The war isn’t over. It’s only a cease-fire.
Republicans have agreed to fund the federal government through January 15 and extend the government’s ability to borrow (raise the debt ceiling) through February 7. The two sides have committed themselves to negotiate a long-term budget plan by mid-December.
Regardless of what happens in the upcoming budget negotiations, it seems doubtful House Republicans will try to prevent the debt ceiling from being raised next February. Saner heads in the GOP will be able to point to the debacle Tea Partiers created this time around – the public’s anger, directed mostly at Republicans; upset among business leaders and Wall Street executives, who bankroll much of the GOP; and the sharply negative reaction of stock and bond markets, where the American middle class parks whatever savings it has.
The saner Republicans will also be able to point out that President Obama means it when he says he won’t ever negotiate over the debt ceiling.
Now is the time to lance the boil of Republican extremism once and for all. Since Barack Obama became president, the extremists who have taken over the Republican Party have escalated their demands every time he’s caved, using the entire government of the United States as their bargaining chit.
In 2010 he agreed to extend all of the Bush tax cuts through the end of 2012. Were they satisfied? Of course not.
In the summer of 2011, goaded by an influx of Tea Partiers, they demanded huge spending cuts in return for raising the debt ceiling. In response, the President offered an overly-generous $4 trillion “Grand Bargain,” including cuts in Social Security and Medicare and whopping cuts in domestic spending (bringing it to its lowest level as a share of gross domestic product in over half a century).
Were Republicans content? No. When they demanded more,
The New York Post reported that congressional gyms are staying open despite the government shutdown that, so far, has gone into its second week.
Andy Soltis of the Post wrote,
The taxpayer-subsidized gyms for members of Congress remain open despite the government shutdown.
The members have to rough it, though — going without trainers or attendants to provide fresh towels and other amenities.
The liberal organization Think Progress said Tuesday that the order to keep the House gym open came directly from Speaker John Boehner’s office.
The House gym — largely unknown to outsiders until Anthony Weiner took infamous photos of himself in the locker room in 2011 — has no sign on the door and members have to be buzzed in.
This exclusive health club in Washington D.C., which is subsidized by taxpayer dollars,
It is widely reported that the Republicans are looking for a face-saving way to back down from the standoff they created on the budget and the debt ceiling. According to these news accounts, this route could involve another stab at the “grand bargain,” a deal that includes some tax increases and cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
This prospect should inspire outrage beyond the fact that it would make the Republicans huge winners coming from a disastrous losing position. (Polls show that shutting down the government to keep people from getting health care is not a popular position.) That’s an issue for political junkies; the more important point is that millions of seniors who are already struggling would be asked to make further sacrifices for basically no reason whatsoever.
What is not in dispute right now is that most seniors are not doing very well. The median income for a person over age 65 is less than $20,000 a year.
(Note: George Zornick’s post was originally published by The Nation and is republished with permission.)
We’ve seen this movie before: Republicans force a showdown in Congress over funding the government, the debt ceiling or, in the present case, both. Then a “grand bargain” is proposed to solve the impasse—one that includes serious reductions to social insurance programs.
That’s just how the GOP would like the current drama to play out. Wednesday, National Review’s Robert Costa reported that House Speaker John Boehner and Representative Paul Ryan are rallying nervous Republicans by telling them that while Obamacare may not end up getting defunded, GOP leadership is cooking up another big budget deal that includes cuts to the safety net so cherished by many conservative members. “It’s the return of the grand bargain,” one member told Costa. “Ryan is selling this to everybody;