Monday, January 14, 2013

Pulling The Trigger On The Economic Hostage

If Politico is right on the GOP being ready to start tossing bodies out the window to prove they're serious (I know, I know, the WIN THE MORNING crew is rarely so, but let's work through the scenario) then President Obama's victory will be total.

House Republicans are seriously entertaining dramatic steps, including default or shutting down the government, to force President Barack Obama to finally cut spending by the end of March.

The idea of allowing the country to default by refusing to increase the debt limit is getting more widespread and serious traction among House Republicans than people realize, though GOP leaders think shutting down the government is the much more likely outcome of the spending fights this winter.
 “I think it is possible that we would shut down the government to make sure President Obama understands that we’re serious,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state told us. “We always talk about whether or not we’re going to kick the can down the road. I think the mood is that we’ve come to the end of the road.”

The GOP has done this before.  Obama didn't bite then, he's not going to bite now.  The House GOP is pushing the only leverage they think they have:  the Tea Party nutjobs going crazy.

Republican leadership officials, in a series of private meetings and conversations this past week, warned that the White House, much less the broader public, doesn’t understand how hard it will be to talk restive conservatives off the fiscal ledge. To the vast majority of House Republicans, it is far riskier long term to pile up new debt than it is to test the market and economic reaction of default or closing down the government.

GOP officials said more than half of their members are prepared to allow default unless Obama agrees to dramatic cuts he has repeatedly said he opposes. Many more members, including some party leaders, are prepared to shut down the government to make their point. House Speaker John Boehner “may need a shutdown just to get it out of their system,” said a top GOP leadership adviser. “We might need to do that for member-management purposes — so they have an endgame and can show their constituents they’re fighting.”

This is an absolute bluff.  Wall Street and the hedge fund titans will never allow the GOP to blow up the markets like this.  The second President Obama goes on TV and says that the GOP is forcing hundreds of thousands of government employees to be laid off, national parks to close, the markets to sink and Social Security checks to be late, the Republicans lose just like they did in 1995-96.  The real effort behind this story is to make the President blink.  He won't.

Republicans are betting that shutting down the government in order to force massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare is a winning hand?  It'll never happen.  But the GOP is convinced the threat of this alone will make Democrats panic and give even worse idea.  Meanwhile, they are sure they will get those sequestration cuts.

GOP officials said 90 percent of their members are prepared to allow the cuts to take effect, rather than compromise, based on their preliminary head counts. This seems like the most likely outcome right now.
So please proceed, Tea Party nutjobs.  We just might get the House back after all.

You Don't Speak For Me This Time, Ma'am

I can no longer say that I don't regularly expect posts like this from Digby.  Every single time President Obama butts heads with the GOP, she screams NOW IS WHEN OBAMA WILL SELL US OUT ON SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE except he hasn't.  But it's always this time, this time she swears that the rotten crypto-conservative bastard is going to leave everyone under 60 in the streets with rags and dying by the thousands once they're too old to work anymore, forced to eat catfood and scrape by on fumes or just dead on the streets like vermin.  It's been the same song since 2009.

This battle is no different.

I'm sure the White House believes this and it's possible they will stare down the GOP this time on the debt ceiling and the GOP will back down. But after all that's come before the GOP has every reason to believe it will be the White House that blinks. We all do. It's almost impossible for me to believe that they will allow Armageddon (for real, this time, honest) to happen on their watch.

No.  Not all of us think the White House is going to blink, Digby.  Some of us have seen the President come out of battle after battle with the GOP having actually accomplished something, and we think the President will win again this time.

But as I wrote earlier, the truth is they're being very cute about all this and I don't think this is the play at all. It's not a coincidence that the sequester can was kicked down the road to ripen right after the debt ceiling. It means that while we are all watching the debt-ceiling showdown at the OK Corral, it's entirely possible the real negotiation will be happening on the separate sequester track. And that's unlikely to end well for the people. These wingnuts are hungry --- they feel they got robbed in the last go-round and they believe they were promised some major spending cuts in the next one. 

They always feel they were robbed.  They've felt robbed since November 2008.  Hell, some of us have felt robbed since much earlier in 2008, frankly.  The funny thing is, Digby never seems to think the President is intelligent enough to see the completely obvious GOP play here, and yet every time the President gets the better of John Boehner and his nihilistic friends.

Giving the President credit, well, that would be silly.  She can't do that, she has a narrative to cover.

It's a good thing for the country if the White House is able to stop this ongoing debt ceiling hostage situation. And maybe the Republicans want to stop it too, who knows? For all we know, Biden and McConnell prayed at the portraits of Tip 'n Ronnie and worked it all out in advance. Certainly it can't have entirely escaped the GOP leadership that they are playing with fire. But my read on the House crackpots is that they really want to make the President cry Uncle after that last one. Whether they have the nerve to cause an economic earthquake in order to do that is another question but I honestly don't know that they care whether anyone "blames" them. Their voters will support their actions

Gosh, if only the same could be said of our side.  Because like it or not, the results of voting in America these days is a binary outcome in a world full of grey.  Either the Democrat wins, or the Republican wins.  Choose.  Because if you haven't noticed, the President won in November.  We're acting like there's nothing we can do about the GOP in Congress.  There is, that would require us going after them at the local, state, and national level.

But it's much easier to blame Obama than to work for it.

You don't speak for me, Digby.  And I doubt in the future you ever will.


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