Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 5, 2011

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN LOOKS INEVITABLE.... Yesterday was supposed to be the day policymakers made progress towards some kind of budget deal, averting a government shutdown, which is set to begin this Friday. Instead, the entire process went backwards yesterday.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) agreed privately last week to $33 billion in cuts -- more cuts than he'd even asked for originally, and the largest one-time spending-cut package in American history -- before reversing course yesterday, saying the total is "not enough."

Making matters slightly worse, House GOP leaders said the kind of cuts Democrats are offering aren't good enough -- some of the cuts Dems are offering would apply only to this budget plan, and Republicans are insisting that the cuts "permanently reduce the size of government."

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) released an especially interesting statement late yesterday afternoon, needling Boehner for being such a weak Speaker.

"A compromise on the budget is right there for the taking, assuming the Speaker still wants one. We take it for granted that because of the intense political pressure being applied by the Tea Party, the Speaker needs to play an outside game as well as an inside game.

"As long as he continues to negotiate, it's OK by us if he needs to strike a different pose publicly. Since last week, the two sides have made steady progress on a package of $33 billion in cuts. This is an historic level of spending cuts, it is the halfway mark between the two sides, and the Speaker has already agreed to this number privately. Differences may remain over where exactly the cuts should come from, but the only real question left is whether the political will exists to buck the Tea Party.

"At this point, we are so far down the road towards an agreement, and so little time remains before Friday's deadline, that it would be a dramatic about-face for the Speaker to suddenly let things devolve into a shutdown, as many in the Tea Party are urging. As a result, we remain hopeful a deal will be reached."

Except, of course, there's no reason to be hopeful -- Boehner heads a right-wing caucus that doesn't believe in compromise, won't accept concessions, and doesn't care what its own Speaker negotiates.

President Obama will personally oversee talks today at the White House with the relevant players from both parties and both chambers, but it's unclear exactly what's left to talk about.

For their part, Republican leaders announced a new stunt last night -- after vowing that they would, under no circumstances, consider another temporary extension, GOP officials said they're crafting one more continuing resolution. This one, however, would cut $12 billion over one week -- as opposed the $2 billion a week figure Republicans have been using -- and include an anti-abortion rider.

In other words, Republicans are crafting an extension that's designed to fail on purpose so they can try to point the finger elsewhere when the government shuts down.

The GOP is, once again, playing a silly political game when it should be working. Of course, working is hard, and governing requires mature officials exercising power responsibly, and we're stuck with intemperate children running the House of Representatives.

While the White House talks are held today, House Republicans will circulate a pamphlet "outlining the procedures Congressional offices should take during a government shutdown." The Obama administration has also begun instructing agency officials "to begin sharing details of shutdown contingency plans with top managers."

Thanks again midterm voters for ignoring the warnings and creating this mess.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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Thanks again midterm voters for ignoring the warnings and creating this mess.

Amen to that.

Posted by: pol on April 5, 2011 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

And just think, after they finally DO come to some sort of agreement, as they must, we'll get to do the same thing with the debt ceiling!

Fun, fun, fun!!!

A lot of voters should have been informed about the decisions they were making in '10.

So, listen, maybe if you're a low information voter, how about sitting out the next couple of elections?
Because whatever you have for information is obviously faulty. Or, you ain't readin' it right.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 5, 2011 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks again midterm voters for ignoring the warnings and creating this mess.

Don't forget the non-voters.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on April 5, 2011 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

Not that Obama would ever do this in a zillion years, but for the debt ceiling, he should state that the national security of the U.S. requires him as Commander in Chief to raise it unilaterally because the Congress has failed to fulfill its duties and act.
Tell the SOBs they can impeach him if they don't like it. Then tell the Senate Democrats if they don't back him up, he and Biden will resign and they can deal with President Boehner.
The only way to deal with bullies is hit them very hard. Since under the current Supreme Court we have no Constitution to speak of, why should only one side get to ignore it?

Posted by: JMG on April 5, 2011 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

Hell's Littlest Angel beat me to it.

Posted by: June on April 5, 2011 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

There are two things the Democrats need to do:
1. Hold firm on their offer of $33 billion and threaten that any further cuts will have to come from spending the GOP cherishes (like projects in Boehner's district).
2. Call Clinton and ask him how he destroyed the GOP the last time they pulled this stunt, and control the narrative for once so that the Republicans think twice about doing this again when the next budget is due.

