Debt ceiling, debt ceiling, debt ceiling. Oh, wait, no! Actually debt, that is deficit. John Boehner shies away from big deal on fears that Eric Cantor will once again make Brutus look like Caesar's best friend. Republicans remain adamant against cutting loopholes that give tax breaks for corporate jets and oil companies let alone for the rich and famous generally. The "Oh, wait no!" actually refers to how the debt ceiling is not being talked about, which implies that maybe that we will have no debt deal, but the debt ceiling will be raised anyway.
The lack of a debt deal, while it would be bad for the economy in terms of the austerity, last Friday's jobs report signals businesses' fear about the debt ceiling not being raised. A rise in the ceiling coupled with even an modest debt reduction plan would have helped restore confidence. Although confidence as a means to improving the economy is manure, confidence with a reduction in the complexity, if not the yield from the tax code, would be beneficial. All these things said, if the ceiling does rise with no deal, then Obama and Democrats may actually stand to gain considerably as they could show a willingness to part with sacred cows while the opposition went to bat for the wealthiest among us.
The State of Things:
From the Globe to the Herald, the media is ganging up on Scott Brown for his lack of constituent meetings. Brown is known for holding softball interviews with friendly news organizations (like talk radio) or in ad hoc gaggles (like the one a week ago Friday in Springfield) where tough questions are unlikely or nothing that a standard GOP talking point cannot dismiss. His staff, oddly, did not help the situation by admitting the truth (that was unavoidable) by saying he had been to X number of events and is focused on jobs. Nobody accused him of not being in the state and he aided the filibuster of a job bill last week.
Meanwhile, the Mass GOP is attacking Setti Warren via an ethics complaint over the selection of a contractor for a Newton bid. The Newton Mayor selected a company for a bid that employs somebody on Warren's campaign committee. Warren, as of now, may represent a significant challenge to Brown on paper, if not money or notoriety, and the GOP and Brown's actions since Warren's entry into the race have raised suspicions before. Warren for his part is needling Brown over the latter's non-meetings with constituents, but Warren offers his city as a venue for a town hall.
Massachusetts' own row with labor appears to have concluded. Gov. Deval Patrick has reached a deal with municipal leaders and unions that seems to save face for all sides. It is unclear which rights were lost and how much was really gained for municipalities, but the Bay State's role in the nation's broader collective bargaining furor is coming to a close with all sides in agreement, however begrudgingly.
The Republican has a lengthy article on the ongoing Melvin Jones saga in the Springfield. Nothing in it should be particularly new to readers, but it does recount the tragically human side of this story. This does not necessary means the city should be paying out millions of the dollars to the alleged victim of police brutality any more than his alleged attacker should be collecting a pension now.
The mayor and the City Council appear to being head to head over the furlough plan the city has thus-far enacted. From what we can gather at this point, the furloughs are not believed to be equitable and the council wants this rectified. Right now, they may be in a position to demand this as they have yet to approve the remaining funding for the city's budget. The expenses were authorized, but not the funds. This dilemma represents a broader struggle between the mayor's office and an increasingly assertive council, partly brought on by ward representation. In the mayor's defense, he came of age politically in an era when the council exercised little if any oversight or power. We shall be keeping an eye on this.