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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

 
QOTD: Erick Erickson

by digby
"You will see no defunding of Obamacare because Republicans are giving up."
Hahahaha. No, Erick, you will see no defunding of Obamacare because it was a delusional goal that was never going to happen in a million years. In fact, making this round about Obamacare instead of the budget pretty much ensured that you far right wingnuts were going to be publicly humiliated.

What were you smoking? Barack Obama was never going to repeal, delay or defund a law that everyone in the country calls Obamacare. The idea that you could make him do that with only the power of the rump Tea Party caucus in one house of congress just shows that you need to get out more.

Moreover, you are missing the forest for the trees, you silly fellow:
Look, these were the guys who thought sequestration was a great win for them and who made 85 percent of the Bush tax cuts permanent. You shouldn’t spend too much time thinking you’re dealing with political geniuses here...Sequester is the big win. It defines the decade... --- Grover Norquist
Sahil Kapur lays it out:
... [W]hat is actually up for grabs: how much the government will spend when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. But conservatives were so successful at putting Democrats on defense over Obamacare that Democrats barely even waged a fight on spending.

The House-passed continuing resolution funds the government through Dec. 15 at a spending level of $986.3 billion, roughly what the government is currently spending after the sequester. Senate Democrats plan to strip out the bill's language that prohibits funding for Obamacare, but senior aides privately concede that they'll reluctantly accept the sequester level and won't risk a shutdown for higher spending. The White House has steered clear of using its primary leverage -- a veto threat -- to unwind the sequester.

The Budget Control Act calls for a fiscal 2014 spending level of $1.058 trillion, before the sequester cuts that to $967 billion. The sequester would bring down the spending level to $967 billion either way. Senior Democratic aides insist this is temporary and the low spending levels won't be locked in. But voting to establish a lower top-line spending level in the short term cedes their leverage to ultimately scrap sequestration cuts.

"By extending last year's post-sequester levels, Speaker Boehner is trying to lock those additional spending cuts into place and create a new baseline from which future negotiations must begin," read the CAP brief, written by President Neera Tanden and economic expert Michael Linden. "Having Congress adopt those levels in the short term is likely to make it easier for conservatives to keep those cuts in place for the long term."

The sequester was designed to be a sword of Damocles that forced both parties to strike a deficit-reduction agreement. The cuts were never supposed to be permanent -- neither side liked the thoughtless way they were apportioned. But where Democrats still want to replace it with a mix of targeted spending cuts and new tax revenues, Republicans have decided they'd rather maintain the sequester-level spending than give up even a penny in new taxes.

It's largely unheard of for a party that controls only the House to threaten a shutdown to demand the party controlling the Senate and White House gut its signature legislation. And yet that's where conservatives, through scorched-earth tactics and a fierce pressure campaign directed at reluctant GOP leaders, have steered the debate.

None of this means the battle is a win-win for the GOP. The squabble over Obamacare is hurting the party politically by shining a light on its deep divisions over tactics. It'll hurt Republicans even more if the government shuts down, polls suggest. But on the substance, conservatives are poised to score another victory in the real fight that has torn Washington apart since 2011 -- just months after they were crushed in an election.

And on top of that, the right wing proved that its iron grip on the GOP leaders, particularly in the House, remains as strong as ever, by coercing them into a dead-end Obamacare fight that even they wanted to avoid because they knew it would be irrational and self-defeating for the party. But they're poised to score a big policy victory anyway.
Democrats are going to get another bite at the apple in the negotiations leading up to January 15th, where they hope to use the defense cuts (which are heavily weighted in that round) to force some sequester relief. That means the dynamic is going to change substantially with the GOP on the more familiar ground of demagoguing defense spending and "supporting the troops". But keep in mind that Democrats aren't exactly immune from those arguments either. Here's the president back in 2012:
President Barack Obama said on Friday a bipartisan panel's deficit reduction recommendation went too far on spending cuts, especially for defense, but set the right tone by also proposing revenue increases.

Obama said the plan put forward by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission - and held out by some as a model compromise that distributes the pain evenly - cut defense spending too deeply.

"They wanted ... defense cuts that were steeper than I felt comfortable with as commander in chief," he said.
That doesn't mean Democrats can't prevail, of course, but it's important to keep in mind that negotiation will not be a replay of this round. Just as they have been doing successfully with abortion rights, the GOP will instead launch an incremental campaign to destroy Obamacare and will take new terrain one battle at a time --- screaming all the way about how they are powerless and persecuted. It's how they roll. The question in the short term will be, as it has been since sequestration was first proposed, if it can achieve what it was designed to achieve:
From Gene Sperling to Bob Woodward on Feb. 22, 2013

Bob:

...The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand barain with a mix of entitlements and revenues (even if there were serious disagreements on composition) was part of the DNA of the thing from the start. It was an accepted part of the understanding — from the start. Really. It was assumed by the Rs on the Supercommittee that came right after: it was assumed in the November-December 2012 negotiations. There may have been big disagreements over rates and ratios — but that it was supposed to be replaced by entitlements and revenues of some form is not controversial. (Indeed, the discretionary savings amount from the Boehner-Obama negotiations were locked in in BCA: the sequester was just designed to force all back to table on entitlements and revenues.)

I agree there are more than one side to our first disagreement, but again think this latter issue is diffferent. Not out to argue and argue on this latter point. Just my sincere advice. Your call obviously.

My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize.

Gene
Needless to say, sequestration vs entitlement cuts isn't exactly win-win for the people. And some token "revenue" won't make up for it, either way.

Update: One excellent outcome in all this is that Ted Cruz had turned himself into a loathed figure among the Party establishment that is needed to help finance any successful national campaign. He'll still run and the faithful will follow. But unless he tempers his clownishness very quickly, his new role is to be the Michele Bachman of the Senate. That's quite an achievement.

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