Monday, October 14, 2013

End in Sight?

It's now Day 14. And to make matters even worse, Senate Republicans filibustered a clean debt ceiling extension yesterday. So the G-O-TEA Shutdown Sh*tfest continues with...

An actual end in sight? How can this be? Fortunately for us, Brian Beutler is here to explain.

“I have had a productive conversation with the Republican leader this afternoon,” [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid [D] said on the floor Sunday evening. “Our discussions were substantive and we’ll continue those discussions. I’m optimistic about the prospects for a positive conclusion to the issues before this country today.”

Democrats want a large debt limit increase, and a brief stopgap funding bill. Republicans want a small debt limit increase and a funding bill that reopens the government for several months. Democrats would accept the latter, but not at the low annualized spending level ($986 billion) they agreed to for the six-week bill [House Speaker John] Boehner [R-Ohio] is refusing to put on the House floor for a vote. They want an opportunity to negotiate over sequestration, and won’t be able to do so effectively if its cuts have been locked in for half of the fiscal year with their consent.

After everything Republicans put themselves and the country through, these are the final points of contention. No Obamacare delay. No Medicare cuts. No real hostages. It would be amusing if it weren’t so dangerous. We’ve almost reached the point at which a determined senator could use the chamber’s arcane procedural rules to push a deal past October 17.

So this is what it's come to? Republicans are just squabbling over how much more austerity to subject the nation to once they allow government to reopen? And they're pushing us to the brink of Armageddon over this?

What has become increasingly obvious is that Senator Reid is taking the lead in ending the manufactured crisis because House Republicans are still a train wreck.

But if the Senate is truly so close to a final deal, then why is the world panicking? See above. House Republicans are still a train wreck, and their extortion demands are fueling fear around the world.

So what can be done? Now, it's actually more a matter of what must be done. As we had discussed two weeks ago, and as Greg Sargent explained yesterday, the insani-TEA must end... NOW.

There is no compromise that would prove acceptable to both Tea Party Republicans on one side and Obama and Senate Democrats on the other. The entire Tea Party crusade has been premised on the idea that the Dem refusal to unwind Obamacare could be broken if Republicans held firm on the government shutdown long enough, because it was only a matter of time until the American people, under duress and gripped with a feverish hatred of the health care law, rise up and force Dems to capitulate. Neither of those has happened. The American people have reached the opposite conclusion — theyblame Republicans for the government shutdown, and don’t want such tactics wielded as a weapon against Obamacare — and Obama and Dems have demonstrated they will not capitulate.

Tea Party Republicans faced with these twin realities are not giving ground, either. As Ron Brownstein details, they can’t, because in their view, this has become nothing less than an apocalyptic demographic and ideological struggle to prevent a national alliance of “takers” and their Democratic enablers from transforming the country into something no longer recognizably American. “Obama’s health care looms to them as the tipping point towards a permanent Democratic advantage built on dependency and demographic change,” Brownstein observes.

It now seems plainly obvious that neither Tea Party Republicans on one side, nor Obama and Senate Dems on the other, will give any ground on what they view as non-negotiable. No deal that is even marginally acceptable to both of those groups is feasible. Democrats are not capitulating to Tea Party demands; it just isn’t happening. By definition, then, there is only one way out of the crisis: Through an alliance of non-Tea Party Republicans (who have already shown a willingness to reopen the government) and Democrats. This would require House GOP leaders to allow a vote on something that is unacceptable to Tea Party conservatives, which will make them really, really angry, and to suffer the consequences.

Yet as the above anecdote indicates, even “responsible” leaders such as [Rep.] Paul Ryan [R-Wisconsin] continue to refuse to acknowledge this increasingly obvious reality, and refuse to level with the rank and file about it, no matter the consequences for the country.

At some point, Republican "leaders" must show some actual leadership. And if they just can't, then they need to step out of the way. This Shutdown Sh*tfest has already gone on for far too long, and we simply can't afford the consequences of allowing Armageddon to begin this Thursday.

There truly is an end in sight... If Republicans can finally drop all the irrational demands, stop the hostage taking, and allow a bipartisan vote to reopen the government & ensure the nation's bills are paid.

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