Debt Ceiling Chicken and Trench Warfare

From time to time, I remarked that the summer had a 1914 feeling about it in the context of military action against Syria. It may turn out the feeling was still correct but I was looking in the wrong place.

The start of what turned out to be the Great War was not seen as a big deal at the time. Aristocratic young men signed up for combat, eager to taste a bit of battle, convinced the dust up would last only a month or two. But after the German advance, a long and devastating trench warfare set in, with both sides holding their lines for years at enormous cost in men and materiel.

In the US, despite all the media frenzy over the Federal shutdown, the attention of the insiders has already moved to the real cliffhanger: the debt ceiling impasse, which starts to bind on October 17. Treasury is already fulminating how putting the sanctity of payments on Treasury bonds in doubt is a seriously bad idea. We also have the curious spectacle of Grover Norquist making the rounds of Vichy Left outlets (see Ezra Klein and Huffington Post) to condition liberals as to where the political professionals see a budget deal shaking out. (You know we’ve past an event horizon when Norquist is playing Republican good cop). Congress passes a continuing resolution to buy a couple of months to negotiate the prize sought by both parties, the middle class shellacking Grand Bargain that “reforms”, as in erodes, Medicare and Social Security.

The wee problem here is that the two sides wanted that last year. Remember the 2011 budget fight? Obama and Boehner were trading big deficit cut numbers, with Obama at one point proposing deeper reductions than Boehner. But a deal never came together. Boehner could not deliver the House. Obama wanted some token tax increases on the rich and the Republicans would have none of it.

So what has happened since then? The Tea Partiers, in classic Mafia style, have lowered their bid as time goes on. They’ve added a delay to ObamaCare to their demands and appear unwilling to make other concessions.

In addition, Obama has been hoist on the petard of the sequester. He had hoped it would apply enough pressure to both his left flank and to the less doctrinaire Tea Party types to help him get his have old people die faster safety net cuts through. But the sequester didn’t inflict enough pain. Now the shutdown has upped the ante. But even though polls show that most Americans oppose using the shutdown as a way to force changed to Obamacare, the flip side is that those polls may not be germane to the block of intransigent Republicans in the House. As Politico describes it:

The prevailing wisdom ahead of the government shutdown was that tea party lawmakers who agitated for it would fold within a few days, once they got an earful from angry constituents and felt the sting of bad headlines. House GOP leaders called it a “touch the stove” moment for the band of Republican rebels, when ideology would finally meet reality.

But there’s another reality that explains why that thinking may well be wrong, and the country could be in for a protracted standoff: Most of the Republicans digging in have no reason to fear voters will ever punish them for it.

The vast majority of GOP lawmakers are safely ensconced in districts that, based on the voter rolls, would never think of electing a Democrat. Their bigger worry is that someone even more conservative than they are — bankrolled by a cadre of uncompromising conservative groups — might challenge them in a primary.

The Tea Party is beginning to look like the Wahhabis, a fringe sect promoted by the House of Saud to help secure their position that wound up taking on a bit too much of a life of its own.

Of course, the more sober minded argue that there is really only one obstacle to getting the deficit/debt ceiling squabble on a less dangerous negotiating path: Boehner himself. There are enough votes in the House to get the “clean” continuing resolution that Obama insists on passed. As the Washington Post explains:

There are currently 19 House Republicans on the record in support of a “clean” continuing resolution, meaning one without any other extraneous measures — like the defunding or delaying of Obamcare — attached. Combine those nineteen with the 200 Democrats who would almost certainly vote as a bloc in support of such a clean CR and you get 219 votes — a majority of the House. The bill has already been passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate, so it would go to straight to President Obama who would sign it. Shutdown over. Easy.

Except one little thing, which is that the only way for that scenario to happen is for Boehner to allow a piece of legislation supported by roughly 7 percent of his conference to come to the House floor for a vote. And, doing that on something as high-profile as a government shutdown/Obamacare, would almost certainly signal either the symbolic (or maybe even practical) end of his speakership.

The article elaborates how Boehner has pushed through other measures which had only minority support among Republicans. Both Democratic and Republican leadership in Congress just suffered a visible defeat in the effort to authorize the use of force against Syria. But the further complication is that it’s not worth it for Boehner to spend his limited political capital on the shutdown but on the debt ceiling. From a different Washington Post story:

Republicans who support the speaker argue that if he is going to antagonize the conservatives in his caucus, it would make more sense to do so on the debt-ceiling debate rather than on the funding of the government.

As painful as the government shutdown may be to some, the Treasury Department’s ability to use special measures to manage the nation’s finances will run out Oct. 17, setting up a potential default on the $16.7 trillion debt that would wreak far more havoc on the global financial markets than the shuttering of federal agencies and national parks.

Within the increasingly right-leaning GOP caucus, Boehner might survive one big vote that relied heavily on Democratic support. But two important votes — on the government funding and the debt ceiling — with mostly Democratic backing would leave the already embattled speaker on political life support.

The result is that Boehner has thrown in with the most conservative Republican lawmakers. A few dozen of them have urged holding up the government funding legislation to extract concessions from Democrats on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Boehner is signaling that he is prepared to deal on the debt ceiling. From the New York Times:

Speaker John A. Boehner has privately told Republican lawmakers anxious about fallout from the government shutdown that he would not allow a potentially more crippling federal default as the atmosphere on Capitol Hill turned increasingly tense on Thursday.

Mr. Boehner’s comments, recounted by multiple lawmakers, that he would use a combination of Republican and Democratic votes to increase the federal debt limit if necessary appeared aimed at reassuring his colleagues — and nervous financial markets — that he did not intend to let the economic crisis spiral further out of control.

They came even though he has so far refused to allow a vote on a Senate budget measure to end the shutdown that many believe could pass with bipartisan backing. They also reflect Mr. Boehner’s view that a default would have widespread and long-term economic consequences while the shutdown, though disruptive, had more limited impact.

Now given the stakes, no one wants the Armageddon of a voluntary debt default on their record. But even with Boehner getting that vote through, where does that leave the budget fight? Boehner is already looking like damaged goods. The positions of the two sides seem to be moving further apart. There might be room for face-saving compromises, like whacking Congressional staffers to appease the calls for changes to Obamacare, and some changes in corporate taxation that both sides can declare to be a victory (such as a lowering of corporate rates combined with closing loopholes; the Obama side can claim it results in a rise in effective rates when it won’t be till corporations have filed tax returns for a couple for years before the public learns whether they’ve ben able to find new ways to avoid payments).

And confirming the distance between the bargaining positions of the two sides, my DC sources said no negotiations were underway, not simply the absence of meetings, but also a lack of staff prep work. Another impediment to reaching agreement is a lack of a clear consensus among key constituencies. For instance, as much as Wall Street is eager to see Social Security whacked (less public support of old people will presumably mean more individuals will be forced to put even more into 401 (k)s and IRAs, and thus ultimately into their hands), they aren’t willing to have the economy or stock prices take too much of a hit to get there. We’re going to have two weeks of shutdown by the time we get to the scary October 17 date, and Boehner will presumably blink shortly before then. But that does not tell us how long before the shutdown is resolved. It isn’t clear how the Democrats and Republicans can come to an agreement on the budget even assuming they avoid a debt ceiling train wreck.

The next couple of months will prove to be interesting, and not necessarily in a good way. Stay tuned.

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  1. okie farmer

    I think there’s little doubt that O will offer another “Grand Betrayal”, but I don’t think it will satisfy the Tea Party crowd in the House. When O offers his GB, expect the Republicans to escalate their demands on lowering taxes, and refuse to accept O’s proposed spending cuts on entitlement programs because they don’t go far enough. Presently, Boehner is weak – I doubt he can deal effectively with his caucus, so leadership from the Speaker is likely not going to bring even a Grand Betrayal about.

    The presently gerrymandered House has little to no chance to fall into D’s hands before the 2020 census, as Politico noted above.

    Country has worst leadership in 80 years, and very little chance of that changing anytime soon. We’re in big trouble.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its amazing how gerrymandering didn’t hurt Dean’s efforts to retake the house despite. The Republicans didn’t just discover gerrymandering yesterday, and computers have been around for some time now. The gerrymandering excuse is used by Democratic elite who want to justify their own failures and not acknowledge their complicity in the disaster that was 2010.

      There are five seats the Democrats could grab in California alone with a bit of effort.

      They can’t blame Nader anymore so the target is now gerry-mandering. Its the same losers and the same failed strategy which has led to Democratic defeats across the board. Obama has had a bump by appearing to stand up to the GOP, and his poll numbers surged after he started his faux-populism in 2012. They tanked again when he started to embrace cutting Social Security after the election. There is a connection.

      1. PK Scott

        Remember the liberals who just “couldn’t bring themselves to vote for the lesser of two evils.” That jut gets you more evil. The T-Pers may not be rational but they do one thing right. They exercise outsized influence as a radical faction of the republican party because they VOTE. They vote early (in the primaries) and they vote often (in the off year and local elections.) Learn from their success. Quit nominating republican light for democratic candidates. In my experience there are a lot of conservatives who are fiscally conservative but socially liberal and the majority of Americans don’t want society where sick people are told to go die and we let children starve.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The decline in Democratic fortunes was among minorities and voters under the age of 30 in 2010. It had nothing to do with liberal critics. Liberal activists didn’t work very hard for the Democrats, but the Democrats demonstrated they didn’t want their help.

          As far as the teabaggers, they are a myth of sorts. The average Teabagger just called themselves an Christian first Republican second 8 years ago. They didn’t increase turnout in their districts on a precinct level. The same Republicans voted for them. The only real difference is the Republican leadership wasn’t George W. Bush who could bridge the gap between evangelicals and their pay masters with his status as a drunk who found Jebus. The Republican Party loves to embrace idiots and twits going back to Reagan and the Christian coalition. Its a nice story which cable news can sell and can provide cover for why Democrats seem so feckless, but the Teabaggers were nothing new.

          1. Percy

            Republicans are still doing this in Virginia with their nominations (if you haven’t noticed): Governor and AG candidates here are religious nuts and, for that reason, have no chance at all. None. Haven’t stayed home for an election since Johnson/Goldwater way back when. But will for this one.

    2. ian

      “Country has worst leadership in 80 years, and very little chance of that changing anytime soon. We’re in big trouble.”

      Salvation lies in gridlock.

  2. scott

    The Dems lost the House in 2010 because of the way Obama/IRScare was passed. O doesn’t want to face up to that reality, pretending to be the macho emperor instead.

    When the truth about Obama/IRS “Care” comes out in the next few months, public opinion will turn on it’s own. Yes, everyone will be “insured”, but at great cost, and the “care” part will be hard to find. Heck, tens of millions still think this “insurance” (not care, mind you) is going to be free.

    This isn’t the Obamaphone program. This isn’t car insurance, where you can pay for one month, get a card, and drive for 5 more months without getting caught. The IRS will make sure you pay.

    1. Jim Haygood

      It’s the mandatory aspect of Obamacare (as blessed by the Vichy Supreme Court) that grates (and defecates on the constitution). Though a 95-dollar fine in 2014 for not being covered is largely symbolic, delaying it for a year is likely to be an element of any deal.

      A year of real-world experience with Obamacare would expose its deficient marketing setup (since when has the dotgov been any good at marketing?) and its utter lack of incentives for cost control, in the least-productive rich-country health regime on the planet.

      New elections will be held in Nov. 2014 and perhaps will produce a more decisive tilt in Congress, in one direction or the other.

      Shoving through a major transformation of the health system using desperate parliamentary tactics, on a straight party-line vote, was demented. Both wings of the Depublicrat party contain ideological firebrands who don’t care about consequences, much less about lowly consumer-depositors.

      Send them to the exchanges! [the modern-day equivalent of ‘Off with their heads!’]

      1. Pokey

        The most damaging aspect of the ACA and the one now being criticized is Obama’s capitulation to Republican insistence on use of health insurance companies rather than a public option. Although I share your sentiment, it is because around $.30 of every dollar sucked into this maw goes to insurance company admin costs and profit. The cost of Medicare operations is a small fraction of this, more like $.03.

        The great fear of the terrorists giddy about shutting down gov’ment, and my hope, is that the ACA will not be as bad as is expected and eventually lead to the extinction of the teabaggers.

        My great fear is that Obama is basically a coward (and a Republican, Wall Street slave at heart) who will cave in to more extremist demands to achieve “something.”

        1. s spade

          I would say your great fear is 100% likely to become reality. Anybody could have told you what this charlatan would do once elected. It is interesting that you remain hopeful he will change color, even after five years of screwing you blind.

      2. LucyLulu

        I agree its the mandatory part of the ACA that opponents find so objectionable. I disagree that a delay, or any other change to ACA, will be a part of any final agreement. It’s this insistence that is resulting in the present gridlock. ACA is Obama’s signature legislation. He’s made it crystal clear it’s off limits in any deal, just as the right will refuse to raise taxes.

