John Boehner screams ‘Uncle!’ in official press release

“The House has fought with everything it has to convince the president of the United States to engage in bipartisan negotiations aimed at addressing our country’s debt and providing fairness for the American people under ObamaCare.  That fight will continue.  But blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us.  In addition to the risk of default, doing so would open the door for the Democratic majority in Washington to raise taxes again on the American people and undo the spending caps in the 2011 Budget Control Act without replacing them with better spending cuts.  With our nation’s economy still struggling under years of the president’s policies, raising taxes is not a viable option. Our drive to stop the train wreck that is the president’s health care law will continue.  We will rely on aggressive oversight that highlights the law’s massive flaws and smart, targeted strikes that split the legislative coalition the president has relied upon to force his health care law on the American people.”

— House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), in a press release on the Speaker’s page, regarding bipartisan Senate agreement to reopen the government and avoid default.

Tea culpa

Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC) pleads for mercy from the Democrats:  

We won’t be the last political party to overplay our hand. It might happen one day on the Democratic side. And if it did, would Republicans, for the good of the country, kinda give a little? We really did go too far. We screwed up. But their response is making things worse, not better.

Seriously, Lindsey? Republicans--for the good of the country--would be kinder to Democrats if they screwed up this badly? You’re just lucky Republicans won’t have to face Republicans with this debacle.

Sen. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ), remarking on House Republicans inability to get their shit together in advance of Thursday’s debt ceiling deadline.

“It’s very, very serious. Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.”

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) provides an assessment from the moderate members of the GOP, as the prominent conservative organizations Heritage Action, Red State and FreedomWorks all came out against a last-second GOP leadership plan to avert a crisis that Democrats had warned was too far to the right: 

“This party is going nuts.”

Man of the mighty Tea-God, PAT BUCHANAN, still wants to burn it all down

“Republicans should refuse to raise the white flag and insist on an honorable avenue of retreat. And if Harry Reid’s Senate demands the GOP end the sequester on federal spending, or be blamed for a debt default, the party should, Samson-like, bring down the roof of the temple on everybody’s head.”

Who will be Pat’s holy warrior?

A Senate Republican aide placed the blame on a particular senator from Texas. TED CRUZ (R-TX) reportedly met with a group of House conservatives at Tortilla Coast, a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C., to discuss strategy Monday night.

“Ted Cruz and his Tortilla Coast Republicans are leading us to a default.” 

Sen. KELLY AYOTTE (R-NH) says Sen. TED CRUZ (R-TX), could try to gum up the bipartisan effort underway to reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling:

“It’s up to him. I would hope that he wouldn’t. I mean, in the Senate obviously in terms of certain time frames, senators can cause to you run out the clock. But what’s he trying to gain at this point?”

Currently being discussed:

Sorry, Pat.

Speakership before Country: Boehner won’t take back the fate of the nation from the Crazy 80

Boehner still won’t allow a vote to go to the floor if a majority of the majority can’t pass it. He doesn’t want to face a mutiny on the Good Ship Teabagger. It doesn’t matter if a majority of the House would pass the Senate bill, Boehner’s pandering to the tea crowd extremists who, in reality, are never going to agree to anything that’s remotely acceptable to the Senate / Administration. So.

Meet John Boehner’s new problem. Same as his old problem. — The Fix 

After a more-than-two hour meeting with GOP members, Boeher emerged to tell the press that there was in fact no Republican House plan. “There are a lot of opinions about what direction to go,” Boehner said. ”There have been no decisions about what exactly we will do.”

According to WaPo’s Lori Montgomery, Boehner’s walk-back from a plan that seemed solid enough for the White House to release an official condemnation of it was due to worries that Boehner and the Republican leadership simply couldn’t wrangle the 217 votes they needed from within their own ranks to pass it.

House Republicans Poised To Spurn Senate Debt Deal — TPM

House Republicans look ready to reject a pending bipartisan compromise in the Senate and propose their own plan for re-opening the government and raising the debt limit.

Here are the details of the new House bill that the leadership presented to Republican members at a closed door meeting Tuesday morning, according to multiple House GOP sources.

  • Temporary spending bill to re-open the government until Jan. 15.
  • Increase the debt limit enough to last until Feb. 7.
  • A two-year delay of Obamacare’s medical device tax.
  • A requirement that the Obama administration verify the income of Americans receiving tax subsidies through Obamacare (specifics pending).
  • A revised version of the so-called Vitter Amendment, in this case requiring Congress members and executive department officials like President Obama — but not their staffs — to purchase insurance through the law’s marketplace without federal employer subsidies.
  • Eliminates Treasury Department’s ability to use “extraordinary measures” to avoid default.

The House is expected to vote on the bill today.

Market reaction: 

Down, down, down—which is great news for the tea party.

Pelosi, Reid slam Boehner’s reckless effort to sabotage deal to end shutdown, avoid default — DailyKos

In Pelosi’s words:

What you saw here earlier was a Speaker who did not have the votes for his proposal. So why are they doing this to the American people? Sabotaging a good faith bipartisan effort coming out of the Senate, wasting the public’s time. And in this case, time is money. Time is money. This is going to be very costly to our economy. [...] This Republican habit of sabotaging of any effort to move forward is a luxury our country cannot afford.

Of the GOP’s antics, Reid said it was “hard to comprehend this logically.”

The tea party driven part of the Republican party doesn’t follow logic. Why would they want to close the government for 15 days and have us default on our debt? Introduction of this measure by House Republican leadership is unproductive and a waste of time. Let’s be clear: The House legislation will not pass the Senate.

In case ANYONE doubts that it was House Republicans who shut down the government

Doubt no more.

[Below] Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) confirming with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) that the Republicans changed the House rule 22 clause 4 on Oct 1, 2013 in order to ensure the federal government would be shut down:


Van Hollen: H. Res. 368 changed the standing rules of the House to take away from any member of the House the privilege of calling up the Senate bill to immediately reopen the government, is that right?

Chaffetz: It did change the operation of the standing rule.


