Why the f…iscal cliff do Tea Partiers think the next shutdown/showdown will be any different from the last?
Ted Cruz and his Tea Party gang tried to extort legislation out of the President. They failed miserably. With a little introspection and time to cool off, what sage conclusion did they draw? “Hey, that was great. Let’s do it again!”
On the Sean Hannity show, Cruz vowed that he was prepared for the next fight. On ABC News, he wouldn’t rule out use of another shutdown. “I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,” Cruz said when asked by ABC’s Jon Karl specifically about the possibility of further brinksmanship. Meanwhile, the ACA stumbles forward without any attempt to improve it, the budget still hasn’t gone to conference and the next self-imposed economic crisis looms only 97 days away.
During this last standoff, John Boehner was questioned at a press conference about some possible scenarios and how he might deal with them. His answer was the classic “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.” And then he walked off to the laughter of the press corps. Shame on all of them. Someone should have yelled, “Answer the damn question ass-munch. You work for us. Or have you forgotten that?” What he, Boehner, really should have said was … if we can just push this thing out past the first of the year, then we’ll all have a merry Christmas. In the final analysis, that’s all he, Obama and the Senate leaders really did.
So enjoy the holidays. Indulge in some eggnog or tea, whatever you prefer. Send an extra can of soup to the local food bank for the sake of future non-essential personnel. And then let’s all meet back here sometime around the middle of January and ride that fiscal horse through the burning barn of dysfunctional government once again.
The debt ceiling bill disappoints the far left and far right.
Half empty or half full?
Like most major legislation passed by Congress, the debt ceiling bill has its critics on both the left and right. That’s because it was generated through weeks of negotiations and debate which ended in compromise. And that’s what democracy is all about.
The bill directs major cuts but doesn’t harm Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. There is a promised vote on a balanced budget amendment, but no guarantee of its passage. The debt ceiling was raised high enough to get us into 2013 and oh yeah, the country didn’t default. Bonus!
Many on the left are upset with President Obama. They think he gave away too much to the tea party radicals. But soon I think the tea party will be the group that starts complaining. By agreeing to the super committee and its triggers, the Republican leaders have opened the door to revenue hikes (mostly in the form of corporate loophole elimination) and cuts in defense spending, two sacred cows they were unwilling to approach during budget talks. If the super committee can’t agree on deficit reduction legislation and get it passed by the year’s end, deep cuts in defense will automatically be triggered. Medicare will also be cut, but not on the benefit side. Providers (doctors and hospitals) will take the hit. This will likely cause a further rift in the Republican party. These triggers are intended to press both parties into action, but it seems most of the pressure will be on the GOP because if the triggers are set off, Obama’s own OMB will decide where the cuts are made. Can you say, “Goodbye, red-state pork. So long, faith-based initiative. See you later, expensive weapons systems. Auf wiedersehen, intrusive TSA body scanners. Paychecks are going to be a little late Congress.” Okay, so the last item is a bit fantastical. I’m allowed to dream, aren’t I?
Some have likened the tea party tactics, threatening default and economic catastrophe, to political terrorism. But I guess it’s okay to negotiate with terrorists every once in a while, especially if the terrorists happen to be really poor negotiators.