        No repeal, no delay of Obamacare, no matter how much the right may want it. That’s non-negotiable, and its funding is not subject to the appropriation process. They’ll have to make any changes/repeals the old-fashioned way, by passing legislation. Any other programs are on the table. The grand bargain will likely include entitlements such as SS, Medicare/Medicaid and revenue-neutral tax reform.

        1. Thom Tobiason

          If somwone were to not pony up their share for insurance and then needed care, EMTALA would not allow an emergency room to turn them away. So we would have to change that law as well to get your “just desserts” type dynamic working.

      3. elboku

        Answer me this: why should someone be free to not purchase health insurance? And if they are, are we not ‘free’ to say they cannot get care at the ER or any place else unless they pay and that like student debt any such medical expenses are non-dischargeable? It is nice and proud to say ‘I should be free to pay or not..’ but when you don’t pay and you get sick and can’t pay- who pays? The rest of us do. To quote Camus: “Everything is permitted does not mean nothing is forbidden.”

        Sure, in an ideal world you would be free to not pay but your freedom in THIS world is contingent upon the fact you know we will pay for your ER care. It is real brave (snark) to say you should be free to refuse to pay for your own health care. You count on the rest of us not letting you die/suffer. Nice work if you can get it.

        I do not recall any instances of someone arriving at the ER with a heart attack and saying: “Gee, doc, I ain’t got no money; so let me die. Thanks.”

        (For the record I endorse national health care but in the system we have (which sucks) there is no excuse for not paying something if you can. No excuse at all.)

        1. Waking Up

          You have equated health “insurance” with health “care”. They are completely different. Also, are you honestly saying that someone without adequate financial resources deserves to die if they didn’t buy PRIVATE health insurance???

          If person X shows up at the emergency room requiring health care, they may HAVE health insurance which doesn’t cover their particular needs at the moment. They may have longer term health care requirements as a result which also are not covered by their current private health “insurance”. Yet, they purchased mandatory PRIVATE insurance either out of their own pockets or subsidized by taxpayers. The big winner is still the private insurance companies which can use their new profits to add more lobbyists or simply buy off politicians.

          I predict right now that medical bankruptcies will be just as prevalent now that we have “Obamacare” as they were before.

      4. BondsOfSteel

        I don’t know what you’re talking about. The exchanges in WA aren’t bad. It’s a little bit more that what I’m currently paying on the open market… with a little bit better coverage and a lot more choices.

        1. BondsOfSteel

          Oh… they did have a rough first two days at launch, but the site was running fine yesterday.

          I suspect it’ll just get better…

        2. neo-realist

          If one had to choose between COBRA and the open exchanges, would the exchanges be a better choice?

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      You make a good point but the sequence is not quite right. Some were disgusted by Obamacare, others were quite willing to go along (don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good – remember?) but even those nascent obots felt a complete slap in the face by the obvious Democratic party blessed extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. For a brief period progressives and liberals alike were simply blinking and pinching themselves. The reaction was swift; the 2010 elections in which blue Democrats scum took a hit, and the media reaction was even swifter; the public moves to the right.

      Your second point, that Obamacare will soon be seen for what it is is also a good point but I suspect your timeline is off. It will take approximately a year before there is anything approaching general consensus that Obamacare isn’t working as advertised. Even then, most people will be convinced by the media hype that so far everything is jake except a few glitches and the usual ungrateful far left dead-beat ingrates looking for the usual “free ride”.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        This sounds right for a lot of reasons.

        First, IIRC (Obamacare details are Lambert’s beat) the first year opt-out costs are low but are considerably higher after that.

        Second, the Administration and its allies are gonna message positive anecdotes like crazy. There’s one at Think Progress, amplified by Business Insider, of one Republican (one!) who has gone from being an Obamacare critic to “check it out before you reach a conclusion” based on how much his family’s premiums will fall. That will drown out /compete with the negative experiences, making it hard to get a good picture.

        Third, absent those people who won’t be able to keep their doctor, it will probably take some time for the “wait, this cheaper-looking insurance isn’t such a deal ” to kick in. Since the potential problems are so many (narrow networks could lead to queuing, high co-pays and deductibles leave consumers paying for a lot, insurance companies continue to deny or considerably delay approving costly treatments, insurance companies continue to use the extremely broadly defined fraud out to cancel policies of people with serious ailments), it may take longer for the defects to be clearly categorized (as in one ginormous problem that affected lots of people would get media attention a lot sooner than numerous types of defects that in aggregate affect a significant proportion of users).

        1. marcos

          Politically, this is a Democrat self inflicted wound that was evident when the legislation was being crafted by Baucus with Obama taking a hands-off posture towards meeting his campaign promises of single payer and no tax increase on the middle class. The people got this one right, enough of them in swing districts at least that combined with a mobilized Republican base antagonistic to Obama and the ACA, cost the Democrats nominal control of the House.

          Once the multiple sharp moving parts of the ACA get whirring, the public and politicians alike are going to run, not walk, away from this contorted monstrosity of public policy. At my software startup that provides crap expensive health insurance yet pays market rate so employees get no subsidy for crap insurance, we’re seeing an array of choices that range from bad to worse.

          Fortunately I get healthcare from my spouse who works for local government and have declined the firm’s crap health insurance to save them and my providers money from hitting the crap policy before letting the union policy cover the gaps. But that policy will be considered a “Cadillac” policy and as the cost continues to rise, will be subject to tax.

          The upshot of Obamacare for most of us will be consultations with the local witch doctor in a hut down the street, diagnosis by the reading of entrails and treatment by voodoo doll. We are expendable, the insurers are sacrosanct.

        2. James Levy

          The issue for me is that the ACA seems to work out worst for a thin swath of the population that happen to be listened to and talked about disproportionately. The very poor have Medicaid. The old have Medicare. The rich have their own insurance already, as do government workers, the military, and what’s left of the unionized sector and full-time academics. This doesn’t leave a huge percentage of the population that have to deal with the ACA, and the working poor will get their medical coverage heavily subsidized. Who does this actually leave?

          My guess: about 15% of the population, overwhelmingly white and Asian, most of them earning in the upper 80-95% range of incomes. These are exactly the folks the media portray as THE Middle Class. The ACA will probably be a net loss for these people, and unlike the millions of working poor who will likely be helped, these people count for something in America. Perhaps someone has hard numbers that prove me wrong, but this is my guess as to who will be helped, who hurt, and why it will be represented as mattering.

          1. LucyLulu

            Some hard numbers, from the Kaiser Foundation:

            18% of the population had no health insurance in 2012.

            90% of those earned less than 400% of the federal poverty level, thus are eligible for subsidies (if not Medicaid under extension). These are the working poor, 75% have some employment but no employer insurance, either not offered or unaffordable.

            38% are below the poverty level, thus will be eligible for Medicaid if not already receiving it, and the state hasn’t opted out. Medicaid eligibility is being expanded to 138% poverty (sorry, no figures) including previously non-covered child-less adults.

            That leaves 1.8% (10% of 18%) that earn more than 400% federal poverty level, mandated to buy insurance but no subsidy provided.


            1. James Levy

              Thank you! Those numbers are fascinating. I think they also support my contention that a very small number of people in the $75,000-150,000 dollar range (self-employed or contract professionals I’m guessing) are the ones we constantly hear complaining and vilifying this piece of legislation. And their complaints register with the main stream media.

              BTW, I also think that the forced mandate to buy private insurance is wrong, but until someone presents me with an honest alternative (which the Republicans most definitely do not) I feel compelled to support the ACA.

            2. LillithMc

              The red states who refuse to go along with the ACA medicaid increases have denied medicaid to an estimated 3 million poor people. This is approved and allowed in the SOCTUS approval of the ACA.

              1. Yalt

                I’m sure it’s been said many times here but it’s worth pointing out again that those below the poverty level that will be denied Medicaid also do not qualify for ANY subsidy on the exchanges. They have the choice of going uninsured or paying full price (the latter, obviously, isn’t an option).

                Subsidies are only available to those earning >100% of the poverty line.

            3. Yves Smith Post author

              You miss that many low income workers can barely make ends meet NOW. Even with subsidies, the extra costs (or the cost of opting out) will push some of them into an untenable position. Being under financial stress is rough, but the structure of this program forces another budget item onto them. And they can go to emergency rooms for free care now. That will presumably end with Obamacare too (what do you want to bet emergency rooms stop offering free treatments to those who show up with no dough, no credit card, and no insurance?)

              It would be one thing is participation were optional. It isn’t. The penalties after the first year are meaningful for low income people.

              And it looks like the meme, that employers were cutting worker hours to escape Obamacare requirements, is not proving to be a right wing largely made up talking point. It’s now being taken up by decidedly left-leaning media outlets, suggesting it does have some truth:


              So some workers are losing benefits they now have a a result of the law, as well as suffering a pay cut in the form of reduced hours. And these are ALSO low income workers. So they take a double hit.

              1. anon y'mouse

                not to “pile on” but I am experiencing this problem, and have been so for the past 3 terms at my college.

                all who can’t prove that they have ‘adequate’ insurance elsewhere (and are enrolled for over 5 units) are charged over 500 smackers per term for the mandated, school provided healthcare.

                that doesn’t sound like much when you’re talking 3 months of medical insurance, but guess what:

                there are no walk-in clinics–what a student most needs when they wake up at 3 a.m. on exam day with a fever, bladder infection, etc.
                you are paying 20% coinsurance costs within network, plus some kind of copay (trying to find out what that is now)
                the network is very limited, and the ins. co will allow you to pay the difference between what they would’ve paid an in-network doctor, and what an out-of network one would charge.

                they claim that they will pay for ANY emergency care you receive, whether in or out of network.

                regular doctors typically have a months’ long waitlist for “new” patient consultations; by the time you see one, your “coverage” may be gone.

                I have to take out loans to pay for my tuition and books, and NOW for my medical insurance which drives the cost of my tuition over the grant monies I receive. which means, i’m taking out loans to pay for medical insurance that I can’t afford to use if/when I “need” it.

                under these circumstances, unless it is an absolute emergency I won’t be going to the doctor. and if I do have an emergency, I will simply pray that they live up to their “any hospital” claim.

                **not to mention, full disclosure of your policy & benefits was not mailed out, and you can only obtain it online, which in effect means that they can change the terms at any time, and you have no legal recourse to say “but you said X was covered!”. they also make full disclosure VERY difficult to find on their website.

              2. ian

                Its worse than that. These people also vote. Now that health benefits have been moved into the political arena, voters can demand all kinds of tweaks to ObamaCare in the future. All kinds of new “rights” can be discovered, which pandering politicians will be only too happy to provide. I’m surprised that more people haven’t talked about this aspect.

          2. Lambert Strether

            Medicare is turning out to be another bucket of snakes. I know somebody who’s trying to a family member out with it, and the same rentier termites have been at it, sucking out rent with their tiny mandibles. (And thanking some ObamaCare commenters for raising consciousness on this; I’ve always thought of Medicare as a safe harbor… But maybe not.)

        3. Kokuanani

          ***Second, the Administration and its allies are gonna message positive anecdotes like crazy.***

          Note how they’ve already gone “all in” having “celebs” tweet and otherwise shill for Obamacare, urging all those young ones to sign up.

        4. Yalt

          “insurance companies continue to use the extremely broadly defined fraud out to cancel policies of people with serious ailments”

          That might become more difficult to do. To cancel a policy for misrepresentation on an application the insurer needs to show that the misrepresentation was material to their underwriting decision. Insurers on the exchanges are pretty limited in their ability to underwrite based on medical history. In the past they could try to claim that if you’d told them about that old diagnosis you forgot about it would have impacted your premium or triggered the addition of a policy exclusion, but they’ve lost that out. If you misrepresent your age or your smoking statius you can still get whacked of course.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            No, the current fraud out is preserved, and if you read case law (court decisions) the precedents are very much skewed towards the insurance companies. Very minor omissions have been upheld as the justification for policy cancellation.

            As the NNU has said in its statement on the bill, the loopholes include:

            Provisions permitting insurers and companies to more than double charges to employees who fail “wellness” programs because they have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol readings, or other medical conditions.

            Permitting insurers to sell policies “across state lines”, exempting patient protections passed in other states. Insurers will thus set up in the least regulated states in a race to the bottom threatening public protections won by consumers in various states.

            Allowing insurers to charge four times more based on age plus more for certain conditions, and continue to use marketing techniques to cherry-pick healthier, less costly enrollees.

            Insurers may continue to rescind policies for “fraud or intentional misrepresentation” – the main pretext insurance companies now use to cancel coverage.


            1. Yalt

              Of course they can continue to rescind for material misrepresentation; the question is what will meet the “material” standard. Every discussion I ever had regarding possible rescission of a policy centered on these points if we’d had the correct information, would it have changed the underwriting decision? Would that altered decision have impacted the coverage decision on the claim in question (one thing the two insurance worlds had in common is that these questions tended not to come up unless a claim came in, because that’s when the file was reopened)? Did we have a paper trail that would prove that point convincingly?

              When prior health history determined coverage and price it was easy for an insurer to make a semi-plausible claim that failure to disclose some prior illness was material. Much of that prior history is no longer relevant to the underwriting process; there’s an opening for decent lawyers to challenge rescissions.

