran as an independent, both her website and the Senate website list her as a Republican. She is sometimes called an Independent Republican, however.
  • creature

    Posts: 5197

    May 26, 2011 11:07 PM GMT
    Either way, I'm glad she didn't side with the Republicans.