Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 17, 2010

THE DEATH OF THE OMNIBUS.... The stage was set for yet another partisan showdown. With the threat of a government shutdown lingering in the air, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) demanded that the chamber approve a temporary extension of existing funding levels to keep the government's lights on through Feb. 18. At that point, a new, more right-wing Congress can decide how best to proceed.

As of yesterday, Democrats rejected the demands. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said yesterday that he would advance an omnibus spending bill that would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year.

Reid felt confident, because he thought he had the votes -- as many as nine Senate Republicans had said they'd support the omnibus, which would be more than enough to guarantee passage. But within a few hours, Reid was told that those GOP senators, feeling too much heat from their party, had decided not to keep their commitments.

Lacking the votes he'd need to proceed, Reid gave up on the omnibus last night.

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said Thursday night that he was abandoning efforts to pass a $1.2 trillion spending measure to finance the government through Sept. 30 because Republicans would not support it.

Mr. Reid said he would work with the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, on a stop-gap spending bill instead. Senate Republicans also said they would not support a House-passed temporary spending measure running through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Instead, they want to develop a separate measure running only through the early part of next year.

Republicans seemed awfully pleased with themselves, but it's worth emphasizing how poor a showing this was for the GOP. This was, after all, a spending bill Republicans stuffed with earmarks, only to then whine about how awful the bill is because of all the earmarks. Worse, the Senate Republican leadership complained that the omnibus was too big, despite the fact that the Senate Republican leadership had already agreed to the exact size of the omnibus. Months of bipartisan work went into shaping this bill, all of which was trashed in a partisan tantrum.

The GOP clearly won the skirmish, by virtue of the fact Republicans got what they wanted, but anyone watching the fight hopefully noticed how petty and ridiculous the party appeared. Of course, for Republicans, that's a tradeoff they're more than willing to make.

Taken together, the bad news is the GOP got the better end of the hostage standoff, and will be in a position to do even more damage in February, when the likelihood of a government shutdown just became stronger.

The good news is the government won't shutdown tomorrow, and, to the delight of Senate clerks, Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) stunt will be unnecessary.

Also, the demise of the omnibus suddenly clears up some valuable calendar time in the upper chamber, which will be put to good use. More on that soon.

Steve Benen 8:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Comments

So, the Dems cave on the Tax Deal, let the GOP win, have the rich get richer, and add to the deficit.

In return, on the omnibus spending bill, the GOP reneges on their commitment and the Dems lose again.
Hard to see any good news here.

Hard to believe that the Democrats could be so inept. And they can't even play the media to show what the GOP is doing to the nation.

Posted by: Mad_nVt on December 17, 2010 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

I hope Obama "just forgets" to bring his pen to the big signing until all the rest of this stuff gets done.

Posted by: jon on December 17, 2010 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

From an earlier post: "I simply cannot fathom that a Democratic-controlled House, Senate and White House cannot get our bill passed," [John Feal, founder of the Feal Good Foundation] said.

This is what Republicans KNOW is true. 98% of the country can't see the forest for the trees.

So, this: "but it's worth emphasizing how poor a showing this was for the GOP. This was, after all, a spending bill Republicans stuffed with earmarks, only to then whine about how awful the bill is because of all the earmarks." is irrelevant.

There is never going to be a downside for the nasty people - sad but all too true.

Posted by: Mark-NC on December 17, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

"...but anyone watching the fight hopefully noticed how petty and ridiculous the party appeared."
Who's watching?
Ouside of a few of us Liberals.
On what channel?
CBS? ABC? NBC? CNN? FOX? HAHAH! OK, maybe MSNBC on Ed, Keith, or Rachel.
What paper are they going to read about it in?
The NY Times - but who reads that but us Liberals? The WaPo? Almost as funny as FOX is concerned as far as veracity.

Please, no one will notice. And nno one will know or care besides Liberal bloggers and their readers.
The FOXification of this nation is just about complete.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 17, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

"I hope Obama "just forgets" to bring his pen to the big signing until all the rest of this stuff gets done.
Posted by: jon on December 17, 2010 at 8:43 AM"

Now THAT is funny! President McConnell and President Boehner will order Obama to not go to the bathroom until it is signed and he will cave because he'll have to "go to the potty" and needs their permission.

Posted by: Mark-NC on December 17, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Wait a second. Reid withdrew the omnibus bill - got that. But then there was the question of the continuing resolutions, with the Dems supporting one for the entire fiscal 2011 (through Set. 30), and the GOP wanting a shorter one through somewhere around Feb. 18, giving them another hostage moment.

Do I gather that the Dems have caved on the continuing resolution, and have agreed to vote for the short-term CR?

Exactly why do I bother being a Democrat? Please refresh my recollection.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on December 17, 2010 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

And Steve somehow does this whole post without mentioning the word "filibuster."

Posted by: martin on December 17, 2010 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

I watched Foxnoose this am, just to see how they would handle this, and it's presented as a great loss for those awful Democrats.

"Looking petty and ridiculous" is in fact, a feature, and not a bug.

I am so bloody sick of Mitch McConnell.

