Morning Examiner: Republicans have no plan B 

President Obama is telling every news outlet that will listen that he now wants a “far reaching” debt-reduction plan that will stretch well beyond the next two years and would cover cuts to all three entitlement programs in exchange for tax hike concessions from Republicans. The move is a transparent effort at triangulation, as Senate Democrats are already saying they will not support any deal that includes cuts to Social Security. “Depending on what they decide to recommend, they may not have Democrats,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Del., told The New York Times.

But Democratic aides admit to The Post that they are unconcerned that any real cuts will happen since the White House announcement is obviously “a bargaining strategy intended to demonstrate Obama’s willingness to compromise and highlight the Republican refusal to raise taxes.”

Will Democrats and Republicans come together over the next two weeks on a deal that covers, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the debt limit, the Bush tax cuts, and broader tax reform?

No.

The White House has clearly calculated that no such deal will get done and they are now preparing for the blame game. Obama has his back up plan: claiming that the 14th Amendment provides him the authority to issue debt without congressional approval. What is the Republican plan B? According to reports below, they have none. That could prove costly.

Around the Bigs
The Washington Examiner, Is the Justice Department covering up ‘Fast and Furious’?: According to a letter sent yesterday by House Government Oversight Chair Darrell Issa, R-Calif., to Attorney General Eric Holder, acting Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director Kenneth Melson told Issa investigators on the Fourth of July that, contrary to past Obama administration statements, senior Justice Department officials knew about the ATF’s Fast and Furious gun smuggling program. Melson also told investigators that Justice officials told him not to respond to congressional inquiries and took full control of responding to Issa’s investigation. Obstructing congressional investigations is illegal. This scandal is getting bigger and going higher up every week.

The Washington Post, Cantor says GOP open to cutting tax loopholes in debt deal, but Senate Republicans balk: Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., told reporters yesterday, “If the president wants to talk loopholes, we’ll be glad to talk loopholes. We’ve said all along that preferences in the code aren’t something that helps economic growth overall. But listen, we’re not for any proposal that increases taxes, and any type of discussion should be coupled with offsetting tax cuts somewhere else.” Many outlets, including the Post, portrayed this quote as “a marked shift” by Cantor an Republicans on taxes. That is just false. Republicans have always been for less loopholes, lower rates and neutral revenue. That is what they already voted for in Rep. Paul Ryan’s, R-Wisc., Path to Prosperity budget.

Politico, Debt ceiling discussions lack backup plan: Unlike this spring’s government shutdown fight, House Republicans are not drafting a back-up debt limit hike to vote on in case negotiations with Obama fall through. “We’re putting stock in the president realizing he has to come up with a solution,” said Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, R-Ill.

The Washington Times, Interrogation at sea skirts Obama pledge: The Obama administration recently interrogated a detainee for two months aboard a U.S. Navy ship, outside the reach of American law. Yesterday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the episode demonstrates why Obama’s reluctance to embrace the Guantanamo Bay detention facility undermines national security and the rule of law.

The Wall Street Journal, Antitrust Chief to Step Down: Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney, who increased the Justice Department’s antitrust investigations, is stepping down to return to private practice.

The Hill, Republican spending measure would block EPA climate rules: The House Appropriations Committee released its final 2012 spending bill yesterday, and the legislation includes a policy rider that would forbid the he Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and refineries for one year.

The New York Times, Building Boom in China Stirs Fears of Debt Overload: Local government borrowing is fueling a construction boom in China but some experts think the bubble is about to burst.

Campaign 2012
Romney: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s $18.25 million fundraising haul is more than all of the other GOP candidates raised combined. But it is also less than half what he raised over the same time frame in 2007. Internal campaign emails also show that Team Romney had planned to rake in at least $50 million.

RNC: Human Events Jon Gizzi interviewed RNC Chair Reince Preibus on how his plans for turning out voters in the 2012 election. Preibus said the 2004 and 2008 72-hour voter turnout plan is out: “With the number of voters growing who choose to vote early, what we need is a 72-day program that reaches them when they are making up their minds.”

Righty playbook

At The Corner, Rep. Paul Broun, R-Md., argues that conservatives should push to lower the debt limit to $13 trillion: “Admittedly, this is not your run-of-the-mill kind of law, but it would make it imperative for Congress to think outside of the box and come up with ways to pay off a portion of our debt while drastically cutting back spending.”

Hit and Run‘s Tim Cavanaugh calls the left’s argument that the 14th Amendment empowers Obama to sell as much debt as he wants to “transparent fraud” and says it shows that “jobs” have become the new “terrorism.”

Bob Owens flags a October 27, 2009 email confirming that every major agency within the Department of Justice had been briefed on the Gunwalker/Fast and Furious program. Owens adds: “It strains credibility to claim that the assistant attorney general, the AGAC, the directors of the five major DOJ agencies in charge of law enforcement, and all the U.S. attorneys in the Southwest region were privy to Gunwalker, but that the attorney general himself was unaware of the operation.”

Lefty playbook

Yale Law School professor Jack Balkin asks Under What Circumstances Can The President Ignore the Debt Ceiling?: “I believe that section 4 [of the 14th Amendment] was designed to prevent what the Republican leaders of Congress are currently doing. Members of Congress should stop trying to use the risk of default to hold the country hostage in order to win concessions on ordinary matters of politics.”

Campaign for America’s Future came out in favor of  Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad’s, D-N.D., still unreleased deficit reduction plan.

Senate Democrats have a new video out attacking Republicans for not raising taxes.

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Conn Carroll

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