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Department of 'Who Are You Fooling?'

Boehner surrenders but, still terrified of the GOP's Tea Party wing, vows to continue its war on Obamacare. From his remarks this afternoon, comments passim:

That fight [against Obamacare] will continue. But blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us. [Then why was Boehner threatening to block it just yesterday? And why did House Republicans ever think threatening default would be a winning tactic for them? Because they did not think the president would call their bluff.] In addition to the risk of default, doing so would open the door for the Democratic majority in Washington to raise taxes again on the American people and undo the spending caps in the 2011 Budget Control Act without replacing them with better spending cuts. [Read: "If we keep this up, we might lose seats in next year's election. Most Americans are fed up with our stunts."] With our nation’s economy still struggling under years of the president’s policies [sic], raising taxes is not a viable option. [No matter how the Republicans start a sentence, this is always how it ends.] Our drive to stop the train wreck that is the president’s health care law will continue. [If it were such a train wreck, it would stop itself. It would eventually be repealed, democratically—not nullified by means of extortion.] We will rely on aggressive oversight that highlights the law’s massive flaws and smart, targeted strikes that split the legislative coalition the president has relied upon to force his health care law on the American people. [If that's the plan, then what were the last few weeks all about? The only coalition Boehner's come close to splitting is his own.]

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Matthew Boudway is an associate editor of Commonweal.



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A secret serviceman, who has not been paid in 16 days,  said that when Congress approves the Bill he will personally bring it to the president. This is typical of the country's impatience and anger at Boehner and the Tea Party. Many Republican Senators anc Congressman are lambasting the Tea party folks. They may not have hit their Waterloo here. But they came close.

Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) said on Wednesday afternoon that their female colleagues can take most of the credit for driving the compromise that is expected to temporarily reopen the U.S. government and raise the debt ceiling before Thursday's deadline.

"Leadership, I must fully admit, was provided primarily from women in the Senate," McCain said after the bipartisan deal was announced.

Pryor said that people sometimes like to joke about women in leadership, but he is a huge fan of his female colleagues after watching them negotiate. "The truth is, women in the Senate is a good thing," he said. "We're all just glad they allowed us to tag along so we could see how it's done."

Out of the 14 senators on the bipartisan committee that laid the framework for the debt deal, six were women. Susan Collins (R-Maine) started the group, and Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) took part in negotiations.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that women were so heavily involved in trying to end this stalemate,” Collins told The New York Times. “Although we span the ideological spectrum, we are used to working together in a collaborative way.”


It is way too early for dancing in the end zone.

The government again teeters on shutdown in January; the U.S. teeters on the edge of default in February. Unless blah blah blah. Meanwhile, the sillly sequester budget resulting from the silly sequester deal the Oblama thought Congress would never allow to happen remains the law of the land. As the dust settles, Obama has the stuttering rollout of his (kill me if I ever hear it called this again) "signature issue," and Boehner has the sequester budget with government furloughs.

The only way to stop Act III of Government by Occasional Crisis is for the Republican House and the Democratic Senate to agree on a budget. Anybody holding his or her breath on that?

Tom B

I disagree... if the GOP repeats this defeat again in Feb.2014  I can assure you a Dem House after the Nov. 14 elections.

Ed G

I've heard the theory. It is based on two assumptions -- one is that the public has an attention span longer than the common housefly, and the other is that we are still in the pre-moron era in Washington. Neither seems to be true.

By January, Obama will be back in trouble for stumbles in Syria or Iran or North Korea; Darrell Issa will be investigating the failure of the multimillion dollar private contractors who rolled out Obamacare -- "worse than the W. Bush contractors in Iran!" -- and Miley Cyrus will be getting married or having a baby. The pains of the past two weeks will have been forgotten. There will be grousing about the lousy Christmas shopping season as bankers hunkered down for the next debt crisis, but that won't be seen as related to anything that happened in October.

And the goofiest of the tea party Representatives will be pollling 70 or 80 percent in their own districts and caring less about anyone else's.

Tom are much too pessimistic. Stock Market takes off tomorrow to the hidhest level in 10 years. Jobs will increase revenues, and the ACA enrollment will do better now that they can go back to work. All 6 of  my college age grandchildren are in parents ' health care due to ACA. My children don't have to worry about losing  house, savings and future earning if one young adult has a catasthrophic injury or sickness. how much is that peace of mind worth?

we have No US killing people in Syria, Iran, Iraq. and the  small strikes in Somali and Libya are made w/o killing innocents. Israel war noises are silent.

Did you watch Cruz speech? He was like a quarterback being sacked 3 times and running off, trying to give the fans and coach a high five.. pathetic..   .. so drop the Obama is failing mantra.  

Ed Gleason,

I am with you.  This is a win-win situation for the Dems.  Nancy Pelosi is the next  Speaker of the House and the American bishops are SOL.  Their Republican bed mates can't help them now. It is over. The Tea baggers did the GOP in and Cruz will bear the brunt of the GOP failure. He has already acknowledged that by not trying to oppose the deal parliamentarily. Read Tea Party = dead. Obama has won and ACA is the law of the land.  Who would have thunk it?   Caling Archbishop Lori:your red had is fading to pink.


Boehner blinked. Will Obama get the kudos Kennedy earned when Khrushchev blinked?

This piece by Stu Rothenberg seems as straightforward an analysis as any I've seen so far.

Tea Partiers are blaming "sellouts" like Boehner and McConnell for compromising instead of continuing the fight.  They're the spiritual descendants of those hawks like Gen. Westmoreland, who insisted that there was indeed light at the end of the Vietnam tunnel--but he still needed half a million more pairs of boots on the ground.  


