Sunday, October 6, 2013
Surprise? Both the Shutdown and Debt Ceiling Crises Are Over ?
It's all over but the shouting.
As of today (Saturday) it looks like both the government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling battle are resolved. Not officially but in actuality. All the pieces are now in place indicating that the Republicans in due course are going to pack up and creep off the field of battle without a damn thing to show for all their carrying on.
Here's how it seems to be unfolding now and will likely unfold over the next two weeks:
Step One: As reported a couple of days ago in the major media, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has assured business-type Republicans that he will not let the nation go into default. He won't let the House refuse to raise the debt ceiling on October 17.
Step Two: Just yesterday Speaker Boehner said very quietly and to a precious few, "It's better to get shot with one bullet than with two". Although he indeed said this very quietly and to just a precious few, you can be certain he knew one of those few would blab what he'd said. And of course the two bullets he mentioned are the shutdown and the threatened refusal of the House to raise the debt ceiling.
Step Three: Putting Steps One and Two together we can see that Boehner is going to do unto the shutdown what he's going to do to the debt ceiling threat. Kill them both, and take the fall for both at once. (If you can kill bullets. His metaphors and mine don't mix very well.)
Step Four: Turning two bullets into one, as Boehner wisely intends, means he has to wrap the two together so that ending the shutdown also completely wipes out the debt ceiling threat. Exactly how he is going to do this isn't clear yet. In fact, maybe it's not clear yet to Boehner. But where there's a will, there's a way. The end move is easy. All he has to do is put each matter in turn on the floor for a vote, which will pass with the combined votes of the Democrats and of the less-cuckoo of the Republicans. How he gets to this point with a shred of dignity is his problem, but that's where he's now going. It will be fun to watch.
Because of the foregoing, President Obama was able to say with confidence this weekend that everything is going to be okay. He's right. Boehner and his unruly crowd have to cave. At least Boehner does.
And why is this true? Just before Boehner "leaked" the two-bullets slogan, the press announced that 72% of Americans - yeah, man, that's 72%! - oppose the shutdown for the purpose of defunding Obamacare. And the day before that story broke, the NY Times and other media finally said what I said a week earlier: the media had been misreadng a prior poll and been wrongly reporting that most Americans oppose Obamacare when this is definitely not what the poll showed. And the next news item? Almost 10% more Americans blame the GOP in Congress for the shutdown than blame the Democrats.
Those three whacking great blows resulted in Boehner being handed his head on a platter and realizing it.
But you ain't heard nothin' yet. As a capper this week, the press reported Americans approval of the GOP in Congress has dropped to an all-time low of 10%! That became the parsley in Boehner's mouth as his head reposed on the platter.
Yup, Boehner has got to fix the situation. He's only 17 seats away from losing his majority in 2014 and thus losing his speakership.
Step Five: So, you ask, when will Boehner actually allow the budget to go to the House floor to permit the Democrats and the somewhat sane GOP members to end the shutdown? Probably somewhat closer to October 17. Oddly enough, it's better for the country if the shutdown goes on a while longer - though decidedly more unpleasant and even cruel for some of our citizens. Remember that worse than the shutdown is the default that would happen if the debt ceiling isn't raised by October 17. Boehner has got to be sure that when he ends the shutdown he has in effect also ensured the debt ceiling will be raised on time. It's got to be a dual deal. This means in part that he has to be sure the demon Teapotters don't have a chance to rally from the ashes of the failed shutdown with enough time to block the debt ceiling.
Therefore, the shutdown may grind on for another week, give or take a couple of days. Of course, the longer it goes on, the more damage to the GOP. And that is just. The GOP deserves to pay for all the hardship the Tea Partyers have caused. And for the arrogance of their position! Depriving infants of food! Closing down the Grand Canyon.
But, it's over now, you GOP boys. And girls. ( Let us not forget Michele Bachmann, much as we would like to.) You GOP Tea folks forced Boehner to drive to the edge of the cliff and start throwing over the babies and veterans and sweet, innocent park rangers. But you are not going to get him to go over the cliff. Not ol' John Boehner! Because he's in that car and so is the debt ceiling and the world economy and - above all else - his majority and his speakership.
President Obama's hard stance has brought the House GOP to a deadend. Quite correctly he will not "negotiate" when the Teapotters are actually engaged in extortion, i .e. not trying to swap this for that but saying it will only do what it should do anyway if you will let it have its way. Bosh! That's not negotiation.
Boehner and his bunch are like mobsters selling "protection". Remember Monty Python: "You wouldn't want something to happen to those nice tanks of yours, would you, Colonel?" The Colonel shouldn't have to pay for his tanks being safe from mobsters, and we shouldn't have to give up Obamacare just to keep the government running that we are entitled to anyway.
If Obama had given in on one teensy thing so far, Boehner would not now be headless on the Washington Mall. And we would still face the specter of a debt ceiling crisis because Obama would have let the Tea P's extortion succeed. But he didn't. Good for you, Obama! Let's hope you can keep it up.
Does the media and the public get what's going on? Apparently not. Most commentators and a lot of the public blame not just the GOP but Obama or Reid or "the Democrats" or "both sides" for "not negotiating". They just don't understand anything, do they?
And by the way, how exactly does anyone "shut down" the Grand Canyon? It's an awfully big hole.