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August 21, 2014

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The Policy Racket

Heller says he won’t vote for debt plan that’s ‘not good enough’

Dean Heller

Dean Heller

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller hasn’t finished reading through the fine print of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s and House Speaker John Boehner’s competing proposals to raise the debt limit. But already, he seems to be trying to carve out a space for himself to vote “no.”

“Nothing good is going to come out of these speeches and nothing is going to come out good for Nevada if interest rates go up and we don’t pass something by August 2nd,” Heller said Tuesday afternoon.

“I do believe it’s a critical date,” he said. “But that’s not to say that I’ll vote for any of these plans if they’re not good enough.”

It’s not clear what will emerge in the next week, especially now that Boehner’s proposal has been pulled off the table for failing to meet the most basic requirement Boehner himself set out for this process: that spending cuts must equal or exceed hikes to the debt ceiling.

Boehner’s proposal, now being rewritten, would raise the debt limit by $1 trillion. But it is getting fierce pushback from Democrats for being too short-term (while it outlines a graduated debt limit hike, it only guarantees a six-month extension).

Reid’s plan would raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion off $2.7 trillion in cuts. But it is being blasted by Republicans for what they say is shady accounting (it counts $1 trillion of war spending that’s expected to come down anyway as cuts.)

Neither is exactly what Heller was looking for.

Like the Republicans who have started to defect in the House, Heller says his plan of choice was the “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill, which Heller credited Tuesday as being the inspirational basis for Boehner’s plan.

But he maintains that “if you don’t make fundamental changes, it doesn’t make a difference....Interest rates are going to go up anyway, the dollar’s going to get weak, and we’re going to have inflation,” he said. “So why go through this exercise of smoke and mirrors when the fact is, if we don’t do it right, everything’s going to happen anyway?”

That’s partially true. The credit rating agencies have already warned that U.S. creditworthiness will be downgraded if all Congress passes is a stopgap measure. That would cause a spike in U.S. interest rates that would raise the cost of anything based on interest — credit cards, mortgages, car loans.

But the one thing raising the debt limit will do is keep the country from default and having to pick and choose what bills to pay, including, lawmakers say, domestic expenditures such as Social Security and veterans’ benefits.

When asked about that aspect, Heller answered with a historical defense.

“It certainly wasn’t a concern of the president’s when he was in the United States Senate,” Heller said, referencing a 2007 vote then-Sen. Barack Obama took against raising the debt limit.

“That didn’t bother him to vote against the debt ceiling back then. It didn’t bother the president, and it wasn’t a priority for this president; and frankly I believe every Democrat in the Senate voted against the debt ceiling because it didn’t measure up to whatever they wanted,” Heller said.

Heller’s says he isn’t concerned that a potential “no” vote on the debt limit could come back to haunt him with voters.

“This is about the country. This isn’t about politics, or it shouldn’t be,” he said.

But let’s face it, politics is an integral part of this process and will likely continue to be in Nevada, especially because Heller’s front-runner opponent, Rep. Shelley Berkley, appears to be leaning the other way on the debt limit vote.

“I don’t see how you can fail to raise the debt ceiling,” Berkley said Tuesday. “The implications for this nation are just potentially catastrophic. I don’t want to overstate it, but every expert that I’ve spoken to and every CEO that’s come before the Ways and Means Committee...has spoken of the dire consequences of not raising the limit.”

That said, Berkley hasn’t officially committed to a position, either, and planned to oppose Boehner’s bill before the speaker pulled it from the floor to make corrections.

“I have no idea how it’s going to be structured, and I have no idea what will be balanced, if anything, so I’m reserving judgment until I see it,” she said.

“I know that we’ve got to get control of our deficit and our debt and restructure these very important programs so they are sustainable for generations to come,” Berkley said. “But I resent that those issues, which are very important, have become a part of the debt ceiling debate.”

There is some quirky common ground between the Democrats and ultraconservative Republicans objecting to the speaker’s plans.

