In the U.S. Capitol: Darkness rather than light

Deeds in secret.

Men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. (John 3:19)

Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us?  Who will know?” (Isaiah 29:15)

It is with a heavy heart that I write this.  What is reported here will surprise some people, but will not surprise others.  The events will shed, on the last few days in our republic, a light different from the spotlight directed by the media.  If we see the events clearly, we may realize that our focus has been misdirected.

Like most Americans, I think, I assumed it was inevitable that the Senate would vote to increase the so-called national debt “ceiling” this month, Continue reading “In the U.S. Capitol: Darkness rather than light”

When playing for time, think big and strategic

There’s a better deal to be had.

So opponents of Obamacare have one big thing going for us:  the roll-out of the federal exchange has been epically awful.  Really, just so terribly bad that it appears very few customers have been able to sign up yet.  The federal exchange website had to shut down to try and repair some of its problems, and that doesn’t seem to have made anything better.

With an unexpected gift like this, an aggressive political strategist would try to capitalize on it.  Instead, House Speaker Boehner has decided to give President Obama the one thing Obamacare needs: more time.  Boehner proposes not just to let him have it, but to give it to him for free.  We’re hearing this morning that Boehner will offer a 6-week increase in the federal debt ceiling, “demanding” nothing more than a promise from Obama to negotiate on federal spending in the interim.

I have no doubt that Boehner sees this as playing for time for the GOP-held House, as well as giving Obama time. Continue reading “When playing for time, think big and strategic”

Obama threatens vets’ pensions, Social Security checks

His lips are moving.

In his quest to get the debt ceiling raised, President Obama issued a threat in his Wednesday press conference that troops won’t get paid and veterans’ pension payments will be delayed.  He warned of delays in Social Security payments as well.

It’s important to understand that these comments constitute a threat (which may or may not be a hollow one).  Obama is not stating some inescapable reality, to which he along with the rest of us is subject.  If retirees and vets see a delay in their payments, it will be because Obama himself decides to hold the payments up.  Moreover, Obama is not caught in a trap when it comes to paying the troops; he can make sure they get paid, if it’s his priority to do so.

The payments to retirees are going to go out unless Obama stops them.  The debt ceiling doesn’t prevent those payments from being made.  It requires that other types of federal expenditures Continue reading “Obama threatens vets’ pensions, Social Security checks”

Buck up, shipmates!

Shields up.

In strategic terms, here’s what just happened.  Obama tried to force battle on his terms, and Republicans refused the engagement.  No one has lost or won the big battle over “how the republic shall live,” because we haven’t had it yet.  Accepting battle on Obama’s terms was never a good idea.  Some thoughts: Continue reading “Buck up, shipmates!”

Kicking the tranche down the road

Suspended at the precipice…for now.

The US looks likely to enter a select club of nations this week: those that mark off the days and years of national life in “tranches” of borrowing.  The best thing to be said about this is that it could be worse.

In the last 30 years or so, familiarity with the word “tranche” has been related almost exclusively to finance deals for borrowers whose creditworthiness is iffy.  Generally meaning “slice” or “portion,” a tranche in finance is a portion of a structured deal in which borrowing power is released serially.  The tranche usually has an element of contingency about it: performance with the previous tranche(s), a review requirement, etc.  Suffering industries and overextended countries have been the usual-suspect tranche borrowers, and have been supervised by national governments, the IMF, the World Bank, the EU, and so forth.

In typical American style, the US Congress is putting together a self-imposed tranche borrowing deal, and girding its loins to supervise itself. Continue reading “Kicking the tranche down the road”