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08.02.11

Debt Deal's Done

By a comfortable margin, the Senate approved a bill to raise the nation's debt ceiling, handing it over for Obama's signature and putting an end to a long default crisis. Full coverage here.

They ran down the clock again, but Washington has finally found a way out of its latest crisis. The Senate approved a plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and trim future deficits, gathering the 60 votes required and sending the bill to Obama for his signature. Before the vote, the Treasury was due to default on some of its loans at midnight Tuesday evening. The pending law, which passed the House comfortably with a bipartisan vote, will immediately raise the debt ceiling by $400 billion and also sets up a bipartisan joint committee of lawmakers to cobble together a new round of cuts by January. If they don’t succeed, an automated round of harsher cuts sets in.

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Pelosi's Savvy Vote
by Eleanor Clift

The sidelined ex-speaker is as disgusted as fellow liberals by what they see as an Obama sellout—but dutifully voted for the debt deal for the good of the country. By Eleanor Clift.

Throughout the day Monday, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi refused to say how she would vote on the debt deal that would come before the House in a matter of hours. “She’s making Boehner sweat,” said a Democratic operative. “She’ll deliver as many Democratic votes as she needs to, and not one more.”

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Debt-Debacle Hangover
by Zachary Karabell

The markets now assume that the dysfunctional Congress can’t get its fiscal act together. Zachary Karabell on how the debt debate has confirmed diminished U.S. economic leadership.

So there you have it. The debt deal is done, and all that remains is for a ritualistic i-dotting and t-crossing, along with the howls of protest from left and right that their bedrock principles were violated in order to save the U.S. credit rating. But make no mistake: While Washington muddled through at the witching hour and avoided sending the global economic system into the vortex, what unfolded over the past few weeks will have repercussions, and they are not good for America.

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Washington’s Next Debt Showdown
by Jill Lawrence

Few in Congress much like the debt deal, and fighting among Reid, Boehner, and party members begins anew in the fall over more cuts, new taxes, and entitlements. By Jill Lawrence.

Congress is in a good mood this week, having finally emerged from a seemingly existential struggle over spending, taxing, and paying America’s debts. Morale on Capitol Hill soared even higher with the poignant return of Gabrielle Giffords to the House floor. But nobody should start feeling too warm and fuzzy about our leaders. This whole thing is about to start all over again.

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Romney: The Cowardly Candidate
by Michael Tomasky

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Mitt Romney (Chip Somodevilla / AP Photo)

Mitt Romney could have grudgingly accepted the debt-ceiling deal. But instead, he’s bolstered his reputation for insincerity by pandering to the Tea Party, says Michael Tomasky.

Barack Obama got taken to school by Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, but he does have this much going for him: He’s probably going to be running for reelection against Mitt Romney, whose entry into the debt-ceiling debate was laughably late and wrong. Romney said Monday morning, after weeks of silence and after it was pretty apparent that the bill was going to pass, that “while I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama’s lack of leadership has placed Republican members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal.” He added that he couldn’t back a bill that “opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table.” So what do we make of this?

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Giffords Returns for Debt Vote
by John Solomon and Daniel Stone

Video screenshot

Her shooting horrified a nation, and her recovery inspired Democrats and Republicans alike. But Rep. Gabrielle Giffords saved her most dramatic moment for the debt deal, showing up unexpectedly to cast a “yes” vote in a moment of bipartisanship.

A single vote, a wave of the hand, and a few blown kisses. That’s all it took for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to melt weeks of partisan bickering inside the Capitol.

Giffords, the congresswoman now affectionately known as “Gabby” to most Americans, appeared unexpectedly on the House floor Monday night and cast her first vote in person since suffering a gunshot wound to the head in January during an assassination attempt in Tucson. She voted in favor of a deal to cut spending and raise the nation’s debt limit—a show of bipartisanship by a Democrat.

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Debt Deal Passes House
by Daniel Stone and Jill Lawrence

After a last-minute sales job, the House approves a deal in bipartisan fashion to raise the nation's debt limit and avert a U.S. debt default. Jill Lawrence and Daniel Stone report.

In a cliffhanger vote that took Congress halfway to saving America from defaulting on its debts, the House on Monday evening comfortably approved a deal to cut spending and raise the nation’s borrowing limit.

