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BLITZER’S BLOG: It’s hard not to be cynical about debt talks
July 14th, 2011
05:47 PM ET

BLITZER’S BLOG: It’s hard not to be cynical about debt talks

(CNN) - It’s hard not to be a bit cynical in watching politics unfold in Washington.

As you know, the Republicans are all lined up resisting any effort to simply pass an increase in the nation’s debt ceiling with a straight up-or-down vote. They insist on large-scale spending cuts.

The Democrats and President Obama would certainly prefer what’s called a clean bill.

What a difference a few years and a new president can make.

Check out The New York Times of March 16, 2006. The story notes that the Senate voted to increase the nation’s debt ceiling by a 52-to-48 vote. All of the Democrats, including then-Senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Harry Reid, voted against raising the debt ceiling. With the exception of three Republicans, all the Republicans, including Mitch McConnell and Jon Kyl, voted in favor of what President George W. Bush was seeking.

Here was the first sentence in the Times report:

“The Senate voted narrowly today to raise the national debt limit to nearly $9 trillion, averting what would have been the first default ever on United States Treasury notes and giving Democrats an opportunity to portray Republicans as reckless with the people’s money.”

Here’s a quote in the article from Harry Reid: “Any objective analysis of our country’s fiscal history would have to conclude that this administration and this rubberstamping Republican Congress are the most fiscally irresponsible in the history of the country. In fact, no other president or Congress even comes close.”

Republican Senator Charles Grassley said the vote in favor of the legislation was necessary to preserve “the full faith and credit of the federal government.”

Now you can better understand why long-time Washington observers can become a bit cynical.

RELATED: Focus of debt talks to narrow without deal by Friday, White House says

Post by:
Filed under: Debt • Deficit • Washington • White House • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Celine Gandolfo

    Want the debt negotiations to be solved quickly? Just remove payroll, benefits and any other entitlements of the members of the House, the Senate and their staff until an agreement is met. No payments of any kind until there is an agreement on the debt crisis.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  2. mjoy

    For 30 years jobs have been leaving the USA and being repleaced with low paying service jobs. No wonder there are not enough taxes to pay our debts.. No wonder more people can't afford a house, let alone if they think they will have their job for 30 years in the same city. The debt ceiling is just another symptom of a bigger problem....we all know it ...the rich get richer and the middle class disappear. The middle class with good salaries support small business' and big business as well.... I give up on Congress doing anything constructive since most of them on both sides are the upper income, not where most of us are at now.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  3. Louis Wesler

    I sent the following to President O'Bama:

    Mr. President,

    When you meet tomorrow morning please show this e-mail to the participants, during the time you are in conference over the on-going budget issues and debt limit.

    misfeasance: A term used in Tort Law to describe an act that is legal but performed improperly.

    Generally, a civil defendant will be liable for misfeasance if the defendant owed a duty of care toward the plaintiff, the defendant breached that duty of care by improperly performing a legal act, and the improper performance resulted in harm to the plaintiff.

    I will have absolutely no problem filing a legal action listing all 535 members of both the House of Respresntatives and the Senate of the United States.

    Thank you
    Louis Wesler

    July 22, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  4. Tracy

    I haven't heard a single federally elected official say what "THEY" are willing to give up to help our country out of the mess "THEY" helped get us into. If our elected officials would put as much honest effort into attempting to resolve the problem as they do raising billions of dollars for their own egos (campaign) we'd be rolling in money!
    On a more serious note, we ALL will need to give something. We all want safe infrastructre, SS, Medicare, defense, etc. but let's face it, those items cost money and over time the amount to pay for those things increase.
    We as a society and in our government need to stop spending money we don't have. At this moment we are in an emergency situation. Federally elected officials should take a 5% decrease in pay, and the american people should not pay for their health insurance (not while in office or for life when they retire or get fired) if they need health insurance they can do what the rest of us do and have their spouse get a job that provides insurance or pay for it themselves. There is such a thing as COBRA!
    That would not only save our country a lot of money but would show the people they supossedly represent that they are willing to make personal sacrifices instead of sacrificing US!

