Tuesday Reads: Nightmare on Capitol Hill

Nightmare on Capitol Hill Dave Granlund

Good Morning!!

Yes, it’s real–too real. We’re approaching the deadline for raising the debt ceiling–it’s Thursday–and Congress is still dithering. But it looks like they may figure out a way to kick the can down the road again, as long as Ted Cruz doesn’t decide to have another tantrum.

According to the Hill this morning, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell are close to agreeing on “a deal” to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling for a few more months. The two Senate leaders huddled for hours yesterday trying to put together some kind of package that would satisfy House Republicans and convince them not to bring down the U.S. Government and the global economy.

An emerging deal to reopen the government and raise the nation’s debt ceiling until February gathered political momentum Monday evening after Senate Republicans signaled they would likely support it.

Lawmakers and aides said the legislation would fund the government until Jan. 15 and extend the nation’s borrowing authority until February but leave ObamaCare largely untouched.

The agreement would also set up another “supercommittee” to try to deal with the next round of automatic sequester cuts. The committee would have until December 13 to report to Congress. Anyone who thinks they’ll agree on anything, please raise your hand.

The big question is whether a package to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling can pass muster in the House.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was briefed on the deal Monday, and members of his conference were taking a wait and see attitude.

“When we see it, we’ll know what it is. Do you know what it is yet?” Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), chairman of the House Rules Committee, asked reporters as he left Boehner’s office.

“As soon as we see something in writing, then we can understand how we can thoughtfully understand what we’ll do with it,” Sessions said.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) wouldn’t comment on the emerging Senate deal, but he told reporters House Republicans will meet Tuesday morning “to discuss a way forward.” “Possible consideration of legislation related to the debt limit” was added to Cantor’s daily House schedule for Tuesday.

Ted Cruz Onward Michael Ramirez

Of course the biggest potential fly in the ointment is Texas junior Senator Ted Cruz and his gang of Tea Party House members. Cruz wouldn’t say whether he’s planning another fake filibuster or some other effort to kill the Affordable Care Act. However, Cruz did hold a secret meeting with House Republicans last night, according to Roll Call.

Sen. Ted Cruz met with roughly 15 to 20 House Republicans for around two hours late Monday night at the Capitol Hill watering hole Tortilla Coast.

The group appeared to be talking strategy about how they should respond to a tentative Senate deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling without addressing Obamacare in a substantive way, according to sources who witnessed the gathering. The Texas Republican senator and many of the House Republicans in attendance had insisted on including amendments aimed at dismantling Obamacare in the continuing resolution that was intended to avert the current shutdown.

Sources said the House Republicans meeting in the basement of Tortilla Coast with Cruz were some of the most conservative in the House: Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas, Steve King of Iowa, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho, Steve Southerland II of Florida, Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Justin Amash of Michigan.

The group is a collection of members who have often given leadership headaches in recent years by opposing both compromise measures as well as packages crafted by fellow Republicans….While the emerging deal to reopen the government and hike the debt ceiling increase may have been a hot topic, it was not immediately clear what the group actually discussed. But the fact that such a group met with Cruz at all could give House GOP leaders even more heartburn as they consider themselves what to do if the Senate passes the measure.

If Cruz and his buddies decide to cause more trouble, they could bring about a default by dragging the fight out until after Thursday. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew could probably keep the U.S. afloat for a few more days, but it would be touch and go. Joshua Green wrote yesterday at Bloomberg Businessweek that “Ted Cruz Could Force a Debt Default All by Himself.”

How could this happen? Because the Senate can move quickly when necessary, but only by unanimous consent. Let’s say Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) strike a deal today (that’s looking unlikely). Cruz surely won’t like it and has said repeatedly, “I will do everything necessary and anything possible to defund Obamacare.” If he’s true to his word, he could drag out the proceedings past Thursday and possibly well beyond. “If a determined band of nut jobs wants to take down the global economy, they could do it,” says Jim Manley, a former top staffer for Reid. “Under Senate rules, we are past the point of no return—there’s not anything Reid or McConnell could do about it.”

