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Progressives in Congress: Vote for the President to Do It!

letsgetitdone's picture

Today the MSM question of the morning for Congressional Progressive Caucus members is a variant of this:

“Which is worse, voting for a debt ceiling increase bill that doesn't raise any revenue and that will lead to major cuts in discretionary programs, and in entitlements including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, or voting to defeat a bill that does that and causing the United States to go into a default.”

So, there it is: a false choice again, being used to make progressives look bad if they say they will vote against anything but a clean debt ceiling deal.

In replying to these questions, some progressives are saying, both choices are worse, and it's completely illegitimate to tie the debt ceiling vote to deficit reduction legislation. Deficit reduction, they point out, should be discussed separately when it's time to pass a budget. Of course, the progressives are right about what ought to happen. But the problem is that they will have to decide whether to vote for a bill that will grievously hurt their constituents, or to vote against it. There is no escaping that vote for them, whether they think tying an increase in the debt ceiling to deficit reduction is fair or not.

What they most need to know at this point is that they can and also have to reject, outright, the framing given in the question above. The choice is not between voting for default and voting for a terrible deficit reduction bill. The choice should have been framed this way:

“Which is worse, voting for a debt ceiling increase bill that doesn't raise any revenue and that will lead to major cuts in discretionary programs, and in entitlements including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, or voting to defeat such a bill and placing the debt ceiling problem in the hands of President Obama to handle”

The answer to this properly framed question is that it is worse to vote for a "compromise" than it is to vote to defeat any such bill, and to leave the President to handle the problem, by himself. Make no mistake about it. The President can prevent the default himself.

There are 6 options he can use, and he will have a constitutional duty to do whatever is in his power and authority to prevent default. Here are the 6 options:

-- Challenging the debt ceiling based on the 14th Amendment Section 4
-- Selective default
-- Proof Platinum Coin Seigniorage (PPCS)
-- Running an overdraft at the Fed
-- The Fed burning its Treasury Bonds
-- The “exploding option” plan

I've previously discussed them in some detail and also analyzed and compared them. I've also written many posts on PPCS, because I think it is the preferred alternative among the 6. I won't repeat what I've already said, and urge you to read some of the posts at the link. Instead, all I want to do is to emphasize that a vote against a “compromise bill” that doesn't compromise with progressives is NOT a vote for default.

It's a vote for the President to use his powers to solve the problem without requiring harmful spending cuts in an economy that can afford absolutely no cuts without corresponding spending increases.

So, make the President do it! Make him solve the problem and avoid a default! That is the best thing that progressives in Congress can do now to save the economy and begin to kill the current austerity mania that will destroy the futures of our children and Grandchildren.

And for those of us outside of Congress, the best thing we can do is to ask our Representative and Senators to vote against anything except a clean debt ceiling deal, and to point out to them that they would not be voting for default; but only for placing the problem in the hands of the President who will have to handle it without making a big deal that hurts most Americans and that also, incidentally, forces them to walk the plank! Tell Bernie Sanders! Tell Sheldon Whitehouse! Tell Al Franken! Tell Dennis Kucinich! Tell Raul Grijalva! Tell Keith Ellison! Tell Barbara Lee! Tell Donna Edwards! Tell Louise Slaughter! Tell Marcy Kaptur! Tell them all!

Tell them to make no mistake! Tell them in no uncertain terms, that we will not forgive them in 2012 for giving away parts of the social safety net; when they easily could have avoided it by voting for the President to take care of the problem without making a deal. The The President is dealing with the Republicans and going after our bread and butter! And Congressional progressives are aiding and abetting him by accepting false framings of the issue, and deluding themselves or trying to delude us into thinking they have no choice. Tell them that we do know they have a choice. Tell them to stop marching with the oligarchs, or we will find other Senators and Representative who will march with us!

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Joe's picture
Submitted by Joe on

Did you watch This Week this morning? Paul Krugman brought up the platinum coin:

Congratulations. And thanks again to you, Beowulf, and Lambert, for helping to push this issue into mainstream conversation.

At this point I'm hoping that the eventual deal is SO heinous that even the president, who barely has a conscience, refuses to sign it.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

I think the President will take any deal, especially one that gives him a chance to cut the safety net. The progressives are now making noises about not supporting the deal. This diary was written to give them a basis to stick to their guns.

Joe's picture
Submitted by Joe on

Hey Joe, by the way, I had a thought about this whole situation recently.

What if some courageous members of the Senate decided to filibuster the eventual deal, and the president was forced into having to go around congress, perhaps with the platinum coin option?

Could a filibuster of the deal be a good thing?

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

But the person doing it would have to be "a profile in courage."

lizpolaris's picture
Submitted by lizpolaris on

You are so blinking moderate when you post over at Jane's. Can we get a
Little f'ing fire over there too? She so g dam cautious, she's all over the well, we have no where else to go meme. F Sanders, according to her, third party is all smoke and mirrors. Stop being so accommodating, you should push her. If she's all for Ds then she should be more critical or else support third party.

Clean debt ceiling only? There's no one to push that if there's no threat. Read Glenzilla - it's his Oliness that wants to slash ss, not the Rs.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Not sure I understand. I post the same pieces at FDL as I do here. I post them here first; and then cross-post. So, I'm not more radical here. maybe my comments are more radical here; though not intentionally so.

As for the parties; I'm agnostic about that. I think third parties are good for the system, but I also think it will be easier to re-take the D Party than it will be to win with a new Party. So, my efforts will be to primary people in the D Party who are voting for austerity and with the corporates and against the people.

As for pushing, Jane. I'm not at FDL for that purpose. I'm there to get my ideas spread. I hope to influence Jane in that way. But my mission over there isn't to influence here; it's to exchange with people in the community. That's my mission at Kos too, and at CAF. But I'm an outsider at all those places. Not here!

Joe's picture
Submitted by Joe on

Well, you've certainly done a great job of influencing. I saw your post at FDL and noticed that Jane loved it so much that she front paged it.

Now I see that Teddy Partridge has picked up the ball and repeated the call for the congress to vote against the bill.

You've done outstanding work. First, in the intellectual sense, and second, in the activist sense. Way to go, Joe.