Democrats need to get out of the Republicans’ way

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Ethan Gach

I write about comics, video games and American politics. I fear death above all things. Just below that is waking up in the morning to go to work. You can follow me on Twitter at @ethangach or at my blog, gamingvulture.tumblr.com. And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

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69 Responses

  1. Avatar Tod Kelly
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    says:

    I’m not sure I agree that this is a loss for the Dems, especially since it’s not taking place in a vacuum. By all accounts, the House Republicans are going to refuse the deal.

    It’s hard to see how the Dems come out on the losing end by appearing magnanimous to the public and having the House GOPers crap all over it.Report

  2. Avatar North
    Ignored
    says:

    Hmmm I disagree Ethan on several levels, let’s go down this list.

    Number one indeed preserves the sequestration. This is a spending cut but can we be realistic for a moment? Yes this is a decrease in overall spending but the Democratic Party and Liberals are not for larger spending under any circumstances. Sure the sequestration is some very blunt cuts and isn’t the best way to go about it but a massive amount of the cuts are landing directly on defense while Democratic priorities like Social Security and Medicare are entirely exempt from the sequestration. I’d say that this is maybe a very mild loss to a wash for Dems, a modest win for the small government wing of the GOP, a small loss for the cultural conservative wing of the GOP, a loss for the business wing of the GOP and a cataclysmic loss for the Neocon wing of the GOP. Note also, and this is important, that this only reopens the government until January whereupon the Dems can negotiate again with a GOP that will most likely be weaker and less confrontational than it is now (more on that later).

    Number two is a win for the Dems. The GOP is not going to do this kind of showdown with elections looming and I am unconvinced that having to vote to raise the debt ceiling has much serious impact on Democratic Senators or Congresscritters reelection chances. The GOP wanted a super short term ceiling lift so they could try to bite at this apple again well before elections.

    Number three is a mirage. The ACA already has income verification rules in it that Obama mostly waived. This agreement simply means he has to unwaive them and the administration may have to make some gestures towards income verification. No loss or win there really.

    I think you’re right off base on #4. The primary beneficiaries of delaying this fee are unions who are a Democratic constituent and who have been lobbying for this fee to be waived or delayed. Businesses that finance their own health benefits plans would also benefit here but this is small potatoes. We can talk about symbolism but the right wing groups won’t be fooled by this. GOP politicians will try and use this as a fig leaf but they’re –not- going to think that the shellacking they took in their party’s reputation was worth getting this trifle, especially since the trifle redounds primarily to the benefit of Democratic party constituents.

    As you correctly noted #5 is a lot of nothing.

    So this is a pretty solid Democratic party win. I would be very surprised if this plan passes and the GOP then tries to do the shut down again in 2013. I would say rather that in 2013 it’ll be the Dems who play hardball and force the GOP to rejigger the sequestration numbers in exchange for not having to go through the shut down again. The Dems have demonstrated they can march in lockstep for once and this loss and having to go back to their wingnuts with this loss should really drive that lesson home. I’d be surprised of Boehner keeps his job if this passes.

    And therein lies your best hope if you disapprove of this deal. The right wingers see this as the loss this is and in the House they’re going to try and kill it. Boehner is going to be doing a lot of crying in his office over this deal if it shows up in the House as is. He’s running out of time and by cutting this deal Mcconnel has massively undercut the House GOP. Unless the House can offer a deal that looks similarly rational, and fast, this Senate deal could become the baseline and time is running out.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to North
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      says:

      “I would be very surprised if this plan passes and the GOP then tries to do the shut down again in 2013. ”

      … look at the size of my Koch.Report

    • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to North
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      says:

      North, I’ll just start with number one–what do the programs cut under sequestration, and the lack of fiscal stimulus, have to do with “larger spending under any circumstances?” The circumstances seem very particular to me, and not ones that Democrats who are concerned with poor, unemployed, and working class households should take lightly.