Remember this bit of GOP gamesmanship when you think about Cruz and Palin at their tea party rally on Sundayusing veterans as cover, pseudo-raging about closed memorials. Cruz and Palin were there to represent one thing only: the tea party and everything it stands for. Their only purpose was to try to deflect blame for the shutdown to the President and Democrats in Congress, to call for Obama’s impeachment, and to celebrate the usual racist tripe that we’ve all come to expect from the ridiculous individuals who comprise this group of losers.


TPM: The House GOP’s Little Rule Change That Guaranteed A Shutdown

Here’s the rule in question:

When the stage of disagreement has been reached on a bill or resolution with House or Senate amendments, a motion to dispose of any amendment shall be privileged.

In other words, if the House and Senate are gridlocked as they were on the eve of the shutdown, any motion from any member to end that gridlock should be allowed to proceed. Like, for example, a motion to vote on the Senate bill. That’s how House Democrats read it.

But the House Rules Committee voted the night of Sept. 30 to change that rule for this specific bill. They added language dictating that any motion “may be offered only by the majority Leader or his designee.”

So unless House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wanted the Senate spending bill to come to the floor, it wasn’t going to happen. And it didn’t.

“I’ve never seen this rule used. I’m not even sure they were certain we would have found it,” a House Democratic aide told TPM. “This was an overabundance of caution on their part. ‘We’ve got to find every single crack in the dam that water can get through and plug it.'”

Congressional historians agreed that it was highly unusual for the House to reserve such power solely for the leadership.

“I’ve never heard of anything like that before,” Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told TPM.

“It is absolutely true that House rules tend to not have any explicit parliamentary rights guaranteed and narrowed to explicit party leaders,” Sarah Binder, a congressional expert at the Brookings Institution, told TPM. “That’s not typically how the rules are written.”

Republican staff on the House Rules Committee did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But here’s what House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) told Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) when she raised those concerns before the rule change was approved.

“What we’re attempting to do is to actually get our people together rather than trying to make a decision,” Sessions said. “We’re trying to actually have a conference and the gentlewoman knows that there are rules related to privileged motions that could take place almost effective immediately, and we’re trying to go to conference.”

“You know that there could be a privileged motion at any time…,” Sessions continued as Slaughter continued to press the issue.

“To call for the vote on the Senate resolution,” Slaughter interjected. “I think you’ve taken that away.”

“I said you were correct. We took it away,” Sessions said, “and the reason why is because we want to go to conference.”



It seems like Democratic leadership may have advised GOP leadership to “tread lightly”

Steve Benen summarizes today’s negotiations and Obama’s subsequent rejection of “the GOP’s new “offer” [which] is predicated on the same assumptions as the other “offers”: Republicans won’t talk unless the threat of deliberate harm hangs over the discussion.”

Boehner and his team came up with a plan. They’ll let the government shutdown continue, but raise the debt ceiling for six weeks. In exchange for not crashing the economy on purpose, Democrats will have to agree to participate in budget negotiations.

Will Republicans agree to let the government reopen during the budget talks? No.

Will Republicans take the prospect of a debt-ceiling crisis off the table? No.

Is there any chance in the world Democrats will consider this a credible solution? No.

Indeed, it’s already been rejected.

The White House indicated that while the president might sign a short-term bill to avert default, it rejected the proposal as insufficient to begin negotiations over his health care law or further long-term deficit reductions because the plan does not address the measure passed by the Senate to finance and reopen the government.

“The president has made clear that he will not pay a ransom for Congress doing its job and paying our bills,” said a White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

What’s Evil Harry Reid have to say? 

Emerging from an almost-two hour meeting between the president and Democratic senators, Majority Leader Harry Reid had a very succinct answer when asked if there would be negotiations with Republicans as long… as the government shutdown continues—”Not going to happen.” …”The government should be open…. If that happens, we’ll negotiate on anything,” said Reid. Asked to respond to a House Republican proposal for a short-term raising of the debt limit, Reid mocked what he called the House’s “unique form of legislating — It is hour by hour.” He said he would have to “wait and see what the House does.” But he left no doubt there will be no negotiations under the threat of a continued shutdown.

Other comments: 

Pres. Obama: “The President had a good meeting with members of the House Republican Leadership this evening; the meeting lasted approximately an hour and a half. …The President’s goal remains to ensure we pay the bills we’ve incurred, reopen the government and get back to the business of growing the economy, creating jobs and strengthening the middle class.”

John Boehner: [Didn't speak] to any reporters. The quick exit is relatively unusual for the speaker.

Eric Cantor: “We had a very useful meeting, and we’re going to have more discussions on both sides tonight.”

Paul Ryan: “We’re going to keep talking tonight. We made an offer, we’re negotiating the rest, we decided to keep talking. …We’ve decided to continue talking, and continue negotiating.”

The Kudlow Report – BREAKING: @RepLynnJenkins just told Larry that House leaders hope to have the government opened by Monday

No insults, finger pointing or sound bites for the rabid base?

And from The Department of “Things Republicans Could’ve Done Months Ago” —  

Meanwhile, a group of Republican senators began meeting with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, to find a bipartisan solution to the twin fiscal impasses.

The senators are examining a yearlong resolution to reopen the government and finance it at levels that reflect the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, but with added flexibility to help government agencies and departments deal with the tight budgets. The plan would also include a short-term increase in the debt ceiling, reflecting the House’s plan, and would include a repeal of a medical device tax unpopular with some Democrats.

The strategy is similar to a plan proposed earlier this week by Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, but it would also tighten income verification rules for the new health care exchanges.

Wow. Be really, really quiet… don’t startle them. Maybe this is what it looks like when Republicans and Democrats “negotiate,” when Republicans realize Democrats have decided they aren’t going to be the ones bending over this time.

And even if something were worked out, would Boehner even allow a clean CR and debt ceiling increase go to the House floor for a vote if the majority of the majority won’t pass it? Would the Crazy 80 possibly be on board for such a deal?

I guess we’ll find out…


Who’s deserting the Good Ship Teabag?

