You Can’t Negotiate With Self Deception: The GOP’s Game of Political Chicken

Ezra Klein sums up the increasingly likely government shutdown in two paragraphs :

If the Republicans just wanted negotiations, the Obama administration would be happy to oblige them. The White House, after all, has repeatedly said they’re willing to negotiate with the Republicans over the deficit, over jobs, over sequestration, and much else. Republicans haven’t been interested in those kinds of negotiations for some time. Indeed, after the fiscal cliff, Speaker John Boehner told Republicans that he was finished negotiating directly with Obama.

The reason Republicans aren’t interested in those negotiations is they don’t want to give anything up to get the things they want. That’s why they like negotiating over the debt ceiling: Since they also don’t want the the U.S. to lose its creditworthiness and fall back into financial crisis, raising the debt ceiling is not actually giving anything up. It’s releasing a hostage they never wanted to shoot.

It’s been clear for sometime that the ongoing debates in Washington have absolutely nothing to do with government spending or raising the debt ceiling as many conservatives would like to believe. If Republicans were concerned about on going government spending , the concessions they would seek would revolve around their proposals to reduce the deficit. Of course there are no proposals of any kind coming from the House GOP and the only demand John Boehner has asked for involve the defunding and delay of Obamacare.

But a look deeper into the politics of the House GOP reveals that the impending government shutdown isn’t even about Obamacare care as much as its about the political divisions within the Tea Party, House GOP.

House Speaker John Boehner has tried to convince conservatives to abandon their idea to use the threat of a government shutdown to force President Obama to defund Obamacare, telling them instead to wait and use the debt limit to force Obamacare concessions.

In a conference call with House Republicans last week, Boehner said they would push Obama on the debt limit, but not the continuing resolution to fund the government. Some weren’t pleased, The National Review‘s Jonathan Strong reports, and the call turned “ugly.” Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, for example, “told Boehner to ‘go back to the drawing board.'”

The New York Times also chimes in:

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio faced a critical decision this weekend: Accept a bill passed by the Senate on Friday to keep the government funded and the health care law intact and risk a conservative revolt that could threaten his speakership, or make one more effort to undermine the president’s signature domestic initiative and hope that a shutdown would not do serious political harm to his party.

With no guarantee that Democrats would help him, he chose the shutdown option. The House’s unruly conservatives had more than enough votes to defeat a spending bill that would not do significant damage to the health care law, unless Democrats were willing to bail out the speaker. And Democrats showed little inclination to alleviate the Republicans’ intraparty warfare.

It’s important to take note of the actual causes of this government shutdown instead of the apparent causes. The predominant strategy of Republicans in Congress over the past two decades has been hostage negotiations over policy negotiations. From their record number of filibusters to their ardent refusal to approve the President’s nominee’s for key administrative positions, Republicans have all but abandoned their legislative duties in lieu of childish obstructionism. While it’s tempting to deal with false equivalencies and place blame on both Democrats and Republicans, the actions of both parties does not bare this out in truth. No where is this more evident than in the chambers of House Republicans where inter party divisions are currently holding the entire government hostage.

Inevitable Zombocalypse Ignored While House Republicans Threaten Government Shutdown

Welp…looks like we’re moving dangerously close to another government shutdown.

House Republican leaders — bowing to the demands of their conservative wing — will put to a vote on Friday a stopgap spending measure that would strip all funding from President Obama’s signature health care law, increasing the likelihood that the government will shut down in two weeks.

 The fact that Tea Party members have chosen Obamacare as their so called “red line” is further evidence that House Republicans are far more interested in ideology and elections than governing.  If conservatives were rallying their government shutdown threats around social security reform, job creation, or preparing for the inevitable zombocalypse  (IE something important) instead of their self indulging masterbatory jihad to defund Obamacare, they would have a lot more credibility with the American people. Instead we’re left to watch as the once proud American democratic system is hijacked by people who refuse to believe that the President is an American citizen but insist that the world is only 2,000 years old.

*sigh*

With some government insiders saying there’s about a 40% likelihood that federal employees are going to get at least a few unscheduled days off from work, it’s important to note how we got here.  As much as I would love spending hours writing about the oh so interesting intricacies of government budgetary regulations, Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post has (sadly) beat me to it. In all seriousness, Matthews’ “Everything you need to know about why the government might shut down” is both a well written and accessible explanation about the countdown to Sept 30th.

Today’s News Links: I HAZ THEM

Surest way to know that the American economy sucks right now? Even illegal immigrants don’t want to come here anymore

I gotz the news, you gotz the time.

“Over the past few years, it (The Republican party)  has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative…” WOW…NYT conservative columnist David Brooks lays down the hammer.

Four more banks pay back their TARP “the “big government bailout” that worked loans.

This provides pretty damning evidence for those who claim Israeli foreign policy is more anti-Palestinian than it is Pro-Israel.

Our failure to create jobs is a choice, not a necessity“- Word Paul Krugman, word.

