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Sep 30 2013

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The Jonestown Republicans

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Reality Wins Every Time...

Reality Wins Every Time…

The GOP House caucus has supped from the Kool Aid, and now we await the “revolutionary suicide” that will result.

Having attempted to defund Obamacare in its entirety in the first Continuing Resolution (CR) which failed mightily in the Senate, atavistic Republicans march on, trying again with more reasonable – but no more achievable – demands, linking a must-pass stop-gap funding measure to new delays and roll backs to Obamacare. The major elements of the GOP plan now include a one-year delay in the implementation of the individual mandate, and an end to the medical device tax.

Of course, Harry Reid’s Senate will dispatch this futile effort, and with much greater ease than the first CR – there being no 60-vote hurdle to cross this time – sending a clean CR back to the House with just hours to go before the government shutters it doors.

So then what?

House leaders put on a brave face on the Sunday shows, stating that regardless of the looming threat of a shutdown, should the Senate strip out their handiwork and send back a “clean” bill,  they would approve and send yet another encumbered CR to the Senate. Of course, why anyone in the GOP leadership believes this will meet a different result goes unexplained, as do any coherent next steps after a certain Senate rejection.

The hard fact here is that by remaining united, Harry Reid and the President have check-mated House Republicans, plain and simple. The first CR has proven that a strategy to hold Obamacare hostage to government funding is an abject failure as a policy and as a public narrative.

Yet Tea Party conservatives remain oblivious or in denial.

The fact that public opinion is already against the GOP – even before a shutdown – has not stopped them. The fact that there is simply no legislative strategy that gets to the stated policy goals, has not stopped them. The fact that this obsession with Obamacare, to the exclusion of everything else,  has distracted from core GOP messages on spending restraint and deficit reduction, has not stopped them. The fact that Democrats are set to reap the unexpected and stunning benefits of public disaffection with a government shutdown and its economic impacts has not stopped them.

When does the House leadership declare victory and retreat? When is enough, enough?

There are pundits who believe that John Boehner is actually executing a grand strategy. That faced with a highly energized caucus determined to take action, the Speaker saw a government shutdown as the lesser of two evils that would allow him to channel conservative fire in a single direction until it smolders and burns out in its own utter pointlessness, and most importantly, saving the Speaker from having to gamble with the debt limit.

This is the best explanation for the patently unexplainable? Surely we can see that that this posit is anything but a sure bet. Indeed, one certain take-away from the GOP failure in the CR saga is that the House did not take a big enough hostage.

The debt limit is out there, waiting – only 17 days away.

What do conservatives do now? How far will they press this losing case?

After House Republicans voted on a new, modified CR on Saturday, there were surreal reports of utter jubilation among the conservative faithful. “We’re very excited,” said Michele Bachmann.”It’s exactly what we wanted and we got it.”

Indeed.  But it is always good to be careful what you wish for.

100 years ago next August, crowds in capitals across Europe cheered wildly at news that their nations would go to war. Nearly a century of peace had made the horrors of war a distant memory, while creating simmering animosities that would now be settled in a test of strength that each side was certain they would win. Going to war, in sum, was very popular. No one thought it would last long. No one thought that it would up-end European civilization, permanently. But it did, with devestating results.

That summer of 1914 was a case study in the abdication of leadership. It led – almost by happenstance – to one of the most destructive – and preventable – wars in world history, a conflict that killed off one of the finest generations of men that Europe had ever assembled. It was an unmitigated disaster, the repercussions of which dogged the world for most of the 20th century.

So what is it going to be Republicans  – Kool Aid or black coffee; leadership or disaster?

Don’t take too long. There’s a lot riding on your decision.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, it seems as if a government shutdown was the plan all along – at least according to Tea Party conservatives in the House. What else could explain sending back yet another unacceptable CR to the the Senate -with only 48 hours before the government begins to shutter its doors?

True, the GOP has made its demands more reasonable, if no more likely.

Instead of ending Obamacare, the new CR  seeks a one year-delay in the individual mandate.  It also ends the Obamcare tax on medical devices – which has bipartisan critics, and for good measure, adds a conscience objection for Obamcare’s universal, free birth control.

Still, the rationale for this new path makes no sense, most of all politically.

The rules that govern the Senate’s next move don’t require a cloture vote (60 votes) – so Harry Reid will be able to strip out the parts of the legislation that he does not like with only 51 votes. House Republicans, who were hoping to put vulnerable Senate Democrats on the hot seat having to vote against He can even give a pass to some vulnerable Senate Democrats for whom the conscience objection and the medical tax repeal could be politically difficult, and still get his majority. He will do that tomorrow, and kick the can back to the House, with only hours to go before the government shutters its doors.

 

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