I don’ t know about you, but I don’t think the House represents us, do you? We could try something new. Well, not new exactly but more useful and germane than anything we’ve seen from the Republican dominated House. Let’s stop paying taxes.
The President seems to be on the right track.
President Obama’s aggressive Inaugural Address on Monday presented Congressional Republicans with a stark choice over the next two years: accommodate the president’s agenda on immigration, guns, energy and social programs and hope to take the liberal edge off issues dictated by the White House, or dig in as the last bulwark against a re-elected Democratic president and accept the political risks of that hard-line stance.
As Mr. Obama’s second term begins, Republican leaders appear ready to accede at least in the short term on matters like increasing the debt limit. …NYT
The Republicans may seem “ready to accede” on the debt limit, but they’re really paying games. Continuing to play games. I like the Lousiana Republican who suggests they behave normally — “We’re too outnumbered to govern, to set policy but we can shape policy as the loyal opposition.” That’s calling “doing their job.” Let’s see if it works…
The kingpin of the original obstructionism in Washington’s Steakhouse on the eve of the President’s first inauguration has changed his mind.
Newt Gingrich, the last Republican speaker to face a re-elected Democratic president, said that Republicans could not be seen as simply saying no to the president.
“You can take specific things he said that you agree with, emphasize those, and take the things you don’t agree with and propose alternatives,” he said…. NYT
Or Republicans could just pretend they never even created a “fiscal cliff.”
House Republicans are advancing a novel plan to suspend enforcement of the federal debt limit through May 18, a move that would lift the threat of a government default and relieve the air of crisis that has surrounded their budget battle with President Obama.
The measure — set for a vote Wednesday in the House — would not resolve the dispute over how to control the national debt. But after the traumatic “fiscal cliff” episode at the end of last year, it would buy policymakers a little breathing room to continue the argument without another economy-rattling deadline just around the corner. …WaPo
Yeah. But what happens a day later, on May 19?
On May 19, the debt limit would automatically be reset at a higher level that reflected the additional borrowing. Treasury officials could then begin taking what they call “extraordinary measures” to continue paying the nation’s bills, probably pushing the new default deadline into late July or early August, independent analysts said. …WaPo
A whole new irreality settles into Washington.
Greg Sargent wonders what will happen to John Boehner as a result of this switcheroo.
So the latest scheme advanced by House Republicans is to suspend the debt limit, rather than raise it, until May 18th. This will get a vote tomorrow, on the theory that this will be easier for House conservatives to support than an actual debt ceiling hike, even though they will functionally have the same effect.
Ezra Klein and Steve Benen make the crucial substantive point that if we can suspend the debt ceiling temporarily, we should suspend it permanently, to prevent this kind of brinksmanship from going wrong and wreaking economic havoc in the future.
The question now is how House Democrats react. My bet is that they will adopt a wait-and-see attitude, designed to force John Boehner to prove he can come up with the votes for it himself. It turns out this is anything but assured: John Harwood quotes one Republican member saying it’s far from certain that he has the votes, which would mean another “Plan B” fiasco and another blow to Boehner’s leadership.
It’s hard to imagine House Republicans won’t be able to get the votes to pass this extension, but really, at this point, it’s impossible to be prepared for what they’ll do. This could be seen by House conservatives as yet another cave — one coming after the fiscal cliff surrender — and this time, Republicans get absolutely nothing in exchange for backing down. So who knows. …Sargent, WaPo
As the Times editors point out, it’s not just the House that’s light years away from any definition of “enlightened,” it’s the Supreme Court as well.
When Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. congratulated President Obama after he completed his oath of office on Monday, Americans heard the cordial, affirming voice that regularly fills the courtroom of the Supreme Court. But the chief justice’s graciousness did not mean he was endorsing the president or his views.
As the president’s Inaugural Address made plain and as important rulings of the Roberts court show, the Obama and Roberts visions of America are very different. No disagreement is more fundamental than that about the connection between justice and prosperity.
To Mr. Obama, prosperity enables justice and vice versa. …NYT
Roberts — and his majority — take the opposite view.
The Roberts court, on the other hand, with the chief justice in the majority, has regularly ruled as if justice and prosperity are unrelated or even antithetical — by protecting large corporations from class-action lawsuits; by making it much harder for private lawsuits to succeed against mutual fund malefactors, even when they have admitted to lying and cheating; or by allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns and advance their narrow interests by exerting influence unjustly over government. …NYT
This deserves a whole separate blog post. On the other hand, we need Paul Krugman to remind us, right here and now, of what sanity looks like and just how out-of-place Republicans really are.
Republicans pine for the glory days of Ronald Reagan — but that was a different country, a county with a lot more raw racism, a country in which only a minority of Americans found interracial marriage acceptable. And yes, that had a lot to do with GOP political strength.
And I don’t think the right has a clue how to operate in the better nation we’ve become. ...Paul Krugman, Economics and Politics
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