Elizabeth Warren won’t rule out run for US Senate

President Barack Obama announces Richard Cordray (not pictured) as his nominee to be the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington on July 18, 2011. Obama was joined by Elizabeth Warren (C), Special Advisor on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Elizabeth Warren just declined on MSNBC to rule out a run for the US Senate in Massachusetts against Scott Brown in 2012. She indicated that she’s been working 14-hour days for the past year to set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and that’s she’s very much wants to go home to Massachusetts and go on vacation with her grandchildren. Who can blame her.

This will, however, become a huge story if she decides to run. Scott Brown will be tough to beat, but Warren gives the Democrats a chance in a year where they will need pickups to keep control of the Senate. The decision by President Obama to appoint Richard Cordray to head the bureau instead of Warren will disappoint many liberals, but the left will be much better off with Warren as a candidate for Senator as pointed out by Ezra Klein.

One of the themes of the 2012 election will be the interests of corporations and the wealthy versus the interests of ordinary Americans. Obama is itching for this fight, and Warren will be a huge assets who will energize liberals and also appeal to independents.

  

The GOP’s Eric Cantor problem

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) speaks at the Faith & Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing in Washington, June 3, 2011. REUTERS/Molly Riley (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)

The GOP discipline has completely broken down over the past week in the debt ceiling negotiations. All year they’ve been playing a game of Russian Roulette with the economy, trying to use a potential default to force massive spending cuts. In many ways the strategy worked well, as President Obama and the Democrats put just about everything on the table.

But, as usual, the ideologues are overplaying their hand, so much so that Mitch McConnell buckled under the pressure of the business community and basically said he’d let the president raise the debt ceiling without any cuts.

The guy at the center of all this is Eric Cantor, whose either too stupid or too ambitious to take yes for an answer. He can get massive cuts if he just includes some revenues in a deal, but instead he’s pushing the talks to the brink of disaster. Last night he also tried to imply that the President lost his cool in the last meeting, though all other accounts tell a different story.

Meanwhile, the polls are starting to shift in Obama’s favor with regard to the debt and the economy – at least when compared to congressional Republicans. That’s what happens when smarmy guys like Cantor become the face of the GOP.

Dana Milbank nailed it yesterday, even before Cantor’s latest performance last night in the negotiations where he again refused to budge.

He draws out the vowels in a style that is part southern, part smarty-pants. Had young Cantor spoken like this at his prep school in Richmond, the bigger boys may well have wiped that sneer off his face. Yet even then, Cantor was accustomed to having things his way. According to Cantor’s hometown Richmond Times-Dispatch, the quotation he chose to accompany his yearbook photo was “I want what I want when I want it.”

What Cantor wants now is power — and he is prepared to risk the full faith and credit of the United States to get it. In a primacy struggle with House Speaker John Boehner, he has done a deft job of aligning himself with Tea Party House members in opposition to any meaningful deal to resolve the debt. If the U.S. government defaults, it will have much to do with Cantor.

His antics from last night are being branded as childish, and the Democrats smell blood and are now taking direct aim at Cantor. Harry Reid is more than happy to negotiate now with Mitch McConnell who is desperate to avoid the potential catastrophe that he and other Republicans created.

They clearly thought Barack Obama would fold, but they were mistaken. Obama has called their bluff, and they look like panicked fools at the poker table.

  

Digging in their heels . . .

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, June 29, 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)

It looks like we’re heading for an ugly end game for the debt ceiling confrontation. Ezra Klein explains:

The best advice I’ve gotten for assessing the debt-ceiling negotiations was to “watch for the day when the White House goes public.” As long as the Obama administration was refusing to attack Republicans publicly, my source said, they believed they could cut a deal. And that held true. They were quiet when the negotiations were going on. They were restrained after Eric Cantor and Jon Kyl walked out last week. Press Secretary Jay Carney simply said, “We are confident that we can continue to seek common ground and that we will achieve a balanced approach to deficit reduction.” But today they went public. The negotiations have failed.

“The primary goal of President Obama’s presser, which just wrapped up, was obvious,” writes Greg Sargent. “He was clearly out to pick a major public fight with Republicans over tax cuts for the rich.” That’s exactly right. But he didn’t want this fight. He wanted a deal. And he wasn’t able to get one that the White House considered even minimally acceptable. After putting more than $2 trillion of spending cuts on the table, they weren’t even able to get $400 billion — about a sixth of the total — in tax increases.

Klein goes on to explain that things will likely get ugly. Both sides are digging in their heals, and only a crisis or market meltdown will get them to move. Perhaps something else will change the dynamic, like the proposal coming from Kent Conrad and the Senate Democrats, but that seems unlikely.

As Klein explained, Obama has been quiet because he was hoping for a deal. Now that the Republicans want a fight, they are going to get one. Nobody likes taxes, but the notion that we can’t have any new revenues, including closing corporate tax breaks, when we’re facing a $15 trillion debt is totally absurd. The polls are in Obama’s favor when it comes to increasing taxes on the wealthy.

That said, the GOP is currently run by the extremists in the Tea Party who won’t compromise on anything. It’s probably going to get ugly . . .

  

Liberals vs Conservatives

Here’s an interesting take on the battle between both ends of the political spectrum from a reader of Andrew Sullivan’s blog. Bottom line? Liberals are stuck in the 60s, while conservatives are stuck in the 70s.

Both sides are often saddled with their dogmas, and then the news media repeats these differences over and over again in 2 minute clips intended to offer “analysis.” It hurts the discourse in this country, and it’s boring as hell . . .

  

Game on . . .

President Barack Obama delivers a speech on the U.S. fiscal and budgetary deficit policy at the George Washington University in Washington, April 13, 2011. Obama proposed cutting ballooning U.S. budget deficits by $4 trillion over 12 years and called for talks with Democratic and Republican lawmakers to address the worsening fiscal woes. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)

The 2012 election has begun. The Republicans have foolishly embraced Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare, and President Obama saw a huge political opportunity and took full advantage of it.

Obama’s speech the other day laying out his plan for deficit reduction put forward an impassioned defense of Medicare and the safety net.

Speaking of the Ryan plan, Obama explained:

It’s a vision that says America can’t afford to keep the promise we’ve made to care for our seniors. It says that 10 years from now, if you’re a 65-year-old who’s eligible for Medicare, you should have to pay nearly $6,400 more than you would today. It says instead of guaranteed health care, you will get a voucher. And if that voucher isn’t worth enough to buy the insurance that’s available in the open marketplace, well, tough luck -– you’re on your own. Put simply, it ends Medicare as we know it.

He then puts the proposed cuts in the context of Ryan and the Republicans proposing even more tax cuts for the wealthy.

They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that’s paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs. That’s not right. And it’s not going to happen as long as I’m President.

This vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America. Ronald Reagan’s own budget director said, there’s nothing “serious” or “courageous” about this plan. There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And I don’t think there’s anything courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill. That’s not a vision of the America I know.

I’m still stunned that the GOP leadership was stupid enough to let Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare become the central plank in their push for deficit reduction. It’s political suicide for a simple reason – the health care entitlement is critical to the quality of life Americans hope to have in their senior years. Imagine a person who is 85 and sick having to shop for health insurance with a voucher! It’s ridiculous.

When you also consider that much of our deficit problems can be traced directly to the Bush tax cuts, it’s even more absurd the the Republicans would try to use the current debt crisis to justify this radical change in our safety net.

It’s a political gift to Obama and the Democrats, and Obama made clear with his speech that he fully intends to take advantage of it.

  

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