Neither group is a fan of its short-term nature. Both groups would prefer alternative debt ceiling solutions that would extend the country’s borrowing authority by $2.4 trillion or through the end of 2012 (even though that’s exactly what Republican House leaders have been charging is a purely political, election-motivated call when it comes from Obama).

Their preferences for a substitute, though, go in different directions.

For the Democrats, that means something more akin to Reid’s plan; for the very conservative Republicans, that means “Cut, Cap and Balance,” which just so happens to lift the debt limit by the same amount.

But that plan leverages the lift on a constitutional amendment, spending caps and deep cuts — about $6 billion to $7 billion for the $2.4 billion in borrowing authority — that Democrats say will undercut social safety net programs and cause the economy to hemorrhage 700,000 jobs.

So despite selective top-line similarities, it’s incredibly unlikely those groups will find common cause in the coming week.

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  1. I can just see the government shutting down while these idiots fight it out.

  2. Conservatives have been pushing this inflation fear nonsense since the collapse of the housing market...it is the least of our problems with jobs being number one. What has this clown proposed to do about high unemployment? Insert crickets chirping here.

  3. Mark if you're so intelligent and have all the answers why don't you put your name in and run for office and show these folks how it's done? Then you can explain to your constituents how you justify borrowing 40 cents on every dollar you spend.

  4. I swear liberals believe that the government invented people, not the other way around.

  5. If he can't vote to end Social Security and Medicare he will not vote. This guy hates the working class and working poor.

  6. Heller, in my eyes, is only temporary.

    Simply because when he replaced Ensign, there was no discernible difference in the horrible voting record.

    Besides that, the GOP had their chance at this Senate Seat. They blew it with Ensign. We can't take a chance with another. We want sanity in our politics here in Nevada. Not scandals, hair brained voting that only kills the middle class, no jobs bills and other whacky way out there Republican Party ideals.

    Heller was not elected into that office. He was placed there by another Republican (Governor Sandoval), not because he's qualified, but because he's a warm body that seems to ooze Republican crap readily.

  7. Dear people in Nevada,

    We need to stop electing tea party crazies. They are fools. They speak without thinking. They don't listen or learn. They cannot compromise because they aren't smart enough to know the issues and the details. All they say is NO - like a stubborn petulant child. Please stop electing idiots. It makes our states look stupid. Nevada needs to grow up and elect people who act like an adult.

    Sincerely,
    Concerned about extremists in Las Vegas

  8. Democrats are liars..
    Social Security was established as a Trust Fund..
    Haven't you heard about the "Lock Box"?
    Wasn't some Democrat on the tube saying that Social Security was solvent until 2030?
    Haven't the democrats denied that the Trust Funds, both social security and the highway fund have both been looted for the "general welfare?"
    Barney Madoff is running the government! And a pack of Liars Liars!
    The reason Boehner's plan failed is because over 10 years there ia a $4 Trillion cut in discretionary spending but an increase in mandatory Pell Grant spending of $3 Trillion...
    Also the US just gave 168 million to Somalia..
    No One Here Will Read This. And that is a good thing because if the ones who are here every day are not reading this rag..neither is anyone else.

  9. This fellow is either stupid or dumb. Even if he is not happy with this bill you don't burn the house down because of your principle. Let him lose his job ,his house and not be able toaofford Food on his table and he would act differently.
    Can't wait to het rid of so called politicians like heller and heck and get some logical and reasonable people into these offices.

  10. The answers bbbrain are here:
    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=vie...

    Look at the figure 1 graph carefully and then come back and totally get your interpretation of what it means wrong. As long as the media obediently vomit the conservative line about debt and deficit spending, shills like you will spout nonsense and vote for uninformed candidates. Just remember, when you go out and buy the latest version of pet rocks conservatives want you to believe that has more value than infrastructure because of the wisdom of markets.