If Cruz is truly determined to block or delay any deal that does not touch Obamacare, here’s how he’d do it: The hypothetical Reid/McConnell bill would probably be introduced as an amendment to the “clean” debt-ceiling raise that Democrats introduced—and Republicans defeated—last week. Reid voted against cloture on the motion to proceed to that bill, a procedural tactic that allows him to reconsider the bill later on. Let’s say he does so by 5 p.m. Monday. There would need to be a cloture vote on the motion to proceed. Cruz would dissent, but he wouldn’t be able to round up 41 votes for a filibuster….

The real killer is that Senate rules stipulate there must be 30 hours of post-cloture debate, unless senators agree unanimously to waive it. Reid and McConnell would want unanimous consent to move quickly, but Cruz could refuse, thereby forcing 30 hours of debate. This would drag things out until Tuesday at 11:30 p.m. Then there would be a vote on the motion to proceed (requiring a simple majority), followed by an intervening day, assuming Cruz withheld his consent to vote earlier. So now we’re looking at a Thursday cloture vote on the bill itself, followed by another 30 hours of post-cloture debate that would blow right past the Treasury deadline.

Ted Cruz Jesus

Let’s hope even Cruz isn’t that delusional and foolhardy. Booman also points out that the Senate can change the rules and limit post-cloture debate for this one vote. That takes 67 votes.

At The Daily Beast, Lloyd Green calls what Cruz and other Tea Party Republicans are doing “backdoor impeachment.”

The dance over the debt ceiling and the fight over the government shutdown are nothing less than impeachment on the cheap: a chance to negate the will of the majority by ostensibly placating the letter of the law. Unable to win the last two presidential elections or to persuade a Supreme Court majority that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional, House Republicans have arrived at a point where default and closure are the next best things. This combustible brew of race, class, and economic anxieties bubbles all too closely to the surface.

These days, the GOP comes across as hating Obamacare more than loving their countrymen, and the nation is returning that ire (PDF). Less than a quarter of Americans view the Republicans favorably, and a majority dislikes them, three-in-10 intensely. The GOP’s goal of recapturing the Senate in 2014 is now looking more like a dream than a reality, as Republicans are “forced to explain why they are not to blame and why Americans should trust them to govern both houses of Congress when the one they do run is in such disarray.” Indeed.

Unfortunately, the calamity of a potential default has tempered neither judgment nor passion. On Saturday, Ted Cruz—the man who lit the match, won the Values Voters Straw Poll with 42 percent of the vote. Channeling her inner Glenn Beck, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) concluded that the President “committed impeachable offenses.” Bachmann also proclaimed that civil disobedience was a potential response to Obama’s “thuggery,” and compared the Obama presidency to Egypt’s deposed Muslim Brotherhood.

I hope you’ll read the rest at the link.

Ted Cruz is stealing the right wing nut show for now, but in the House Paul Ryan raised his ugly head over the weekend to complain about the ACA’s individual mandate and requirement that women have access to birth control. From HuffPo:

Sources told the Post that, in a private meeting with House Republicans, Ryan said that by kicking the can down the road, the GOP would lose “leverage” in their fight against Obamacare.

Ryan’s main concern appears to be delaying the health care law’s individual mandate, but ThinkProgress points out that Ryan also emphasized the need to give employers the ability to deny birth control coverage based on moral or religious reasons.

Meanwhile most people around the country and even on Wall Street don’t seem all that concerned about what’s happening in Washington DC. I guess that after multiple emergencies in which political leaders “cried wolf,” everyone just assumes that Congress will find some way to keep the country going. Still, is this any way to run a country? Shouldn’t citizens be up in arms? Will Durst has a wacky column about this at Cagle Post called “Fukushima Sushi.”

