It has been obvious for some time that this autumn would be a contentious period in Congress. The most significant, and most immediate, issues to be resolved were approval or disapproval of the nuclear deal with Iran and the passage of a Continuing Resolution to keep the government in operation past September 30. Not much further down the road are the need to increase the debt ceiling and the issue of highway funding. All of that would have been quite challenging enough for the Republican leadership, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, dealing as they must, with not only the White House and Congressional Democrats, but the obstreperous rebels on their own right flanks. As long-time readers of RINOcracy.com will recall, our term for the latter group is the Oozlum Caucus, named for the legendary bird that flies in ever decreasing concentric circles until it flies up into itself and disappears. (See, e.g., Wikipedia.) That is, we have suggested, the kind of flight plan the Congressional Oozlums would dictate for the Republican Party. […]
The 2014 elections produced an outpouring of commentary and analyses from the Cacophony of Pundits (Cf. Pride of Lions, Murder of Crows). The products of the Cacophony began with explanations to why the elections came out as they did and proceeded to consider the prospects for cooperation between President and Congress going forward. Given the volume of the punditry, it may be difficult to provide observations that readers will not have already come across somewhere else. Nevertheless, we will attempt to provide, as briefly as possible, our own perspectives. […]
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. […]
Tuesday was a good day for the Republican Party because it brought the resounding victory of Governor Chris Christie. Christie demonstrated convincingly that, even in a decidedly “blue” state, a Republican can win with an appeal that crosses economic and ethnic boundaries. As the Wall Street Journal argued, Christie is a “conservative” and not a “moderate:”
The Governor has by and large governed as a conservative reformer. He vetoed a tax increase on millionaires and capped property taxes. He pushed tenure reforms that will make it easier to fire bad teachers, and he extracted far more pension reform out of a Democratic legislature than did Democratic Governors Jerry Brown in California or Andrew Cuomo in New York.
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”). […]
Ted Cruz and the Oozlums have worked their will and the government has shutdown, at least in substantial part. (Newcomers to RINOcracy.com see Blog No. 12 for a definition of Oozlums.) Ironically, owing to the structure of appropriations laws, and arcane interpretations of the Anti-Deficiency Act, one part of the government that will not shutdown is…Obamacare. But elsewhere pain aplenty there will be.
Blog No 12 pointed out that a neither a shutdown, nor a default precipitated by a failure to raise the debt ceiling, are likely to escape punishment by the financial markets. Evidence of that result has already begun to accumulate. The losses in the stock market have thus far been manageable, but if the shutdown continues very long, or as the specter of default draws closer, the financial consequences will inevitably become more severe. At that point, Senator Cruz and the Oozlums will be widely recognized for their accomplishments as Wealthbusters. […]