Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Year of Manufactured Crises

After all the huffing and puffing and strutting and screaming, it happened. A deal was struck. The votes were rounded up. And after weeks of mindless speculation, Congress' latest and greatest manufactured crisis finally came to an end.

How many times have we had to talk about it here? Frankly, I lost count some time in March. However, I remember that our very first conversation of 2013 was about "The Fiscal Cliff"... And what the end of that manufactured crisis revealed to us about how Congress would (not) work in 2013.

Even while "The Fiscal Cliff" has been averted, this is still just a temporary solution. G-O-TEA extremists will be demanding whole pounds of "fiscal flesh" when the debt ceiling is taken hostage yet again again up for debate. So there will be another round of insanity to witness in the new Congress this spring.

Yet even with that being said, it may just end up being a bunch of meaningless Sturm und Drang. Why, you ask? Remember that for most of the past decade-plus in Congress (that is, when Republicans have controlled the House), Republicans have operated under the "Hastert Rule" of only bringing legislation to the House floor if it has the support of most of the Republican caucus. However, that did not happen last night. Instead, this bill passed despite most House Republicans opposing it. And in letting this happen, Boehner implicitly admitted that budget solutions can now be reached by actually reaching across the aisle for a change and bringing in Democratic votes (as opposed to simply grinding Congress to a halt just so he can engage in "tea party circle jerks").

This may be the key to unlocking the potential for better productivity in the new Congress. Both President Obama and Harry Reid see it. We'll just have to see how long House Republicans try denying this "new rule"... And how long we will have to endure the next round of meaningless "tea party circle jerks" before something (else) is actually accomplished.

Actually, it is the key... But it's yet to be used to solve anything other than manufactured crises. Instead, we've seen Congress stuck in epic gridlock thanks to endless G-O-TEA intransigence.

Comprehensive immigration reform (CIR)? Oh, no. They can't do that. It's too "big and complicated" for one bill (despite the fact that the Senate passed one in June).

Farm bill? Oh, no. They can't do that. They'd rather let American consumers suffer unnecessary higher food prices than let the working poor eat.

ENDA? Oh, no. They can't do that. They still refuse to accept that LGBTQ Americans exist, let alone contribute to the American Economy. [...]

Time and time again, Republican "leaders" have chosen cheap and crass political games over real governance. It's why major policy goals, such as CIR & ENDA, are about to be left unmet. And it's why we doubt this Congress can even "succeed" at such basic tasks as passing longer term budgets.

After all, some Republican politicians are now bragging about their vision of "government that does less". Why would they want to abandon that vision to allow for a government that actually functions properly?

Never mind that we actually have real crises to solve. Because Congressional Republican "leaders" long ago lost control of their Crazy Caucus, they've manufactured crises, such as "The Fiscal Cliff", the Shutdown Shitfest, and a slew of near default debacles, in a desperate attempt to mollify them. It hasn't worked. Instead, it's revealed just how reckless and feckless the G-O-TEA has become.

We've said it before, but we must say it again today. Sharron Angle likely has more control over the Nevada Republican Party than anyone who's actually supposed to be a "leader" in Carson City or DC. As much as Brian Sandoval would like to deny it and John Boehner would like to hide it, that's the awful and crazy truth that we saw unfold over the course of this year. 

Never mind that Sharron Angle currently holds no elected office and has no official position with the Nevada Republican Party. She and her "TEA Party, Inc." BFFs have provided the ideology that's now the heart and soul of today's Republican Party. And as a result, many Republicans are still defending their crazy actions. [...]

It doesn't matter that this whole Shutdown Shitfest made for absolutely awful economics. And it doesn't matter that it ultimately made for crappy politics. For today's G-O-TEA, all that matters is that crazy is in charge. And that's what caused this whole crazy fiasco in the first place.

Ultimately, this and the other manufactured crises came to an end. Senator Harry Reid (D-The Boss) was able to find just enough not-so-crazy Republicans to force "leadership" to stand down at the 11th hour of each and every manufactured crisis of 2013. Yet with that being said, this string of crises has taken its toll on the nation. America has been forced into an era of austerity, and people are suffering as a result of this series of budget cuts. Even now, even more American families are about to become victims of the next round of austerity madness.

And speaking of austerity madness, the big 2014-15 Ryan-Murray Budget Deal is on track to pass the Senate today. It easily overcame a G-O-TEA led filibuster on a 67-33 vote. For the record, Senator Reid voted for cloture while Senator Dean Heller (R) voted to sustain the filibuster.

Even though this budget deal offers plenty of austerity, a number of Republicans (including Heller & Rep. Joe Heck) still oppose it. Why? It doesn't have enough austerity to please the Crazy Caucus, so expect another round of battles in the ongoing G-O-TEA Civil War as 2013 comes to a close.

And what about the new year? Believe it or not, 2014 may begin with (drumroll, please) yet another manufactured crisis over the debt ceiling thanks to continuing teabagger angst over the Ryan-Murray Sequester Remix. So this shitfest over manufactured crises built upon voodoo economics and political hogwash may not actually be completely over just yet. Happy Holidays!

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