Open Thread

Open Thread


I lived in Baltimore for about four years.

The city is flawed in many ways but it’s beautiful in many more ways.

American history runs through Baltimore’s veins.

The War of 1812: Stand on the point at Ft. McHenry and imagine watching British ships coming up the Bay. Imagine seeing them well before they are in range and waiting/anticipating the first cannon fire.

The Civil War: Sit on Federal Hill and imagine the Union army’s big guns pointed at downtown Baltimore. Lincoln’s warning that if Maryland even thinks of seceding … running through your head.

The Industrial Revolution: Take a bike ride up the Jones Falls River and see the mills. See the workers homes next to the mills and the owners mansions on the hills above.

Baltimore is kind of infectious is what I’m saying. I left there a huge fan of the Ravens, the Orioles and Senator Mikulski.

“They want to cut spending, but they’re unwilling to cut their own pay,” Senator Mikulski said. “If there is a government shutdown, I don’t think members of Congress should be paid. If there is a government shutdown and we tell dedicated federal employees that they’re not going to get paid, that they’re nonessential, well the fact that we couldn’t stop a shutdown shows we’re nonessential.”


  • theWord

    If only hypocrisy were terminal

  • gerryf

    Where are all the tea party people screaming about the House GOP blocking this?

    Just sayin’

  • michael mcEachran

    FYI – Ft. McHenry became famous for the War of 1812, not the Revolutionary war.

    On this issue, though, I wonder if it isn’t better the way it is: that the decision makers (Congress) are spared consequences of a shut down. I’m not sure, I’m posing the question: is it better that they be free from acting from self preservation persepctive? Just a thought.

  • Jacob

    @michael: Noted and corrected!

  • gerryf

    Yes Mike, because we can see how well they operate when they have the best healthcare and they are deciding on what it best for the rest of us.

    Good plan

  • michael mcEachran

    Gerryf, snarkiness aside, i tend to agree with you. It is certainly in bad taste to take away 800,000 Federal workers’ paychecks and go cash your own. It is unlikely to engender goodwill thats for sure.

    I can’t put my finger on who will be blamed if the shut down occurs. GOP or Obama. I worry for the Dems that they are taking a lesson from 1995 too literally. My gut tells me this time may be different. Ryan’s budget proposal at least addresses some long term, systemic problems, and Obama is demonstrating an unwillingness to acknowledge it. I don’t know if the country is tapped in enough to the details, but if enough are, Obama could catch some blame. Like my last post, I’m not sure. Gerry, go for it.

  • gerryf

    Let’s get a couple of things straight.

    Government shutdown has NOTHING to do with Paul Ryans budget. Ryan’s weak, voodoo math budget proposal is for NEXT year. If their is a government shutdown, the GOP deserves the blame. They proposed a budget with roughtly $60 billion in cuts, and the Dems came back with one that had roughtly that amount.

    It’s like that annoying kid in the school yard who dares you to step over that line, then draws lines all around the playground, daring you to keep stepping over each one.

    The Dems (in my opinion) were more than stupid going as far as they did.

    As for Ryan’s “budget”…

    If the plan put forward by Rep Paul Ryan were really a grown up approach (Re: GOP’s spending proposals a grown-ups budget plan), would it be so quickly debunked–even by those who helped create it?

    The ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation itself, which provided the economic forecasts for Ryan’s “budget” scrubbed its website of its forecast of 2.8 percent unemployment within hours of Ryan’s presentation.

    Still worse, the creators of the economic model used by the Heritage Foundation–IHS Global Insight–also came out as skeptical of the claims the Heritage Foundation was making.

    And remember, this is the same Heritage Foundation that predicted an economic boom with 6.5 million jobs would result from the Bush tax cuts.

    How did that work out for us? There wasn’t any job growth, median income fell, debt levels exploded, and Bush left office with the economy in tatters.

    The Heritage Foundation has zero credibility with all but the arch conservative and the uninformed. A ridiculous budget based on the Heritgate Foundation’s work should have NO credibility.

    Conversely the Congressional Budget Office (the one that the GOP loves to tout when it agrees with them, but decries when it doesn’t) says the public debt will be LOWER if we do nothing.

    Doing nothing is, of course, not the answer, but following the Ryan “grown-up” plan will actually be harmful.

    Finally, as if to gain some credibility, Ryan also claimed during his presentation that he developed the Medicare portion of the plan with the assistance of former President Bill Clinton’s budget director Alice Rivlin. Of course, Rivlin came out the next day and said that she didn’t and told him she didn’t.

