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Republicans Backing Away from Debt Ceiling Brinksmanship, to Hold Line on Sequestration and Budget

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A important shift in the Republicans’ negotiating stance over the austerity fight (do we go Dem lite or Republican high test?) was duly noted in the Financial Times a day ago, but a search in Google News (“debt ceiling”) suggests a lot of other commentators have not yet digested its significance, so it seemed worthy of a short recap here.

Although extremism and brinksmanship have become preferred negotiating tactics of the Republicans, the most relentless practitioners are under the sway of libertarian funders and stealth organizers, primarily the Koch brothers, and intellectual leaders (not quite an oxymnoron) like Grover Norquist. In the new year, some elements of the Republican party have been taking more and more extreme positions, even saying that defaulting on US Treasuries would be a good idea, hewing to the “execution at dawn focuses the mind” school of thought.

Although financial markets didn’t yet take that bluster seriously, if it went on any length of time, they might have. Fitch bothered sending a warning shot, effectively indicating they regarded this sort of talk as bluster, but if anyone got serious, they’d review US debt ratings. The reason that was significant isn’t so much that it would affect bond yields (the Fed has been keeping a lid on them of late) but that the possibility of a downgrade by a second rating agency could widen repo haircuts on Treasuries and government guaranteed bonds, and the effects would ripple through the entire financial system.

The Kochs apparently decided things were getting out of hand. As the Financial Times reported late Tuesday:

A conservative activist group backed by the industrialist Koch brothers is urging Republicans to show restraint during US debt ceiling negotiations, representing a shift in position by the usually hardline Americans for Prosperity.

The move by the influential group underscores concern that a political stand-off over extending the US’s borrowing limit, which many Republicans are pushing for at the end of February, would diminish public support for sharp cuts in government spending, AFP’s stated goal. AFP opposed an agreement that raised the debt ceiling in 2011 because it said the deal did not go far enough to cut spending.

“We’re saying calibrate your message. Focus on overspending instead of long-term debt,” said Tim Phillips, president of AFP. “Focusing on [the debt ceiling] makes the messaging more difficult.”

Readers are welcome to correct me, but I have yet to see Grover Norquist weigh in either way on this recommendation, so for the moment, it looks like he is tacitly supporting this shift.

Now that does not mean that all Tea Party members will abandon the debt ceiling hostage taking approach, but with the Kochs herding the most recalcitrant members into line, the battle line is shifting away from the debt ceiling (oh, there will be posturing, but a deal will get done) to the sequester (which kicks in March 1 unless no new agreement is reached) and the budget (end of March, which would lead to a shutdown if no pact is in place, but bills would continue to be paid, unlike running into debt ceiling constraints). The current fallback hoped for by more aggressive Republicans is to tie any debt ceiling raises to spending cuts (difficult to see how that could be agreed in enough detail to work by mid February, even if the Democrats were willing to play ball) and or only raise the debt ceiling enough to accommodate debt service (no way would Senate Democrats agree). So effectively the complexity of the bargaining has been reduced and the first difficult deadline is not the as early as mid February debt ceiling limit but the beginning of March sequester. In other words, the parties are steadily moving towards negotiating, as opposed to engaging in theatrics.

As unpleasant as this scheming is to follow, remember that lulling the public into “wake me when this is over” works to the plutocrats’ advantage. So don’t change the dial when the austerity debate comes on.

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44 comments

  1. Jefemt

    Is there a proposed budget? Seems like almost as long that we haven’t seen a budget as we haven’t seen a Declaration of War?Maybe obscured by the stacks of all those Executive Orders? I’m getting tired of my Cynical Self….

  2. Norman

    How about austerity for business, plutocrats, oligarchs, and just to be fair, all C.E.O.s whose income exceeds $1million and all the others who also receive such comensation. That should be fair, at least a start anyway.

  3. jake chase

    I continue to believe the entire ‘fiscal cliff’ chirade is just a maneuver to preserve the Bush tax cuts at the highest end. The ultimate bargain will let everyone in on this sordid joke being sold as ‘shared sacrifice’, which reminds me about what some Frenchman said about justice involving laws which deny both rich and poor the right to sleep underneath Paris bridges.

