Spinning Boehner

Photo: Medil DC. Used via Creative Commons

As many of you know, John Boehner is my representative in Congress. Because of this, I get a fair number of people asking me via the Internet what the hell he’s thinking with regard to this whole shutdown thing. Because, of course, me and Boehner are totally tight, and he calls me up nightly to commiserate and share all his plans, even though I’ve never voted for him and it seems highly unlikely that I ever will. Be that as it may, someone apparently needs to explain him, and since he’s my guy, that job falls to me.

At this point, I think there are actually three reasonable explanations as to Boehner’s actions in the last few weeks, “reasonable” being “having some possible relationship to reality, whether I like it or not.” They are:

1. Boehner has gone full teabag, decided that the looming specter of Obamacare is manifestly worse than the possibility of defaulting on the US’ debts and thereby jeopardizing the entire global economy, and is saying, more or less, fuck it, it’s been a nice run for the US but now it’s time to let China take a turn at running the world, ha ha ha ha those suckers.

2. Boehner recognizes that the Tea Party contingent in his caucus is unrealistic but also recognizes that not spinning this out until the very last minute will cause the Tea Partiers to rebel, jeopardizing his speakership. So basically he’s stuck pretending to be irrational about the shutdown and debt limit until we get to the point that everyone (and I mean everyone) except the most irrational Tea Partiers are terrified about the default, at which point he can (quite reasonably) say “look, we gave it our best shot,” and send along a joint debt ceiling/government funding bill that takes care of this problem for another year, at which point everyone will be in election mode and in no mood for a shutdown.

3. Boehner realizes that his Tea Party wing is a bunch of irrational and fundamentally undemocratic yahoos who would rather watch everything burn than not get their way, and that this fact represents a danger, not only to the GOP but to the function of government in the United States at large — but that the tea party still remains popular with the GOP base. And so Boehner is strategically acceding to their demands, not because he is weak but because there is no other way to show the moderates and rational conservatives of GOP that the Tea Party represents a clear and present threat to the party and to the function of the nation, and they will, no joke, be happy to run the country into the ground if they don’t get their way. The moderates and rational conservatives, thus shocked, wake up from their slumber and actively engage in grassroots and funding of rational GOP candidates to fend off another wave of frothy Tea Party dim bulbs in the primaries, thus keeping the GOP a viable institution rather than punting itself further down the path of unelectability as the demographics of the US change (despite the GOPs efforts to disenfranchise as many poor and/or non-white people as possible, which is, at best, a temporary tactic).

Of these three options, I see 1) as the least likely and 3) as being rather too complicated for Boehner, for whom Machiavellian-level intrigue has never been noted to be one of his characteristics. That leaves 2), which, frankly, sucks, not in the least because it leaves open the possibility that Boehner will at the last moment have a failure of nerve and refuse to allow a vote, plunging us all into dangerous and uncharted territory because he’d rather be the Speaker in Hell than deposed rank and file in, if not Heaven, at least a world where a rump of bratty children are not allowed to push the United States to the brink of default via a temper tantrum.

My own personal opinion on the matter is that Boehner is a fundamentally decent conservative who believes in the processes of the government , and realized too late that he was dealing with people who, whatever their superficial commonalities in political philosophy, don’t have the same respect for process that he does. When should have he realized this? Oh, the opening months of 2010 might have been nice. But on the other hand up until this point, it’s all been reasonably manageable , which is to say the Democrats and Obama have been willing to concede points to keep things going. From a practical point of view, you can’t blame the GOP for using a tactic that works.

The failure of the Tea Party people is in being either unwilling or actually unable to recognize that Obamacare was a bridge too far for them. Obama’s been through the Supreme Court and the 2012 election with it, and won both times. There is absolutely no percentage for him to concede anything now, especially when the majority of the public (correctly) sees this shutdown and debt limit crisis as a fight that the Tea Party manufactured and drove the GOP to have. Obama’s far from being his most popular these days, but even there he has a substantially larger margin to work with than the congressional Republicans, who are in aggregate about as popular as cholera.

So here we are. And now here Boehner is. We’ll see where he, and we, go from here.

171 thoughts on “Spinning Boehner

  1. John, the MOST disturbing thing to me is that Mr. Boehner ran UNOPPOSED last election! Very frustrating for me, because while this guy is affecting the entire country, I can’t vote against him, being in Washington State. I know you probably never considered working as a politician, but can you PLEASE “take one for the team” and run against this guy next time? SOMEONE needs to do it! Plus, I would hugely enjoy watching you turn your wit against the unarmed opposition…may even give Americans a good reason to tune into C-SPAN!

  2. There’s also an unlikely possibility that Boehner, like Ted Cruz, has caught Presidential Fever, and thinks that following the same path that Gingrich took to the White House is a fine idea.

  3. Are there any movements by those who are represented by Boehner to give him some rational point of view? Or are you just drowned out there?

  4. Cruz and Boehner running for the GOP nom would be another absolute GIFT to the Democrats. Paul Ryan and Rand Paul should also totally run. At least Herman Cain was funny to watch.

  5. I see four options in how this ends:

    1. Boehner schedules a “Clean CR” vote, This probably loses him the Speakership from angry Tea Party Republicans for the betrayal
    2. Pres. Obama concedes to the hostage taking. This leads to the Tea Party doing it again and again until Obama’s term ends or they get him out of office (as I have said elsewhere–the Tea Party could ask for Obama and Biden to resign from office as a demand in a future confrontation. And if the President concedes here, their strategy to ask for stuff like this is justified.
    3. We go over the edge and debt default. This will lead to scenario 1 or 2 after a few hours or days, but that wrecks our country, badly
    4. The President uses the 14th Amendment or some other maneuver to avoid the Debt Default at the last minute.The bill of impeachment gets filed in the House within a week,

  6. Reading the non-malleted comment sections of various news media outlets and other bloggers, I believe a non-substantial minority of the US believes in #1, and through gerrymandering, they all live in the same places (mostly), and that Boehner has been at the mercy of their representatives. You allude to this in that he developed a strategy to cope with it, but I believe he probably didn’t feel like he chose the strategy at all.

    I strongly believe that we should try again to have mutually beneficial, reasonable discourse on a set of opposing goals without threatening a meltdown/shutdown/etc. Our lack of maturity as a country is appalling. Boehner has become the flashpoint in this, but I don’t put a lot of the blame directly on him. It seems it would take superhuman powers (read: mind control) to solve some of these issues.

    We should have a pledge for reasonable, thoughtful discourse! It should start with: If I am proved wrong, I will admit it freely and it will not be seen as weakness by my fellow discussants, but strength and virtue. No person or idea is always right.

  7. What really puzzles me is why the Republicans are trying to overturn a law that has taken effect and one which, as you say, Obama has won on in all possible venues. The principle at stake seems to me to be not the Affordable Health Care Act, but respect for the law and the legal process itself. Which surely Boehner himself is aware of?

    Or is this something the Tea Party simply cannot grasp? Yet, if they won on this, they would have opened the US to future misrule on an unprecedented scale. So Obama needs to win, not only for the immediate issue, but for America itself.

  8. I also enjoy pie. I am astonished at how effective the disinformation machine working for the TP is, until I remember that it has unlimited funding. Then, I’m just scared. The people who are pulling the TP strings are so well financed, they have the economy of basically a small country to support them. Scary.

  9. “… realized too late that he was dealing with people who, whatever their superficial commonalities in political philosophy, don’t have the same respect for process that he does”

    Only a blind fool would have failed to recognize that the Tea Party is more interested in imposing their view of how the world should run than in effective government. We all want things to run precisely the way we like but most of us realize that isn’t going to happen and we work to get as much of our viewpoint executed as policy as is possible while recognizing two things. First, that others have valid viewpoints too and even though we disagree, we respect those viewpoints and acknowledge that it’s always possible they happen to be right. Second, that our allegiance has to be to the country, not just our faction.

    The Tea Party repudiates both of those things, always has. If Boehner didn’t see that years ago he’s not just incompetent, he’s stupid. Or at least willfully blind.

  10. What I’d like to see is this gets resolved by a “clean CR” and “clean” debt limit bills quickly.

    Second to that, I’d like to see Boehner schedule a last-minute vote on a “clean” debt limit bill, and Reince Priebus and Sharon Day to say “Those guys, those guys who voted to send the country over a cliff, they don’t get a dime from the RNC for 2014. Their primary challengers will get our full support.”

  11. Well, there’s a 4th option: this is completely new territory and he has no idea what to do. He can’t seriously negotiate with anyone – Obama, the Senate, his own caucus – because he can’t deliver anything. The moderate Republicans view him as better than nothing but not by much, and the moneyraisers and donors are probably looking past him at other options. At this point he’s probably praying that Obama saves his butt by using one of the tactics you mention above. And every night the ghost of Sam Rayburn visits his bedroom and yells nasty Texas things at him.

  12. I have a modicum of respect for the Orange one. He came from nothing, worked his ass off, put himself through college (seven years of it because he had to work and pay) and made something of himself. It is a real life American Dream story, and I can get behind that no matter who it is that does it.

    It’s too bad he’s such a raging douchebag, though.

  13. is the Tea Party really prepared to let the US default? IMHO they thought that the Democrats would cave before a shutdown and give them a delay on the ACA- (obviously that didn’t happen) and now I don’t think Boehner knows what he can do and still have a “victory” from the POV of the teabaggers (I don’t believe he has ‘gone over’). That’s the problem with playing chicken – sometimes the other guy doesn’t flinch

    I don’t think that Boehner has presidential ambitions for 2016, I am pretty sure that Ted Cruz does, and his quasi- filibuster and this brinksmanship has a lot to do with that

  14. I’m of the opinion that watching everything burn is kind of what the Tea Partiers want, whether they admit it or not. They’ll stand over the burning wreckage, toasting marshmallows and claiming if government had been destroyed sooner, it never would have happened.

  15. My take on it is that a showdown over the debt ceiling was always in the cards — look at what Paul Ryan was saying all summer — but that it was going to be fairly modest and unrelated to the ACA. And there’s every reason to believe it would have worked as a way to gain some leverage over Obama. It relied on him having the ability to push modest GOP gains through the House.

    However, I think Boehner got blind-sided by the Tea Party basically hijacking this plan early (on the continuing resolution rather than the debt ceiling) and forcing it to be about the ACA: a basically unwinnable fight.

    From the outside, it looks like Boehner has succeeded (mostly) in putting down that hijacking, and is now trying to proceed with his original plan of using the debt ceiling fight for modest gains (heck, why not? in for a penny, in for a pound). In other words, I think he’s sort of on auto-pilot right now, and sticking to a plan seems better than haring off. The problem is, Obama and Reid are seriously pissed off, and they don’t trust him to be able to deliver on his promises. And I think he’s either misjudging how angry they are, or he’s just trapped. He may also think that this is another Syria: that Obama can be pushed off the red lines he draws, and so he has a chance of winning this one, too.

  16. I think what the Koch Bros want is to take over, and be the king pins behind a political party in power. The Republican Party wasn’t moving in that direction fast enough for their liking, so they invented the Tea Party and have been enacting their coup ever since. I don’t believe that this fiasco is about breaking gov’t (or even about the ACA)- this is about who controls the GOP leading into the midterm elections, and who runs in 2016.

    I fear for our future if the Tea Party continues to gain influence

  17. and yes – if a large number of seats in the house go to TP conservatives in 2014, Boehner is done as speaker.

  18. Personally, I’m thinking of writing Chief Kim Dine of the US Capitol Police and asking that he arrest John Boehner for extortion. And to arrest the other compolicit Representatives as well, with charges of extortion and criminal conspiracy to commit extortion.

    I’ve checked the USC laws defining extortion. I think the current situation meets the criteria for such charges.

    I’m tired of this shit.

  19. Yeah. I don’t know. If Boehner really was fundamentally decent and sees the futility of what the Tea Party Republicans are trying to do, he’d be willing to fall on his sword, if necessary, to get this thing over with. He’s been in the House for over 20 years. This would be the time for him to say, “The hell with the Speakership. The hell with my seat, if necessary. The Tea Partiers are nuts, and need to be stopped, and if it takes me losing the Speakership, and maybe my seat, well, it’s been a good run and it’s time for me to do the right thing.” And then he would call a vote on a clean CR.

    Yeah, I know. Not going to happen, because he’s a politician and politicians are by nature ambitious, and everything is about the next election.

