Morning Examiner: It takes two

It may not seem like it when you look at our nation’s $14.3 trillion debt, but the freshman House Republicans have already accomplished a lot in just a little over a year. The momentum in Washington has completely changed since they arrived. Instead of brand new trillion-dollar entitlements, President Obama has been forced to talk up trillion-dollar spending cuts. Cap-and-trade legislation is not only dead letter, but now the bureaucrats at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is playing defense to protect their existing regulatory authority. And now it appears Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is about to release a debt limit hike that will probably be made up of mostly fake spending cuts, but will also, reportedly, be free of any tax hikes. This is all progress.

No, it is not nearly enough to change the course of our nation’s federal government. But, as Michael Barone reminds us today, that was never really in the cards. The Democrats won two wave elections in 2006 and 2008. That is why they control the White House and the Senate. The Republicans have only won one election, in 2010. The Constitution was not designed to allow one election to shift the direction of the entire country. If the Republicans want to really reverse course, they are going to need win a second election.

Just look at the absence of Obamacare as a subject of cuts in the debt limit debate. Any real plan to solve the debt crisis would have to start with a full repeal of Obamacare. Which is why any talk of a “Grand Bargain” was always a farce, Obama would never sign a repeal of his signature domestic accomplishment. The House has done a fantastic job with the limited power the Constitution provides for it. But, as just one-half of one of three branches of government, there is only so much the House can do until it gets some reinforcements in the Senate and the executive branch.

Around the Bigs
The Washington Examiner, GOP, Dems move on competing debt plans: Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, are crafting competing debt hike plans to present to their respective bodies. Both plans will supposedly cut spending by an amount equal to the hike in the debt limit without raising taxes. But Reid’s bill will raise the limit by $2.5 trillion, enough to allow President Obama’s deficit spending through the 2012 elections, while Boehner’s bill would raise the limit by $1.2 trillion.

Bloomberg, U.S. Stock Futures Decline After Lawmakers Fail to Reach Debt-Ceiling Deal: In the first trading since Friday’s debt limit negotiations broke down, U.S. stock futures are down only 1.4 percent.

The Wall Street Journal, Moody’s Cuts Greek Debt Rating Further: Despite another European Union bailout, Moody’s Investors Service cut Greece’s debt rating three more levels warning that the latest bailout deal amounts to a temporary sovereign default and sets a bad precedent in the 17-country euro zone.

Rasmussen Reports, Voters Give GOP 10-Point Edge Over Democrats on Economy: According to the latest Rasmussen poll, likely voters trust Republicans over Democrats when it comes to handling economic issues, 45 – 35 percent.

The New York Times, Train Wreck in China Heightens Unease on Safety Standards: Another high-speed rail train wreck, this one killing more than 43 people, is again raising questions about the system’s cost and safety.

Campaign 2012
GOP Field: There is some very serious fighting going on between GOP primary candidates … but none of it involves front runner Mitt Romney. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., spokeswoman Alice Stewart said Sunday, “There is very little difference between Governor Pawlenty’s past positions and Barack Obama’s positions on several critical issues facing Americans. On issues such as unconstitutional healthcare mandates, climate change regulations, and Wall Street bailouts, there’s very little daylight, indeed, between Governor Pawlenty’s record and the Obama administration’s policies.”

Pawlenty spokeman Alex Conant responded: “The truth is that there is very little difference between Governor Pawlenty and Congresswoman Bachmann on their issue positions. The difference is that when Governor Pawlenty was scoring conservative victories to cut spending, pass market-based health care reform, and transform a supreme court from liberal to conservative, and was elected twice in a very blue state, Congresswoman Bachmann was giving speeches and offering failed amendments, all while struggling mightily to hold onto the most Republican house seat in the state.”

Righty Playbook
The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin posts the pitches Republican leaders made to House Republicans on on last night’s 6 pm conference call.

Keith Hennessey explains why the Obama-Boehner debt talks fell apart.

Lefty Playbook
The New York Times Adam Liptak notes that, while Obama did reject using the 14th Amendment as authority to unilaterally raise the debt limit, he did not do so in categorical terms. The article also quotes Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, who has said that the 14th Amendment conveys no such authority, as saying that courts ‘have no “plausible point of entry” to block Obama should he choose this root.

Rortybomb looks at the ratings agencies’ “poor public sector predictions” and makes the case that they add no value to financial markets.

The New York Times Paul Krugman says that means-testing Medicare “is an even worse idea, on pure policy grounds, than even most liberals realize.”

Talking Points Memo
has the script for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee robocalls that are being sent into 60 Republican districts on the debt limit.

Beltway Confidentialmorning examinerUS

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