    1. Glen

      I think you’re right, but they’ve already won a high measure of permanence with the tax rates so now the Koch’s are targeting the last of the New Deal – Social Security, etc. Obama has shown more than once his desire to cut New Deal and Great Society programs and has repeatedly offered up cuts.

      So now the Koch’s are weighing getting those cuts against having the Tea Party muck up US debt. Odds are Obama will once again offer cuts and maybe finally get his deal to “protect” the future of said programs.

      It really does remind one of the old Vietnam war statement, “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it”.

  4. David Lentini

    The continuing crisis circus over the phony debt ceiling issue and the various equally phony patches applied to “fix” the issue increasingly remind me of the EU’s on going high drama can-kicking. Apparently nearly all of the Western world is now governed completely by kabuki; the idea of governance for the people is all be dead.

  5. Synopticist

    The bosses Koch are powerful guys, we’ll get to see how powerful.

    The question is, are the Tea party nothing more than the Koch’s bitches, or do they have agency, an independence of their own?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Teabaggers and even much of the GOP farm team is recruited from a profile created by Newt Gingrinch and his cronies starting in 1985 after the GOP failed to give Reagan coattails. These are people who are loyal to the myth of Reagan and the proto-Rush audience. They aren’t Stalin backers. I see them more like the Brownshirts Hitler did away with when he took power. Yes, they may agree, but they believe they own the “revolution.”

      Palin wasn’t laughed off the ticket because these people are nuts. They may be useful to the Kochs, but if the Kochs disagreed, they won’t win with the purer element. I don’t think the Koch’s can go against one of the GOP commandments and win. Without Norquist pointing out, the tax deal was actually nothing but tax cuts, I bet the GOP would be holding hands and weeping whereever they buried Reagan in protest.

      1. Synopticist

        Yeah, Brownshirts rather than Stalinists, good analogy.
        But the possible default/freeze followed by crashing markets and another downgrade is something the plutocrats would f*cking hate, regardless of whatever rightwing blowhard posturing says. It would cost them serious money, after all. The Kochs must be getting a few fellow 0.1 %ers ringing them up and bitching.

        I just wonder whether the Kochs can cool the wingnuts down, if they want to. They surelly CAN, along with the monied interests, get Rush and Fox and the like to STFU, but it’ll be interesting to see if the rest of the wingnut sphere fall into line, along with congress.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I don’t think the Koch element has the means to get rid of them or even control them. I think I’m getting this from John Dean’s Conservatives without Conscience. I haven’t read since it came out, but his basic premise was conservative leaders have absolute authority for something new but they can’t violate certain commandments or they will be shown the door. With Reagan as their Messiah, they can’t fall under the sway of a new leader. Even W. couldn’t put his pal on the Supreme Court; whether she was obviously stupid or just a woman, conservatives wouldn’t go for it. Democrats didn’t stop Miers. Conservatives did.

          Immigration reform, I don’t trust W., so I wasn’t at a terrible loss over this, but conservatives stopped it because America needs to be pure or something. Even SS privatization was stopped by America’s current seniors and early boomers who are very conservative at this juncture. These people were conservative in their 20′s too.

          The had W. stickers. They had dolls with exaggerated proportions of W. They made elaborate fantasies about how George W. Bush is Batman, but W.’s fiercest opposition came from his followers when W. kind of went against the commandments or them personally.

          They won’t stand for Obama because he is not white and a Democrat, and much of the conservative zeitgeist is directed around pissing off Democrats/perceived liberals. If there is another Lehman like event, Bush won’t be providing cover for a bailout. It will be the Democrats theoretically in charge, and the GOP has been hammering the bailouts since day 1. The GOP rank and file will go crazy. Not working with the President was the primary motivator as to why Obama couldn’t get a single Republican vote after more or less announcing he would only pursue Republican “ideas” on healthcare and renounce the more popular Democratic campaign platform. The only solution for the Kochs will be to support the President’s position, and once they support the BLACK PRESIDENT, they will become pariahs to the conservative followers for violating the sacred commandment. There is no great conservative leader out there who could provide cover or convince them to work with the President.