The American public

Just 28 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of the GOP, according to the latest monthly Gallup tracking poll. The number “is the lowest favorable rating measured for either party since Gallup began asking this question in 1992,” the polling company stated.

John McCain (who should be commended for speaking up, which is something many in his party have no spine for): 

“We started this on a fool’s errand, convincing so many millions of Americans and our supporters that we could defund Obamacare,” McCain said. While McCain didn’t name names, he faulted members of Congress — “tea partiers specifically” — for wrongly telling “millions of Americans” that Obamacare can be defunded. That “obviously wouldn’t happen until we had 67 Republican senators to override a presidential veto.”  McCain denounced the fight to defund Obamacare at the cost of a fiscal impasse even before the government shut down last week. McCain called out Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for his anti-Obamacare speech, and said “the people spoke” when they reelected President Barack Obama in 2012.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders: 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups have actively engaged lawmakers for weeks and say that while they agree with the need for reforms, the top priority should be avoiding the default that a failure to OK another debt ceiling increase would bring. “Our top lobbyists are continuing to talk to scores of members of Congress and their staff urging them to address this and stop kicking the can down the road,” U.S. Chamber spokeswoman Blair Latoff Holmes told Yahoo News. “It is up to lawmakers and the administration to find common ground and reach a deal that will fund the government and raise the debt limit to avoid default. We will continue to make that case to everyone who will listen.”

Wall Street

Peter King (R-NY), who has been urging his party to drop the fight against Obamacare and pass a bill to fund the government, told POLITICO that if his Republicans colleagues continue to tie Obamacare measures to a continuing resolution, this could “hurt” the GOP’s ability to “raise money from Wall Street and the business community” in the future. “This threat of government shutdown and not paying debt and defaulting, it’s going to have a real impact first of all economically, and it’s going to have a follow-up effect of Wall Street wondering why they support Republicans,” King said. As the government shutdown continued into Wednesday, market analysts warned that concerns about a debt default — initially dismissed by Wall Street as improbable, if not unimaginable — were beginning to intensify.

The ones who brought the Teaparty to the dance, but were left in the corner without a dancing partner – The Koch Brothers: 

The billionaire industrialists have funded a sprawling empire of libertarian-conservative activism; they’ve been dubbed the bankrollers of the Tea Party. Liberals frequently accuse them of seeking deregulatory policies to further their company’s financial interests. But what happens when the Tea Party’s ideological warfare threatens to plunge the U.S. economy into chaos?

The answer: The Kochs appear to be distancing themselves from the movement they’ve helped to create. In a letter released Wednesday, Koch Industries’ chief lobbyist, Philip Ellender, says the company does not favor the House’s push to defund Obamacare as a condition of keeping the government open. Koch Industries would prefer to see Congress focus on fiscal issues: “We believe that Congress should, at a minimum, keep to sequester-level spending guidelines, and develop a plan for more significant and widespread spending reductions in the future,” Ellender writes.

You might want to read the New York Times article that described the significant financial investment the Kochs made to stir up the torch-waving villagers against Obamacare, shortly after Obama started his second term: Freedomworks’ Blueprint to Defunding Obamacare. Maybe the Kochs thought they had pointed the villagers in one direction, but the villagers shambled off in their own direction. Whoops!

The Kochs Favorite Man-Boy, Paul Ryan: 

Ryan laid out a package focused on an overhaul of Medicare and a path toward a comprehensive simplification of the tax code.

[Flashback: this is a rehash of the "entitlement reform" granny-starving nonsense that helped Romney lose the last election.]

Ryan also wrote an op-ed in the WSJ on Tuesday without once mentioning the repeal or delay or defunding of Obamacare / ACA—as was his mission (see Koch Brothers above). He will now be considered a traitor to the Crazy 80 even as he tries to walk it back today, which only creates a longer list of ransom demands for his party.

[Another flashback: remember when Ryan and the Republicans refused any new tax revenues during the "grand bargain" negotiations with Democrats in 2011, even though Democrats were willing to bend on entitlements, and S&P downgraded the U.S. bond rating from AAA to AA? Remember how S&P assigned blame for the downgrade to Republicans refusal to compromise on new revenue? More good times with Paul Ryan!]

Finally, maybe John Boehner …at long last?

President Obama, who invited House Democrats on Wednesday, asked all House Republicans to the White House on Thursday, an invitation Speaker John A. Boehner whittled down to a short list of attendees he wants to negotiate a compromise.

The good news about the whittled down list is that not one of the attendees is from the “Crazy 80″ suicide caucus, which seems to be some kind of message. Of course, Boehner’s familiar bookends (Cantor & Ryan) will be there:

Elected Leaders:
McMorris Rodgers

Hal Rogers

This morning it’s been reported that Boehner is considering a six-week debt ceiling increase. So it seems the Koch Brothers have indeed dropped anchor on the sinking Good Ship Teabag, and are now looking for any transport that’s heading for safer waters.

GOP House considers temporarily releasing a hostage: a six-week debt ceiling increase


The Washington Post reports:

House Republican leaders are pushing a short-term increase in the debt limit, without any conservative strings attached, to calm jittery financial markets, according to senior GOP advisers.

The plan, which is being presented to the House GOP caucus Thursday morning, coincides with a warning to lawmakers from Treasury Secretary Jack Lew that he will be unable to guarantee payments to any group — whether Social Security recipients or U.S. bondholders — unless Congress approves an increase in the federal debt limit.

If the GOP plan goes over well with rank-and-file Republicans, Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) could put the legislation on the floor for a vote late Thursday.

Financial markets soared on the first sign of optimistic news out of Washington in almost a month, with the Dow Jones industrial average up 169 points in the first 15 minutes of trading. The emerging plan would not deal with the now 10-day-old shutdown of the federal government, an issue that would move onto a separate track of talks.