    This all makes me very sad and very angry.

  20. @ brucearthurs: I think that that is actually a viable option. Let me know if you go through with it.

    You should probably charge the entire federal legislature–if a criminal case fails, get Theophylact as a plaintiff and go civil. That won’t force the bastards to shape up, but you might get a hefty cash influx. With a bit of luck, the publicity will be enough to shame them all into resigning.

  21. I seriously doubt if the Tea Party politicians think they are going to accomplish anything more than proving to their electorate that they are serious. They know it’s not going to work.

    Politicians on both sides of the fence are working this thing like it’s a gift of manna for their next election. Sound bites and TV appearances and Oh My! It’s just a way to make sure they get to clearly make a strong stand (as seen by the public) without any of them actually thinking anything seriously bad is happening.

    Then just at deadline they will vote in another CR. Proving ultimately how ineffective they continue to be.

    It’s not that they don’t know what is bad about this, it’s that to them, it doesn’t feel bad. It’s too far from their experience. To them the bad is just a great way to create a soundbite pivoted in their direction.

  22. You folks wanting Boehner to “fall on his sword” should be careful what you wish for.

    The outcome of Boehner going away is Eric Cantor as Speaker. And that overprivileged, daddy’s boy douchenozzle makes Boehner’s malfeasance look like Sunshine Happy Hour.

  23. The outcome of Boehner going away is Eric Cantor as Speaker.

    *Vader voice*
    NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    */Vader voice*

  24. It’s rather along the classic lines of “anyone who wants to be President, shouldn’t be”. Boehner wanted the Speaker and has had sold out to keep it. If he really wanted to have some control he could have changed the voting districts in Ohio to punish Jordan up in Urbana. Oh for the days when Johnson and Rayburn punished the rogue steers.

    Seriously…Scalzi…you’re our last best hope…

  25. At this point, I think there are actually three reasonable explanations as to Boehner’s actions in the last few weeks, “reasonable” being “having some possible relationship to reality, whether I like it or not.”

    Thanks for the qualifier, John, because down here in Middle Earth, there’s nothing “reasonable” about what the GOP is doing, cheerfully enabled by Boehner’s feckless refusal to you know… lead. (There’s also a non-trivial amount of stone cold lies coming out of his mouth.)

    If Americans want to elect high-functioning sociopaths to their legislatures, that’s their business. Where I think the rest of the world gets to have an opinion is when those same sociopaths are threatening to take out the global economy in a fit of pique.

  26. ‘Spinning Boehner’ would make a great name for an actor in a porno.

    Personally, I think he’s put himself between a rock and a hard place, and he knows it. This is something the GOP has been doing for years, ever since it allied with the Tea Party.

  27. You have pretty much nailed it from where I sit. Boehner is stuck trying to keep a widely disjointed group together and still keep his Speaker position.

    As a fiscal conservative and social moderate, I’ve appreciated your point of view on universal healthcare. Please keep up the well done writing on those points.

    At some point I would love to try and explain the logic behind those being elected from the Tea Party point of view (we have several of them here in Texas), but I don’t have the bandwidth today to express it in a constructive way.

  28. Boehner is kind of like the music industry. The world has changed and they’re still stuck in the past. The Orange One would like to believe that all Republicans will fall in line with what the leader says, just like they used to. Meanwhile the Tea Party is busy pirating files and not paying attention to anything other than getting what they want.

    So yeah, it’s option two all the way. He wants to remain speaker but he was unprepared for dealing with intransigent noobs that do not understand the importance of compromise and, in the words of Alfred, “just want to see the world burn”. Or in this case, the US government. Now there’s asswipes on the cable news outlets trying to advance the idea that a default wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

    I’m in my mid-50s and I’ve seen this country in quite a few states of crisis but nothing as idiotic and self-induced as this mess.

  29. My belief lies near 2), but the major problem is that our crossing the debt limit is much like Voyager 1 crossing the heliopause — it is something we recognize *afterwards*. The date of October 17th is a guess. It’s an educated guess, and one that is based upon our best information and honest effort, but it is still just a guess. It would be terribly easy for Boehner to attempt to take us to the brink of default and simply misjudge. The effects would be the same no matter the intent.

  30. I seriously doubt if the Tea Party politicians think they are going to accomplish anything more than proving to their electorate that they are serious. They know it’s not going to work.

    In all seriousness, @itsathought2, I wouldn’t assume any such thing. I’ve been reading, with mounting incredulity, the usual suspects on the Tea Bag right spinning that a default wouldn’t matter. Seriously. Let me repeat this: It wouldn’t make a jot of difference if, for the first time in its history, the Government of the world’s largest economy stopped paying its bills, foreign and domestic. This isn’t just living in a partisan echo chamber, it’s going full Under The Dome crazy, with the difference being that everything outside it is at risk at well.

    I’m of the opinion that watching everything burn is kind of what the Tea Partiers want, whether they admit it or not.

    Strike out the words “kind of”, @DaveBranson, and I totally agree with you. Thing is, most of the TB would cheerfully admit it — ‘government’ is evil (except when a wildfire or tornado is on their doorstep, but never mind), Obama is a secret Muslim with a forged birth certificate, and they really don’t care who gets hurt on their way to absolute ideological purity.

  31. I think one of the problems is that a lot of the people on the GOP side are thinking “well, this isn’t all that horrible a compromise, why won’t they make it?”

    And they aren’t thinking about the implications of allowing threats like this to result in “compromises” which always consist of the other party having to give something up in exchange only for not having the government shut down or the economy shattered. Which is that if it ever works, it becomes a tactic, and then it will escalate as needed until we really do default. The only alternative, really, is to just not accept this in the first place. Because you can’t accept it just once…

  32. Like a few other commenters, I think the government shut down and debt limit crisis are more about who controls the Republican party than anything else. The tea party has been hostile to non-tea party Republicans since its inception. Attacking (and sometimes defeating) non-tea party Republicans in the primaries from the very beginning. Now they have an established network of financial backers and a majority within the GOP caucus. As far as the tea party is concerned, the only thing other Republicans are good for is numbers. The GOP was happy to let the tea party in at first and maintain their majority. But now, the rest of the GOP (including Boehner) is realizing the tea party is hostile to them as well (something they should have realized as soon as tea party candidate challenged them in Republican primaries.) The tea party is willing to implode the GOP to get what they want, not to mention the country, and career politicians like Boehner are the ones left holding the bag trying to sort out the mess the GOP finds itself in. (IMHO)

  33. @ cranapia: These people aren’t high-functioning sociopaths. Khan is a high-functioning sociopath. Moriarty is. Sherlock Holmes is.

    The Tea Party people are all stupid, and they appear to be separated into “stupid+insane”, “stupid+evil”, and “stupid+evil+insane in one horrifying Todd ‘Legitimate Rape’ Akin bundle” types.

    Unfortunately, people like Akin and Paul Broun (a young-earth creationist who said, while standing in Deer Hell, that 99% of science (including the science that was allowing him to be videotaped) is “lies straight from the pit of Hell”) are extremely overrepresented in Congress. Both of these morons are on the HOUSE SCIENCE COMMITTEE!!!!!

    A FSM-forsaken CREATIONIST and a nutjob who once called his opponent a dog on live television are both part of the group in charge of making science textbook standards.

    We are screwed. At the hands of insane, severely brain-damaged clowns, no less.

  34. Is anyone surprised that people who ran on government being evil and needing to be drown in a bathtub would bring the government to its knees?

    I used to say that the GOP needed to re-invent themselves as centerist with fiscal conservative leanings… but the Dems did that already by electing Obama.

    The real moderate republicans are becoming democrats. Charlie Crist for Governor 2014!

  35. P.S…
    Obama can’t flinch. He has to draw a line in the sand and not budge. Otherwise the inmates will continue to do the same thing.

  36. Would this be a good time to point out that Saint Ronald Reagan (and the opposition party in Congress) had a more reality-based definition of “negotiation” and “compromise” than the Tea Baggers, and their invertebrate enablers like Boehner?

  37. No-one has mentioned the commercial that ran against Boehner just before the shutdown, stating that he’s betraying the country by allowing Obamacare to be funded. It played several times here in the Cleveland area on my cable station, and I was wondering if it was just local, or played nationwide. I was shocked that the far right would attack him so viscously. It was right after it ran that he seemed to start pushing for the shutdown. Are the TP’ers going to bring a primary challenger to him if he supports a clean bill? Personally, I think the shutdown will continue, but he’ll bring a vote to the floor for a debt limit raise next week. Getting both the CR for funding the government and raising the debt limit is too much to ask for from his caucus. And of the two bills, the debt limit is more crucial.

  38. @ cranapia: Reagan was an asshole, but he was a realistic asshole. Best thing you can say about the dirtbag.

  39. I agree with nifmom. I expect to see the debt limit passed and the shutdown continue at this point.

  40. I wonder if the only way out of this situation is a full on split between the Tea and Republican Parties? Or is that unrealistic? The Tea Party seem on the face of it to need the mainstream Republican Party rather than other way around. The US has never seemed hospitable to third party crazy candidates, so surely there must come a point where they are told to fall in line or go take their chances in the cold? As for Boehner, optimistically I lean into a mix of between option two and three. Realistically I think it is Magda’s option 4. He’s lost control and is now just along for the ride with no plan other than to keep calling himself “Speaker” for as long as possible.

    I wonder if the bulk of Republicans, and probably even some of the ultra-rights and libertarian froths of the Teaps, probably thought that Obama would fold like he has done so many times before (guy should have stood his ground long ago if you ask me, every time he “compromised” before he set this situation up) if they kept pushing. Now they’ve backed themselves into a corner and they are too outraged at the thought of losing face to back down now. Plus there are all these baying crazies they’ve whipped up over the years who think compromise is a dirty word (a monster they made to turn loose on the Democrats, now one that is ready to devour them as well) who genuinely do want to see the world burn.

  41. My nephews are Tea Partiers. (We blame my sister’s ex.) Full bore, Obama’s a secret Kenyan Muslim Commie, out to destroy the country. The ACA is government control and socialism, and it will ruin the country. Better to run the nation into the ground than allow something like that to continue. (Although the girlfriend of one of them is signing right up so she can get an operation on her foot.) Other than that, they are actually pretty sane and intelligent. But as soon as it comes to politics, they shut their brain off.

  42. There have been a number of 3rd parties over the years, and some have held some power. The current throes of the GOP (which is an odd name, as it’s younger than the Democratic Party) could lead to a House with 3 parties. It’s happened before, temporarily.

    The question is: will it? And what will happen then? When the Whigs broke up, it was over Slavery, and they splintered into a number of 3rd parties. The main anti-slavery party survived as the Republicans; the rest withered.

    I recently read a report (http://www.democracycorps.com/attachments/article/954/dcor%20rpp%20fg%20memo%20100313%20final.pdf) that divided the Repulbicans into 3 internal groups: moderates, Evangelicals, and Tea Party, and held focus groups with each group. Among their conclusions was that the Moderates hate the Tea Party, and the Evangelicals back the Tea Party because they stand up to Obama and the Democrats — but the Tea Party isn’t otherwise as concerned with the social issues which drive the Evangelicals.

    If the Republicans split — kick out the Tea Party — they will likely split their representation in Congress. Worse case, the House will lack a majority caucus, and that could get strange (what do Parliamentary systems do when the only reasonable coalition government are from splinters of a previous majority party?).

  43. I can see a fourth possibility: Boehner thinks he can win one and only one vote, and is waiting until he can force both the debt limit and the shutdown to be lifted together.

    Since the Tea Party views the shutdown of government as an objective, not a tactic, I don’t think it’ll work, but Boehner may disagree.

  44. @crypticmirror:

    (guy should have stood his ground long ago if you ask me, every time he “compromised” before he set this situation up)

    Can I proffer a small reality check if we’re going to start outsourcing in any degree responsibility for the Congressional GOP’s intransigence to Obama. How many times has he made good faith efforts to “reach out” across the aisle — which he vowed ad nausem to do during the presidential primaries and the general election — only to be told to fuck off? And while the rabid right try to frame him as some deranged autocrat, isn’t it worth remembering that the whole separation of powers thing is in the Constition NOT a liberal media fantasy?

