Sane Republican Minority Prevails

Nearly two-thirds of House Republicans voted for default. They lost.

mitch-mcconnell-john-boehner

The sane wing of the Republican Party prevailed last night, reopening the federal government and putting off until at least February a default on the nation’s debt. Mitch McConnell stared down the Ted Cruz faction in the Senate and John Boehner put the country ahead of the demands of the Tea Party, passing the bill mostly with Democratic votes.

While adult leadership ultimately saved the day, they did so only after a stupid and dangerous standoff that caused enormous destruction. (I have a longish piece on the effects in the Defense Department, ostensibly one of the least impacted departments, coming out later today.) McConnell and Boehner are savvy enough to know this was bad for their country and bad for their party and were either unwilling or unable to rein in the zealots until they got to the brink of disaster.

Those of us in the Jon Huntsman-Chuck Hagel-Brent Scowcroft wing of the GOP, once considered solidly conservative but now effectively marginalized, have been arguing for some time that we need to take the party back from the crazies. Louisiana Rep. Charles Boustany, with whom I’m not familiar, encapsulates the thought nicely:

“There are members with a different agenda,” Boustany said Wednesday in an interview in his office. “And I’m not sure they’re Republicans and I’m not sure they’re conservative.”

His comments came a day after rank-and-file House Republicans rejected a package to reopen the government authored by their own leader, Speaker John Boehner. The result is that a bipartisan Senate-authored deal to end the two-week government shutdown appears poised to pass with almost nothing of substance gained by House conservatives for the shutdown they precipitated.

“The speaker has said consistently unless we can put 218 votes up, and preferably more than that, our ability to negotiate is pretty much undermined and that’s the problem we’ve repeatedly found ourselves in,” said Boustany, who has served since 2005 and is a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee. “Look at payroll tax. Look at fiscal cliff. You can go on and on. There are a handful of members – the numbers sort of vary, it’s in the 20-30 range – that are enough to derail a Republican conservative agenda in the House.”

Boustany said those lawmakers are so obsessed with opposing any compromise that they end up driving the final legislative result further from the broader GOP goals. “I think there are members who are in complete denial about their responsibility to govern and to try to use conservative principles to get the best possible legislative package we can get,” he said.

The problem, sadly, is we’re no longer talking about “a handful of members” in “the 20-30 range.” A majority of the House Republican caucus, 144 Members, effectively voted for a catastrophic default last night; only 87 voted to stop it.

Being charitable and understanding how politics work, I’ll presume some large chunk of that 144 would have voted on the side of sanity if necessary but instead cast a symbolic vote to look tough/conservative/whatever back home knowing that the Democrats would save the day. But that’s not exactly good news, either. For a variety of reasons, with the polarized media environment that allows people to select which version of the facts to surround themselves with high on the list,  a huge chunk of the electorate that thinks the shutdown was perfectly reasonable and default on the debt a good first step.

This is uncharted territory, at least in the modern age. Newt Gingrich was a horribly ineffective speaker and led two government shutdowns in the 1990s, one longer than the one we just went through. But they were at least over principled disagreements about the direction of government and done at a time when his party had majorities in both houses of Congress. And, while ultimately damaging to the GOP and helpful in securing Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election, real and significant deals were achieved that helped advance an actual conservative agenda.

By contrast, the fight that just ended was over something absurdly minor in the grand scheme of things and obviously unwinnable from the get-go. Fox’s Brit Hume, whom I’ve long admired as a sober analyst, offers the most cogent explanation that I’ve encountered:

Veteran political observers on both the left and right are still trying to figure out what the House Tea Party caucus and its Senate pied piper Ted Cruz were thinking when they insisted on using the threat of a government shutdown to defund ObamaCare.

It was a hopeless strategy that has not only failed in its stated goal, but helped send the Republican Party to its lowest favorability ratings ever.

In conventional terms, it seems inexplicable, but Senator Cruz and his adherents do not view things in conventional terms. They look back over the past half-century, including the supposedly golden era of Ronald Reagan, and see the uninterrupted forward march of the American left. Entitlement spending never stopped growing. The regulatory state continued to expand. The national debt grew and grew and finally in the Obama years, exploded. They see an American population becoming unrecognizable from the free and self-reliant people they thought they knew. And they see the Republican Party as having utterly failed to stop the drift toward an unfree nation supervised by an overweening and bloated bureaucracy. They are not interested in Republican policies that merely slow the growth of this leviathan. They want to stop it and reverse it. And they want to show their supporters they’ll try anything to bring that about.

And if some of those things turn out to be reckless and doomed, well so be it.

Essentially, we’ve got a large faction of the minority party that, on one level, realizes they’ve lost the fight but, on another level, thinks they represent something like Nixon’s “silent majority.” Pretty much everyone they know, read, and hear thinks exactly like they do and they see their country being taken over by big city elites who hold a completely different set of values. They see this fight, then, as something akin to a civil war.

David Frum sees them as modern day Dixiecrats and urges the GOP to kick them out to save the party:

Right now, tea party extremism contaminates the whole Republican brand. It’s a very interesting question whether a tea party bolt from the GOP might not just liberate the party to slide back to the political center — and liberate Republicans from identification with the Sarah Palins and the Ted Cruzes who have done so much harm to their hopes over the past three election cycles.

It’s worth repeating over and over again. Add Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, Sharron Angle in Nevada and Ken Buck in Colorado, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Joe Miller in Alaska — and you have half a dozen Senate races lost to the GOP by extremist nominations.

