President Obama’s Oct. 8 news conference on the shutdown and debt limit:
“In the same way, members of Congress, and the House Republicans in particular, don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their jobs. And two of their very basic jobs are passing a budget and making sure that America’s paying its bills. They don’t also get to say, you know, unless you give me what the voters rejected in the last election, I’m going to cause a recession. That’s not how it works. No American president would deal with a foreign leader like this. Most of you would not deal with either co- workers or business associates in this fashion. And we shouldn’t be dealing this way here in Washington.” [...]
“If Congress refuses to raise what’s called the debt ceiling, America would not be able to meet all of our financial obligations for the first time in 225 years. And because it’s called raising the debt ceiling, I think a lot of Americans think it’s raising our debt. It is not raising our debt. This does not add a dime to our debt. It simply says you pay for what Congress has already authorized America to purchase, whether that’s the greatest military in the world or veterans’ benefits or Social Security. Whatever it is that Congress has already authorized, what this does is make sure that we can pay those bills.” [...]
“Warren Buffett likened default to a nuclear bomb, a weapon too horrible to use. It would disrupt markets, it would undermine the world’s confidence in America as the bedrock of the global economy, and it might permanently increase our borrowing costs which, of course, ironically would mean that it would be more expensive for us to service what debt we do have and it would add to our deficits and our debt, not decrease them.There’s nothing fiscally responsible about that. Preventing this should be simple. As I said, raising the debt ceiling is a lousy name, which is why members of Congress in both parties don’t like to vote on it, because it makes you vulnerable in political campaigns. But it does not increase our debt. It does not grow our deficit, it does not allow for a single dime of increased spending. All it does is allow the Treasury Department to pay for what Congress has already spent.”
“We can’t make extortion routine as part of our democracy…Democracy doesn’t function this way. And this is not just for me; it’s also for my successors in office. Whatever party they’re from, they shouldn’t have to pay a ransom either for Congress doing its basic job. We’ve got to put a stop to it….We’re not going to pay a ransom for America to pay its bills.”
Charlie Pierce: But the basic position remains the same. Nothing happens until the vandalism stops and the hostage gets released. This is to keep the presidency intact for future presidents. This is to maintain the delicate separation of powers guaranteed to us by our Founders. This is also because the other side is completely riddled with public morons.
HERE ARE OPINIONS about the shutdown and debt ceiling from some the hardliners of the Republican House, the extreme of the extremists, the mullahs of the anti-government insurgents. They fall into two main categories, depending on the audience: (1) breaching the debt ceiling is no biggie, or (2) the debt ceiling is an excellent hostage to negotiate with (which automatically negates position #1):
Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) – debt ceiling is no biggie: “There’s always revenue coming into the Treasury, certainly enough revenue to pay interest. Democrats have a different definition of ‘default’ than what we understand it to be. What I hear from them is, ‘If you’re not paying everything on time that’s a default.’ And that’s not the traditionally understood definition.”
Michele Bachman (R-Mars) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “President Obama can’t wait to get Americans addicted to the crack cocaine of dependency on more government health care,” she said in an interview with the far-right WorldNetDaily site where she regularly gives explosive interviews. Once they enroll millions of more individual Americans, it will be virtually impossible for us to pull these benefits back from people,” Bachmann continued. “All they want to do is buy love from people by giving them massive government subsidies. … “Now is the time to put it out of its misery. We have to do what we can do. Whether that means defunding it instead of repealing it, I’m for it. If it means delaying it, rather than repealing it. I’m for it.”
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “As we look at the debt ceiling, we do have to look at tax reform, we do have to look at entitlement reform and maybe we’re at the point where we have to roll the CR and the debt ceiling discussion together.” In addition to healthcare reforms, the bill would attempt to rewrite tax codes and reform entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: Congressman Mo Brooks says he is not bluffing. If Congress does not slash welfare programs, or take steps to adopt a balanced budget, he will vote against raising the debt ceiling. “We address the cause of the problem or else I vote against it” … He said public benefits program would also include Obamacare.
