Everything you need to know about the health care crisis in this country in two outtakes.Yesterday on Fox’s “The Five” (transcript via Nexis):BOB BECKEL: But there were a lot of people who yesterday got a chance for the first time in their lives to get health insurance, and I think it's a wonderful thing. …FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY DANA PERINO: For the first time in their life? Honestly, Bob.BECKEL: No, really.
The current thinking inside the alternate reality known as the House GOP is that Republicans will try to combine the fight on the continuing resolution (which would reopen the government) with the debt limit fight (which is necessary to avoid a default) and insist on a fiscal grand bargain (presumably a deal that cuts trillions in spending) as the price of doing both.*
It’s no secret why Republicans are facing a PR debacle over the shutdown they triggered. Not only have conservatives chosen an unpopular issue on which to make a stand—polls consistently show that Americans oppose defunding Obamacare by a fairly wide margin. The Tea Partiers have exacerbated the problem by choosing a massively unpopular approach to getting their way.
Think 1996 was bad for the GOP? This time will be much, much worse
The year 1996, the last time the GOP took its toys and went home rather than fund the government, hasn’t loomed so large in Washington since it actually was 1996. Democrats, the media, and a not insignificant number of Republicans are convinced the looming shutdown will be just as disastrous for today’s GOP as the previous one was for Newt Gingrich’s.
Here’s the question to ask yourself while watching the government shutdown/debt-limit insanity play out these next few days: Is the congressional GOP a global menace, bent on destruction of an epic scale, or merely a goofy, intermittently-competent-at-best, primarily self-destructive force?
What the hell is John Boehner thinking? I don’t mean that strictly in a rhetorical sense, though it’s hard not to slap your head when you see the most powerful Republican in the country lurching from one cockamamie strategy to another. I mean it quite literally: What is Boehner’s personal calculation when it comes to navigating the various challenges—potential government shutdown, potential debt default, lunatic Republican caucus—he faces over the next few weeks?
On Monday I wrote a piece saying we’re headed for a government shutdown when this year’s funding runs out on September 30. The piece hinged on three assumptions. The first was that, unlike previous confrontations with Republicans over government funding, the White House and Democrats have little interest in avoiding a shutdown because polls overwhelmingly show Republicans would take the blame, and because the economy is strong enough to withstand it.
There were plenty of reasons to oppose Larry Summers’s nomination to the Fed, which had seemed inevitable for much of the past few months, before Summers abruptly withdrew from consideration on Sunday. There’s Summers’s famously polarizing intellectual style, which made him a lousy fit for the consensus-driven (and hyper-transparent) Fed.
And that's not all bad
Suffice it to say, it’s hard to do a deal when the only thing the other guy wants is the one thing you can’t give him. This null set scenario is, unfortunately, precisely where we find ourselves in the debate over funding the government beyond September 30th. House Republicans are insisting that any funding measure simultaneously de-fund Obamacare, while Democrats have rightly proclaimed this idea preposterous. And there appears to be no wiggle room in the GOP position.
Explaining why that speech was so muddy
Obama’s Syria speech Tuesday night was strange for a variety of reasons, not least the odd spectacle of hearing a case for military action (the first half of the speech) punctuated by a plea for diplomacy (the second half). As my colleague John Judis put it, “The speech did not have the structure of an argument, but of a television drama in which the viewer’s anxiety is finally relieved by the promise of peaceful resolution.”