    The whole “it’s really Obama’s fault” meme is bullshitty enough coming from the right-wing echo chamber, let’s not give it any help. It seems to me that you can’t have it both ways and denounce “hyper-partisanship” in Washington, then bag Obama for not being hyper-partisan enough.

    And to be perfectly blunt, Obama “set this situation up” (as you put it) for a large chunk of the American right the moment he dared to put his uppity self forward for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Never forget that the Tea Party do not view Barack Obama as a “legitimate” President, never have, and never will.

  45. It would be a lot more fun watching the Republican Party self-destruct if they weren’t likely to bring the rest of us down in the process.

    I still like the idea of the Democratic Party renaming themselves to the Conservative Party, co-opting the less-irrational subsets of Republicans, and letting the leftward side of the Dem Party go to join Greens, WFP, et al, to form an actual Liberal Party.

    The Tea Partiers et al could then fill the same role as their counterparts do in civilized countries — a minor party that acts as the political equivalent of the id.

    (Also, I’d like a pony.)

  46. What cranapia said. Barack Obama is the Macguffin (oh, google it, ferchrissakes) in this Republican psychodrama of racism, stupidity, paranoia, and unbridled id. Being a sane member of the American nation is like being chained to a foaming berserker and thrown into the deep ocean. You keep trying to take a breath while avoiding the swinging axe.

  47. Floored, as a FurloughedFed™ I’m not exactly flush enough to make a federal case of it. Nor do I know what charge might apply. Almost certainly I wouldn’t have standing. In fact, I might even be barred by the Hatch Act, if the suit would be considered partisan political activity.

    But yeah, otherwise.

  48. “…the congressional Republicans, who are in aggregate about as popular as cholera.”

    I think you are underestimating the popularity of cholera.

  49. Boehner’s political history probably plays into this. See, he was in the House leadership under Gingrich during the Clinton years. When Gingrich got punted, Boehner also got dropped from the House leadership. It wasn’t really anything he’d done – the Republicans just liked Rep. Watt more. But no matter the circumstances, that kind of thing always leaves a mark.

  50. The bottom line is that most Tea Partyists are essentially anarchists. They do not believe in government at all. They think we can all go on our way being rugged individualists and that the world (or at least the part they care about) will be fine. They complete buy the “government is evil” line that is being spouted by the money interests (Koch, et al). They have absolutely no incentive to “deal” at all. And, lest we forget, Michele Bachmann has declared that we are in “the End Times” so we should rejoice in the chaos.

  51. @ ronboakes: Dude, pedophiles are more popular than congress right now. For real. So are the Kardashians, apparently (and that’s the really scary part).

  52. The report Balise Pascal liked to is VERY good reading. Yes, it lays out clearly the possibility that the “moderate” wing of the Republican Party (roughly 25% of registered Republicans) are at the point where they may very well either sit on their hands or vote for Democrats. One telling point — A man in a focus group points out that he CANNOT sell the GOP to his children. They look at the TP and the Evangelicals and say “No way” Most of a party’s growth comes from the younger generation. GOP is going to have a hard time with that.

  53. “…the congressional Republicans, who are in aggregate about as popular as cholera.”
    many republicans in the house are VERY popular in their (gerrymandered) districts- that’s one of the problems – how do we cut the tumor out?

  54. I wonder how much the TP’s leadership actually believes the bullshit they peddle and how much is just bread and circuses for the crazies

  55. Anyone know if Boehner is a Walloonian name? That would explain things.

    (It’s probably northern German, but that ruins the gag.)

  56. Any white male who claims to have “come from nothing” in the US should be considered too willfully ignorant and dangerous to hold public office. If they can’t recognize all the ways that a government helped (or hurt, in the case of non-white non-males) them along the whole way, then they should never be part of said government. It is one thing to be born in the same income bracket as most of the population and move beyond it (in Boehner’s case, with the help of government programs), but it is quite another to overcome real adversity, and Boehner has never done any of the latter.

  57. None of this would be a problem if we got rid of gerrymandering and Congress proportionally represented the people like it was intended.

  58. John wrote in part, near the end:

    There is absolutely no percentage for him to concede anything now, especially when the majority of the public (correctly) sees this shutdown and debt limit crisis as a fight that the Tea Party manufactured and drove the GOP to have.

    It is objectively true that the Tea Party manufactured this and drug the rest of the GOP to it.

    I don’t believe it’s true that the public sees it that way; what I read in major press coverage is tarring all the GOPers in the House. Some more equally than others (the Tea Partiers, and Boehner), but all of them. The various business press are about the same, and business leaders I talk to. There’s a split among business leaders between “Actively working within GOP to defeat Tea Party” and “Blaming them all, leaving the GOP”, with a tiny sliver of “Yay! Tea Party”.

    If a whole bunch of people die from this Samonella outbreak, if a major Hurricane comes onshore with FEMA and the Corps of Engineers and such not able to respond, if anything else disasterous happens which the shutdown causes or exacerbates, look for a rapid public swing, and then the GOP’s goose is cooked in competitive districts for five or more years.

  59. Fred, you do realize that Mr. Scalzi used to be pretty poor? Because you’re kind of overgeneralizing there.

  60. 4. Boehner actually thinks that Obama will fold and give him something- Maybe not to the degree Obama has before with the likes of the Sequester, but something. Boehner believes the goals of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party even if he doesn’t always agree with the methods. He probably believes that the threat of the Tea Party allows him to be “the moderate”, thereby moving the Overton window to the right- and putting forth a viable threat to the Democrats. Notice that Boehner is never held responsible for the Tea Party the way Obama is held responsible for whatever comes out of any part of the Democratic Party. (Politically-A neat trick)

    If one side is crazy, it is left to the other to be sane. As this has played out before, it is always the Democrats who have to be the sane people, because that is now what is expected of them. And sane people will do anything to stop the world from crashing. So they give the Republicans something to keep things going.

    It is important to point out that in a Continuing Resolution- the Democrats don’t get their preferred budget, just the status quo. That no one really wants the US to default, but since the democrats don’t want to default that becomes their established starting negotiating position. The Democrats have to either accept Republican changes to the Status Quo, or the Republicans stop everything. No Democratic proposal to change the status quo is ever even part of the discussion. The Republicans establish a position where the Democrats have to “compromise” from the halfway point that really both sides already agree on.

    Finally, after years of this, the Democrats are calling BS instead. Whether they will hold to that and let the Republicans have something, is still yet to be seen. But every time the Republicans have demanded a box of cookies, they have at least gotten a handful. It is probably not crazy of Boehner to think he will at least get one. Past behavior may not define future action- but that has been the Democrats behavior in the past.

    Boehner is only as decent as the Party he leads. No more, no less.

  61. Yes, it’s probably #3. I blame the Republicans, who, over the last 40 years, sold their souls piecemeal to a collection of misanthropes, religious extremists, and crackpots for their votes. And Obama fan that I am, I still have to blame the president for trying to repeatedly negotiate in good faith with those who had demonstrated time and again that they had absolutely no intention of reciprocating. I was never much of an LBJ fan, but I think that if today’s Republicans had ever tried this crap on him, he would have ground them up into cornmeal.

  62. Second Edward Brennan’s #4: Boehner really thought Obama would fold, maybe based on Obama’s behavior in 2011 (when Obama had reelection to worry about, and maybe genuinely thought he could accomplish something by negotiating).

    There’s also #4a: Boehner did at one time think Obama would fold, and, now that he knows better, is persevering mostly to save face.

    There are scarier possibilities. One is that Boehner has masters who genuinely want a default. There would be advantages for the very, very rich in a global economic collapse: maybe they lose a big chunk of their wealth, but they’re still the richest people around, and labor becomes extremely cheap and the people become cowed and fearful. They live like kings.

    Also: Proponents of Austrian and austerity economics have been claiming for years that some combination of federal debt, fiat currency and a welfare state will lead to skyrocketing interest rates, hyperinflation and plummeting productivity. None of these things have happened. Our economic troubles are almost the opposite of their nightmare. But if their political friends force a default on the debt–maybe that can *make* it all happen, and then it’s just like they were right all along.

  63. Thank you for your analysis of Boehner. I’ve been trying to figure out how he could let the Tea Party run his party into the ground, and I think #2 pretty much nails it. I wrote him a fairly nasty letter, the gist of which was that he ought to rein in the far right wing of his party and that Tip O’Neill was probably laughing at him up in heaven. It was rather like peeing in dark wool pants, I got a warm feeling that didn’t last long. But at least I registered my disapproval.

  64. Being able to sympathize rationally with somebody you fundamentally oppose is a pretty rare trait Mr. scalzi. I’m impressed.

  65. Obama can’t negotiate because of the precedent it would set. But he also can’t negotiate because Boehner can’t deliver a deal. He’s not herding cats, he’s herding morons, and we’re all suffering because of it. He proved that the last time we suffered through this fiasco. I think B. needs to go to Pelosi, not Obama. She has been Speaker. She knows the machinations. If anyone can help him find a way out of this mess, it’s her.

  66. Boehner is too fond of his own power and was, like most of the G.O.P., desperate enough to ally with the Tea Party in a vain effort to stay relevant without updating their outdated, narrow-minded, racist, and misogynistic ethos based on a “white man reigns supreme” 1950’s-era fantasy.

    There is no scorn nor disdain remotely vile enough for the Speaker and his obstructionist congressional compatriots who wasted time and taxpayers’ money grandstanding while they were supposed to be doing their jobs governing. That they now sanctimoniously demand talks and try to pose the President’s refusal to negotiate before they will withdraw their threats as the problem only further exposes them as the irrational, ideologically insane, and wholly self-absorbed demagogues that they are. They do not serve the American people, nor have they ever intended to do so.

    I have no real idea how this standoff will end and given that I never would have envisioned that our country and government would be held hostage by such despicably low means, I’m scared to even guess. I have learned one lesson, though. As much as I hate politics, I have always felt like it was the responsibility of every person to stay informed and engaged, but it turns out most of us, myself included, didn’t go nearly far enough in performing this duty. As a country, we have utterly failed ourselves. As the state legislatures began gradually turning red, the congressional districts were gerrymandered outrageously. Extremists are now able to stock Congress with ideological zealots who run not to govern, but to decree.

    Boehner’s desire to hold on to power has led him to betray his country. Political views aside, a decent person does not callously put hundreds of thousands of people out of work and threaten to destroy a recovering economy simply to prove an ideological point. I can only hope that the country escapes being sacrificed and that we all remember who pushed us to this point and why.

  67. My thinking is that Boehner knows, if he opposes the TP, he is out as Speaker; and possibly out of a job. You said a TP candidate had filed to oppose him in a primary; it’s safe to assume that, if Boehner says “No” to the TP, the Koch Brothers, Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity, and the rest of the RW cabal will shovel truckloads of money at the TP guy.

    Boehner cares about Boehner. He loves being Speaker of the House, and he loves being a career politician. He is not going to jeopardize either of those things. If that means the country defaults on its debt, research projects wither and die, funding for governmental functions and payroll is suspended indefinitely, and the world stops regarding US Treasury notes as the safest investment on Earth, well… that will all be some else’s problem.

    The Tea Party? Oh, they’ll be ecstatic when it all falls apart. They’re mostly neo-Confederates, re-fighting the Civil War, and they see themselves as within 10 days of victory. There is no way they will tolerate Boehner’s letting a clean CR come up for a vote; and there’s no way they will tolerate any vote on raising the debt limit.

  68. I think Boehner is a man of mediocre ability, someone far better suited to follow than to lead, a spear-carrier rather than a general… whose driving, focused ambition has gotten him into a career position beyond his abilities. And given that it’s a particularly challenging position these days, due to deep partisanship in American politics and very deep divides within his own party, his mediocrity has ensured that the US Congress has been particularly ineffectual and dysfunctional under his “leadership.” IMO, Boehner’s mediocrity and inability to lead the House is a key factor in the current mess we’re in.

    I also think that MUCH of the current problem, though it had complicated origins, is by now all about Boehner’s ambition. I think his primary focus now is on retaining his position as Speaker. I think the well-being of the nation comes well below that on his scale of what’s important to him now and where he’s focusing his efforts and intent. Preventing US default in October comes below his fixation on remaining Speaker, IMO. If his factionalized party convinces him there’s a risk of his losing that position if he makes a deal, then he will let the nation default rather than take that personal risk–and I think that as a weak, ineffectual leader, he can be convinced all-too-easily that the “risk” of losing his position is greater than he can face.