      How do you boil that down into something resembling a wash?Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Ethan Gach
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        says:

        Primarily because programs the Democratic party cares about especially much: Social Security and Medicare etc… are unscathed while the great GOP sacred cow (military spending) gets a huge slice. Note that there’s not a single GOP program that they like (agricultural subsidies for instance or corporate welfare) that is spared the knife.

        Now if you are a Democratic supporter primarily focused on the poor then, yes, sequestration is a small loss but if you factor in any form of civil liberties agenda or left wing dislike of the military industrial complex I’d say the pros balance out the cons and you end up with a wash.

        Also, and this is important, the sequestration gets revisited in Jan 2014. The importance of this can’t be understated. At first glance you see this as a second chance for the GOP to shut everything down but I see this as a second chance for the Dems to renegotiate the sequester. If the GOP somehow gets frog marched into this plan then they’ll be in a dreadful position to negotiate in January. They’ll have spent months with their right wing screaming to the heavens about betrayal and treason while their moderates snarl and fume looking at the damage the party has sustained (and the bupkiss they got out of it). I do not think that will foster gung ho enthusiasm for the GOP to go another round with a new shut down; I think it’s more likely it’ll turn into a circular firing squad on the right.Report

  3. Avatar BlaiseP
    Ignored
    says:

    Until someone manages to remove Ted Cruz’ Harness of Ayyash or detonate that suicide bomber in place, there will be no deal. Cruz has gone all jihaadi on the GOP before, I see no reason to believe he’s backed down from his positions. Furthermore, he’s got considerable backing from various and sundry who are glad enough to see him holding the entire world hostage.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to BlaiseP
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      says:

      BP, All I’ve read suggests that the most Cruz can do by himself is delay the Senate deal through to Saturday. The Dems only need a few Senators remember and Cruz is not liked in the Senate so I don’t see him leading an insurrection against any deal Mcconnell signs off on.

      Now I must admit that I’m surprised to see the ol’ turtle getting involved in the Senate. He has a right wing primary and this behavior isn’t going to help him with his loons one bit. Someone or something must have scared Mcconnell bad to have him getting involved.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to North
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        says:

        Probably correct. Most likely this is Boehner’s ploy: have McConnell run something worse from the Senate, so that Boehner has a hope and a prayer of rallying the teaparty to something “better”.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North
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        says:

        But Kimmie why would Mcconnell go along with that? He’s got a right wing primary on his hands precisely because of these stunts. The wiley old goat must have something he’s more frightened of than helping his primary opponent on his mind if he’s getting into this.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to North
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        says:

        North,
        Yeah. I’m thinking its the Chamber of Commerce and their ilk (aka republicans who are actual businessmen, not “screw the world I wanna get off” reactionaries)Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        McConnell is standing in front of the mob like Lafayette on the Day of Daggers. Lafayette, Commander of the National Guard of France, tried to bring some reason and order to the problem before the Assembly and they would have none of it. His own guardsmen rebelled, scornfully telling him “we go, either with you, or over your body” And off he went to Versailles at the head of his troops, miserable man, Lafayette, the hero of our revolution and a tragicomic footnote in the French Revolution.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to North
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        says:

        Eh. McConnell’s got little to worry about from a primary – he’s clearly cut a deal with Rand Paul, and at minimum has a pretty good working relationship with Rand as demonstrated by the “hot mic” incident and even the comical Jesse Benton “holding my nose” incident. Between the two of them, I’d wager that you’re talking about close to the entirety of the Kentucky GOP’s infrastructure. McConnell’s not going anywhere as long as he maintains that symbiotic relationship.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North
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        says:

        The funny thing, Mark, is I don’t know if I am relieved or dissapointed by this. Mcconnell is a clever one so on one hand it might help my party if he’s replaced but on the other hand he’s also somewhat adult so it might hurt the country if he’s replaced with a kook.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to North
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        says:

        Now I must admit that I’m surprised to see the ol’ turtle getting involved in the Senate. He has a right wing primary and this behavior isn’t going to help him with his loons one bit. Someone or something must have scared Mcconnell bad to have him getting involved.