              Rescission was very rare in the corporate-liability world I come from. Nothing weighed as heavily in our underwriting decisions as prior claims, and even in the worst-case scenario of an applicant’s failure to disclose some substantial prior legal action against it, we seldom if ever rescinded a policy. Why have health insurers resorted to it so extensively?

              Maybe I’m missing something but it seems to be some combination of the following:

              (1) There’s a risk that if you try to rescind and the court finds against you, they’ll also take away the protection of the policy limit. A pretty substantial fraction of our claims were limit losses; the prospect of losing the cap and taking a book-destroying hit from a single claim was inhibiting to say the least. Health insurers don’t have the same concern; their policies don’t have single-year limits and the lifetime caps are a lot higher, relatively speaking, than our policy limits were.

              (2) We cared about our reputation. Health insurers apparently don’t need to–maybe because the insurance is usually being bought by a third party, maybe for some other reason.

              (3) The legal resources available to the insured were of a completely different order. Rescind the policy of a bank or a big mortgage company and they’ll bring the heavy legal artillery to bear. Rescind the policy of a bed-ridden cancer patient who’s lost her income and she’ll…what, call legal aid?

    3. Francois T

      Given all the problems an “un-fixed” Obamacare will inevitably suffer, all the House GOPers had to do was to let the problems becoms glaringly obvious while attending business as usual.

      Yet, they didn’t! Which proves that Obamacare is NOT what irks GOTP so much.

      They simply want to practice hostage-taking politics, pure and simple. They believe that no one but them, has real political legitimacy.

      In other words, their real motto is that democracy is for suckers!

      Delenda Tea party Est!

      1. Banger

        You assume that the Tea Party is some independent movement. It is a movement funded by a group of oligarchs that are using it as a battering ram to destroy federal regulation of business and maintaining social safety nets that keep wages from going down even further. This is a crass Machiavellian power-grab that the mainstream media will not ever mention because there is no longer a free-press in this country and hasn’t been–at least outside the internet where there is some good information here and there and a lot of disinformation also.

    4. Min

      One reason that the Dems lost the House of Representatives in 2010 was their failure to fight back against the scaremongering propaganda blitz about the Federal debt and deficit, starting in the spring of that year. Another was their failure to stand up for Main Street after Wall Street had gotten their bailout. Remember that Santelli’s rant that spawned the Tea Party was against helping regular homeowners.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Another was an economic collapse about which the Democrats did squat* while shovelling money to the banks.

        NOTE * Relative to what needed to be done, which included not just a bigger stim pack but real foreclosure help, and not the farce that was HAMP. Jailing a bankster or two would have helped.

        1. Glen

          Totally agree, the bailout of the banks was the largest rip off of the American people in my life time. Obama lost me at that point.

        2. Glen

          Jailing a lot of banksters was mandatory, not just a help.

          The American economy (heck, maybe the world economy) will not recover until it is no longer the bankster’s economy.

    5. Glen

      The Dems didn’t turn out in 2010 because Obama didn’t turn out for the Dem voters in 2009 or 2010. Many Dem voters were not and are not happy with the ACA/Obamacare either, because giving everybody access to Medicare was less expensive and would have resulted in better health care.

      Given all that, if the ACA/Obamacare is even half way successful then the Republican party will be in trouble in 2014, and they know it.

      Nobody is happy about the mandatory part of the ACA/Obamacare (if they’ve got half a brain), but we only have one of the most right wing Republican Supreme Courts to thank for that. I would urge all conservatives also upset with that decision to think really hard about whether the Republican party represents them, because I damn well know the Democratic party doesn’t represent me.

    1. LillithMc

      Redistricting reform and voter registering reform from the federal government despite the SCOTUS approval of the racial gerrymander in Texas that was reversed by a lower court before SCOTUS reversed them and the SCOTUS tacit approval of Jim Crow voter suppression. Without the white gerrymandered districts the House would not be Tea Party Republican. See PA for a good example.

    1. Francois T

      “He Said she Said”?


      Ain’t you getting sick and tired of this falsehood?

      Ask yourself this question: What are the constitutional ways to repeal a federal law in the US political system?

      Hint: There are two ways…only two.

      Once you’ve answered the question, you’ll quickly realize that the “all sides” trope is just that; pure BS.

  3. Theo

    Take a look at digby for Thursday, October 3, I believe Obama and the Dems will fold on everything. With the sequestration, the government is already working with a budget below that of (initially) Paul Ryan’s fondest dreams. And it’s even going to sink lower. This is a tragedy for our country and for our people, even those on the right–and so-called left–who haven’t a clue what this will mean for our future.

    1. Lambert Strether

      What do you mean, “fold”? This is the plan!!! See Links two days ago. Harry’s begging for it.

      Do not accept, never ever ever accept, narratives of Democratic weakness. Despite all the fingerpointing and blameshifting, they are doing exactly whta they want to do.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        That needs to be repeated again and again, ad nauseam. And yet … and yet … no, I do believe this time, surely, this time Lucy* will hold that ball steady.

        *not to be confused with LucyLulu, whose hand and logic are rock-solid.

  4. Banger

    Since I don’t believe in American Exceptionalism I have to assume, as I’ve been saying, that what we are seeing here are deep divisions within the power-elite. I think the fact there are about 20 to 35% of the citizenry who are dead set against the federal government for a variety of reasons from the rise of libertarianism to the old “the South shall rise again” types is nothing new this group has been active in U.S. politics all my life since the 1950s and has periods of domination and periods of inertness depending on what certain factions within the oligarchy were up to.

    Currently there is a faction of the oligarchy that has used this population as shock troops to help limit the government’s power. The federal regulatory system is all that is stopping some of these oligarchs from being little Don Corliones in their virtual neighborhood (neo-feudalism). Other oligarchs do not like this group because they believe these people will kill the goose that has laid lots of golden eggs. And then there are other sub-groups that appear to be wandering the stage like Lady Macbeth.

    To put it yet another way, it is no longer crucial to have a vigorous and healthy U.S. society for the oligarchs–they are globalized now and they are making a lot of money and they believe they now can trump the power of nation states. Their goal is neo-feudalism which I described yesterday (I’m constantly being challenged to define my terms so forgive me for doing so) as the natural default political system for human beings. It is decentralized and offers the leaders of feudal entities absolute power in their realms over their subjects wherein the subjects are allowed to live and prosper to the degree they please the masters. Now the problem with feudalism is that those entities are subject to war and conquest by other stronger entities–but in our situation today we have the structure called “globalism” which oligarchs believe will enforce order and rule of law of some kind among them so they don’t have to raise armies quite yet. But at any rate these oligarchs don’t have much interest in the long-run other than insuring their own dynasties survive and making alliances among other oligarchs whether they are from Wall Street or the growing numbers of criminals gangs that are prospering and feeding off at the edges of society which Misha Glenny reported make up about 15 to 20% of the world economy in 2009 and I believe these numbers have increased and will continue to increase since organized crime “families” are the prototypical neo-feudal entities that will dominate, in my view, future society.

    I think the 1914 feeling you mentioned may be because of the dynamic I just describe because. The question is not whether or not there are enough citizens to counter this movement towards dissolution of the federal gov’t but whether there are enough oligarchs who believe the United States is worth preserving, if not as a prosperous society, at least as a sustainable system. Citizens have little to do with any of this other than to be pawns on the grand chessboard. Of course, if the left revived itself some of this might change–again to define my terms, the left consists of people who believe that there there is a higher level than selfishness, that society does exist, that ethics of right and wrong exist, that we prosper and are happier if people around us are happy, healthy, fulfilled, open, and have maximum scope for their creativity and we believe in continuing the values of rationality, science and compassion.

    1. James Levy

      I admire and agree with your analysis. But I think that those neo-feudal oligarchs truly believe they can gut the Federal Government while retaining its military and police apparatus which are essential to their project. They don’t see the legitimacy crisis you and I do if government is seen to take without providing services and millions come to understand that, as George Carlin said some years back, “the game is rigged.”

      Global control and enforcement of property rights and contracts are still beyond the oligarchy by itself. They need a powerful nation-state to be their sheriff and “foreclose” on the debtors. This means, if they had any sense, they would not be threatening the ship of state whose guns enforce their will. But these guys are arrogant, ignorant, and stupid. As Mr. Bernstein says in Citizen Kane, it’s not hard to make money, if all you want to do is make money. Single-minded greed, ruthlessness, cunning, and often a whole lot of hard work has made these men fantastically rich, but it has given them no wisdom or perspective. Their stupidity is the greatest danger we face, as a nation and a species.

      1. Banger

        They actually don’t need the feds as enforcers–they have their pick of private security firms if it comes to that. Certainly they will want to preserve the state’s enforcement agencies and I don’t think this situation in anyway endagers that. But remember, not all oligarchs agree here–there is a strong split, in my view, and that’s why we have a chaotic situation–there is some kind of gang-war going on.

        1. James Levy

          Domestically, you may be right, but internationally, no private security firm can overawe China, Russian, Germany, France, Japan, or India. They are real players, and can fight back. Britain could, too, but my beloved British are so mentally damaged they’re effectively hostages of American power with a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome. And you can’t count on their interests jibing with yours. So I think, internationally, the elite need the US State very badly.

          1. Banger

            No, not quite. Those other countries are also facing similar pressures from their private power centers including the Chinese central state. And, the military and paramilitary forces are vulnerable to bribes and enticements from powerful people, organize crime and so on as we have seen in Mexico. We have to remember that nationalism in a globalized world doesn’t have the meaning or the power it once had. Look how quickly nationalistic hysteria failed to build as a result of the alleged gas attacks on civilians in Syria. Now, in that case, there was genuine disagreement in the oligarchy on what path to follow but the War Party was not able to count on the chauvinistic sentiment that the mainstream media did everything in its power to whip up.

            1. Roland

              It’s not about nationalism. It’s about threshold costs and lead times.

              The existing military plant of the USA, nationalist in its origin, is a well-established institution available for control by the bourgeoisie based in the USA and its Western satellites.

              To reproduce private forces of even remotely comparable capability and morale would take a very long time and involve heavy cost. It’s quicker, cheaper, and more effective for the bourgeoisie to harness the existing nationally-based US military institution and use it exclusively for class purposes.

              Meanwhile, the use of US-origin military institution, with its high brand recognition, serves as an income stream for the US-based bourgeoisie. While the US military can be used to protect the globalist bourgeoise as a whole, i.e. by smashing any political entities in the world which try to oppose globaalism, it can also be used to maintain the relative privilege of the US or Western bourgeoisie in particular. e.g. It enables them to enforce continued unconditional global acceptance of their currency.

              The globalist bourgeoisie have a general class interest in providing some mutual support for one another. However, some bourgeois will get to strive higher on the mountain while others get pushed off. Some bourgeoise are gong to go into the Grand Bourgeois Premiership, while others get relegated to Compradore Second Division.

              Therefore, legacy institutions of pre-globalist nation states are still important. Inherited advantage can persist across paradigms. The Anglo/Western bourgeoisie have a strong legacy advantage in the formidable US military institutions. They are going to make use of that advantage during the transition to a mature global post-national capitalist regime.

              Whether other elements of the emergent global bourgeoisie meekly submit to others’ exploitation of legacy advantages is an interesting question. Will the less-privileged bourgeois elements find innovative alternatives with which to counter the legatees? Fun and games…

    2. LillithMc

      Oddly King George of England was a good example of why the Tea Party was launched only the simpletons in the white districts that elect the Billionaire-funded Tea Party are not aware they are waging revolution for the equivalent of King George. We already see how easy it is for the Lords of King George to take-over a state for their personal profit. They still want US tax-payer dollars especially when their casino loses or they want a military enforcement in another country resisting empire looting. Especially easy to fool the whites when the President looks like a native of a country they should be attacking.

      1. Banger

        There is a growing community of oligarchs who are basically your garden variety gangster who only want to steal, loot, pillage and much worse. I’ve seen these guys in action and they are no different from the hustlers I knew on the streets when I was much younger–only with less morals.

        1. s spade

          I don’t know who these oligarchs are, but the people calling the shots run the giant international corporations, for whose benefit our democratic republic has been run for at least the past 72 years. These corporations preserve the wealth of the inheritor rich, they create the wealth of the business rich, and they dribble out the wealth of the political rich.

          When you talk about oligarchs I envision a handful of Russians in tasteless suits buying up basketball teams. These guys are nobodies with ugly castles and trashy girlfriends and drug habits. They will disappear up their own noses in five or ten years.

    3. nobody

      “I have to assume, as I’ve been saying, that what we are seeing here are deep divisions within the power-elite.”

      A lot of the interesting fissures in a system are intracapitalist conflict, and right now, I guess the way I’d put it in a metaphor is it feels like there are an awful lot of the elite that know this system is not wholesome, and they’re all standing on the deck of the Titanic looking in each other’s eyes, and they’re asking a question with their eyes, “Are we going to help this navigator? Are we going to help this captain get off the ice? Or are we going to get the food and the jewels from the safe and put them in our lifeboat?” And my sense is that most of them are trying to get stuff into their lifeboat, and that system isn’t going to cohere. And in that dysfunction there is opportunity.

