Markets Mandate Deal on Debt
“He sent his vice president to negotiate. What? Maybe once a week? Twice a week? We are facing a debt crisis and our president is just phoning it in.”
-- Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., at a press conference.
Capitalists love certainty. They ultimately care more about predictable rules than what the rules specifically are.
So one can imagine how much capitalists hate the current situation in Washington.
Lawmakers have been unable to make a deal over President Obama’s request that the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit, which was bumped up $1.9 trillion in February 2010, be increased yet again.
In the process, they have piled more and more things “on the table,” as in “everything is on the table.” That means tax rates, government spending, long-term entitlement and welfare payments and even defense policy are all, to varying degrees, up in the air.
The economy is facing a lot of what the administration deems “headwinds” or “bumps in the road” – like the Japan tsunami and high gas prices – but there is also the overarching problem of uncertainty.
While some of the issues, like the president’s health-insurance overhaul, have to wait for court decisions or the 2012 elections to be resolved, the current mess over debt, spending and budgets is doing plenty to quell the animal spirits of investors and business leaders.
The message rising up from economists across the spectrum is that Washington must move quickly to come to a conclusion, whatever it is. With a government shutdown, rising interest rates, tax hikes and massive cuts all in the mix, the money needed to keep the economy from slipping deeper into recession will not materialize.
This is a capital strike and as Vice President Joe Biden enters his latest round of negotiations with Republicans and moderate Senate Democrats over how to do a deal, he knows that the trajectory of the economy, and, by extension, his own chances for re-election are at stake.
Power Play suspects the White House is getting ready to cut a deal.
"We're faced, in my view, with the prospect of a very troubling, if not downright odd, historical precedent that has the potential to haunt us for decades. The issue for us to consider is whether a president, any president, can unilaterally begin and continue a military campaign for reasons that he alone has defined as meeting the demanding standards of a vital national interest worthy of risking American lives and expending billions of dollars of our taxpayers' money."
-- Sen. James Webb, D-Va., speaking in support of a resolution that would force President Obama to either obtain congressional approval for U.S. involvement in the Libyan civil war or withdraw from the country.
A top aide to a House Republican working to construct a coalition in support of President Obama’s involvement in the Libyan civil war described the news that the Obama administration is escalating covert military operations amid growing civil strife in Yemen as “not helpful.”
“The Yemen operations are part of a counter-terrorism effort. The Libya operations are part of a NATO humanitarian mission – two totally different things,” the aide said. “But, no, the timing is not great.”
A bipartisan coalition in Congress is emerging around legislation to force Obama to disengage U.S. forces from the ongoing, stalemated civil war in Libya. Sen. Jim Webb, a Virginia Democrat and former Navy secretary who rose to prominence for his opposition to the Iraq war, has joined moderate Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Tea Party stalwart Sen. Mike Lee of Utah is support of a resolution that would force Obama to obtain Congressional approval or drop out of the NATO effort in support of rebel forces, a mix of eastern tribesmen and Islamists.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, helped buy time for the operation with a House resolution demanding Obama explain himself to the Congress which sapped support for a resolution demanding withdrawal in 15 days. But the growing bipartisan sentiment in Congress is that the administration has become arrogant as it relates to using the military and needs to be reined in.
Yemen, where Iranian-backed Shia tribesmen are in conflict with Saudi-backed Sunni tribesmen, has all the makings of a murderous civil conflict. Like the conflicts currently raging in Libya and Syria, it has layers of sectarian, tribal and economic interests.
Al-Qaeda has long exploited the lawlessness of the nation to operate a base there, and the U.S. has long been fighting a drone war, similar to the one of Pakistan, in an effort to keep the baddies on the run.
But news that Obama is escalating the U.S. role even as Congress rages over executive unilateralism on Libya will only harden sentiments.
The two strongest proponents of the Libyan war effort in the Senate, John McCain and John Kerry, have had to table their plan to win approval for the war. Their now task will be stopping the Congress from clamping down on Obama.
Weiner Out of Options
"Based on what I know of him, I would be shocked if he resigned... He is not the kind of person to do that. Being a congressman is everything to him. And I think that he will drag it out as long as he can. The only reason perhaps he would resign would be if he just thought his political career was over... I think it's pretty clear he's gonna put himself first in this situation."
Anthony Weiner has made a career out of making people uncomfortable. His confrontational, arrogant and brash style won him fans in his Brooklyn district and among liberals who believe Democrats need to get tougher with the right.
The Weiner method is now being put to the ultimate test. Democrats are now steadily increasing the pressure for the Congressman to resign. It’s not that it’s a cyber cheat – that is considered a personal problem – but that he so rigorously lied about the scandal and, worse for Weiner, how foolish and crude he was in having his electronic trysts.
