Thursday, October 10, 2013


Just saw this:
The Senate has approved legislation to provide benefits to the families of fallen troops.

The Senate backed the measure Thursday, after the House approved it unanimously a day earlier....
Reaction from the de facto Speaker of the House:

So which "govt services" does Senator Cruz consider "vital"?

Meanwhile, as you probably know, the titular Speaker of the House is proposing this:
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced Thursday that the House will move forward with a six-week debt limit extension after pitching the idea to his Republican conference during a closed-door meeting.

The plan would sustain the government shutdown -- now in its 10th day -- while temporarily averting a catastrophic debt default by authorizing continued borrowing through Nov. 22.
Jonathan Chait explains the logic of this:
Here's the best rule for determining what John Boehner will do in any situation: If there is a way for him to delay a moment of confrontation or political risk, he will do it. That's why Boehner's current plan is to raise the debt ceiling for six weeks while keeping the government shut down.

Business is freaked out and will be furious with him if he triggers a default. So he's raising the debt ceiling for long enough to get them off his back. And tea-partiers will be furious if he abandons their quest to defund Obamacare by shutting down the government. So he's leaving that part in place.
Howie Klein thinks this is the moment when Evil Obama is going to throw all his liberal supporters under the bus:
[Paul] Ryan's puerile OpEd in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday evening was the trial balloon that the Republican congressional leadership wanted to move towards the Grand Bargain that Obama and Boehner crave. The giveaway is that there word "Obamacare" appears nowhere in his missive. Nor does "the Affordable Care Act." He just wants to go back to the good old fashioned GOP position of gutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And that's a "compromise" I wouldn't trust Obama to get anywhere near. Boehner and Cantor and Ryan are pushing through a 6-week extension of the debt ceiling-- without ending their government shutdown-- to set the table for the Grand Bargain negotiations to achieve what the voters would never approve in a million years.

...We're looking at the government pulling another Shock Doctrine threat on us to stampede everyone into the unthinkable.
I believe Obama would readily -- even happily -- agree to changes in Social Security and Medicare that I'd consider unacceptable. However, he's been stiff-spined about getting something in return, namely increased taxes on people who can afford to pay them. And that's an absolute dealbreaker for the GOP. So are other items on the GOP budget wish list.

As Jonathan Chait writes:
[Boehner's] putative reason for delaying the debt limit is to open fiscal negotiations with Democrats. But Republicans have been dodging fiscal negotiations with Democrats for most of the year. Why? Because they don't want to compromise on the budget. They want unilateral concessions.

Obama won't give Republicans unilateral concessions. Any deal Boehner strikes with Democrats will have to contain some concessions to Democrats, which will further enrage the tea party. So there's no deal Boehner can cut on the budget that won't anger the base, which brings us back to the same stalemate....
I put all this together and I start thinking that maybe the GOP will keep raising the debt ceiling, but the government will just be shut down forever, or at least until Republicans win the Senate and the White House back (which I don't see happening in the foreseeable future), or lose the House (which I also don't see happening). A few "vital govt services" will be restored piecemeal -- military death benefits now, furloughed USDA salmonella fighters now, the VA a few weeks or months from now, and other bits of the government as bad headlines dictate. Eventually we'll have pretty much everything up and running that employed suburban white people want from the feds (the social safety net for the poor, maybe not so much), and that'll be the new normal indefinitely.

Explain to me why that couldn't happen until, oh, say, January 20, 2017, at least.


John Taylor said...

I don't think there is any room for negotiation. Nothing less than the gutting of the ACA will placate the crazies. Obama will never give in on that.

Steve M. said...

I'm not sure. I think if they could get the Paul Ryan budget instead, they might settle for that.

John Taylor said...

Steve, are you talking about the budget that Ryan pulled out of his backside? That's just great.

Victor said...

And no government sponsored lessons on Mandarin or Cantonese, for when the Chinese makes headway in becoming the dominant world economic force, while these poopy and pissy little children play their moronic games.

The death of this once great nation will be blamed on "TEH Stoooooopid AND Evil - caused by racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and an overdose of faux-Christianity."

Steve M. said...

Yes, but God's Holy Angels carefully placed it in his colon. A Freeper told me that, so I know it's true.

aimai said...

I agree with Steve that their endgame is to fund the government on a continuing basis but with what is in essence a Republican CR--they will keep everything they don't give a fuck about shut down (WIC etc...) while funding whatever they have to at a lower level than the Democrats would have wanted in an ideal democratic budget. Its a win/win for them. There's no downside, in fact.

Obama and the Dems are going to have to put something on the table so huge that the Republicans can't accept it, or they are going to be forced into a situation in which the Republicans simply never reopen the government.