        McConnell currently has a credible challenger on the Dem side, but not one on the GOP side. The insurgency that brought Paul to the Senate is entirely his own, and the ad hoc coalition of organizations that brought Cruz and Lee to the Senate in primary upsets are weaker now than they were at their peak, and continue to diminish in relative strength (and ability to work together). (i.e. DeMint is eating his seed corn)Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North
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        says:

        That sounds very plausible Kolohe and, if correct, would invert Mcconnel’s incentives which would make his current moves make perfect sense.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        Grimes has a lot of out-of-town support. Doesn’t mean she can beat McConnell. Too many people are beholden to him. McConnell has brought home an awful lot of bacon to Kentucky and has an awful lot of chits he can call in. I wouldn’t give you 2:5 odds for Grimes to beat McConnell. McConnell has taken down some serious contenders for his seat along the way, including the current governor, Steve Beshear.Report

  4. Avatar DavidTC
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    says:

    The Maddow blog is reporting that the Republican House, continuing their proud traditions of rejecting Democratic caves, is going to reject this.

    They will instead demand that their own staff be barred from their government subsiding their health insurance (Which is a WTF on top of that…isn’t Congress in charge of how much their staff is paid anyway? Why the hell would they have to fuck around inside Obamacare to bar _themselves_ from covering part of their own staff’s insurance?) and demanding the medical device tax be removed.

    And thus ii shall be dubbed: The ‘Medical Device Tax and Congressional Staff Paycut’ Default of 2013.

    Aka, the time we defaulted over a $3 billion dollar a year tax that absolutely no one fucking cares about(1), and what has to be less than $10 million dollars in government employee salary which Congress could reduce anytime it wants.

    1) You know, a _lot_ of those ‘medical devices’, things like pacemakers and hip replacements and prosthetic limbs and whatnot, are used for the _elderly_, aka, people on government insurance, or veterans, aka, people on government insurance. So I rather suspect if you actually went and asked _any_ medical device company if they’d rather leave the medical device tax intact, or have the Federal government not continuing Medicare reimburses or Medicaid grants, they’d almost certainly rather just pay the tax. Maybe I’m just being sympathetic to an industry that is annoyed they got hit with a random tax that really doesn’t seem to have been that great an idea, but I’m pretty certain they aren’t lunatics who want the House to break the country over them.Report

    • Avatar morat20 in reply to DavidTC
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      says:

      The whole Congress ACA thing is hilarious, in a dark way.

      If I understand the timeline, it was initially stripped via an amendment pushed by the GOP as a poison pill. Democrats took it, rather than scrap the ACA.

      The GOP then realized they’d effectively given their staffers a huge pay cut, as suddenly staffers lost their employee subsidy for healthcare — and then happily voted it back in, making Congress like every other large employer (having a health care plan for employees).

      Now they want to strip it back out. I’d assume, if successful, they’d put it back in in six months as they realize — again — that they just gave their staffers a huge pay cut (one which was purely optical and actually swayed no votes, so basically was just a middle finger to their staff) and their staff reacted…appropriately. (You know, quitting, losing messages, harassing the boss, complaining loudly).

      Or they — the Congressmen — noted the bite in their own paychecks and realized the same thing.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to morat20
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        says:

        My understanding of it is the same as yours Morat.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to morat20
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        says:

        I’m not entirely certain that’s completely right.

        What I understand is, like you said, it was intended to be a poison pill, requiring Congress to be on the exchanges. Republicans proposed it, Democrats laughed and said ‘Sure!’. (I.e, they didn’t reluctantly take it, they had no problem with taking it.)

        Then after all that had passed, everyone realized that there is no logical way for Congress to subsidize those plans. So Congressional staffers would be paying the full price of their health insurance.