Like Frum, I’d be thrilled to see the party quit nominating so many extreme, unappealing, and unqualified candidates. At the state level, where most of the problem exists, it might even be possible for a Sane Republican party to win elections in a three-way race with Democrats and the Tea Party. At the national level, though, I don’t see how the party ever wins another election without Tea Party voters in the big tent. But I haven’t the slightest idea how to appeal to people who fundamentally don’t understand that they represent a minority of the country and that they will therefore get outvoted with some frequency and their elected representatives will virtually always have to compromise and take the best deal available.

Indeed, the tragic irony of the standoff that just ended is that Boehner and company had managed to craft an absolutely fantastic deal given that all they had was a small minority in one half of one of three branches of government. Despite a Democratic president and Senate, they got their budget numbers. But that victory was seen by the radicals as not good enough because it didn’t also contain a repeal of the president’s signature achievement, which was an absurd demand given the outcome of the last election. So, they turned a surprising win into a devastating loss for no apparent reason.

 

FILED UNDER: General, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Barry says:

    I wouldn’t be that optimistic, James:

    1) Right now the Tea Party dictates terms to the GOP; in the current vote, the only reason that they didn’t get 100% their way was that it’d have resulted in the destruction of the US economy; for anything short of that, the Tea Party rules the GOP.

    2) No Tea Party guy/gal lost their seat; the elections are still a loooooooooong 12 months away, and the primary season looms well before that.

    3) This deal, facing imminent disaster, only keeps things going another few months. And the next time, I believe that this will be more normalized into the regular political ‘process’.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Sane Republican Minority Prevails

    James? Don’t you think it is a little early for declaring the results of the 2014 primaries?

    (now I will go and read the post, but seriously, I have my doubts that sane Republicans can win over the crazies in their party)

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    So much to unpack in one post. Let me start with this:

    Essentially, we’ve got a large faction of the minority party that, on one level, realizes they’ve lost the fight but, on another level, thinks they represent something like Nixon’s “silent majority.”

    You know what I think of when I look at Ted Cruz and company? The Black Knight in Monty Pythons “The Holy Grail.” He is standing there with his arm chopped off saying, “I’ve had worse.”

  4. PJ says:

    The sane minority enables the insane majority.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Those of us in the Jon Huntsman-Chuck Hagel-Brent Scowcroft wing of the GOP, once considered solidly conservative but now effectively marginalized, have been arguing for some time that we need to take the party back from the crazies.

    Hmmmm….. 2 of those 3 have/are serving in the Obama administration. Time to admit there is no place for you in today’s GOP and come over to the Dark Side James?

    (apparently all I have this morn is snark, I will now let others post more substantive comments)

  6. Raoul says:

    I wonder if there is anyway to find out how many of the 144 GOP members are persuadable.

  7. Grumpy Realist says:

    Looks like China doesn’t have to do anything–just sit back and watch this country tear itself apart.

    Doesn’t surprise me. The only reason the US has held together as long as it has was the outside “threat” posed by the USSR. Otherwise we’re a mixture of two completely different mindsets.

    I don’t know what would cause the crazies to realize that there is such a thing as reality, that Mama Nature always bats last, there will be no Rapture, and if we don’t get our act together China will eat our lunch.

    As soon as the scientists and engineers stop immigrating to the US and start going elsewhere, put a fork in us–we’re done.

  8. Woody says:

    They see an American population becoming unrecognizable from the free and self-reliant people they thought they knew.

    First off, Mr Hume somehow left off “white with middle-class wealth” in his description. I say that because the party, which boasts of their anti-regulatory agenda, routinely uses government regulation to suppress non-Republican votes, particularly the nonwhite and the poor.

    Secondly, the “Senator Cruz and his adherents” bit is a bit rich coming from Mr Hume. I’ve seen Mr Hume opine many times during the last fifteen years and his description of the unconventional Sen. Cruz fits Mr Hume as well.

    I suspect the GOP is not angry at the Cruzers for larding taxpayers with a loss of billions to prevent poor people from getting healthcare. They are angry that he failed, making it harder for the next Republican to make the next attempt.

  9. James Pearce says:

    Despite a Democratic president and Senate, they got their budget numbers. But that victory was seen by the radicals as not good enough

    Perhaps because it wasn’t about the budget? I have no choice but to take them at their word on the Obamacare stuff.

    But I haven’t the slightest idea how to appeal to people who fundamentally don’t understand that they represent a minority of the country and that they will therefore get outvoted with some frequency and their elected representatives will virtually always have to compromise and take the best deal available.

    If that is what they believe, then they do not believe in democracy. The question isn’t how to appeal to them. It’s how to thoroughly reduce their influence.

    We’ll see how it goes over the next few months, but “give em enough rope” may end up doing the trick.

  10. Rob in CT says:

    Ok, can kicked for a few months. Good.

    Now let’s see what comes of negotiations over the budget. I’m not all that hopeful about that, let alone about a Grand Bargain type deal.

    I’m glad the sane wing did what needed doing. Note that sane =! moderate. They want the same things, but seek their ends via different tactics.

    Regarding Mr. Hume’s explanation of how the far Right sees the past ~30 years, that does indeed sound bang-on. The trouble is that: 1) in many areas it’s overblown to the point of being straight-up fiction; and 2) since the GOP isn’t interested in making government work, they’ve done nothing over the years to improve matters. Take regulation. When the GOP has power, they don’t sit down and do the hard work of sifting through regs to find redundancy, regs with poor cost/benefit, etc. They instead try to gut whatever their donors & industry lobbyists want gutted. Or hell, they just think regulation = bad, so cost/benefit can’t work (there’s no benefit, get it?). Which of course the Dems oppose as much as possible. Also, whenever the GOP takes power, they beef up the military, which is hardly a paragon of efficiency. Further, I think the push to contract everything out has been harmful. Put simply: if you think “government is the problem” then you’re not terribly likely to get into power and set about trying to fix things. You’re going to be predisposed to slash & burn.

