Michele Bachmann’s husband Marcus is breaking his silence about the controversial clinic he runs and co-owns with his wife. Tonight we’re Keeping Him Honest beginning at 10pm ET.
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Washington (CNN) - Here it is - a cheat sheet to the talks over the national debt. These are the plans on the table, simplified and put in terms a human being can understand:
• $14.29 trillion - current debt limit. That's also nearly the value of the European Union's gross domestic product - or everything produced in the EU - last year.
• August 2 - the date when the federal government is forecast to hit the debt limit and see all new loans cut off. Falls during "Simplify Your Life Week." Really.
• $2.4 trillion - the increase to the debt limit officials think is needed to get the government through November 2012.
• $4 trillion - the amount of deficit reduction in a longer, broader, "grand compromise" idea.
Plans in the discussion
From smallest to largest:
1. The "fallback": The McConnell and McConnell/Reid plans
These plans are built in case Congress and the White House cannot reach a specific deal on raising the debt ceiling. In theory, they include relatively simple legislation and could lead to an increase in the debt ceiling in a matter of days.
Specifically, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, proposes a shift in how government raises debt ceilings, resting the decision and power more with the White House. McConnell's plan would allow the debt ceiling to go up if a) the president requests a specific increase, b) the president submits proposed budget cuts in an amount greater than the debt ceiling increase and c) if two-thirds of Congress does not vote against it (if one-third supports the debt ceiling increase).
The mechanisms for that plan are complex, but just believe us that those are the bottom lines.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, is working with McConnell to add more components to this plan.
The two leaders are considering an attachment of $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion in spending cuts. And they are talking about a commission or group that would propose spending cuts and possibly wider reform. This plan is fluid, but right now the idea is to create something similar to the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, guaranteeing the commission's recommendation a straight up-or-down vote in each chamber of Congress. That group could speed up the process to cut spending.
Supporters: This "fallback" could save the U.S. from hitting an unprecedented financial wall. It also takes the politics out of debt ceiling debates.
Opponents: The McConnell plan requires no spending cuts or change in fiscal policy. It demands only proposals, which Congress may or may not pass. Even if the McConnell/Reid spending cuts are included, this idea makes few or no difficult fiscal decisions.
Odds: Increasing rapidly.
2. The 'kick the can' short-term deal
This proposal could take many forms but would raise the debt ceiling for a matter of weeks or a few months, with offsetting spending cuts and/or revenue changes.
It may be as much as $1.5 trillion or as little as a few hundred billion.
President Barack Obama has repeatedly said he will not sign such a deal. But in White House talks Wednesday, House Majority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, suggested looking at a short-term bill, famously leading to a pronounced pushback and a musical flourish, Jed Bartlet-style moment. "This could bring my presidency down," Obama said, according to Republicans, "but I will not yield." Both sides agree he ended the meeting at that point.FULL STORY
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Friday he has not given up hope for a broad deficit reduction deal, urging Republicans to accept a fiscal stability package that includes higher taxes on the wealthy and reforms to politically popular entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
Such a measure would be part of plan to avert a potential economic meltdown by raising the nation's current $14.3 trillion federal debt ceiling.
The president also stressed he has not ruled out less ambitious plans focused more narrowly on a debt ceiling increase.
Let's "set politics aside" and "do some tough stuff," Obama told reporters at a White House news conference. But "if Washington operates as usual and can't get anything done, let's at least avert Armageddon."
Tense negotiations between top Democrats and Republicans, reflecting core ideological principles on taxes and the size of government, have become a race against the clock. Administration officials have warned that a failure to raise the debt ceiling by August 2 could trigger a partial default.
If Washington lacks the money to pay its bills, interest rates could skyrocket and the value of the dollar could decline, among other things.FULL STORY
Washington (CNN) - Right now, some Republican lawmakers in Washington may be wondering how to wiggle out from between a rock and a hard place.
On one hand, they're staring at a possible financial nightmare if the nation's debt limit isn't raised. On the other, many are feeling the heat from tea party demands that bluntly warn: Vote against us and suffer political consequences.
To be sure, Democrats are also under pressure from progressive constituencies who are pushing for more revenue in the form of tax increases - and for them to stand firm against cuts to entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
But over its 2½-year existence, the tea party movement has placed its banner of less government spending at the center of the national conversation. So many activists are watching who's voting on what, even their conservative supporters in Congress - and especially putting the squeeze on moderate Republicans.
What they're saying around the country is, "Do not raise the debt ceiling. It's that simple. It's time for Congress to get its fiscal house in order," Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin told CNN. The group is the nation's largest tea party organization.
Martin explained that her group's supporters want a balanced-budget amendment, significant spending cuts and lower taxes. And they don't want the debt limit raised.
This week, Tea Party Patriots' members and supporters are intensely calling various lawmakers: establishment Republicans, so-called "Blue Dog" Democrats and those freshmen Republicans elected to the House with tea party support.
"I think that it's accurate to call it pressure," Martin said. "The other thing is, we're holding these ... freshmen accountable. A lot of these freshmen ran on the promise that they were not going to increase the debt ceiling. Now, they're in D.C. with all of their colleagues on the Hill. And they're buying into the company line, forgetting about the fact that the American people have elected them not to do that."
For those who vote to raise the debt limit, "The American people are going to watch what they did, watch what happens to the economy and next November, I think there will be consequences," Martin said.
Another major tea party booster echoed the sentiment.FULL STORY
(CNN) – Marcus Bachmann, the husband of Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, defended his Christian counseling business over accusations it uses a controversial therapy that encourages homosexual patients to change their sexual orientation.
In an interview with the Minnesota Star Tribune published Friday, Bachmann did not deny that he or other counselors at his clinic used the technique, but said they only did so at the request of a patient.
"Will I address it? Certainly we'll talk about," Bachmann said. "Is it a remedy form that I typically would use? … It is at the client's discretion."
The American Psychological Association has said there is "insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation."FULL STORY on the CNN Political Ticker
Reporter's Note: President Obama continues to work on a debt deal, while I need to work on my sleep.
Dear Mr. President,
I’m a tad tired as I write this, having caught a late night train back to D.C. I suppose I could have stayed in New York overnight and come back in the morning, but I hate doing that and I was working so late it’s not like I was going out to see a show. Plus, I have to admit I like rocking away to the rumble of the rails while the night slips past as it is just now.
Speaking of staring into the darkness: Despite all the talk over this potential debt deal, do you feel as if you see any light at the end of the tunnel yet? I hope so. But either way, I have a story to tell you.
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