    July 22, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  5. Brian Skidmore

    I am a college student who has a mental disability and I feel that if this deficit isn't fixed and agreed upon both sides of the aisle what's going to happen to people like me. I always thought that these people in congress represent the people not themselves so they should put their personal views aside and listen to the people because for if something is not passed it will not effect them much but will have a hard effect on us.

    July 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  6. Vickie. Brown

    My Parents. Needs Social. SECURITY. CHECK

    July 20, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  7. Don Hicks

    Why doesn't the President and Congress entertain the elimination/apportionment of tax cuts to businesses that outsource U.S. jobs? I believe more and more US companies are putting work overseas enjoying the benefits of Globalization – while our Country struggles with unemployment and an education system that has not adjusted to Globalization.

    July 19, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  8. Matthew

    I am greatly disappointed in the way the debt crisis has been artificially manufactured by both parties in Congress. Following the old political axiom "Your only as good as your next election" will no longer cut it with me and the rest of the American electorate. I am tired of the political parties trying to score political points against one another by creating a crisis so they will have something to run against the other fellow. It is a well known fact that when Congress closes loop-holes in the tax code they create new ones for their millionaire and billionaire friends. It is also a well known fact that no member of Congress is going to vote to cut Social Security or Medicare regardless what any Congressional Commission says. So stop wasting our time and money and go ahead and raise the debt ceiling like your going too.

    July 19, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  9. joshua

    Gut the federal government. It is a total wreck. We will always and forever be in this disastrous state of glut until we take "radical" steps to limit the authority of the federal government. Why not tell every one in Congress they can send 10% of everything they cut from the federal budget back to their home state? Then you will see some real action on reducing the debt. Every program will need to justified by each member of congress and voted yea or nay. If it fails, each voting nay gets to split the 10% equally. Those voting yea get nothing. Make these arrogant, pompous blow hards stick their financial necks out there and risk losing money for their states.

    July 18, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  10. Mary

    My husband and I have been paying into Social Security for over 50 years. Is this not our money that is being returned to us? If it were the politicians or anyone in the congress or senate getting thier pay cut I bet they'd find a way to stop it. We live in the state of Washington and it takes every penny we have just to exist. Take a look at the homes of the poor and the middle class compared to our elected officials homes. I bet you will find a big difference. Their life styles and ours are completely the opposite. As I was run over by a car after I was 65, all goes for doctor bills and necessities. Our bill collectors wouldn't understand it if our bills weren't paid each month, so no social security, no bills paid. Is our country really going to impose this tragedy on all the seniors? Thank You Mary

    July 16, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  11. Kriss in Calif

    this to me is just a start on the debt discussions from not only GW Bush but also the Reagan presidency. How much total of the current deficit us a result of the votes 17x under Reagan to increase the debt ceiling and 19x under GW Bush who spent, spent, spent on war until we are now in this position. For me we could do A LOT more discussion on these ideas because they are a big chunk of what we currently owe. When I was in High School my Dad wore a shirt that said "we are spending our children's inheritence" a phrase much used during the '80's on debt. And my Dad is in the Tea Party now and supported Reagan then.

    July 15, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  12. Eric R Pulst

    These rating agencies (Moodys, et al) infuriate me. They're owned by the big banks, right? The ones that got bailed out, right? Quite alright for the US taxpayer to incur debt to bail these guys out – no impact to the US debt rating. But now .... sorry .... you will have to take a haircut to your entitlements to keep the triple aaa rating. Of course, this well after the banks have their money and bonuses ... Cynical indeed!

    North of Toronto,
    Ontario, Canada

    July 15, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  13. Bill

    Answer is "term limits". Currently our professional politician's primary concern is getting re-elected, thus creating a constant "afraid for my job" situation. This leads to a reticence to tackle any issue that may be unpopular with the electorate e.g., entitlement reform. They just won't address the real problems, because they are scared of losing their job. Sad situation. Appears to me that we need to solve this fundamental flaw in our system, so that we have representative that are willing to take action to solve our problems and not avoid them.