Now that the world has read the nature of Weiner’s sometimes unsolicited online sexual advances, the gross-out factor is pretty high. The reckless behavior of sending crotch shots to 21-year-olds is alarming and so is the fact that his dirty talk with one online partner was of a rough, demeaning nature.
A guy who liberals came to see as someone who could stand up to Republican bullies turned out to be a bully himself.
As the list of Democrats calling for his resignation grows, it falls to Weiner to decide whether he can tough it out in the face of being the object of bipartisan loathing. It seems like too tough of a tote, even for someone who draws strength from the outrage of his detractors.
Washington is now in a state of collective anxiety over the news that Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, is pregnant with the couple’s first child. Abdein is traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, her longtime boss, friend, protector and benefactor. The appearance of the baby item in the Clinton-friendly New York Times suggests that it is part of an effort to explain why a modern, empowered, liberal woman would endure such humiliation at the hands of Weiner.
But not even news of his paternity is going to be enough to keep Weiner in office indefinitely. Even if he is willing to be detested by his fellow Democrats and serve in shame, an ethics probe into whether he used government resources in furtherance of his cover-up will eventually grind him down.
Without any defenders, Weiner would face far worse than the slap on the wrist for fellow New Yorker Charlie Rangel. Democrats could spare Rangel, but without a show of support from his wife and the blessing of the House of Clinton, they will not do so for Weiner. They will, in fact, feel like virtuous feminists for roasting him.
It may be hard for the self-loving Weiner to accept that he has so fully engineered his own fall from power and ended what could have been a bright future in national politics, but it will all come crashing in soon enough.
Perry Could Raise Texas-Sized Cash
“One of the upsides of being governor of the state with the best economy in the country is that you know a lot of successful people.”
-- Texas Republican strategist and potential 2012 adviser to Gov. Rick Perry speaking to Power Play.
The latest FOX News poll shows former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani doing the best against President Obama in a 2012 matchup, losing by only three points.
That’s a boon for those in the military interventionist wing of the GOP who are hoping to get the hero of 9/11 back in the political mix and stiffen Republican support for the conflicts in Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere. And it’s not going to take too much to get Rudy to play. A former Giuliani aide told Power Play that the poll and a warm reception for hizzoner in New Hampshire had the mayor “almost there.”
But a head-to-head poll right now is more based on name identification than anything else. Everybody knows Guiliani and with almost all Republicans and most independents ready for a change from President Obama, the best known Republican is likely to fare best.
On the Tea Party side of the GOP, the noise is all about Texas Gov. Rick Perry. While there are devotees of Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann, Perry is the kind of mainstream-acceptable candidate the movement would need to prevail in the presidential contest.
With the Wall Street Journal doing a takeout piece on Perry, the east coast media is waking up a bit to Perry’s potential in a still unsettled field.
Perry’s peeps are measuring the possibilities for a campaign, especially given the high cost associated with taking on the deep pockets of Mitt Romney. But one former and potentially future consultant to the governor told Power Play that the money would be there.
The theory is that if Perry could use support from the oil industry and the other booming businesses of Texas to provide seed money, he could launch the kind of low-dollar national fundraising appeal that could quickly build a war chest while simultaneously enhancing his profile with Republicans.
“Running from Texas is not like running from any other state,” the former adviser said.
Obama Health Law Faces Tough Test
“It’s all about financing. It’s about regulating whether people are paying cash or credit.”
-- Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal arguing that a federal law that requires Americans to purchase private health insurance or be enrolled in a government program doesn’t set a new legal standard for government authority.
The three-judge panel that will decide the Obama administration’s appeal of a Florida federal court ruling striking down the president’s health care law looks like a balanced body.
In Atlanta, three members of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals – one appointed by Bill Clinton, one who is the father of a conservative Republican congresswoman and a George H.W. Bush appointee and one appointed to a lower court by Ronald Reagan but appointed to the appellate court by Bill Clinton – heard arguments on Wednesday in the case of the century.
While there are many facets to the case, the judges made clear in their questioning that the issue comes down to this: can the federal government force people to buy something (health insurance) on the grounds that it is for the collective good?
This is the kind of audience – left, right and center -- that the administration will have when the case eventually winds its way to the Supreme Court, and good practice for the lawyers involved.
The judges’ decision will also be the most significant one yet since it is in the biggest case, deals with the central issue and comes from a balanced panel of respected jurists.
***Today on “Power Play Live w/ Chris Stirewalt”: Lou Dobbs, Bob Beckel and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, one of the litigants in the health care lawsuit. Tune in at 11:30 Eastern at http://live.foxnews.com/***
And Now, A Word From Charles
“I've been to Damascus but I wasn't struck down on the road to it. I am impressed in the number he got in the FOX poll.”
-- Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” discussing his previous dismissals of Herman Cain’s presidential viability in light of Cain’s strong showing in the latest FOX News poll. Cain drew 7 percent support, putting him at the top of the second tier.