        1. jonboinAR

          I was pretty sure, but didn’t wish to presume. What’s interesting is that this neo-feudalism is basically gangsterism, only done very intelligently by subverting the law rather than outright boldly breaking it. Someone’s taken a long, patient, 40-50 year strategy. Look how long Reagan’s breaking the air controller’s union, deregulating (somehow, what exactly done I forget) news networks so they could all be controlled by the same bunch and used for propaganda rather than enlightening the citizenry, stuff like that that was begun in the late ’70’s, early ’80’s, look how long that’s taken to play out. If this were just a game without deadly stakes one would have to admire it.

    4. noodle

      “To put it yet another way, it is no longer crucial to have a vigorous and healthy U.S. society for the oligarchs–they are globalized now and they are making a lot of money and they believe they can trump the power of nation-states.”

      This instantly reminded of some opening flavor text from the Japanese Ghost in the Shell franchise (I think from Stand Alone Complex, but I’m not positive) to the effect of the story taking place in an era in which international corporations are massively powerful but traditional ethnic groups and nations haven’t yet been completely abolished. A cyberpunk dystopia in progress in other words. All we need now are USB ports in our necks.

  5. Eleanor

    I keep being reminded of the breakdown of the federal government before the Civil War. This was the period in which a southern legislator brought a horsewhip into Congress and beat a northern legislator so badly that he never recovered (if I am remembering the story correctly). Obama clearly does not have the courage or the vision to govern in a difficult time. This was also true of Franklin Pierce, often picked as the worst president in American history. I don’t expect another Civil War. But I’m wondering if the US could simply break apart like the USSR.

    1. Banger

      I think the situation today is a million times more complicated and the stakes considerably higher. But it’s an interesting comparison. Obama cannot be a “strong” leader or a sort of Tribune of the people–the Presidency has been seriously compromised by stunningly powerful forces who pay for and run the stick figures on the media stage. These figures aren’t just actors though–they broker between powerful forces and extract their fees as a result. No politician can come face to face with a billionaire that they know can hurt them or help them and expect to be treated as an equal. No politician can stand up to covert operatives who function beyond, below and above the law who have access to an international network of who-the-hell-knows what kind of power and be an equal. Fifty years ago we collectively refused to bring to justice the people who killed the POTUS of the time for charting an independent policy and all Presidents have had to look over their shoulders since then.

      1. Old Soul

        I agree with you, Banger, but take your analysis farther. The collective acceptance of the murder of JFK without demanding a real investigation into the crime and its coverup is a template for deluding the citizens through official propaganda. I was 12 years old when JFK was killed and even I could tell that the official story was not credible. We are told not to believe our own eyes. When the Zapruder film was released in 1975, it plainly confirms what Kennedy’s press secretary report on the day of the murder where he pointed to the his head and gestured that Kennedy had been shot in the right front part of his head. An outcry for a new investigation should have materialized, yet apologists continued the tall tale of the lone gunman in the book depository, shooting from behind.
        As Malcolm X said at the time of JFK’s murder, “The chickens are coming home to roost.” JFK has authorized the issue of $500 million in US notes redeemable in silver to compete with federal reserve notes, prior to his murder. On the day of his funeral, the Federal Reserve Board met and declared that federal reserve notes would no longer be redeemed in silver. The redeemable US notes were withdrawn from circulation.

        Less than 40 years later, we watched the Twin Towers implode as if we cannot believe our own eyes that the official story that fires from the jet fuel would not pulverize the buildings. There has been no mass media coverage of Building 7, where the SEC records of the Enron investigation were housed, and was not hit by a plane, but imploded, collapsing into its own footprint. The Pentagon damage does not suggest impact with a 757 jetliner, but looks like damage from a missile. The area which was hit at the Pentagon was the location where the investigation into the 2+ trillion missing Department of Defense funds was ongoing, having been declared missing the day before by DOD Secretary Rumsfeld. “Evidence” of the purported crash of the fourth plane in Pennsylvania is wholly inconsistent with the official story–no bodies, no wreckage and a surviving red bandana supposedly worn by a highjacker. A passport of a purported highjacker was found on a NYC street after a raging fireball consumed the plane? A number of “highjackers” found to be living and working in the Middle East after 9/11, along with the ridiculous story that the long dead Osama bin Laden was killed by Seal Team 6, his body supposedly dumped into the sea and severl months later members of Seal Team 6 die in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan continues to defy common sense in evaluating the “official story” of 9/11.

        The wars against “terrorism” directed to assure the growing of opium in Afghanistan and to confiscate Iraqi oil, the murder of Gaddafi who was developing the gold dinar for a pan-African currency, funded by private interests using notes and mortgages obtained by Freddie Mac as collateral for international debt payments. The collateral is rehypothecated to infinity. Homes are foreclosed and the notes are never returned to the makers, continuing to circulate as a wholly fictional currency. Forged notes and mortgage assignments are produced in judicial proceedings and when shown to be forgeries, the judges pretend that they cannot tell the difference between a newly printed note from a computer image without an signature impression and an appropriately aged note with a signature impressions. First American Title Company, an original participant in the creation of the MERS data base and shareholder in MERSCorp, along with Fannie, Freddie and the major mortgage servicers, now pitches title insurance as protection against forged mortgage assignments in the chains of title.

        We are all expected to not believe our eyes when we can plainly observe crimes being committed. I trace this phenomenon to the murder of JFK, the coverup and the lack of investigation after the compelling evidence of the Zapruder film was released. When we surrender our powers of observation and reason to a series of official lies, we live in a delusion. Unfortunately, I believe that the source of our collective delusion is the belief that the dollar has inherent value, when it is now entirely created as debt by private interests. I believe that JFK was murdered, at least in part, in response to his issuance of redeemable US notes, that the WTC and Pentagon destruction was arranged to destroy evidence of monetary crimes and the “foreclosure crisis” was manufactured to coverup counterfeit currency creation and securities fraud.

        We now have the “government” we deserve, per Benjamim Franklin’s warning. When we allow a President to be murdered, the murder to be covered up and then allow 3000 citizens to be blown to bits in buildings pulverized before our very eyes, it is little wonder that the judicial branch will ignore ubiquitous crimes of forgery and perjury committed in plain sight in court foreclosure proceedings, to facilitate payment of privately created debt.

        There is no excuse for anyone to accept the office of President of the United States and not insist on the restoration Rule of Law, but many make excuses for the current occupant of that office. To the extent that Banger may be suggesting that the murder of JFK may excuse for official cowardice of his successors, I respectfully disagree. It is the constitutional obligation of the President of the United States to uphold the Rule of Law. It is the default of that obligation which has made a mockery of this nation. We cannot “look forward” when we have not addressed the injustices of the past.

        1. noodle

          Building 7 collapsed because it was hit by flaming debris and left to burn for half a day while firefighters concentrated elsewhere. The initial assesment of the damage was incorrect, conspiracy theories are based entirely on this document and ignore later, more thorough analysis. They also ignore that it wasn’t the only building not directly hit by a plane to be damaged. The Verizon building took 3 years and $1.4 billion to repair and the Deutsch Bank building was deemed too badly damaged to save and was demolished later.

          While this blog talks a lot about international oligarchs and such, it operates in the world of facts and reason. Neither it nor its commenters should be equated with fringe crazies, ranting about NWOs and whatever the latest Alex Jones nonsense is.

          9/11 was a foreign terrorist attack, plain and simple. The military industrial complex and immoral leadership took full advantage of the opportunities it created, but they didn’t engineer it.

  6. Eureka Springs

    As we’ve learned in Syria… it is we the US who are the wahabbi’s as much as anyone else, except when out heart eating moderates surface for a bloody photo op or false flag. As for the US republican wahabbi’s it has been noted by Ian Welsh with direct links to the text of the bill that republican wahabbi’s are actually offering a delay of the mandate. Go ahead, read his last two very short posts which go straight to the crux of the matter.

    So for today I am siding with the wahabbi’s bill. Kill, even if for just one more year the divide, conquer and loot individual and collective mandate to subsidize the very beasts which have long haunted us.

    It’s not the right who is so wrong here. In fact it’s extremely telling that no dems at all are championing even a delay of the mandate… or insisting that congress or staffers are subject to this nightmare as we the rubes are.

    However I have attended several social gatherings in the last week and have yet to hear one mention of this or any newsy or political subject matter at all. People have seemingly completely tuned out. Can’t say it’s a bad idea.

    1. Banger

      It is a bad thing, a very bad thing but understandable and rational to tune out. Most people sense that what they are seeing is a television show or a puppet show–they don’t necessarily think this consciously but unconsciously we all know that what is going on in public probably has nothing to do with what is actually going on. Some of us, however, need to think about it because there are forces at work here that want to hurt us and it is not the fictional “terrorists” we have been fooled into fearing.

    2. James Levy

      First, I have to say I disagree with you. If you want to repeal a bill, you go through the proper procedure. If you think something is wrong, you say why in detail. You don’t throw people out of work and threaten a default. AND, you offer an alternative to make sure that those 47 million people get healthcare coverage. You don’t cut food stamps then tell me you give a shit about the American people and are “protecting” me from Obamacare.

      Second, people don’t talk because when they do other people (overwhelmingly, in my experience, on the Right) yell at them and launch into nasty diatribes about “libertards” and bleeding hearts and how stupid and presumptuous and unpatriotic those people are. Since such outbursts of rage are really unpleasant, and usually directed at the person who brought up the subject, most people simply aren’t up for that, and keep their mouth’s shut.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Save your procedural preferences, your disagreement is built upon straw men, imo.

        And I think if you want to repeal, this is as ‘proper’ as it gets between a bunch of bribed, beholden murderers and thieves.

        There are and have been many bills over decades which would have established health care for all… and those are the only bills which I support.

        As for Banger, bless his heart, seems he’s longing for an era gone by. Can’t let go of an old dem myth these last few days in particular, as he admits he knows better. Some sort of bargaining stage I suppose.

        In this game of thrones there are no good guys, but the republicans on ACA this week are far less eager to put my head on a pike than Dems.

        1. LucyLulu

          If expecting Congress to follow established Congressional procedures as outlined in the Constitution and not deviate into new and unknown territory is a “strawman argument”, then its long past time for pitchforks, and we are wasting our time here with any philosophical arguments. Chances for a civilized society with a public health option have been missed.

          There have been disagreements and shutdowns in the past but never over repealing lawfully passed legislation, and unrelated to budget deficits. (During the Ford and Carter administration, there were partial shutdowns affecting only the Dept of Labor and Dept. of HEW over funding of abortion, the departments directly implicated in the funding.) In addition, the majority in the House is making credible threats to not raise the debt ceiling, also unprecedented (vs. symbolic votes by minority members). In effect, they are saying, “Give us what we failed 43 times to obtain legally or we will destroy the global economy.” Is this kind of tactic? okay with you? How about if the demand is privatization of Medicare or replacement of SS by 401K’s?

          The objection to ACA is unrelated to funding, its a fight for a fervent minority to gain power and delegitimize Obama’s presidency. However one feels about Obama and ACA, there are far-reaching implications on policy-making and the power afforded to the third of the government held by the minority party if they are successful. Is the filibuster in the Senate not sufficient?

          1. Malmo

            “There have been disagreements and shutdowns in the past but never over repealing lawfully passed legislation”

            Repealing the legislation is surely the end game here for many on the right, but regarding the present shutdown, isn’t it only to delay the individual mandate for a year?

            As for the desire to repeal lawfully passed legislation, I see nothing wrong with using lawful parliamentary procedures to gum up its implementation. I also have no problem to see said law repealed at forthcoming ballot boxes. I do think, absent repeal, that the law will ultimately be modified to where it will be unrecognizable relative to its present incantation.

            No matter, this is the most polarizing, non bi-partisan, legislation in modern times. It was passed 100% along party lines, which by itself makes it politically toxic and divisive. It’s a 20,000 page bureaucratic monstrosity that few have read, and even fewer understand. The law is a half measure worse than the disease it purports to cure. Incremenatism would be preferred to this insurance industry ramrod. I’ll concede that this country isn’t ready for single payer, but I don’t see how this legislation will ever get us to that desired outcome. If anything, I fear it removes that possibilty far beyond where the eye can see. To be sure, unintended consequences (or intended by some) are going to be something to behold.

          2. Brooklin Bridge

            [If following congressional procedures = straw man…]then its long past time for pitchforks, and we are wasting our time here with any philosophical arguments. Chances for a civilized society with a public health option have been missed.

            Somewhat ironically, not that I disagree with the intent of the if clause, the then part of that statement is an amazingly accurate assessment of where things stand. The Titanic will likely make it to port in spite of those little obstacles and the hiatus before any serious public option will come to be.

            The obsolescence of pitchforks, on the other hand, is very much exaggerated.