The plan would meet President Obama’s demand for an increase in Treasury’s borrowing authority without any legislative riders, meaning Democrats would likely support the plan and it could be signed into law. But it would set the stage for tough negotiations, possibly until Thanksgiving, over bigger fiscal matters, since the tentative plan calls for a six-week increase of the debt limit.

Jonathan Chait explains how Boehner and Republican leadership might be able to spin this into a win for their side, rather than the “unconditional surrender” that Boehner has called such a compromise all along:

But the current Republican line does suggest a way out: if Republicans “win” a promise to negotiate the budget, with the debt ceiling not being subject to the outcome of the negotiations. That this has actually been Obama’s goal all along, and the thing Republicans have been trying to avoid, does not mean Republicans can’t talk themselves into it. The negotiation would probably end in a stalemate, or possibly a few small changes, but by the time it was finished the crisis would be over and conservative activists would have moved on to other issues — a new Obama scandal, maybe.

The insistent talking point that Obama won’t negotiate is a preposterous form of propaganda. But it has been taken up by a number of eager conservative pundits who seem to actually believe it. What if conservatives can be made to believe their own talking point — to believe that forcing Obama to negotiate the budget is the party’s actual goal here? Conservative self-delusion got us into this crisis. It could also get us out.

The enemy within: the cowards and anti-government insurgents of the GOP

“If the United States government, for the first time in its history, chooses not to pay its bills on time, we will be in default. There is no option that prevents us from being in default if we don’t have enough cash to pay our bills.” — Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, adding “Congress is playing with fire.”

The New York Times reports that “shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan.”

 Out of that session, held one morning in a location the members insist on keeping secret, came a little-noticed “blueprint to defunding Obamacare,” signed by Mr. Meese and leaders of more than three dozen conservative groups.

It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told George Stephanopoulos yesterday that there’s no way he’s going to bring up a “clean” debt limit increase for a vote and warned “that the U.S. will default on its debt unless President Barack Obama agrees to make policy concessions.”

“We’re not going to pass a clean debt limit increase,” he said. “I told the president, there’s no way we’re going to pass one. The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit. And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us.”

Lie. Boehner means there aren’t a majority of Republicans who are willing to pass a clean CR. Why won’t he let it go to the floor for a vote?

Meanwhile on Fox News SundayRep. Peter King (R-NY) admitted “we are the ones who did shut the government down.”

But while he reiterated his opposition to the strategy, he also said he would not act to require a vote to reopen the federal government. [...] Though King and at least 19 fellow Republicans have said they would vote for a clean bill to reopen the government immediately, none have voted with House Democrats on repeated attempts to hold a vote on doing so. A discharge petition, a little-used parliamentary maneuver used by a majority in the U.S. House to bring a bill to the floor without the Speaker’s consent, would require 217 signatures.

Kevin Drum explains how the Republican Party as a whole, and with John Boehner as its House Speaker, has become the party incapable of accepting ‘yes’ for an answer: An unnamed Republican congressman interviewed by Bryan York said, “Instead, it’s no, we’re not going to negotiate, we’re not going to negotiate, we’re not going to negotiate. Which means effectively you’re going to try to humiliate the Speaker in front of his conference. And how effective a negotiating partner do you think he’ll be then? You’re putting the guy in a position where he’s got nothing to lose, because you’re not giving him anything to win.”

[...] Here’s the thing: I agree with our unnamed congressman about the device tax. It’s a fairly small thing ($2-3 billion per year) and completely nonessential to Obamacare. It could be eliminated without harm, and it would give Boehner a small bit of face-saving that might allow him to pass a budget. If this had been the GOP’s initial ask, Democrats probably would have given in.

But after weeks and weeks of tea party rage and intransigence, that became impossible. By the end of September, the Republican strategy had become crystal clear: demand unceasing concessions from Democrats at every opportunity without offering anything in return and without any negotiation. A month ago, Democrats might have shrugged over the device tax. Today, they know perfectly well what it would mean to let it go. It means that when the debt ceiling deadline comes up, there will be yet another demand. When the 6-week CR is up, there will be yet another. If and when appropriations bills are passed, there will be yet another. We’ve already seen the list. There simply won’t be any end to the hostage taking. As their price for not blowing up the country, there will be an unending succession of short-term CRs and short-term debt limit extensions used as leverage for picking apart Obamacare—and everything else Democrats care about—piece by piece.

Both King and this unnamed congressman wish their party hadn’t shut down the government, but seem unwilling to do anything about it themselves. And now our government hits the debt ceiling next Thursday. Is there not even ONE Republican member of the House with an intact spine?

Josh Marshall remarks on a profile the Post did on freshman Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL). The focus is how he’s part of the faction who forced John Boehner to trigger the government shutdown and now wants to move along to default on the national debt. How bad will default be?

“I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets,” Yoho told the Post

Absorb that for a moment. He’s on the team that’s driving this bus. What would at best be a huge jolt to the global economy and more likely trigger a global financial crisis and do irreparable harm to the country, he thinks will actually improve things.

Couple this with the Times article [above] detailing how the current shutdown and soon to be default crisis was planned by a working group of top GOP money men and the major far right and Tea Party pressure groups in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 election.

Brian Beutler details what will happen when America reaches its debt limit:

Once the Treasury can no longer borrow to finance deficits, it will have to arbitrarily slash spending on everything the government does — from defense, to social insurance, to medical research, and eventually to debt service.

The government currently borrows about 30 cents on every dollar, which means that irrespective of the impact on U.S. creditworthiness and global financial markets, the effects on these services will be enormous. Probably something like four or five times the impact of sequestration, but with no exemptions. And the only way to exempt anything (at least in theory) is to either force the administration to direct revenues toward favored services, which would mean much deeper cuts to everything else, or to allow the Treasury to borrow specifically to finance those services. In other words, to increase the debt limit but only for targeted purposes.

[...] The GOP’s current position thus boils down to to the laughable idea that nothing’s more important than reopening federal monuments, funding clinical trials, and spending money on veterans services for two weeks, until we breach the debt limit and they have to be shut down again.