          1. Synopticist

            This is very astute stuff, NTG, but…

            It’s a plutocrats’ party. In a very real sense, the big money IS the republican base. Or a big chunk of it, anyway. And they don’t want a downgrade, with the margin calls on repos and what have you.

            The reps have a brand new problem now. Pre-Tea party, the sane, mainstreet conservatives (or their financial backers) were ultimatelly in charge. Now the wingnuts have seized power from them, representing, as they do, a majority within the party.
            So even though the Tea party was a wild success, winning a majority and gerrymandering congress to such an extent they’ll almost certainly hold it for at least another 8 years, the big money may not be able to control it any longer.

            To me, the likeliest outcome is that elected republicans end up doing what the money tells them to, rather than what their wingnut voters want. After all, it’s plutocrat cash which is needed to primary them.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            I believe, BELIEVE not necessarily think, the GOP hasn’t entirely been in control by the plutocrats. This is demonstrated by the 1976 and 1980 Republican contests. The Plutocrats weren’t united, and there was a growing Southern/Christian/2nd Klan influence in the party.

            W. comes along, and I think W. united both parts. I don’t think Jeb would have been able to steal an election because he would not have spoken to the fundies the way W. did because he isn’t one of them. W. is a drunk who gave up alcohol for Christian fundamentalism. W.’s last name made him the right candidate for the plutocrats, so he never had money issues or well-funded opponents when he announced. W. could lead this alliance because he connect to Reagan, Billy Graham, have an appreciation for the South, and be a preppie all at once.

            So I jump to 2007. I look at the candidates, and I saw the Blue Blood Romney not receive support. Catholics didn’t want to vote for a protestant minister. Mormon voters had a guy, so they weren’t going to thump for Hucklebee. Paul was energetic enough to waste energy, and I think the people of New Hampshire settled on McCain with so much energy being devoted to the Dem. primary. Now we jump to 2012. The Blueblood, plutocratic candidate never stopped running, but the GOP followers looked high and low for someone to be the anti Romney. At one point, Ricky Santorum, a man described as the dumbest Senator, made it a contest. They even tried out a black guy and a woman. Even a blah candidate like Huntsman got into the race. People were begging a morbidly obese who takes a golf cart to check on the mail to run for President. Pawlenty was in the race for a time.

            This is how I see the GOP. If Koch element, not necessarily the Koch’s themselves, had the control they thought they did/they would like, Romney would have had the board clear. Their people were looking for someone else, but most of these guys were damaged goods. Newt came out of the woodwork for a while.

          3. Synopticist

            Sure, but Rmoney did win in the end, and the whole Citizens United, super-PAC plutocrat cash thing has changed the nature of the party. The machine always seemded to be behind him.
            Mind you, Perry would have walked it if he didn’t expose himself as a f*cking idiot. But wasn’t he the moneys second choice after Romney?
            I totally agree with you about Bush the Younger. Texas, God, blueblood, Karl Roves’ brain, dynastic succession and lots of cash. He had everything.

          4. NotTimothyGeithner

            I’m not certain about Perry. There is some Democraticish blogger who wrote about Texas politics and the rise of W. It may have been Molly Ivins, but what is missing from the conversation about W. and now Perry (Ivins is dead, so she wouldn’t have written about this; I’m way too anti- Democrat at this point to keep up with GOP shenanigans) was that they represented a widespread revolt against both parties. On one hand, they revolted against the old GOP guard. I don’t remember that relationship, so I can’t expound on it too much. Perry and other Democrats who switched were lusting for power and moved against Anne Richards who ruled the Democrats with an iron fist despite the appearance of being a cookie mom. I think W. is sort of a blood traitor except he ended up winning which changes the dynamic because he brought in a new legislature.

            There is a whole thing about politics being local which I admit is a cop out, but W. was part of a rebellion of sorts, kind of like when my mom’s youngest sister co-opted the family christmas from her sister who took over in my mom’s absence. Relationships which go beyond “D” and “R.”

