We're at kind of a weird point in the shutdown/default crisis. Everyone knows Republicans have lost; it's just a matter of working out the details of how we get out of this mess. The sane ones are trying to come up with some sort of agreement that will end the crisis before any further damage is done to their party while providing something they can call a concession from the Democrats, thereby allowing them to save face, to the extent that John Boehner can hold the damn vote and claim that it isn't an abject failure.
But alas, sanity seems to be in short supply on the right side of the aisle, even at this late hour. Over the weekend, National Review reporter Robert Costa, who seems more plugged in to the House Republicans than any other journalist in Washington, tweeted the details of an emerging GOP proposal:
To decode that for you: House Republicans are proposing to allow a six-week extension of the debt ceiling, and what they want in exchange is, first, the Vitter amendment, which would take away the employer contribution to health-care benefits that congressional staff receive, making them the only people in America who are forced by the government to leave their employer-provided insurance to go to the exchanges and also deprived of the contributions the employers make; second, make the process of getting health care through the exchanges more cumbersome for everyone; and third, and most remarkable, a bill offered by Tea Party representative James Lankford of Oklahoma. Here's how he describes his bill:
The bill creates an automatic CR for any regular appropriations bill not completed before the end of the fiscal year. After the first 120 days, auto-CR funding would be reduced by one percentage point and would continue to be reduced by that margin every 90 days.
By progressively decreasing the amounts provided under the automatic continuing resolution, the bill provides continued incentives for Congress and the President to reach agreement on regular appropriations bills.
So this bill would allow Republicans to slash the government unilaterally, and there would be nothing Democrats could do about it. All they'd have to do is refuse to pass a budget, and the bill would keep the government open, but ratchet down its funding by a percentage point every three months. It's cute how he describes it as providing incentives for everyone to reach agreement on regular appropriations bills, since that's kind of like saying that if I steal $1,000 from you every week, that will provide me an incentive to find a job.
So let's recap: In this proposal, Democrats get a whole six weeks before Republicans can again threaten to plunge the world economy off a cliff, at which point they'll inevitably demand more concessions. Republicans get some spiteful thrusts at Obamacare and a bill that allows them to slash government all on their own. For some reason, they didn't also throw President Obama's resignation, the repeal of Medicare, and renaming the capital to "Reagan, D.C." into their proposal. But maybe that'll come later.
Are these people insane? To answer, let's consider that yesterday, a group of conservatives who are in favor of the government shutdown trooped to the World War II memorial to ... protest the government shutdown! Mull that over for a moment. The event was billed as the "Million Vet March on the Memorials," but turned out to be the Couple of Hundred Tea Partiers March on the Memorials. It featured a speaker who told the crowd, "to demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up," and at least one large Confederate flag, because nothing says you love America like the flag waived by traitors to the union. Ted Cruz, who is as responsible as anyone for the shutdown, was there. So was 20-aughts nostalgia act Sarah Palin.
Craziest of all is that these people genuinely believe that the American public will look at all this and decide that these people ought to be handed the reins of power so they can put their common-sense vision of governing into effect.
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