President Obama placed blame for a government shutdown squarely with the GOP on Tuesday, labeling the cessation in government business a “Republican shutdown” that threatens to damage the economy.
“This Republican shutdown did not have to happen. But I want every American to understand why it did happen,” Obama said during remarks in the Rose Garden. “They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans.”
See Chait and Scheiber for informed takes on the Boehner “give us everything we want and we’ll not destroy the economy” plan. Obviously Republicans would be insane to think they could get all of this stuff, however, I’m not sure they’re insane for proposing it. After all, while I believe the president when he says that he won’t negotiate over the debt ceiling this time, it’s worth noting that Obama has virtually no credibility when it comes to think kind of threat. Obama has negotiated when it was unnecessary to do so (remember the “fiscal cliff”? or the health care reform Gang of Six?). He’s has negotiated when he expressly said he wouldn’t do so, like during the last debt ceiling dispute. During that dispute he constantly drew the proverbial “lines in the sand” that were abandoned almost immediately, further proving that bluffing is his primary modus operandi. He’s negotiated when he had nothing to gain from it. The simple fact is that the Administration of Barack Obama just really loves negotiating! I think this is partly out of pragmatism and partly out of principle. The principle part has to do with Obama’s governing strategy, which best I can tell goes a little something like this:
- Work aggressively to get bipartisan support on big, important bills. Even to the point of making showy, unilateral concessions as shows of good faith.
- Keep repeating step 1 until bipartisan working agreements are simply the natural way of doing business in Washington.
In the end, under this philosophy, you get back much more than you give up to establish good faith through the passing of the initial bills. So you aggressively court Republicans on the stimulus, then on health care, and maybe then they assent to a grand bargain! There’s a logic to this, though if you’re dealing with people who simply want to humiliate and defeat you, it just looks like you’re an incompetent negotiator. Which is exactly what has happened to Obama.
The pragmatism aspect I think Yglesias is right on:
They think the Fed’s current approach gives fiscal policy room to boost the economy, but that Congress needs to actually seize that room and increase short-term government spending to boost the economy. A second level is that though sequestration has protected key transfer programs from cuts, it has not protected programs that Team Obama views as critical to long-term economic growth. Education is being cut. Scientific research is being cut. America is devouring its seed corn. Third, they think that long-term spending on Social Security and Medicare must not increase by as much as is currently projected. Obama’s view—as a political concept—has always been that cutting these programs is a “concession” that Democrats should swallow in exchange for Republicans agreeing to higher taxes. But in fact his economic team believes on the merits that these programs ought to be trimmed—they simply know that there’s no way a Democratic president or Senate is going to agree to that outside the context of some larger deal. [...]
Under the circumstances this makes the economic policy team very eager to see some kind of deal done, and loath to pass up an opportunity—even a small one—to reach some kind of agreement.
Admittedly, that’s not what’s on the table at the moment. But Republicans will look over and see a president whose brand and personal identity are built on constant negotiating. They’ll see a history of Obama negotiating when he logically should not have. They’ll see an economic team that favors constant negotiating. Why wouldn’t they take a chance to see if Obama will actually negotiate this time? It’s irresponsible, of course, but not really illogical or insane, and in a way brilliant since they’ve made Obama act against his own well-established personal brand. I take the president at his word that he will not play that game again, unfortunately, his word is worth nothing since what other people believe about him matters more in this kind of standoff. Credibility is a typically term that hawks use basically as a way to argue for constantly fighting more wars, and its meaning has been terribly twisted, but in this case it matters that Obama has almost no track record in refusing to negotiate over something pertaining to the economy. Republicans strongly believe he will. The media (George Stephanopolous among others) has been fairly shocked that he says he won’t and seems to mean it. Given that this kind of conflict doesn’t fit naturally into the sorts of stories that the mainstream media likes to tell, it’s hard to see how it doesn’t go to its default of “both sides are guilty” as things get apocalyptic. Again, it’s not really fair to blame Obama for what other people do and think, but some part of me thinks that if he had outright refused to trust Boehner in 2011, or if he’d gone for the jugular last year over the “fiscal cliff” rather than accepting a milquetoast compromise, he’d be better able to pull off this whole “not negotiating” position better.
Explain to me something, because this has been eating at me all day. How can a Republican congressman bitch about fellow Republicans in the Senate being “bullies” when tough-guy know-nothings are what that side of the aisle apparently wants and/or votes for? And then, very next sentence or two, berate them for being milquetoast surrender monkeys? From TPM’s GOP Rep: Cruz Has ‘Abused,’ ‘Bullied’ House Republicans:
“All summer long as these ads have been running, as they’ve been holding town halls and raising money, we’ve kept a lid on our anger in the House as we were the punching bag and bullied by some of these Senate conservatives,” [Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI)] said. “And so now with the CR vote that’s gonna come today we are gonna give them exactly what they’ve asked for — the opportunity to fight in the Senate on defunding Obamacare. And you saw us explode with anger publicly when they stood up and started waving the white flag saying, ‘Listen, we’re not gonna fight here, we’re gonna surrender, we can’t win.’”
Yeah, I know, if only the Senators in question remembered which side of the tent was the pissing *out of* side and which was the pissing *on* side, then all would be forgiven. But still, seems like conservatives ordered this particular poop salad sandwich, and then were shocked — shocked! — to find out that the sandwich was, in fact, made mostly out of poop.
With a little egg. And maybe some mayo.
Celery’s nice. I like celery.
House Republicans narrowly pushed through a bill on Thursday that slashes … $40 billion from the food stamp program over the next 10 years…
Continue reading »
“If I could write that bill [to impeach President Obama] and submit it, it would be a dream come true,” [Michigan Republican Rep. Kerry] Bentivolio said. “I stood twelve feet away from the guy and listened to him. I couldn’t stand being there, but because he is president I have to respect the office.
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People that grouse about me calling Southern Republicans malicious, stupid and ignorant should take this quote and stuff it in their delicate pieholes:
The latest survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, provided exclusively to TPM, showed an eye-popping divide among Republicans in the Bayou State when it comes to accountability for the government’s post-Katrina blunders.
Twenty-eight percent said they think former President George W. Bush, who was in office at the time, was more responsible for the poor federal response while 29 percent said Obama, who was still a freshman U.S. Senator when the storm battered the Gulf Coast in 2005, was more responsible. Nearly half of Louisiana Republicans — 44 percent — said they aren’t sure who to blame.
Yes, 73% of Louisiana Republicans either blame Obama or “aren’t sure who to blame.” [!!!] There must be something foul in the Kool-Aid they drink down there. Lead poisoning perhaps?
Also too, immortal undead Obama was responsible for, among other things, (1) the Holocaust, (2) killing Jesus and (3) enslaving the Jews in Egypt.
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