Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Saving Grace of Saving Face

Comes the salvage operation for the House Republican caucus:

House Republicans, increasingly isolated from even some of their strongest supporters more than a week into a government shutdown, began on Wednesday to consider a path out of the fiscal impasse that would raise the debt ceiling for a few weeks as they press for a broader deficit reduction deal.

That approach could possibly set aside the fight over the new health care law, which prompted the shutdown and which some Republicans will be reluctant to abandon.

In a meeting with the most ardent House conservatives, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, laid out a package focused on an overhaul of Medicare and a path toward a comprehensive simplification of the tax code.

Somebody blinked, in other words.

The biggest loser in all this, not surprisingly, is House majority leader Eric Cantor. It was his very vocal support from the Teabagger wing of Congress that instigated this shutdown, that continued it beyond a symbolic gesture (and made me out to be wrong, something I will not tolerate, Congresscritter!) and embarrassed the mainstream majority of the Republican party, who must now fight for its very relevance while finding a way to shut up conservatives.

John Boehner found a path out and while he was not left untouched by the idiocracy, he deflected the bulk of the contempt off him while sniping from behind the cover of the Dark Side.

So what happened? Harry Reid happened.

In the meantime, Koch Industries accused Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, on Wednesday of spreading “false information” about the company by suggesting it was behind the move to tie a demand to keep the government open only if financing was eliminated for Mr. Obama’s health care law.

“Koch believes that Obamacare will increase deficits, lead to an overall lowering of the standard of health care and raise taxes,” Philip Ellender, the company’s chief spokesman, wrote in a letter to senators. “However, Koch has not taken a position on the legislative tactic of tying the continuing resolution to defunding Obamacare, nor have we lobbied on legislative programs defunding Obamacare.”

To be honest, this was probably the single most brilliant piece of subversion I’ve seen in many years. Reid is to be applauded for dragging this out into the light. As we say in fencing, le coup de grace, the final blow was when the Koch brothers found out that there's a price to be paid when Americans are paying attention carefully.

But do a quick thought experiment. Imagine being in that meeting where Ryan unveils the exit strategy. How nasty and spiteful are things going to get?