        2. Banger

          No, I don’t long for the past, interesting though it was, I’m looking for those who consider themselves on the left to try new tactics and move away from some of the bad habis that came out of the 60s and I and my comrades embodied in those days, i.e., radical self-indulgence that ended up crippling the movement even more that COINTELPRO did.

          I’m looking for something very new–an assertion of the fact we are wired for compassion and cooperation and it is fear itself, as FDR said, that is hoding us all back.

          1. skippy

            Funny I was just thinking about some discourse within threads of late, romanticizing post WWII lefty wanderings (self neutering as you point out). What ever one would subscribe to a left prospective, prior to this time(Post WWII), were far more grounded in physical reality and could pop the head off a dandy with aplomb, with one callused hand.

            What do we have today, internet warriors, tech geeks, backyard gardeners, crystal (object power) – TEM – dead heads (rich kid fantasy land) – and all other sundry spiritualists, wet toast, et al.

            Has that time come and gone, probably. The efforts to diminish, reduce, eradicate, every function of labour that required both strength and skill (critical thinking) has been largely been removed from the economic landscape. Capital throughout antiquity has always understood that it can’t stay in the dominate position, if it allows a component of labour, to carve out a critical task – knowledge chess board square and own it, with in the econsphere.

            Capital does not like to negotiate, negotiating is not a sign of strength – dominance and opens it up to question – weakness. This is the last bloody thing Capital wants to be perceived as. Capitals many historical manifestations show brute – dominate force is what provides the endorphin blast it requires to “feel alive”.

            skippy… its so absurd… the tea party has the guts… just not the critical thinking or broad knowledge base to see past their rediculas dogma

          2. skippy

            Funny I was just thinking about some discourse within threads of late, romanticizing post WWII lefty wanderings (self neutering as you point out). What ever one would subscribe to a left prospective, prior to this time(Post WWII), were far more grounded in physical reality and could pop the head off a dandy with aplomb, with one callused hand.

            What do we have today, internet warriors, tech geeks, backyard gardeners, crystal (object power) – TEM – dead heads (rich kid fantasy land) – and all other sundry spiritualists, wet toast, et al.

            Has that time come and gone, probably. The efforts to diminish, reduce, eradicate, every function of labour that required both strength and skill (critical thinking) has been largely been removed from the economic landscape. Capital throughout antiquity has always understood that it can’t stay in the dominate position, if it allows a component of labour, to carve out a critical task – knowledge chess board square and own it, with in the econsphere.

            Capital does not like to negotiate, negotiating is not a sign of strength – dominance and opens it up to question – weakness. This is the last bloody thing Capital wants to be perceived as. Capitals many historical manifestations show brute – dominate force is what provides the endorphin blast it requires to “feel alive”.

            skippy… its so absurd… the tea party has the guts… just not the critical thinking or broad knowledge base… to see past their uninformed rabid cortex injected dogma… supplied by… the capital that has created this mess in the first place… sigh… what a freak show~~~

            PS. Weaponizing the breathers Rev. infinity

            PSS. just remember the default position, go naked, paint assorted round shapes on body and run up and down the streets, speaking in strange tongues… always a hit with the crowd!

            1. Malmo

              I’m partial to those to the left of the faux left: Knabb, Black, Zerzan, Perlman, Watson. The politcal and or MSM left can kiss my ass. They–the faux left– are merely appendages of the right.

              1. skippy

                I guess it comes down to free floating in an ideological free form void ie proselytizing for intellectual artistic points over backing up the dump truck of dead rotting body’s the corporatists use as tally sticks.

                skippy… one day their going to run out of mental air freshener about the same time the skinner box subjects start to evolve, realizing their deity is some sadist with no real mission save observing input – output for shit and grins (better than).

  7. middle seaman

    For those of us on the left flanks of the old real left, the next years will be a fight to preserve the safety net (the needed increase is unrealistic), attempts to kill the oligarchy (i.e. decrease the huge inequality) and strengthen labor unions. For us the shutdown is a war between Sunni and Shia terrorist groups projected into American politics. The grand betrayal is payback for the faux left for choosing Obama over the candidate of blue colors.

    1. Synopticist

      Well, if a few more lefties had bothered voting in 2010, you wouldn’t be in this situation with an ascendant TP, which will last for another 7 years at least.

      Non-participation has it’s costs.

        1. James Levy

          Heck, I voted in 2010, as did most of my friends, but we lived in Peter “The Idiot” King’s safe lily white district on Long Island, and so our going to the polls meant nothing. The idea that all these “leftists” stayed home in 2010 is one of those memes that just won’t die. It’s because the average Democrat hasn’t got the guts to blame blacks and college students, who were the ones who stayed home.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Much of the problem with the decline is urban minorities and colllege students/young people face obstacles to voting SMDP districts. The 50 state strategy was largely designed to find and make sure these people vote. One is a constant registration effort because these are the people who change addresses.

            Many people don’t even vote in non-Presidential years until they have lived an area for some time. Renters move which represent urban minorities and young people.

            Transportation is a whole other issue. Freshman for college leave in August. Did they register at home or at school? As you add the various problems such as commuting issues, elections turn from wins to losses or vice versa. This is what Dean advocated and directed Democratic resources to.

            Virginia has off year elections. In 2009, what was OFA doing in Virginia during the Governor’s race? Were they helping to find volunteers to keep Taliban out or win some state house races? No, they were calling for healthcare get togethers to chat about Obama. Needless to say, the offyear races in 2009 and the special elections also saw stark drop off among young people and minority voters. The only people to blame are the Democratic elite who have embraced third way ideology and right wing positions in an effort to inure themselves from attack.

            Democratic elite blame liberals because its all they know how to do. When Democrats blame Nader for the 2000 election, do they blame Nader for Bush’s strong showing among non-Cuban hispanics, Bush’s relatively high numbers among young people, the Gore strategy of just relying on winning state which he had not spent time in over 10 years, not having a strong GOTV operation especially in Florida which suffers from a lack of polling stations (this wasn’t just discovered in Nov. 2000),appointing a prick like Lieberman to the VP spot, weak union turnout… and so forth. If we dealt with policy issues, we could be here for a while, but one can’t be an environmentalist while advocating for policies which industrialize and pollute the hell out of China.

            So, they blame the hippies instead of looking at their own actions. I haven’t heard a Democrat say, “gee, perhaps, we should have spent the Summer worried about the economy and this budget situation instead of trying to con the country into another war.”

    2. neo-realist

      The candidate of blue colors? Are we talking in general terms about some great progressive hope? Or 2008 and 2012? The most progressive candidates were marginalized by corporate media and perceived unlikelihood of victory by third party membership.

  8. Trent

    I think obamacare was just a ruse. Something to distract us from the still fresh in the memory at the time banking crisis. Or throwing the public a bone (that still benefits the F.I.R.E industries)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, there is a huge difference this time.

      Wall Street was unified in wanting TARP, and the Administration was fully on board. The public was uniformly against it. But it got rammed through anyhow after the market tanked when it was voted down the first time.

      Here we do not have a clear proposal with two sides and certain interests lined up one way. We have the Obamacare issues, the Grand Bargain issue, the debt ceiling, the shutdown, the sequester and Obama’s insistence on some sort of tax increase for the rich as minimum items in the mix. And the interests aren’t clearly lined up either. For instance, Wall Street is not clearly on one side of any of these issues, save no debt default. There’s no Wall Street position on Obamacare. There’s a spectrum on reforming SS and Medicare. Even though most presumably really want that, they aren’t willing to take a huge amount of damage to the real economy and markets (in the form of a long shutdown and protracted wrangling) to get there.

      Shorter: this is not “a fix is in and the posturing is kabuki” situation. The pros have guesses as to how this might come out but I am getting major fog of war vibes from them.

      1. James Levy

        If the fix was ever in, I think that boat sailed as the vituperation mounts. The Republicans hate Obama’s guts and he’s suddenly decided to reciprocate (took him long enough). But the hate is too powerful and too real for these people to get together on anything, and the Power Elite seems hopelessly riven, too, so the “big boys” can’t all get together and put a stop to the bickering behind closed doors. This seems to me a legitimate crisis.

        1. Lambert Strether

          They’ve hated each other for years, decades. They’ll get together when they can work out how to do what their owners want, which is screwing the rest of us, while all the while looking like statesmen. They don’t call the Bargain “Grand” for nothing.

          It’s a lot like when Frodo and Samwise spot two orcs from different factions squabbling in the mountains at the edge of Mordor. Samwise says something like “I wish this spirit would spread all over Mordor!” and Frodo points out that if the orcs spotted them, they’d drop their quarrel in a heartbeat and and go after the hated Hobbits instead.

          So, the Republicans and the Democrats are the orcs of Isengard and Mordor. And we are the hobbits. It doesn’t matter if they hate each other, when they hate us more.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The only issue I have with this metaphor is that I think the Christian Right wields or thinks it wields a certain amount of power. It wasn’t noticed when W. was President, but W. was a uniter between the Romney class and the Christian Right, the Duck Dynasty audience. The Duck Dynasty saw a former drunk who replaced alcohol with Jebus which represents so many of them, and they went along with W.

            They received:

            -support for their charter schools
            -office of faith based initiatives
            -redirecting IRS efforts away from their shenanigans
            -federal spending in general being more malleable.
            -pulling Harriet Miers
            -Republicans doing the whole Schaevo stunt to shore up support after the SS privatization scheme
            -killing muslims on a crusade

            The Christian Right is more like Sauruman. They can be allies, but they will make a play for the One Ring. I don’t think the traditional GOP elite control the Christian Right the way W. could. W. was one of them, but Boehner is not. They want their power and will dump anyone who isn’t them at the first chance.

            Even Obama has given them an expanded office of faith based initiatives and Arne Duncan with his war against public schools, but the Christian right has to know they can’t win outright anymore. W. was a diamond in the rough for them, and I think they recognize their only path to get stuff is hostage taking. They searched for a non-Romney who could unite them, and even allowed John McCain just to establish their power over the Romney element (I should use a non-Mormon, but Romney was such a sleaze) when the other twits couldn’t muster enough campaign money for a bus tour.

            1. Roland

              Optimates and Populares in the Roman Republic. Both hailed from the same class, but the factional rivalry was bitter. A whole world for them to fight over.

              The less difference there was in their origin and policy, the more passionate and murderous their factional rivalry became.

              But no matter how many of Optimates or Populares got proscribed, unfortunately enough of them remained to make life miserable for Gauls, Phrygians, etc.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        The other issue in 2008 was the election results were set in stone during the bailout.

        There weren’t going to be electoral repercussions at that point. John McCain had lost his perception as a maverick by his loyalty to the W. Administration, and Palin was laughed at often enough even the average voter inferred she wasn’t the best and brightest. As far as House and Senate races, Dean was still in charge of the party election efforts on a practical level, and the Senate races favored the Democrats naturally. Hillary and Obama’s race and Franken’s race were the only excitement in that cycle.

  9. myshkin

    Here in Washington the smell of panic from the political pawns of the ruling class has settled like a fetid musk on an eerily quiet but still convulsed district, evidently under siege and near lockdown. The paralysis coupled with the horrific gunning down of a young, seemingly disturbed, apparently unarmed woman by Capital Hill security forces, (unpaid because of the shutdown) and the reaction of the politicians shortly after the blood letting, a hearty cheer for the police and murmurings that the security forces who stand between them and the increasingly maddened and well armed nation must be paid, illustrates the debased and insular nature of governing here. The media and the TPTB are treating this as unrelated to the money and influence that submerge politics in a cesspool of corruption and disgrace, yet there have been a few pointed, sardonic references to politicians cowering behind unpaid security, etc. Purely speculation but this tragedy may be another snapshot, illustrating the unbearable and grinding pressure Americans are struggling under as they stagger paycheck to diminishing paycheck.

    The 35-40 Republican wing-nut cranks who have expressed their willingness to throw the country under the bus in order to save it from the ACA, (a Republican, Heritage program, deeply flawed yet still capable of so frightening these manic ideologues as to perpetrate debilitating damage on their own constituencies and the country) generally do not venture out of their safe zone, echo chamber, yet reality slips through the cloak of hypocrisy here on occasion. The self inflicted confrontation between congressman Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas and a US Park ranger at the WWII memorial was captured on network coverage.

    Your analysis of the positioning of the Republicrats is interesting, Boehner is already perceived as a flawed and weakened Speaker from past squeeze plays applied by the Tea Party. It is likely true that the Tea Party is immune to voter retribution, having been hatched in their re-districted, safe seats. It makes them intransigent but also weakens their bargaining position, for it follows that the bloc of moderate Republicans and the even smaller subset that Boehner has counted among those willing to be whipped into voting on raising the debt ceiling are vulnerable and therefore, should Boehner care about the continued existence of the Republican Party, something many observers are increasingly skeptical about, need protecting and nurturing.

    As Obama’s tenuous reign unfolds, evaluating the hidden operation of governance is a guessing game played with a cynical relish by beltway pundits and political junkies. Identifying the administrations true identity is intriguing and the characterizations range absurdly from socialist to Eisenhower Republican (more likely). His advisers may be many things but they are not naïfs. As you have pointed out they have made concessions to the Republicans in the past only to have the ante raised, often at the expense of the Republicans or Boehner’s prestige. Concessions may be offered by the administration with the knowledge they will be rejected, if not in the past, than perhaps now as part of a game plan to color the Tea Party as lunatic and the Republican leadership as anything but in control.