Dr. Rep. Paul Broun (MD! R-GA) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “Obamacare is going to destroy everything we know as a nation… Wolf, I’m a doctor. I’m a medical doctor!” [Blitzer then asked] “I know you hate it, but I just want to be precise. America is going to be destroyed, you say, by Obamacare. America? This United States of America is going to be destroyed if this law is fully implemented? Is that what I hear you say?” [Dr.] Rep. Broun finally answered: “Well, it’s going to take us off the edge economically. It’s going to destroy our economy and it’s going to push us into a total economic collapse of America. And that’s exactly what I mean by it’s going to destroy America.”
Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: [Culberson] said he was holding firm in demanding major adjustments to Obamacare because he had been elected to defend “core principles.” Culberson could just as well have said he was defending core beliefs, for that is an essential element in radically conservative politics today.
Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: It’s anybody’s guess when the budget stalemate will be resolved. DeSantis was settling in for a long fight and hinted that passage of a spending bill may be linked to the Oct. 17 deadline to raise the debt ceiling.
Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: [DesJarlais said] that the government shutdown could last for as long as it takes to defund or at least delay implementation of the Affordable Health Care for America Act. “We’re pretty resolved in our position that this is a necessary step for the future of this country, really, in terms of the debt and deficit. If we don’t stand firm on this issue — we were in trouble financially before the health care law — it’s just going to be almost exponential if we can’t stop this,” he said.
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “The government’s been shut down 17 times in the past,” said [Duncan]… “The majority of those were controlled by a Democrat Congress.” His very next words: “This isn’t about shutting the government down. Republicans have a plan to keep government funded but also be responsible to American voters that spoke very loudly to us that they don’t like Obamacare. Obamacare is actually shutting down America.” In 20 seconds, Duncan had insisted that a government shutdown wasn’t a huge deal, and that of course Republicans would never be holding the smoking gun for such a devastating act. One reporter followed up with Duncan, asking why Barack Obama’s election didn’t prove that “voters” had also spoken loudly in favor of the law. “I was re-elected in 2012, too,” says Duncan.
Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: [Fleming] reacted, “I just don’t think there’d be hardly any Republicans in support of raising the debt ceiling without cuts to spending, changes to Obamacare, and perhaps other issues.”
Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “They may try to throw the kitchen sink at the debt limit, but I don’t think our conference will be amenable for settling for a collection of things after we’ve fought so hard. If it doesn’t have a full delay or defund of Obamacare, I know I and many others will not be able to support whatever the leadership proposes. If it’s just a repeal of the medical-device tax, or chained CPI, that won’t be enough.”
Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: Gingrey told CQ Roll Call on Tuesday that he and other House Republicans are “not posturing” when they say are willing to hit the debt ceiling in order to win concessions from Democrats, no matter the political consequences. “I mean, they seem to think that we will miss this opportunity for a ‘Braveheart’ moment to do the right thing for the American people and that we’ll back down for fear of losing the House and not gaining control of the Senate,” Gingrey said. The 1995 movie is based on William Wallace, who died in the 14th century after fighting in the Wars of Scottish Independence for Scotland’s freedom. “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!” he bellows during the film’s most famous scene.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) – debt ceiling is no biggie (plus bonus conspiracy theory if it happens!): [Gohmert] asserted this week that the government shutdown could actually keep the U.S. from defaulting on its debts if and when Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling — unless President Barack Obama is plotting a conspiracy not to pay the nation’s bills. …“They don’t mind seeing America suffer. And when you know — as I know you do — that we have enough money coming in every week to pay our — to keep from defaulting — now, we may have to keep some folks furloughed. Because as we know now, 94 percent of the [Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)] is non-essential. You know, we may have to ask some folks that are non-essential to stay home for a while longer. But there is no reason we should ever, ever default on our debts unless the president and the treasury secretary conspire to make us default.”
Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: It was Graves who took charge earlier this month in demanding that the defunding of Obamacare be a requirement for keeping open the government, and it is he who rebuffed Speaker John Boehner’s attempt… to keep the government running and delay the Obamacare fight until the debt ceiling showdown… “I’d like to see us keep that focus there,” said Graves. “We’ve got a responsibility to finish this up and let it play out.” [NOTE: read further down in this story. Graves doesn't pay his own bills.]
Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “The American people have spoken already on this. They do not want Obamacare …. It is hurting people.” said [Hartzler].