Hey, I can dream can't I?

Posted by: Kiweagle on April 5, 2011 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

This has become an issue over John Boehner's job security. He is out as Speaker if he compromises in any way with the Democrats. He probably believes he can preserve his job if the government shuts down. At least in the short term until the voters speak. Or maybe not.

Posted by: jak on April 5, 2011 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

Looks like all that remains is for Obama to masterfully oversee a "compromise" in which the Republicans get pretty much all they ever wanted and Democrats avoid being blamed for a shutdown.

Heaven forfend that the Democrats eve go on the offensive. The bond market wouldn't like it, and then where would we be?

Posted by: bleh on April 5, 2011 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

For years my husband and I have been arguing with one of our best friends, who kept insisting that there was no difference between Republicans and Democrats. He was a low-information voter, and always voted "based on the person."

Over the past year or so we finally began to make some progress with him - but it's this crop of idiot Republicans that has finally helped him see the light.(Of course, since he is an individual contractor to a government agency, now he sees his own livelihood threatened - that helps!)

Posted by: blondie on April 5, 2011 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

Silly. The tea party (read: Bushit's 30% deadeners) will close the gov't and have a burger and freedom fries while kissing the rings of their true masters: Corporate America. Nauseating...

Posted by: stevio on April 5, 2011 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks again midterm voters for ignoring the warnings and creating this mess.

No, thanks to the administration and national Democratic party that did little to win the 2010 elections. Especially thanks to all of us for tolerating a national Democratic party that hasn't run a sustained and effective party builidng program in more than a few states for over a generation.

We need a party that is fired up and ready to go every election, not just Presidential elections. Don't blame the voters if we didn't give them a reason to vote.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 5, 2011 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

Castigating the voter who pulled the "wrong" lever- or did not vote at all- is a feel good, but pointless exercise.

America has had a low turnout electorate for years, and aside from having some sort of 'mandatory' voting (I believe Australia has this), it is up to Democrats and the Democratic Party to educate and energize the populace. Because the Republicans won't do it; low turnout is how they "steal" elections.

Like blondie, we can to do it, one voter at a time.

Posted by: DAY on April 5, 2011 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

We are now finally explicitly seeing that this is not about the deficit, it is about "cutting the size of government". It is not about cuts that harm the wealthy (farm and energy outlays and credits), but about making the destitute and near destitute even more so. These people have no sense of the word society. The only update to the French situation in the 1780s is that the Bachmann's and Palin's of the world say, figuratively, let them eat Twinkies. The Republicans want to develop an aristocracy and re-establish the peasantry.

Posted by: Mudge on April 5, 2011 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Mudge, what gave you the first clue?

Sorry for the snark, but Tea Party or Country Club, they are all just Republicans to me. As Republicans they hate Americans who don't look like them, go to the same clubs or drive the same foreign cars. Since the beginning of the last century they have always wanted to develop an aristocracy and re-establish a peasantry. They take the class right out of class warfare.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 5, 2011 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

It's the midterm non-voters that you should thank. They stayed home to Teach Obama A Lesson about not making good on his campaign promises. I wasn't thrilled with him about that either, but I knew what would happen if the GOP took Congress, so I voted, with a good conscience, because I have no quarrels with my own Congressman. But all over the country, Democrats were doing what they do best. "Obama hasn't closed Gitmo! I'm going to shoot my own foot! Obama hasn't held civilian trials for the suspected 9/11 conspirators so I'm going to poke myself in the eye! Obama compromised on health care and didn't push hard enough for single payer, so I'm going to go outside without my coat in a blizzard and get pneumonia just to spite him! And the lesser of two evils is still evil!"

Yeah, and sometimes the greater of two evils is a helluvalot worse, guys. It was funny in a grim way to watch the likes of Glenn Greenwald in the days after the election last November saying "What, who me? Why are you blaming poor, innocent, powerless me just because I ranted on and on about how Democratic voters shouldn't support anyone who compromises?" He should have been stepping up and taking a bow for accomplishing exactly what he wanted, Teaching The Democrats A Lesson.