    I don’t know what the results of this will be, but here is an example of a party trying to do something constructive:

    On Wednesday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will order state agencies to begin accepting public comments on most regulations, and require agencies to conduct an independent review of those regulations, in an effort to identify obsolete or unnecessary state rules.

    According to a draft executive order reviewed by The Courant, state agencies must report back to the governor by February with both a list of regulations deemed outdated or ineffective and a plan to implement changes.

    “In all instances, the benefits of regulations must justify their costs, and the objectives of regulations must be achieved through the least burdensome means available,” Malloy said in the draft executive order.

    The move aims to continue a modernization of the state’s regulatory powers. It wasn’t until recently that the 15,000 pages of the state’s regulations lived online in electronic form.

    The governor’s plan, in addition to the review, will also set a list of new principles for making new regulations. Agencies must identify policy goals, costs and benefits, and a clear need for the rules. The rules must follow best practices and be in “language that is plain and easily understood.”

    For the big regulations, ones that hurt businesses, that cost the state more than $1 million or municipalities more than $100,000, or otherwise represent a shift in state policy, agencies must present a “rigorous impact analysis,” and “engage with external experts and academic institutions,” the governor says in the draft order.

    If the GOP can let go of “government is the problem” (or, how it’s really used today, “government is always the problem”) and switch over to more of a “government needs constant tending” (you know, some intelligent weeding and pruning), perhaps it will attract people who are interesting in a constructive approach and willing to put in the effort required to govern responsibly.

  11. Scott says:

    I don’t have much hope for the Republican Party. Of course, I live in Texas where the Tea is strong in these politicians. I have to watch the race for Governor revolve around being against Washington. The Lt Governor’s race discusses the 17th amendment and impeaching Obama. It gets pointed out, again and again, to no avail, that these issues have nothing to do with the governing of the state.

    I’m sure the Tea Party doesn’t recognize the shellacking they just received. To them, it is all part of the Lost Cause and that whole mythology.

  12. JC says:

    What are the Tea Party ideas for Healthcare, or anything for that matter? They were elected based on anger and hate. They offer nothing constructive, just obstructive and destructive.

  13. Fog says:

    “If that is what they believe, then they do not believe in democracy.”
    Mr. Pearce, I believe you have put your finger on the issue. They believe in democracy only if they win the elections. What is at the core of the libertarian/plutocratic view besides the idea that money should be the ultimate power in society, not the consent of the governed? How dare the hoi polloi claim power over their actions.

  14. KM says:

    A majority of the House Republican caucus, 144 Members, effectively voted for a catastrophic default last night; only 87 voted to stop it.

    “Sympathy votes” are dangerous creatures indeed. I can’t remember details this early before coffee but there was a story a few years ago about how an eminently sane measure failed to pass as too many people cast negative “sympathy votes”. One woman was so shocked that the expected-to-pass measure tanked she promptly tried to change her vote right then and there. See, they didn’t really want it to fail and have to deal with the negative consequences, they just wanted to look tough to the constituents. They ASSUMED that enough people in the room would be the reasonable adults and make the correct vote so theirs really wouldn’t count. They were SHOCKED when everyone jumped on the stupid bus and they all went over the cliff together. It wasn’t meant to happen like that…….

    “Sympathy votes” could have easily screwed us all over yesterday. 144 people elected to try and doom us all – it could have easily been more if political peer pressure had its way. Fiscal conservatives should be frightened over how close we came to disaster due to what is essentially Follow-the-Leader and Chicken on a governmental scale.

  15. C. Clavin says:

    And Turtle Face sneaks in $2B earmark for good ol’ Kentucky.

  16. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: But sane Republicans and sane Democrats have served in the administrations of other party’s presidents, especially in foreign policy positions, for ages. There’s only one president at a time and, well, he’s the American president.

    @Woody: Hume sympathizes with the Tea Party more than I do. But I know many people that I consider decent, smart, and sane who think the Tea Party has the right agenda just the wrong leaders.

    @James Pearce: Most ideologues are fundamentally undemocratic, wanting their way regardless of election outcomes. But, more to the point, I think these people think they ARE the majority, in fact the overwhelming majority, and think the game is somehow rigged against them.

  17. Scott says:

    But let’s go with the basic premise. That Americans from different demographics don’t interact with each other. Isn’t this really a result of increasing income inequality? Isn’t it being exacerbated by the assault on the public school system where people are self segregating by income, religious, and racial grounds? Deliberate assault on the common infrastructure provided by community governments? Privitization? etc.

  18. Woody says:

    Most Republicans I know personally consider themselves Eisenhower Republicans who aren’t comfortable with the naked passions of the Tea Party but opine that they’ve been “pushed to the point of over-reacting”.

    I’m a fan of Ike in many ways, and here’s what I believe an Eisenhower Republican would say:

    “As America ages, it is obvious that health care will consume more of the Federal budget. Since the ACA covers more Americans while lowering our deficit, I have to swallow the fact that I am not a fan of Large Government. As a politician, then, my task is to find and root out inefficiencies, profiteering, and fraud – and to strengthen the program where needed.