Which is harder to believe? The ludicrous shenanigans going down in Washington or the fact that nobody seems particularly interested in doing anything about them? Good neighbors — it looks like we got ourselves one heck of a bumper crop of official dysfunction this year. Near as high as Manute Bol’s eye.

You’d think with national parks closed, veteran’s benefits being withheld and a possible catastrophic debt ceiling crisis looming, folks would be atwitter like chicken inspectors on a rotisserie spit during a power surge. And you’d be as wrong as a Bergman film on Comedy Central.

What the country seems to be seeking here is a little something called political responsibility. Which, in these dark days, is a wee bit of a tad of a total and complete oxymoron. Real similar to saying Fukushima sushi. Or elegant squalor. Comfortable rock.

Driving the point home: Weird normality. Spherical edge. Iron kite. Freedom shackle. Fresh detritus. Flammable sleet. Placid hammer. Colossal shrimp. Diminutive giant. Formal jeans. Sensitive linebacker. Salable autonomy. Veteran rookie. Vegetarian butcher. Pork tartare. Reality TV.

Keeping it real: Precarious certainty. Serene devastation. Bitter honey. Catholic condom. Heaven’s basement. Gelatinous needle. Sadistic lover. Banker’s compassion. Macabre solace. Chaste indiscretion. Temporary tax. Restorative annihilation. Healthy fries. Unhungry shark.

Lots more oxymoron’s at the link. How he came up with so many, I’ll never know.

Now what stories are you focusing on today? Please share your links on any topic in the comments.

51 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Nightmare on Capitol Hill”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have a tremendous Tuesday everyone–despite the insanity in the nation’s capitol.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    The sheer hatred pouring forth from these Fruit Loops is palpable. No longer hiding behind code words and dog whistles these nutjobs are out in full force, not afraid to wave the Confederate flag and demanding that Obama emerge from the WH with his hands up. It doesn’t get much crazier then this.

    And look at who Ted Cruz was meeting with. Most of those congressmen are regionally represented with an exception of a few and that in and of itself is “telling”.

    As for commentators lately suggesting that Paul Ryan has become a “voice of reason” I’m more and more convinced I am living on the wrong planet! He just attached a rider that would prohibit birth control to be included in the Affordable Care Act! War on women continues!

    We are becoming the laughingstock of the world because of these loons.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Ted Cruz is one scary asshole. To think that one man has engineered a Tea Party Coup that could use procedure to bring down the most wealthy, powerful nation on earth is unbelievable.

      • Delphyne49 says:

        Mouse, I’m thinking of starting a business selling dolls/poppets with faces of these clowns on them. Each one will include a scroll with a list of their votes and their memorable quotes. I’m going to include pins, darts and nails along with special “prayers” for them. Anyone who purchases one of these will be asked to photo them and post them to a Tumlr site, yet to be created as I have no idea how to do that, and share them on the FB pages of these morons.

        At least I’ll have some fun cackling into poverty….

        • Beata says:

          I love this idea!

        • Fannie says:

          Go for it…………..don’t forget the flags and rebel yell.

          • Delphyne49 says:

            Fannie – maybe I’ll even steal a line from Gone With The Wind and add it as the closing “prayer” said by the pin sticker!

          • Fannie says:

            Lo, get some US government money printed up from 1862/63……….gotta have lots of silver certificates……..lot’s of people in rags, and white men hating and fighting and killing for the “riches” and enjoying cheap slave labor………………….Get a few dozen dimes to show the size of their brains.

          • Beata says:

            Don’t forget to add the quote from “A Christmas Carol”. Just in time for the holiday season!

            “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”

        • ANonOMouse says:

          Great Idea, Delph . You can make me a Ted Cruz doll and send some very sharp pins with it. I will make up my own prayer. Better get on this before the internet goes down. 🙂

        • Hey Kathy, make sure that when you make my ted cruz doll, you put the dick up where his head would be…cause that is what he is…a dickhead.