Funny, though, because they've been taught that same lesson over and over, but never seem to learn it, and meanwhile, the country endured Nixon, Reagan, and Bush I and II, not to mention the Gingrich freshman Congress of 1994, who look like Snow White now in comparison with the current freshmen.

Posted by: T-Rex on April 5, 2011 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Don't blame the voters if we didn't give them a reason to vote.

How about because it's their most basic fucking duty as citizens of a democratic republic?

Posted by: hells littlest angel on April 5, 2011 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Just how are the Democrats supposed to get any message out when everything is filtered through a Republican lens? I'm not saying they haven't dropped the ball often enough, they have, but we're living in a world where the only information available to the the general public is carefully crafted to fit the conservative agenda.

Posted by: SaintZak on April 5, 2011 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

SaintZak, you ever heard of the internet?!!

How the hell are the Wisconsin democrats getting the word out? What about the Dems in Ohio.

Better yet, what about the folks in Cairo? The media was totally against them.

Blaming the bought and paid for media is a cop out. Protecting and nurturing America is our responsibility, not the responsbility the New York Times

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 5, 2011 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

It's sad that all of this is playing out so plainly and clearly in front of our eyes, and the majority of Americans don't even realize it. They'll wait to be told by the MSM who they should blame and we all know how that's going to play out. Sad times.

I also just can't shake the feeling that even those who follow politics closely are being bamboozled. There is a reason that Federal and state Republicans are being so brazen about going against public will. What do they know that we don't??

Posted by: J Zadero on April 5, 2011 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Lots of blame. Can't we at least look to last year's Congress, when there were Dem majorities, and when they should have passed a budget? WE wouldn't have to deal with this BS then, would we?

Posted by: bigtuna on April 5, 2011 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Tea Party Motto: Nice Country you've got there. Pity if anything happened to it.

Posted by: martin on April 5, 2011 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Good thing Democrats have learned from the 2010 debacle and are setting forth a clear plan to increase employment, protect the safety net and the environment, and ... oops. Guess not.

But then, I'm sure there are lots of jobs on Wall Street and K Street waiting for them when they lose their elections in 2012.

P.S. It's fun to blame the voters for voting wrong rather than the politicians for campaigning wrong. Maybe if Democrats went back to offering popular solutions to people's problems, they might get more votes. Just a thought.

Posted by: Tom Allen on April 5, 2011 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

No, thanks to the administration and national Democratic party that did little to win the 2010 elections.

Yep. That sure was an unproductive Congress prior to the mid-terms. Didn't do shit for Americans.

Posted by: AK Liberal on April 5, 2011 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

"Don't blame the voters if we didn't give them a reason to vote."

That's the lamest thing I've ever heard. Like blaming your poor health on your mother's failure to make spinach taste better for you.

We're theoretically a democracy, right? That means that, yes, whatever happens is indeed the voters' (or non-voters) fault. It's nobody's job to "make" me want to vote. It's my privilege to vote, my pride to vote well, and my fault if I don't vote or vote poorly.

We are our own problem. Jesus Christ himself couldn't fix an America that consists of an inertial citizenry waiting to be acted on "correctly" before they'll attend to their own interests.

Posted by: Jon on April 5, 2011 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

"GOP officials said they're crafting one more continuing resolution. This one, however, would cut $12 billion over one week -- as opposed the $2 billion a week figure Republicans have been using -- and include an anti-abortion rider."

Any budget bill with a bullshit GOP rider should categorically be a non-starter. Any Dem that votes for such a bill should be targeted for a primary challenge.

Dems need to start fearing us more than GOP leadership fears the teabaggers.


Posted by: bdop4 on April 5, 2011 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Boner wants more cuts, fine: CUT DEFENSE!!!

The next time a Republican- especially a Teabagger- starts bitching about the deficit, ask them if they favor cutting defense and/or restoring the taxes to their level during the prosperous Clinton years. If he- and it's almost always a he- says no to either, than he's full of shit and you should tell him so to his face.

Unfortunately, the SCLM still buys into the "both sides are the same" narrative. So, if one side says down is down, while the other says that down is up, then clearly both are right.

War is peace, freedom is slavery, and idiots are geniuses.

Ready to move off-world,

Posted by: Zorro on April 5, 2011 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK
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