        And this is where you and my stories differ: The Obama administration had some legal people look at the law, and figured out, as the law was actually unclear, said ‘You know what? Congress can just pay part of their exchange insurance. The law doesn’t say that, but the law doesn’t _not_ say that either. Technically, that might be subject to income taxes, but luckily the code is murky enough that I can have the IRS ignore that. So we’ll just go with it.’

        So Congress than proceeded to pass a law saying that they _would_ do that thing, subsidize their staff’s health care purchased on the exchange. Which was not, really, part of Obamacare, it was just a ‘How much we pay our staff’ bill.

        Republicans continued to scream bloody murder about (?) and now is demanding that Congress be barred, by law, from doing what Congress just voted to do. (I wonder if anyone’s ever told them that if Congress _does_ want to subsidies their staff’s health insurance, Congress can just _change the law_? Sometimes I get the feeling that House Republicans literally do not understand how the government works…the Congress cannot bar Congress from doing things.)Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to morat20
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        says:

        And note that _I_ don’t understand what’s going on with this Republican fight to lower their own staff’s wages, which is almost 100% Republican talking point nonsense about how Congress ‘exempted’ themselves from the ACA. So Republicans propose a law putting Congress ‘under’ the ACA (by which they mean, putting in specific rules treating Congress differently) and then they point to those specific rules themselves as, themselves, an exception. It’s complete gibberish, and confusing as hell.

        Does anyone have some sort of documented explanation of the actual things that happened WRT this?

        And, before I make a fool of myself in online debates, I am _completely_ right in that Congress literally does not need to change the ACA at all to stop themselves from subsidizing their own staff’s insurance, correct? All they actually would have to do is…not subsidize their own staff’s insurance. Right?Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to morat20
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        says:

        Dave, it is all about a RW talking point and appearing to hurt those darn congress weenies. The issue doesn’t make any sense since congress staffers get their insurance the way most of us do, through their employer which in this case is the gov. Its psuedo-populist crap to inflame people who hate DC so they can get off on hurting people who work there. The R’s have no desire to hurt their own staff but have been dragged into this due to a radio/tv driven meme.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to morat20
        Ignored
        says:

        Dave, at this point it’s basically the GOP franticly flailing trying to get something, anything, for their bomb. If they can get anything for it then that preserves their ability to hold the ceiling hostage in the future. The merits don’t matter at this point; they just want a unilateral concession of some sort (or something they can spin as one).Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe
    Ignored
    says:

    , but simply because the natural flow of the news-cycle has allowed the government shutdown to bleed into the debt ceiling debate as one singular, monolithic event.

    This wasn’t the news cycle (which is much shorter than 2 weeks) or the media that intertwined these issues. Once a 30 Sep CR deal fell through (thanks to the Republicans), there was no way the Democrats were going to let a CR go through in the first 2 weeks of Oct *without* a debt ceiling deal. Why strike a deal only to be right back in the same place less than 2 weeks later, with even higher stakes, and nothing to show for the first one? Plus, since the only thing on the table before today were 6 week deals, had just a CR deal been struck between Oct 1 and now, the paralyzing negotiation cycle would have happened at least *twice* more this year – and followed by another one in mid January due to the 2011 BCA

    Which is why your point 1 is also somewhat off – a CR deadline of Jan 15 is designed to come in before sequester cuts are mandated. A longer CR would have kicked in sequester cuts automatically, but right now, a CR possibly, even likely* would authorize FY 2012 levels of funding for FY 2014 – yes, FY12, because all of FY2013 was on a CR. Which sets us up for another round of full year cuts crammed into less than a year unless the conference is able to do something)

    *the specific language and the exemptions are going to be key here, and nobody has revealed any details yet. The Department of the Navy for instance, seems to been ignoring the sequester in future plans and only doing cuts as they are forced upon the department.Report

  6. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    I am pretty much sure that this is the best deal that the Democratic Party could get from the GOP. Most of the top GOP leaders realized that the entire government shut down has been a political and policy disaster for them. Any deal thats going to need to pass the Senate and House though and Democratic votes are going to be needed to pass the House vote. In dealing with more normal political opponents, this would allow the Democratic Party to get at least some concessions from the GOP and move the actual deal closer to their policy preferences.