    1. LillithMc

      The House has tried to perform the “caring” routine toward their employees not only in Congress, but the 800,000 on street by using the “thank you we care” while at the same time making it clear they need their own pay checks and health care. After repeated shut-downs in CA every time a budget was due, a proposition was passed that eliminated Legislative pay when the budget was late. We now have on-time budgets.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The problem is the Teabaggers are a brand. There is no such thing as a moderate Republican. The last Republican who wasn’t a complete monster was Jim Jeffords. The behavior of the Republican party for the last 20 years is a sordid history of sleaze and monstrous policies.

      The only argument is whether this makes political sense for them. Anyone who hasn’t figured this out probably won’t at this point.

      The Teabaggers are doing is making sure Obama and the Democrats don’t back off ACA. Its not working and declining in popularity as more is implemented despite the utter derangement of the GOP. The simple reason is if you had a problem with healthcare two years ago, you still have one because the historical low rise in prices is still a rise in price for people experiencing declining wages. This is what the GOP is really doing. Newt’s hold over the party was destroyed, but the GOP held power in the House and Senate (there was that brief interregnum) for the next decade as well as winning enough votes to steal an election.

      When people go to look for their Obama-care, see that healthcare costs are still killing them, lose their insurance, are denied the desired treatment (this is important. Coverage and treatment are two different things), or go bankrupt from healthcare costs because its still hideously expensive, ACA is going to decline in popularity, but the Democrats will now own a broken healthcare system. There is less employer based coverage. The exchanges unlike large employers don’t have lawyers on retainer or on staff who can take care of the HMO’s or insurance companies in court.

      I think an element of the Republicans know this, and they want to make sure the Dems take responsibility for Republican campaign promises. As far as Boehner, what does the rank-and-file care about Boehner? If he is embarrassed out of the Speakership, everyone gets a chance at a bigger office.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Clever of Dem partisans to swap in “ACA” for ObamaCare, especially after Our President told everyone he had no problem having his name attached to the statute. Now Google searches won’t work!

      2. myshkin

        “There is no such thing as a moderate Republican.”

        More importantly there are still Republican voting districts composed moderately or competitively. This still assumes that the Republicans and Democrats are part of the same spectrum but the red shift in the spectrum of political discourse since Nixon has been toward the right except on social issues like racsim, gender and sexual orientation bias. Regulation of business on an array of fronts has been beaten back, declining unions have led to workers interest issues being ignored and abandoned for corporate interests such as promoting right to work legislation, off shoring capital and jobs, the redirection of income redistribution dramatically upwards by taxation policy and the destruction of the incipient welfare state. Even on economic theory, Hayek, Friedman, Greenspan are favored by one end of the spectrum and Keynes is still at least paid lip service on the other end.

        “The only argument is whether this makes political sense for them”

        “Them” being the Tea Party Republicans but it also suggests of course the Democrats. And assumes there are differences and political contention on issues, actual policy differences, that might matter even within this spectrum.

        “The Teabaggers are doing is making sure Obama and the Democrats don’t back off ACA….” “I think an element of the Republicans know this, and they want to make sure the Dems take responsibility.”

        Why would they care if there is no contention between the Dems and Pubs? Is it absolutely only theater and just a behind the curtain skirmish for lobby and corporate lucre? There is still a divide worth acknowledging and maybe worth voting in the accepted spectrum; where the spectrum coalesces into white light is at the source, money.

        “As far as Boehner, what does the rank-and-file care about Boehner?”

        I suspect nobody really cares about Boehner but Boehner and his mother but she could be jiving too.

    3. Banger

      There is a deeper level to politics than the one revealed by the mainstream narrative. Politicians do not act as agents of the people or even for themselves so much. They broker power and what we are seeing here are the cross-currents from a deeply divided ruling elite. Some of this is easy to see. There is no rational reason why the radical right would oppose the implementation of the ACA other than the fact, if it succeeds then some people might think that gov’t programs can succeed and that may be part of it. But the main thing I see is a power play by a certain segment of the oligarchy to dominate Washington decision making. I think this consists of a segment of the most piratical forces on Wall Street, Walmart, Koch borthers and many others who want a dramatic rather than the gradual turn to neo-feudalism. This force wants to rapidly degrade the federal government so that the clique we are discussing can go about their business of, essentially, looting the country and the world. The current dominant clique, in contrast, simply wants to more balanced approach a sort of radical status-quo. Mind you there are more than two sides here and that’s the point–all these forces are not in accord whereas a few years ago they were. The gov’t shutdown was accomplished because some forces wanted the shutdown and they used the implementation of ACA to make that happen. The ACA seems to arouse primal impulses in the population they play like a keyboard so–that’s what they’re doing.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Very much agreed on factional infighting in the (globalized) elite. We don’t get to see it, all we get are intimations, tremors, vibes. We should actually welcome this, I believe, scary though it is.

  10. Susan the other

    I tend to agree with Governor Ventura. Let’s abolish political parties because they are all rotten to the core. I’m just thinking about the standoff that was WW1 trench warfare. And now, today, I see an iteration of this in trench mind control. Like that awful History Channel pseudo documentary about the Los Angelinos who get caught in a complete shutdown of social services and gangs roam the streets killing everyone for a plastic bottle of water. The family finally manages to escape to Idaho which is still a paradise of “individualists” of a sort, etc. What an entertainment obscenity. I don’t recall the History Channel ever doing a documentary on a more probably reality – that people come together in disasters and help each other in extraordinary ways without expecting anything in return.

    1. ambrit

      Dear sto;
      Please allow me to relate some observations drawn from my wife and my experiences during and after the Katrina Disaster.
      First, all the anecdotes herein contained are first hand and from the site of one of the loci of the Disaster: Pearlington Mississippi.
      We stayed for the storm and ended up in our attic for most of Monday. The water rose roughly ten feet in just under an hour. (This from inside the house observations.) In the afternoon, we came down out of the attic and started cleaning up. The ground around our house was free of water by around five o’clock Monday afternoon. (The Mississippi Gulf Coast has no levees, so, the water came quickly in and left just as quickly. The levees actually made matters worse in New Orleans.)
      It took two days for crews from Stennis Space Centre, just north of the town, to cut their way through the trees blocking the road into town. Those of us who had stayed, more than a trivial number, did our best to scavenge anything we could to get by until the ‘outside world’ could get to us. Gilligans Island is the best analogue I can think of. One of the first things I did in the early going was to roam our immediate neigbhourhood shutting off the natural gas supplies to the destroyed houses. It took the utility company several days to shut off the local area wide main gas valve. We could never get a good explanation as to why this critical act wasn’t accomplished sooner. Water we got from a nearby artesian water well head. Food that first day after came out of cans. (Plus an incredible number of bottles of booze that ended up in a wrack pile in our back yard. Gallon bottles of Jack Daniels! A case of B and B! Napoleon Brandy and more. A lot of this ended up as barter items later on. Some people will trade away tickets to their grandmothers funeral for a quart of vodka.)
      The second morning, once the highway has halfway cleared, in came the crowds. A big part of the early crowd was comprised of disaster junkies. Being one of the only intact buildings left in the town, Phyllis and I played host to a diverse group of people early on. There was the FEMA disaster adjuster, proud to let us know he was a regular at his trade. Try to estimate the amount of damage two days after total destruction, in an area foreign to you some time. This fellow was one of the cadre telling the Feds just how bad it was. Then there were several people who wandered through just looking. One man. who was helpful with some survivalist type water filtration jugs, was from Oregon. “I just had to do something, so I gathered up what I could and drove down here, just stopping to catch some sleep once.” Another was from somewhere around the Great Lakes region. Another was from Upstate New York.
      The greatest crowd the day the officials opened the town back up though were locals coming back to salvage what they could from the ruins of their homes. Since they had to park on the main highway and walk in, the scene looked much like some queer sort of festival. Crowds of folks wandering in, amazed at how bad it really was, and later wandering out carrying what they had found. There was almost no friction between people. This despite the fact that ruined homes were on next door property for the most part. The locals were generally cooperative.
      Our Andy Warhol fifteen minutes happened quite by chance. A young woman wandered up to the porch and asked us if she could ask us questions. She wrote for the WSJ and was based out of Gulfport. We asked her about as many questions as she asked us. News of the outside world was hard to get.
      Then the Relief Services arrived. MREs and water was flown in by Vietnam era twin rotor helicopters. Food trucks and supply caches were sent in. A large part of these were of the Bush Era “Faith Based Initiative” type. Even if they were getting funds from the Feds, we were glad to see real religious compassion at work. Likewise, a small medical clinic was set up in the still intact middle school gym building, the infamous “Pearlmart.” What was so fascinating about these efforts was the degree with which the semi-official outfits moved in quickly to undermine and remove them. Even in a real natural disaster, turf wars erupted, even to the extent of disrupting the flow supplies and services that was supposedly the reason for the entire exercise.
      So, the point of my admittedly long and semi coherent rant? That the locals, those actually involved in the disaster, usually pull together toward a common goal. It’s when the outsiders, in all their forms and varieties show up that the depressing fun begins.
      Well, time to get ready for the evening shift at the Boxxstore. Thanks for the therapy session!

      1. Banger

        Wonderful account, I enjoyed reading about your experience. Though I had to pause when you talked about gallons of Jack. I just feel a particular need today of that substance.

      2. Banger

        Wonderful account, I enjoyed reading about your experience. Though I had to pause when you talked about gallons of Jack. I just feel a particular need today for that substance.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      We don’t have political parties but sports teams in the same league.

      The issue isn’t political parties, but the real problem is the tribal support politicians receive. Republican voters have terrible ideas, so their behavior is largely irrelevant. The issue is the Democrats. Much of the current situation is the direct result of Democratic inaction or malfeasance. The Republicans are free to behave like monsters because George W. Bush is a free man able to weigh in on intervention in Syria.

      Democratic elite spent most of the Summer pushing militarization of the border, bringing in more foreign workers during an unemployment crisis, intervening in another quagmire in the Middle East, and defending a useless spying apparatus which both pollutes the planet (those computers run on fossil fuel and require water to keep cool) and doesn’t catch bad guys. Democratic followers should be outraged considering the general promises make. Now we’ve reached the current point, and its still a Republican/Democratic fight over defending the good parts of hideous policy and making sure to finance a woefully inadequate government.

      Even now, Democrats are whining about how unreasonable the GOP is because Obama has given them everything to this point, and then in the same breath, they call the GOP all that is evil. Not once, do they ever go, “wait why is Obama working with such evil people on a regular basis?” because Obama is the team captain.

      1. Lambert Strether


        As everybody knows, ObamaCare is RomneyCare is HeritageCare. In other words, ObamaCare is a Republican plan.

        So why are Republicans attacking it?

        Because Obama.

        And why are Democrats defending it?

        Because Obama.

        Given the clear intellectual and legislative history of ObamaCare, that’s the only possible reason. If it’s good public policy, then it’s good for a Republican, or good for a Democrat. And if it’s bad public policy, the same. Everything is a wash, so far as public policy is concerned.

        So, tribalism pure and simple. It’s just another one of the countless examples from Democrats: “If our guy does it, it’s OK.”

      2. Waking Up

        At what point do the citizens of this country ask themselves, “…well, if the GOP is all that is evil, what are those who pass those GOP policies?” At what point does someone finally acknowledge the Democratic party has been complicit in the “evil” or even worse? Is NSA spying “less evil”? Is a Democratic President with a “kill list” less evil? Is a Democratic President who maintains funding for NSA spying on citizens while cutting funding of food stamp programs during a government shut down “less evil”? At what point does someone finally say, “neither the Democratic or Republican parties represent the citizens of this country”?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          At what point? I don’t know. There is a lot of emotional attachment to Obama for a variety of reasons, and I suspect too many Democrats will be unable to let go. Obama is their black friend or their imaginary ideal of a multi-cultural American myth of what people want to be. The Hillary and Obama wars were pretty nasty. The Clinton people hit the nail on the head about Obama on a fairly regular basis, and the Obama people called every critic of Obama as a racist. If the critics* of Obama aren’t racists or unicorn chasing jerks, what are the people who dismissed them as racist or unserious while applauding Obama during a period of people becoming poorer? Morally, I don’t think they can face that. When a Federal judge moved to rule DADT unconstitutional, Obama and the Democrats jumped into action to avoid being embarrassed. He can be pressured if the Obots did something other than discuss pictures of his AKC certified gift from Ted Kennedy while ignoring his promise about going to the humane society. Letting go of Obama requires an acknowledgement of complicity especially when making him act like a decent human being requires Kossacks to send an email.

          At the same time, Republicans are largely useless and vile, so I can only be pleasantly surprised by their actions such as the Amash amendment or bending to popular will on Syria.

          *I’m excluding the GOP.

