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In a January 20 article at the Center for American Progress, Michael Linden differentiated between those who are serious about addressing our fiscal problems–the deficit hawks–from those who posture and preen about it—the deficit peacocks. Here’s how he defines a peacock:

“Deficit peacocks like to preen and call attention to themselves, but are not sincerely interested in taking the difficult but necessary steps toward a balanced budget. Peacocks prefer scoring political points to solving problems.”

This is one of Linden’s ways to spot a peacock:

“…people who now claim to be concerned about our fiscal future even though they recently supported massive budget-busting legislationWhen someone supports a deficit commission one day and votes to use another $100 billion of red ink on tax cuts for the rich the next, it is perhaps an indication that his or her commitment to real deficit reduction leaves something to be desired.”

Cases in point:

“Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) on Monday said they will introduce a bill early next year based on the report from President Obama’s deficit commission.

Warner and Chambliss have been meeting with a group of 18 senators on finding a way to balance the budget, and said they have concluded the debt commission’s proposal is the best basis for bipartisan talks.”

The rest of the “Gang of Eighteen”:

“Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Jean Shaheen (D-N.H.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska).”

Fifteen of the eighteen, including both Chambliss and Warner voted for the tax cut extension last week. Only Wyden, Hagan, and Mark Udall have any credibility here. The rest are peacocks.

The vehicle Chambliss and others plan to use to get their desired spending cuts are negotiations over raising the debt ceiling limit (aka the next hostage situation), another can kicked down the road yesterday with passage of a Continuing Resolution to fund the government through March 4.

“Chambliss said on the call that an impending vote in Congress to raise the government’s debt ceiling…will be an important turning point. “It gives us a deadline to look to from the standpoint of getting some meaningful decisions mad …If we can use that as leverage that’s an ideal scenario,” Chambliss said.”

Ezra Klein has more on what this could mean for the future of health care reform and financial regulation reform:

“The good news is that law will keep the government’s lights on until early March. The bad news is that the law does it by extending 2010’s funding resolution — and that resolution didn’t include provisions for implementing the bills that were passed as the year went on.

…this is bad news for the health-care bill and the financial-regulation bill. There’s been a tendency to assume that the universe of options for passed legislation was binary: Either they went forward, or they get repealed. But with an angrily divided government, we may find ourselves in that little-known middle category: The Republicans can’t repeal them and the Democrats can’t fully fund them, and so rather than simply going forward, they limp forward.”

Klein doesn’t address it, but another question would be what does this does to unemployment benefits? Could the 13 month extension become 3? I guess we’ll find out in March.

Finally, this is what’s so confounding and confusing about the Obama administration. They take one step forward, with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and then take two steps backward with this:

“The White House is preparing an Executive Order on indefinite detention that will provide periodic reviews of evidence against dozens of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, according to several administration officials.

The draft order, a version of which was first considered nearly 18 months ago, is expected to be signed by President Obama early in the New Year. The order allows for the possibility that detainees from countries like Yemen might be released if circumstances there change.

But the order establishes indefinite detention as a long-term Obama administration policy and makes clear that the White House alone will manage a review process for those it chooses to hold without charge or trial.

Nearly two years after Obama’s pledge to close the prison at Guantanamo, more inmates there are formally facing the prospect of lifelong detention and fewer are facing charges than the day Obama was elected.”

*Sigh*

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