    July 15, 2011 at 8:53 am |
  14. J.V.Hodgson

    Somewhere in all this ( debt and cost cuts debate) Wolf the interests of ALL ( I said ALL) the American people have gone out the door from Republicans.
    No one disagrees that corporates are getting aid from Tax revenues and are also sitting on Huge profits and cash mountains or that the Democratic so called tax increases affect anything other than 2% of the Federally taxable community. Again lets do the math it means ( assuming only 50 % of all Americans are employed) that this 2% or 4% Is all small business owners is rubbish but only some of them, Plus others can make quite a side swipe at the debt over 10 years latest Obama side $0.4 tr ( 400 bn over 10 years)
    C'mon CNN look and quote reality Tax breaks did not grow employment in the last ten years.
    Sorry, as I see it and many of my friends who are republicans (i'm Independent) the only " cynicism in the debt debate is coming from Republicans, based on totally unproven ideology and a belief that an election in one house Mid term (NB) = they are right all the time... They Republicans need to read the constitution I think its called checks and balances ( which work two ways ( or should) and more to the point listen to quite few opinion polls especially on the Ryan budget plans and also the so called rich income tax increases and withdrawal of tax giveaways to corporate America.
    Then this nation (NATION) might just get a deal on debt ALL can be proud of, and realistically just proud enough to get more republicans to remain elected. I am not joking.

    July 15, 2011 at 7:40 am |
  15. Jeff


    You have done an incredible service to this country by so creatively pointing out the collective amnesia that most Americans are suffering from. The people of this country do not remember the recent past, let alone news reports from over 5 years ago. But here it is, undeniably in black and white, exposing the hypocrisy of all of our elected officials, both Democrat and Republican. What the people of this country need is for the politicians to put aside their current non-negotiable positions (notably inverted on both sides from 5 years ago) and ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING TO HELP THIS COUNTRY! Yes, I did shout out the last phrase.

    Keep up the good work!

    July 14, 2011 at 11:21 pm |

    Blitzer is just another Democrat stooly and has no crediability.

    July 14, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  17. Chris

    Be honest Wolf. Republicans DID hold a straight up or down vote several weeks ago and it failed, miserably. Do your homework next time instead of stating your BELIEF, not the TRUTH.

    July 14, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
  18. BILL, WI

    Do the math.
    Republican plus Democrat equals Hypocrite.

    July 14, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  19. Llyn

    Wolf Blitzer and Eric Cantor have a lot in common; both intellectual lightweights; both agents of Mossad/Israel/AIPAC.
    Israel's goal is to bring the first Black President down and the United States of America down at the same time.

    A few years ago Israel told Greece that it wanted Reparations for what the Nazis had done to Jews while Greece was under German Occupation during WW11. Greece said "NO." So Israel went crying to Angela Merkel of Germany and Sarkozy of France (a Jew), they control the EU's purse strings and they went after Greece until they bankrupted it and then forced Greece to even Stop the FREEDOM HUMAN RIGHTS FLOTILLA FORCABLY FROM TAKING AID TO THE STARVING AND SICK IN GAZA, so that Israel would not have to murder more Human Rights workers in International Waters again. So eventually Greece had no choice but to agree to get the loans from the EU that Israel dictated through Germany and France. Now Israel is after the USA and Obama and Eric Cantor is the leader in the Government and Wolf Blitzer in the Media and yes I do hope that he leaves for FAUX News because that will go down soon anyway but I would prefer to see both of them on Treason charges with a few more people.

    July 14, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • CPTJax

      WOW! need help

      July 19, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  20. Joe Torres Roman - University of Florida Student

    Mr. Blitzer,

    I'm a student at the University of Florida, and I've been watching the debt crisis religiously. I'm worried because I rely on Federal Stafford Loans from financial aid, and if the debt ceiling is not extended. I will not be able to graduate from my last semester as a senior. Therefore, how is the debt ceiling crisis going to harm me as a student attending a University, and what suggestion would you recommend I do as a student?

