The Republican Shutdown and associated tantrums have entered its third week. Day 15. As of this moment, we are 60 hours from a Republican Debt Default (the end of the day, or 11:59:59 on Thursday, October 17, being the deadline). We are at the verge of a Senate deal. We are also hearing this morning that the House GOP may vote tonight on its own bill, which I think is dead in the Senate and which I think will actually fail in the House (since no Dems will vote for it, and many of the Teabaggers will not like it).
The House bill details, according to the must-follow-on-Twitter Robert Costa of the National Review, are as follows:
1. Keep government open through January 15 and extend debt limit through February 7.
2. Suspend the Medical Device tax for two years.
3. Add new income verification language to Obamacare (which already has income verification).
4. Require members of Congress and Cabinet to use Obamacare.
5. Somehow Prohibit the Treasury from using extraordinary measures to prevent default.
The contours of the Senate bill are somewhat similar:
Negotiators talked into the evening as senators from both parties coalesced around a plan that would lift the debt limit through Feb. 7, pass a resolution to finance the government through Jan. 15 and conclude formal discussions on a long-term tax and spending plan no later than Dec. 13, according to one Senate aide briefed on the plan. [..]
The Senate could vote on an agreement as soon as Wednesday if Mr. Reid and Mr. McConnell discuss the deal with their members on Tuesday. That would leave little time for the House to debate and vote on what will be a contentious measure. [..]
Senate Republicans had pushed for an agreement that included a provision to delay or repeal a tax on medical devices, but that became a sticking point in the negotiations and will almost certainly be excluded from the final deal, Senate aides said. But the deal is likely to include a one-year delay of another tax associated with the Affordable Care Act known as the reinsurance tax, which employers pay.
Another Republican-backed measure likely to be in the deal would require tighter income verification standards for people who receive subsidies under the new health care law. Under the new guidelines, the Health and Human Services secretary would have to certify that the department can verify income eligibility. The two provisions are the only mentions of the health care law whose defunding has been at the core of Republican demands over the past two weeks.
Many Republicans have argued that if the Senate proposal passes with the solid backing of Republican members — a possibility that seemed probable given Mr. McConnell’s support — it would be an easier sell in the House. But with the country just hours from what could be a crippling default, many Republicans believe that Mr. Boehner will have no choice but to ignore his most vocal members and put whatever passes the Senate up for a vote.
“We’re now backed into a corner,” said Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York. “We have to do this by Thursday. We have to make it work, but it’s not going to be perfect.”
So the House bill will push for the device tax repeal and income verification and Obamacare coverage for principles, and the Senate deal would probably include income verification and a one delay of another reinsurance tax, with the device tax repeal being a no go.
Before I get to my opinion of the deal, I would note that the rumor is that the House wants to vote on its bill tonight and then leave town, preventing the Senate from amending the bill or rejecting it. They want to jam the Senate. Such noble public servants, these traitors. But, so far on Twitter, Teabaggers in Congress seem to be unhappy with the bill, so it is very possible that this House bill will not pass tonight as Dems and Teabags vote no. If that happens, then the House itself will be jammed with the Senate bill.
As for the deals themselves, they do not please me. I want it to be complete surrender, with nothing given up at all on the Affordable Care Act. Martin Longman tells me not to bitch so much…
The deal itself, as it has been outlined, is not too bad. It doesn’t officially remove the Republicans’ ability to reprise another debt ceiling crisis, nor does it preclude them from causing another government shutdown. But the Democrats will be only too happy to go through this process again next year, closer to the midterm elections. If the Republicans haven’t learned their lesson, the electoral consequences will be quite rewarding for the Democrats.
The concessions under discussion are half imaginary (income verification for ObamaCare subsidies) and half a favor to labor unions (a delay in employer reinsurance requirements). Neither will incentivize the Republicans to make a repeat performance of their auto-da-fé.
The end result of this shutdown will be a victory nearly as decisive as the one the Russians achieved at Stalingrad. I can imagine a bigger win, but I have no real complaints.
