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You’ll get nothing and you’ll like it: The Tea Party surrenders

October 16, 2013
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So this latest self-inflicted “crisis” is finally careening to what was, ultimately, its only possible conclusion: complete, humiliating capitulation by the craven assholes who initiated this debacle, the House Republicans and their Tea Party acolytes in the Senate. The House this afternoon will be forced to take up, and pass with Democratic votes, the bipartisan Senate agreement to reopen the government and avoid default, which contains precisely zero of the Obamacare-related concessions we were told a month ago were the casus belli for this imbroglio (and no major policy considerations of any sort).

Having closed the government for more than two weeks, having rattled markets worldwide, having taken our country to the brink of an unthinkable default, having embarrassed themselves and their country on the world stage, having sent their own party’s disapproval ratings into the stratosphere, congressional Republicans will get nothing. Which is exactly what they deserve.

This is an excellent end to this story for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that by the end of the day we’ll have a functioning national government and our economy won’t be pushed into the abyss over what amounts to a temper tantrum.

But President Obama, by not bending over backward to placate the Tea Party nihilists, as he did in 2011 when they threatened to the full faith and credit of the United States to exact spending cuts, has effectively drawn a line in the sand, one that says, no, neither I nor any future occupant of this office will negotiate with anyone with a bomb strapped to his chest. This is good for democracy, not just for Democrats! If this tactic worked, if ransom became a source of perpetual leverage, it’s not that hard to imaging future congressional Democrats threatening to default unless President Marco Rubio enacted single-payer or raised taxes or whatever the demand du jour is.

And not insignificantly, this debacle has put on display how fundamentally incompetent the House Republicans are, from the extremists in the caucus up to the leaders themselves. In the words of Josh Barro, himself a conservative:

The only stunning thing is that anyone still looks at House Republicans and says: “You know what would be great? Giving these people more power over public policy.”

Roughly one-third of this caucus thinks hitting the debt ceiling and shutting down the government are great strategies to try to stop Obamacare. The other two-thirds of the party has realized all along that this strategy sucks, but they could not find any way to stop their party from implementing it — even though these “reasonable” Republicans outnumber the crazies. …

There is no serious argument for Republican governance right now, even if you prefer conservative policies over liberal ones. These people are just too dangerously incompetent to be trusted with power.

This doesn’t mean all is well. We’ll have to trudge through more budget wars over the next few months, and the House will likely hold another 40-odd votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And, now that everyone’s not distracted by Washington’s shenanigans, the Obama team would do well to make healthcare.gov not such a complete and total fuck-up. Also, while Democrats are glorying in their opponents’ failure today, the election is a long 13 months off, and they face long odds in taking back the House, and will have some difficulty even keeping the Senate, despite the GOP’s current woes.

Still, our democracy is healthier for the Tea Party’s defeat. And that’s a reason to celebrate.

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  • carlobarlo

    Here’s Jeffrey Billman once again: Notorious Volkswagen beetle-owner and tea party provocateur, bucking for the Alan Berg award. After his purulent veterans memorial rant, and with a mouth like his, I’d be making certain the battery in my garage door opener was in fresh working order.