      2. saurabh

        I’m not suggesting that the two are equivalent, but discussions of the nefarious influence of the Koch Brothers sometimes sounds to me like the Democrats’ version of the Republican George Soros scary bedtime story. Can you lay out the argument that there is a measurable difference between the two cases?

        1. Synopticist

          The Kochs astro-turfed the tea pary into existence. They’re embedded into the republican right in a way that Soros doesn’t come near.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/06/koch-brothers-2012-obama-fundraising-seminar_n_950443.html

          Can you find George Soros holding similar events of spending even a fraction of what is being spent on political causes? The answer is a resounding no. Maybe the experts at the history channel could find the lack of evidence as a sign there secret meetings. If you want to slum on the internet, much of the rightwing attacks around Soros revolve around his religion/ethnicity.

          Its like the conflation of unions and CEO donations to political causes. Its generally an absurd comparison.

          Google Soros and Google the Koch Brothers. You don’t have to use google, but outside of strictly right wing new sources you can’t find similar comparisons in scale or scope. There is a reason for it. If there was stuff out there, FoxNews would be on it constantly.

    2. Min

      The original Tea Party was coopted long ago. 40% of it was Dems. Where are the Democratic Tea Party candidates?

  6. Brooklin Bridge

    This is a good summary of where we stand right now. Republican extremists saved us from the clutches of cat-food in 2011 and the owners got the message.

    Both political “sides” think they can get it done this time; they are really going to go for the social safety net. The right by not going overboard and the sellouts, the Dems, the Vichy slime, basically by the same thing that got them re-elected; being the lessor of two evils along with their swine song: “Both sides must share the sacrifice”.

    That and a gulled public who’s just waiting for this to be over and a media where literally flocks of canaries come out of its maw whenever it opens it. And of course if they don’t get away with it this time, they will simply keep on going relentlessly until they do.

    This is all insane of course. And it is going on against an even more insane, but no less real, backdrop of utter denial of the consequences, never mind the existence, of global warming, climate pollution, and resource (such as water) contamination/depletion. Chris Hedges has a somewhat less than cheerful way of describing it in, The Myth of Human Progress.

  7. briansays

    both sides including the democrats seek to protect the pentagon from sequestration its just that the democrats are trying to be more duplicitous about it so as to not offend their base while preserving the corporate welfare and campaign contributions

  8. Cynthia

    It seems pretty silly for Obama to be talking about cutting Social Security when Social Security is totally exempt from automatic spending cuts, aka sequestration. All Obama has do to get the Republicans on board to lifting the debt limit is to approve of the sequestration cuts, which largely involves making single-digit, across-the-board spending cuts to Medicare and the Defense Department. Unless these cuts aren’t enough to please Republicans, which I don’t think is the case, Obama has no good reason to propose spending cuts to Social Security.

    1. Min

      Except that Obama has had his sights on Social Security for a long time. The backlash against his recently proposed cuts may save it for now, though.

  9. Dan Kervick

    As unpleasant as this scheming is to follow, remember that lulling the public into “wake me when this is over” works to the plutocrats’ advantage. So don’t change the dial when the austerity debate comes on.

    Exactly right, Yves. Note that if the Republicans drop the debt ceiling ultimatum then many Democrats, not following the underlying budget issues closely but dazzled by theatrics, will conclude that Obama has “won”.

  10. Max424

    Agree. Arguably, the end of progressive taxation* has always been goal number one for our neo-liberal friends.

    I looked up the quote. Google is the best thing since puffed pastries (you’re number 3, btw):

    “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids both the rich and poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” (Anatole France: The Red Lily, 1894)

    *Destroying all human goodness is running a close second.

    1. Ms G

      “Progressive” taxation ended when FICA started. And it ended even more when Greenspan little group increased FICA (and the annual increases of income subject to FICA).

      FICA is the only tax (well, Medicare too) for which there is no loophole (e.g., shell companies, offshoring, off-booking, philanthropy, etc.) For any of us working persons it has always been the biggest piece missing from our paycheck. And somehow its scope was never extended to all types of income or levels of economic wealth. Even though the revenues from FICA have been used for general government expenditures (!)