    We are not dealing with oridinary politicians. The House GOP is absolutely agaisnt the Senate deal as people reported. They are more passionate members are still demanding concessions in order to raise the debt limit and reopen the government. The more pragmatic members are absolutely terrified of them and refuse to work with Democratic House members even if the latter makes no demands.Report

  7. Avatar NewDealer
    Ignored
    says:

    I’m going to jump in on the bandwagon. There is no deal yet. Just a blue print of one and one that the House seems to reject absolutely. We are dealing with a rump wing of a party that can not be controlled or mollified by anything. Andrew Sullivan was correct to point out that these are not conservatives, they are racist fanatics. LeeEsq made a good analogy to the Prohibitionists of the 1920s. Prohibition was about more than alcohol. It was about the fact that small-town and rural Anglo-Protestants knew that they were losing power to the cities and too changing demographics: The Irish, the Italians, the Jews, and the hipsters of the day (aka Flappers). Prohibitionists were willing to let people die and to make us “a nation of hypocrites” in order to keep their cause alive. The current Suicide Caucus is willing to do the same. They will damn the union and the world and themselves through default.

    I am expecting this deal will not go through because of the far right and that a crash will happen. I’m in position for this.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to NewDealer
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      says:

      The comedy of this is getting so sweet. The House caucus couldn’t agree to support a more harsh alternative (because it wasn’t harsh enough) so right now Boehner has no plan. Ironically this makes the Senate deal more likely to be the final one. If Boehner can’t herd his cats enough to even roll out his own alternative proposal then the pressure on him to allow a vote on the Senate one will be huge (remember, he has privately promised he will not allow a default) and if any plan from the Senate gets to a vote it’ll pass with Democratic support.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to North
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        says:

        How many shitshows make up a clown car?Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to North
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        says:

        We shall see. I’m still bracing for default but hopefully you are right and this deal goes through.

        I’ve never been good at finding the comedy in these situations and I tend to be an overthinker and this is probably one of those times that my overthinking snaps into reality.

        It seems that no one knows how to compromise anymore. Maybe things were better when the crazies were somewhat equally split between parties and this allowed the moderates and liberals of both parties to work together. The same thing is happening in the BART strike again, for the second time.

        Whatever happened to compromise?Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        ND, if Obama&Co compromise on this now they’ll have to keep doing this compromise song and dance infinitely. At some point one side or the other will miscalculate and BOOM default. Compromising is the sure way to guarantee that, in the long run, a default will occur. The only way to guarantee that the grenade doesn’t go off is to disincent anyone from juggling grenades.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        I didn’t mean the Democratic Party should compromise in this case but in general compromise seems to have been a dirty word for a long time. Largely to Republicans.

        Trust me, I blame the suicide caucus and the Republican Party for this one and them alone.

        Though I still have a strong inkling that we will default or pass something just a bit too late because Cruz and Lee will fuck with it procedurally.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to North
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        says:

        NewDealer,
        the president continuing to pay our bills would be on stronger footing, i suspect, if the bills are just “not quite done”Report

    • Avatar just me in reply to NewDealer
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      says:

      Racist? Is everything racist? Ohhhh. I get it, they hate Obama because he is black. So they are trying to bring the country down because we have a black President. Silly me. Why didn’t I realize that the first couple times I read your comment.Report

  8. Avatar Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    Ah, see DEMOCRACY. I had faith in our gov’t masters. Now we can all go back to talk about invading Syria and Miley’s tongue.Report

  9. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    “Number three is somewhat ironic, since it proposes to blow-up bureaucracy which Republicans would be howling about in any other circumstance, and doesn’t past the cost-benefit analysis either way.”

    Why doesn’t it pass cost-benefit analysis? How hard is it to implement an income verification system?Report

    • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      The same way, I would guess, that verifying anything before the fact really gums up the works–sometimes necessarily so, but I’m thinking of the DM and voter registration that occurs in person for instance.