    As a conservative, I realize that better healthcare strengthens the American family, frees small businesses so they can concentrate on growth, allows entrepreneurs to give their dream a shot without placing their families at risk, and gives Americans with a disease or disability some financial stability. The actual good outweighs the ideological bad.”

    I’m looking forward to the GOP emerging from their adolescence.

  19. grumpy realist says:

    @KM: Well, you get the exact same thing with crazy deadlines promised and assured by individual units on a multi-unit project. Each one is perfectly happy to make promises about how his part of the task will get done by Deadline X, confident that someone else will fall down on the job and provide the necessary grace period.

    (Actually how Japanese government engineering projects are done, in my experience. Boy do I have stories, sigh….)

  20. Todd says:

    The sane wing of the Republican party is the key to us getting back to having a functioning democracy in this country. Instead of running scarred of being called a RINO, they need to turn the tables and say more of the kind of things Rep Boustany said (and back them up with votes).

    “And I’m not sure they’re Republicans and I’m not sure they’re conservative.”

    It’s the Tea Party backers who are really the “RINOs”

    I’ve said for a long time that I have no problem with Republicans (still vote for at least one or two every election), but I can find absolutely no common ground with these radicals who call themselves “Conservatives”.

  21. maggie says:

    IF a frog had wings, he wouldn’t bust his ASS every time he jumped. ”Somehow the Tea Party has allowed Ted Cruz to represent them? He is the best they could find to replace Kay Hutchinson?????? “IF” is a childish dream. But Reality and this man have obviously never been introduced or parted ways some time ago.

    I can live with some Republican ideas and some Democrat ideas, but these Tea Party politicians are ridiculous, maybe the idea started out as a grassroots movement, but has allowed its movement to be taken over by a fanatical bunch of self serving, unAmerican , JERKS whose only goal is to blow things up, not rebuild. Kind of like Timothy McVay???

    Cruz is just ONE more reason that having to live in Texas is such an embarassment to me. You take the Tea Party mentality and combine it with Texas mentality and you get TED CRUZ, who is no more representative of thinking Americans ANYWHERE, than was Dennis Rodman ( another native son) . But, hey, having lived here for 31 years, I can tell you, that the world view here is limited by most with the belief that Texas is still a Republic, and (white)Texans (even those born in Canada) are superior to other people by their God given birthright and skin color and the By God American Team of the Dallas Cowboys!
    I will be so glad when circumstances change and I can leave this crazy state and go live where people you their heads for something other than a hat rack.

  22. michael reynolds says:

    James:

    The problem is not primarily in the politicians. If I may suggest: step Outside The Beltway. The problem is the voters. Your party’s voters are not motivated by policy-making, they are motivated by emotion. Emotionally hysterical, frightened, deeply ignorant voters are what give us the Republican House.

    Nothing will change in your party until the voters change. The politicians are just a symptom. The cause is white panic, egged on by Fox News and talk radio, which have done terrible damage to this country.

    You cannot have millions of people fed on lies and egged on incessantly by demagogues and have a rational electorate. Irrational electorate = crazy politicians.

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner:

    But sane Republicans and sane Democrats have served in the administrations of other party’s presidents, especially in foreign policy positions, for ages. There’s only one president at a time and, well, he’s the American president.

    As I said James, seems all I have this morn is snark, and what you say is all true but I do want to point out that Hagel and Huntsmen are both RINOs now. Apparently, it is no longer possible to be a conservative, a loyal American, and a Republican all at the same time.

  24. john personna says:

    @JC:

    What are the Tea Party ideas for Healthcare, or anything for that matter?

    They are conflicted, confused, as we cynics might expect.

    The Tea Party at once applauds the free market, but then trots out “you can go to any emergency room” and other things that are not free market at all, but are just prior regulation.

  25. Scott O says:

    Let’s see, about 37% of the House Republicans are sane and 100% of the House Democrats are sane.

  26. george says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The problem is not primarily in the politicians. If I may suggest: step Outside The Beltway. The problem is the voters. Your party’s voters are not motivated by policy-making, they are motivated by emotion. Emotionally hysterical, frightened, deeply ignorant voters are what give us the Republican House.

    They’re not that uniform, any more than the Democrat voters are uniform. Saying they are just plays into the illusion that the Tea Party is trying to cast – that they speak for all self-described conservatives. The polls I’ve seen regarding Tea Party support among conservatives (about a quarter of GOP voters are Tea Party supporters) suggest they’ve still got a long way to go to reach that point.

    Most GOP voters I know, and the polls seem to suggest this is the norm, aren’t particulary rabid about anything in politics, and certainly not the hysteria that the Tea Party pushes. The problem is the way the primary system amplifies the effects of those with strong feelings – a minority of crazies can set the agenda for a party.

    Funny how things cycle. I remember in college arguing the same thing about Democrats, how they weren’t primarily a bunch of communists hoping to turn America into a socialist utopia. But the Democrats did a much better job of keeping the nuts (and there were a few) out of control. That lack of control is reason enough not to want the GOP elected – if you can’t even govern your own party, why would anyone trust you to govern a country?

  27. george says:

    @Scott O:

    Let’s see, about 37% of the House Republicans are sane and 100% of the House Democrats are sane.

    I wouldn’t go that far. I’d say 100% of the House is insane, but 37% of the Repubs and 100% of the Democrats are only somewhat insane, while the other 63% of the Repubs are bat sh*t crazy.

  28. charles austin says:

    Dr. Joyner, uh, really? So, much of the Republican party is insane. Not idealistic, misguided, poor tacticians or strategists, or even wrong, but insane. Awesome.

    Congratulations, you have acheived parity with your commenting community.