  69. Food for thought: ObamaCare was never passed through normal channels. When Scott Brown said he would vote to not approve it, thus hastening its death, Henry Reid performed a slick parliamentary maneuver, thus ensuring its passage with not a single Republican voting for it.

    Venezuelan politics at is finest. Did I say Venezuelan? I meant to say Chicago politics. Then again, aren’t they one and the same?

  70. “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

    If you’re thinking that Tea Partiers are dumb, ig’nant, or some form of crazy, A) you’re not paying close attention and B) you have a fundamental misunderstanding of mental health. Seriously, it’s abelist to attribute what is going on here to “crazy”.

    Tea Partiers are richer, whiter, dudlier, and better educated than your Average USian. Don’t believe me? Check out the NYT and TPM and Slate in 2010. Or Lind’s piece in Slate this past Sunday. Their objective is a highly rational one – self preservation. Their methods are serving this goal.

    Changing demographics and social mores have and will continue to erode their ability to maintain institutionalized systems in their favor. They want to preserve, solidify, and to the extent possible make “permanent” the status quo. To keep themselves at the top of the heap, at the expense of everyone else. A resurgence of the Robber Baron age.

    None of which negates that their sense of self-interest is tragically short-sighted. That the tremendous Privilege they live in as Rich White USian dudes has blinded them to the very real lessons from history and given them an unrealistic sense that they have enough money/power/privilege to fully insulate themselves from any *possible* consequences. This is not crazy or dumb – unless you believe that intelligence automatically protects you from being short-sighted and vulnerable to observation bias and greed (spoiler alert: it doesn’t). I’d go with immoral and suffering from impaired empathy – and science backs me up on that latter .

    But they are a constituency created by the Southern Strategy, and the Republican Party has been culling and courting them for (almost 6) decades. They forged this faction to solidify GOP votes where previously Dems looked unassailable. The GOP only hold the House majority now because they gerrymandered the CRAP out of everywhere they could AND maintain the Tea Partiers within the fold. Krugman’s NYT Op Ed today reveals just how vulnerable even the gerrymandered districts currently are. Boehner’s trying to figure out how to live with ‘em when he knows damned well the GOP can’t live without em.

  71. @G.B. Miller – At this point, whether or not one believes that, it is completely irrelevant. Neither party is without guilt when it comes to playing games with parliamentary procedure. If nothing else, at least Reid stayed within the parameters of a functioning government.

    There have been plenty of opportunities for dialogue about the ACA since 2010, all refused by the extreme right who instead felt it was beneficial to the American people for them to futilely vote to repeal it over forty times while otherwise not doing their jobs.

    Refusing to govern, refusing to even do the basics of one’s job without demanding concessions as ransom is an entirely different magnitude of crap.

  72. How does this help is spreads democracy through the world. If I were looking in from the outside I would not model my government on the US.

  73. @G. B. Miller: How quickly we forget that, once upon a time, they only needed a majority vote to pass something in the Senate. Now apparently “passed through normal channels” necessarily includes getting 60 votes for cloture on the automatic Republican filibuster threat. And apparently it doesn’t really truly count unless some of the 60 are Republican.

    All because of one of the *previous* tricks Republicans pulled to redefine what you need to do to pass legislation.

    And if Obama gives in now, the new rule for “passing something through normal channels” will be that you need to please the Republican House Tea Party caucus sufficiently that they’ll allow the next debt ceiling increase; and anything that doesn’t please them will be dirty “Chicago politics.”

    This isn’t democracy, it’s Calvinball.

  74. By the way, I am not at all convinced that there will be any kind of 11th-hour resolution. Republicans have been busy convincing themselves that there really will be no default unless Obama wills it, or that it won’t be that bad and this is all just some kind of liberal scaremongering.

  75. Theophylact- I agree completely. It is a huge budget cut that Democrats should not have agreed to. In the same way that they agreed to tax cuts for the rich under Bush, that were meant to be temporary, but Republicans treated as the status quo. Another fight that one could say that Obama gave in on. That is the danger of things like the Sequester and of the Bush Tax cuts. It is also why Obama should not delay Obamacare, because a delay for the republicans is a move to create a status quo for them where it isn’t happening.

  76. @ Matt McIrvin: Dude, at least Calvinball players have some semblance of innocence…Hobbes excepted, of course.

  77. Jerome O’Neil said:

    “You folks wanting Boehner to “fall on his sword” should be careful what you wish for.

    The outcome of Boehner going away is Eric Cantor as Speaker. And that overprivileged, daddy’s boy douchenozzle makes Boehner’s malfeasance look like Sunshine Happy Hour.”

    Except Cantor’s CD is filled to the brim with Federal employees. That’s why he seized on the back-pay bill Jim Moran helped craft like it was his very own political life raft. Too bad for him that John Cornyn in the Senate is promising to block it.

    In fact, because of the shutdown they created, even the CDs of the Suicide Caucus wing of the Tea Party wing aren’t as “safe” as they think. Last week, I compared Ryan Lizza’s map of the Suicide Caucus CDs with the WaPo map of those places with the highest concentrations of Federal employees — and noted that Suicide Caucus member Doug Lamborn’s (R-CO) district contains the city of Colorado Springs, where one of every five persons works for the Federal government in some capacity.

    Sure enough, a week later, Lamborn (along with a few other Suicide Caucusers) starts to loosen the straps on his explosive vest just a wee bit. Of course, I won’t believe they’ve truly got the message until they either sign the discharge petition for the old budget bill the Dems found (and which they can then replace with a clean CR once it’s discharged) or vote on the clean CR the Senate sent them, but it’s instructive nonetheless.

  78. Next time you and Boehner chat, please say something rude on my behalf. This whole thing is literally making me sick — and scaring the living shit out of me. At my advanced age with a bad heart, he might literally kill me. Not just me, either.

  79. After skimming through the whole comments section, I don’t think I’ve seen a single comment originating from the conservative side of the aisle. So… I’ll stick my head in the lion’s jaw.

    My background: white, middle-class, somewhere between conservative and libertarian. FWIW, I grew up in Boehner’s district, and moved just outside it a couple years back.

    Boehner: I’ve never been terribly impressed with his leadership skills, but then I would say the same for McConnell, Pelosi, and Reid. From my perspective, I’d say that Scalzi’s scenario #2 is probably most correct, although I would quibble with the “irrational” wording.

    The shutdown: I don’t think it’s a particularly good tactic or strategy. That said, the Constitution WOULD seem to indicate that this sort of funding decision is within the purview of the House. Also, I’ll note that both parts of Congress, but particularly the Senate, have been derelict in their duty for the last several years. If they were passing actual budgets, instead of this continuing resolution nonsense, the situation would be a lot different.

    Obamacare: I, personally, think it’s a bad idea badly implemented. I also think that the rest of our health insurance system is pretty screwed up, and no one has come up with a good set of solutions yet, but I’m pretty sure that the piece of legislation that was passed is NOT the right answer.

    The Tea Party: I’ll grant that there’s shades of lunacy on the right. There’s also shades of lunacy on the left, too. What continues to bother me, though, is that this comment thread matches what I see elsewhere: utter demonization of anyone who identifies with the Tea Party, or disagrees with Obamacare. Also, the utter refusal to even consider that someone might have legitimate reasons for concern with government spending patterns, or disagreements with the ideas embodied in the Obamacare legislation, or concerns about the possible consequences badly drafted legislation. (Concerns, I might add, that are being validated by the problems with the exchanges and the matching price rises.) The rush to label every Tea Partier as racist, and the insistence that there’s a Koch Brother lurking behind every bush and lamp post with evil intentions, is not conducive to any sort of meaningful dialog.

    Anyway, thought I’d at least try to toss in a bit of a counter-point to this whole discussion, since it was seeming just a wee bit lopsided to the left.

  80. Matt McIrvin said: “By the way, I am not at all convinced that there will be any kind of 11th-hour resolution. Republicans have been busy convincing themselves that there really will be no default unless Obama wills it, or that it won’t be that bad and this is all just some kind of liberal scaremongering.”

    Oh, there will be one. We just have to wait for the Dow to drop below 14,500, which will probably be by this Friday if not sooner.

    Bear in mind that even the extreme anti-Obamacare Tea Party people’s districts, the districts of the eighty idiots who signed the Meadows letter, aren’t as safe as they thought they were two weeks ago. Look at the map of their CDs versus the map of the places in the US with high concentrations of Federal employees. (For emphasis, overlay these maps of the US states most hurt by the shutdown.)

    Fun fact: None of the people driving this temper tantrum, from closet Dominionist Ted Cruz to Reagan Mormon Republican scion Mike Lee to letter writer Mark Meadows, to their Heritage Foundation guru Jim DeMint, to their crackpot-Dominionist guru Ron Paul, were anywhere near Capitol Hill during the last GOP-caused shutdowns of ’95 and ’96. None of them ever experienced — until this past week — the white-hot rage of constituents angry beyond placation that the government they depended on for so many things wasn’t around. None of them experienced what caused even the rabid Gingrich GOP Clinton-haters of the late ’90s to treat shutdowns as the third rail of politics from that point forward.

    As the celebrated Dr. Franklin once wrote, “Experience keeps a dear school, yet fools will learn in no other.”

  81. John I consider this very germane to the discussion at hand, but I also understand if the loving mallet of correction comes into play.

    We sit here and discuss how Boehner is thinking this or that, but in the end he does not seem to have power over the TP. It is the TP that is causing this and while the more moderate chapters of the GOP thought they could ride the dragon in fact the dragon has a mind of its own and is now riding them. To what end?

    Well the TP in and of itself does not seem to be a particular nuanced group of politicians. As a matter of fact they seem to be a bit on the OCD side…must defund Obama care, must vote against Obama care…must 3,4,5 vote against Obama care, etc. what 40+ time since passage? So this is not really their idea rather they were chosen to evangelize against all reasonable action. Inspired by purity of thought and righteous belief that any compromise is surrender and damnation. In other word easily to manipulate…who benefits.

    It is my understanding that we have enjoyed if not the greatest, at least one of the greatest transfers of wealth from the lower and middle classes into the 0.01%. As a temporary member of the 1% I can say I have cash up the wazoo and no idea where to put it. I think most of the well to do have the same problem, in spades. When something works why not try it again. I am speaking of the Kochs and the other masters of the universe, not mere millionaires and not all billionaires.

    The uber well off are rolling in it. My tinfoil hat and I wonder if there is an attempt to collapse the fledgling recovery and the micro real-estate bubbles that seems to be forming in the high value markets. If you drive the economy right to the edge of ruin, a measurable proportion of the middle class economy becomes up for grab; one could extend the fire sale and continue to transfer substantial proportions of the economy from the kind of haves to the definitely haves.

    If as byproduct of this you prevent any meaningful tax or financial reform, energy legislation, political reform or anything else that binds you, by rendering the government unable to function as the only gorilla in the room that can stop you or restrict your activities, well that just a bonus. If your actions polarize a scared, disinformed, and suffering people, many of which don’t have the time, inclination or the intellect to understand, let alone act in their self-interest by exerting the one right they retain to influence their collective destiny, well you may have won the game. Then again maybe I have the cart puling the horse.

    It feels as if fascism is afoot, not the “you fascist bastards” of the Occupy movement picket signs or Faux News witty bon mots or rhetorical accusations from the left or the right, but the deep and profound structural shifts in power that move control of the most successful democracy in history, from we the people to those that own most of it. At least that is my happy thought of the day, please convince me I’m wrong.

  82. being a libertarian outsider (out of the US) I find it realy hard to stop being amazed at the finger pointing against the reublicans while the democrats have 50% of the blame to the situation

    1. in any other democratic country if the congress (however it is being called at that country) do not approve the budget then you go to do elections again. under that conditions the president usually have to compromise with the other parties if he wants to stay in power. US is different and that is why obama can ignore what the congress wants and actually push the republicans into starting the shutdown as a PR campaign against them.

    2. why do you need to loan more money? I am sure you had the budget for 2013 approved a year ago therefor if you need more money than was approved it is a sign you spend more then you were allowed. At why do you spend more then allowed is probably a question that needs to be answered before raising the debt. Yes, the republicans are as guilty as the democrats for the overspending but the democrats should explain it before blindly trying to raise the debt.

    It is actually great to see how well the founding fathers have done with the constitution. They didn’t want to give too much power to the federal government and here we see an example of how a president is more constrained then someone who his simply a 4 year dictator.