Posted by: MR Bill on December 17, 2010 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

The media has refused to even mention the republicans' historic abuse of senate rules for the last 4 years. Hell, they wouldn't even mention their filibuster of a bill for 9/11 first responders.

There is no way this gets played to their detriment in the press. I'm sure McCain will be invited on a Sunday morning show to celebrate his pettiness.

Posted by: Holmes on December 17, 2010 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Eric Boehlert of Media Matters has an excellent post entitled:

Memo to the media: They’re called “obstructionists”

http://mediamatters.org/blog/201012140002

The Republican Party pays no price for their obstruction because the media looks the other way. The American people are oblivious to what is going on in congress. It's tragic.


Posted by: Ladyhawke on December 17, 2010 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if there's any way to calculate how many hours were spent by senators and their staff on this bill, as well as the $ spent on supplies - just printing it out must've killed a few trees and burned through some serious toner.

The point is: this was all wasted time. So how much did this waste cost the American taxpayer? And was this the Republican plan from the beginning?

Posted by: delNorte on December 17, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Did anybody see Stewart last night? He had 9/11 first responders on the show for an interview and then he schooled Huckabee who tried to blame the Democrats. Apparently Huckabee forgot he wasn't on Fox News.

Somebody mentioned the other day that Stewart is pissed with Republican and he is.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 17, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

I doubt this was the republicans' plan from the beginning. They had way too many personal goodies in it. I think the tea party imbeciles threw a tantrum over the tax deal, and spooked Senate republicans.

My fear is DADT and START get voted down for the same reason.

Posted by: Holmes on December 17, 2010 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Reid said he would work with the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, on a stop-gap spending bill instead. Senate Republicans also said they would not support a House-passed temporary spending measure running through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Instead, they want to develop a separate measure running only through the early part of next year.

LOL. Oh. My. God. I haven't laughed that hard in a very long time. Thanks, Harry. Good ol' Charlie Brown just can't quite say no to that Lucy offer.

Democrats officially suck the bottom of a big nasty dirty diaper. So trusting, so inept, so fucking clueless.

Posted by: Oh my on December 17, 2010 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

There was big NFL game last night. The visiting team was penalized 13 times for 230 yards, including two facemasks, and three roughing the passer. A player was ejected for unsportmanlike conduct.
Roundly booed by the home team fans, the visitors won the game, and will advance to the championship game in Washington, on Jan 4th.

The losers will have plenty of time to play golf.

Posted by: DAY on December 17, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

I love me some Daily Show/Colbert, but even Stewart would admit that it is a sad state of affairs when he, a comedian, is the best journalist on TV.

As an aside, Colbert was also good last night when he took down O'Reilly's nonsense on Jesus/unemployment benefits.

Posted by: Holmes on December 17, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Look. Bitch about Reid, fine. But focuse on the 9 republican a''holes who told him they would vote for the omnibus. Remember, back in the day ? Senators used to keep their word, most of the time, when they said they would vote a certain way.

Reid made a mistake, of believing them. But the brokenness of the Senate now reaches to the depths that show what a craven bunch of idiots they are.

And posters are right - I ventured out of my bubble this week, and the MSM misses most of the Repub. obstructionism. It is just "dems lose, repubs win" in a process that I cannot explain because my pretty little head will explode and because we need to use the time to cover some cat stuck in a tree somewhere in west doofus Iowa.....

Posted by: bigutah on December 17, 2010 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Okay, the CR covers through mid-February, correct?What happens on Feb. 19 (provided Senator McConnell proves as inept a minority leader as he appears AND there's no reform of the Senate rules in place)?

Will the Senate Republicans even allow another CR to be considered? I suspect not, at which point we'll have a genuine shut-down on our hands.

Posted by: Josef K. on December 17, 2010 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Americans don't understand that 41 is a majority and 58 is a minority in the world of the senate. I guess we can blame falling American math scores.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 17, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

I think everyone is making too much of this. Yes, the Republicans in the Senate reneged on a deal (not exactly news) when the heat from the right wing got too extreme. They have the leverage to force this into the beginning of the new Congress. Although the new Congress is much more conservative, it's not actually unreasonable for the Republicans to move this off to February or March.

I think there is a much greater chance that they will overplay their hand with all of the new blood coming in. If they force a shutdown of the Federal Government, it will look pretty ugly for them.

Posted by: DRF on December 17, 2010 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

A review of the coverage by the corporately owned media (CNN/USA TODAY/ABC/MSNBC/AP) report this as being the courageous republicans fighting against the corrupt democrats' earmarks.

What few report the role of republicans earmark requests have that information buried deep in their articles.

God bless our 'liberal' media!

Posted by: SadOldVet on December 17, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

"Anybody paying attention" -- hahahahaha.

The only thing the public will hear is how the principled Republicans rescued the country from the horrible Democrats who would spend your grandchildren's inheritance like drunken sailors.