      A game called Papers, Please explores the experience well. But as with any social program, I tend to think it should error on being too porous, rather than the opposite, and making sure that some people who are deserving have to wait in bureaucratic purgatory for months.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Ethan Gach
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        says:

        How does the federal government means test other benefits? Seriously, I don’t know. I presume it’s with forms that collect statements of income and/or statements of assets which are backward looking, not forward looking. Or are they forward looking?Or do most just rely on the states to determine eligibility?Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Ethan Gach
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        says:

        I presume it’s with forms that collect statements of income and/or statements of assets which are backward looking, not forward looking. Or are they forward looking?Or do most just rely on the states to determine eligibility?

        Generally, yes, it’s up to the states (Social Security things and Medicaid excepted). All states are different. In my state, in broad outline, to receive public assistance, you provide the intake worker with a full background — where you work (if you work), what they pay you, members of household, savings, assets, etc. Some of it is verified, some of it is taken as given and possibly verified later. Decisions about eligibility and level of benefits is decided by software — it is almost literally impossible for an intake worker to remain current on qualifications and definitions (eg, three different assistance programs probably use three different definitions of assets, and have three different values for how much in assets disqualifies you). Then you show up about once a month to confirm that things are unchanged, or if there are changes what those changes are. Did you get a raise? Any changes in the makeup of the household (eg, custody of a child transferred to the other parent)?

        Every change is dated. Almost every change results in a change in one benefit or another (most clients receive more than one form of assistance). This can result in nightmarish letters (generated by software) sent to clients explaining the changes. “On May 13, another dependent joined your household and your benefit was increased by $137.45 per month. On May 27, your income increased to $X/week and your benefit was decreased by $27.19 per month. Because this income change was not entered into the system until June 10, resulting in overpayment at the end of May, your future benefit will be decreased by $4.63 per month for three months. On June 3, you lost your job and your benefit was increased by $97.98 per week.”

        Colorado’s CBMS software for intake and client management periodically gets beaten up in the press, but it runs and is largely accurate (testimony before one of the legislature’s committees from several long-time intake workers suggests that CBMS is enormously more accurate than the processes it replaced). IIRC, California’s attempt at an integrated system was bad enough that they made use voluntary on a county-by-county basis, and Texas’ was so bad that they yanked it back after a few months in the field.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Ethan Gach
        Ignored
        says:

        Michael,

        That sounds right. About 5 years ago, here in Illinois, when I got laid off, I briefly considered applying for food stamps, and the application process required very personal information. Fortunately, I soon got a job and didn’t have to go that route.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      From what I understand, we already have an income verification system.

      It’s called the _income tax_ and auditing.

      What we’re talking about here is the original idea of a _pre_-income verification system. Where people, before they get subsidies, somehow have to verify their income _next year_ will be below a certain amount.

      This is, rather obviously, somewhat stupid, so the Obama administration just said ‘Look, report what you think it is, we won’t check. If you’re wrong and you make more than that, however, you’ll have to make up the difference in subsidies on your taxes that you shouldn’t have gotten.’.

      Republicans ‘prefer’ (1) we use the completely unworkable system of verifying _next year’s_ income.

      1) And by ‘prefer’, I mean, ‘There was something trivial wrong with Obamacare and everyone realized it and fixed it, so Republicans demand we actually do it so things break.’Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        I mean, can’t they have you enter your SS#, cross-check it against your return, and if your prior year salary is under the threshold, you qualify. Sure, this might mean folks end up getting a single year of subsidized care they shouldn’t, but that really shouldn’t be too big a deal. I mean, any plan is likely to have some pitfalls or loopholes.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        David,
        The fuck? don’t contractors already have to verify(by which we mean wildass guess) their next year’s income, to determine whether they ought to be doing quarterly reports or not?Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        I mean, can’t they have you enter your SS#, cross-check it against your return, and if your prior year salary is under the threshold, you qualify.

