Tuesday, October 08, 2013


In every crisis, there is a watershed moment where the solution – or at least, the denouement – appears. Thus endeth the shutdown:

Senate Democrats could introduce a bill to raise the debt limit this week, according to a Democratic aide. Considering the procedural roadblocks the measure could face, aides said they have to get the legislation rolling well before Oct. 17, when Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said the government will run out of borrowing authority.

It was uncertain whether Democrats can muster the 60 votes they would need to push a debt ceiling bill, with no strings attached, through the Senate. The measure would likely run into opposition from Senate Republicans such as Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has been leading the drive to make delaying Obama's healthcare law a condition for raising the debt ceiling.

I disagree with the Tribune in one respect: I think it will be fairly easy to get 60 votes, despite the grandstanding of Cruz. Even Rand Paul has signaled that he wants negotiations to begin in earnest to re-open the government, even if he lies and even if he clearly helped plan it. He has, I think, seen the writing on the wall, and he has to differentiate himself from Ted Cruz if he wants to make a dent in the GOP primary season in 2016. Showing himself as reasonable could garner him a lot of kudos, even as he maintains his nutcase caucus.

Meanwhile, the House Republicans continue to pass jigsaw puzzle funding of programs they like, which Harry Reid continues to ignore. This is an altogether proper way to treat little babies: let them cry themselves to sleep.

Weaker Boener continues to show himself as an ineffectual and ineffective leader, and he’s pissing off both wings of his caucus: the right and the far right. I have no doubt that come January 2015 (if not before) he’ll either be forced to resign or he’ll suffer the ignominy of being voted out as Speaker…assuming the Republicans hold onto the House, not a guarantee.

And it won’t be Teabaggers voted out. Most of them won by clear majorities, not pluralities, over centrist and even conservative Democrats in their districts. It will be moderates, and this will likely shift the House to a more liberal make up.

Ironic, then, that Karl Rove’s strategy of creating a permanent Republican majority in Congress by gerrymandering districts at the state level and polarizing election and Congressional districts could backfire so badly that the Republican party itself becomes wholly irrelevant in a very short time.