The deal that Trump suddenly struck with Democratic leaders Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi is at once promising and perilous. It is promising in that it avoided, at least for the time being, the twin disasters of a government default (failure to increase the debt ceiling) and a government shutdown (failure to approve[…]
For a week, the eyes of all Americans, from politicians in Washington to private citizens in every state in the nation, have been focused on television sets watching the disaster of Harvey unfold. The scale of the devastation pushed other stories, if not out of sight, at least from center stage. For the moment, we[…]
Donald Trump’s responses to the ugly events in Charlottesville demonstrated once again his glaring deficiencies in character, temperament and competence. As summarized in Lawfare: Commentators are debating whether he is revealing himself as sympathetic to the white nationalist program, fearful of alienating that constituency, or just unable to respond to criticism in any way other[…]
RINOcracy.com has not always been an unalloyed admirer of Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Nevertheless, credit must be given where credit is due, although being named a RINO Hero is probably an honor that neither would relish. In any case, both gentlemen deserve credit for acting with skill and courage to avoid a “crisis” over the increase in the debt ceiling. As RINOcracy.com had previously noted, the increase in the debt ceiling was inevitable, but it was not at all clear that it would be accomplished with a minimum of embarrassment to Congressional Republicans. Moreover, as events unfolded, the seemingly irrepressible Ted Cruz did his best to create that embarrassment. […]
It is an overused cliché to say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Yet how better to describe the actions of the House Republicans in insisting that they must “get something” in order to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling? It is a demand that has the intellectual gravitas of a child refusing to eat her spinach unless she is given a cookie. […]
The budget agreement reached between Senator Murray and Rep. Ryan meets the most important precept of medical ethics: Primum non nocere (First, do no harm). The agreement, if approved by the House and Senate, will avoid the harm to the country that would follow from another government shutdown. It will also avoid the harm to the Republican Party from yet another demonstration of inability to function in a divided government. […]
Senator Patty Murray and Representative Paul Ryan have drawn the short straws: they chair the Conference Committee that is charged with reaching a budget agreement that will avert a second round of crises over a government shutdown (January 15) or a collision with the debt ceiling (February 7). The entire committee, totaling 29, consists of the entire Senate Budget Committee (12 Democrats and 10 Republicans) and 7 House members (4 Republicans, 3 Democrats).
No one, it is fair to say, is overly optimistic about the outcome. If the Grinch does not steal Christmas, he will be hovering not far away. It is a positive sign that Senator McConnell has expressly ruled out the use of a shutdown, and by implication a threat of default, as bargaining chips. As he put it rather colorfully, “One of my favorite sayings is an old Kentucky saying, ‘There’s no education in the second kick of a mule.’ ” Nevertheless, Ted Cruz and his cohorts in the Senate, and the Tea Party Oozlums in the House appear to have an appetite for mule kicks that is not easily satisfied. Moreover, the Conference Committee itself is hardly lacking in gritty conservatives: 9 of the 14 Republicans, including Ryan, voted against the bill that ended the just concluded crisis. (As noted in a prior blog, however, their votes were “free” in the sense that they were not required for the passage of the bill and may not reflect a tolerance for shutdown or default.) […]
The latest episode of our Washington soap opera descended into self-parody, recalling Carol Burnett’s classic “As the Stomach Turns.” Faithful to the formula, the episode ended with the major characters surviving but faced with dire predicaments just ahead. So it was with the bill finally passed by the Senate and House to end the government shutdown and the threat of imminent default. The crisis is over, but not for long: the operation of the government has been continued only through January 15 and the debt ceiling suspended only through February 7.
The most popular phrase to describe Wednesday night’s Congressional action is “kicking the can down the road.” If the beloved William Safire were still among us, he would no doubt enlighten us as to the origin of what has now become a cliché. In Safire’s absence, Timothy Noah of New Republic used Nexis to trace the term back to arms control discussions in the eighties. Noah suggested that kicking the can down the road had not been a bad idea in the earlier context and, writing last January, argued that it might even be the best approach to the budget deficit. Indeed, even in the most recent crisis it was certainly preferable to allowing a government default or even prolonging further the shutdown. But surely enough is enough. Lurching from crisis to crisis is not only a distraction from addressing other important issues, it also deepens public cynicism, and exacts a toll on the economy when we can ill-afford such a burden. That toll could be dubbed most fittingly “The Tea Party Tax” (or in the lexicon of RINOcracy.com, “The Oozlum Tax”). […]
Matters in Washington are in such an apparently fluid state that this is not a time for extended comment. Followers of RINOcracy.com will know our view that the entire defunding/shutdown/debt ceiling gambit was ill-advised, dangerous and self-destructive. Does President Obama bear some responsibility for the present state of affairs? Of course he does. But the[…]
Watching John Boehner’s interview with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday’s This Week program brought back sad and uncomfortable memories of Pete Seeger’s stinging ballad of 1967. For younger followers of this site, Waist Deep in the Big Muddy told the story of a platoon led into a treacherous stream by a stubborn Captain who does not survive the effort. (“We were — knee deep in the Big Muddy / But the big fool said to push on.”) It was widely understood at the time to be a metaphor for Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War. […]