          1. Waking Up

            “If the critics* of Obama aren’t racists or unicorn chasing jerks, what are the people who dismissed them as racist or unserious while applauding Obama during a period of people becoming poorer? Morally, I don’t think they can face that.”

            Couldn’t agree more. Rather than acknowledgement of being complicit with such things as a “kill list”, bank bailouts without any consequences for the CEO’s of those institutions, NSA spying, sequestration, attacks on public education, endless wars, and the list goes on… too many would rather “pretend” these policies and actions are somehow “morally okay”. If we can’t get the people in this country who at least have shown a marginal amount of compassion for others in the past to acknowledge they are backing the wrong policies and people, well, what does that say for our future?

            1. James Levy

              I think if you are gay or black, it’s more complicated than that. They see the Republicans as going personally, directly, and forcefully after them, to criminalize and incarcerate them. Sure, much of the time many Dems are complicit in this, but most Dems are not baying for these people’s blood, and a fair number of Republicans are. If Scalia and his ilk had their way, gays would lose all standing and protections (under sodomy laws which he supports they would in effect be criminalized) and blacks would lose the franchise as Red states maneuvered to strike them from the roles. So it may be easy for me to say, not a dime’s worth of difference, but a gay man or a black woman might not see it so starkly, and they wouldn’t just be fools for thinking that way.

      3. Banger

        I think the differences between the RP and DP are getting larger with this little putsch or attempted putsch. The DP represents the status-quo–they are violently status-quo. Obama is the anti-change President in this time of change and that is part of his appeal–people feel more secure even though he is really, and now clearly not in charge. The RP, in contrast has become a radical party that wants to dismantle the central government and run it as a kind of rump state consisting of the national security state and not much else. They want power to devolve to the states, localities, warlords and gang leaders including corporate oligarchs whose trophy wives would prefer to flog their massage therapists when the don’t do a good job than not tip them.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Well, the right wing loons probably won’t be able to co-ordinate a 17-city paramilitary crackdown, so if I were an oligarch I’d go with Obama. But it’s a tough call.

    3. Banger

      I just saw the mighty Jesse on RT last night. He said he would run for President if he could get Howard Stern onboard to raise money for him. I would support such a candidacy. In fact, Jesse Ventura may well be our only hope at this point.

      1. Waking Up

        What would really be interesting about having Jesse Ventura as President… it would finally put to rest once and for all whether the President is threatened by National Security or “other interests”. It seems to me that Jesse wouldn’t be afraid to comment on “threats” being made by those around him.

        1. Banger

          Jesse Ventura is the only politician to hold a high office who was also a genuine political dissident–who understands that the national security state is an illegitimate and usurping power.

  11. kevinearick

    Flow: False Assumption Programming

    So, we have an empire distribution of false assumptions, a transport membrane of membranes, temporarily protecting legacy capital, passive real estate activity characterized as work product, from individuals doing nothing productive relative to nature, at great cost, to individuals doing make-work at little cost, separated by collective peer pressure false assumptions, belief thresholds, in each social event horizon, moving backwards in time relative to the leading edge of the universe, serving as the ground on our little human battery.

    How much a cop, a homeless person, or Henry Kissinger is worth depends upon the chosen medium of transaction, how YOU choose to count. What would HK be worth to you if he came out and admitted that this positive feedback loop between artificial free trade and artificial international tension, which he fueled with massive other-people’s-money pension leverage, to please capital, of which he took a substantial cut, is a complete and colossal waste of time, manpower and goodwill, that the American middle class has simply followed every other empire middle class into the black hole of History? We all fu- up, some much more than others.

    If you have produced anything net, which will withstand any time in the midst of this sh-show, you have accomplished more than the vast majority of humans on this planet, which, until recently, embraced the empire race to the bottom. You are the light in the darkness created by capital.

    “These guys may threaten to take their mother hostage, but they will never hurt their mother.” Eat more crap because my growing stomach isn’t full, until I go into convulsions, throw up, and start over. That is TARP. Congratulations, the economy is a bioengineered vegetable on life support, and all of its assumptions are proving themselves wrong. Welcome to the party Monsanto peer pressure robots.

    Your name, which represents your life’s work in progress, is your brand. Time intelligently invested in production begets wealth, which begets money, or anything else in which you choose to store the value, not the other way around, unless you focus on money to begin and look backwards, to legacy capital interest. You decide what capital’s land and money is worth in the transaction, because capital cannot adapt itself; it is a prisoner, along with all who follow it, to observers prism. Of course it will pay others with inflationary paper to certify the compliance of others.

    Doesn’t it seem odd to you that an arbitrary ticket for a California stop, normal rolling through in California, costs you $500, but when you drive through other communities where stopping is the norm, breaking the law costs $50. Empire scale economics is like fishing in a barrel. You don’t want to be an intelligent fish in a barrel of stupid fish, and then compound the error by doing something stupid.

    The truth rings for you. The false assumptions you apply are individually irrelevant, so long as they net to eliminate observers prism from your position. You don’t care about development derivates stolen behind you, because they will leave the thieves at a dead end every time, which they always turn into a shooting gallery, until they run out of food. Insert a random constant into the integral.

    Store your wealth beyond government, which is no closer to cracking DNA than it is to the universe, because you haven’t told it, and even if you did, it would spend all its time trying to disprove your position and monetizing the process, because the solution is inconsistent with the false assumption of government. Government cannot escape its own gravity, by design.

    No economy begins with money. Congress issued money on the assumption of fertility, which it then stole with the assistance of a middle class built for the purpose, ‘thinking’ that it learned from previous empire iterations, but falling further behind nevertheless. Whether you feed an empire is always a choice. Anyone with a brain cell knows that consumers have to be fired and producers hired, so consumers can be hired again. As a producer, your value always increases, whether the empire accounting system recognizes the fact or not.

    In the begin, you cannot expect newly formed capital to reward behavior to replace capital. After several generational iterations, you may expect the progeny to punish behavior that replaces capital, work, in an increasingly arbitrary, capricious and malicious manner. It’s not a conspiracy, good or evil, from a programmer’s perspective. It’s just stupid being stupid, multiplication.

    If you are going to go into one of those barrels, you might want to appear to be as same as the other fish, travel randomly among the barrels relative to the empire, and spend no more than the time necessary in the barrels. Don’t make the problem solution more difficult than it is. What is the difference between lead and gold; how do you mirror a distribution, until you don’t, load the spring, drop the load and trigger the catapult?

    Ever study naval instrumentation, its effect on navigation and power, leading up to America? Build your own measuring instrument. The answer to the question of which way electricity flows is both, but you can’t measure it with archaic empire instruments. You may not want to give capital your prototype; in fact, you may want to let it steal your second derivative.

    Ever notice those kids that appear impervious to the empire around them, how they get just what they need when the need it, out of nowhere, and those nasty little bullies that are rewarded to grow a gang to hunt them down? They aren’t accidents.

    It’s an algebraic catapult, a process of addition and subtraction. Capital is subtraction by addition. Labor is addition by subtraction, through geometry. And the middle class chases symptoms. The spiritual train is always at the station for those with eyes to see it for themselves. The physical train created by the railroad is always going over the cliff.

  12. Tim

    This is the same D*** story as immigration and everything else. The Speaker and the tea partiers have a veto threat the president could only dream about.

  13. herk

    Healthcare in the USA costs 20% of GDP,and the ACA does NOTHING to stop that. I am a way left liberal and I honestly believe that healthcare will bankrupt this country within 5 years if we do not go to a nationalized system. Nobody wants that, but we have no choice. I think people will regret allowing the ACA to become entrenched law, and I think that both sides of the political spectrum decided upon this as the best method to deal with healthcare because both sides knew that it would FAIL miserably.

    The left thought it introduced socialized healthcare which would start out as a half measure that they then could “fix” until it was full socialized medicine. The right thought it would blow up in the faces of the left even though everybody in the street understood years ago SOMETHING had to be done.

    All I can say is thank god I am exempt from this law. Because I simply would have left the country before signing up to chose between forced at IRS gunpoint to pay a ruinous fine or to buy private for obscene profit insurance.

    Keep this in mind now please, Wall Street via the Fed and the banksters, own DC and everyone in congress. They would like to go on looting America for a long time, but in the end they do not care if America fails totally since they already have all the power and wealth they will ever need. Controlling our corporate government means controlling us, and they have the military and CIA/FBI/NSA etc. to do it, they will never hesitate to go to martial law if their power is threatened. If Boner continues to shut down government that may well happen. At some point the executive will simply suspend congress and declare martial law.

    It might not happen this time, it might not happen next time, but one day the theater of faux polarization in DC will result in suspention of congress and habeus corpus. Then you will know what you gave up.

  14. Hugh

    Hannah Arendt wrote:

    Without the elite and its artificially induced inability to understand facts as facts, to distinguish between truth and falsehood, the movement could never move in the direction of realizing its fiction.

    This describes our elites in general and their belief they can loot us endlessly without consequence. But it also explains why they can be so unstraightforward about it.

    It begins with an “if”. For those of us in the normal world looking on, even though we would never support their goals, we can not help opining “if” they, the Tea Baggers, whoever, were smart, they should jump at the chance to get 95% of what they wanted and to gut Medicare and Social Security. So why don’t they, we say, shaking our heads. It is because the various fictions our elites entertain are more important to them than facts or reality. The fiction is superior to reality because it is consistent and ordered as reality is not.

    As Arendt writes:

    Their art consists in using, and at the same time transcending, the elements of reality, of verifiable experiences, in the chosen fiction, and in generalizing them into regions which then are definitely removed from all possible control by individual experience. With such generalizations, totalitarian propaganda establishes a world fit to compete with the real one, whose main handicap is that it is not logical, consistent, and organized. The consistency of the fiction and strictness of the organization make it possible for the generalization eventually to survive the explosion of more specific lies

    We can debunk the lies and fictions of our elites again and again, and it won’t matter. For them, it is the insistence upon the fiction which will ensure its eventual victory.

    So the next time you wonder why some faction of our elites can not accept a near total victory and in fact would prefer defeat to it, just remember you are applying the values of the normal world to the equation. In the totalitarian mindset of our elites, victory is defined only in terms of the fiction, and the fiction demands all or nothing.

    1. Old Soul

      From Hugh: “We can debunk the lies and fictions of our elites again and again, and it won’t matter. For them, it is the insistence upon the fiction which will ensure its eventual victory.”

      Thank you, Hugh. I needed that insight. Do you have an insight into how we can insist that reality replace the fictions concocted by the so called elites? I used to think that the law and evidence could triumph over fiction. But if we are denied the opportunity to produce the evidence and or, even when it is produced, it is still ignored, fiction will triumph because the power will trump ascertainable truth.

      I will never accept that power ultimately trumps ascertainable truth, despite the overwhelming temporary evidence to the contrary. The earth revolved around the sun whether Pope Urban VIII agreed or not. Legend has it that Galileo whispered under his breath, when he was forced to publicly recant his agreement with Copernicus, in exchange for house arrest, “And yet it moves.”

      And so it does.

  15. stevelaudig

    Not just the wrong place, but the wrong time. It’s more like November 1860 in the soon-to-be-not United States.

  16. Brooklin Bridge

    It’s easy to fall into the habit of always trying to connect dots as if this whole horrific period were part of a well oiled diabolical machine. But things often don’t really work that way and Yves’ point that many of the elite wheels are not turning at the same speed or even in the same direction makes a lot of sense. Granted, the tea party is political astro-turf, or perhaps more accurately a sort of Frankenstein created by the Koch brothers and their ilk – it’s not a natural ground-up movement. But it has taken on a life of it’s own in the House of Representatives which is almost certainly at odds with the wishes and interests of it’s creators. Granted, Wall St. and the Koch brothers are manifestly and utterly indifferent to all degree of human suffering (as long as it is not them) but they are certainly not interested in blood-shed, financial or physical that puts profit at risk.

    Corruption is now so systemic, so pervasive, that even similar groups with the same over-arching intensity of greed are falling into each other’s way as they grasp and clutch and lunge over and into one another for what little (but oh, how it adds up) the elderly and poor and middle class have left.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Teabaggers were a way of reorganizing the Christian Right types and libertarians into a pliable movement for the GOP money in the absence of W. who held a certain sway over them.

      The real story is the alliance between the Christian Right, the organized libertarians, and GOP money is breaking down. The corporate Democrats have relied on this alliance to provide cover, but the GOP alliance is too dependent on voters who despise Democrats to work with them outright. Amash and his cronies were leading voices against the NSA and Syrian intervention. He has inured himself from criticism on several major issues used by Democrats in elections, but this is worth tens of millions of dollars in his campaign chest. With the prevalence of news sources and the lack of a Democratic opposition, I think an element of the Republicans are working against the traditional corporate element of the GOP. The run of the mill fascists in Germany thought they could control the Nazis. The Nazis took power because the regular fascists had no popular support except the Nazis and fear of the Soviets. I think the more theocratic Republican is recognizing they don’t need the old fascists because they are doomed to be a minority party anyway, so why should they share?