        *looks confused at Kazzy*

        ‘They’ who?

        The people who actually want this law to work just decided to let people say whatever they want, and fix it at tax time the next year if they were wrong. That system works. So there’s no reason for them to change anything.

        The people who don’t want this law to work are unlikely to agree to anything like you suggested, as that which would actually work. They are demanding we change to something that can’t work at all, but it’s not like that’s some sort of _accident_. If they thought they could get away with demanding that everyone who got insurance subsidies show in person in Washington and run a marathon, they’d do _that_.Report

  10. Avatar Burt Likko
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    says:

    So let me get this straight. We fund Obamacare and raise the debt ceiling and re-open the government. Then the Republicans get to do this popularity-destroying scare-the-piss-out-of-everyone dynamite-jacket-wearing again just before midterm elections. In exchange, the Republicans get to delay implementing a tax hike on certain medical devices (thus, albeit only in a small way, increasing the deficit because we’re funding everything else at the levels we were funding them before) and a toothless income reporting requirement that, as the OP points out, increases bureaucracy associated with Obamacare.

    How this isn’t at least a 3-RBI ground-rule double for the Democrats is beyond me. It leaves the egg on the Republicans’ faces, and puts them on the record as having held a gun to the heads of the government so that they could secure an expansion of bureaucracy and a deficit hike, the exact opposite of the two issues they claim to be unified on opposing. I’m not surprised the Tea Party types are balking.

    This deal is “give mainstream Republicans just enough that they can save face” and let the Tea Party vote “no” if they want because they only need 217 votes plus John Boehner letting it go to a vote at all, and they’ve already got 200. So a bigger obstacle to flipping seventeen moderate House Republicans (aside from the non-trivial task of finding seventeen moderate Republicans in the House in the first place) is lining up eight six (I miscounted before) Republicans in the Senate who would vote for cloture on Ted Cruz. I’ve been critical of both Barack Obama’s and Harry Reid’s leadership and dealmaking abilities before, but calling this deal a win for the Republicans rather than “capitulation” is some serious eleventh-dimensional chess, and I just don’t see it.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      if he’s gonna break the hastert rule, he could have done it well before this. there are 17 republicans, surely, who would vote for what the democrats had come up with.

      /that’s why they changed the house rules/.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      Boehner has deviated from the Hastert Rule at least four times this session. It’s a thing, but not a big one.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      It’s just on Boehner Burt, if he lets anything the Senate Dems will accept come to the floor Pelosi will wrangle 200 Dems and with a smattering of GOP votes (and the votes are there by all accounts) it’ll pass.

      The issue is Boehner wants to keep his job as Speaker and he knows bringing it to the floor imperils his job. All indications are that pretty much nothing is more important to Boehner than remaining Speaker for as long as possible.

      Current word is that the Boehner is considering passing a bill with somewhat stronger demands than the Senate proposal (medicare device tax repeal, full Vitter ammendment) and then adjourning and leaving town. This would be the equivalent of ripping your steering wheel off and throwing it out the window when playing a game of chicken. It certainly would put the onus on Reid and Obama but the optics, my God(ess?), the optics would be horrific for his party. It might be emptily emphatic enough to impress his Tea Party loons but first the weeper needs to convince them to pass his bill. So far he hasn’t been able to get them to. I keep imagining Obama calling Boehner up and saying “Can you feel it Mr. Speaker? Closing in all around you, that is the feeling of inevitability.”Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        Leaving town would kill the party.

        Short of sacrificing a puppy on TV to Satan, I can’t think of anything worse.

        The public is blaming the GOP, but I doubt they’re buying into the “The GOP wants a default/the GOP is taking hostages” metaphor too deeply. I’d imagine, people being as used to political rhetoric as they are, it’s getting translated into “The GOP is asking for way too much just for doing the basics. It’d be like demanding a raise from your boss if he wanted you to show up on time. Ballsy, dumb, and missing the point.”

