Things are gloomy one day before the default deadline. But we begin with the status of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the former Kansas governor:
• “The secretary does have the full confidence of the president.” — White House press secretary Jay Carney on Sebelius.
Carney’s comments came after former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs said on Monday that the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act had been “bungled badly.” With all the focus on the government shutdown, it’s hard to gauge if Sebelius is in real danger or not. One thing’s for sure: She’s been spared a lot of negative publicity by all the infighting over debt limits and government shutdowns.
• “There is real hatred of the guy.” — “Hardball” host Chris Matthews speaking on KCUR-FM Tuesday about how members of Congress feel about President Barack Obama.
Matthews asserted that racism is involved in Obama’s treacherous relations with Congress. Obama doesn’t help matters, he said, with his own distant demeanor. The result: another unproductive second term at a time when the country needs just the opposite.
• “Political brinkmanship.” — Fitch, a Wall Street credit rating firm, citing its reason Tuesday for why it warned of a possible downgrade of gold-plated U.S. bonds.
With House Republicans apparently in massive disarray, a credit downgrade looks likely.
• “The bill that they're talking about right now is a bill to default.” — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on the latest measure from congressional Republicans that in her view falls far short of the “clean” proposals Democrats want to fund the government and lift the debt ceiling.
The failure of the House to pass a bill that would meet with Senate approval almost surely means the battle over legislation will continue into Thursday, which is the deadline economists have set to avoid a spike in interest rates and what they describe as possible catastrophic economic gyrations around the globe.
• “In fairness, on our side of the aisle, we've wasted two months, focused on something that was never going to happen.” — Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican, describing the House GOP’s focus on gutting Obamacare.
This is typical. Lots of wasted time. And now a nation, and the world, on the brink of an economic crisis all because Congress couldn’t act.
• “I don’t know in my 17 years here where I’ve seen a situation where a solution looked less likely.” — Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican.
Look for the markets to react this morning and the world community to again beg Congress to do something, anything, to avoid default come Thursday night.