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The buzz around the pundit cooler wondering if the GOP has learned a lesson in re: the shutdown and the debt ceiling, comma, stepping on their own weenuses, is way off base.

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Obviously better than crumbling under the pressure like Democrats usually do. Hey, they do this a few more times, Democrats might even become respected and feared. Maybe.

Needless to say, though, this doesn’t really make right Obama’s prior decision not to stand firm on the debt ceiling. While it’s possible that Republicans will be less enthusiastic about jacking us up over the debt ceiling again, the damage–3% of GDP–is already done due to crises which all trace back to the first debt ceiling skirmish, not to mention the damage done by sequestration which might well make it more. Obama does not deserve all the blame for this. However, it’s impossible not to award him a large share of it, given what we know of the process that led to the standoff–in short, dumb political calculation and poor impressions of their opposition. It obviously remains to be seen whether the debt ceiling will subside and once again become a boring quirk of our system, and if it does, then it will offer some measure of redemption for Obama on this matter. But only some.

It’s fair to say that the president has learned from this particular mistake and is now doing the right thing. Unfortunately, there’s simply no way of reversing many of the effects of the initial mistake absent a silver DeLorean and Christopher Lloyd. It’s good and all that Obama didn’t compound his earlier mistake, but trusting Boehner and negotiating over the debt ceiling still stands as the biggest blunder of his first term, and I’m quite certain that history will eventually record it that way.

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Rudepundit and I will be dancing on a lot of (figurative) graves over the coming weeks:
The battle is over, motherfuckers. Put down your weapons and return to your homes. Kiss your loved ones. And we can all warm ourselves by the fire made from the corpses of Republicans who threw themselves at the barricade

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224b1e90979b012f2fe400163e41dd5bSo it looks like we’re already falling off the cliff and most of us haven’t noticed yet:

The global faith in US institutions has already been undermined. The mechanism by which catastrophe would arise has already been set into motion. And as a result, economic growth in both the US and the rest of the world will be lower than it should be. Unemployment will be higher. Social unrest will be more destructive. These things aren’t as bad now as they would be if we actually got to a point of payment default. …

While debt default is undoubtedly the worst of all possible worlds, then, the bonkers level of Washington dysfunction on display right now is nearly as bad. Every day that goes past is a day where trust and faith in the US government is evaporating — and once it has evaporated, it will never return. The Republicans in the House have already managed to inflict significant, lasting damage to the US and the global economy — even if they were to pass a completely clean bill tomorrow morning, which they won’t. The default has already started, and is already causing real harm. The only question is how much worse it’s going to get.

Not like anyone that reads this blog actually believes that the Republican deficit peacocks in Washington actually give a shit about the deficit, but it’s worth pointing out that, surprise!, when the economy tanks, deficits skyrocket.


Will that in mind, all that self-righteous, pearl-clutching hand-wringing about us drowning our children in debt is pretty funny.  In the most morbid sort of way.

h/t Sullivan


bbThe other day I decided to take a look at how prior shutdowns have worked out for the party doing the shutting down, on the state level. Turns out there are very few examples of this occurring, which surprised me. Then I thought for a second and realized that California during the Schwarzenegger years constantly operated under budget crises and missed deadlines for budgets, but the government never actually shut down due to mechanisms that locked in funding for most every service that the government provides. Given the extreme infrequency with which full-on shutdowns occur, I have to assume that most states either have similar mechanisms or have parties that are more serious about governing. The only two real examples I could come up with were in New Jersey in 2006 and Minnesota in 2011.