        But leaving town? That’s….yeah, that’s gonna make the rhetoric more believable. And — it’s just such a simple, straightforward statement of “Do it my way or it all burns” that I can’t see it getting washed down the memory hole anytime soon.

        That sort of thing tends to linger.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        Current word is that the Boehner is considering passing a bill with somewhat stronger demands than the Senate proposal (medicare device tax repeal, full Vitter ammendment) and then adjourning and leaving town.

        I’m remembering something from high school civics class…oh yeah, “… he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them…” Wouldn’t that be arrogant/uppity/Nazi like/Chicago style/etc?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        tf,
        I’d say a lot of things are in play, to prevent a coup d’etat.
        Which, again, is the technical term for what the Tea Party is trying to pull.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      It leaves the egg on the Republicans’ faces, and puts them on the record as having held a gun to the heads of the government so that they could secure an expansion of bureaucracy and a deficit hike, the exact opposite of the two issues they claim to be unified on opposing. I’m not surprised the Tea Party types are balking.

      No, you have it backwards. The Senate proposed a plan to verify incomes, and the other change to the ACA was something about deferring reinsurance costs for a year or something. (I don’t understand entirely what that is.)

      The House is balking on _that_ bill.

      It’s the House that, instead of that reinsurance thing, threw in the repeal of the medical device tax. The Tea Party is apparently okay with this, and is going to pass this _instead_.

      I.e, the House Republicans, including the Tea Party, apparently of its own free will, just proposed a deficit hike that _the Democrats didn’t want or ask for_. By, yes, erasing a tax, but it’s a tax that affects no actual voters, so that’s a rather hard sell. (And a 2.6% sales tax sounds absurdly low to American ears.)

      At least, that’s how I understand the situation.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        That’s my understanding too, and yes I agree it flies completely in the face of their lines of argument.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        And now, reading more, it does _indeed_ look like the House bill will, uh, not actually get through the House, thanks to the Tea Partiers.

        You know, House Republicans, if you want to pretend that this disaster is caused by both sides, you do literally have to pass _something_ that the Senate refuses to pass, so that the pundits can pretend ‘both sides failed to come to an agreement’.

        If you fail to pass _anything_, it’s not actually possible to pretend the other side is in the wrong.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        Right you are David, it’s all over. Boehner’s alternative died on the rocks of the Tea Party. Mcconnell is in the drivers seat.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        North & David,

        Increasing the deficit by lowering taxes flies in the face of absolutely nothing that movement conservatives believe in or consciously pursue. It’s just basic starve-the-beast in action.

        However, this medical device tax delay (or especially a repeal) would still be a giveaway to Democrats rather than a reciprocation to Republicans, because it’s actually a fix to Obamacare that a pretty sizable part of the law’s supporters would like to see happen on balance. Maybe not a majority now, but it’s something that probably politically would need to happen to tend to the law’s coalition over the medium term in any case. If Republicans give that to Democrats now, that’s actually an abrogation of the strategy they have followed on Obamacare since passage, which has been to refuse to allow basic legislative tweaks that (possibly all would agree that if the law were to go forward) would make it work better, instead insisting that the only thing to be done with Obamacare is to repeal or substantially denature it, and not to accept its broad outlines and engage on fixes and tweaks. Allowing the device tax repeal or delay, though that;s not a serious bug in the law, does begin to go down that road of tweaking and fixing. That’s something that will eventually happen anyway, but for it to start to happen here would be a minor upside for Democrats and supporters of the law inasmuch as it would be the beginning of an accept-and-fix attitude toward Obamacare on the part of GOP leadership, even if it’s something that, on the assumption that Obama care will go forward the GOP would also like to see happen.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        Mike,
        who says Obamacare needs a middleterm?
        Highmark’s trying to plan for not being an insurance company…
        If we give the insurance companies enough time to move out of the
        insurance market, we can get single payer with much less crying.

        … it’s bloody significant that they’re moving out of insurance.
        they’s scared that insurance won’t be a real (profitable) business in a few years.Report

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