Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Wednesday, October 09, 2013 :::

He also kept saying that he would talk to anyone about anything - but not until the shutdown was lifted and there was agreement on the debt ceiling.
Some misleading language is surely used for political reasons, and this may serve the Democrats' narrative, but I think it's mostly good faith sloppiness.

What most discussion of the funding gap seems not to grasp is that this was not "imposed" by anyone.  Congress and the President are supposed to pass a budget, i.e. to decide how not-shutdown the government should be and to some extent which parts of it should be not-shutdown.  Since they haven't come to an agreement on that — either a majority of each house and the President, or two-thirds of each house — the "shutdown" is what happens until they do.

There are contexts in which a refusal to negotiate until certain demands are met makes sense. Iran and the Palestinians, for example, have so much history of negotiating in bad faith that it's perhaps too much of a waste of time and/or resources to even try talking until there's reason to believe it will be different this time, and Israel's occasional insistence that its existence be recognized by entities with which it negotiates seems rather minimal in terms of a signal of good faith negotiation. When a decision not to negotiate is made, however — or to place preconditions, especially if they're fairly sweeping and specific — the absence of negotiation must be recognized as a reasonable option, or at least among the least bad available. Whether Obama or the House Republicans "started this" — translating into the real world, I guess that would mean "most should have done something different to achieve a deal" — between this and the almost impeachable* zealotry with which the executive branch has spent resources to try to make people miserable using the funding gap as an excuse, it is pretty hard not to say that Obama should be the first to blame for its continuation. If you're serious about wanting something different, sit down with the people with whom you're supposed to make a deal.

I'm not sure what a "clean bill" is supposed to be; my best guess is "spend on everything at the same rate as before October". The House has passed many small funding bills that would provide funding for certain programs or departments, and they have all been ignored; apparently Obama insists on one single, big bill, or he's going to take his ball and go home. Well, the House Republicans have balls, too, and I would suggest (and this obviously papers over their different preferences, the different groups to whom they're answering in their districts, etc., but so does most of the discussion) that they pass a bill that includes no special treatment of Obamacare-related parts of government, funds everything else at 95% of September levels, declining 5% each month, perhaps with full funding for a couple of specially selected politically popular parts, and then recess. If Obama's not willing to negotiate, there's no point in sticking around to negotiate.

* Look, I try to avoid the tinfoil hat stuff, but there are so many lines the executive branch has crossed in the last nine days that he is either grossly and unusually incompetent — these things never happened under a previous President — or it's hard to take him serious as someone who is even trying to operate within limits of the Constitution, the Presidential mandate, or basic decency at this point.

::: posted by dWj at 12:09 PM

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Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

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