Paul Krugman thinks that “GOP leaders fundamentally misjudged the situation (and Obama’s incentives). And now they have backed themselves into a position where they don’t know how to back down — they have to extract concessions or they’ll have been “disrespected,” in a situation where Obama simply can’t make any concessions without destroying his own credibility and betraying the fundamental norms of governance.”

So Krugman describes what the endgame will look like on Oct. 17: 

The assumption has been that Republicans will finally be moved to act by the market freakout. But given their behavior so far, why would you believe this? …My bet now is that we actually do go over the line for a day or two. And what ends the immediate crisis is not Republican action but a decision by Obama to declare himself not bound by the debt ceiling. He can’t even hint at this possibility until the thing actually happens, because he has to keep the focus on the Republicans, and he has to make them demonstrate their utter irresponsibility before he can take any extraordinary action.

But maybe I’m wrong; maybe Obama’s lawyers have concluded that there’s really nothing he can do. If so, God help us all.

Attn GOP House: “Here’s what you ‘get.’ Here’s what you should be asking for.”

President Obama responds to this quote from Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN): “We’re not going to be disrespected, We have to get something out of this, And I don’t know what that even is.”

Replying to Stutzman’s question about what Republicans “get” for ending the three-day shutdown, Obama said,

“What you get is our intelligence professionals being back on the job. What you get is our medical researchers back on the job. What you get are little kids back into Head Start. What you get are our national parks and monuments open again. What you get is the economy not stalling, but continuing to grow. What you get are workers continuing to be hired. That’s what you get. That’s what you should be asking for.”


In a meeting with GOP lawmakers, Speaker John Boehner “offered no clue as to how he expected Congress to get out of the dead end it has found itself in, with the government shut for a fourth day and no clear path to raise the federal debt limit to avoid the nation’s first default,” the New York Times reports.

Said Boehner: “We are locked in an epic battle,” while urging them to “hang tough.” The overarching problem for the man at the center of the budget fight, say allies and opponents, is that he and his leadership team have no real idea how to resolve the fiscal showdown.

They are only trying to survive another day, Republican strategists say, hoping to maintain unity as long as possible so that when the Republican position collapses, they can capitulate on two issues at once — financing the government and raising the debt ceiling — and head off any internal party backlash. Republican lawmakers say Mr. Boehner has assured them privately that he will not permit a default.

[...] on Friday [Boehner] played down any personal animosity between him and his Democratic adversaries, but did show a flash of temper when he referred to suggestions from the White House that Democrats had the advantage. “This isn’t some damn game,” he said, his voice rising. “The American people don’t want their government shut down, and neither do I.”

Good to know—maybe John Boehner should clue in the other members of his own party:

via Think Progress, Political Wire

Negotiating with an anti-government insurgency: the GOP’s Suicide Caucus

“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. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), verbalizing the entire Republican Party’s strategy on the government shutdown.

“Why in the world would you do that? That’s basically, at this point, a surrender to the Democratic position.” — Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), suggesting that to the GOP, compromise and negotiation are “surrender” and that the extremists in the House are prepared to withhold support for a government funding bill and the debt ceiling increase.

“I am exasperated with the idea that unless I say [to] 20 million people, ‘you can’t have health insurance, they will not reopen the government.‘ That is irresponsible.”President Obama, explaining his exasperation with John Boehner and the House Republicans.

18 Republicans have said they would vote for a clean CR, which combined with Democrats means there are enough votes to pass legislation reopening the government.

E.J. Dionne — Why this shutdown is different — And it’s different because the Republicans have no coherent strategy. Their leaders, as one Republican put it to me, have been laying track just ahead of the train as it roars forward.

They are making insulting offers — for example, proposing to fund a few parts of the government that they cherry-pick while allowing the rest to languish. House Speaker John Boehner’s approach has been driven by fear: fear of the most right-wing House members, fear of rabid talk-show hosts, fear of the Frankenstein monster of fanatical organizations the party has relied upon to gin up the faithful.

…The government is shut for only one reason: Boehner wants to keep his job. This is not a sufficient cause for throwing hundreds of thousands of other people out of theirs. “This is the conservative right versus the reckless right,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Budget Committee Democrat. “The country should not become the victim of the Republican civil war.”

Which is why the only way out is for the growing number of Republicans on the responsible side of the skirmish to insist that the whole charade be called off. There should be negotiations all right, but on real budget issues, and for the long term — after the government is opened and the debt ceiling raised. The House and Senate can then engage in the kind of normal compromise-seeking discussions that the GOP has so far resisted.

Matt Yglesias wants to see Obama and the Democrats stand firm — [F]rom the standpoint of the country as a whole, a debt ceiling breach in 2013 is no more disastrous than a breach in 2017 or 2022. And the problem with “cutting a deal” with Republicans is that it essentially makes an eventual breach inevitable. If the hostage-taking gambit works, then it will be used over and over again until it goes wrong.

Ed Kilgore wants to see some attitudes adjusted sooner rather than later – Now I don’t know anything about the president’s relationship with Boehner. But it’s becoming a matter of national security for him to find some way to take him aside, maybe give the Speaker a cigarette from his secret stash, and say: “I will see you in Hell before I negotiate over the debt limit. And if you let a default happen, I will devote the rest of my presidency to making sure you, personally, bear the blame, and go down in history with our most despised traitors and criminals. For generations, little school children in Ohio will cross themselves and make hex signs when your name is mentioned. So do not, do not, go back and tell your crazy people they can win if they just stick together.”

Here’s what it must be like to negotiate with the Suicide Caucus right now:

Steve Benen — As for the nature of “negotiations,” Democrats have urged Republicans to begin budget talks for the last six months, with Republicans refusing literally every request…

For the last 36 hours or so, the GOP line is that they’re now eager to talk to Democrats about the budget, and can’t imagine why Dems won’t join them at the negotiating table. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reached out to Boehner today — with a letter and in a phone call — saying the moment Republicans end their shutdown, budget talks can begin. Boehner again refused because, well, it’s not clear why. Apparently the Speaker wants the government to be shut down.