      “Progressive” taxation is also a myth when you look at the income tax brackets which disproportionately shaft everyone under $100K (who, coincidentally, is *also* carrying the FICA burden).

      This has been an elephant in the room for so long.

      Compare and contrast

      1. My Wag

        Totally agree. The Greenspan Commission was what shifted more of the burden to the least able to pay.

  11. Aquifer

    Well, it’ll be interesting – whoever said politics was boring just wasn’t paying attention (as is pretty obvious from what we do at the polls ..)

    So the young and hungry Reps, in ’11, in the name of desiring to give their arch enemy Obama nothing, zip, zilch, not even a crumb off the floor, turned down the deal of a lifetime – the big juicy prizes of SS/Med that Obama was handing them on a plate, practically shoving it down their throats – after which, having been whacked soundly about the head and shoulders and sent to their chambers without dinner by the older “wiser” Reps who told ‘em “shucks we coulda had a V8!” are now considering whether they are willing to allow Obama the appearance of a victory…

    Obama, if not as himself, ’cause WTF does he care, at least as the titular head of his floundering party, needs to at least “appear” to win something – but it seems that the Reps, having been reined in a bit by their handlers, who may have noticed that O is in no position to bargain at this point, are backing down, so, not only would it be rather obvious that he didn’t have to whack SS/Med to “save the country from the disaster of default”, but his own party might well not back him in this attempt …

    So, if the upstart Reps can be convinced that to get a bigger prize down the line, they have to let O “win” this one, then … But that may be a big IF … if Reps as toddlers, who are notorious for having little or no capacity for delayed gratification, have picked up a bit of discipline …. Frankly, i would rather like to see these guys “stand up for their principles – damn the torpedoes, full speed a head!” And let the excrement hit the oscillating air accelerator ….

    Time for more popcorn ….

    1. Eric377

      Republicans are dreamy idealists. The situation is very good for them to put together all variety of deals that would put enormous strains on Democratic groups and they seemingly waste their time with stupid fantasies like not raising the debt ceiling. They ought to do it tomorrow without any comment and then set to work on prying apart the Democratic base bit by bit everytime any legislating is called for. Get the internal tension high in the Democratic tent and then see if PPACA comes a cropper as it really goes into effect. That’s the way forward for these jokers, but no, actual practical evilness seems beyond them.

    2. different clue

      The only way “his own party” won’t back him in the attempt is if enough Democrats-to-matter come to understand that enough-voters-to-matter will abandon the Democratic Party and all its officeseekers if any harm or even any changes at all come to our survival benefits. Many (how many?) of the so-called “Democrats” are Catfood Democrats.
      Are the SS Democrats enough to sabotage and prevent any trace of the BS Obama Catfood Plan from passing the Senate?

  12. mac

    I find the bottom line of all this is that most of our political carrying on is of no consequence, the dire things as predicted fail to happen and time marches on.

    1. Max424

      I’m going to take a wild shot at this one. I predict the answer will be, yes! Giggle.

      Too much complexity. What a joke. At it’s core, the 12 trillion dollar housing bubble was the simplest con of them all.

      1. Klassy!

        I guess I posted in the wrong place, but then again, it doesn’t matter…it’s all related… somehow.
        But, you’re right– bubbles are pretty simple.

    2. Ms G

      Not again. Hasn’t MSM drowned us with the messaging that nothing these guys did was “criminal” (aka, that criminal looting by financiers and insurers is just not a crime in America)?

      This is probably going to be a Macy’s Parade of the unctuous Obama “enforcers” (Holder, Breuer, Khuzami, Famous White Collar Defense Lawyers, et al.) whining about complexity and how we are an ignorant lynch mob crying for scalps.

      Hoping against hope that Bill sees fit to challenge that iron curtain of lies.

  13. docG

    Much as I hate to toot my own horn :-)

    Here’s what I wrote on this matter last year:

    “So. No WAY are the puppet masters going to allow their puppets to force “big government” into a great big huge default. Their dirty little secret is that they need big government. But they need it to do THEIR bidding, not the bidding of US citizens. Which is why they invented the Tea Party in the first place. But the Tea Partyers have gotten drunk on the illusion of power. They actually think THEY are running things — but they are not. So there is no WAY the debt limit will not be raised.” (http://amoleintheground.blogspot.com/2011/02/reading-tea-leaves.html)

    And in fact the debt limit WAS raised last year. And will be this year. For the same reasons.

