The Shutdown in Six Words

According to Politico, on October 2nd, President Obama took John Boehner aside and asked, “John, what happened?”

“I got overrun, that’s what happened,” Boehner replied.  And those six words pretty much explain the first half of October.



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.

House Plan Dead, Ball in Senate’s Court

The House plan the Senate was waiting for is dead.  Heritage Action helped scuttle it by urging a “no” vote and saying it would grade members on their vote.  Tea Party members opposed it because they won’t give up on their Obamacare battle.  Earth to Tea Party House members:  you lost.

Action is back to the Senate, where they are close to a deal.  We need to get something out of the Senate and bring it to the floor of the House.

Fitch Ratings has threatened a downgrade because of the “political brinksmanship.”

Where We Are

Surprise, surprise, the House GOP doesn’t like the Senate plan, so they’ve come up with their own — they would re-open the government through December 15 (which is a month less than the Senate plan and makes retailers want to shoot themselves because of the chilling effect on Christmas shopping) and raise the debt ceiling until February 7, which is like the Senate plan.  But, unlike the Senate plan, they won’t allow Treasury to use “extraordinary measures” (moving money around) to pay bills after that, so it’s a hard ceiling.

And the House also wants to end the employer contribution to health care for members of Congress, their staffs, and White House officials.  They want to get Dems on record voting against it.

The House is going to vote by this evening.

The rest of the world thinks we’re nuts, and the rest of the world is right.

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 the lack of strategy towards a specific outcome that is most disheartening.  Outside a few borderline delusional folks, no one believes there’s a viable strategy to stop Obamacare.  So what exactly are we fighting to achieve?  The government will re-open and the debt limit will be extended.  These are facts.  What will we get, if anything?  That’s the tough part.”

A Republican Senate aide to Sahil Kapur at Talking Points Memo

What will they get?  How about an end to the GOP’s slide in the polls?  At this point, this should just take the tourniquet the Dems are offering and stop the bleeding.

We’re all focused on Thursday, when the government will be down to its last $30 billion in cash (plus daily tax revenues coming in).  At that point, the sh*t will still be approaching the fan.  Our next interest payment on Treasuries is October 31, and then almost $60 billion in payments on November 1 for Social Security, Medicare, military pay, etc.