  83. Acemarke: How would you have felt if, during that brief period in 2001 when the Senate was in Democratic hands thanks to Jim Jeffords, Teddy Kennedy had refused to allow a Senate vote on a budget bill that didn’t also mandate background checks on all gun purchases?

    By the way: Ronald Reagan, a man so partisanly Republican that he created the famous “Eleventh Commandment” (“Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican”), was vehemently against holding the debt ceiling hostage. When his fellow Republican and Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker tried it back on November 1 of 1983, Reagan let him know that if Baker followed through on this, Reagan would veto every single bill Baker sent to his desk. Period.

  84. @acemarke: “What continues to bother me, though, is that this comment thread matches what I see elsewhere: utter demonization of anyone who identifies with the Tea Party, or disagrees with Obamacare.”

    This thread is largely about a tactic. Whether Obamacare is a good idea or a bad idea, it actually was passed as law, and withstood repeated attempts to kill it. In a republic, at some point you accept that if you disagree with a law, you need to get the votes to actually repeal it. You don’t try to force a repeal by threatening to damage the country if you don’t get it.

    G. B. Miller, another conservative in the thread, suggested that the ACA was passed illegitimately. The funny thing is that his notion of legitimacy implicitly encompasses the need to get 60 votes in the Senate to overcome an automatic filibuster threat, a phenomenon that was invented out of whole cloth by House Republicans just in the past decade. Suddenly, it’s hallowed tradition.

    This kind of automatic obstructionism will make the country ungovernable by anybody, Democratic or Republican, if it’s adopted as standard procedure. The Constitution may well allow these tactics. If so, it’s fatally flawed and needs repair. I think that in this case, really, it’s Congressional rules that need repair: if laws actually passed by majority vote, this crisis would be over.

    If the Republicans don’t want to be demonized they need to change their behavior.

  85. markk5: The debt ceiling is like a car loan: These are obligations already incurred. Not raising the debt ceiling means missing payments on loans already made.

    I suggest that you look at the stock markets for your own country, and see how they’ve been tanking over the past week. Then you’d get a glimpse of how serious this is.

    By the way: If the US still taxed rich people at the rates it did before Ronald Reagan cut the taxes of rich people, the debt that people like you like to harp on wouldn’t be so high — or even exist at all. The fact that Reagan cut the taxes for rich people is why he had to call for the debt ceiling to be raised eighteen times during his presidency.

    Side note: Isn’t it interesting how Republicans and “Libertarians” are much more comfy with high debts when they’re incurred by Republicans, or when a Republican is in the Oval Office? As Dick Cheney once said, “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.”

  86. Phoenix Woman:

    * I’m not quite sure what your argument is. Personally, I’m very pro-gun, but also have no problem with background checks. Am I supposed to be horrified at the thought of a Democrat attempting to also enact his policy priorities via legislative tactics? History has shown that both parties will happily take advantage of any conceivable loophole or advantage when they’re in power, and to some extent, that’s sort of the point of elections.
    * A hold like that would have been entirely his prerogative, particularly given the Senate rules allowing a single senator to put a stop on unanimous consent.
    * Reagan was a good leader, but certainly there’s no reason to blindly bind yourself to every opinion he ever expressed.
    * I already said I didn’t think the shutdown itself is particularly a good bargaining tactic or strategic move, just that attempting to defund legislation is a valid action for the House.

  87. @markk5:

    I’m sorry, do you actually believe a word of that or have you just cut and pasted a load of talking points that bear no relationship to reality no matter how often I’ve heard them today?

    1) The only people responsible for the actions of the Congressional GOP are Congressional Republicans. Not the President. Not the Democrats in Congress.

    2) “Compromise” and “negotiation” are wonderful things. But I think we’ve all got to cash the reality check, and accept that demanding the President somehow magically defund legislation that passed both houses, AND was ruled constitutional by the US Supreme Court AND Democrats ran on in two whole electoral cycles is none of the above. It’s demanding abject surrender, and (dare I say it) bluffing off a rather weak hand.

    3) We can ague until the heat death of the universe about how the world would be all lollipops and unicorn fart if we made Atlas Shrugged the supreme arbiter of all things. But in this universe, the government of the United States actually has fiscal obligations, foreign and domestic. The question that really needs to be asked is why you seem to think it doesn’t matter. We certainly need a LOT better than the latest spin from the Tea Party/GOP, and their media enablers, which is it doesn’t matter if the US becomes a global moochers, and everyone else who says otherwise is lying.

  88. Marrk5 – the problem is a peculiar facet of the US system. The congress approved the budget in the full knowledge that they would have to sell more bonds to cover it. Unlike every single other industrial country, the US requires a second vote to approve borrowing above a certain limit. So while the US continues to run a deficit (falling faster than any time since the end of WW2) the debt does increase.

    Everybody knew this to be the case, congress have spent the money, they shouldn’t really call it the debt limit and they shouldn’t vote on it once they’ve approved the budget.

    The markets are more than capable of telling the US when it can’t afford to borrow more.

  89. Matt McIrvin @ 11:48:

    So… if your party happens to be in the minority at the moment, does that mean you just stop opposing something you think is a very bad idea? Again, I’m not saying the shutdown tactic is the right way to do it, but it seems like the overwhelming mantra I see everywhere is “you lost, now shut up and do what we tell you”.

    I do agree that the Obamacare legislation is a valid law, albeit one passed through ugly legislative tactics. Doesn’t mean it’s RIGHT, or that it can never be changed. Laws can be overturned or repealed, and (apparently) defunded. Maybe a poor comparison, but the segregation laws were on the books for years, and passed by (at the time) majorities. Does that mean they should have stayed forever? Is there a minimum delay before you can consider opposing a law?

    And yeah, I’ll definitely agree that Congress is flawed in pretty much every way.

  90. The markets are more than capable of telling the US when it can’t afford to borrow more.

    NO NO NO NO NO! Haven’t you been paying attention, @Daveon the folks who barely managed to regain control of one half of one branch of Government three years ago, and can’t convince SCoTUS that the ACA is unconstitutional, get to flush the global economy down the shitter ’cause they wanna. Unless, that is, the majority party in Congress, and the executive branch that won not one but two general elections, put on the rubber gimp suit and assume the position.

    Why not? Two years ago, the last time the GOP took the debt ceiling hostage they managed to bring about the first credit downgrade for the US in the nation’s history. Why not really go for broke?

  91. One other thought: no, Republicans don’t control the Senate or the White House right now, but they do control the House. Does that not count for something? Republicans have shown their complete opposition to Obamacare since its passage. Voters have had two full election cycles to give Democrats a majority in the House, but they haven’t done that. That would seem to indicate that a good chunk of Americans want a divided government a minimum, and that the House Republicans should be making use of their majority.

  92. I find the use of the term “teabagger” juvenile.

    While I think the Republicans are being silly by tying Obamacare into every appropriations bill, the Obama Administration is also making use of a sympathetic media to punish the American people and shift the blame onto the Republicans.

    Only FOX views are getting reporting on things like Obama arresting WWII vets and shutting down overlooks so that nobody can accidentally enjoy a national monument while it is closed down, and FOX viewers aren’t the people that will be voting the Republicans out of office next election cycle.

  93. Acemarke: Well, if you’re going to play Incredible Moving Goalposts, I’m not sure there’s a point in attempting to have a conversation with you.

    Despite your pro-forma protestations, you seem to be just fine with a course of action that even Ronald Reagan, the shining hero of most Republicans and many Libertarians (who mostly seem to be Republicans who don’t want to own the R-word), flatly rejected as beyond the pale.

    You seem to not understand why, after the GOP shutdowns of 1995 and 1996, the Republicans shunned shutdowns for seventeen years — the amount of time it’s taken for most of the Republicans who were on Capitol Hill at the time to be replaced by persons who apparently find abstractions too much of a strain on their imaginations, which means that they don’t fear anything that they haven’t personally felt.

    If you can’t understand any of this, I’m not sure I or anyone else here could help you.

  94. @acemarke:

    One other thought: no, Republicans don’t control the Senate or the White House right now, but they do control the House. Does that not count for something?

    They don’t count for this level of bullshit. I’d suggest you watch that Maddow video linked to upthread, because if Ronald frigging Reagan (that well-known tax and spend liberal) got how deeply feckless and irresponsible holding the debt ceiling is any Republican can.

    @shakavum:

    I find the use of the term “teabagger” juvenile.

    Noted. I’m just going to say at the moment I don’t really give a rodent’s rectum for the delicate sensibilities of racists, homophobes, misogynists and economic illiterates.

  95. @shakauvm: If the media was liberal, its members not on FOX would be mentioning in every story on this shutdown the fact that the current budget extension that Boehner is refusing to allow a vote on is itself a compromise and in fact a huge win for the GOP.

    Grover Norquist has been hugging himself with glee over just how big a victory the Republicans have won by the Democrats’ acquiescing to continuing the sequester. His main worry about the actions of the Suicide Caucus (a term I first heard from Charles Krauthammer, by the way) is that they may finally make even the mild-mannered Harry Reid finally decide to say “OK, all bets are off, and so are the sequester cuts”.

    As for the term “Teabagger”, it was in fact created by Tea Party activists. Remember the young man holding the sign reading “Teabag the liberals before they teabag you”? (I myself prefer to call them “warmed-over John Birchers”, being that they get much of their funding from front groups funded by the Koch Brothers, whose father founded the John Birch Society.)

  96. Phoenix Woman @ 12:20:

    Sorry – I’m really not trying to pull any cute conversational tricks or stupid trolling tactics. Just wanted to provide some comments from the under-represented right side of the spectrum, and doing so off the top of my head. (Let’s face it, internet comment threads are not generally known for making it easy to carry on meaningful conversations.)

    I’ve already said that I don’t think the shutdown tactic is a particularly good one. I get that, mythologized or not, the conventional wisdom is that the shutdowns of the 90s were devastating for Republicans, and therefore to try doing so again would be stupid.

    But, I also think that Republicans have valid reasons for expressing their opposition to Democratic policies, that selective funding is a valid action for the House to take, and that there’s no reason for Republicans to vow to never do something just because Reagan thought it was a bad idea.

    In any case, at this point I A) need to head to bed, and B) am not entirely sure what specific points we’re trying to argue / discuss, anyway. I’ll check the comments at some point tomorrow, to see if there’s anything worth discussing further.

  97. BTW, could anyone point me to video of Boehner saying hitting the debt ceiling would actually be a good thing, not only for the US but the whole world? I’m beginning to wonder if there’s an option four here: Walter White is alive and well, and cooking up a lot of meth in a basement in an empty office building somewhere in D.C.

  98. @acemark:

    and that there’s no reason for Republicans to vow to never do something just because Reagan thought it was a bad idea.

    I think there’s plenty of fine reasons why politicians in all places and of all ideological complexions should know their history, and follow the examples of the best of their ancestors. Maybe I’m showing my age, but I remember when self-professed “conservatives” were big on moderation, the preferring cautious and modest chance over radicalism, and paying close heed to the wisdom of those who came before. Then again, I also think the current iteration of the GOP morphed into right-wing radicals long before this.

  99. Cranapia – I’m not sure what your point is. If the US defaults, the markets will hammer US bonds and things will go to hell fast.

    The US can keep borrowing at current rates for at least another half trillion, probably more before the markets start punishing through interest rates.

    If the US keeps decreasing the deficit at the current rate and the GOP stay away from the crack pipe…er…tax cuts things should come right.

    I’m hoping sane heads prevail before there’s an actual default.

  100. But, I also think that Republicans have valid reasons for expressing their opposition to Democratic policies, that selective funding is a valid action for the House to take

    In the name of all that is holy why?????

    So you don’t get your way at the ballot box so you just dick around with the funding to get your own way AND YOU THINK THAT’S VALID?

    Good grief.

  101. Daveon sez: “So you don’t get your way at the ballot box so you just dick around with the funding to get your own way AND YOU THINK THAT’S VALID?”

    Of course he does. Majority rule only counts when it’s his team that’s ruling.

    Meanwhile:

    Elizabeth Warren speaks for me: http://politicalwire.com/archives/2013/10/08/warren_stands_up_for_government.html

    And from Political Wire today:

    Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was quoted last week by Roll Call saying the budget stalemate “isn’t some damn game.”

