The Los Angeles Times claims US President Barack Obama ‘abruptly” left a Wednesday night meeting with Republican congressional leaders after they wouldn’t agree to a two-year extension of the country’s debt ceiling. An aide who was at the meeting quoted Obama as saying that having the same terse negotiations over this issue next year – in the midst of what is expected to be a particularly nasty election campaign – could prove “very destabilizing.” As if on cue, while the meeting was still going on, Moody’s Investors Services announced that it was putting the US credit rating on a watch list for potential downgrade. Good times.
The two sides are split along familiar lines. The Republicans want to make $2.4 trillion in spending cuts over the coming decade, while the Dems want to save $4 trillion over the same period through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. Problem is, in its current Tea Party-fueled form, the GOP can no longer suppress its collective gag reflex at the mere sound of the T-word, so most of the meeting was spent bickering over which illegal immigrant member of the housekeeping staff would clean the vomit off the Oval Office carpet.
Following the meeting, House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) claimed that when he told the president the two sides were likely too far apart to make a deal before the Aug. 2 deadline, Obama warned: “Eric, don’t call my bluff. I’m going to take this to the American people.” So is Obama holding pocket aces, or a 2-7 offsuit?
Despite total US tax revenues being at their lowest level since the 1950s, Republicans are adamant about rejecting any tax increase. Read their lips. (This time, they mean it.) But while taxes are ugly and their mama dresses them funny, Republicans are a little more okay with the notion of the government raising ‘revenues’. But despite being pressed for specifics, Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) neglected to go on the record as to just what ‘revenue raisers’ his party might be cool with. Fortunately, a second-term Democratic member of the House has offered a few helpful suggestions.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Co.) published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal suggesting the federal government legalize and tax online gambling and marijuana. Polis maintains that such a plan would be “fully consistent with” the anti-tax pledge that Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform essentially compels GOP congressmen to sign if they want to get re-elected. Polis says that the 16 states in which medical marijuana is legal earn millions of dollars every year in tax revenues. If legalized nationwide, the government could earn $2.4b annually, and legalized online gambling would reap far more.
Polis’ indecent proposal prompted the following (mostly) intelligent debate over gambling/pot on Fox News. (No, we can’t believe it, neither.) Worth watching all the way through, if only for the revelation that there are more medical marijuana dispensers in Colorado than there are Starbucks. We bet the South Park guys are welcome in both.