As for the Republicans’ broader posture, it’s genuinely remarkable. After forgetting what “compromise” means, GOP lawmakers now seem confused by what “negotiate” means.

Mapping the anti-government insurgency‘s network of cells: 


The Suicide Caucus and John Boehner: the faction that wants a government shutdown

This afternoon, during remarks on the looming government shutdown, President Obama said: “…one faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government doesn’t get to shut down the entire government just to re-fight the results of an election.”

Here’s what the President was talking about: 80 members of the House, who are called the “suicide caucus,” comprise the tea-stained tail that now wags the entire Republican House Conference, its leadership, and its strategy. They are the faction of one party in one house of Congress who are very probably going to successfully shut down the entire government to re-fight the results of an election. Here’s who they represent: 


Where the G.O.P.’s Suicide Caucus Lives : The New Yorker

These eighty members represent just eighteen per cent of the House and just a third of the two hundred and thirty-three House Republicans. They were elected with fourteen and a half million of the hundred and eighteen million votes cast in House elections last November, or twelve per cent of the total. In all, they represent fifty-eight million constituents. That may sound like a lot, but it’s just eighteen per cent of the population.

Capture…In short, these eighty members represent an America where the population is getting whiter, where there are few major cities, where Obama lost the last election in a landslide, and where the Republican Party is becoming more dominant and more popular. Meanwhile, in national politics, each of these trends is actually reversed.

…In previous eras, ideologically extreme minorities could be controlled by party leadership. What’s new about the current House of Representatives is that party discipline has broken down on the Republican side. On the most important policy questions, ones that most affect the national brand of the party, Boehner has lost his ability to control his caucus, and an ideological faction, aided by outside interest groups, can now set the national agenda.

What’s happened is that Speaker Boehner has handed his spine to Ted Cruz and these 80 members who represent only 18% of the country in gerrymandered districts of ideologically extreme, mostly white rural voters. Worse, Boehner is allowing them to use his position to hold the budget hostage for political theater for their small voting base. In a couple more weeks, they will use his position of power to hold the debt ceiling hostage for the same purposes. This is an extremist minority forcing itself on the mainstream majority’s opinions and wishes — and it’s happening because Republican House leadership can’t control it’s caucus. Boehner has no control.

What they’re telling Boehner (if he wants to keep his Speakership) is that he must not put a temporary spending bill on the House floor, without any anti-Obamacare stunts in it — BECAUSE IT WOULD PASS. It would pass with a lot of Democratic votes and they can’t have that. Via David Kurtz

“He can do it today and avoid a shutdown, or he can do it in a few days or weeks and end a shutdown. It’s up to him.”

The entire country should suffer because the Republican Party is melting down? I guess it’s up to Boehner. 

House Republican Conference “went bonkers” with approval for a Government Shutdown

The Republican government shutdown is a day and a half closer to happening, thanks to John Boehner (who is now exclusively controlled by Sen. Ted Cruz and his 2016 political aspirations) and the dimmest bulbs in the U.S. House: House Republicans on Saturday rallied around a short-term measure that would fund the government through Dec. 15 while delaying the implementation of Obamacare for one year, a politically risky proposal that unites the Republican conference but could bring the government within reach of a shutdown. The plan, which also includes an amendment to repeal the medical device tax and a separate provision to pay military members in the event of a shutdown, also puts the ball quickly back into the Senate’s court. …Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, though, dismissed the House’s plan outright…. “Today’s vote by House Republicans is pointless… Republicans must decide whether to pass the Senate’s clean CR, or force a Republican government shutdown.” To avoid a partial government shutdown, both chambers of Congress must reach an agreement by Tuesday, the start of the new fiscal year…

I don’t happen to agree with only paying the military in the event of a shutdown — that’s Republican hypocrisy at its finest.  What about all the federal workers who won’t be paid (those furloughed and those working through it)?  The GOP always, always pulls out their Military Card when they think they need to look patriotic (support the troops! except when they’re no longer active and need benefits, etc). In late 2013, this pathetically tired move should only work with baggers. If there’s going to be a shutdown of the American government, let’s all feel it together.

PLEASE NOTICE the Republican House did not amend anything to stop their own paychecks in the event of a shutdown. In fact, the Senate last month unanimously passed a bill that would eliminate pay for lawmakers but the bill has stalled in the House. There’s a revealing little factoid to share with any Republican-supporting acquaintances you might know.

So how excited were the entirety of the House Republican Conference about shutting down the government OVER HEALTHCARE REFORM? This excited:

  • Cheers erupted in a closed-door meeting after Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, made it clear the House would not give-up in the stand-off with the Senate and the White House.
  • “Let’s roll,” an exuberant Rep. John Culberson, R-Tex., shouted as colleagues cheered Boehner. An unfortunate analogy, perhaps, because Culberson later explained he was evoking the battle cry of passengers who tried to wrest control of United Airlines Flight 93 from terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. That was the fourth plane to go down in that day’s terrorist attacks, crashing in a Pennsylvania field and killing all on board.


  • Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas went on the House floor shortly after the meeting and called Boehner “our great speaker.”
  • …as lawmakers described it, Boehner walked up to the microphone and proceeded to matter-of-factly detail what his new strategy would entail. “People went bonkers,” with approval, said Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz. “They were very excited.”

That observation, all by itself, sums up everything that will happen in the next 48 hours.

  • And as the meeting adjourned, the accolades for Boehner kept on coming. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, a vocal critic of leadership who just two days ago trashed Boehner’s proposed debt-ceiling maneuver, exited the meeting and flashed a big “thumbs up” sign.
  • Even Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who often clashes with leadership and is known to regularly shun the media, ran toward a horde of reporters and declared: “It’s a fabulous bill!”

Is it “fabulous,” Michele? Crazy-eyes approved.

  • House Republicans – including some who met privately this week with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., who has led the charge against Obamacare – said Saturday they were not worried that extending the battle with the Senate might send the nation spiraling into a shutdown.

They’re not worried because this is what they’ve been wanting since 2011.