The severely gerrymandered districts in the House of Representatives worry me.  The "Hate the Government, and Don't Pay Your Country's Costs" gang can retain many seats in the House.  In one version, a group of politicians boasts that they have created a seat for minorities, but their real intent is to save for themselves the surrounding districts.  The drawing of congressional district lines is  gamesmanship in too many states.

Jim P. What your friend Rothenberg didn't say -- even though he is known for knowing these things -- is how many Republicans will be past the deadline for primary opponents to get on the ballot agaqinst them when the January and February deadlines are met. As long as they can be primaried the "responsible" Republicans are ripe for extortion.

As far as the potential extorters are concerned, the following analysis says the age of government by morons hasn't passed:

Remember, Ted Cruz just set a new indoor-outdoor record for TV appearances by freshman senators. As far as he is concerned, he found a way to win the lottery.

Ted Cruz learned a valuable lesson. He has the vision and ideology clear but without the leadership to mobilize and coordinate a movement, his political strategy failed.

Not saying he does not have talent but he lacks patience, humility, and perseverance to build up a movement.

And even if he does, the tea party will always be a rump party of the Republicans. Boehner seems effective at managing them but the Democrats are tight! Don't know who is keeping them together but they are marching to the drumbeat!

People of the Left - for example, I - love to shake our heads at the Right's "echo chamber:” Limbaugh, Hannity etc.  But of course, we spend most of our political time communicating through entirely comparable mechanisms. (Perhaps even here?)

So which of us is Luke’s publican, and which the Pharisee?

And are we, as Simone Weil taught, “…practic[ing] the opposite virtues…” that we may “…hold out in such a confrontation.”

Mark L.

With our nation’s economy still struggling under years of the president’s policies [sic] [sic]

You're right, Mark: that sentence is so stupid it deserves two sics. From Paul Krguman's column in today's New York Times:

A useful starting point for assessing the damage done is a widely cited report by the consulting firm Macroeconomic Advisers, which estimated that “crisis driven” fiscal policy — which has been the norm since 2010 — has subtracted about 1 percent off the U.S. growth rate for the past three years. This implies cumulative economic losses — the value of goods and services that America could and should have produced, but didn’t — of around $700 billion.[...]

The main driver of their estimates is the sharp fall since 2010 in discretionary spending as a share of G.D.P. — that is, in spending that, unlike spending on programs like Social Security and Medicare, must be approved by Congress each year. Since the biggest problem the U.S. economy faces is still inadequate overall demand, this fall in spending has depressed both growth and employment.

What’s more, the report doesn’t take into account the effect of other bad policies that are a more or less direct result of the Republican takeover in 2010. Two big bads stand out: letting payroll taxes rise, and sharply reducing aid to the unemployed even though there are still three times as many people looking for work as there are job openings. Both actions have reduced the purchasing power of American workers, weakening consumer demand and further reducing growth.

I don't think Tom Blackburn is overly pessimistic. I'm not sure you CAN be too pessimistic about politics these days. Commentators I heard on NPR this morning said that Boehner and Cruz were the biggest GOP winners in the lastest debacle, Boehner for listening to giving the Tea Party wing its chance, and Cruz for sticking to his principles.

Some Tea Partiers told reporters that that shutting down the government was "worth it," though no newscaster I've heard has asked whether it was worth $24 billion, the estimated cost of the shutdown. Talk about government waste ...

Any victory the Democrats derive from having made the GOP "blink" will be quickly neutralized by news coverage that has turned its attention to the snafus going on over at The site really is pretty awful unless it takes you to one of the few state-run sites.

Jean R..

ACA takes effect 2014 except for already insuring 6 of my college aged grandchildren on their parents accounts. . I  can access Covered Ca, the ACA site very easily. Kaiser, that insures me and about 33% of Californians has a site that will CONTACT me when any ACA applies to my coverage. . Maybe the Red states e.g Idaho and other yokel states, have problems,  and my answer is vote em out or move

Try Coverered California .. easy on the eyes. .

Seconding Ed Gleason re: CA. 

I'm covered through Anthem Blue Cross (adminsisrator for a group for my small business), and they contact me bi-weekly with ACA information, and more frequently if there are special updates.  Our rates for 2014 are 3.1% higher than for 2013, with no changes ot co-pay or deductible.  Everyone in the group is a year older, and inflation rate will be about 2%, so I reckon this proposal is perfectly acceptable, especially given expanded coverages and availabilities ot our fellow persons.  Evidently, the exchnages can be established, access systems are possible (CA's population is about 35 Million), and the insurance companies have seen that fair-minded participation is posisble.  In fact, essential in their own interests.

Mark L.

Yes, I've heard California's and New York's sites are great. I live in Michigan, where our GOP legislature nixed the move by our relatively progressive GOP governor to set up a similar state site. The woeful federal site is great for Republicans who want the program to fail. 

I keep my elected officials apprised of my frustration on a weekly basis. I do try to vote the bastids out. But given the finely-tuned gerry-mandering, it's very difficult these days. 

If they don't get that site fixed by Feb. 15, and I end up having to pay a fine in addition to not having insurance, I'm gonna get real agitated.

Oh, and the advice to move? Please. I have an elderly mother who needs care and would have to be declared incompetent for me to remove her from her home. My kid is a senior in high school.

And where would I move? Californy? Where the cost of living is even higher than here? We are low income people. How do we get the money to make a move like that.

And never mind that we're 60 and the jobs open to you at that time of life are largely part-time. In fact, part-time work is the wave of the future, given that one of the unintended consequences of ACA is that it encourages employers to keep employees at less than 30 hours per week in order not to have to provide health care.

OK, I'm off topic and likely to get my comments axed if I go on complaining about my personal problems. But if conservatives are relatively callous to the problems of the poor--and I think they are--progressives can be mighty blinkered about them.

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