Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy !!!
I can't tell you how surprised I am that the debt limit was raised and the federal government is reopening...
Oh, wait. I can tell you. I'm not surprised one bit. This outcome was as predictable as the sunrise. Back in September, when all this kabuki theater first started, I wrote the following in a post called GOP Dreaming The Impossible Dream:
They say politics is the art of the possible, but the GOP's attempt to defund ObamaCare is impossible. They simply don't have the votes. They don't have the power to do it. ObamaCare is going into effect, whether America likes it or not....What we have going on regarding passage of the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government is pure political theater. The Republican-led House passed a CR that omitted the funding of ObamaCare. Cute, but merely symbolic...Cue the hyper-partisan rhetoric and screaming teevee talking heads. Partisan clowns are calling other partisan clowns "terrorists", "hostage takers", etc. What a ridiculous, overblown spectacle.
In the end, a CR will be passed, and the debt ceiling will be raised. How do I know this ? Because...there IS no other choice in these matters. Shutting down the government for a prolonged period and not paying America's bills is not an option.
I also wrote that the GOP would cave on it's demands to defund ObamaCare.
Sure enough, yesterday the Republicans caved on Obamacare, and President Obama signed legislation to increase the debt limit and fund the government.
I must be psychic, eh ? I got it all right, except for that part about "not paying America's bills is not an option". I was channeling the mainstream rhetoric there, but that logic is muddy. Raising the debt limit is not about paying America's bills, as Obama claims and the media blindly parrots. The truth is just the opposite. Raising the debt limit is about NOT paying America's bills. If we were paying the bills, there'd be no reason to raise the debt limit, because debt doesn't increase when bills are paid. Raising the debt limit is about agreeing to run up the national credit card some more. That's the opposite of paying the bills. If we were paying the bills, we wouldn't have massive deficits and an exploding national debt. What Congress and Obama just agreed to was more fiscal irresponsibility, that's all.
It goes without saying, I am not psychic. I just knew about the kabuki. This isn't my first political rodeo. Our leaders are incompetent, but they aren't insane (or at least most of them aren't). They weren't going to commit political suicide and let the country default, and that's why Obama knew he had the upper hand in the negotiations. He knew the risk of default would be laid mostly at the feet of a Republican party that initially made an unreasonable, unobtainable demand to defund ObamaCare, which resulted in a partial government shutdown. Did the GOP really believe at any point that Obama would sign a budget which included striking down his own signature legislation ? Of course they didn't. The idea was preposterous. It was all for show, in order for the Republicans to say to their constituents, we "fought the good fight", which is exactly what Boehner told his troops after the GOP's inevitable cave yesterday. The GOP was simply hoping to get something out of the negotiations. They didn't get much. Obama emerges as the winner, and the Democrats got to call the Republicans 'ransom-demanding, hostage-taking, extremist, racist, terrorist, anarchist Nazis who want to destroy the government' for a couple weeks. That was the Democrats contribution to kabuki, and their acolytes had a gay old time making those wild accusations. I especially enjoyed the absurd "anarchist" charge. Do they even know what that word means ? Apparently not, because I've never met even one Republican who comes remotely close to promoting anarchy, which is a society without a public government. Still, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid and others used the word. It's hard to believe Reid is one of the leading Democrats in the country.
On the actual vote, the Democrats were united to a man, and plenty enough Republicans joined them to pass the legislation by a wide margin. The Tea Partiers and other right-wingers voted against, and they get to say they stuck to their beliefs:
The Senate voted 81-18; The House voted 285-144. Only Republicans opposed the deal in each chamber.
After the vote, President Obama said this:
"My hope and expectation is everybody has learned that there is no reason why we can't work on the issues at hand, why we can't disagree between the parties while still being agreeable, and make sure that we're not inflicting harm on the American people when we do have disagreements".
What the last-minute debt deal actually showed is, contrary to what the President said, no compromise or progress seems possible unless the sword of Damocles is hanging over Congress' collective heads. Sad, but true.
The deal itself is pretty weak tea, no pun intended:
The final deal does not include any significant revisions of the Affordable Care Act.
The narrow deal includes a stopgap measure that would fund the government through Jan. 15, and suspend the debt ceiling until Feb. 7. Congress also established a framework for formal bipartisan budget negotiations to begin. Negotiators would be tasked with reporting out by Dec. 13 recommendations for longer-term spending levels and deficit reduction.
The package will also provide back pay to the 800,000 federal workers affected by the shutdown, and keep in place a pay freeze for members of Congress through the upcoming budget year.
Oh, boy !!! Another deficit reduction committee !!! Like Simpson-Bowles and the Supercommittee, both of which resulted in nothing !!! Simpson-Bowles was ignored by the President, and the Supercommittee couldn't resolve their partisan differences, which led to sequestration. I can't wait to see how this next deficit reduction committee fails !!!
Stay tuned for the next act of political kabuki theater, which will open in a couple months on a television station near you.
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