  3. ANonOMouse says:

    Excellent post BB. Today is going to be intense, but I can’t imagine Reid & McConnell bringing a plan to the floor that doesn’t have the 67 votes or the 2/3 majority required to avoid the debate. The 30 hour debate creates a situation where the debt ceiling will be breached. I just heard that the House is sending their version of “the solution” to the Senate. Supposedly it is similar to the Senate’s plan, but who-the-hell knows what the House is up to and who-the-hell trusts anything out of the House?

    I heard/read that SS checks that go out on the 26th may be impacted if this draws out until the end of this week. I also heard/read that the SS & disability checks that go out on Nov 1st will definitely be impacted if this lasts longer than a week and that the VA checks would be similarly affected. And from there the shit just rolls on down the hill, mowing down every social safety net program that exists. The consequences of a long term struggle over the debt ceiling would completely destroy the country, Now that’s a secession plan of monumental proportion. If that happens I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of any GOP/TP republicans. They might find their Confederate Flag flying in place where the sun-don’t-shine.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Sorry, I meant the 16th, not the 26th.

    • Beata says:

      Mouse, can you just imagine what will happen if people do not get their SS in November? Millions of people have no other source of income. That includes the elderly in nursing homes like my mother. What a disaster. I can’t even stand to think about it.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        It’s an unimaginable outcome. And the shit will hit the fan when the families of Seniors on SS or VA retirement or others on SS or VA disability realize that their loved ones will no longer have the, income, care and services they need and deserve. The outrage and the uprising against the perpetrators of this CRIME AGAINST AMERICANS will be unbelievable.

        They want a “2nd American Revolution”? They may just get one, only not the one they had hoped for.

        • bostonboomer says:

          If I don’t get my check, I won’t be able to pay my bills or eat. I’m pretty sure they don’t want that to happen. They are probably hearing from plenty of constituents already. I’m not going to panic until it happens. I don’t have any control over it anyway.

          • ANonOMouse says:

            “If I don’t get my check, I won’t be able to pay my bills or eat. I’m pretty sure they don’t want that to happen.”

            I agree. If not for the TP faction of the GOP this would be over.

            “I’m not going to panic until it happens. I don’t have any control over it anyway”

            Me either,, but I know how bad it would be and how quickly things would get crazy for many of us.

          • ANonOMouse says:

            BTW….I wished we lived closer. I have a small stash of canned goods that I’d share with you if I could. My children give me the business over keeping this stash of food & water, but I don’t mind the ribbing. The difference between me and my children is I know what it’s like to worry about having enough food, they don’t, I hope they never do.

          • Fannie says:

            Reading Five Days at Memorial………………I can tell you what happened to some of the patients, who were unable to get out, and decisions were made by doctors and nurses, and the Governor’s office during Katrina…… it wasn’t pretty.

      • I wonder if that alone would push us into a depression, would people then run on the banks to get what money they do have out of savings?

    • bostonboomer says:

      According to Politico breaking news e-mail, this is the House bill:

      House Republicans will move their own debt ceiling and government funding bill, GOP leaders announced in a closed meeting Tuesday.

      The bill will delay Obamacare’s medical device tax for two years, install income verification for Obamacare subsidies and have language to cancel health insurance subsidies for members of Congress and the presidential Cabinet. Government funding will run until January 15 and the debt ceiling will be lifted until February 7.

      • Fannie says:

        I am scratching my head……………what the hell is this about congress subsidies? I mean Boehner and his blockheads were out preaching “fairness”…………..taking choices away from people is considered “fair”?

        • ANonOMouse says:

          You know, the rich guys in the TP Congress are insisting that their staff not receive subsidies to for their HealthCare. The intern or the receptionist or the entry level staffer that makes 30k or less, they will just have to figure it out or do without, cause this is “Amerika”

  4. Beata says:

    I’m fixated on the fact that Cruz and his fellow Tea Party crazies met in the basement of Tortilla Coast to discuss strategy. According to reviews of DC’s Tortilla Coast, the fajitas are “bland, blond” but the fish tacos are “To Die For”. I wonder what Cruz and his pals ordered and how that might affect the outcome of the shutdown / debt ceiling fight. Time will tell.

