Regarding impossible things that will never happen

Yesterday I read someone noodling that Republicans who cannot vote for a clean debt ceiling bill might pass a bill larded up with their favorite spending cuts, wait for the Senate to pass a clean bill and then let Boehner once again skip the Hastert rule and sneak a clean conference report through the House with Democratic support.

Republicans have proposed worse plans in recent days, but that hardly means this gambit will see the light of day. The key sticking point is that Republicans really, really want to wreck the social safety net but as much or more than that they do not want their fingerprints on the hammer. Numbers-wise the US government is basically a social safety net with a military, plus some other stuff that that only counts at the margins. If you rule out cutting the military then any serious spending reduction needs to carve a hunk off programs that serve grandma and the poors. Republicans refused to name what they wanted Obama to cut to meet their arbitrary ‘fiscal cliff’ demands and they will not name the cuts they want now. Do not waste any time wondering whether they will vote for a bill that has a villain’s wish list of safety net cuts, zero Democratic votes and no chance of becoming law. They know to fear scaremongering Medicare ads since, you know, a lot of them used those to win their seats in 2010.

Put my money on the whole issue fizzling out when Cantor and friends realize that they cannot get Obama to shoot the hostage for them.

38 replies
  1. 1
    NotMax says:

    So let’s get this straight.

    The party that has been bleating for years now that the business community is hobbled by protestations of vague economic “uncertainty” now proposes ensconcing undeniable uncertainty as standard operating procedure via an endless series of short-term tantrums.

    Norman, coordinate.

  2. 2
    Patricia Kayden says:

    But hasn’t President Obama offered to reform Medicare and SS benefits before in prior negotiations with the Repubs? Wonder if he’ll feel pressured to do it again.

  3. 3
    Tim F. says:

    @Patricia Kayden: He did, and his current message is that they should have taken his offer when they had the chance. Elections and consequences.

  4. 4
    Turgidson says:


    I think they’re just trying to save face at this point so that the teabaggers don’t primary all of them at once.

    One of two things seems likely to me:

    1) the House passes a 3-month debt ceiling extension. Kicks it to the Senate. Harry Reid scratches out the word “month” and replaces it with “year” or “eon” or whatever. Passes it back to the House. They huff and puff, then discard the Hastert Rule one more time and let Democrats and safe and/or sane GOPers get it over the finish line by a hair. Then the nutjobs try to demagogue “ZOMG Obama has a blank check to make us Greece!” for the next round of elections. In some deep red areas that probably works, but I don’t think it’s a big winner overall.

    2) A short term hike is passed by both chambers with the acknowledgment that a longer-term debt ceiling increase gets slipped into whatever legislation comes out of the sequestration battle.

    GOP leadership – being at least marginally sane – probably want to kick the can as far down the road as they are able to. Getting their knuckledragging caucus out of the way might be the tricky part.

  5. 5
    BGinCHI says:

    Obama could say:

    Let’s take the money we give to Israel and use it to shore up SS and Medicare.

    It’s deficit neutral.

    Aging and needy Americans or another nation’s security?

    /why I don’t have a job at the WH

  6. 6
    Ash Can says:

    Won’t the House Republicans have to name cuts eventually, when they pass the next budget?

  7. 7
    Alex S. says:

    I really like Tim’s activity since he retired from blogging!

  8. 8
    Turgidson says:

    @Tim F.:

    I think he’s still willing, if the reforms are paired with similarly-sized revenue increases. That may be sincere on his part; it may also be an offer he knows they aren’t willing to accept after the fiscal cliff deal.

  9. 9
    huckster says:

    Who’s to say that they can even get their caucus to vote for the extension? They called off the plan b vote when it was clear that they didn’t have the votes. If Pelosi keeps the Democrats in line, won’t they be out on an island again?

  10. 10
    Roger Moore says:

    Wait, wait. Republicans are hypocrites? Hoocoodanode?

  11. 11
    Roger Moore says:

    @Ash Can:

    Won’t the House Republicans have to name cuts eventually, when they pass the next budget?

    No. They’ll make up some complete bullshit plan that involves few substantive spending changes in the short term- maybe screwing the poor just enough to show how callous they are and giving military contractors some of the cash, but nothing huge- big tax cuts for the rich, and some magic pixie dust 10 years from now to make the numbers add up.

  12. 12
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    There have been so many of these hostage crises that I’ve lost track. I do seem to recall that during one of them Obama offered the Republicans their own deal and they turned him down. Do I have that right?

    If so, then not negotiating seems to be just about as good as any other course of action.

  13. 13
    penpen says:

    Tim F., you should really adopt a title befitting your status like, “Blogger Emeritus” or something.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    BGinCHI says:

    @penpen: Tim’s retirement is the “new retirement” that will be the norm after the Boomers: you keep working until you die.

  16. 16
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    Tim’s retirement is the “new retirement” that will be the norm after the Boomers: you keep working until you die.

    You wish. Once you turn 55 and/or become sufficiently well paid you will be let go in a re-org and then you’ll be damned lucky to find any work to do until you die.

