Sunday, September 22, 2013

And In This Corner, Good Cop John Boehner

Sahil Kapur of Talking Points Memo is, it is to be hoped, psychic.  He writes that Texas freshman Senator Ted Cruz

and his fellow Obamacare defunders, most notably Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), have found themselves in an unthinkable position. The House granted their wish on Friday and passed legislation that eliminates funding for Obamacare in a bill to keep the government funded, sending the battle to the Senate. That means that for once, these senators have have to put up and demonstrate their gravitas. Their first instinct was to concede defeat and slink away in the Senate, but after a furious reaction from House Republicans, they feel renewed pressure to walk the walk.

"I hope that every Senate Republican will stand together and oppose cloture on the bill in order to keep the House bill intact and not let Harry Reid add Obamacare funding back in," Cruz said in a statement Friday, referring to the GOP's ability to filibuster.

Lee said that "with a unified Senate Republicans Caucus, we will convince enough Democrats" to agree to defund Obamacare.

Hope, after all, isn't much of a plan...

If, by some miracle, Senate Republicans are successful in delaying the legislation long enough to face a real government shutdown -- the first since 1996 -- the party is likely to pay a political price. Cruz has seemed unconcerned about the political blowback of such a scenario, likening a shutdown to an extended weekend in July.

But the issue isn't- or shouldn't be- a government shutdown.  Ezra Klein explains that the Democratic-"controlled" Senate probably will send to the House a continuing resolution (unlike the one which the GOP-controlled House approved) which does not defund the Affordable Care Act.  Then

Boehner isn't going to simply shrug, say he tried, and bring the Senate bill to the floor. He'll shrug, say he tried, and tell his members that they should let him bring the Senate bill to the floor. He'll say it's because they need to save their fire for the debt ceiling fight, where they can force the White House to delay Obamacare for a year by threatening to trigger a global financial crisis. In fact, this is already the message he's delivering to his members.

And Democrats may put up limited resistance..

Thursday's All In with Chris Hayes included Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz stating

You know, a number of us were talking about that on the House  floor tonight. And, you know, ironically, you know, the best potential  fall back position could be that we get out of this by not shutting the  government down, and just going with 988 as a limit, but that`s the sequester levels. And I`ll tell you, there are many, many Democrats who  are not OK with that.

At the end of the day, Chris, what has to happen, in order for us to avoid  government shutdown, is set aside the ideological battle over Obamacare,  and focus on making sure that we can come together, as a Congress, not as  hyper-partisan Tea Party --

And on Friday she reportedly told Andrea Mitchell

We've all got to set rigid ideology aside and sit down and find common ground because we've got to make sure that we can focus on continuing to get our economy to turn around. I know, look I'm the chair of the DNC, I know it can't be my way or the highway. I'm willing to put my vote on the line and go back to my constituents and explain why I didn't do it exactly the way they wanted me to. We've got to make sure that in the congress and put a majority of members, not Republicans, but members, on the board so we can continue to get our economy turned around and get a budget that breaks from the rigid adherence to dogma and ideology.

It shouldn’t be about fault here, but there is a way out of this where we just sit down together and figure it out and find some common ground on the crux of the matter,

It's clear what the problem is here.   One party is taking an extreme position, with an implied threat to put the full faith and credit of the United States of America at risk by defaulting on the debt.   The chairwoman of the other party, which controls the presidency and half of Congress, says all need to hold hands and "focus on making sure that we can come together... set rigid ideology aside and sit down and find common ground."   And she is not likely to be saying that unless she was signaled by the White House that it is willing to deal.

The focus in the media has been on the Affordable Care Act and the President's determination not to allow it to be repealed, thereby harming his legacy.  But that resolve is also a Repub bargaining chip.  Because short of rescinding the health care law, there is a lot Obama and his minions can acquiesce to, whether delaying some of its provisions, expanding the sequester's impact on domestic spending or eliminating it on defense spending, or implementing a portion of the Grand Bargain.   Cutting Social Security and Medicare were initially put on the table by the President, and they remain prominent on the GOP's dart board.

Unfortunately, the Repubs still have that underrated bargaining chip, the "hyper-partisan Tea Party" invoked by Wasserman Schultz.  The President has his own bargaining chip with Democratic progressives: utter the dreaded phrase "tea party" and tell the base that only by supporting a deal he cuts with Speaker Boehner can it be kept at bay.

Which is why, contrary to what we are to believe, Ted Cruz is crazy.  Like a fox.

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