Thursday, October 10, 2013

Shutdown Progress?

The Center for American Progress explains why A Piecemeal Approach to Funding the Government Makes No Sense


"So far, the House of Representatives has passed one or two of these piecemeal funding bills each day. At that rate, it would take another 32 workdays for the House to get through the rest of the funding, and that is assuming an average of $6 billion per bill. If the House chooses instead to continue to fund everything service by service, it will take more than 100 additional workdays to finish, which means the full government will finally be up and running sometime next spring."

Andrew Sullivan collects some choice quotes, How The GOP Defines Surrender.

Kevin Drum breaks down The Weird Politics of Republican Hostage Taking. "So there's a weird thing going on with the Republican hostage-taking strategy. All of them agree that taking hostages is hunky dory, but there's a split over which hostage should be taken. Some Republicans think the party should go ahead and fund the government and then have an all-out fight using the debt ceiling as leverage. John Boehner, Charles Krauthammer, and Marc Thiessen are in this crew. On the other side, we have Republicans who think we should go ahead and raise the debt ceiling and use the government shutdown as leverage for conservative demands. Tea party firebrands Erick Erickson and Matt Kibbe are on this team."

Paul Ryan wrote an op-ed in the WSJ, Here's How We Can End This Stalemate. It's an attempt at a step forward. He doesn't talk about defunding Obamacare, but wants to address entitlements. I guess if the Democrats have already agreed to take your budget proposal, that's the place to go. He says "Meanwhile, mandatory spending—which mostly consists of funding for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—will grow by $1.6 trillion, or roughly 79%. The 2011 Budget Control Act largely ignored entitlement spending. But that is the nation's biggest challenge."

Of course Obamacare will lower costs of healthcare which will save money for Medicare and Medicaid, but Republicans just don't accept that.

Cantor also wrote an article, Eric Cantor: Divided government requires bipartisan negotiation and Greg Sargent of The Plum Line breaks them down, A clarifying moment of Washington dysfunction.

Cantor’s and Ryan’s pieces call for Obama to negotiate with Republicans on entitlements and spending as a route to resolving the current crisis. Says Cantor: “The president not only has refused to negotiate on issues of debt and spending but also has mocked the very idea of engaging with Congress.” Cantor’s statement is false. Obama and Republicans don’t disagree over the need to negotiate on these issues. They disagree over the conditions under which these negotiations should proceed.

Dems want Republicans to agree to reopen the government at sequester levels, and to avert the threat of default, before entering into these negotiations. They don’t believe the threat of widespread harm to the country should give Republicans unilateral leverage in those negotiations — not just because it will be used to force unilateral concessions from Dems, but because it will legitimize such tactics as conventional Washington negotiating tools and make default, and immense damage to the country, more likely later.

By contrast, Republicans will only agree to have these negotiations in a context where a government shutdown and the threat of default do give them that added leverage. This is an objective statement of the GOP position. Dems have offered Republicans the negotiations they want, once those conditions are lifted. Republicans have refused. Therefore, their position is that conditions which continue to threaten widespread destruction, giving them leverage, must remain for any talks to proceed.

The key tell is that Cantor and Ryan don’t directly defend this position. They elide it. To be sure, both repeat the claim there have been negotiations attached to debt ceiling hikes in the past. But as Jonathan Chait explains, that isn’t the same as dangling the actual threat of default and untold economic havoc as a way to extract massive one-sided concessions. Republicans cannot defend this tactic because they will not acknowledge they are actually employing it. John Boehner already allowed in March that the debt ceiling will and must be raised, because: ”I’m not going to risk the full faith and credit of the federal government.” But on ABC on Sunday, when Boehner was pressed on whether he’d actually allow default if Dems didn’t give him what he wants, he repeatedly fudged, saying he would not allow a vote on a ”clean” debt limit bill. What happens if default is the only other option? We just don’t know.

Ezra Klein looks at Ryan's article and concludes, The shutdown is about taxes.

As Ryan notes, these are President Obama's ideas. Most of them are in his budget. Right now. The budget he wants to pass. Which raises the obvious question: If Obama supports these ideas and these ideas are what the Republican Party needs to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling then what's the problem?

The problem is taxes. The deal Obama proposes in his budget is he'll agree to those entitlement reforms and more (Ryan doesn't even mention chained-CPI) if Republicans agree to raise tax revenues by cutting various tax breaks. This is also the kind of deal proposed by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

But Republicans don't want to raise taxes. They want to get the spending cuts they support in return for nothing. And that's what the shutdown/debt-ceiling fight is about now.

Meanwhile, Boehner’s Bizarre Gambit. "So it’s semi-official: John Boehner has announced a new proposal for an apparently unconditional six-week increase in the debt limit, but without any action to re-open the federal government via an appropriations measure. He laid out this proposal at a meeting of his conference this morning, and it apparently did not provoke any sort of revolt."

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