Tales from the Trail

RNC posts 2004 video of Obama calling the deficit under Bush “an enormous problem”

As Republicans this week extend their attacks on President Obama for the increasing federal debt, the RNC’s “rapid response” team has dredged up old video of then-Senate candidate Obama elaborating his views about the federal deficit during a 2004 debate.

In the course of his response to a moderator’s question about the “monstrous federal deficit,” Obama says it’s “an enormous problem” brought about by the Bush White House, which he calls “the most fiscally irresponsible administration in certainly my memory.”

“We have gone from trillion-dollar surpluses to trillion-dollar deficits in the blink of an eye,” Obama said. “Not all of those costs are the fault of the administration — obviously, 9/11 occurred and the decline in the economy. But what is also true is that it was aided and abetted by a set of fiscal policies that I think were on the wrong course.”

Watch, via the RNC (and h/t Buzzfeed):

Palin’s take on S&P downgrade

“Many commonsense Americans like myself  saw this day coming,” Sarah Palin says of the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the U.S. credit rating and the fallout in the markets.

In what reads like an economic policy statement, the former Alaska governor and possible presidential candidate says she is “surprised that so many people seem surprised by S&P’s decision.”

“Weren’t people paying attention over the last year or so when we were getting warning after warning from various credit rating agencies that this was coming?” she said in a lengthy posting on her Facebook page.

Republicans seek more “skin” to tax

When it comes to reaching a deal to reduce the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt, Republicans say they won’t go along with raising taxes — except maybe for the 50 percent of Americans who they say pay no federal income taxes.

Two senior Republicans said this week that those folks on the lower end of the income scale need to have “skin in the game” and should pay their fair share of federal income taxes.

“I would not impose a significant tax on the lower half or certainly not the lower 10 percent,” explained Senator Jon Kyl in a Senate speech. “But I think it’s important for all Americans to know that we all have a stake in this and that more than half of the people can’t just expect the so-called wealthy to bear all of the burdens of government.”

Washington Extra – Cattle prod

.dowAs market maven Mohamed El-Erian told us today “The medium term has a way of creeping up on you.” That’s why everyone needs a cattle prod from time to time and today it was Washington’s turn to get a goading.

It came in the form of Standard & Poor’s decision to slap a negative outlook on America’s top-notch credit rating because of Washington’s plodding pace on deficit reduction. The White House and Congress need to get in gear and start making meaningful plans to cut the deficit or else be responsible for a dreaded downgrade in debt. The chances? One-in-three over two years.

S&P took most everyone by surprise, although the White House knew on Friday. In three days, it prepared the defenses: 1) S&P is making a “political judgment”; 2) “we shouldn’t overreact”; 3) actually we are closer than you think in agreeing with Republicans about the way forward.

Live coverage: President Obama’s speech on debt reduction

President Obama will explain his vision for tackling the long-term U.S. deficit and debt in a speech in Washington at 1:35 p.m.

Republican YouCut seeks to shear Mohair from budget

It’s worth about $1 million a year.

For most people that’s a lot of money. But in the context of a $3.7 trillion federal budget and a $1.5 trillion deficit, it’s small potatoes. Except in this case it’s a federal subsidy for mohair and it has more lives than an Angora cat.

Federal subsidies for mohair, which is produced from the hair of Angora goats, began in 1947 because the military was worried that there was not enough domestic wool production to supply its need for uniforms.

The development of synthetic fabrics has long made that concern irrelevant, yet apparently the government still writes checks to mohair producers despite repeated attempts by some lawmakers over the last two decades to get rid of it.

Warren sees dark times if financial reform fails

USA/

Elizabeth Warren paints a disturbing picture of the realities facing the United States and the Obama administration as Americans claw their way clear of the worst recession since the 1930s.

Lobbyists for the financial industry have put the kibosh on market reforms that would aid the recovery. Banks, saved from Tartarus by taxpayer money, are using a free government guarantee against failure to rebuild profits and credit ratings, while either not lending to business or trying to milk American consumers of every dime they’ve still got.

“That’s our plan to rebuild the American economy. Think about it,” says the bespectacled Harvard professor who chairs the Congressional Oversight Panel set up to investigate the $700 billion banking bailout.

Republican sees Democrats passing healthcare overhaul

Sarah Palin says on her Facebook page that the healthcare overhaul passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week should be “Dead on Arrival” in the U.S. Senate. 

The House-passed bill, which includes a new government health insurance plan, may not be what the mooseSenate passes. But the far-reaching healthcare reform backed by President Barack Obama is far from dead. At least one influential Republican senator believes Congress will enact sweeping legislation.

“I think a bill is going to pass,” said New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg. In an interview with C-Span’s “Newsmakers” that will air on Sunday, Gregg said Obama has invested too much political capital in his top domestic priority to allow it to fail. Gregg once considered joining the Obama administration, but now has become a major critic of Obama’s proposed healthcare reform and its impact on the country’s mounting debt.