    Best regards,
    Joe Torres
    U.F. Class of 2012

    July 14, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  21. craig

    Cantor-Cut Defense spending, if you are concerned about spending cuts pout that on the table. I would not have a problem if the Reoublicans mentioned cutting defense as part of the entitlement rollbacks they are seeking, then we could say all entiltlement programs are being looked at fairly in this debate.

    Fact is: Even if we do cut spending we still need to bring in more revenue to get to a balanced budget, we can not get there without cutting defense spending and also increasing revenues.We also need a jobs bill, since our "job creators" are not creating, with the tax cuts they already have had for the past ten years.

    Our country tiz of thee, sweet land of wealth hording by the GOP! !

    July 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  22. Christene

    I am a full time student, part time Marketing Specialist at a real estate company, and a mother of 3, hoping to work for the Federal Government one day. I couldn't help but be irritated to hear that there is still a possibility of cutting pay from people who actually WORK! I would love to hear you or anyone whose voice will be heard talk about how much money we, the working and taxpaying people, spend every month on food stamps and welfare! I know of people who get over $500 a month in food stamps. We, a family of 5, spend about $250 a month on groceries and do just fine! How about we spend half that money on food stamps, 1/4 of it on investigating to see if they really need this money or deserve it, and put aside the other 1/4... I would really love to see this issue brought to light, i am sick of paying for someone else to have steak every night when me and my husband do not have health insurance because we can't afford it!

    July 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  23. MAC

    All of America has caused this debt problem, so all of America needs to help pay for this debt so our children and grandchildren do not pay for it. The problems with raising taxes is the Congress, especially under democrats control will just spend more money, not pay off the debt. Under Reagon and George HW Bush the democrats promised spending cuts to get tax increases and they did not cut spending. I would not trust a democrat or republican with my wallet. Under a democrat it would be empty and a republican would leave me a couple of dollars. That makes both thieves. America needs no debt except to fight a war.

    July 14, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  24. P. Octavia

    Where are Senate leaders like Moynihan, Dirksen, Byrd and Congressman like Tip O'Neil and Bob Michel when you need them. This problem would have been solved already.

    July 14, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  25. Markus

    I think that if our government needs to cut the budget they can start with their own paychecks. To the best of my knowledge congress is the only institution that votes on their own pay raises. They also need to institute a a flat tax where so everyone pays the same percent. That is fair to everyone the rich and poor. No more loopholes for anyone rich or poor. It will also help shrink a large part of the budget that pays for the IRS and tax return checking. The only returns that will need to be checked are those that are not payroll deducted.

    July 14, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  26. TMM

    The Democrats HAVE put spending cuts on the table. President Obama did go on record saying he would take the hit for medicare and social security cuts. Closing tax loopholes seems reasonable. Wolf, I have watched you for years and it seems lately that your reporting/opinions lean slightly right. The democratic strategist never said Eric Cantor wasn't intelligent, he said Eric Cantor was a "lightweight" for which I took to mean maybe really shouldn't be at the meeting. Whether that is true or not, it is an opinion much like the republican stratetigst's opininion. Yet, you sure jumped in quickly to defend Mr. Cantor. Is he your nephew?

    July 14, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  27. Martin Angell

    Pure and simple $14.5 trillion we can't afford it. So we have to stop the spending increases and prioritize. Businesses and families prioritize spending all the time. Obama says he cannot do this–this is preposterous! Then we'll let Congress prioritize. Here's a start: Interest on the debt first to stabilize the market, then military and justice, then social security and the rest is up to Congress.

    July 14, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  28. June

    Republicans are a gang in suits. They are protecting their turf, their next election, and care little for their nation.

