Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Monday, October 14, 2013

This Week In Nullification

So, over the weekend,  a bunch of whackaloon, John Bircher, neo-Confederate nutjobs met in DC to make asses of themselves.

What began as a showdown over the Affordable Care Act has really morphed into an epic tantrum that threatens the full faith and credit of the United States.  Well played.

To sum up, the GOP decided that they were going to extort policy concessions from the President and the Senate majority that ran counter to the results of the 2012 election.  Having lost, they were going to use a new form of nullification to get their way.

Where do we stand today?  John Boehner has been sidelined, because he is simply so ineffective, that including him would be as relevant as including Newt Gingrich.  The Senate is working on a deal that could reopen the government for a few weeks and extend the debt ceiling for a few months.

Buuuuuut, given that it's the Senate, a single Senator worried about his right flank could gum up the works and push us accidentally into default because of the various time wasting procedures that make the US Senate "the finest deliberative body on earth".

And even if it does pass the Senate before Thursday, the House has to pass it, which means Boehner has to go ask the Crazy Caucus for his balls back.

Basically, we are in a place where everyone agrees that default should not and will not happen, but no one knows exactly how it will be prevented.  Noam Scheiber thinks Boehner will swallow the pill, but I just don't see it based on his actions of the past seven months.

Scheiber writes:
because the House GOP was so insulated from public opinion—because the average GOP congressman is much more concerned about a Tea-Party challenger than a general-election opponent—conservative Republicans couldn’t see that this tactic was completely counterproductive. Which is to say, the very forces that made Republicans better able to withstand a public backlash drove them to pursue the one tactic guaranteed to produce a backlash so intense even they couldn’t withstand it.

But that begs the question: if the average GOP congressman is more concerned with a Tea Party challenger than a general election opponent, why change now?

Scheiber (and others) have not explained to me why Boehner would accept a Reid-McConnell deal that re-opens the government, eases sequestration and raises the debt ceiling for a non-trivial amount of time.

First, let's see if the Senate can act in a timely manner.  That alone would impress me.

Then, let me see Boehner act with courage and resolve.  That would smack my gob.

UPDATE:  Jon Chait notes that maybe both sides are creating the prevarication that Democrats are trying to end Sequester in order to sell the compromise to the GOP members.  If Democrats seem to be suggesting a "ransom", then maybe neither side having a ransom would constitute "middle ground".

The danger is that Democrats will then co-own a debt ceiling breach.  Not substantively, but in the media.

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