Before I get to my forecast of how the Great Big US Government Shut-Down of 2013 will end… let’s start with this surprising commentary. Yipe. The following is from Fox News. It is harsh, factual, on-target… and did I mention it’s from Fox, of all places? Could Rupert be asking “what have I done?” and seeking a way out? — begin quote:
“‘Compromise,’ to these demagogues, is to mandate that Democrats scrap President Obama’s signature domestic legislative accomplishment, which was passed by Congress, signed into law by the president, upheld by the Supreme Court and ratified by voters who returned its architect to the White House last November.”
“Senate Democrats, of course, had been begging for a budget compromise for months – ever since the Senate passed its budget last spring. But Republicans rejected this attempt at compromise 18 times, refusing to allow the Senate and House of Representatives to go to a budget conference to hammer out a deal that would have put an end to this cycle of continuing resolutions,” writes Julie Roginsky.
To be clear, what this means is that the House-Senate Conference Committee on the budget was invited to meet 18 times since April and it was always the GOP that refused to attend and negotiate. Every single time. And to be clearer, the House Senate conference committee on the budget is exactly where ALL of this was, is, and always should be thrashed out, as budgets have been across the history of the American republic, instead of via loony threats and shut-downs.
Moreover, the deal that was on the table, ready to be hammered out in the conference committee, was clear, bipartisan and probably what Speaker Boehner will ask for, next week.
(1) An end to the sequester and shutdowns and debt limit threats.
(2) A substantial set of reforms to make entitlement programs more efficient and — in a few ways — more tight-fisted. The big Democrat concession.
(3) Repealing a set of maybe forty outrageous tax breaks for fat cats and specific profitable industries that never needed subsidies (e.g. oil companies) allowing some revenues to rise without raising tax rates.
(4) Perhaps just a smidge of electoral reform? Reducing the tsunami-plague of money in politics?
It is a deal that the vast majority of moderate Americans would back and we know this from huge responses in past opinion polls. Economists estimate that it might even bring the budget toward balance, at last. Only Tea Partiers who have signed the Norquist Pledge have been so enraged by the thought of increased revenue that they blocked the deal, declaring they do not want to return to the Clinton Era surpluses… what they want is to strangle government in principle.
Hence my ongoing prediction. When the heat on Republican shenanigens grows too great, the Speaker will abruptly announce that President Obama has “caved” and Democratic Senators have “allowed” the budget conference committee to meet “at last!” And because of that huge democratic “concession,” Boehner will now allow a vote on the continuing resolution on a straight up-down basis instead of under tight party (Tea) discipline, ending the shutdown and the threat of a debt ceiling crash.
And Fox will sigh with relief, then peddle Boehner’s message verbatim… though without the well-deserved and apropos finger-quotes.
Sigh. Like all forecasts, this one has odds against it. I merely deem it the topmost possibility. Or am I snagged by wishful thinking, alas?
Old Abe may have said it best in February 1860, while initially running for President. Bear in mind: today’s Republican Party is largely based (regionally and thematically) in regions that were in those days Democratic, and vice versa. In a speech to New York’s Cooper Union, Abraham Lincoln said:
“Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events. […] Under all these circumstances, do you really feel yourselves justified to break up this Government unless such a court decision as yours is, shall be at once submitted to as a conclusive and final rule of political action?”
“But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!” […]
“A few words now to Republicans. It is exceedingly desirable that all parts of this great Confederacy shall be at peace, and in harmony, one with another. Let us Republicans do our part to have it so. Even though much provoked, let us do nothing through passion and ill temper. “
Now combine this (as I suggested last time) with Lincoln’s later Gettysburg Address, calling on Americans to ensure that “government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the Earth.”
Roll that over the tongue, and ponder how bitter it must taste to the New Confederates, who recite the Fox Nostrum that “government” is evil in principle, and under all conditions! (Despite having supported it blindly when the blithering incompetents in charge were from their side.) Men (mostly) who ignore the declining deficit, or the fact that US federal tax rates are at their lowest levels in 70 years. Or that the US Federal government’s current portion of GDP is the lowest since 1940. Or the lesson of 60 centuries that most oppression came not from civil servants but owner-oligarchs. Or that our political maps — made more foul by the vicious crime of gerrymandering — show at a glance that we are mired in another phase of the American Civil War.
Just as a million poor whites marched foolishly (albeit bravely!) to fight and die for their feudal overlords in 1861, so do millions now obey mantras dished out by Rupert and his petri-prince co-owners, despising any class or cadre (e.g. scientists, teachers, civil servants and so on) who might possibly stand in the way of a new feudal order.
Ever since the fall of the outrageously evil-despicable Soviet Empire, I have seen no greater threat to the republic that I love, and the renaissance it helped engender. We need Lincoln. Or at least shall we gird ourselves to be worthy of him?