    National Review quotes Boehner telling GOP members this morning he wants something that “puts points on the board.”

  102. “The Tea Party: I’ll grant that there’s shades of lunacy on the right.”

    Dude, the teabaggers act like shit-covered weasels on crack, and they have a full-time cheer squad urging them to greater heights of manic dumbness in the form of Fox.

    There is nothing on the Left which comes remotely close to what the TP are up to. Just look at Michelle Bachmann’s latest spew. That’s *routine* for the right.

    In Australia, someone that deluded would be led away by kind people and fed thorazine, and not allowed to be an MP of any kind. I come from a state that was run by a bible-thumping, Right wing crook for twenty years, during which condoms and gay sex were both illegal, and even here, there was nothing as nutty as the sanes TP member you could put forward.

    Wake up and smell the vomit flecked neck bibs. The Tea partiers are venal, vile, and deeply uninterested in reality. Bad or mad, I don’t really care, except if they succeed in their quest to wreck the American economy, the rest of the world gets shat on from a great height.

  103. @acemarke, I do appreciate your willingness to comment here, from a clear minority viewpoint, and in a rational way. I don’t agree with much of what you said, but that’s fine. (winning reelection by 5 million votes in what turned into a referendum on his signature plan, ought to be enough for even the GOP to give it a rest.)
    Since 2008, it feels that the GOP has convinced itself that whatever undercuts Obama is what’s best for the country. He never got even a day of honeymoon when elected. (McConnell has spearheaded much of this. He’s not Tea Party, or crazy.)The strategy has been pretty effective at diminishing Obama’s presidency, but hasn’t been good for the country, nor helped the GOP politically, I don’t think. Destroying the US economy via default would actually hurt Obama’s legacy in the history books. It may be the last chance to hurt him. (Since all those cockamamie impeachment plans keep failing.)

  104. @acemarke – “Republicans have shown their complete opposition to Obamacare since its passage. ”

    Passage. It’s the law now. Trying to undercut the democratic process, the way this country makes laws is nothing short of an attempted coup. If your side wants to repeal the ACA then win the Senate, win the White House, keep the House and repeal it. But you don’t get to drive this country over a cliff just because you don’t like a law that was passed by Congress and signed by the President.

    And let’s be honest. Were the sides reversed you and yours would be screaming at the top of your lungs about the Ds and their supporters being unpatriotic trash. How do I know? Because you did that during the Bush years. Anyone who even opposed the Bush White House was called unpatriotic and traitors by your pundits. So, let’s be blunt – the tea party people supporting this are anti-democratic, unpatriotic and care more for themselves and their party than for this country.

  105. Well, I’m not totally sure that any of the options explain things and I’m a bit more pessimistic. I wanted to pick up on a couple of the excellent points made earlier in the thread:

    It’s difficult to understand what the current Republicans are doing unless you realize that some of their backers want the crash to happen so they can return the US to the gilded age where they think they’ll live like kings and everyone else as serfs.

    The point about Austrian economics is good too. I recently had a conversation with a smart but very right wing guy and it was obvious that he had to believe ever more insane ideas to avoid having to come to terms with the fact that his model just wasn’t working. There’s almost a kind of genius to the idea of deliberately destroying the whole economy so that you can say, “see, I told you I was right”.

    Finally, one of my own: NASA is furloughed, the national labs are shutting down. Most funding bodies are cutting back or closed. The anti-science brigade is winning. Why would they want to stop?

  106. “So… if your party happens to be in the minority at the moment, does that mean you just stop opposing something you think is a very bad idea? Again, I’m not saying the shutdown tactic is the right way to do it, but it seems like the overwhelming mantra I see everywhere is “you lost, now shut up and do what we tell you”.

    You do this the way it’s done in a representative democracy. Draft alternative legislation, make the case to the people that it’s the right way to go, and run candidates for the Presidency and Congress who will support it. If the ACA is so bad, people will be aching for it sooner or later.

  107. Trouble is for the TeaPs that the ACA seems to be really popular and is going to actually work. It’ll take decades of running it down to be in a position to have a realistic change of running on a repeal the ACA platform Of course given the TeaPs’ sense of entitlement they’ll probably run on a leave-it-alone platform then do a volte-face once in office since they have (in their mind) a right to be in power and it doesn’t matter what they say to get there. However it plays out later, the only chance they’ve got to stop it clean without a lot of later effort or slaps in the face is right now.

  108. Voters have had two full election cycles to give Democrats a majority in the House, but they haven’t done that. That would seem to indicate that a good chunk of Americans want a divided government a minimum, and that the House Republicans should be making use of their majority.

    Actually, Democrats got more House votes than Republicans in the last cycle; the reason the Republicans still control the House despite a popular minority vote is creative redistricting done by Republican-controlled state legislatures after 2010. Sam Wang’s done the math on this:

    http://election.princeton.edu/2013/02/03/slaying-the-gerrymander/

    But gerrymandering is a bipartisan sin; the Republicans have just gotten very good at it lately with computer assistance.

    But the problem with Boehner’s tactic is that it’s not “making use of their majority” in the House, it’s nullifying the Democratic majority in everything else. If this works and becomes accepted procedure, it can be used to force passage of any legislation whatsoever, and the Speaker of the House will be able to rule the United States by decree, under perpetual government shutdown and default threat. That’s potentially a bigger problem than debt default, and it’s the reason why Democrats are refusing to negotiate under threat.

  109. Here is a short, thoughtful analysis of the why of the composition of the house:
    “The nails-on-a-chalkboard nonsense in Washington, D.C., is happening partly because in most states, redistricting after the 2000 and then 2010 Census counts was designed by the parties in power to ensure that no House incumbent can ever be defeated. Zip-code analysis of voting patterns has given way to block-by-block computer analysis, generating gimmick gerrymandering that would have embarrassed Boss Tweed. Senate races cannot be gerrymandered, which is why the Senate recently has been more stable regardless of which party has the majority. In House redistricting, hanky-panky is unlimited.

    The Cook Political Report calculates that in 1998 the House had 148 Republican safe seats, 123 Democratic safe seats and 164 contested seats. Two redistrictings later, for the 2012 election there were 190 Republican safe seats, 146 Democratic safe seats and 99 contested seats. That means today, only 23 percent of members of the House need to perform well to be re-elected. The other 77 percent, on both sides of the aisle, can devote their time and energy to grandstanding. That’s a formula for the mess in Washington.”

    http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/9791181/is-there-end-explosion-offensive-production-ncaa-nfl-football

  110. History has shown that both parties will happily take advantage of any conceivable loophole or advantage when they’re in power, and to some extent, that’s sort of the point of elections.

    Historically, the point of elections is to represent the will of the people. All the people, not just a select few with enough money to paper a pathway to the moon or whatever. If the ACA needs to be revamped, upgraded, or tossed, it’s up to future governments to do that. But right now, it’s the law. Which leads me to this:

    Destroying the US economy via default would actually hurt Obama’s legacy in the history books. It may be the last chance to hurt him. (Since all those cockamamie impeachment plans keep failing.)

    I actually think this current standoff has little to do with the ACA and everything to do with this. The GOP propaganda machines spun into overdrive the minute Obama won the nomination and they’ve been trying like hell to embarrass and humiliate him ever since. If it comes to bringing down the world economy to achieve that, then sure, they’re up for that. I know someone who was dancing for joy the day the government shut down because in her mind this was the beginning of what they’ve been going for all along–the beginnings of survivalist rules and the humiliation and repudiation of the democratic process. They’ve really got no idea what they’re going to get if it actually happens.

    Boehner’s in a tough position, but he has no one to blame but himself (and maybe, I’ll concede, the GOP in general for agreeing to lie down with the devils in order to gain votes). As I see it, it makes no difference what he does or does not do–he will most assuredly lose the Speakership over this, and then we’ll be stuck with that crapweasel Eric Cantor. The time for him to act about all of this was in 2011, the last time we went to through this dance over the debt limit. He could have, and should have, stopped all this bullshit then, but didn’t. And now he’s stuck with even more of these people chewing his ankles like some yappy little dog that won’t. shut. up.

    As my dad used to say: you choose to lie down with dogs, you get fleas. And they bite.

  111. One problem I have with all of this is how everyone has picked sides and blames only the other side. I am very opposed to the tactics of the Republican party now and consider myself somewhat left of center. I am one of those people who disagree with Obamacare because it does not go near far enough and does nothing to control costs.

    That said, I am very concerned that anyone on the “Democrat side” seems unable to criticize the President, who I consider a good person, massively better than the nightmare that either McCain or Romney would have been, but a very weak leader. This entire mess would not have happened under Clinton because he knew how to work the other side against themselves. I think Obama is a good person and negotiates as a good person, while the other side fights dirty. That has not been working. He was an idealist and inexperienced politician when he took office and it shows.

    As soon as it became clear that the Republicans were going to build their entire strategy on “repeal and replace”, he should have said “I understand that the Republican party disagrees with this law and feels that it should be replaced. I am open to options to revise or replace the ACA and will sign a bill that does so, so long as it achieves the same goals of ensuring affordable health care is available to all Americans and limiting the egregious tactics of the insurance industry. But, they should realize that creating such a law was very hard; the ACA required two years of work to create. It is easy to call for repeal and replace, but the replace part is hard. If they are serious about replacing the ACA, we can discuss that, but we need to see serious proposals on the table.” He should have turned it around on them. Everyone knew that “and replace” was nonsense, but had he made it clear he would support a replacement that achieved the same goals, that would have completely changed the argument and bogged them down with trying to come up with their own plan that was more than just talk.

    In this recent fiasco, Boehner made a deal with Obama and the Senate Democrats. They would accept his cut budget in exchange for a clean CR. When Boehner reneged on that deal, Obama should have made that clear and put a new budget proposal on the table that included stimulus funding and fixed the sequester. Had he done do, they could have met in the middle with a clean bill and the Republican cuts. Instead, while Boehner has moved the point away from the compromise, Obama has not, so now Boehner wants a compromise on his side of the line. When Boehner introduced new demands, Obama should have as well; then he would have something to negotiate.

  112. I think that the gop sees this as a last gasp of anti-Obamacare rhetoric. As long as it’s abstract and in the future, they can rail against it. If they could get a one year delay as they’ve asked for, they could run against it in 2014 elections.

    As it stands now, millions are considering signing up. By this time next year, most people will know someone who was helped by it and will be less likely to vote for politicians whose main platform is demonizing it.

  113. man up and take him out in the primary. only about 5% of the public votes in these. it won’t take alot of vote. if you can organize liberals to vote in the republican primary you can have a liberal republican candidate or atleast a moderate. since only about 5% of the public votes it doesn’t matter if this is right winger country.

    do it for your country john.

  114. Boehner seems to be a bit like the dog who caught the car – he doesn’t know what to do with it.

    Couple of other points – the senate, amazingly, did get off it’s collective ass and pass a budget earlier this year, which includes the sequester cuts. The republicans refused to nominate anyone to the budget reconciliation committee, so there has been no discussion at all on it for 4 months or so.

    I think Boehner has played it wrong, he should have done the CR and then picked the fight over the debt limit. With the shutdown, I’m sure the money behind the party is freaking out that they may blow the debt limit extension, as that would total the economy. Wall Street now thinks that the Republicans really are dumb enough to destroy the village to save it.

    I think the best way out of this is if Harry Reid manages to kick something off in the Senate Monday, as I understand it, that can get to the House Friday, and a clean vote might pass. THere should be enough votes, despite Boehners claiming there aren’t.

    At some point, you have to stop talking to the lunatic with the suicide vest in the plane, and say “no”. The “both sides do it” false equivalence in the press is disgusting – this is 100% on the Republicans. Obamacare passed, Obama won election twice, there was no Republican alternative, and we’re still stuck (even after Obamacare) with a health system that spends twice as much of the GDP as anywhere else in the world, with worse outcomes.

    And I agree, the reason for asking for the delay is so you can run against an abstract next year, if Obamacare is in place and helping people, it is much much harder to demonize.

  115. John:

    Just curious, have you written to Boehner?

    Not to put you on the spot in “Oh yeah, what have *you* done about it” mode, but you do live in his district, whereas most of us do not and our opinions are worth bupkis to him.