  11. Hey Dean Heller, have you seen Nevada's 2nd congressional district congressman? Rural folk in Central Nevada don't have a Representative in the U.S. House to complain to and ask for help saving Nevada's rural Post Offices. Hey Dean Heller, why won't congress repay the post office the $50-75 Billion that the post office was over charged and force to pay for front loaded benefits?

    If paying for all retirement and benefits UP FRONT as the post office was required to do is such a good idea. . .why not require Dept of Energy, Dept of Education, Home Land Security and heck. . . why not Wal-Mart and General Electric?

    If these job killing policy's are so good for the U.S. Post Office. . . lets spread the misery all around until everyone is unemployed. Thanks for your time ex-congressman Heller.

  12. Congress should bring the troops home from overseas and deploy the troops around Washington D.C. Not only will the move save plenty of money that Americas are spending to protect others in far away places, the move will also protect Congress and the President. . .because the way things are going it would be a very wise move after all of the jobs sent overseas, money given away to other countries and the plain old asinine BS by politicians Americans are tired of listening too!

  13. "Nothing good is going to come out of these speeches and nothing is going to come out good for Nevada if interest rates go up and we don't pass something by August 2nd," Heller said Tuesday afternoon.

    "I do believe it's a critical date," he said. "But that's not to say that I'll vote for any of these plans if they're not good enough."

    Karoun: Assuming that for editorial accuracy you shared a copy of this column with Citizen Heller before it went to print; did he say "Wow, I sound like a pompous a__hole!".

    Seems as if he knows what he doesn't like but doesn't know what he does like. Well, here's a suggestion for you, Citizen Heller: Write your own f___ing bill! Stop being a witless, backbencher waiting for the blessing of Mitch McConnell and the RNC and put forth a proposal that you might vote for. I say "might" because you're obviously so d___ clueless that you'll talk yourself out of supporting your own offering within five minutes if it fails to meet the desires of your handlers. Between yourself and Joe "Tell Them All to Go to Hell" Heck", I can't divine who is more worthless. Both of you need to stop punching the clock and focus on refinancing the debt and creating jobs. Anything less coming out of your mouths is of no use to me or the faithful citizens of our great State.

    As a retiree, my portfolio has already lost twenty percent of value since we hit crunch time this past Monday. By next Tuesday it will be worth less than half given your partisan inaction. You and Heck just keep on doing what you're (not) doing and my wife and I will soon be moving in with our kids and telling the grandchildren that a three (soon to be four) generational nuclear family will have to find some way to scrimp by for the next century and beyond.

    So, Citizen Heller, you and Joe "Runt of the Litter" Heck need to grow a pair and start doing your jobs. Gov. Sandoval probably won't vote for re-election given your lack of leadership on this and a myriad of other issues. Berkley and Reid can't continue to do all the heavy lifting by themselves.

  14. Stephen and Paul,
    I agree with your sentiments entirely and would hope you are not just posting here but sending these messages directly to the useless Heller as well as calling him to help make him face reality.

  15. @mschaffer- yes I have wrote Mr Heller several times and have a collection of letters from Mr Heller. The letters are a standard response letter and as always Mr Heller is non-committal and is wish-y washy as per usual. Apparently, Mr Heller is a quick study, as he has no answers and like most of our elected officials and will only do what is is Mr Heller's best financial interest.

  16. Social Security was changed by Ronald Reagan and by the Greenspan Commission recommendation, whom Reagan appointed. The idea was to secured the bady boomer,their parents and future generations, safety net of Social Security, but what happen was the paid funds were place into the general trust fund and then the funds where raided. The fund was paid and finances by all working people with deductions from their paychecks. It was a contract with the American people with their government. The answer is very simple they have been lowering the top tax rate for years now. The truth is the government needs to bring more money in from those who benefited the most from favorable tax polices and still do. The money has already been collected from all Americans it's not an entitlement. The idea to have the same ideology which got us into this mess is now going to get us out this mess is laughable. Wake up these are Conservative polices that have gotten us here in this mess.