House Republicans, looking for a way out of a budget standoff they began, plan to vote as early as Thursday on a plan to raise the debt limit through November 22.
But because the House proposal would not allow a vote on a Senate-passed measure to finance and reopen the government, which has been partly closed now for 10 days, the White House rejected the overture as insufficient to bring President Obama to the negotiating table for discussions about his health care law or further long-term deficit reductions.
Props to The New York Times for correctly noting that this latest fiscal crisis was entirely manufactured by Republicans. They started it and they could end it in an hour if they wanted to. But they don’t want to end it – at least not without forcing President Obama and congressional Democrats to capitulate.
Democrats must not give in to the Republicans’ blackmail. They want to take away people’s healthcare simply in return for doing their jobs. That’s outrageous.
As lawmakers, we expect them to pay the bills they have incurred as the American people’s representatives, and to pass a budget to ensure that Americans receive the public services they are paying for. Those are the basics of governing. Sadly, Republicans are not interested in governing; they are interested in winning.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at today’s press briefing, “It is entirely within the power of the Speaker of the House and Republicans in the House to reverse [the shutdown] by allowing a vote on a clean CR [continuing resolution] to reopen the government. And we hope they will.”
He added: “The consequences of the shutdown are many and they’re compounding. Various economists have noted the impact of a prolonged shutdown on GDP growth… the consequences are real and resonant for millions of Americans.”
Indeed they are, but Republicans are not worried about those consequences. What they are interested in is repealing Patient Protection Act (they’d settle for a delay of its implementation to start with) – and they’re already proven they’re willing to keep nearly a million public servants off the job as hostages.
They’ve put forth some bills to fund a few key agencies on a piecemeal basis, but these bills really just amount to gimmicks. Republicans can’t afford to look like they’re doing nothing, just trying to wait out the President, so they have stayed in town and brought forth legislation to the floor. But none of us should be fooled. They are more interested in appearances than results. They know how to stage a good production, but not how to govern this country thoughtfully or effectively.
The shutdown isn’t going to end until either they or the Democrats capitulate – and Democrats must not capitulate because it would set a terrible precedent.
The White House is smart to say “No deal.” What the Republicans are doing is retreating slightly from their extreme and unreasonable position. But until they abandon that position entirely, there can be no negotiations on a budget.