Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cutting to the Truth

This was likely bound to happen. As the G-O-TEA Shutdown has been dragging on, a certain "Sunny" politician up for reelection next year was bound to start fretting over the looming storm clouds. And now, that's exactly what's happening.

To be fair, it's not just about politics. It's also about the failure to achieve the most basic policy goal in Washington: Keep the government open and pay the nation's bills. And as long as this failure to perform the most basic function of government continues, the entire nation suffers... Including (amd especially) Nevada. And that's the other reason why Governor Brian Sandoval (R) is worried.

“Particularly at the end of the month, I think that’s really when we are going to start to see … some catastrophic issues going on for the state,” Sandoval said.

“Time is short. We have hundreds of thousands of Nevadans facing real consequences. The first of the month is right around the corner.”

Most immediately, 362,000 food stamp [or SNAP] recipients will see their benefits halt on Nov. 1 and the 500 state employees who administer that program will face potential furloughs if the shutdown is not resolved. About 425,000 women, infants and children [WIC] would also stop seeing food benefits.

To continue both programs without federal money would cost the state $50 million a month.

“We don’t have it,” Sandoval said, of the state’s $6.1 billion biennial budget. “We can’t afford it.”

And to make matters even worse, unemployment benefits, rape crisis centers, energy assistance programs, and Medicaid will also have to shut down soon if the federal government doesn't reopen. Even the Nevada National Guard is running dangerously low on the most basic supplies. This is no hyperbole, just fast approaching catastrophe.

So why hasn't Congress fixed this already? Why is the federal government still shut down? Perhaps subconsciously, Rep. Joe Heck (R-What?) provided the answer.

"In a way, when you know that no matter what you do, 50 percent of the district is not going to be happy, does it matter?” Heck said of his constituents. “Really, it frees me to concentrate on doing what I think is best.”

What is best, in Heck’s opinion, is withholding support for a clean budget resolution until Democrats make some concessions on deficit reduction. He is sticking to his guns on that, even if other House Republicans think it’s about time to give in to Democrats’ demands.

Nearly two dozen Republicans, many of whom have more partisan voting records than either Nevada GOP congressman — recently signed a pledge to vote for a clean budget resolution if it comes up.

“It would have to be a bill, and I don’t comment on hypothetical bills,” Heck said when the Sun asked if he might consider signing on.

But in theory, Heck is not on board.

“What is there associated with the clean (budget resolution)?” he asked. “How are we going to address our debt and our deficit?”

Actually, that's already been happening. The federal budget deficit has fallen fast and is now the smallest it's been in over four years. And on top of this, Senator Harry Reid (D) and his fellow Senate Democrats offered a budget with even more deficit reduction.

This year, we've been enduring a whole lot of austerity. In fact, many prominent economists have been warning that America has been enduring too much austerity. With America's economic recovery already fragile before the Shutdown Sh*tfest commenced, the last thing our economy needs is even more austerity throwing people out of work and reducing economic output.

Let's get real. This isn't really about deficit reduction. If it was, they wouldn't be demanding tax cuts that would add to the deficit.

So why are Joe Heck and so many of his G-O-TEA colleagues suddenly feigning concern for the budget deficit? Simple answer: Their obsession with destroying Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act) has led to dropping poll numbers and new worries about
Republican losses in next year's midterm election. So now, they're desperately grasping onto anything that can be construed as a "winning message".

After all, Republican infighting doesn't make a "winning message". And they don't want to admit that this Shutdown Sh*tfest was actually caused by their internal chaos. So instead, they continue playing this ridiculous game of "Pin the Blame on Someone Else". And today, they're pointing fingers at Democrats for "not wanting to cut the deficit" despite the fact that President Obama and Congressional Democratic leaders have agreed to drastic deficit reduction.

And that leads us back to Republicans' political woes. Rep. Heck tacitly admitted he's in political danger. And Governor Sandoval is going to greater lengths to distance himself from Heck, Senator Dean Heller (R-Why?), and Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Really?). Deep down, they and all their advisers know what Kevin Drum says is true.

It's crazy. How do you get across how insurrectionary this is? Raising the debt ceiling isn't a concession from Republicans that deserves a corresponding concession from Democrats. It's the financial equivalent of a nuclear bomb: both sides will go up in smoke if it's triggered. Ditto for the government shutdown. And ditto again for the piecemeal spending bills, which are basically a way for Republicans to fund only the parts of government they like but not anything else.

You can't govern a country this way. You can't allow a minority party to make relentless demands not through the political system, but by threatening Armageddon if they don't get what they want. It's not what the Constitution intended; it's not something any president could countenance; and it's reckless almost beyond imagining.

And most important of all, it's not something that should get written about as if it's just a modest escalation of normal political disagreements. It's not normal. At all. But how do you get this across? How do you get across just how non-normal it is that we're even talking about it?

This is why Governor Sandoval is now panicking. This is why Rep. Heck must grasp at straws to spin away his party’s reckless behavior. And this is why so many Americans can't wrap their heads around the unbridled insani-TEA on Capitol Hill. That's the dangerous truth behind the crazy spin.

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