  29. Rob in CT says:

    @george:

    Somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of GOP voters are Tea Partiers or very sympathetic to Teas. If it really is 1/4, they probably can be stuffed back in their box. If it’s 1/3? Yikes.

    Sure, they’re not a majority. But then, when push comes to shove, the moderates stick with them.

    They are driving the bus. With the Dems, the moderates (corporatist sellout neoliberal turncoat… Shuttup, you! Back in your box!) drive the bus and the passionate “we’re always losing, we’re always stabbed in the back” firebagger crowd is kept from the controls.

    I don’t really know how the GOP “establishment” can regain control. Some of it probably boils down to how campaign finance works nowadays.

  30. Rob in CT says:

    @charles austin:

    He’s finally accepted the reality of the situation, Charles.

  31. Rob in CT says:

    By the way, isn’t the House stenographer incident just the cherry on top of this whole sh*t sundae?

  32. al-Ameda says:

    Fox’s Brit Hume, whom I’ve long admired as a sober analyst, offers the most cogent explanation that I’ve encountered:
    HUME: Veteran political observers on both the left and right are still trying to figure out what the House Tea Party caucus and its Senate pied piper Ted Cruz were thinking when they insisted on using the threat of a government shutdown to defund ObamaCare.

    I believe it is as simple as a calculation that Obama would capitulate, primarily because Obama and Democrats want government open and surely would not let this “negotiation” run up to the default precipice. They also calculated that public support would build for their so-called “principled” position on government spending.

    Well, the public soon perceived that the only thing Cruz and the Teas wanted was repeal of ACA, and that they did not care much at all about budget stuff – the Teas pretty much stated that if Obama agreed to collapse-and-appease them on ACA the shutdown would be ended, an indication that they were not serious about anything but humiliating Obama.

    We also had the spectacle of Republicans operating a cafeteria-plan style of shutdown – deciding which non-essential services should be opened. The parks and monument photo-ops. It was a sad show of GOP cynicism.

  33. James Joyner says:

    @charles austin: I know lots of sane, decent people who hate Obamacare, think we need to radically cut spending, and all manner of other things that the Tea Party believes. Indeed, many of them proudly wear the Tea Party label.

    But I don’t know any other word than “insane” to describe people who cast a vote to default on the nation’s debt because they see it as the only way to avoid funding Obamacare.

  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @charles austin:

    Not idealistic, misguided, poor tacticians or strategists, or even wrong, but insane. Awesome.

    Charles, how else would you describe a party that has done the same thing over 50 times (vote for the repeal of the PPACA) and expect a different result when they hold a gun to the head of the world economy while demanding the same thing they have been repeatedly denied? Charles, if you don’t see that as absolutely batsh!t crazy, you are in serious need of help. I suggest you start with Ludes, cause buddy? You are definitely de-Luded.

  35. Todd says:

    @Rob in CT:

    With the Dems, the moderates (corporatist sellout neoliberal turncoat… Shuttup, you! Back in your box!) drive the bus and the passionate “we’re always losing, we’re always stabbed in the back” firebagger crowd is kept from the controls.

    When I say that I fall somewhere in the middle of the ideological spectrum, and my Conservatives friends loudly protest “well why don’t you ever criticize Liberals?” what you wrote above is the reason …

    Because Liberals don’t really have power.

    … if we define Liberal in the true sense of the word (Bernie Sanders is a Liberal, Barack Obama, not so much).

    To these same Conservative friends though, people who are far to the right of me are also “Liberals”, simply because they don’t agree with the Tea 100%.

    If the Tea Party was just a group of “eccentrics” who were occasionally thrown a bone, but largely ignored when it came to the important stuff, then I wouldn’t really care much about them either. Sadly, for the time being anyway, that’s just not the case.

  36. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    I know lots of sane, decent people who hate Obamacare, think we need to radically cut spending, and all manner of other things that the Tea Party believes.

    Really? Are you calling them “sane, decent” but ill-informed then?

    Because it really matters that Americans support every single element of Obamacare, except the individual mandate.

    And it matters that the individual mandate is necessary to pay for the rest.

    What then, “sane, decent” people want the benefits without the cost, and you, well informed as you are, are ready to support them in that?

  37. Todd says:

    @john personna:

    .. people want the benefits without the cost

    You just described the majority of Americans … across the ideological spectrum. 🙂

  38. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    But I don’t know any other word than “insane” to describe people who cast a vote to default on the nation’s debt because they see it as the only way to avoid funding Obamacare.

    “Crazy” might not be the best word for people who support 90% of ACA features, and then oppose “Obamacare” … but it is not far off.

  39. john personna says:

    @Todd:

    At first glance we might all want a free lunch, but

    well, the political split seems to be between Democrats who want to order a big lunch, and then have the richest diners pay for it, and the Republicans who want to order a small lunch, and to mumble that no one should be eating ….

  40. charles austin says:

    Dr. Joyner, all the words spent on a credit default were scaremongering, at best. The shut down is one thing, default on debt is entirely another. Government cash flow is almost 10 times debt service so default would have been a conscious choice, not a requirement. I’ve been in a business situation before were there wasn’t enough cash and we had to prioritize what we would pay and what we would defer or cease, and I believe that Jack Lew is smarter than I am so I am sure he could also prioritize debt payments if that became necessary. Lots of government provided benefits and services would have ceased, but that’s not the credit default that was been waived about like a bloody red shirt. Also, please allow me to note that I utterly reject the premise that continuing on down the dark path of fiscal irresponsibility we are witnessing represents sanity.

