A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Tag: government shutdown

Mitch McConnell: For the LULZ

by evanmcmurry

This guy’s always on:

Look, shutting down the government, in my view, is not conservative policy. I don’t think a two-week paid vacation for federal employees is conservative policy.

Two week paid vacation, amiright? Nailed it!

In all seriousness, McConnell just stepped on a legitimate cause of the GOP’s tactical shambling, namely the extent to which awful conservative policy is rooted in the average Republican’s disdain for federal employees as personifications of the bureaucracy they claim to hate (but always expand when in power). Viewing the people—and they are people!—who work for the government as entitled slugs enables disastrous decisions like a gratuitous government shutdown; it’s much easier to capriciously shutter an institution when you think of its 800,000 employees who have bills to pay as getting hammock time. The above line, quoted by Chris Cillizza as an indicator of McConnell’s strategic comprehension, is ideological delusion masquerading as self-awareness.

Tea Party Rep Takes Founders Comparison to the End of the Line

by evanmcmurry

Ladies and gents, fallacy by analogy:

[Rep. Morgan] Griffith suggested the House should reject an unfavorable agreement from the Senate, even if it resulted in a debt default that severely damaged the economy.

“We have to make a decision that’s right long-term for the United States, and what may be distasteful, unpleasant and not appropriate in the short run may be something that has to be done,” he said.

Griffith, a former majority leader of the Virginia House of Delegates, cited as an example the American Revolution.

“I will remind you that this group of renegades that decided that they wanted to break from the crown in 1776 did great damage to the economy of the colonies,” Griffith said. “They created the greatest nation and the best form of government, but they did damage to the economy in the short run.”

Too bad he didn’t work Hitler into that.

Well, That Didn’t Work

by evanmcmurry

According to a new NBC/WSJ poll*, the GOP House’s approval rating (24%) is the lowest in the poll’s recorded history, just one day after it hit rock bottom in a Gallup poll. Meanwhile Obama’s approval rating climbed two points from last month. That’s a statistically-insignificant improvement and within the margin of error, but it also definitively douses any hopes of the backlash anticipated by Republicans who have been hammering him for not “negotiating“—and makes Obama far and away the most popular player in the shutdown showdown. (Trademark.)

Now for the real news:

The health-care law has become more popular since the shutdown began. Thirty-eight percent see the Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”) as a good idea, versus 43 percent who see it as a bad idea – up from 31 percent good idea, 44 percent bad idea last month.

That’s right, Obamacare, after a week of what even its supporters have to admit has been a desultory rollout, had an eight-point swing in favorability ratings. Imagine—imagine!—that number had there not been an asinine government shutdown distracting from the website problems.

Ted Cruz’s inexplicable credentials as a legislative strategist were just revoked. I’d say I hope he’s proud of himself, but he probably actually is.

UPDATE: WaPo notices this:

chart67

Under the Ted Cruz all-the-right-people-hate-me logic, doubling your unfavorables is good, no?

* Eternal poll caveats: polls are statistically-isolated snapshots of wavering opinion, heavily influenced by leading questions and of little long-term consequence. And to quote Homer Simpson, you can use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true.

The Anti-Cavalry Has Arrived

by evanmcmurry

No:

Obama has work to do as far as keeping the caucus in line. The Times also reported that 26 House Democrats would attend an event Thursday sponsored by the group No Labels, an organization helmed by former Utah governor Jon Huntsman and former Indiana senator Evan Bayh, a Republican and Democrat, respectively. No Labels is calling for immediate negotiations between the two parties. (via)

No.

The Most Jaw-Dropping Line About Default Yet

by evanmcmurry

So this is terrifying:

“We always have enough money to pay our debt service,” said Mr. Burr, who pointed to a stream of tax revenue flowing into the Treasury as he shrugged off fears of a cascading financial crisis. “You’ve had the federal government out of work for close to two weeks; that’s about $24 billion a month. Every month, you have enough saved in salaries alone that you’re covering three-fifths, four-fifths of the total debt service, about $35 billion a month. That’s manageable for some time.” (via)

Unless I’m misreading that, Senator Burr is suggesting that we avoid default by keeping the government closed, thereby freeing up money to plug our debt by using funds that would otherwise pay the salaries of 800,000 government employees. The phrases “every month” and “some time” suggest he does not consider this a short term solution.

Bill Kristol made the extraordinarily cynical point the other day that the GOP might as well ride out the shutdown, as the party had already absorbed the negative effects and couldn’t get any more unpopular. I guess that sounded like a wager to Burr.

For more Burr, click here.