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: [Says] he would vote against raising the debt ceiling before the government runs out of money on Oct. 17 unless he sees a long-term fiscal plan to balance the budget that also puts some restrictions on Obamacare. “I have done that in the past, but I’m not going to sit by and let the president of the United States threaten to use our senior citizens as pawns,” he said.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: Jordan – a politician with almost zero national profile – has emerged as the commander the House GOP’s opposition bloc, says Rep. Justin Amash, a libertarian-leaning 33-year-old Republican from Michigan… “Leadership understands that if his concerns are not addressed, there could be a large group – 40 to 50 – that doesn’t stick with leadership on big votes.” [...] A determined minority in the House today can command powers of obstruction far greater than even the filibuster in the Senate. The big, strategic votes in the House are party-line affairs. Leadership needs 218 supporters to even bring a vote to the floor. To block the Cantor Plan, Jordan and his outside allies need to pick off just 17 defections, or fewer than 10 percent of RSC members
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) – debt ceiling is no biggie: “I don’t think the credit of the United states is going to be collapsed. I think that all this talk about a default has been a lot of demagoguery, false demagoguery. We have plenty of money coming in to service the debt. When we stop servicing the debt that would be default, we’re a long, long ways from that. We need to have cool heads and get to a solution.” King is hinting here at the idea that, even if the nation hits its debt limit, it could prioritize payments — taking money away from a certain group or program to direct it at making payments on the debt. Analysts called this plan “essentially impossible” when House Republicans suggested it during the last debt ceiling fight, after Republicans started crafting legislation to prioritize debt unless the president caved to deep spending cuts. A debt-prioritization scheme doesn’t stop the United States from defaulting on its obligations.
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “As long as we understand we need to get something” for the stopgap spending measure “and something for the debt ceiling, then everything’s on the table,” the Idaho Republican said yesterday in an interview.
Rep. Tom Massie (R-KY) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “All that really matters is what my district wants,” Massie said. “And my district is overwhelmingly in favor of my position.” His vaunted position is to defund Obamacare no matter what. Shut down the government over it? Yep. Destroy the full faith and credit of the United States by not raising the debt ceiling unless he and his cohorts get their way? You bet.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: McClintock … has sponsored a bill that requires Treasury to prioritize payments in the event of default, said he wanted to address the debt limit in “small increments within the trajectory” set by the House budget resolution, which erases the deficit in 10 years. The incremental increases would be paired with “incremental reforms necessary to remain on that trajectory.” [NOPE. See Steve King above.]
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: as the shutdown drags on and Obamacare falls off the negotiating table, it’s left Republicans struggling to answer a basic question: What’s the fight even about? Even Rep. Mark Meadows, who spearheaded the fight in the House to defund Obamacare in exchange for keeping the government open, has a hard time explaining. “This fight now has become about veterans, and about National Guard folks that perhaps—reservists that are not getting paid. That’s where the fight is today,” Meadows told reporters. “Obamacare is mandatory spending, it’s going on.” Describing phone calls from constituents asking why the government is closed, Meadows doesn’t cite Obamacare, but blames Democrats for being unwilling to fund individual parts of the government. [NOTE: next week they can put it back on the table.]
Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: Neugebauer’s the one who publicly berated a National Park Service Ranger for a situation created entirely by Congress, then excused his behavior away by telling a local radio host: “A park ranger was quoted, saying, we were told to make this as painful as we possibly can. And that’s just the Obama administration playing games with our heroes.” Not for the first time, an anonymous quote has been used to prove a theory that works for House Republicans.
Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “Unless we have major reforms for the way our government spends, I am not going to sign some blind check for irresponsible policy,” said [Salmon], describing himself as a “hard” vote to get for raising the debt ceiling.
Rep. Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford (R-SC) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: During a visit to Hilton Head Island on Monday, U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford blamed the federal government shutdown on a failed congressional appropriations process, denying that a Republican effort to limit or block the health care law is the culprit. “The current debate in Washington, at the end of the day, is not really about the Affordable Care Act,” Sanford, R-Charleston, told the Hilton Head Island First Monday Republican Lunch Group. “It is about a fundamental breakdown that has occurred in this country on the way we spend money in Washington.”
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: Funding the government and raising the debt ceiling “don’t need to be tied together,” study committee Chairman Steve Scalise, R-La., told Politico. “The debt ceiling will have to be dealt with, but it’s got to be dealt with in a way that also puts reforms into place.” The strategy meeting of about 170 conservative GOP House members comes eight days before Oct. 17, the date the Treasury Department says it will hit the limit for paying on debt already incurred.
Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-AZ) – debt ceiling is no biggie:“I will hear language like, ‘Well, we are heading toward the debt ceiling and you are going to default.’ Anyone that says that is looking you in the eyes and lying to you, either that or they don’t own a calculator,” Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., said in a House debate Friday.
Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) – debt ceiling is no biggie: some–mainly Republicans—in Congress [are reasoning]: if we don’t know what’s going to happen because the country has never been down this road before, how can we be sure it’ll be so bad? “We don’t know, we haven’t ever done it,” [Stockman] told ABC News, when asked what happens if the debt limit isn’t increased on Oct. 17. Part two of this theory involves “prioritizing” debt payments, so that the government is able to pay the interest on the country’s debt, and postpone other payments.
Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) and “grand bargain” hostage negotiations: Yet a number of Texas lawmakers representing communities in and around Houston continue to offer unalloyed support for Cruz’s drive to begin dismantling portions of Obamacare in time for the 2014 midterm congressional elections. “We do watch what Ted does over in the Senate and we’re behind him – go fight that fight, make that stand, stand strong in the Senate,” says freshman Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland. “He’s been encouraging us to do the same thing in the House. We’re on the same team. We’re on the same wavelength.”
Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) – debt ceiling is no biggie:
Also this: “Stay the course, don’t give in on it, that’s what the people in my district are saying,” says Representative Ted Yoho (R., Fla.). “We did a town hall the other day, and 74 percent of people said, ‘don’t raise the debt ceiling.’”
Let’s be clear: 74% of Yoho’s gerrymandered teabagging base wants to see the debt ceiling breached — should that even matter to the rest of us? Why are Boehner and the other Republican members allowing the anarchists in gerrymandered districts like Yoho’s to dictate what happens to the rest of the country? Read above and ask yourself if any of these members sound even slightly rational, like people who will “negotiate” with others they may disagree with to re-open our government and pay its bills? All of these members have constituents like Yoho’s, but they only account for about 18% of the population. These teaparty members are rewarded for acting like anti-government insurgents—but where are all the other congressmen and senators?
Money quote from National Review:
“I think you’d see at least 50 to 60 Republicans break with Boehner if he went for something small,” predicts a House GOP aide who works closely with conservative members. “They’re also reluctant to even give Boehner a short-term debt-limit extension unless he gets something big in return.”
50 to 60 members—so what?! SO WHAT? Out of a total of 435 voting members who represent all 50 states and two political parties (one of which won the presidency and the senate), HOW THE FUCK did 50 to 60 members (or 80, depending on how you’re counting) become the only voices that matter in the U.S. House?
There are a total of 232 Republican members of the House, and it’s becoming alarmingly clear that Speaker Boehner and 151 Republican members are guilty, individually, of dereliction of duty–along with any Democratic House members who vote with them on reopening only their favorite parts of the government. 152 Republican congressmen (and, by extension of party messaging, 45 Republican senators) have willfully neglected the people they are duty-bound to represent (ALL of them), have willfully abandoned the Constitution they swore to protect, and have willfully refused to perform their duties to the people they represent and the government and its treasury and obligations. Here’s what they swore when they entered office:
“I, (name of Member), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God” (5 U.S.C. §3331).
At the request of only 18% of the people of this nation, these Republican House members and senators have, so far, willfully handed over their duties to an anti-government faction of 80 extremists in one branch of one house, a faction which has already demanded and won a government shutdown, and who WILL happily demand a breach of the debt ceiling next week for the sole purpose of political showmanship over the Affordable Care Act—a four-year old law that was passed by the House and Senate, signed by the President, affirmed in the Supreme Court, and reaffirmed by a majority of the American public with President Obama’s reelection—along with other random, non-specified spending cuts. It’s extortion, pure and simple.
The Speaker could bring a clean budget bill to the House floor for a vote today and reopen the government. He could also bring a bill to the floor today to pay the government’s bills, raising the debt ceiling. But instead of performing his duties, Boehner–and all the Republicans (and some Democrats)–are choosing instead to do the bidding of “50 to 60 Republicans” to extend this shutdown and breach the debt ceiling next week.
If that’s not dereliction of duty, I don’t know what is.