The short answer for today’s title is, by bumbling and…maybe, yes. Two articles appeared today in the internet news. One was an interview given by a House ‘Pub leader, name withheld, and the other was an article in Business Week. I have no reason to believe either are incorrect.
To the first question, how did we get her? The ‘Pub House leadership, Boehner, Cantor, et. al., were incredibly stupid over the summer. They had been working deals all through June, July and August with Harry Reid. The fix was in. Boehner would cut funding for Obamacare in the CR and Reid would block it. Boehner would then respond with a gimme—cut the medical device tax and delay implementation of Obamacare and Reid would buy that and all would be well, the rest of Obamacare would be funded like the dems wanted.
Surprise! Surprise! Reid blocked the second offer, too. He said all or nothing. While the back and forth continued, time ran out and the shutdown occurred. Byron York recounts an interview with one of those ‘Pub House leaders. We entered the shutdown like the Union and Confederacy accidentally bumping into one another and starting the Battle of Gettysburg.
By BYRON YORK | OCTOBER 6, 2013 AT 3:02 PM
On Thursday afternoon, as the government shutdown entered its third day, a Republican member of the House sat down with a group of reporters in an office building not far from the Capitol. He spoke on the condition that he be referred to only as a House lawmaker, but without betraying the agreement it’s fair to say his was a perspective well worth listening to. The congressman walked the group through a set of issues involved in the shutdown — the continuing resolution, House-Senate relations, the coming debt limit talks, and more — but what was perhaps most striking was his frank talk about how the GOP leadership got itself into its current predicament. What became clear after an hour of discussion was that the House Republican leadership’s position at the moment is the result of happenstance, blundering, and a continuing inability to understand the priorities of both GOP and Democratic colleagues.
The congressman began with an anecdote from the Civil War. “I would liken this a little bit to Gettysburg, where a Confederate unit went looking for shoes and stumbled into Union cavalry, and all of a sudden found itself embroiled in battle on a battlefield it didn’t intend to be on, and everybody just kept feeding troops into it,” the congressman said. “That’s basically what’s happening now in a political sense. This isn’t exactly the fight I think Republicans wanted to have, certainly that the leadership wanted to have, but it’s the fight that’s here.”
When the September 30 deadline for funding the government was still weeks away, the lawmaker explained, he never thought Republicans and Democrats would fail to reach agreement on a continuing resolution. “To be honest with you, I did not think we’d be in a government shutdown situation,” he said. “I’m surprised that we’re here.” The congressman frankly admitted that he never saw the intensity of the party base’s opposition to Obamacare that came to the fore in the August recess. “I think that probably the Cruz phenomenon had a lot to do with that,” he said, referring to the campaign by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz to raise support for an effort to defund Obamacare. “I think it disrupted everybody’s plans, both in the administration and certainly the House Republican leadership.”
As the congressman told the story, as August progressed — and Cruz, along with a few Senate colleagues, the Heritage Foundation, and others, ran a high-profile campaign to stir public opinion against Obamacare — the House GOP leadership was mostly unaware of what was going on. “They got surprised a little bit by the Obamacare thing,” the lawmaker said. “This was something that blew up in August. Nobody really saw it coming — probably should have a little bit, I’m not being critical of anybody in that regard, on either side of this — but it just happened.”
Even after the events of August, and the rise of Cruz forced House Republicans to take notice, GOP leaders had little understanding of the course that the conflict, both inside the House Republican conference and with Senate Democrats, would eventually take. “I never thought defund, and honestly, I never thought delay, would work,” the lawmaker said. “I think the Democrats very much need the exchanges to come on and work to finally create a constituency for [Obamacare]…so I never thought they would agree on that.”
At this point Boehner’s carefully engineered plans went awry. Reid continued to insist on no negotiations, following Obama’s orders.
Still, the lawmaker thought Senate Democrats, and Majority Leader Harry Reid, would make some sort of concession on a lesser aspect of Obamacare. “I do think, though, when Boehner sent over delay and [repeal of the] medical device tax, I think he thought he’d probably get back medical device, and that would have probably been enough right there,” the congressman said. But Reid and the Democrats steadfastly refused to consider any change to Obamacare, surprising Republicans again.
“Instead, it’s no, we’re not going to negotiate, we’re not going to negotiate, we’re not going to negotiate,” the lawmaker said. “Which means effectively you’re going to try to humiliate the Speaker in front of his conference. And how effective a negotiating partner do you think he’ll be then? You’re putting the guy in a position where he’s got nothing to lose, because you’re not giving him anything to win.”
The result of Reid’s intransigence, coming after multiple Republican miscalculations, was that both sides dug in. Whatever chance there had been of a settlement before — and there really wasn’t much of one, once the events of August began to unfold — there was zero possibility of a deal as September 30 approached. So the shutdown that House leadership never expected came. And it lasted more than the few days some predicted. And it is still going on as the October 17 deadline for raising the nation’s debt ceiling approaches. The crisis that House Republican leaders didn’t see coming is now consuming them, with unpredictable consequences. “We’re not in a situation that has been planned out and war-gamed and plotted, OK?” said the congressman. “We stumbled into a situation like Gettysburg that nobody planned, and all of a sudden each side is feeding more troops into it, and it’s turning into a much bigger deal.” — Washington Examiner.