Paul Ryan Hits It on the Head

by evanmcmurry

Apparently Paul Ryan now thinks sudden and harsh austerity measures are disruptive and traumatic to the economy. I’m sure he’s re-writing his past two budgets as we speak.

But here’s the key line that Ryan slips in. Listing previous examples of presidents negotiating over the debt ceiling, he includes:

Two years ago, Mr. Obama signed the Budget Control Act, which swapped spending cuts for a debt-ceiling hike.

Ha! So the “negotiating” Obama did during the debt ceiling debacle two years ago—at gunpoint—is now being used as a precedent to force him to “negotiate” now—at gunpoint. That’s exactly why Obama’s not negotiating now.

Today in Legislating as a Pointless Beckettian Exercise

by evanmcmurry

Hey, who missed the debate over whether Obama can/should invoke the Fourteenth Amendment to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling? It’s rock-and-hard-place politics, as it gets Obama out of the jam while handing his critics, who believe him to be a sinister usurper to begin with, a blaring example of the president snatching power of the purse for the executive, and all to continue Bush’s his reckless spending. The other option is default.

But to add to the frustrating waste of the shutdown—Republicans don’t even know what they want from it anymore, and ObamaCare rolled out on Tuesday even as the effort to defund it shuttered unrelated portions of the federal government—the debt ceiling is an especially pointless little twig of a law: “The debt ceiling is the fiscal equivalent of the human appendix—a law with no discoverable purpose,” writes Henry J. Aaron of the Brookings Institution. (Except that appendices ultimately get removed…)

We’re going through all this for literally nothing.

The New Democratic Strategy to Force a Clean CR Has a Built-in Timebomb

by evanmcmurry

The good news is the Democrats may have found a way to force a clean CR through the House despite the opposition of the House GOP leadership.

Stay with me here: the trick is called a “discharge petition,” which forces a House vote on a bill if a majority of representatives sign it. Democrats had considered using this before, but it takes 30 days for a discharge petition to mature. But Dems have discovered a previously filed bill, written by James Lankford (R-OK), that would pass sequester-level spending to avoid a shutdown; Lankford’s bill was written in March, clearing the 30-day hurdle. So a pair of Democratic reps will introduce the DP—that’s what I’m calling it now!—today, and if they gather 218 signatures from House reps, which they should be able to if all twenty GOP members who say they want a clean CR are telling the truth, the thing passes and goes to the Senate. Bam, government reopens. (<- All this via Greg Sargent.)

All good, right? For now. Here’s the bill’s language:

If Congress fails to approve a budget by the end of each fiscal year, the Government Shutdown Prevention Act would ensure that all operations remain running normally without any interruption of services by automatically triggering a continuing resolution (CR) or short-term, stop-gap spending device. 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.

Catch that last sentence? The bill has a built-in spending cut of 1% every three months. Keeping in mind that for a decent amount of GOP reps, the sequester-induced spending cuts and the 18% of government currently furloughed are not unintentional consequences but the exact sort of government shearing they’re after, introducing a bill that automatically cuts spending if Congress doesn’t get its act together to pass appropriations bills incentivizes House Republicans to never, ever get their acts together to pass appropriations bills. It guarantees future chaos at regular intervals.

2011: The Good Ol’ Days

by evanmcmurry

Following the government shutdown on Tuesday, economic confidence is at its lowest since December 2011, when it had plummeted in response to the debt ceiling crisis. The lowest before that? The 2008 financial collapse. So, great precedents all around, and good thing the House GOP shut down the government over whatever reason they had for doing that.

You look at graph now:

6ig0x9xtjkqidfctekaeag(via)

This is before the coming showdown over the debt ceiling, mind you. Whispers from the Capitol (worst romance novel ever) say John Boehner no-way-no-how will allow us to default on our debt. There’s evidence Boehner is more in charge than he appears—he kept the moderate revolt on Monday night from happening, for instance, suggesting he hasn’t completely ceded his will to power—and he definitely has the votes among his caucus to join with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling, as even a good portion of  the House GOP realize the catastrophic consequences of default. But the longer the shutdown goes on, the less predictable everybody gets…

Why The House Would Be Committing Suicide To Debate The Debt Ceiling, Reason #2

by evanmcmurry

More and more noise that the “business community,” whatever  it is, will pitch one gigantic hissy fit if the House GOP comes even close to holding the economy hostage over the debt ceiling. Combine this with the fact that doing so will be electoral poison for Republicans, and I can’t see any rational reason for them doing so. None of which, of course, means they won’t do it.