  116. Re: The several folks that have mentioned Rep. Cantor becoming Speaker if Rep. Boehner loses the post– Don’t bet on it. This isn’t like the Vice President assuming the Presidency if the President resigns or is incapacitated. Rather, the House elects its Speaker by majority vote. It can literally be anyone as I don’t believe membership in the House is required for holding the gavel, but as far as I know it has always been a Member.

    Despite their interpersonal friction, the two are a part of the same leadership team. I don’t know who would be Speaker if Boehner is forced aside, but it is unlikely to be someone from his inner circle, which includes Cantor despite his wishes to the contrary.

  117. Boehner carries a lot of blame as well. He did bring up a vote to repeal Obamacare 40 times in the house (costing millions doing it) knowing DAMN WELL that it would get no farther. When asked why, he said it was so new congressmen could vote against Obamacare.

    Political public masturbation at its worst.

    He also knows damn well if he brought the clean CA up for a vote, there would be enough votes to pass it.

    He didn’t create the problem, but he fuelled it and he allows it to continue. If he was a true speaker, he would stand up to the teabaggers and tell them “Know your ROLE and get in step”.

  118. Let me pop in here to thank folks for ignoring the obvious troll who popped into the thread at around midnight last night, saving me the work of trimming out responses to him. I do appreciate it.

  119. I used to have more sympathy for the “Orange One”. I thought he had a tough job, and was doing his best to do what he believed was the right thing for the nation. Then I read this transcript:

    http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/week-transcript-house-speaker-john-boehner/story?id=20476180&singlePage=true

    “the President and Reid won’t negotiate” = bullshit – he admits in the interview that he picked this fight, that he put the nation in this position on purpose- “the timing was right to take a stand [against Obamacare]” , he admits that he agreed to a CR with compromises and concessions from the Democrats back in July and then scuttled it. (I presume because of the timing of the impending default giving him leverage). He admits to ‘putting the gun to their heads’

    like most politicians, he’s a hypocrite – he accuses the other side of being inflexible (Obamacare is not “on the table” for the POTUS) but admits that under no circumstances will tax increases be part o the discussion to lower the debt/defecit

    he might’ve not “created the problem” but he sure as shit, contributed to it, and made it worse

    so in conclusion – fuck him and the horse he rode in on

  120. I disagree, Scalzi – Boehner is a coward and an ambitious weakling, and always HAS been.

    He wanted more power than he’s able to handle – and I PRAY this CRUSHES Him and the Republican Tea Party, and their Corporate Masters the KochBrothers (they’re the heads of the cabal, but there are a number of businesses including Home Deport, Hobby Lobby and Chik-Fil-A that belong too!), FOREVER! Then – we can get around to having a LOYAL Conservative movement in this country again….

  121. The question I have is a very simple one:

    You can get a vote on anything in the House by simple majority. How long will it be before 20-40 moderate Republicans vote for a clean CR / clean debt-ceiling, regardless of Boehner?

    I wonder if that’s what Boehner is hoping for – someone else fixes it so he doesn’t get the blame.

  122. Apologies if someone posted this upthread, but I wonder sometimes if Boehner is at heart a secret patriot, and has realized that the only way to get mega-money out of politics is to nuke the US financial system, and hope that it hurts the Usual Suspects enough that they realize they’ve screwed up. Right now, I’m afraid that too many of them are playing at being king, and like the kings of yore, they stopped listening to the screams of the peasants a long time ago, and will only be roused when their castles start to burn around them.

    Not that I like Boehner, mind you. A leader with any guts at all would have, instead, massively ramped up the white collar division of the FBI and gotten the goods on the people who are causing so much trouble, just to level the negotiating table. He and Obama could have gone headhunting together years ago, if he’d had the spine for it.

    Still, a suicide throw is the last defense of the weak, and it may be that Boehner thinks that nuking the full faith and credit of the US will either bring some people to their senses, or bring them down. Either way would be fine with him at this point.

    Just a guess. Hopefully this will be sorted out by a last minute hijacking capitulation, or (the rumored) something clever from the democrats.

  123. po8crg wrote:

    You can get a vote on anything in the House by simple majority. How long will it be before 20-40 moderate Republicans vote for a clean CR / clean debt-ceiling, regardless of Boehner?

    Actually, you can’t; you have to schedule the vote, and the speaker can deny you the vote.

    What could happen is that 20-40 (min 17) moderate republicans announce they are withdrawing from the Republican caucus and forming a new Moderate Republican caucus; the Democrats cross the aisle en masse to give the new Moderate Republican caucus the speakership and agree to have one of those MRs be the new speaker. Boehner is out, the MRs new speaker call a straight up/down vote on a clean CR on the budget and extension of debt limit, and the crisis is over.

    The MRs then turn to the rest of the repubs and say “We’d really like you to come on over, the water’s fine. Except for the 15 or so nutcases on the far side over there, screw you.”

  124. It’s not clear that Boehner can be removed, at least not until January of 2015.

    The rules of the house (http://clerk.house.gov/legislative/house-rules.pdf) don’t seem to provide for removing the Speaker. The Congressional Research Srevice has published a piece (http://clerk.house.gov/legislative/house-rules.pdf) which indicates that the election of the Speaker happens at the start of the two-year legislative session or when there is a vacancy.

    So, as a procedural matter, how do you remove Boehner if he won’t resign?

  125. Because, of course, me and Boehner are totally tight, and he calls me up nightly to commiserate and share all his plans…

    “Yo, J-Scalz, it’s The Bane! I know it’s late, sorry, sorry, but, you know, you’re my *bro*, and I just really wanted someone talk with. Hey, you see my latest on Instagram? I totally photobombed the President! That was awesome. Yeah.

    “Hey, listen, it’s almost Last Call, but drop me a text okay? Or on Facebook! You playing Candy Crush Saga? You should *totally* play Candy Crush Saga. I’ll send you an invite, okay? Okay. Later.”

  126. “Actually, you can’t; you have to schedule the vote, and the speaker can deny you the vote.”

    Actually, I think you can, using a ‘discharge petition’. The catch is the House members have to actually *sign* it, rather than participating with any kind of plausible deniability.

    An attempt at a discharge petition was made, but the Republicans weren’t willing to sign on.

    Which just goes to show, as a practical matter, there are no moderate Republicans.

  127. Aphrael writes:

    It’s not clear that Boehner can be removed, at least not until January of 2015.

    The rules of the house (http://clerk.house.gov/legislative/house-rules.pdf) don’t seem to provide for removing the Speaker. The Congressional Research Srevice has published a piece (http://clerk.house.gov/legislative/house-rules.pdf) which indicates that the election of the Speaker happens at the start of the two-year legislative session or when there is a vacancy.

    So, as a procedural matter, how do you remove Boehner if he won’t resign?

    The rules are what the House say they are, by majority vote of a caucus. A new caucus, any new group of half plus one of the delegates, can vote in new rules at any time.

    We have had senators switch sides during a term, and the leadership changed. That’s not the House, but there’s precedent in the legislative branch.

    Boehner would no doubt object to this, but with more than half the representatives voting for a new set of rules and speaker, he really can’t do anything about it. The House sets its rules; no court or other action is going to be able to enjoin a majority of the House from resetting rules.

    This is another form of “Nuclear Option”, but worth putting on the table. The Tea Party pulled the pin and threw with their nuclear option (government shutdown); the moderates might as well blast away.

  128. @Daveon:

    If the US defaults, the markets will hammer US bonds and things will go to hell fast.

    Ah, sorry – got you now thought you were signed up to the “crisis? what crisis?” crowd. Of course, you’re right but the risks to America here are a lot broader. Things are already parlous, because “market confidence” is a real thing, even if notoriously difficult to define. That said, I don’t think you need to be an economist with a Nobel propping up one corner of the coffee table to grasp that people get twitchy about loaning money – or investing in – a country that’s seriously talking about the prospect of its government not meeting its financial obligations for the first time in its history. And it’s not only the financial markets; every GOP-controlled state house and governor’s mansion should be thinking very hard about the potential blowback if the federal government tells them to get at the back of the line for federal money to pay for things like civil defense/disaster management. (Funny how even the most bright-eyed “Government is evil” type don’t mind it so much when wildfires and tornados are knocking on their front door.) Yes, Governor Christie?

    Here’s a compare and contrast: The Federal Republic of Germany went to the polls, and Chancellor Angela Merkel was handed a bit of a curate’s egg of a result. While her party got its best result in over twenty years, it wasn’t enough to secure them a majority in the Bundestag and her party’s current coalition partner was completely wiped out. She’s currently in coalition negotiations with opposition parties, and they’re going to extract concessions. The markets and other governments are taking it in their stride because 1) this isn’t completely without precedent, and, 2) there’s a very high degree of confidence that in the meantime, the German federal government is still good for its debts, foreign and domestic.

  129. Actually, I think you can, using a ‘discharge petition’.

    Discharge petitions require a 30 day wait. Horse way out of barn by that point.

  130. 4. Boehner actually thinks that Obama will fold and give him something- Maybe not to the degree Obama has before with the likes of the Sequester, but something. Boehner believes the goals of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party even if he doesn’t always agree with the methods. He probably believes that the threat of the Tea Party allows him to be “the moderate”, thereby moving the Overton window to the right- and putting forth a viable threat to the Democrats. Notice that Boehner is never held responsible for the Tea Party the way Obama is held responsible for whatever comes out of any part of the Democratic Party.

    I think this is it. People do far too much credit to the “moderate” faction of the GOP when they sharply divide them from the Teas. The GOP has been purging moderates from its ranks for quite some time now. The remaining “moderates” would have been considered conservatives before. And of course any old style liberal Republicans are so long gone that the very concept makes me chuckle now. John Boehner is not a moderate. I do think he’s sane but that’s a different concept.

  131. I feel for Boehner. He is faced with a nigh-insoluable problem if he wants to a) keep his Speakership b) Serve his country. I believe he is trying to do both. I think he believes that if he leaves his spot now, even as a sacrifice to save the country from this crisis, then another will come along and the people who will be in power will have no interest in holding back.

    This has been building for decades. Basically the internal “cold-war” is on the brink of going hot. The Tea Party faction are the most dangerous thing in the world: True Believers. I live in Tea Party country. I work with and am close friends with many Tea Party folks. They are all good, sincere people who share a common belief that the Federal Government is fundamentally flawed and needs to be remade according to their originalist view of the Constitution. They are militant and they will not easily moderate their belief. While they don’t want to “burn it to the ground”, they aren’t afraid of raizing what they see as a fat, bloated, corrupt, rights-violating evil government. They feel that blowing up the current order will be good for everyone since it will unleash the power of Liberty and remove the shackles of Government servitude. This is a fundamentalist belief and no power on Earth but time will change it.

    As a moderate independent, what scares me most is the illusion that Liberals have that the Hard-Right Conservatives “don’t mean it” or are bluffing or “will wake up”. They won’t. This is faith and righteous indignation. They don’t want compromise. To the Tea Partiers, compromise is Evil and the entire Liberal viewpoint is illegitimate. No election will shake their belief in their own righteousness.

    I think we will survive this, but it isn’t going to be pretty and this crisis isn’t the last, by a long shot.

    For a good analysis of how we got here, I recommend THIS article.

  132. @cranapia: I guess Moody’s is part of the Tea Party.

    As quoted from a Moody’s memo, dated Oct. 7 – ” ‘We believe the government would continue to pay interest and principal on its debt even in the event that the debt limit is not raised, leaving its creditworthiness intact,’ the memo says. ‘The debt limit restricts government expenditures to the amount of its incoming revenues; it does not prohibit the government from servicing its debt. There is no direct connection between the debt limit (actually the exhaustion of the Treasury’s extraordinary measures to raise funds) and a default.’ “

  133. @pigiron:

    I guess Moody’s is part of the Tea Party.

    And I guess Standard and Poors is one of those pointy-headed elitist Obama-tools who don’t know what they’re talking about.

    Standard & Poor’s is the only rating agency among the big three to have cut the U.S. credit rating, lowering it to AA-plus from AAA in 2011. It currently has a stable outlook on the United States.

    If U.S. government debt is not serviced, S&P said it would lower the rating to selective default, or SD. It would remain there until delinquent principal and interest payments are made.

    On August 5, 2011 S&P took the unprecedented action of cutting the rating by one notch to AA-plus because of its concerns over the government’s budget deficit and rising debt burden.

    The cut occurred even after the U.S. government raised the debt limit in 2011. S&P cited the breakdown in the ability of the Democratic and Republican parties to govern effectively for the downgrade.