  17. Percy

    Could we get back to basics, for those of us who just don’t get it? Why must government as a whole be funded — all of it, I mean, and at one time, in one vote? (Forget for a moment whether doing something to curtail the AFCA or accept it as our state of affairs is good or bad. That is just the occasion for having this discussion. It could just as well have been started by something else.) What does anyone who says this must happen — “fund government” — mean by it? Can anyone who does say this possibly know what he or she is talking about? I mean there’s an awful lot of “government” out there to be funded. What is wrong with bringing up one topic after another, like veterans’ benefits (whatever they are, in detail — and who knows even what those might be), and deciding whether to fund them or not? Is it not in the House of Representatives that decisions to spend money for any reason, including carrying out this or that law, must be made under our Constitution? If the House says do not pay for X, even though we promised we would last year, isn’t that the proper end of it? If the people don’t like refusal to pay for X, shouldn’t they elect a new House – and, if they can’t, just shut up about it, at least until the next election of the House? Without being on the same page about this, and I am unsure that we are, all the theorizing about what this means politically or what will ensue leaves me a bit cold, convinced that this is beside the point.

    1. LucyLulu

      Before money can be spent, Congress (both Houses) must approve it, by passing budgets and appropriation bills. Fiscal year 2014 bagan October 1, and while the House and Senate each passed budgets last March, they never got together in conference to iron out their differences. So there’s no budget for 2014. When this happens, a Continuing Resolution is normally used, which continues funding at previous levels. The House refused initially to pass a continuing resolution without a repeal of Obamacare. When that didn’t work, they went for a one year delay on the individual mandate instead. The Senate has refused to vote on either of these, demanding a clean CR (no attached legislation).

      If the Senate passes funding on a piecemeal basis, which the GOP would love, it removes the heat from the GOP for shutting down the government. Perhaps more importantly the GOP will fund the portions of government they (or their backers) like, and refuse to fund those they don’t, e.g. regulatory agencies, Dept. of Education, food stamps, etc. Big money GOP sponsors are starting to turn on the heat (increasingly nervous the shutdown will evolve into a debt default), pressure which the Tea Party may not respond to, but the more numerous traditional Republicans historically have.

      1. Percy

        I appreciate that both chambers need to approve any expenditure before the money can be spent, but the expenditure for X or anything else must originate in the House. The Senate can propose and present budgets and so on, but if the House does not take it up and approve the expenditure, it does not happen. This is not some kind of illegitimate usurpation of governmental power, as so many, including the President, now complain. Instead, it is precisely what the Constitution specifies is to happen. Everyone can vilify and yell at the House, but, if it doesn’t originate a particular expenditure, the expenditure doesn’t happen. (Does this make it hard to plan, hard to know what’s around the corner next year? Sure. too bad!) If the House says yes to expending money on Y and Z, but not X, sends it to the Senate, and the Senate says no, not without X, we get where we are now. Dead ball. The end. Or the Senate can say yes and the President can sign off on it and government life will go on. There are no other choices: yes to what the House wants to spend money on or no. Period. Sure, there can be and usually is considerable back and forth between the two chambers, but in the end it is still what the House approves that counts, regardless of what the Senate or the President wants. That’s so for every single thing the President wants to spend money on, except as otherwise already provided for by the House and the Senate. Of course, when expenditures are packaged into one great mass, including all sorts things once thought to be good or wise or necessary at one time for some reason, many now unknown to and not understood by those in the House asked to approve it in bulk, as has been the case, uncomfortably, for too many years — as in a “continuing resolution” — much of the stuff on which money is being spent and why it is being spent on not only X, Y and Z, but a, b, and c, gets lost. Much of what is in these packages is the product of complicated, subterranean tradeoffs and deals between and among those who are being persuaded to vote for a particular package — much of it unsavory, things that, if viewed alone, could not withstand the light of day. Worse, these things live on year after year, even if today, viewed separately, they might well not get approval from the House or the Senate. We’ve just become used to approving these huge packages of expenditures for all the government did last year and has been doing for ten or fifty years to “keep government running,” even if way less than a majority would approve or vote for this or that particular aspect of “government running” and instead would prefer to stop that in this or that case by not approving money for it. And so the legislators are forced to work in the dark, blinded by the incomprehensible detail and complexity of what’s in the package, and the people are helpless in trying to understand what the person they are thinking of voting for has decided to spend money on. Is this how it has to be? Of course not, convenient as it is for legislators who have grown to love what’s done in the dark. Frankly, the piecemeal approach to reauthorizing programs (smaller packages) in the House and sending bits separately to the Senate is refreshing, much more sensible than some huge, incomprehensible, gigantic single package approved by the House budget committee with everything, including the kitchen sink, in it. That is, it makes the pieces the House has decided to spend money on more transparent, visible to all, with all the virtues and flaws of each piece subject to general examination and approval or disapproval, not only by the legislators, but by the people. “That’s not the way we do business over here” is a lousy thing to say in response. Is it harder? Sure. But isn’t that what we’re paying you to do? What it is, at bottom, is a far, far better way of running the Congress. It is sad to think that, once the dust has settled on our current controversy (funding AFHC), we’re likely to revert to the Big Package, all too easily and regularly corrupted, way of doing things.

        1. LucyLulu

          First, anybody with a lick of sense knew that Obama wouldn’t budge on the ACA. It was his baby. You might as well have been asking a parent to give up their child. He’d do anything else first. I don’t know what reality those on the extreme right are living in that they would think otherwise. They seem to be blinded by their ideology.

          However, if my understanding is correct, piecemeal approvals ARE the norm, through the appropriation process. For example, the House had passed three appropriation bills and was unable to come to agreement recently on a transportation appropriation bill. These bills were never voted upon by the Senate. In past government shutdowns, the shutdowns weren’t total as now, because some appropriation bills had already been passed, thus spending approved for those departments.

          Piecemeal approvals would be fine. However, budgets/appropriation deadlines were last March. Waiting until the government is shutdown and then reopening portions one by one, and the House using a “veto” power to not fund those departments it doesn’t approve of, is a transfer of power not provided for in the Constitution. Yes, funding originates in the House but requires approval from the Senate and a signature from the President. The House is bypassing the latter two, in an attempt to repeal Obamacare they found impossible legislatively. The ACA is funded almost exclusively with mandatory spending thus not subject to budget/appropriations funding. Democrats have conceded to GOP numbers on the budget, so this is not about the deficit. In fact, the shutdown is costing money, and a bill has been passed to pay federal worker who are furloughed (i.e. paid vacation, what a deal!).

          If this sounds a reasonable stance, imagine the Democrats had control of the House, perhaps in 2016, with GOP control of the Senate and presidency. Would it be equally reasonable for them to shutdown the government or threaten default on the debt if gun control legislation wasn’t passed*? Would strict enforcement of background checks and registration, crackdowns on gun shows, outlawing assault weapons and magazines with more than 10 rounds, and making violations of preceding be automatic felonies accompanied by loss of rights to own guns, be considered a good faith offer to compromise? How would you feel about piecemeal refunding of WIC, food stamps, Head Start, NIH, climate change research, EPA……. with funding of defense contracts, NSA, Homeland Security, DEA and war on drugs, border patrol/INS, oil/corporate/farm withheld.

          The government needs to continue running as voted upon, and our debts, all of them, need to be repaid as guaranteed by the “full faith” of the US govt (for spending originated and approved by the very entity that now threatens not to pay). If changes need to be made, they need to be made BEFORE the funds are spent, and agreed upon by both Houses and the president. That will require compromise by all parties. Compromise is essential to a two party system but seems to have become a lost art. As my divorce attorney once said, as applicable to the political process as divorce, “you know you have an agreement when both parties are unhappy”.
          *The Second Amendment right to bear arms is not absolute and can come with restrictions, as the Supreme Court’s DC v.Heller decision confirmed.)

          1. Percy

            The bidding war for public opinion on the ACA stance of the House changes too rapidly for me to keep up with it (now seemingly about extending a one-year delay in the whole thing to everyone and not just to the political elite and corporations). But that is neither here nor there. I cannot agree that what is going on here is some kind of “transfer of power” not contemplated by the Constitution. It still seems to me to be the duty of the House to decide what to pay for, whatever happened earlier (or failed to happen)suggesting, but not ensuring that X would always be paid for. There are many good reasons for thinking that the House ought not to proceed in a manner that negates expenditures to fund almost everything we said once upon a time, or even just a couple of years ago, we would do. But that is also consistent with saying “we’ll pay for everything you want except X.” The suggestion was not a debt of the United States. In this case X has been reduced to a shadow of what caused all this stir — “defunding” all of ACA. It does not seem to me to be too much for the House to insist upon others giving it that remaining shadow as the sine qua non of reopening government fully. Or, for that matter, as the price for authorizing an increase in the debt ceiling. Look at it the other way around: why should the Senate and the President be thought blameless if they allow default to occur because they refuse to give the House the little it is still asking for, after which it has said it will pay for everything else? Talk about an unconstitutional transfer of power!

  18. VietnamVet

    Yves and Banger just nailed it.

    Everything comes around. Today feels exactly like the aftermath of 9/11 except instead of Anthrax envelopes and White Van Snipers, it is the Navy Yard shotgun shooter, Black Infiniti Mom, and self immolation on the Mall. Also, there are the war drums beating for the Syrian War in the background that suddenly went Quiet (but will be back).

    The only explanation I can come up with is that the Plutocrats have decided now is the time for our fleecing. The Shock Doctrine is in play. What’s worked before will work again, here and now. This is the Time to end entitlements and eliminate the taxes on business and the wealthy that help pay for them.

    1. LucyLulu

      it is the Navy Yard shotgun shooter, Black Infiniti Mom, and self immolation on the Mall.

      Those in DC have no idea what’s going on outside the bubble they live in. These are attempts to call their attention to the pain and suffering people are experiencing while Congress is doing nothing except issuing soundbytes. Alas, the message is falling on deaf ears.

  19. Fiver

    The “shutdown” fight is already over, and ought not to be a surprise, as the tactic of the right, i.e., ‘risking’ a shutdown in order to undo Obamacare simply oozes “tactic” as opposed to “principle”. Round 1 is done, and soon.

    As for the prospect of another “debt ceiling crisis” my take is that what failed in Round 1 will have even less support in Round 2. Why?

    Let’s think 2014 mid-term, and you are a senior member in the Republican Party. What you see as of now are 3 options:

    1) Stay with Boehner and the “No” boys, and go down in flames intentionally in order to quash the far right prior to 2016.

    2) Stay with Boehner after he has faced down the right and force them to choose between being Republican and being an idiot, should they attempt a second fight having lost the first one – my pick. And

    3) Stay with Boehner and the “No” boys and go down in flames unintentionally, setting up a showdown featuring “Boehner in” and “Boehner gone” options, the one sure thing being the right is faced down for pursuing a strategy so stupid even most Republicans are fearful of what minds that operate like this might do with power.

    I support this view, not with what “Eric” or ‘John’ or “Obama” or ‘Mitch’ or any of these weasels say, or indeed any arguments forwarded by anyone addressing the pros or cons presumably entailed in these “crises”. Rather, I point to the clear and distinct change in the US political landscape resulting from the Snowden releases, the defeat of the military option in Syria by reasoned oppostion and overwhelmingly negative public opinion, and the fact that 5 years into a Depression, Americans have completely had it with contrived political drama – drama that also covers the need for a controlled “correction” in the “Markets” to allow a sizable release of air from the bubbles, to be followed by another big blast of QE (or some similar monetary stim)to ensure (for Dems) a good enough 2014 to be able to then pass measures with enough heft over the remaining 2 years to have any chance at all in 2016 against Republicans that will have themselves jettisoned the crazies and nominated a credible centrist.

    The Republicans are not crazy when it comes to their core interest in money and power, which means the far-right, intractable “No !!!”, having served its purpose for years, will be rather unceremoniously dumped. Those that argue they need not fear re-election forget the Republicans control membership in the Party, and the only threat is that a recalcitrant right-winger runs as an Independent – one who will never support a Democratic position in any event. That combined with a very real possibility of a 3rd Party run from the “left”, and 2016 looks to be another “lesser of two evils”, but this time the character playing “Romney” isn’t hopelessly compromised by the positional gymnastics required to keep the far-right and apparent “moderates” in the same tent.

    The one thing that won’t happen is any serious damage resulting from either gambit.

  20. steve from virginia

    It seems too much credit is given to the elites who are just as lost as everyone else, with much more to lose. After all, their fortunes are borrowed, the repayment is intended to be made by the rest who have run out of money.

    Meanwhile, the elites are a bit like passengers on the Titanic looting other passengers’ soggy staterooms as the ship slowly sinks. They cannot see there is nowhere for them to go, no room on the lifeboats for either them or the loot.

    It’s funny, this sort of drama always seems to occur when the price of Brent crude gets too high, like it did in 2008. Back then the ‘price too high’ was $147/barrel. Today it’s $109. What will the ‘price too high’ be tomorrow and what damage will this price cause?

    As for Obama care … ignore it. It cannot work, why give it credence or attention it cannot earn on its own?

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