  17. 17
    Ash Can says:

    @Roger Moore: But even that much will be reported on and announced in the press. It won’t be very detailed, of course, but it won’t have to be to get the point across that the Republicans, for all their whining, don’t want to cut public services either. And if they do attempt to cut services, the headlines will read “(affected large group) likely to feel pinch from (government program serving said group) cuts.” One thing I definitely do trust the corporate media to do is to trumpet — sensationalize, even — news items likely to grab the attention of more readers/viewers, and benefit cuts would fill the bill. And this is even absent Congressional Dems saying anything about it or Obama saying, “You want me to sign what?” Yes, the budget will be song-and-dance, smokescreen-and-mirrors, kicking the can down the road etc. But it has to be a budget, and it has to say something, even if what it says is “we aren’t making any cuts.”

  18. 18
    Maude says:

    @Ash Can:
    Remember one of their health care plans. I think it had a bunch of color dots.

  19. 19
    Baud says:

    So are we no longer mad at Obama for giving up his leverage?

  20. 20
    Raven says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    Two fish in a bucket
    if the sun don’t shine. . .fuck it.

    That is all.

  21. 21
    srv says:

    Thugman says He wuz wrong!


    Obama outsmarted him

  22. 22
    Ash Can says:

    @Maude: It was either their alternative budget or alternative health care reform plan, I can’t recall which. It had three circles with a few words in each, on one piece of paper. Totally underpants-gnomes. It was hilarious.

  23. 23
    Mnemosyne says:


    Shorter Krugthulu: Meep meep.

  24. 24
    Maude says:

    @Ash Can:
    They do so much nothing that I get them confused.
    It was fun tho.

  25. 25
    Todd Dugdale says:

    They know to fear scaremongering Medicare ads since, you know, a lot of them used those to win their seats in 2010.

    Yeah, this is possibly the stupidest part of the Republican ‘plan’. Everyone knows the spending cuts that Republicans are screaming for will, if enacted, be blamed on the Democrats in the 2014 campaign.

    That alone guarantees Democrats won’t go along with the House Republicans on slashing the safety net. Any benefit a Democrat would see from boosting their “fiscal cred” would be obliterated by the vehement denunciations from the Right about callously cutting the budget for vulnerable voters.

  26. 26
    brettvk says:

    @BGinCHI: Speaking as a boomer — this is already in effect. I don’t know why [some] post-boomers think everyone born between 1940 and 1960 has all the cookies. A bunch of us are the griftees, not the grifters.

  27. 27
    TooManyJens says:

    @Ash Can: It was their supposed alternative to the President’s 2009 budget, aka the “Road to Recovery.”

    A Google image search for ‘Republican road to recovery’ returns much hilarity.

  28. 28
    General Stuck says:


    LOL, another Krugman mea culpa. Pretty much like the last one, and the ones before that. You would think being a Noble winner, he could kind of recognize that just maybe Obama knows what the fuck he is doing. And maybe be a little less strident with the “Obama is gonna cave” and the other “he’s doin it wrong mouth breathing” posts. Then maybe, he wouldn’t look so petty and emo. Just sayin’ is all.

  29. 29
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    So, Cantor’s trick is to offer up the (unconstitutional) tactic of not paying Congressmembers if, after delaying the debt ceiling for three months, the Senate does not come up with a budget deal. My thought is that any budget the Senate/President produces should include the language “This budget raises the debt ceiling to cover it and any emergency spending that occurs during the fiscal year this budget covers.”

  30. 30
    Roger Moore says:

    I’m glad that Krugman is a regular lolcat viewer and is aware of all internet traditions. It makes it more respectable for the rest of us when a Nobel Prize winner does it.

  31. 31
    Ash Can says:

    @General Stuck: Hey, at least he admits it when he’s wrong. That, along with his tendency to criticize Obama coherently and with at least a modicum of thought — regardless of whether I think he’s correct or not, and quite unlike the vast majority of other pundits — keeps me from coming down too hard on him.

  32. 32
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Once you turn 55 and/or become sufficiently well paid you will be let go in a re-org

    This. I see the writing on the wall of my cubicle.

  33. 33
    General Stuck says:

    @Ash Can:

    That is your prerogative.

  34. 34
    JoyfulA says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): Don’t all budgets have to originate in the House of Representatives? Or am I thinking of something else?

  35. 35
    General Stuck says:

    @Ash Can:

    And to add. It is not the criticism of Obama by Krugman, per se. It is the personal, belittling and emasculating language he uses, such as ‘wimp’ and ‘conceder in chief’ and the general tone of superiority that is classic racist framing. And it has been going on for years now. I don’t care one whit about Paul Krugman, he can rot for what I care. or apologize, or whatever.

  36. 36
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    This. I see the writing on the wall of my cubicle.

    The phenomenon resulted in our having to scrape by on the occasional contracting job until I was able to collect early SS. I enjoyed my work and it was very disappointing that I couldn’t find anything at any wage. I’d been making good money and no one would hire me for less (Though I was willing to take it) because they thought that I’d leave as soon as I got a better offer. Catch 22 lives.

  37. 37
    BGinCHI says:

    @brettvk: You chose to be born with them, so you get tarred with that brush.

    Is it fair?

    I’ll let you guess the answer to that one.

  38. 38
    Quiddity says:

    The capitulation by the Republicans on the Debt Ceiling shows that critics of Obama’s handling of the situation in the summer of 2011 were right. Back then, many on the left were furious that he would enter into any negotiations at all, and madder still that Obama was willing to cut entitlements and get limited tax revenues as part of a Grand Bargain.

    Obama supporters defended him by saying that he was in a tight spot, Republicans wouldn’t cave, etc. That analysis was wrong.

    I hope that going forward, there will be a greater acceptance of critiques from the left whenever Obama takes a weak stance when confronting Republicans.

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