  • “Republicans will probably be blamed for whatever happens,” said Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. “So, what remains for us is to do the right thing.”

Shorter Trent Franks: “Whatever, so… What.Ev.Er.”

A interesting, but not surprising, observation from a congressional reporter at Politico last night:


VA: All veterans’ benefit payments will be disrupted if a shutdown goes beyond two weeks — The Department of Veterans Affairs told congressional officials Friday that all benefit checks it issues, including disability claims and pension payments, will be disrupted if a government shutdown lasts for more than two or three weeks, according to congressional sources.

And Yes, the GOP Even Managed to Work Denial of Birth Control Into Their Clownish Budget Bill — this shows the influence of the extreme Calvinist religious right on today’s Tea Party Republicans. They know this crazy bill is never going to pass the Senate and is only intended as theater, so they’re lettin’ it all hang out.

The GOPeaParty never talks about how much their political theater (for the benefit of their gerrymandered, minority-opinion voting base) will actually cost the American taxpayer – According to the Office of Management and Budget, the two shutdowns in 1995 and 1996 cost taxpayers $1.4 billion combined. Adjust for inflation and you’ve got $2 billion in today’s dollars. …In the immediate aftermath of the first government shutdown in 1981, the most conservative estimate – conducted by the General Accounting Office (now called the Government Accountability Office) — put the cost of shutting the government down for a single day at $8.2 million, or almost $21 million in today’s dollars. A House panel later concluded that the day-long furlough cost taxpayers 10 times more than that.

“This has been a rather confusing week, I know. I don’t think, ever, in the history of the Senate, have we had a 21-hour filibuster, and then the persons carrying out the filibuster voted for the issue they were filibustering. I don’t think that’s happened in the history of our country… is it more important to the Senator from Texas and the Senator from Utah that people around the country watch this vote, or is it more important to us that we have a good policy outcome from our standpoint and actually have a body that has a majority of Republicans to be able to react and send back something of good policy?”   — GOP Senator BOB CORKER (R – TN), ripping his fellow Tea Party Republican senators Ted Cruz (R – TX) and Mike Lee (R – UT)

The Senate’s Vote-a-rama: Paul Ryan and GOP House FAIL

The Hill: The Democratic-controlled Senate appears set to approve its first budget resolution in four years. Votes on amendments to the budget began Thursday night, with a final vote set for late Friday or early Saturday.

Brian Beutler explains why tuning into CSpan2 this afternoon to watch the Senate’s “vote-a-rama” could be very educational:

“…before the Senate passes its budget this weekend, it must first get through “votearama” — the quirk in the budget rules that essentially opens the amendment floodgates to eager lawmakers.

These amendments, like the budget itself, aren’t really binding. They’re highly politicized. And because there hasn’t been a Senate budget in a few years, there’s a huge pent up demand among members for using votearama as an opportunity to preen and take political stands. [...]

For instance: Last night, Senate Dems put Republicans on the spot and forced a vote on the House GOP budget. It failed, obviously, but because it’s the GOP’s central organizing manifesto, nearly every Republican member voted for it.

What went mostly unnoticed, though, is that Dems also forced the GOP to take a position on the single most politically contentious part of the Ryan budget — its call to replace the Medicare guarantee with a private insurance subsidy. That amendment was written to put members on record over whether to prohibit such a dramatic policy change. And by a vote of 96-3 the Senate answered that question with a resounding “yes.” Only Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul voted to effectively endorse Medicare privatization.

That says a lot about the politics of the Republican platform. Their commitment to a fiscal policy agenda they know to be politically toxic in its particulars is actually pretty impressive.

Democrats, by contrast, voted to preserve the tax increases their budget calls for. And they will circle their wagons around the Affordable Care Act when Republicans try to use the budget process to significantly undermine it. But on the particular, narrow issue of the ACA’s medical device tax, more than half the party joined the GOP in support of an amendment that called for its repeal…”

How bad was Paul Ryan’s night? Joan McCarter on March 22, 2013

Every Senate Republican but three voted to repudiate Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan. The three? The three teabaggiest of all: Rand Paul (R-KY) Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ted Cruz. …The slap-in-the-face vote was cast yesterday as the Senate continued working on its 2014 budget, an opportunity for all sorts of political hay-making, because budget rules allow for unlimited amendments. This one was offered by Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Thursday night. It’s a “No Vouchers for Medicare” amendment, repudiating the Ryan budget and “to prohibit replacing guaranteed benefits with the House passed budget plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program.” The Senate voted overwhelmingly for it, 96-3.

Ryan’s budget as a whole fared a little better. Republicans really didn’t want to have to vote on it, but Patty Murray made them, by offering it as one of the first amendments. It failed, 40-59.

“There seemed to be some resistance among my Republican colleagues in bringing up the House Republican budget for a vote. And it’s pretty easy to see why that is. The House Republican approach has been thoroughly reviewed and just as thoroughly rejected by the American people.”Patty Murray, twisting the knife last night.

Paul Ryan’s star is definitely fading. Last year, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) was hailed as the man with a plan to save America. Today, barely half of his own party thinks highly of him. According to a Rasmussen poll released Monday, Ryan’s approval rating has plummeted since the November election. In the poll, only 35 percent of likely voters said they had a favorable view of him, while a 54 percent majority said they viewed him unfavorably. That’s a stunning reversal from last August, when 50 percent of voters liked Ryan, versus 32 percent who did not.


Also: The 39th time was not the charm on Obamacare repeal | Steve Benen on March 22, 2013: 

Remember when the 2012 presidential election ended the debate over repealing the Affordable Care Act? To a degree that is truly comical, congressional Republicans didn’t get the memo.

The Senate on Friday rejected another GOP attempt to repeal President Obama’s healthcare law. An amendment to the Senate budget resolution from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) failed on a 45-54 vote on Friday. Cruz’s amendment would have repealed the Affordable Care Act and encouraged patient-centered reforms to reduce costs.