The press doesn’t know what a fiscal conservative is.

Paul Krugman’s Explaination Of The GOP Medicare “Plan” in 200 Words Or Less

As usual Paul Krugman has it right. This time he sums up Paul Ryan’s “Medicare” “Plan” in one paragraph:

Here’s an analogy: think of Medicare as a footbridge that is deteriorating and will eventually become unsafe. You could propose structural repairs to fix its faults; Ryan doesn’t do that. Instead, he proposes knocking the bridge down and replacing it with trampolines, in the hope that pedestrians can bounce across the stream. And the Post declares that he deserves credit for pointing out that the bridge is falling down, and proposing a solution. Um, we knew that the bridge was in bad shape — and his solution is a fraud.

Personally I think my Medicare/Medicaid plan, euthanize the old and the poor, is much better.

A. It’s a structural reform
B. It reduces the deficit quicker, sooner, and cheaper
C. It involves fire (At least if you want to do it the cool way)

I mean if you’re slowly going to kill of the old and poor through inadequate health care and spending cuts “on accident”, why wait? There’s a budget crisis right now damnit! And if you’re a Republican who cares exclusively for deficit reduction, no matter how much you fuck over the elderly and the poor, you might as well skip the gimmicks and support my plan. Added bonus: dead people pay no taxes!

After all, what’s the difference between my plan and Ryan’s plan? Subtlety and the ability to use fire.

Score one for my plan.

If Illegals Get An Education Who Will Pick My Corn?

Here’s some not so breaking news. Republicans in Congress are still hellbent on killing the Dream Act, which would create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants attending college or who volunteer for military service. But instead writing a long crappy post like I normally do, I decided to just share a few of my thoughts:

1. Republicans believe in letting people find success by working hard and pulling themselves up by their boot straps. Unless they’re a minority or a woman. In which case they had some unfair advantage like affirmative action or the benefit of growing up a poor and/or a non citizen.

2. Personally, I hate the Dream Act. I’d much rather these kids stay poor and uneducated. Instead of getting a job they can just rely on the social programs conservatives hate. Hello supply, meet demand. I don’t know about you but growing demand for the welfare state gives me a liberal boner.

3.Thank God immigrants never use their education to create, you know, important or useful things.

4. Somewhere in Mexico, potential illegal immigrants are saying “Fine, if you won’t give my kids Pell grants in fifteen years then we’ll just stay here and starve.”

5. If we punish the children of illegal immigrants, for the crime parents committed, we should imprison the Madoff children for Fraud, Paris Hilton for stealing money from the poor, and George Bush for supporting Nazi’s during WWII.

Pulling Back The Curtain: A Behind the Scene’s View of The Tea Party Movement

A few interesting observations from a recent NYT/CBS poll about people who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters:

“The 18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45.”

“Tea Party supporters over all are more likely than the general public to say their personal financial situation is fairly good or very good.”

“They are more likely than the general public, and Republicans, to say that too much has been made of the problems facing black people.”

“The percentage holding a favorable opinion of former President George W. Bush, at 57 percent, almost exactly matches the percentage in the general public that holds an unfavorable view of him.”

“When talking about the Tea Party movement, the largest number of respondents said that the movement’s goal should be reducing the size of government, more than cutting the budget deficit or lowering taxes. And nearly three-quarters of those who favor smaller government said they would prefer it even if it meant spending on domestic programs would be cut.

But in follow-up interviews, Tea Party supporters said they did not want to cut Medicare or Social Security — the biggest domestic programs, suggesting instead a focus on “waste.”

How Much Does Health Care Spending Really Cost?

One of the things that gets lost in political debates about spending is the context in which the spending takes place. IE how much a policy or program will “really” cost the American people versus how much its projected to cost taxpayers.

Let’s think about it on the small scale. If I told you that your electric bill was $12,000 you’d probably “freak the fuck out”. And rightfully so. Sure electricity might be a necessary aspect of your day to day life but $12,000? Fuck that noise.

On the other hand, if you read the fine print at the bottom of your bill that informed you that this $12,000 was stretched out over a ten year period you’d probably feel a lot better.

Why? Do the math.

$12,000/10 years = $1,200 a year
$1,200/12 months = $100 a month.

$100 a month is substantially less than $12,000.

Now let’s look at the Senate health care bill. According to the CBO, HCR will cost approx $875 billion. Oh no! That’s almost a trillion dollars!!!

Shock, gasps, and everything in between.

But take a step back and remember that this is $875 billion over a ten year span.. Meaning that the annual cost of health care reform is a mere $87 billion a year. While $87 billion is a huge number relative to your personal bank account, its more or less chump change in terms of federal spending. And after you take into account the savings from eliminating the $42.7 billion “Hidden tax” we pay every year for the uninsured, the Senate Health Care Bill drops in cost to $45 billion a year.

$45 billion a year for almost 100% universal coverage? Doesn’t sound too bad to me.