I'm not sure they can actually sustain that until the next election, though. But they can sustain this ragegasm long enough to destroy the country and the economy.

White Hat said...

"Explain to me why that couldn't happen..."


The GOP is three interest groups, Corporate Money, Church Ladies, and the Tea Party.

When it comes to a government shutdown, Money's interests are immediately slammed. No government means no market oversight (necessary so "the other guy" doesn't cheat), and zero income for every supplier of the government, the largest buyer in America. Ouch.

Longer term, Tea Partiers (largely SS and Medicare recipients) also need an operating government, because no government means no government payouts. Tea Parties become indigent.

The GOP can't survive on Church Ladies alone.

White Hat said...

Obama's position on the shutdown is essential. For a democracy to work winning or losing elections has to mean something. A minority party cannot rule. A threat to destroy the country is not a negotiation, it is an attempted coup.

In addition, though, the results of our government shutdown really will be... instructive for many of the irrational GOPers who promoted it. They suddenly have to connect the dots.

There is a logical connection between "Hands off my Medicare" and don't shut down my !@# government." No EPA means "now that factory is making my eyes bleed." No regulation means "They're fracking in my driveway."

Republicans are so mentally lazy. They never connect the dots until someone's fracking in their very own driveway.

Hey, Boehner! Shut down the government! Watch as your supporters get screwed over along with everyone else! Yeah! That'll work!

No government, indefinitely? Not a chance.

neroden@gmail said...

Two reasons:
(1) Eventually, the House Democrats, the Senate Democrats and even the Democrats in the White House are going to realize that this is not a normal situation, but a Civil War situation, and act accordingly. I don't *think* that will actually take until 2017, though they have been so stupid that it might...
(2) The defection of 13 Republicans in the House is sufficient to break the Republican caucus. And this is possible, because they *have* to be watching their political backs and seeing what's bad for them. (Big Money has already come out against the shutdown.)
(3) If food stamps continue to not issue, bad things happen, and by bad things I mean Congressmen being killed in their beds. This will take a while, but it happens eventually, and well before 2017. Hungry people are dangerous people, as Louis XVI should have known (but didn't). Furthermore, most food stamp recipients are rural Republican types... so....
(4) I don't see the Republicans retaining the House in November 2014 if the government is still shut down -- even with the gerrymandering. I suppose they might steal enough districts through fraud to do it, but that creates its own backlash....

To try to summarize: I do, certainly, think that the vast majority of the Republicans in the House are crazy enough to try to keep the government shut down until 2017. I think that their behavior will cause more and more people to *recognize that they are crazy* and that this will eventually deprive them of the *power* to shut the government down.

Justafed said...

(I don't usually read this blog and just dropped by to check it out; sorry if I missed some more subtle sarcasm.)

There are some real reasons why we know the shutdown cannot continue in anything like its current form for much longer.

1. We cannot rely on "creeping exceptionalism" ("excepted" federal employees are still at work) because nobody except the military is getting paid during the shutdown. We have now I believe all gotten paychecks for work through September 30, but not for anything after that. Also, getting people back to work does not magically provide the cash to do the actual work of the agency.

2. We likely cannot rely on "creeping re-instantiation" of the federal government, either. The series of House "mini" bills is just silly; offering to reopen just a piece of a big, hairy federal agency is much harder to do than any of these bills imply. Now, we could see a procession of real appropriations bills start to dribble in, but I severely doubt this will occur until we see a CR.

3. There are things that constituents or states would complain bitterly about in pretty much every appropriations bill, so you cannot just do a subset of those. Hey, even Education has student loans and Pell grants. Similarly, although we do face a real problem because (e.g.) TANF was not reauthorized, I think there is little chance this could drag on very long; same goes for lack of Medicaid reimbursement. Shutting down the government is something you do not because it advances your cause, but because maybe you can blame the other guy. We now know who is getting blamed, so there is no reason to continue the shutdown other than this weird staring contest, which can only last so long.

4. People can and will forget a shutdown if you end it soon, but if you need to give yourself a year before an election to be sure nothing bad will happen to you.

And so forth. Basically, shutting down the government is a grand but pretty destructive gesture, and when you only have 20 seats to give in the House and need to take 5 seats in the Senate, you need to cut your losses. News of the least slight or inconvenience travels way too fast and too far these days for a shutdown to remain popular (if it ever were). Meanwhile, you can only go so long with 6-7% of GDP (this is the discretionary piece we have shut down) essentially missing before unforeseen bad things start to loom large. If there is a recession in 2014, you might not get blamed for it if you stopped the shutdown early enough, but if you are still digging in on any of the appropriations bills (much less a full CR) come the New Year, the result will be unpredictable.