Senate Republicans knew Cruz’s amendment was pointless, and knew it wouldn’t pass, but literally every GOP senator voted for it anyway — just because. [...]

To listen to Republican rhetoric on Capitol Hill is to hear a series of complaints about President Obama: he’s not being “serious” enough about getting things done… But it’s against this backdrop that Republicans vote, over and over again, to repeal a health care law they know won’t be repealed. They do so, in part because they have a radicalized base that expects near-constant pandering, in part because some of their leaders have broader ambitions and see these tactics as useful, and in part because these votes just seem to help Republicans feel better about themselves.

Michele Bachmann will be so upset. Literally! 

Some have the repeal count up to 54 times, with more attempts (yes, plural!) to be offered today.

On Obamacare’s Third Anniversary, Here Are Three Ways The Reform Law Has Helped Real Americans


Also Rand Paul, the winner of CPAC, is sponsoring a far-right extremist  amendment to have the U.S. withdraw from the U.N.  Not only is that a terrible idea for several reasons (one being economically), but “a recent poll showed that eight in ten Americans believe that the U.S. needs to maintain a strong relationship with the United Nations.”

And get this: Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) “is planning on filing an amendment to the Senate budget resolution making it impossible for any gun control legislation to pass the Senate without a two-thirds majority—a standard currently reserved for the ratification of treaties. (That’s an even higher threshold than that imposed by filibusters, which can be broken with 60 votes.) “[I]f the Lee amendment is passed, the practical effect will be that gun control can never again pass the Senate,” the far-right Second Amendment group Gun Owners of America boasted in an email to members on Friday. Lee’s amendment won’t pass. But the fact that Republicans would consider carving out an entirely new voting threshold just for gun control legislation tells you just how little ground they’re willing to concede, at least publicly, on this fight.”

More excitement (haha) at CSpan2!

Paul Ryan and the GOP have some good news and some bad news

image recall-all-republicans

House GOP Approves Budget That Cuts Taxes For Millionaires, Slashes The Social Safety Net | Travis Waldron on Mar 21, 2013

The House of Representatives this afternoon approved the Republican budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) by a vote of 221-207, with 197 Democrats and 10 Republicans voting against it. Three Democrats and one Republican did not vote.

For the third consecutive year, the House GOP has approved a budget that ends the traditional guaranteed Medicare coverage for senior citizens, makes substantial cuts to poverty programs and the social safety net, and grants massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. Recent analyses have shown that the budget plan’s tax reforms, which lower top tax rates to 25 percent, would give millionaires at least $200,000 in tax cuts. At the same time, it would slash the social safety net, targeting poverty programs for two-thirds of its cuts.


House approves far-right Ryan budget plan | Steve Benen on March 21, 2013 

Though there were whispers that GOP leaders had to worry about significant defections, only 10 House Republicans broke ranks and opposed Ryan’s budget — the exact same number of Republicans who voted against their party’s budget blueprint last year.

And what a plan it is. We’re talking about an ambitious plan to redistribute wealth — from the bottom up — with a healthy dose of “almost frighteningly ambitious” social engineering. Ryan’s budget would end Medicare, cut taxes by over $5 trillion, take health care benefits away from millions of Americans, make “massive” cuts to in programs for low-income and vulnerable Americans, and relies on smoke and mirrors to balance the budget within a decade.

It is, in other words, the exact opposite of what the American mainstream wants, and bears no resemblance to the platform the American electorate endorsed in national elections four months ago. It’s designed to satisfy folks who believe the wealthy are over-burdened by taxes and struggling families have too much access to affordable health care.

Despite all of this, 95% of House GOP lawmakers voted for the plan anyway.


CHART: Paul Ryan’s Massive Tax Cut For Millionaires | Sahil Kapur March 15, 2013

Ryan’s plan also cuts spending by some $4.6 trillion over the next decade, targeting programs like Medicaid and the portion of the budget that includes Pell Grants and food stamps. He insists his tax cuts will spur significant economic growth, and he promises to pay for them by closing unspecified tax loopholes, deductions and credits — ideally on high incomes.

“You can actually plug loopholes and subject more of higher earners’ income to taxation through a lower tax rate,” Ryan said. “We think that’s smarter.” His promise mirrors that of Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential election. The problem, as numerous independent experts concluded, is that finding that much revenue in tax expenditures would require raising effective taxes on the middle class.


Renewed hostage-taking | Pema Levy on March 21, 2013

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said Thursday that Republicans will require a dollar in spending cuts for every dollar that they agree to raise the debt ceiling, which the United States is expected to hit in August. “Dollar for dollar is the plan,” Boehner said at a press conference. As TPM reported Thursday, conservative House Republicans are pushing their leadership to use the debt ceiling as leverage to demand major reforms or cuts, including dollar for dollar cuts.


Remember when John Boehner and other distinguished Republicans had great fun on Twitter using the hashtag #Obamaquester when discussing sequestration cuts? This week, Boehner admitted with his own damn mouth that President Obama “didn’t want the cuts.” Watch:


More Republican good news / bad news: 

  • Bad: Mitt Romney / Paul Ryan didn’t win the election, and Republicans lost seats in Congress.
  • Good: So? Doesn’t matter, the GOP will continue ‘patriotically’ ignoring what the majority of Americans voted for.

Remember: either they’ve decided they know what’s best for all of us — or they’re going to try to get away with as much as they can until we stop them. 

image: odinsblog

There’s no way that both sides ‘do it’ when one side refuses to compromise

Greg Sargent writes, “And so it’s now sinking in that: 1) Republicans are not getting the entitlement cuts they want without agreeing to new revenues; and 2) Republicans are explicitly confirming that there is no compromise that is acceptable to them to get the cuts they themselves say they want.

“The GOP position, with no exaggeration, is that the only way Republican leaders will ever agree to paying down the deficit they say is a threat to American civilization is 100 percent their way; they are not willing to concede anything at all to reach any deal involving new revenues to reduce the deficit, or to get the entitlement reform they want, or to avert sequestration they themselves said will gut the military and tank the economy.”