    But hey, we saved our credit rating by borrowing more money we can never hope to repay. So I’ve got that and the insinuations by others here that I am in need of serious help going for me. If you’ve been calling someone ugly all week how do you expect them to respond when you ask them to the dance on Saturday night? I’ll just sit back and watch the thumbs down accumulate.

  41. john personna says:

    @charles austin:

    The problem with a debt cap is that it caps short-term borrowing as well.

    You just cited interest costs and receipts, but neither are regular or uniform.

    Both are lumpy, with different due dates for different kinds of taxes and etc.

    You assert that it would all just work out … but I don’t think anyone has shown that.

    I think that a minimum Congress would need to allow new short-term credit to smooth cash flow.

  42. john personna says:

    @charles austin:

    But hey, we saved our credit rating by borrowing more money we can never hope to repay.

    I point again to the CBO debt projection.

    We can talk about how to bend that line, but histrionics do not help

  43. john personna says:

    @charles austin:

    The Treasury’s Financial Management Service bureau is in charge of the nation’s cash flow and paying its non-defense bills. In 2011, the latest statistics available, it paid more than $2.4 trillion in more than 1 billion individual payments to people and businesses.

    The bureau has about 1,370 employees who work in Washington and regional centers in Philadelphia and Kansas City. Furloughs triggered by the shutdown have reduced the number of employees on the job to about 735, the Treasury Department said.

    Rejuggle 1 billion individual payments?

    Easy, and if Obama can’t do it at his own desk, he should be impeached.

  44. charles austin says:

    @john personna, because you wouldn’t prioritize keeping the tax collectors on the job? Yes, by all means let’s drop the histrionics.

  45. john personna says:

    @charles austin:

    Dude. “Keeping tax collectors on the job” would not make receipts uniform week to week.

    Do you not get that?

  46. al-Ameda says:

    @john personna:

    What then, “sane, decent” people want the benefits without the cost, and you, well informed as you are, are ready to support them in that?

    Well heck yeah John, who doesn’t want lots of “free” stuff?
    Both of my daughters know they can make me laugh every time by saying,
    “if it’s for free, it’s for me, ” or, “if it’s free it MUST be for me.”

    I have not met a single person who understands the individual mandate part of ACA. Most people I know have a very favorable opinion of other provisions (addition of adult children to coverage, etc).

  47. john personna says:

    See “Federal Revenues by Month” on this page.

    As a bonus, it shows much higher revenues in 2013, a good sign that the recession is receding.

  48. Tillman says:

    @charles austin:

    But hey, we saved our credit rating by borrowing more money we can never hope to repay.

    Why can we never hope to repay it? Because politically we can never raise taxes while cutting spending? Uhh, the Democrats have repeatedly offered cuts to spending for some raise in taxes. What’s the Republican position been?

    Seriously, dude, learn some recent history.

  49. george says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I agree, at a certain point (wouldn’t want to guess at a fraction) it gets very hard to push the crazies back in the box. Maybe the GOP is already at that point, though I hope not – it’d be nice to have two only slightly insane parties in the running, instead of one slightly insane, one bat sh*t (love that word for some reason) crazy.

    I’m not sure the moderates always go along, there seems to be a real divide in the GOP, and its too early to say who will win their civil war. In most places, losing elections goes a long way to giving moderates incentative to speak out, so I figure it might well do so in the GOP as well.

    And actually, my suspicion is that much of the divide in the GOP is regional – in some regions the GOP norm is pretty moderate, in other regions its full Tea Party. Not sure if a party can last like that long without splintering.

    That happened in Canada with the old Progressive Conservative Party splitting up with the creation of the Reform Party (sort of like the Tea Party but not nearly as insane – they were right wing by Canadian standards but to the left of the Democrats in the US on most things if you look at actual policies) evolved to the current Conservative Party which actually looks a lot like the old, moderate PC party. Much of that splintering was due to regional alienation (“The West Wants In” was the slogan) more than actual ideology. I wonder if the same will happen with the GOP. In the end, the reason both Democrats and Republicans have been moderate most of the time is because that’s what wins elections, and if nothing else, elected officials tend to like to stay elected.

  50. MBunge says:

    “The speaker has said consistently unless we can put 218 votes up, and preferably more than that, our ability to negotiate is pretty much undermined and that’s the problem we’ve repeatedly found ourselves in,”

    The problem is that 218 votes means 218 REPUBLICAN votes. When you decide that you won’t do anything unless you can do it without any help at all from the other side, that cripples your negotiating position from the get go.

    Mike

  51. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Sure charles, reprogram complex government systems in multiple areas on short notice to implement a payment priority system of questionable legality. No problem. After all, as we’ve seen with the Obamacare exchange rollout setting up massive IT systems in government (or anywhere else for that matter) is a piece of cake.

    I swear, the cognitive dissonance among some people is bizarre–the government is incompetent and can’t do anything right! Except completely reprogram how they handle all their finances in less than a week so we can avoid a technical default (never mind all the other bills), that’s simple and they can do that easy!

    Idiot.

  52. Rob in CT says:

    It might be time to look at the chart of USA debt-to-gdp over the past 100 years, Charles. You might learn something.