    July 14, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  29. Ken Romero

    Your guest the democratic strategist called Cantor "an intellectual lightweight". It doesn't take an intellect (or ego) as large or heavy as Obama's to realize we have a problem and it is the spending stupid! By no means am I an intellectual heavyweight but I know the "heavyweight" in the White House got us into this financial disaster.

    July 14, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Llyn

      Eric Cantor is not only an intellectual lightweight but is a whining Israeli Mossad Agent who should not be representing anyone in the American Congress. He is a treasonous to the American People just as Wolf Blitzer is. Wolf Blitzer's Credentials are: JERUSAL POST, AIPAC, CNN.

      July 14, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • Spending problem created by Bush

      George Bush gave away surpluses of Clinton era instead of paying down debt. He borrowed money to pay for the wars. He did away with regulations that allowed banks to rob from the middle class and nearly cause a depression. That required TARP, bailouts and stimulus without which we would have been in real depression right now.

      July 14, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
      • Jimmy

        And I would like to add, that Republicans caused all this mess mentioned above and have blocked all attempts by the Obama Administration in trying to fix it! It amazes me that anyone would consider giving the White House back to Republican control, the peopled that have caused the problem in the first place! Clearly all that Bush did needs to be reversed but Republicans don't want to let go because they need to fill their pockets more, at the middle classes expense!

        July 16, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  30. Mark Taronji New York

    Come on Wolf! The democrats played a little politics with it, but didn't really want to stop it. They made sure that it was able to pass and it passed.

    The GOP is actually contemplating following through on their threats. Treasury has had to pull off all kinds of accounting tricks to stall it. Their party is run by a bunch of freshman from the 2010 of elections.

    I know you are a reporter and must play fairly, but lets call a Spade a Spade. It is obviously clear that the GOP takes politics to a whole new and dangerous level.

    July 14, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • rob

      The GOP plays politics to a dangerous level ???? But the "The democrats played a little politics with it"??? The GOP is trying to stop the inevitable financial ruin we face because of runaway spending and exploding entitlement growth by forcing the president to reign the govt growth in. The President and the Dems would not even be talking if it was not imperative for our debt ratings for us to controll our spending in the future. They see the polls that CNN won't show that the public opposes most of Obama's and the Dems policies. The polls show we want to controll the growth of govt.

      July 14, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • rob

      Mark, politicians can be liars, hypocritical, money hungry opportunists and self serving egotistical elitist jerks but, the Democrats are HANDS DOWN, WITHOUT A DOUBT, NO QUESTION ABOUT IT, BETTER POLITICIANS THAN THE REPUBLICANS. Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, Anthony weiner and especially Harry reid and Chuck Schumer are the poster children of what we hate about Politicians.

      July 14, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  31. J.P.Calllaghan

    I hear the republicans saying that taxing millionaires will hurt jobs ? what do all the millionaires in the entertainment and sports industry have to do with the job market ???
    yours scottie

    July 14, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  32. yuhmad

    Point blank, the Republicans just want to see a black man serve as a one-term President and falter. We all in this country have a debt over heads to pay on judgement day. God is not sleeping and he is the only person can determine our sinful, deceitful, regretful humanity way of life when we all will be determined where our destination lies on eternity day.

    July 14, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • Llyn

      Just like Israeli/Mossad Agent, Eric Cantor, his counterpart on CNN is talking out of both sides of his mouth now. Both of them are very upset that the USA have a Black President and if President Obama ever though that Rahm Emanuel was his friend he had better start pulling those knives out of his back before they get pushed in too deep the next time Rahm gives him a "friendly hug." All three are traitors to the USA.

      July 14, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • Chris

      Not true. Southern Democrats were the ones who voted against the 1957 and 1964 Civil Rights Acts, and it was the Republicans who first had a black candidate for president: Frederick Douglas. Dems don't like the fact that their first black candidate for president is botching things up so bad: 9.2% unemployment, inflation, double-dip recession in the housing market, cut and run in Afghanistan, etc. Know your history, not just what the flyer says to believe when it comes in your mailbox.