I think, with this, the fever that started with 2010 midterm election results will finally be broken. I look forward to the return of some small degree of normalcy.
Martin is mainly annoyed that the Dems did not go for a bigger victory on the spending levels, since Speaker Boehner will require Democratic votes to pass this thing, and if he needs Democratic votes, then the deal should be crafted to favor the Dems more. I can see his logic. But I can also see the logic from some over the weekend when it was first reported that Reid was negotiating for the removal of the sequester. The point some Republicans made is that, like the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as they call it, the Budget Control Act of 2011 that brought us the sequester is also the law of the land. And that is a good point. I am surprised they made it, because it destroys their bargaining position. How? Because the Dems can say unless the GOP gives in on the BCA, they will get nothing on the ACA. Both are laws.
And yet, this deal seemingly gives the GOP two things on the ACA. Martin may be right, that one of them is illusory and another actually favors a Dem constituency. But still. This gives the GOP a face saver, a little something. I want them to be defeated in this crisis that they created and I want them to know they are defeated. I want them to get nothing. Isaac Chotiner agrees:
If Republicans get a win on the medical device tax but are generally considered to have been routed by the president, future hostage-taking becomes less likely. If the GOP is despondent and depressed, and the media coverage plays up their falling poll numbers, this disaster is unlikely to repeat itself. But if concessions are seen as a GOP win, then expect more hostage scenarios. Remember, Clinton went along with spending cuts as a way of ending the government shutdown in 1995. But the perception was that he had won a major victory over Republicans, and, consequently, we did not witness five more years of shutdowns. Of course a debt ceiling crisis is much more serious than a shutdown (we can be proud to currently face both). But the principle still holds. The medical device tax and cuts to entitlement programs are important on the merits. But in this case, and going forward, perception trumps reality.
Hopefully the situation here is the former scenario and not the latter. As Andrew Sullivan points out, given “the absurd expectations created by fanatics like Cruz and Lee, I cannot imagine how the Tea Party will envisage any deal that doesn’t replace the entire Democratic agenda with their own as capitulation.”
Indeed, in that New York Times story above, one teabagger congressman has already said that any Republican who votes for this potential Senate deal must get a primary challenger. Costa says the GOP passion for the fight is waning:
GOP enthusiasm for the showdown, from both conservatives and grandees, is waning. Members are spending considerable time calling one another to lament, and they’re worried about fading public support. “We can’t get lower in the polls. We’re down to blood relatives and paid staffers now,” said Senator John McCain on CBS’s Face the Nation. “But we’ve got to turn this around, and the Democrats had better help.”
I suppose by “conservatives and grandees,” Costa means Teabaggers and the Establishment, respectively. His quote is definitely true about the Establishment, as evidenced by McCain’s quote (though Senator, the Democrats are not required at all to rescue you idiot Republicans from your mess). But given the Sunday rally of Teabaggers led by Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz and attended by some 200 other Confederate Traitor, I am not sure the passion is waning on the Teabag Traitor side of the caucus.
I hope they are outraged by this deal, outraged enough to split from the GOP finally and completely.
Now, over to some polling…. If last week’s NBC Wall Street Journal Poll was not devastating enough for the Republicans, the new ABC News-Washington Post poll finds a new high of 74% of Americans disapprove of the way the Republicans in Congress are handling Washington’s budget crisis, up significantly in the past two weeks and far exceeding disapproval of both President Obama and congressional Democrats on the issue. I wonder what the Republicans did over the last two weeks to result in these horrible catastrophic poll numbers (with poll numbers like that, if the election were held today, the Dems in the House would win 100 seats).
Finally, a geography lesson for our teabag traitors down south. Let’s take a look at this, shall we?
Now, I am pretty shocked and surprised that a teabagger used the word “contiguous.” But given the states listed, I am not sure they know what it means. Last time I checked, Michigan is not in the south, and does not border any of the other listed states. And Missouri is barely contiguous with Oklahoma, sharing only what looks to be a 30 mile long border in extreme southwestern Missouri. For our visual learners, here is a map: