1.) Obama suddenly a big fan of Simpson-Bowles catfood commission report — After letting the fiscal commission’s politically incorrect suggestions sit on the back burner for the last four months, Pres. Obama will “frame” the commission’s report “as a responsible alternative to the 2012 plan unveiled last week by House Republicans,” reports the Washington Post. Obama will rely on the Gang of Six–three Senate Democrats and three Republicans–to sell the commission’s report. While White House aides say the gang is close to coming up with something Obama wouldn’t mind taking credit for, Sen. Tom Coburn told WaPo, “It’d be pretty hard for [Obama] to hitch himself to something that doesn’t exist yet.” In fact, the Gang of Six is hoping that Obama will wait at least three days before calling; otherwise, getting Republican support in the Senate will be impossible. This most likely will not be a problem, as WaPo notes that “[l]etting others take the lead on complex problems has become a hallmark of the Obama presidency.” If the catfood plan goes bust, Alan Simpson’s prints will be all over the place.
2.) Ron Paul says Paul Ryan plan is not insane enough — “Neither of those budgets will solve our problems, or even come close,” Rep. Ron Paul told an Iowa crowd yesterday. Paul was referring to Rep. Paul Ryan, his messiah-like colleague in the House. “What is the philosophy of government? What should the role of government be?” asked Paul. The answer, reports Jon Ward, is the dividing line between Paul and most of the U.S. Congress. “If we don’t have a house, they’ll give us a house. If we don’t have education, they’ll give us free education. If we’re hungry, we get food stamps. And deficits don’t matter. And if you need money, you print the money. And we have this moral obligation to police the world,” Paul said. “[Paul] Ryan doesn’t reject that notion,” he added. “I do.”
3.) House GOP was just kidding about that whole ’72 hours’ thing — “Republicans campaigned on posting bills for ’72 hours’ before voting on them, and a ‘transparency initiative’ website of House Speaker John Boehner still includes the promise in a number of hours format,” writes The Daily Caller’s Chris Moody. And yet, “the House will vote Wednesday on the hotly debated bill to fund the federal government through the fiscal year, approximately 36 hours after Republicans plan to make the language of the bill available online.” Does this mean the GOP is breaking its promise? Or does it just suck at math? Apparently, it is a combination of the two. “It is a three day rule,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told Moody. “That’s what was in the Pledge to America. It has always been calendar days.”
4.) Bubble watch: Student loan debt to reach $1 trillion this year — “Student loan debt outpaced credit card debt for the first time last year and is likely to top a trillion dollars this year as more students go to college and a growing share borrow money to do so,” reports the New York Times. “Two-thirds of bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with debt in 2008, compared with less than half in 1993. Last year, graduates who took out loans left college with an average of $24,000 in debt. Default rates are rising, especially among those who attended for-profit colleges.” According to the NYT, student loan debt is “the anti-dowry,” which means your children will never own a home, never marry, and probably live with you forever. If they do reproduce, they will probably still be paying on their student loans when their own children head to college, where they will take out more loans. The only people who are not concerned about the rising cost of college are professors like AFT Vice President Barbara Bowen, who, at a collective bargaining conference for university professors, dismissed questions about the need for belt-tightening by saying, “There’s plenty of money.”
5.) What does the Obama administration have against Sunny Florida? — For the second time since the BP disaster, a member of the Obama administration has snubbed Florida politicos. The first time was in June 2010, when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder met with Gulf Coast state attorneys general in New Orleans about the oil spill’s long-term effects and ongoing cleanup efforts, but declined to invite Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican and opponent of Obamacare. One year later, the sunshine state is still getting short shrift. “State senators are not happy with Kenneth Feinberg, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility administrator who oversees a $20 billion fund for oil-spill relief,” reports the St. Pete Times. “Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee said Feinberg ‘snubbed’ them Monday by not giving a scheduled presentation,” and that “his inability to show over several months disturbing and concerning.” One senator suggested subpoening Feinberg, who holds the title of “oil spill czar,” but was stopped by a colleague, who asked, “What good is it going to do to subpoena somebody who really doesn’t care?”
6.) Bachmann didn’t blink, says spox — “Rep. Michele Bachmann is many things, but she’s not typically considered someone prone to cut and run. So Republicans and conservative activists were shocked when she appeared to do just that Friday during the height of the negotiations over a spending deal to avert government shutdown,” writes TheDC’s Jonathan Strong. Bachmann after all, called for a rider-free budget and suggested that last week’s budget battle was small fries compared to the looming fiscal crisis. In the media maelstrom, Bachmann’s comments were interpreted as backing down. But as her spox points out, “a close look at her remarks shows that in each case, her underlying point was criticizing the entire process for not discussing large enough spending cuts or defunding the president’s health care law. In other words, she was sniping from the right, not the left.” Tea Party, put away your knives!
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