Posted by: karen marie on December 17, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Josef K. In February the new house will put forward its own budget for the rest of the year. That budget might be very ugly. The Democrats in the Senate might resist. The President might veto. In either case there will be a real opportunity for a government shutdown. Republicans are counting on Democrats from the White House on down caving to their draconian demands. Given the Democrats performance in the past year or two, I would expect Democrats to cave. It is going to be a long winter.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 17, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

"I am so bloody sick of Mitch McConnell."...

I think he's sick of himself. When he talks, he sounds like he has a mouth full of vomit.

Posted by: Hessville T on December 17, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

In other words every person on Social Security and every government worker should stock up now before the country shuts down in late winter. who knows Obama might actually grow a pair.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 17, 2010 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

BigUtah:

Harry Reid is the Democrats' biggest problem. He's a bigger problem than the obstructionist Republicans, because if he had half an ounce of intelligence, this shit wouldn't be happening.

The fact that he is the Democratic majority leader speaks very poorly of the Senate Democrats who thought giving him the job was a good idea.

Posted by: karen marie on December 17, 2010 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

From what I gather, the pigs want very badly to shut the government down, you can almost feel their desire to do so, they care nothing about the problems this will cause, because they will use this tactic to pass something really egregious to the American people. Why they want to punish us, I don't know, maybe if we ask them they will tell us?

Posted by: jugheadjack on December 17, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Josef K. In February the new house will put forward its own budget for the rest of the year. That budget might be very ugly.

Given the unstated demands of the White House (ie. austerity in the name of deficit reduction), I concur.

The Democrats in the Senate might resist. The President might veto. In either case there will be a real opportunity for a government shutdown.

There is that. Indeed, were the GOP caucus leaders marginally more adept at managing their members, I'd think this was exactly the scenario they'd be shooting for.

But neither Boener nor McConnell appear that adept, nor have they demonstrated more than a passing level of competence when it comes to actual legislation. Sure, Senator Reid has an even more unruly and ideologically-fractured caucus to manage, but there's not Democratic equivalent to the barking mad hysteria the GOP has embraced.

In short, I won't be surprised if whatever the GOP leadership has planned doesn't get knocked onto a different rail due to the Tea Partiers they got elected.

Republicans are counting on Democrats from the White House on down caving to their draconian demands. Given the Democrats performance in the past year or two, I would expect Democrats to cave.

Again, I concur, although I suspect the White House will be able to wring a few more concessions out before they give in. What those concessions might be at the time, I've no idea. Guess we'll have to see.

It is going to be a long winter.

A cold, bitter one, I agree.

Posted by: Josef K. on December 17, 2010 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

karin marie at 9:58am:

Harry Reid is the Democrats' biggest problem. He's a bigger problem than the obstructionist Republicans, because if he had half an ounce of intelligence, this shit wouldn't be happening.

I think that's being a little unfair towards the Majority Leader. I've been looking into the labyrinthine Senate rules; everything the GOP has been doing has been perfectly legitimate and within the confines of the rules as presently laid out. Their reasons for doing so, however, put me in mind of Stalin's Russia.

That said, Reid has to manage his own caucus, which has access to the same rules and procedures and which is far more ideologically divided than the GOP. The fact he was able to get what he did out of a collection of country club primadonnas who's grasp of reality seems tenuous sometimes seems quite the accomplishment.

Admittedly what he got out of them was both sub-optimal and sub-standard, which just means we need to elect better Senators in coming years and get real reform of the chamber's rules in place.

The fact that he is the Democratic majority leader speaks very poorly of the Senate Democrats who thought giving him the job was a good idea.

Again, he's managed his caucus and the chamber as well as anyone might expect given the minority party is barking mad and doesn't give a fig about the country at large. Yes, his performance hasn't exactly been awe-inspiring, but then whose has lately?

Posted by: Josef K. on December 17, 2010 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

How about an informal poll?

Let's assume the Dems go along with a GOP continuing resolution that keeps the government running at current spending levels until February.

And let's further assume that, at that point, the GOP will block any extension of government spending authority that isn't accompanied by massive spending cuts, giving Obama a choice between massive spending cuts or a government shutdown.

Who blinks first - Obama or the GOP?

My money's on Obama, unfortunately.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on December 17, 2010 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

low tech cyclist. You are absolutely right. The game was over when our "Democratic" president gave up good policy in return for the crumbs of extending unemployment insurance and the "Democratic" majorities in the Senate and House got into line. The game is over for everyone but the super rich. Of course, they will leave the U.S. too because it is not going to be a very nice place to live. Mitch's bitch--worst president ever!

Posted by: Terry on December 17, 2010 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

low tech cyclist, so what's your Plan B? What do we do when, because the President "stood tall" and didn't blink, the entire economy goes completely into the shitter? And probably drags the rest of the world's economies with it? You might want to find out what the current percentages of urban versus rural populations are, because the last time that sort of thing happened around 75% of the world's population were still farmers and could at least feed themselves. Nowadays, not so many; and many (most?) of them are dependent on petroleum in one form or another.
I definitely agree that it's going to get worse before it gets better, but somehow you seem to be blaming the victim rather than the criminal.
Apparently Republicans aren't the only ones who do that...

Posted by: Doug on December 17, 2010 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK
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