The New Jersey example doesn’t actually seem all that meaningful. It wasn’t partisan so much as an intraparty dispute over tax hikes that was resolved in a few days. In retrospect, the battle foreshadowed the bizarre ascendancy of neoliberal Democrats in a progressive state, as exemplified by party boss George Norcross and imminent Senator Cory Booker. But it seemed to have no further effect beyond a couple days of inconvenience. Minnesota, on the other hand, ought to be a worrying example for the GOP. Essentially, you had a newly elected Republican legislature and a newly elected Democratic Governor with completely different budgetary priorities, leading to a shutdown that lasted about three weeks. During this time, legislative Republicans decided to use the hostage of the budget to move a whole host of other unrelated policies like abortion rights and vouchers that a liberal Democrat would never ordinarily approve of. The whole thing apparently ended in a reasonable compromise, but the Republicans lost the legislature the next year, leading to the first unified Democratic state government in Minnesota in decades. Which promptly moved major legislation on marriage equality, among other things. Obviously, this is something of an apples-to-oranges comparison since the coattails of President Obama’s re-election no doubt had an effect on downballot races as well, while there will not be anything equivalent in 2014 U.S. Reps. But it’s hardly an encouraging sign for shutdown fans that the two pertinent precedents of government shutdown in the United States–the Gingrich shutdowns and the Minnesota shutdown–left the party shutting things down little better off in terms of policy after the fact, and both times wound up losing electorally at the next available opportunity.

Wiping the tears out of my eyes after reading this totally feasible prescription from Douthat:
Republicans need to seek a kind of integration, which embraces the positive aspects of the new populism…, its relative openness to policy innovation [ed: LOL], its desire to speak on behalf of Middle America and the middle class — while tempering

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Aside from the rather laughable threat in this tweet, it gets the entire equation backwards (via): Probably, the threat of yanking support for major legislation would have more teeth minus the ubiquitous filibuster that Republicans guard zealously (for now). But it’s worth noting that Democrats can’t “break” Boehner at all. Only Republicans can do this. It’s not like a coalition government where if Democrats withdraw, the whole thing falls down. Republicans have a majority in the House, and the only way for Boehner to lose his job would be if enough Republicans voted yea on a motion to vacate the speaker’s chair to make a majority. Even if they do this in reaction to Boehner bringing an unacceptably left-wing bill to the floor in order to avert catastrophe, it would still be Republicans taking him down. I bring this up because I do read a fair amount of things that belie a resistance to hurting John Boehner too badly. After all, he’s a pragmatist! And we might wind up with Eric Cantor as Speaker of the House! In my opinion, it makes very little difference to me what post John Boehner holds, and I doubt it would make much difference at all if he left. Boehner’s pragmatism isn’t like Obama’s, it isn’t nonideological, not centered on listening to other perspectives and committed to finding common ground and making deals. From what I can tell, it’s more about learning from history, not overreaching, and taking the best opportunities available to you. And Boehner, having experienced the tail end of the old Democratic House, having been an insider during the Gingrich years and then subsequently spending some time in the wilderness, is someone who has experienced a lot of the recent history of the House from a unique perspective and seems to have taken many of the right lessons from it. But it hasn’t mattered one bit! Boehner realized that the deal Obama offered him in 2011 was too good to be true and wanted to pursue it. He wanted desperately to avoid a government shutdown. He wanted to move on from endless ACA repeal votes. He had good reasons for doing all of these, rooted in his own experiences. He didn’t actually do any of them. Whether it’s because of his own cowardice or because his caucus gave him no choice is still an open question (probably a little of both). But the point is that Boehner has, again and again, gone against his own judgment and pragmatism in pursuing Tea-ish ideological goals. Would Eric Cantor have behaved any differently? Probably not. And if the Tea Party gets fixated next on impeaching Obama, I wholly believe Boehner will back them on that too, even though he knows how poorly that turned out for his old pal Newt. Of course, I strongly doubt Boehner’s job is seriously at risk under any likely circumstances. Having him as speaker is actually an advantage for Republicans. Their base is too ignorant of the functioning of government to understand the difference between mandatory and discretionary spending and thus believed that a shutdown would stop ACA implementation, so getting them to understand the process behind selecting House leaders is unlikely. And thus knowing how easy it would be to dump Boehner is also unlikely. So they can curse out Boehner for being a wimp, while never giving a thought to deposing the guy because they don’t know how these processes work. The people who most want to oust him failed miserably to do so in January, and showed little political ability in doing so. An actual House coup would be a PR nightmare for Republicans, one which would worsen relations between the Tea Party and the GOP establishment without changing the dynamics of the situation. If anything, it would further divide the House by pissing off Boehner’s allies. Essentially, there’s no downside here to “breaking” Boehner from the Democrats’ perspective, if it could even be done. I say, let’s not stress about it.