      July 14, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • Buckwheat

      Are you serious. Come on... a lot of Republicans helped elect him President! This is about avoiding financial disaster, not just for the U.S. but for everyone. Get over your racial theory because I think most people are over it or want to be. I don't care what color his skin is, I care about the job they are doing and I am not happy with that as well as a lot of other folks.

      July 15, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • dhanii

      Marie: As someone who used to write the thank you letrets for a Senator (D'Amato) let me tell you that both emails and calls have less impact than actual letrets (mostly faxed these days for security and speed) directly to YOUR representative and Senator's offices.I'd also add that letrets to the editor of your local paper which make the point in a brief, focused way are highly effective.Wordsmith, or as one commenter called him "Mr. Smith:" I admire that President Bush has stood firm in Iraq and never wavered.At the same point in Reagan's presidency he was also reviled and dismissed by liberal know nothings.History proved him wrong and may do so again with President Bush.The only criticism I have of President Bush is that he has also stuck to his "new tone" strategy in spite of the fact that has turned out, like so many other standards of conduct, ethics and law, to be a one way street applied only to Republicans.A bit more aggressive counterpunch to the defeatists would be nice.

      March 4, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  33. Tom

    What irks me about the debt debate is that raising the debt limit is the same ol' same ol' business as usual,
    but the democrats always declare that the only one's who are not really compromising are the Republicans.

    The fact of the matter is that the Dems are holding it all back by insisting on raisiing the ceiling, but not giving an inch on lowering the spending. Without a firm agreement in that, again it will fall back into business as usual. The Republicans HAVE TO hold out or else not constructive agreement will ever be made.

    I'd feell much better if only the spending cuts were discussed and agreed upon without any reference to debt ceiling and more taxes, then AFTER that, figure out tax reform and the ceiling.

    July 14, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Jerry

      Tom, if you would read the reports of what is happeing with the talks, President Obama negotiated spending cuts with Rep John Boehner. Boehner negotiated in good faith but was cut down at the knees by Eric Cantor. In the meantime, President Obama has not pulled the negotiated cuts off of the table. They are still there.
      Also, while you theorize about the Democrats insisting on raising the debt ceiling, Senator McConnell just recently said if it isn't done the results to our economy would be disatrous and the Republicans would get the blame.
      At this juncture, I am not going to blame either side; I just want to see statesmen on both sides think about what is good for the country and not politicians dukeing it out for political gain.

      July 14, 2011 at 9:13 pm |

    i keeping listing to the demcorats and repulicans, demcorats could of solved this issure before the repulicans took over.
    now it the repulicans are the blame, people that do not working sill take money from the goverment and laying off people still take money from the goverment, getting jobs for people is the issue, in our town people could not get the job done we voted every one out and started all over, americam people are just up set who as i speak about congress, ar they working for the people or is this just another snow ball

    July 14, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  35. Rich

    Wolf they can spin it any way they want but the bottom line is simple. our congress has spent more then they have taken in since 1969. That includes both parties. Neither is immune from fiscal irresponsibility. They are all a party to it and especially that hypocrite Harry Reid.

    July 14, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  36. Fred G

    Wolf, being bed ridden and a CNN viewer I have counted that Ben W being repeated fourteen times. Tell your producer to lay off

    July 14, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  37. Mark Christian Garrett

    Good afternoon Sir,
    I watch cnn religiously, & enjoy your shows additionally. I just saw the clip a few moments ago, between Paul, Terry & yourself discussing the White House meetings. From all indications The President is attempting to bargain in good faith. However my opinion of the other side is not as agreeable. You say Eric Canter is not a light weight at the table ???
    Might we see you bolt to faux news next ?????
    Mark Garrett
    Jacksonville, Florida

    July 14, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  38. Sarah

    One way to cure this issue is to stop our congress mans paychecks until this issue is resolved. perhaps this would get their attention.

    July 14, 2011 at 5:52 pm |

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