    Last time I checked, “grown-ups” don’t distort facts for political gain, make up projections and then hide them when they don’t pass the smell test, and don’t like about support they know they don’t have.

    Do you want to shrink the budget deficit? Roll back the Reagan tax breaks. Kill Nafta. Start a real jobs program, instead of “jobs program” the GOP promised but still has yet to deliver and while we’re in a good progressive mood repeal the commodities futures modernization act.

    That will make a bigger dent in the federal deficit than anything Ryan or the GOP has proposed.

  • Nick Benjamin

    Obama is unwilling to acknowledge Ryan’s budget proposal for a few reasons. The most important is that the numbers don’t add up. 2.8% unemployment is just ridiculous, and while Ryan alleges ObamaCare’s Medicare cuts are politically impossible, he depends on even deeper cuts.

    The second reason is that the government shutdown is in the offing. The man doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about hypotheticals when he’s got a real problem to deal with, and he’s got a real problem to deal with.

    As for the political consequences, it’s not just 1995 the Dems are thinking of. They’re also thinking of numerous state shutdowns, and the current dynamics. Remember the GOP’s opening offer was $32 Billion. The Democrats have agreed to that and more. If you’re Joe Blow, and you don’t care much about politics, it looks a lot like the GOP doesn’t actually want to keep the government running. They want the shutdown, and move the goal posts to make sure that happens.

    That may be unfair. The GOP may be right, and we need $62 Billion in cuts plus all the riders. But the simple fact is that they moved the goalposts, and that is not something you do if you want negotiations to succeed.

  • theWord


    When you are hanging out in a crowd of tea partiers who are shouting shut it down, shut it down, isn’t it a bit difficult to say you are trying to do all you can not to?

  • michael mcEachran

    Thanks, all. I tend to believe that Obama generally knows what the **** he’s doing and plays the long game, vs. the GOPs tactical short term game, so I have no doubt that history will be favorable. I’m just wondering if the Repubs tactics in this case may get some traction. Americans who are loosly tuned in, are likely to see the Dems being Dems (spending) and the Repub being the fiscally courageous ones (which they’re not, but alas…). It irks me, but for some reason it seems that Repubs get a pass whenever they’re grossly hypocritical/wrong/make catastrophic decisions, and over-lauded whenever they’re even a little bit right. In this case, they may be a little bit right.

  • Mike A.

    ” it seems that Repubs get a pass whenever they’re grossly hypocritical/wrong/make catastrophic decisions,”

    The republicans have excellent message control, kinda like the borg. One big cube speaking the mantra of the day, over and over and over again, in unison. Familiarity with the message morphs into perceived truth. Works wonders.

  • WHQ

    I stumbled around Fell’s Point drunk a few times in my youth. You can do a lot worse when it comes to that sort of thing.

    The budget thing’s too stupid for me to bother commenting on.

    Cross Street, too.

  • kranky kritter

    It takes both sides to reach an agreement, so I blame both sides to some extent. However, I find the debate over whether to bail the titanic with a teaspoon or a tablespoon absurd on its face. I give my award for stupidest argument to the GOP, for saying Obama has failed to lead. This is a failure of congress, pure and simple.

    I think the GOP is going to get blamed more for this, just like last time. Obama has the bully pulpit, and that’s what matters. He keeps showing up at press conferences in his white hat, sounding fair. He’s done a very good job of handing the black hat to the GOP with words to the effect that if the government shuts down, it’ll be due to politics and ideology and a failure to do the people’s business.

    I wholeheartedly agree that congress should not collect paychecks while the government is shut down.

  • gerryf

    It does take both sides to reach an agreement–but no agreement can be reached if one side doesn’t want one.

    The GOP is acting like that jerk on the playground who would draw a line in the dirt and dare you to step over it, then back up and draw another line. Pretty soon, you’ve got 300 lines on the playground and you’ve wasted your lunch hour.

  • Tully

    If their is a government shutdown, the GOP deserves the blame.

    Just a quick drive-by to note that the only reason this discussion is even possible is that last year a majority-Dem Congress with a Dem White House refused to even submit a budget for the current fiscal year, in a complete abdication of their own Constitutional duties.

    The discussion exists today because the Dems went all chickenshit and refused to submit a budget while they had control, leaving this fiscal year’s finances twisting in the wind. They created the situation. They own it. If they don’t like the results, they should look in the mirror, as they are the ones who made it inevitable.

    When you blow off part of your job entirely, your bitching about the way someone else is attempting to do what you refused to do lacks credibility.

  • gerryf

    You know something, Tully.

    You’re absolutely right.