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January 02, 2013 8:58 AM Crisis Averted! For Weeks!

By Ed Kilgore

As you have probably heard by now, given the unearthly din of hype, the House completed its clumsy performance of “Ideologues on (Thin) Ice” late last night and approved the Senate-enacted tax bill by a 257-167 margin. Democrats split 172-16 in favor of the measure, and Republicans voting against it 85-151. The number two and number three members of the House Republican conference, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy, voted “nay” while Speaker Boehner cast a rare vote of “yea,” joined by Paul Ryan. All this occurred after a day of drama in which House GOPers threatened to amend the bill (effectively killing it until the next Congress) to add spending cuts earlier passed by the House in one of its Kabuki exercises aimed at shortcircuiting defense sequesters.

So now we’ll hear hymns of praise to Boehner for defusing the crisis he helped create. Stocks may well jump when markets open, before sagging (mark my words) at “concerns” that the whole circus will come right back to town in anticipation of the debt limit breach and sequestration delay expiration in late February/early March.

Above all the noise we’ll hear Republicans in both Houses pledging to make that next confrontation the Real Deal, plunging the global economy into chaos and blighting hundreds of millions of lives if they don’t get the disabling of the New Deal and Great Society programs they’ve been promising themselves and their base voters since 2010.

Should be quite the day for posturing.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Ronald on January 02, 2013 9:30 AM:

    Indeed. Quite a show. It is only the first act, though.
    We still have Boner's leadership 'drama', the introduction of the new class of Republican weirdos to introduce to Congress, an inauguration, the SotU, and then finally into the Debt Crisis 'cliff' as Republicans once again attempt to steer the Global economy off the cliff they tried hard to drive over this time.

    Should be a circus the next few months.

  • Peter C on January 02, 2013 9:36 AM:

    While there has been much discussion about unemployment insurance and the cut-off for the top bracket ($250,000 v $400,000), little has been said about the defense industry. They, of course, benefitted mightily from the deal and weighed in the calculations of many, no doubt. It's a bit scary that they are so effective at hiding in the shadows. I had really hoped that one consequence of going over the 'cliff' would be an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan.

    Also, I'm disappointed that we've now missed a chance to have Congress actually 'govern' by setting new policy instead of just posture and play politics (as it has done practically constantly for at least 2 years).

    I wonder if the actors involved congratulate themselves for 'avoiding' the 'fiscal cliff' as if they'd acted in time and not 24 hours too late.

    I hope that the American People start to realize that the biggest 'problem' with government is Republican obstructionism. When they are involved, things are chaotic, acrimonious, inefficient and poorly formulated.

  • Josef K on January 02, 2013 9:49 AM:

    Is it wrong of me to have wished the first vote actually take place and succeed, thereby derailing this deal? On the fundamentals, its not all that bad; like Dr. Klugman however I'm more upset by how it was arrived at, and fear what it portends.

    Then there's this:

    Above all the noise we’ll hear Republicans in both Houses pledging to make that next confrontation the Real Deal, plunging the global economy into chaos and blighting hundreds of millions of lives if they don’t get the disabling of the New Deal and Great Society programs they’ve been promising themselves and their base voters since 2010.

    What happens if they actually go ahead and, after multiple concessions from the White House, go ahead and cause a default just on principle? I don't seriously think Boehner will loose his Speakership, but the House now resembles a Civil War re-enactment show, and I've no confidence Boehner can actually control the House GOP caucus anymore.

    What happens if that (sizable) sliver of the GOP cacus goes ahead and follows its reported convictions? What then?

  • James M on January 02, 2013 10:11 AM:

    Although I pretty much agree with the above commenters, I think we should give the 'devil his due'.Speaker Boehner did put through the vote at considerable personal risk and I think he deserves credit for doing the right thing (no matter how belated...).

    As for the coming debt crisis fiasco, I think that BO would be well advised to pick up a copy of an old classic: Winning Through Intimidation. The author's main point is that you can not hope to be credible in any negotiation unless you are willing to walk away from the deal. If your opponent knows you are committed to getting a deal at any cost you have no leverage.

    Should BO let the GOP threaten to wreck the global economy? Radical as it seems, I am beginning to think yes. Any suspense/spy novel writer can tell you that you never give in to blackmail because it only gets worse. If the Tea Party driven GOPers have decided they can shadow govern through extortion it has to be stopped. Otherwise they will dismantle the progressive society brick by brick.

  • sjw on January 02, 2013 10:17 AM:

    I'm worried about how Obama will handle the next threat, namely, the debt limit. You could argue that he had to do what he did last time out with respect to the debt limit because of the economy still being weak and because of his reelection bid. And while I was heartened by the more muscular rhetoric behind Obama's negotiating regarding the "cliff," I experienced déjà vu all over again when he gave in on the 250K and had (so it was reported) as part of his deal with Boehner a 2-year moratorium on the debt limit (in other words, he was negotiating the debt limit). So, it was the same old same old of tough talk followed by wimping out.

    And I'm not the only one worried. Harry Reid, who literally threw Obama's last fiscal cliff proposal into the fireplace in his office, believes that Obama's recent conduct makes the next round of negotiations more difficult. And then at the other end of the spectrum there's this: Ezra Klein reported the other day that, behind the scenes, a number of Republicans are literally laughing at Obama's supposed toughness after he backed away from his two lines in the sand.

    Biden has provided repeated assurances that Obama will hang tough the next time. I pray it's true.

  • c u n d gulag on January 02, 2013 10:19 AM:

    HUZZAH!
    Our Union forces "won" the 2nd Battle of Bullsh*t Run.

    Now, on to DebtCeilingburg.

    Hmm…

    Anyone surprised that the vast majority of the House Republicans who voted “Aye” for this bill, were from the Northern Union (and affiliated) states, and the vast majority of those who voted “Nay,” were from the Southern Confederate (and affiliated) ones?

    Yeah, me neither…

  • Doug on January 02, 2013 12:16 PM:

    "...I'm disappointed that we've now missed a chance to have Congress actually 'govern' by setting new policy instead of posture and play politics..." Peter C @ 9:36 AM

    You're joking, right? The avoidance of setting policy is the only chance the Republicans have if they wish to remain a national party. Obfuscating and outright lying are all that's keeping today's GOP a national party. Well, the millins from the Kochs and others help...
    Boehner has spent the last two years tamping down his radical wing and shifting everything possible to the Senate because he knows that any "policy" proposals made by his causcus will pass the House and die in the Senate. Boehner knows his caucus won't compromise; why should they, they rigged the House elections fair and square, didn't they?
    And when the House Republicans refuse to make any changes, THEIR fingerprints will be all over the results. Even the MSM is starting, finally, to get wise to these tactics. The Republicans will lose 2014, 2016, 2020 and possibly further if Boehner, or ANY Speaker, is forced to bring to floor what the radicals REALLY want. Almost makes one fell sorry for the Orange One or his successor.
    Almost...