    So thank you, Yves, it’s nice to see we agree for a change.

    1. JTFaraday

      Exactly. Neoliberalism is a positive program of governance, and their government is gargantuan.

      They don’t care about the debt–they love the debt, they make money off the debt– they only care about contriving ever more creative ways to have all the government spending end up in their pockets.

      That’s the point. That’s the thing to keep your eyes on at all times.

  14. Peter T

    The shift from debt ceiling to spending bills is appropriate for both sides. Please note that the platinum coin way to remove the debt ceiling wouldn’t have done anything about the fight about spending. Let the Republicans explain why they won’t work with a continuing resoluytion and let them make suggestions what they want to cut NOW (and not in some future when the current lawmakers don’t have to face the voters anymore).

  15. Paul Tioxon

    I may follow this political wrangling more than most, I scan a mixed bag of local print and broadcast media, as well as cable news, the both NBCc with a good helping of France24, RT well, you get the point, I make news junkies sick.

    I am about to utter words so unnatural I may need to monitor my left arm for tingling and my eyes for tics but here goes:

    I just reviewed Grover Norquist’s Twitter Feed. Slow, deep abdominal breath. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
    Okay, sorry for the digression.

    There is no discernible change in the mission statement of Americans for Tax Reform. He makes many statements and MSNBC particularly likes to point out Grover’s squirming, but although law makers in Washington DC are putting daylight between themselves and the Pledge, Grover is eternal, kind of like Rome.

    Plan or be Planned For. Grover, is sticking with the plan.
    No tax increases, unless of course organized political opposition overpowers or out maneuvers you. That’s what happened on New Year’s. So, onto further down the road and keep on keeping on. From a newspaper interview 01.11.2013…….

    http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/grover-norquist-fiscal-cliff-compromise-honey-win-republicans-taxpayers

    “Let me tell you why I’m so happy, and why thinking, serious Democrats like Robert Reich and Peter Orzsag are so miserable.

    “First, no Republican voted for a tax increase. … This was a very smart operation …

    “The Bush tax cuts lapsed at midnight on the 1st (of January). That means every House Republican who voted for the Senate bill was voting to cut taxes and was keeping the pledge. By voting ‘yes,’ they were reinstating the Bush tax cuts,” Norquist said. “And here’s the real prize of all … they were making those tax cuts permanent. After 12 years, nobody is going to play around with them without the involvement of the House, the Senate and the president.”

    So, Grover’s Happy. How happy is he?

    To keep his pledge signers sweating under the klieg lights, he is promoting his latest high minded petition to have transparency in the debt negotiation process, by having it broadcast on C-Span. That should keep back room deals and harsh language at a fever pitch, as Ds and Rs face off in front of the public before the unblinking camera.

    The whole world is watching. The whole world is watching.

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/norquist-put-secret-debt-ceiling-talks-on-c-span/article/2518480

    So, on to step 2: Some more of G-Money on the debt ceiling.

    “What happened was, Obama was holding a sword over the heads of the American people. We knew he was never ever going to consider entitlement reforms. We knew if you allow the president and the Democrats to raise taxes, they’re not going to deal with spending. Sixty-three percent of Americans think we need restraint on spending. We certainly do. That’s why it’s absolutely paramount to contain taxes.”

    Norquist said making the tax cuts permanent is only the first of four critical steps to survive the cliff. The next is sequestration, two months away, when a $1.2 trillion spending cut becomes automatic. The last two steps are debt ceiling and continuing resolution. “The power is now on our side for those fights,” he said.

    There are a lot of Ds who are not happy with not having resolved this extortionate maneuver. Grover sees it as his trump cards, his end game. Obama says no more Mr Nice Guy.
    What happens when an unbreakable pledge meets an irresistible determination in a newly elected President in his last term?