    It was low, increased in the Great Depression, spiked high due to WWII and then fell for decades (GOP rule, Dem rule, didn’t matter) until Reagan came in. Then it increased until Clinton and the Dems came in and started repairing the damage, got even better when the Gingrich crowd got the House and pushed for more cuts, which was then reversed again Bush the Lesser and the GOP re-took power. Then the Great Recession hit, driving it up further. It’s now ~75% of GDP. This is not a crisis. 75% of GDP is higher than I’d like, but it’s not panic time. It’s time to put our big boy pants on and plan out what was done before: keep the nominal debt growing slower than the econony, thereby reducing the debt as a function of GDP to lower levels. And oh by the way, slamming the car into a brick wall to stop it is a dumb way of doing that. Unemployment is still high. The recovery is weak. Deliberately trying to trigger a crisis because you’re scared there might be a crisis in the future is… stupid, at best.

  53. Tony W says:

    @Woody:

    allows entrepreneurs to give their dream a shot without placing their families at risk,

    This is a bug, not a feature, to corporate America’s entrenched interests…

  54. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: There’s a huge swath of the country that genuinely think they want much smaller government. I don’t think they actually do, as the kerfuffles over monuments and whatnot demonstrate, but they honestly think that.

    @charles austin: But 144 House Republicans effectively voted for default last night. We had to rely on the Democrats to vote for sanity.

    The standoff was not about smaller government, fixing the debt crisis, or anything else but forcing a major concession on Obamacare that was obviously never going to happen. And if you don’t want to take on more debt, then you have to pass a budget with much lower spending. Republicans have not been willing to do that, since they don’t want to take the heat from identifying actual cuts.

  55. gVOR08 says:

    @Woody: I don’t know what Eisenhower would have said about today’s problems. Probably, as you suggest, something moderate and sensible. I do think many of our current political problems were anticipated in something he did say, in 1954 –

    Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

    Their number is no longer negligible.

    The Republican’s problems with the Tea Party will not be solved by taking the Tea Party at their own valuation. You have to address Freedomworks, Heritage Action, Norquist’s bunch, the so called Club for Growth, etc. Being primaried by the TP is an effective threat because these people will fund it.

    (For the younger crowd, I should explain that in 1954 farm programs were about protecting low income family farmers.)

  56. charles austin says:

    Thank you for the kind offers to educate me and conduct a conversation. It has been… enlightening.

  57. Rob in CT says:

    @charles austin:

    You can lead a horse to water…

  58. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08:

    Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

    Their number is no longer negligible.

    But they are just as stupid as ever.

  59. wr says:

    @KM: “They ASSUMED that enough people in the room would be the reasonable adults and make the correct vote so theirs really wouldn’t count”

    This is where having a competent speaker and majority leader comes in handy…

  60. Ron Beasley says:

    The large number of Republicans in the house along with 2 or 3 in the Senate did not go to DC to govern they went to throw bombs and start fires. You cannot bargain with these people and I can only hope that Boehner has figured that out and will start dealing with the Democrats to find something that 218 Democrats and Republicans can vote for.

  61. john personna says:

    @charles austin:

    I call that an “I’ll just cover myself in poop” exit.

  62. al-Ameda says:

    @charles austin:

    Dr. Joyner, all the words spent on a credit default were scaremongering, at best. The shut down is one thing, default on debt is entirely another.

    Scaremongering?

    I take it you missed the 2011 debacle wherein the GOP leveraged their stance into a downgrade on America’s credit rating? And of course a few days ago Fitch put America on a negative credit watch, usually prelude to a possible downgrade.

    The 2011 downgrade caused the short-term loss of billions of dollars in the value of invested holdings in this country – you know, that includes individual and institutional retirement funds, 401Ks, IRAs, and well as securities held by foreign investors and governments.

    Do you realize that when the financial markets downgrade government debt securities, it has a ripple effect because many financial obligations and investments have their value indexed to the value of government securities and those interest rates.

    This is, or SHOULD BE, a non-partisan issue. No member of Congress in either party, who takes his or her fiduciary responsibilities seriously, should EVER countenance default. It is the height of irresponsibility.

  63. David M says:

    @charles austin:

    I’ve been in a business situation before were there wasn’t enough cash and we had to prioritize what we would pay and what we would defer or cease

    But isn’t this decision required to be made by Congress, not the Treasury? Especially if you’re actually going to cease making payments? How on earth is it a good idea to ask the treasury which bills should be paid?

    I believe that Jack Lew is smarter than I am so I am sure he could also prioritize debt payments if that became necessary.

    Jack Lew is irrelevant to the situation, as I’m pretty sure he’s not just sitting there with a check ledger and paper invoices. The system is automated, and changing something like that is asking for trouble. The reasonable assumption has to be that it can’t simply be changed on demand.

    Lots of government provided benefits and services would have ceased

    I can kind of see the arguement that the treasury could delay payments, but there’s absolutely no way they can be ceased unless Congress acts.

    [we wouldn’t default if we made the bond payments]

    There’s a pretty good argument that just barely avoiding a technical default isn’t much different than an actual default.

    Let’s assume the treasury could prioritize payments and we didn’t raise the debt ceiling. The delayed payments are still debts, not raising the debt ceiling just meant a lot of pain for many Americans. Changes like this have to come from Congress, not just raising the debt ceiling and hoping the treasury can manage the chaos.

    Finally, you and the Tea Party want to radically cut spending. We have a process here in the USA that will allow you to do just that. Every couple years, we have some elections and if you win enough of those, you get a chance to enact the policies you want.

  64. grumpy realist says:

    @charles austin: No. 100 % wrong. And I’m not going to even try to regurgitate the reasons why, just ask that you read the commentary and analysis in real newspapers like the Financial Times.

  65. anjin-san says:

    @ Charles Austin

    I’ve been in a business situation before

    And the fact that you think that is pretty much the same thing as running the federal government proves conclusively that you are not to be taken seriously.

