Don’t Gloat

GOP House Speaker John Boehner is going to bring a “clean” debt ceiling bill up for a vote tonight.  He’s counting on almost all Dem support to pass it, with maybe 16-20 Republicans.

Meanwhile, Heritage Action and Club for Growth are telling members to vote no and promising to “score” the vote, which means it will count against them in their final grade if they vote yes.  The Senate Conservatives Fund (an outside Tea Party group, not an official Senate group) is calling for Boehner to be replaced as Speaker.  I guess they’d rather have the world financial system collapse.  It does feel as if we now have three major parties — Democrats, Republicans, and Anarchists.

Nancy Pelosi told House Dems “don’t gloat.”  With the complete impasse on minimum wage, unemployment benefits, tweaking Obamacare, equal pay for women, job equality for gays, immigration, etc., there’s really nothing to gloat over.

Tea Party Tyranny

From  “Tea Party Ain’t Over Yet:  How Conservatives Still Control Congress,” Talking Points Memo:

“The tea party has taken a series of hits since it goaded Republican leaders into a costly and self-defeating government shutdown last fall.  But the conservative movement remains formidable when it comes to pushing Republican leaders to just say no, at all costs, to new economic and domestic initiatives that aren’t essential to avert immediate crisis.

“The emerging dynamic is one where the tea party can no longer hold the basic functions of government hostage to conservative policy reforms, but has effective veto power over major new proposals that require bipartisan deal-making.

“Even on initiatives that are broadly popular, as in the case of emergency unemployment compensation and raising the minimum wage, conservatives have successfully blocked any movement forward.

“An initiative that Republican strategists say is imperative to stave off electoral extinction — immigration reform — isn’t going anywhere.  Recently, Speaker John Boehner took a significant step toward action by releasing a pro-reform blueprint.  But within one week, after a fierce backlash from tea party organizations…he hit the brakes and signaled that the House wouldn’t take up reform.”  Emphasis added.

A minority of the minority is controlling this country, is keeping it from moving forward economically and socially.  It really doesn’t matter at all that Obama beat Mitt, that Dems have a majority in the Senate (because you need 60), and that Dem House candidates got over a million more votes than GOP candidates.  What the hell did we win exactly?

Caucus of Cowards

There have always been far-left and far-right members of Congress.  They ranted their rants and voted their votes, but didn’t have an effect beyond their low numbers.  They had no weapons to force normal members to vote with them, so they were isolated and contained.  They got patted on the head, but they never held a gun to anybody else’s head.  You think LBJ ever lost a minute’s sleep as majority leader or president worried about the far, far right?  It is to laugh.

But of the 144 GOP House members who last night voted against the Senate re-open/raise bill, only a third at most were voting their own views.  The rest were voting from fear, not conviction.  These cowards are the bigger threat to our well-being because they add significant numbers — and power — to the ignorance and idiocy of the shut-it-down/blow-it-up fringe.

John Boehner thought he was giving the crackpots enough rope to hang themselves.  But from their perspective, they got enough rope to climb out the bedroom window and trash the neighborhood.  They’re back in their room again, but they’re just resting.  Who will bar the window and take that rope away?

So Here’s the Deal

This is the final deal Reid and McConnell negotiated:

The government will be funded until January 15.  The debt ceiling is raised until February 7.

There will be income verification for those getting subsidies under Obamacare.

There will be yet another committee appointed to negotiate a budget for the rest of the fiscal year that ends September 30, 2014.  It must report back by December 13.  Good luck with that.

Treasury is allowed to use “extraordinary measures” to delay hitting the new debt ceiling.  They’ve been using such measures this time around since May, when they technically ran out of money.

Agency heads don’t have flexibility to move money around to deal with the sequester.

The Senate will vote first.  Boehner has indicated he will bring it to the floor of the House even if it’s not supported by a majority of the GOP majority.  We should be able to get both houses to vote and the Prez to sign by midnight.

The Emerging Deal

So it looks as if the latest  in the Reid-McConnell negotiations is to re-open the government until January 15 and raise the debt ceiling until February 7.  The deal would require income verification for those getting Obamacare subsidies, which was already in the law (as it should be!), until Obama waived it.  All this is taking place in the Senate (with Boehner being kept in the loop), so it’s not sure what would happen in the House.

Are We (Almost) There Yet? — Update

President Obama was supposed to meet with Reid, McConnell, Pelosi, and Boehner at the White House at noon.  That meeting has been postponed, so Senate negotiations can continue.  It’s not a bad sign, talks have not collapsed.

Reid says he’s “very optimistic” on a deal this week to re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling.  If Reid is happy with the deal, I’ll probably be happy with the deal.

Quote of the Day

“It’s getting hard to keep track of the hostage metaphors here, but if I have this right then the latest from Boehner means the House GOP is keeping both hostages — government shutdown and debt limit — but has agreed not to shoot the debt limit in the head for another six weeks.”

David Kurtz, Talking Points Memo

GOP Leaders Not on Same Page

So far, House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have come out in support of the President’s proposed Syria missile strike, but Senate  Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, dealing with a Tea Party challenge in his re-election campaign, has not.

McConnell is obviously afraid of straying from Rand Paul.  I think we know who is really the senior senator from Kentucky!

Where’s the Leadership?

On “Face the Nation” today, Bob Schieffer repeatedly pressed John Boehner on whether or not he supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Boehner wouldn’t answer!  Speaker of the House is supposed to be one of the most powerful positions in Washington, where you take a stance and work your will on your members.

His refusal to answer is a sad commentary both on Boehner personally and on the make-up of this particular House.

Boehner seems to be “leading from behind,” far, far behind.   You can barely see him way off in the distance.  Perhaps he’s searching for his testicles…