NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Latest Republican thinking: We’ll vote to pay our nation’s bills for a few more weeks, but we won’t reopen the federal government

Sor­ry, Repub­li­cans.… not good enough:

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.

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