    S&P said it would not anticipate a change to the rating if the current impasse is short-lived.

    “This sort of brinkmanship is the dominant reason the rating is no longer AAA,” S&P said on September 30.

    [Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/07/us-usa-fiscal-ratings-idUSBRE9960SI20131007%5D

    Sorry, I remain gob-smacked at the Debt Ceiling Denialism on the right.

  134. I wasn’t too concerned about the Gingrich/Clinton shutdown because it was about budget.

    This shutdown bothers me, because at the center of contention is the question of whether we should zero the budget for implementing a law that has already been passed. I don’t like the idea that this will become a standard tactic for repealing laws without requiring the Presidents signature. Whatever the flaws of the law, it’s a precedent that doesn’t bode well for the nation. Even if the tactic works, the GOP will eventually regret it. We have enough trouble with funding ongoing projects in the US as is. The space program comes to mind.

    I’m disturbed by all of the talk up-thread of charging GOP leaders with extortion, or other crimes. However ill-advised the GOP strategy may be, it’s completely constitutional. Making a crime out of it leads us down a path where it’s essentially a crime to lose an election. That doesn’t end well for the republic.

    While the GOP may have initiated the shutdown by trying to defund healthcare, the administration is spending extra money to make it as painful as possible, in hopes of gaining maximum yield by blaming Republicans. During the 1995 shutdown, the Lincoln memorial info booth wasn’t manned, but tourists weren’t barred from visiting it. This time the park service is closing stuff that isn’t normally manned, or is operated by entities other than the Federal Government.

  135. While the GOP may have initiated the shutdown by trying to defund healthcare, the administration is spending extra money to make it as painful as possible, in hopes of gaining maximum yield by blaming Republicans. During the 1995 shutdown, the Lincoln memorial info booth wasn’t manned, but tourists weren’t barred from visiting it. This time the park service is closing stuff that isn’t normally manned, or is operated by entities other than the Federal Government.

    Isnt this mandated by changes in federal law after 9/11?

  136. ace: utter demonization of anyone who identifies with the Tea Party

    Because they deserve it

    or disagrees with Obamacare

    Please call it by its original name: RomneyCare(tm). He implemented it first. He should get the credit and we shouldn’t let Obama steal the limelight from where the policy came from.

    Also, the utter refusal to even consider that someone might have legitimate reasons for concern with government spending patterns

    Yes, yes, only Tea Party people are concerned with government spending patterns. How silly of me to not notice that both Republicans and Democrats are entirely enthralled with government spending patterns. One must go to the absolute outer fringes of lunatic political parties before finding anyone who is concerned with government spending patterns. Thank you for pointing that out.

    or disagreements with the ideas embodied in the Obamacare legislation

    You mean RomneyCare(tm).

  137. Also, the utter refusal to even consider that someone might have legitimate reasons for concern with government spending patterns

    But what we re talking about isn’t the Te Party, is it? Because what they SAY they are concerned withdrew not match with what they’re doing.

  138. @cranapia: So, Standard and Poors, as you quoted said, ” ‘took the unprecedented action of cutting the rating by one notch to AA-plus because of its concerns over the government’s budget deficit and rising debt burden’ ” which to me sounds like they do not like the continuing need to increase debt limit every few months and would probably like to see something done to rein in the government’s reliance on running up debts to pay for everything.

  139. @David “Discharge petitions require a 30 day wait. Horse way out of barn by that point.”

    I believe they were going to use a different, older bill, do the petition, then swap in a more relevant bill, or something like that.

  140. John, the time is here, it is time to take a stand and declare what side we are on. Boner has chosen his side. There are times in history when the decision is clear, you are either on the side of right or wrong, good or evil.
    It’s time to denounce this evil parasite and his fascist minions.
    We will all look back on this time and will have to confess which side we were on.

  141. pigiron@ 4:44

    Selective quotation. If you continued in the quote cranapia cited, it continued with:

    S&P cited the breakdown in the ability of the Democratic and Republican parties to govern effectively for the downgrade.

    S&P said it would not anticipate a change to the rating if the current impasse is short-lived.

    “This sort of brinkmanship is the dominant reason the rating is no longer AAA,” S&P said on September 30.

    It’s not the debt or deficit per se, but the “dominant reason” is the brinksmanship, playing chicken with default rather than governance.

  142. Time and time again, Pres O has tried to reach out his hand to negotiate with the other side, and each time He has been spit in the face by the teabaggers. Is it any wonder that He is now trying to bring the Government back to Sanity? The time is now, to choose which side we are on. Next year is an election year, and it is the same year that Obamacare comes into effect. The teabaggers know their time is limited so they must act now. We are on the winning side, but we must be strong.
    The good news is it is now out in the open, Obamacare is the property of the Democrats, the repukes tried to kill it. Next year when the People go to the polls, the difference will be clear.

  143. I believe they were going to use a different, older bill, do the petition, then swap in a more relevant bill, or something like that.

    I’m sure that would go really well.

  144. @David: “I’m sure that would go really well.”

    Pretty much my reaction, sounded like a hack.

  145. Charles:

    This entire mess would not have happened under Clinton because he knew how to work the other side against themselves.

    You mean the President Clinton who signed DOMA into law because he couldn’t get a budget passed any other way, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell before that? The Clinton who had his own government shutdowns to deal with because he let Newt Gingrich go on rampages? The Clinton whose administration was so inept on health care reform that they got nothing pretty much passed except continued deregulation of the insurance industry? The Clinton who gave us NAFTA and massive deregulation of trade, leading to huge foreign imports, labor outsourcing, and the final destruction of America’s manufacturing industry? The Clinton who gave us “welfare reform” that punished poor people for being poor and caused people to start working two to three jobs to have food, and immigration “reform” that went after immigrants and sought to curb immigration? The Clinton who worked to repeal parts of Glass-Steagall, deregulating the banking industry and later leading to the Great Recession? The Clinton who was tried for impeachment by a Republican mob, which helped cost Gore the presidency? That Clinton? Yeah, no. Clinton capitulated constantly, and because of his failures to “work the other side,” we ended up with a boom and crisis/crash financial system and eventually the worst economic crisis since the 1930’s, at least until what we’re facing now.

    In the wake of the Great Recession, the far right tried to tank the economy so that the first black president’s administration would be a disaster and they’d get to control the ruins. And they nearly did it too — that’s what the 2010 elections were about, when they funded the Tea Party and blocked a decent sized stimulus, director position nominations and anything else they could think of to slow the recovery. And since then, they have routinely taken the government hostage, threatening economic ruin which they believe will vault them further into power, if they didn’t get concessions. But this run now wasn’t initially about concessions. They were just trying to tank the economy because they lost the last election, Obama got a second term, and they think they can win elections in 2014 and 2016 at all levels if they throw the U.S. into a depression or near depression.

    So it’s No. 2 on Boehner, but Boehner is largely unimportant. He’s the fall guy. It’s Cantor and Ryan, who let the Tea Party crowd go nuclear, which got the possible concessions of a chained CPI and cuts/reforms to Medicare and SS offered on the table by Obama and the Democrats, same as they always want. And now they are trying to “negotiate” for those concessions as the ransom demands. Nobody actually thought anything was going to happen with the ACA except for the rabid supporters they’re doing fundraising off of. The whole thing is about cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, and making those the norm, which means they can be cut further later. The Tea Party, though, may renege on leadership and go full forward with the nuclear economic meltdown plan, because they want a recession to get their pals into office, since they aren’t winning on demographics. (And since they have the economic understanding of toads.)

    Wall Street was okay with the Great Recession — they made tons of money off of it and totally destroyed organized labor in the U.S., and they want Social Security money. But it did get very close to global destruction, now somewhat recovered, so while they don’t mind the nuclear hostage efforts to get concessions, they don’t want a meltdown messing up their slowly developing bull market, and they don’t like that the concessions sought don’t center on corporate tax cuts. So they are nervous, but not too loudly, as they want Obama to give concessions.

    And yes, it’s all Constitutional, except for that pesky 14th Amendment clause there, but it is also extortion of a particularly callous kind.

  146. @NicoleP: Like a few other commenters, I think the government shut down and debt limit crisis are more about who controls the Republican party than anything else. The tea party has been hostile to non-tea party Republicans since its inception. Attacking (and sometimes defeating) non-tea party Republicans in the primaries from the very beginning. Now they have an established network of financial backers and a majority within the GOP caucus. As far as the tea party is concerned, the only thing other Republicans are good for is numbers.

    For a group who claim to hate commies, they sure as hell have a good grasp on Bolshevist tactics, don’t they?

  147. I wasn’t too concerned about the Gingrich/Clinton shutdown because it was about budget.

    I’m guessing the folks who go without income during a shutdown aren’t quite as able to make the ivory-tower distinction you’re trying to draw here.

  148. So, apparenty Wall Street and the Koch Brothers have both just announced that the shutdown is a “bad thing”(tm) and should be avoided. Since the Koch brothers fund and control the TeaParty nutjobs and since WallStreet funds and controls the “mainstream” republicans, I fully expect the obstructionism to collapse as soon as every Republican politician in the House can figure out a way to dodge any responsibility for their actions over the last couple months.

  149. So, apparenty Wall Street and the Koch Brothers have both just announced that the shutdown is a “bad thing”(tm) and should be avoided. Since the Koch brothers fund and control the TeaParty nutjobs and since WallStreet funds and controls the “mainstream” republicans, I fully expect the obstructionism to collapse as soon as every Republican politician in the House can figure out a way to dodge any responsibility for their actions over the last couple months.

    Yeah, how long, exactly, will it take them to do that? And who gets to solo that mountain of blame? Senator Cruz, perhaps? I hope?

    Also, teh irony, it burns!

  150. @ Greg. I dunno, they went and fired up the base pretty badly. That is a ravening monster that might just turn on congresscritters regardless of the ultimate paymaster’s wishes. Its like when Sinn Fein told the IRA to pipe down they’d negotiated a ceasefire with the British Government. The fired up base went and produced a lot of splinter groups that kept up the hostilities and also targeted the guys telling them to ease up as being traitors to the cause. Now I realize I just compared the TeaPs to a terrorist group, but frankly that is what they’ve been acting like so I don’t care. They’ll have to work out a way to get the base back in their box and that isn’t going to be as easy as getting them out of it.

    Doesn’t help that apparently Obama and the Democrats just blinked first over death benefits. That is first blood to the GOP and proof they can extract piecemeal concessions.

  151. pigiron 23 – but I thought that the government debt as % of spending, was decreasing, i.e. it was going in the right direction already. So why risk default as a way of reducing government spending when the numbers are working out well?

  152. So why risk default as a way of reducing government spending when the numbers are working out well?

    Because if we don’t do it now, pretty soon we won’t have the “OMFG!!!! Deficits!!!!” crisis any more.

  153. Yeah, how long, exactly, will it take them to do that?

    Well, we can look to history for examples. How long, in general, does it take for the wealthy and powerful to call their rabid attack dogs to heel once they’ve been released.

    (And, yeah, that’s a reference to Germany eighty years ago, but it wasn’t the only example.)

  154. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/the-house-gop-s-little-rule-change-that-guaranteed-a-shutdown
    Late on the night of Sept. 30, with the federal government just hours away from shutting down, House Republicans quietly made a small change to the House rules that blocked a potential avenue for ending the shutdown.

    It seems that if the Senate rejects a House measure twice any House member can call for a vote on the Senate version. In the dark of night the GOP changed that rule – but only for the CR – so that it can only come to a vote if Eric Cantor calls for a vote.

    I think option 4, your Congressman is not really the Speaker of the House just a sock puppet for the actual Speaker, a man so nuts he argued with an interviewer that told him Reagan raised taxes while in office (which he did), is the truth of the matter. A handful of loonies are running the sow & they WANT the apocalypse!

  155. Goodness. Well, that was an interesting read, but I think you guys are up the creek. Hoping that doesn’t mean we’re up the creek too…. damned globalisation!

  156. A handful of loonies are running the sow & they WANT the apocalypse!

    Maybe they’re like those nuts in those crappy fundie apocalypse books who actually build a giant freaking city in the middle of the desert and call it “New Babylon” for no reason whatsoever (only the authors thought the apocalypse needed a random city in the desert).

    If they’re that nuts, we’re not so much screwed as already screwed–as in, we’ve been screwed for years, it just got more obvious.

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