The ‘Pub leadership also hadn’t factored the massive pressure generated by their rank and file—not only from the conservative Representatives, but from the Tea Party organizations and the masses of conservative voters.
The second question in the title is still unanswered. If you listen to all the State Media organs, the ‘Pubs are losing at every point. If you listen to some recognized business analysts, the ‘Pub may be winning.
Until minutes before the clock struck midnight on Monday, it looked as if House Republicans might lose their nerve and pass a clean continuing resolution to avert a shutdown. Such was the pressure from such moderate Republican representatives as Pete King of New York and Devin Nunes of California, some not-so-moderate Republicans too afraid to speak out publicly, and Republican pundits who recognized that the party has no strategy for victory. In the end, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his caucus went ahead and jumped. So far, they’ve survived.
It may well be that this is a Wile E. Coyote moment, the kind that ends with a precipitous plunge to the bottom of the canyon. But it’s clear that the swift, severe blowback from voters that might have chastened Republicans and forced a hasty retreat hasn’t materialized. During August, I spent a lot of time with the Republican hardliners who forced the shutdown. I checked back with some of them on Monday and Tuesday to get their take as to how things are going.
They’re in good spirits. Here are five reasons I heard for why they think they’re winning this standoff:
1. Markets have remained calm. As clocks ticked toward shutdown, there was some trepidation that the stock market might plunge on Tuesday morning, as it did after the House rejected the first TARP vote back in 2008. Instead the Dow Jones industrial average rose 62 points.
2. They’re getting “messaging wins” against Democrats. While the shutdown is ostensibly over the GOP’s demand to delay Obamacare, the Republican House has forced a series of votes—such as today’s to restore veterans’ benefits—that are uncomfortable for Democrats because they can’t do the politically popular thing and vote “yes” without undermining their party’s imperative to hold firm.
3. Harry Reid can’t help himself. On Wednesday, the Senate Majority Leader, who is a notoriously clumsy and undisciplined speaker, seemed to callously dismiss the plight of some children who are being denied cancer treatment at the National Institutes for Health while the government is shut down. You can watch the clip here.
4. Obamacare is off to a rocky start. On Tuesday, the health-care exchanges that allow people to sign up for insurance were officially unveiled—and promptly crashed. There still appear to be major technical problems days later. Ironically, news of the shutdown itself overshadowed these snafus, which is probably a break for the White House. But given how this whole mess was driven by Republicans’ insistence that Obamacare would be a disaster, they are encouraged to see this trouble.
5. Obama looks nervous. This one’s a matter of interpretation, as several of the conservatives I spoke with willingly conceded. But they took the president’s interview with the New York Times‘ John Harwood, in which Obama warned that Wall Street should not be complacent about the prospect of default, as an attempt to spook the markets. (I kind of did, too.) Obama would do this, they believe, only if he was getting nervous. On Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 137 points.
So who is correct? The MSM Obama propaganda organs or Bloomberg Business News? I’d like to believe Bloomberg but no one, at this point, really knows. Erick Erickson of Red State is another who thinks we’re winning.
What we do know is that the big battle hasn’t yet arrived. On October 17, 2013, we will have reached the national debt limit (if we haven’t already and Obama hasn’t told anyone.) Boehner has said that any legislation that raises the debt limit will include defunding Obamacare (something I find hard to believe given Boehner’s cowardly record.)
Mark Levin believes Obama will use the 14th Amendment to arbitrarily raise the debt limit and continue funding Obamacare. ABC News echoes that warning. The ‘Pubs are, so far, ignoring his warnings.
Ted Cruz has pressured Boehner to cut Obamacare from the debt limit talks and has become the de facto leader of the House providing leadership to the younger House conservatives that Boehner has not. It’s not surprising the article below gives credit to both. Boehner is grasping at any straw to keep his Speakership, a position that is endangered by his ineptitude.
House Speaker John A. Boehner and other Republicans made it clear Sunday they expect compromises from Democrats on spending in exchange for raising the country’s debt ceiling.
“We’re not going to pass a clean debt-limit increase. I told the president there’s no way we’re going to pass one,” Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said on ABC’s “This Week.” “The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit. And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us.”
Sen. Ted Cruz echoed the speaker’s comments and pushed back at President Obama, who has dismissed demands for concessions as blackmail and insisted repeatedly that he will not negotiate with Republicans over the current government shutdown or the upcoming debt-ceiling vote.
“The debt ceiling historically has been among the best leverage that Congress has to rein in the executive,” Mr. Cruz, Texas Republican, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Since 1978, we’ve raised the debt ceiling 55 times. A majority of those times — 28 times — Congress has attached very specific and stringent requirements,” he said. “Many of the most significant spending restraints — things like Gramm-Rudman, things like sequestration — came through the debt ceiling. So the president’s demand to jack up the nation’s credit card, with no limits, no constraints, it’s not reasonable to me.”
I don’t believe Obama will cave. He can’t and still maintain any credibility. He’s willing to create another Constitutional crises believing the ‘Pubs will, once again, cave to his and Reid’s demands.
However, this time, the country is becoming more and more united in their opposition to the tyrannical acts of a government out of control. If Obama follows through with his threats, I can foresee acts of open rebellion.
Just what would Obama do if several million protesters arrived at Washington, DC, not to gather at the Mall, but to gather at the White House and the Capitol building? Obama, the leadership of both parties and the DC government would all collectively panic. It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to know what would happen next.