    • RalphB says:

      Fitch has USA on negative ratings warning…


      • dakinikat says:

        yup, this is going to be disastrous … i guess i have to start looking at it as a research rich environment!

        • RalphB says:

          Boehner is just too much of a coward to do what’s remotely right. If the Senate GOP doesn’t cut him loose, we’re probably gonna default.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        It’s really sad when someone like me, who has no formal education concerning finance, can see the consequence of default, much more clearly than our elected representative.

        The “shit rolls downhill” adage sure fits this one. As soon as the government begins to default on it’s debt, especially it’s internal debt, America goes down the shitter. Social Security, SS-Disability, VA, VA-disability, Medicare/Medicaid, Defense, National Guard, NFP Hospitals and Research facilities,, Education at all levels, Food Stamps/WIC, Unemployment Insurance, Federal Grants to States that support Law Enforcement, infrastructure projects, utilities, highways, bridges, Dams, Nuclear plants, water treatment facilities, The NIH, The FDA, The CDC, Homeland Security, FAA. Private Contractors,.This is prime to become the biggest drain of wealth from the middle class and working poor that America or the world has ever experienced. It’s a total fucking nightmare, and likely worse than I am even capable of imagining.

        If the TP causes this to happen through procedural tactic, intransigence and warped ideology, how can anyone see this as anything but a deliberate act of subversion and insurrection?

        • bostonboomer says:

          Think of all the people in nursing homes whose checks go directly to the facility. Will they have to lay off their employees? Who will take care of those people? This will have a domino effect through the entire economy.

          • Beata says:

            BB, I mentioned this subject upthread in regards to my mother and other nursing home patients across the country. It is an incredible disaster in the making. Nursing homes will not be able to stay open because they depend on payments through SS, Medicare, and Medicaid. Most nursing home patients can’t be cared for properly by their families at home. They are too sick. That is why they are in nursing homes in the first place! I am very worried that patients will suffer and die as a result of this Tea Party madness. They will not receive the long-term nursing care and medications that they need.

          • bostonboomer says:

            I know. It’s a nightmare. Many people do not realize that even middle class elderly people often end up in nursing homes on Medicaid after they spend down all their savings.

          • Beata says:

            I have seen that happen to so many upper-middle class elderly patients over the years; people who “planned well” and thought they would be financially comfortable in their old age. Then when their money runs out, they have to transfer from a fancy nursing home that doesn’t accept Medicaid to a more humble facility that does.

  5. dakinikat says:

    The confederate flag/marine flag bearing teabot is on Facebook … he’s from Big Spring Texas ….


  6. bostonboomer says:

    Just saw on Twitter that Boehner has gone home for the day.

    • bostonboomer says:

      According to Politico, Reid and McConnell are back at it.

      After House action stalled, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have restarted negotiations to avert a debt default and reopen the government, according to several sources familiar with the talks. The two men are close to a deal, sources say, and the Senate could begin the process for acting on the bill as soon as Tuesday night.

    • RalphB says:

      Boehner should go home for life, he’s such a rotten coward.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    For anyone who’s interested, the Red Sox just beat Detroit 1-0 to take a 2-1 lead in the AL playoffs.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Glenn Greenwald is leaving the Guardian for some new opportunity that he won’t reveal yet.

    In a statement on his Web site, Mr. Greenwald did not say where he was going. “I was presented with a once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity that no journalist could possibly decline,” Mr. Greenwald wrote on his blog Tuesday evening.

    In an interview with the Web site Buzzfeed, which first disclosed his impending departure, Mr. Greenwald declined to provide details about his next job. Because the news had leaked “before we were prepared to announce it, I’m not yet able to provide any details of this momentous new venture,” he said in the interview, adding that it would “be unveiled very shortly.”

    • bostonboomer says:

      Time Mag. says Greenwald is starting his own new publication backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.