The Extortionists

The House Republicans still think they will win and the Senate and White House will cave on delaying the ACA for a year.

House Republicans may appear to observers to be pushing the government toward a shutdown, but that’s not even remotely how they see it.

The GOP rank-and-file still believe that the Senate might accept and the White House might sign a one-year delay of Obamacare in exchange for two months of sequester-level spending to briefly stave off a government shutdown.

“How dare you?” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said when reporters asked how the House would respond when the Senate rejected its offer. He grew angrier as he continued to question how one could assume the bill was dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

“I have never foreseen a government shutdown and I continue not to see a government shutdown,” said Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.), who was a senior Hill staffer before being elected to Congress in 2010. “The Senate has plenty of time to deal with this. This is good, common middle ground that is in this package. I think we’re gonna get a big bipartisan vote in the House. I think we’re gonna get a big vote in the Senate too.”

A right-wing news outlet reports that House Rules committee attendees actually laughed when someone said the President would veto their bill. They seem supremely confident that either they will win, or if they don’t win nothing bad will happen, or if it does happen people will blame President Obama.

What galls me is that the baggers and the media still talk about the impasse as a “negotiation.” A negotiation happens when two sides agree to give up something they want to get something else they want more. The Republicans are not offering to give up anything they want. If they had offered to raise taxes on the rich or increase the budget for entitlement programs, that would be a negotiation. But they’re saying, in effect, buy our plan or we’ll shoot the dog. That’s not negotiation; that’s extortion.

As I understand it, there are enough votes in the House to pass a clean cr if Boehner would put it up for a vote. But the baggers apparently have Boehner’s boy parts in an industrial compactor.

A government shutdown would be bad, but not nearly as catastrophic as a failure to raise the debt ceiling, which is going to have to be done within the next couple of weeks. Ezra Klein argues that it’s a good thing the baggers are throwing their temper tantrum over the cr, and when they lose it will make it less likely they’ll pull the same stunt over the debt ceiling. I think that’s wishful thinking, though.

Bill Keller has an interesting thought:

The Republicans are finally having their ’60s. Half a century after the American left experienced its days of rage, its repudiation of the political establishment, conservatives are having their own political catharsis. Ted Cruz is their spotlight-seeking Abbie Hoffman. (The Texas senator’s faux filibuster last week reminded me of Hoffman’s vow to “levitate” the Pentagon using psychic energy.) The Tea Party is their manifesto-brandishing Students for a Democratic Society. Threatening to blow up America’s credit rating is their version of civil disobedience. And Obamacare is their Vietnam.

To those of us who lived through the actual ’60s, the conservative sequel may seem more like an adolescent tantrum than a revolution. For obvious starters, their mobilizing cause is not putting an end to an indecent war that cost three million lives, but defunding a law that promises to save lives by expanding access to insurance. Printing up unofficial “Obamacare Cards” and urging people to burn them is a silly parody of the protest that raged 50 years ago. But bear with me.

There are significant differences, of course. For example, the 1960s New Left stayed out of party politics and never became a force within the Democratic Party. But I think the differences are in keeping with the temperaments and psyches of righties and lefties. Lefties want equality and justice; righties want power.

See also Paul Krugman, “Rebels Without a Clue.”

15 thoughts on “The Extortionists

  1. Also too – Rebel’s, Er… Uhm… Just ‘Cause!

    Oh, they’re trying to seem reasonable, with their 1 year delay on starting PPACA.
    And then, if the President and the Democrats agreed to that, what’s to stop them from doing the same next year?
    And the year after that?

    Rome, at least fell because the Barbarians finally made it through the gates.
    Rural dipsh*ts in this country voted in their own Barbarians – the House Republicans.

  2. What scares me is that it used to be obvious when a Republican said his proposal was “good, solid middle-ground” stuff that he didn’t really believe that, and it was just political posturing. Now, though, they seem to really believe their own rhetoric, even as it gets more insane.

    They really DO think that up is down and that it is an outrage that the Senate wasn’t working on Sunday, despite the Senators having delivered a perfectly acceptable bill back to the House on Friday, expecting them to pass it. They actually expect that, if they just switch the details of which ridiculous demands they make, they are offering “compromise”. Boehner, at least, may be able to remember occassionally that it’s just rhetoric, but as he finds himself needing to convince his Nutjob Caucus, I think even he is sliding toward the comfort of actually believing in the delusion, so he can deliver his lines more easily.

    When the shutdown happens, will they have a shock? Or just dial the delusion up to 11? (I’m already hearing that it’s a Democratic plot to make the GOP look bad.)