Scores of House members on the right and the left were angry and frustrated by the compromise plan struck between congressional leaders and the White House. One Democrat, Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, even derided the deal as a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich."

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Obama Keeps His Eye on 2012
by Jill Lawrence

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Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo

President Obama is getting lots of grief from liberals for accepting a debt compromise—but the deal spares him an economic aftershock heading into his reelection campaign.

Did President Obama give away the farm, as one disgruntled liberal tweeter claimed? Or did he salvage what he could for himself, his party, and his priorities heading into the 2012 election, given the solid wall of conservative resistance in the House and Senate?

The final verdict is far from in. But one could argue that Obama has at the very least given himself a shot at a second term.

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A Tea Party Shock to the System
by Stephen L. Carter

In the debt debate, some of our institutions worked as they were intended to, but others didn’t. Stephen L. Carter explains the partial failure and its implications for the future.

The system half worked. That seems the most practical conclusion to take from the just-concluded and unnecessarily extended brouhaha about raising the federal government’s debt ceiling. The system half worked; and the question is whether the half that failed is broken beyond repair.

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The 11th-Hour Debt Deal
by Jill Lawrence

A visibly relieved Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell announced a last-minute debt agreement to avoid default late Sunday—and now they have to beat the clock and persuade their party caucuses to vote for it.

Months of tension and gridlock ended Sunday night when President Barack Obama and congressional leaders of both parties reached a breakthrough compromise to trim trillions off the federal debt in the next decade and raise the debt limit so the country can pay its bills through 2012.

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The Tea Party’s Debt Triumph
by Eleanor Clift

After months of wrangling and political theater, the debt deal party leaders finally thrashed out represents a clear victory for Tea Partiers—who still may not vote for it.

On a steamy Sunday afternoon, accompanied by aides and surrounded by reporters, Democratic leader Harry Reid embarked on the short walk from the Senate side of the marble-floored Capitol to the House side to begin the tortured process with fellow Democrat Nancy Pelosi of cobbling together enough votes to avert defaulting on the nation’s credit.

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Obama Gives It All Away
by Michael Tomasky

It’s hard to overstate the extent of the president’s capitulation to the right. Conservatism will be the driving force in U.S. politics for years to come, argues Michael Tomasky.

Back when George W. Bush and Karl Rove were wrecking the country, my liberal friends and I had many a hearty laugh about Rove’s boast that he was realigning American politics. Yep, we thought, but toward the left! Those hopes seemed vindicated when Barack Obama won the presidency. But just as Bush and Rove helped revive liberalism, it now seems plausible that Obama is ushering in a conservative era. The former did it through rank incompetence, while the latter is simply handing the Republicans the keys to the house and saying, “Take what you want.”

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Why the Debt Deal Made Sense
by Michael Medved

Tea Party purists grumble that Boehner should have held out for more cuts, but spurning compromise and forcing a shutdown would have been political suicide for the GOP, says Michael Medved.

Now that our elected leaders have finally found a way to avert the Great Deficit Ceiling Disaster with an imperfect settlement that generally advances the conservative agenda, mainstream Republicans must prepare to answer the objections of Tea Party True Believers who grumble, "If we had just held on, we could have gotten more."

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How the Tea Party Won the Deal
by Peter Beinart

Tea Partiers wrested a debt deal of huge cuts and no revenue hikes because there’s no parallel left-wing grassroots wave, and no need to bargain over a war on terror, says Peter Beinart.

While the details of the debt-ceiling deal remain fuzzy, this much is clear: Barack Obama may be president, but the Tea Party is now running Washington. How did this happen? Simple; this is what American politics looks like when there’s no left-wing movement and no war.

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Inside Boehner's Sales Pitch
by Daniel Stone

How is the House speaker going to convince his caucus to vote yes on the debt-deal compromise? With a slide show, of course! See a copy of Boehner's presentation.

The Daily Beast has obtained a copy of the slide show that House Speaker John Boehner used Sunday night to try to persuade House Republicans to accept a bipartisan compromise that would avert a default on U.S. debt by raising the government's borrowing limit and imposing sweeping cuts on federal spending.