  66. anjin-san says:

    I’ve been in a business situation before

    Let’s listen to what Warren Buffett has to say on the subject. He has been in a few business situaitons himself.

  67. Ken James says:

    You are the reason the media continues to suppress the news or outright lie. You buy into all their BS. What planet are you people living on? The Republicans sent bills that would have kept this country running time after time. You are Morning Joe in print. I would like to say we will have the last laugh, but there’s nothing to laugh about. The country has drastically changed, and if you fools can’t see that, then enjoy your socialism. It is what you are getting.

  68. george says:

    @Ken James:

    You are the reason the media continues to suppress the news or outright lie. You buy into all their BS.

    Kind of hard to take anything seriously which starts off speaking of “the media”, as if it were a single, monolithic entity.

    Do you only get one newspaper, or one TV station where you live? And Google doesn’t work on your computer so you can’t search any of the thousands of news choices out there?

    Most of us have easy access to the whole spectrum of political views/news. I’m sorry you don’t, but you could if you wanted – lot’s of possibilities in the net if you learn to use it.

  69. jukeboxgrad says:

    Hume:

    Veteran political observers on both the left and right are still trying to figure out what the House Tea Party caucus and its Senate pied piper Ted Cruz were thinking

    Isn’t it obvious? Cruz is not planning to become president of the United States. He just wants to be president of the tea party. A much easier job, much better pay, and no term limits. And he is well-qualified for the position because he knows how to fleece the rubes. Once you understand his real goal, you can see that his plan is working as intended, and you can also easily predict that he’s going to continue on his current path.

    Michael Reynolds has provided an excellent summary of the overall situation (link):

    [Republican] voters [have been] brainwashed by demagogues whose only real interest is in accumulating wealth by lying to suckers … [Republicans have] been fed a steady diet of bullsh!t by Fox News and talk radio and now they find themselves marooned, lost on Delusion Isle, separated from reality itself.

    An astute commenter (bernielatham) at NRO has said this:

    I truly do not know how the GOP will be able to recover from the deep dilemma it is in while extremism and misinformation continue to be monetized

    As Frum famously said (link):

    Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex.

    Another Republican said this (link):

    While Republicans are growing less popular, the political entrepreneurs who’ve devised the strategy of confrontation are by and large profiting from having done so.

    All these people are describing the same phenomenon. There are two forces in the GOP. The traditional force cares about winning elections and achieving policy objectives. But there is another, more powerful force, a Frankenstein monster that cares only about achieving quick, easy profits by fleecing the rubes. The “conservative entertainment complex” pretends to care about winning elections and achieving policy objectives, but that’s a charade. Their profits are arguably higher when the GOP loses.

    In this thread Michael said this:

    [GOP] voters are not motivated by policy-making, they are motivated by emotion. … The cause is white panic, egged on by Fox News and talk radio … You cannot have millions of people fed on lies and egged on incessantly by demagogues and have a rational electorate.

    When that “white panic” was harnessed to win elections, it was called the Southern strategy. But now it’s being harnessed for a different purpose: to make people like Limbaugh and Beck rich. Cruz is no different; he’s playing that same game, although for now it’s from a different kind of perch. Like those others, Cruz is fundamentally an entertainer, not a politician. When you see him in this light his behavior makes a lot more sense.

    The GOP’s death spiral is irreversible because the forces in the GOP which care about electoral success are no match for this entertainment industry, which has taken on a life of its own. The GOP is being destroyed from the inside by “entrepreneurs” who are profiting from its demise. And it’s poetically just that a party based on the worship of money is being cannibalized by worshippers of money.

  70. charles austin says:

    Dr. Joyner, and still you persist be saying that most Republicans voted for default last night. And guess you either with us or against us, eh? You must be so proud of what OTB has become. Don’t worry, you won’t have to deal with this dissenting voice any longer.

  71. David M says:

    @charles austin:

    It isn’t really a stretch to characterize voting against raising the debt ceiling as voting for default, especially when the House GOP was unable to pass their own plan. The bill was also relatively clean, so there wasn’t anything egregious in the bill for the GOP to object to.

  72. john personna says:

    @charles austin:

    What happened to all your claims that we could just cap debt, abruptly, and not default?

    Did you follow any of those links? Do you have an argument?

    Or was this last bizarre claim, “you persist be saying that most Republicans voted for default last night,” a circle back to that same thought?

    You know, even when the meme machine floated this idea that since yearly revenues was above yearly debt payments, you should have stopped for some critical thinking. 1. Does that mean that you really have cash flow when you need it? 2. Does that mean that government systems can direct cash flow by some priority system?

    Instead you seem stuck. You were told that it’s ok, revenues cover debt, so every other complexity is just a liberal scam.

    No, not actually. A lumpy income stream and a billion individual payments per year mean that a transition to a cash-based payment system would be very hard, and probably leave some unpaid, with IOUs.

    As icing on the cake, if you pay interest on those IOUs … guess what, you’ve just expanded debt.

  73. john personna says:

    An IOU _is_ debt.

  74. An Interested Party says:

    Don’t worry, you won’t have to deal with this dissenting voice any longer.

    Promises, promises…

  75. Ken James says:

    @george: Google? You think Google’s algorithm’s are fair? Or their news is not “selected”. Damn, now I see the problem here. You really can’t see how the alphabet channel’s slant the news by weaving their words to effect? It works here, and that is all that counts in their book. Damn, I can’t believe what you just wrote, and believe it.
    So geniuses, please tell us how the GOP should act the next go around when YOUR president won’t negotiate again.