  3. “But what if even the plutocrats lack the power to rein in the radicals? In that case, Mr. Obama will either let default happen or find some way of defying the blackmailers, trading a financial crisis for a constitutional crisis.” (Krugman)

    Well, haven’t the Republicans stated unequivocally that the Constitution is not a suicide pact? Obama should throw that line right back at them as he goes about the adult business of paying the bills while the kids play in the House.

  4. biggerbox, I think you’re right, they really do believe they’re being reasonable. What keeps getting me is the pretense that delaying Obamacare for a year is in any way different from defunding it. About the same time the “delay” is up we’re going to have to pass a budget again, so why not delay it another year? It’s only fair.

  5. If the democrats and the president agree to a delay you might as well stick a fork in the AHCA, the baggers will spend the entire year delay trying to destroy it and will only use the same threat next year. The wildcard in all this is FAUX news. When Newt shut down the government he did not have a top rated 24hr propaganda channel. It was the moderate republicans responding to public pressure that turned on Newt, now with FAUX and the plethora of right wing propaganda outlets the pressure will be on the Boner not to back down. I don’t think it is assured that the baggers will get the blame?

  6. In the LAT, Republicans May Seek to Avert Government Shutdown, they may kick the can down to the debt ceiling deadline, which is their real leverage point:

    …But as House GOP leaders met, they were also considering a stopgap measure that would fund the government for another week or so as talks continue. That could push a deadline for action closer to the next budget fight, the need to raise the nation’s debt limit in mid-October.

    Congressional aides cautioned that the strategy remained in flux, as Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) struggled to get his troops to coalesce around their next move.

    “The bigger leverage is the debt ceiling, and I think we need to shift our attention to that,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), who promised to keep trying to halt the Affordable Care Act. “I don’t think we should keep trying the same thing over and over again, and think only a minority think that.”

    With the Democrats refusing to be blackmailed over the government shutdown, it just makes sense that the extremists would up the ante and play chicken with the debt ceiling. Not only will they shoot the dog if they don’t get their demands met, they’ll torch the house too. At that point, it will be interesting to see if Wall Street comes in and tries to knock sense into the extremists – a debt default, as Krugman writes, would be catastrophic.

    Although I can’t claim to know what’s going on inside Boehner, he’s obviously in a difficult position. If I were him, I’d be playing for time, time to let reality swing around and knock sense into into the Tea Party faction. His last card, which he doesn’t want to play, because it puts his job at risk, is to call for a vote on the clean CR. If I were him, I’d be waiting till the last minute, until I absolutely had no choice but to play it. Obviously I don’t know if he sees it this way.

  7. “Although I can’t claim to know what’s going on inside Boehner”

    I’ve had a few really bad hangovers in my day, so I can say with certainty what is going on inside the Bohner!

  8. Bohner needs to man up and tell the Tea Partiers to take his job if they can, but in the mean time, he will act in the interests of the United States of America, not the Divisive Party of America.

  9. Aren’t the Republicans the party of “No Appeasement?” Treat them that way – No appeasement.

    That is the only way to treat bullies. Reid was right (did I just say that about my Senior Senator?) – don’t pay them any mind, and just go about doing the actual business of the country.

  10. If I were him, I’d be playing for time, time to let reality swing around and knock sense into into the Tea Party faction

    I don’t think that’s possible.. The baggers have embarked on a holy cause and nothing is going to shake them. They face no penalty from voters because their districts have been distilled into bagger strongholds. They only fear being primaried , and that will only happen if they don’t toe the bagger line.
    To understand the baggers you have to understand the nature of the beast. They glory in the myth of the phoenix in believing that by tearing down the old corrupted structure they will build upon its ashes a new and pure structure where freedom can abound..

    They are locked in a fantasy of battling tyranny where the concepts of reason or compromise can never prevail.
    Defaulting in the defense of Liberty is no vice!

  11. “They are locked in a fantasy of battling tyranny where the concepts of reason or compromise can never prevail”

    Exactly, the baggers have more in common with your run of the mill Jihadi than they do with the fantastical “patriots” they fancy themselves to be.

  12. C u n d Gulag
    My view is that Rome fell when it had defeated all its external threats, and the ambitions of powerful men which used to serve the Republic against a common enemy, then turned their ambitions inward to fight for personal power. Rome carried on for a few centuries, but it was no longer a Republic, it became a military dictatorship with the most powerful men grabbing power through force for their own personal aggrandizement. How far is the US from that point? I think if the teabaggers prove that you can get your way by extortion rather than constitutional process, the US will cease to be a democratic republic.

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