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Obama Keeps His Eye on 2012
by Jill Lawrence

President Obama is getting lots of grief from liberals for accepting a debt compromise—but the deal spares him an economic aftershock heading into his reelection campaign. By Jill Lawrence.

Did President Obama give away the farm, as one disgruntled liberal tweeter claimed? Or did he salvage what he could for himself, his party, and his priorities heading into the 2012 election, given the solid wall of conservative resistance in the House and Senate?

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Party Leaders OK Debt Deal
by John Solomon

The Senate's Democratic and Republican leaders threw their support behind a debt compromise that will save the country from default.

President Barack Obama announced Sunday night that leaders of both parties in Congress have struck a deal to reduce spending and increasing the nation's debt limit, bringing to "end the crisis that Washington imposed on America."

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Tea Party Showdown
by Jill Lawrence

Harry Reid said he would support the emerging compromise, but will it get liberals and the Tea Party support? Jill Lawrence reports on the deal's detractors.

After months of congressional bickering and gridlock that brought America to the brink of default, signs of a breakthrough emerged late Sunday when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid endorsed a bipartisan plan to cut up to $3 trillion in federal spending over the next decade and raise the debt limit so the country can pay its bills through 2012.

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Reid Backs Emerging Debt Deal
by John Solomon

The Senate majority leader has signed off on a compromise between the White House and congressional Republicans—the most promising sign yet that a bipartisan deal is near.

Hours after his own deficit-reduction plan was sidelined Sunday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid endorsed a compromise emerging between the White House and congressional Republicans that would avert a potential default on U.S. debt. The Democratic leader's thumbs-up was the biggest sign yet that a bipartisan deal could be struck at the last minute after months of bickering and gridlock.

"Senator Reid has signed off on the debt-ceiling agreement pending caucus approval," Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said in a short statement that rattled around Capitol Hill with lightning speed.

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Has Congress Already Missed Its Deadline?
by Daniel Stone

With the clock ticking toward default, can Congress physically get a bill implemented by Tuesday? Daniel Stone reports on the likelihood that the debt deal will be passed before the deadline.

With the clock ticking toward default, one lingering question is how a deal crafted between the White House and Congress can be passed before Tuesday given all the parliamentary rules on Capitol Hill.

As the debt agreement comes together, White House officials cautioned Sunday afternoon that there are still many particulars, including how and when the trigger mechanism will kick in to ensure a second round of cuts at the end of this year.

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Debt Deal: The Tea Party Edition
by John Solomon

After weeks of bickering, a debt-deal framework emerges in the final hours with major influences from the Tea Party evident.

It was always going to end this way. In the hyperpartisan America where the electorate and their congressional leaders are divided like the audiences of Fox News and MSNBC, a deal on the debt ceiling was never going to be possible until the final hours.

And so for weeks, the two sides exhausted themselves with plan after partisan plan, replicating a modern-day tale of Sisyphus, the epic figure of Greek mythology sentenced to push a boulder up a hill each day only to see it roll back down.

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The Debt Crisis Comes Home
by David A. Graham

The gridlock over the debt ceiling is wreaking havoc—on legislators' families. Political spouses tell David A. Graham about strained marriages, lost quality time, and dwindling family dinners.

Lisa Price has a lot on her mind this weekend. As she tries to finish renovating her home before her children and their families arrive from out of town, her mind is fixated on the debt-ceiling negotiations—she thinks the Democrats have compromised too much, and she’s worried about the economic impact if a deal isn’t made.

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How Republicans Screwed the Pooch
by Paul Begala

Republicans say they want to save the country from Obama’s reckless spending. But as Paul Begala argues, it’s the GOP’s policies that have driven the nation into the ground.

There it sits, lonely and forlorn on my shelf. A leather-bound copy of the 1999 Budget of the United States of America. A gift from President Clinton to the folks on his team, it was the first balanced budget in decades.

But it wasn't supposed to be the last. Indeed, experts projected surpluses as far as the eye could see: $5.7 trillion in surpluses, to be exact. The surpluses were so strong that deep into the future—in 2009—the entire national debt was going to be zero. For the first time since Andy Jackson was president, the United States of America would not owe a dime.

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