    I don’t practice psycholism, I am afraid there are personal laws of power about to be played out according to time honored rules. When you obtain power, you reward your friends. I believe in Obama’s case, the more important corollary is that you punish your enemies. And then there is the all important X FACTOR, in this case, the child massacre in Newtown, CT. I don’t believe that there is any wrong or right side of history. But I do believe the R’s first in the rape, illegal alien and 47% ideology and now in the almost beyond belief response of the NRA, are self destructing in ways that can only be seen from an evolutionary standpoint: America is mutating and the Rs just are not set up to survive in the new environment. I do not believe there will enough of an adjustment for anything but more intransigence and automatic sequestration, resulting in massive military cuts, hurting primarily the republican Sunbelt mid-level military sub-contractors. And of course, anyone that gets in the way of the emotional juggernaut emanating out of the gun control debate. Power is interlinked, and right now, everything is going against what was the strong suit of the Rs. It just the way it is, and if Obama can capitalize on it, and I know he can smell blood as well as I do, and if the Rs keep pretending it is DAWN IN AMERICA, there is no reason for the next 2 years of negotiations to be any less ideologically grounded by the Rs and Obama and the Ds taking full advantage. Also, if there is one more monster storm over the next 2 years, anywhere in America, there better be tractor trailers of republicans showing up with blankets, coffee and ice or whatever people need, within hours, just to show they have a heart.

    1. Paul Tioxon

      Hmm, more interlocking directorships than even I thought possible. Grover is a lifelong member of the NRA and currently on their board of directors, along with John Bolton, Oliver North ex sex scandal bathroom cruiser US Senator, Larry Craig. Who knew? It seems Grover is tweeting that the this whole gun control dustup is Obama using the old magician’s trick of misdirection, to keep the whole debt ceiling thing strung out. Is this like the Reichstaag fire being staged sort of Hitlerian trick? Hmmm.

      Grover Norquist ‏@GroverNorquist

      Obama now:pass the debt ceiling and we’ll talk. In movies: bad guy says, “put down the gun and we’ll talk.” Then jumps the disarmed hero.

      That tweet is from jan14. Nope, not enough interlocking directorships between Koch and Grover. Maybe I just gave them a good idea. Still, debt ceiling as a choke point to choke the Dems.

    2. LucyLulu

      I tend to follow this stuff more than I should, too. I’m remodeling my house and listen to news in the background. I agree with your assessment, Paul. Unless the Rep’s change course, they’re on a path of self-destruction, going the way of the Whigs. The latest is Rand Paul talking about impeachment and Obama being a king, his executive actions r/t gun control being unconstitutional, though he hasn’t identified anything in particular. Hell, Paul was talking impeachment before Obama even came out with his plan. Paul used to be one person in Congress I admired as being honest and sticking to his principles, even if I didn’t share them. He’s become another political hack, eyes set on bigger and better things. Yeah right. Not going to happen by associating with fringe elements and acting wacko (that’s a technical psych term). Paul Ryan is becoming leader in House of Tea Party types, now that’s funny. There isn’t a deficit balloon bill he didn’t vote for. Nobody really cares about the debt. If another disaster comes, any legislator from the affected area will surely vote for aid, no matter how Tea Party they are. If not from affected area, then they vote no. Tea Party folks always want any perks that benefit them, they just don’t want anybody else to get them. Republicans refused to comment on Newtown shooting until NRA came out with their statement a week later, then none denounced LaPierre’s off-the-wall solution. Now they defend the latest over-the-line commercial with Obama’s children. No way that the ban on assault weapons or limit on magazine capacities will pass through the House. But their lack of compassion, selfishness, not so subtle racism and sexism, and refusal to call out crazy members will do the conservative Rep’s in, even with their gerrymandered districts.

      Obama may have had plans to make cuts to entitlement programs his first term but the Rep’s were united in a solid front to make sure he didn’t get anything he wanted done, whether it was something they wanted or not. They cut off their nose to spite their face. Obama isn’t as free to make cuts as he was then. Democrats feel empowered by the election results and he’s getting more blowback. I expect more gridlock, and little in the way of legislation being passed, including cuts.

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