Delusional Cynical Politics

It has been a busy time , and harder to do blog posts. But with the federal government shutdown and the threat of default, it is time to return.

More than enough has been written about the logjam that has shuttered the federal government, but it seems to me that some important points have simply been ignored by the media. So the Republicans make what is a demand for a fundamental policy change (defund Obama Care) or they will refuse to open government or pass a debt ceiling increase. The President refuses to negotiate “with a gun to his head” and demands the passage of “clean” bills to re-open government and increase the debt limit. So here we are, with the federal government shutdown and the potential for a U.S. Government default right around the corner. With the President holding firm Republicans appear to now have shifted their demands to some sort of fiscal deal as they search for a way out of their political quandary. The new approach was signaled by Paul Ryan in a Wall Street Journal piece:

If Mr. Obama decides to talk, he’ll find that we actually agree on some things. For example, most of us agree that gradual, structural reforms are better than sudden, arbitrary cuts. For my Democratic colleagues, the discretionary spending levels in the Budget Control Act are a major concern. And the truth is, there’s a better way to cut spending. We could provide relief from the discretionary spending levels in the Budget Control Act in exchange for structural reforms to entitlement programs.

Not a word about ObamaCare in that piece. So the Republicans have already moved the goalpost, realizing that their initial demands were not going to happen. So what has the media missed? Some pretty important points. Since we have moved the discussion to the budget there has been some talk about where we are today, and how we got there. Republicans, with long faces, have showed up before the cameras and pleaded for the President to simply “negotiate”. It actually sounds reasonable until you lift the hood up and look at those pesky details.

After the collapse of the last budget negotiations Speaker Boehner announced quite loudly that he would no longer negotiate on the budget with the President, saying quite clearly that he would rely on “regular order” to deal with budgetary issues.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is signaling that at least one thing will change about his leadership during the 113th Congress: he’s telling Republicans he is done with private, one-on-one negotiations with President Obama.

During both 2011 and 2012, the Speaker spent weeks shuttling between the Capitol and the White House for meetings with the president in hope of striking a grand bargain on the deficit.

So the Speaker, who now demands “negotiations”, ruled out negotiations just a few short months ago. How about that “regular order”? Well let us look at that issue as well. Many will recollect that the democratic Senate had been the subject of much Republican criticism for the failure to pass a budget for several years. I thought that criticism had some validity. But the Senate has passed their version of the budget, and after doing so attempted to utilize “regular order” to seek a budgetary “conference committee” with the Republican House. Senate Republicans fought against the naming of the conference committee, using procedural tools to block the naming of Senate conferees. The Republican House, fearful that a conference committee would produce a budgetary compromise, actually simply refused to go to conference on the budget. Yes you read that right. The Republicans refused to negotiate on the budget. That position has lasted for months, with Republicans, who now call for negotiation, refusing to negotiate on the budget. Where is that coverage in the media? Well the Huffington Post covered it in detail, offering a timeline. The hypocrisy is staggering, even by political standards.

Finally let us get to what the Republicans seem to want for these “negotiations.” Speaker Boehner said on “This Week” that budget negotiations with the President would not really be negotiations, but rather would require the President to simply adopt Republican positions in order to get government open, or the debt limit increased.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you’re saying you want a conversation now about changes in Social Security, changes in Medicare, changes in entitlements? Would you be willing to accept what the president has demanded for that kind of a negotiation, having new revenues as part of the discussion?

BOEHNER: The president got $850 billion — $650 billion of new revenues on January the 1st. He got his revenues. Now, it’s time to talk about the spending problem.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So that’s a no?

BOEHNER: Very simple. We’re not raising taxes.

Yup, that is the “negotiation” that the Speaker envisions. In a reality based world, no matter what your position is on ObamaCare or taxes, people would realize how insane that type of politics really is. Yes there may be many areas where Democrats deserve criticism. But this is not one of them.

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