fresh voices from the front lines of change







Remember when we all assumed that sequestration could never hold and they'd just have to pull the plug and negotiate a reasonable budget when the going got tough? Yeah, that's worked out for us. I'm going to suggest that we all (myself included) stop assuming that reality must bite and start to figure out where this is actually likely to lead.

Here's National Review reporter Jonathan Strong's report on what the right is thinking:

Senior House Republicans are increasingly persuaded the government shutdown could last weeks and will only be resolved in a major bipartisan accord involving a funding bill and a debt-ceiling increase.

On the first day of the shutdown, President Obama and Senate majority leader Harry Reid only hardened their unwillingness to negotiate with the GOP. For example, Obama threatening to veto rifle-shot funding bills, to keep specific branches of government funded, backed by dozens of Democrats on the House floor.

In the meantime, despite a small bloc of moderates indicating they would happily vote for a “clean” continuing resolution to fund the government without any preconditions, the House GOP conference is remaining steadfast.

At a closed-door conference meeting earlier today, Speaker John Boehner gave a pep-rally-style speech signaling he isn’t about to fold his hand.

“We’re in this fight. This is the moment. We all talk about doing something for our kids and our grandkids. If you want to do something for them, now is the time. We have to work together and win this fight,” Boehner told members, according to a Republican in the room.

“I can’t imagine we’re going to resolve” the shutdown before the upcoming fight on raising the debt ceiling, Representative John Campbell of California says.

“Think about it — if they decided they were ready to talk by next week, you’re not going to negotiate the thing overnight. It’s going to take a little time,” he adds.

“The real problem is, we may have gotten ourselves into a position where we can’t budge on a clean CR and they can’t budge on Obamacare. Then what do you do?” says Representative Mike Simpson of Idaho, a top Boehner ally. When I ask how long he expected the shutdown to last, Simpson says “I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I don’t know.”

Oh, I think there are a lot of things they could extract from Democrats to end the shutdown. Some really, really horrible things. But it isn't going to be Obamacare.

As I've been asking for a while now, what would they settle for if they wake up to the fact that they can't get their holy grail? I personally think they might settle for cutting Social Security and Medicare without any tax increases, which I would guess will be presented by the Democratic leadership as a small capitulation. After all, they are the ones who offered up the cuts in the first place.

Maybe that's not good enough for the Republicans anymore. They seem to have convinced themselves that they have super-powers so they'll hold out for Obama's resignation. Still, if I had to guess, I'd say that 2011 deal without the revenue is probably going to end up being on offer if this thing drags out.

It looks like I'm not the only one worried about that:

(Washington, D.C.) --- Members of the Social Security Works and the Alliance for Retired Americans will join the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Thursday for a Human Chain press conference in opposition to the Chained CPI Social Security benefit cut. The event will take place this Thursday, October 3 at 10 a.m. (EST)at the House Triangle on the east side of the U.S. Capitol.

With the U.S. government shutdown, the President and some members of Congress will see this as an opportunity to press ahead with the chained CPI, a cut to our Social Security benefits in order to re-open the federal government. At age 75, a senior's benefits would be cut by about $660/year (on average). At age 85, those benefits would be cut by about $1,150/year, and at age 95, by about $1,600/year. For more on what the CPI would do, go to this Social Security Works Fact sheet.

This Human Chain press conference follows the success of nationwide Human Chain events organized by the Alliance for Retired Americans in conjunction with our coalition partners on July 2, 2013. Those events took place in more than 50 cities with support from the labor movement, Social Security Works, and other allies. More than 20 Members of Congress have agreed to participate on October 3, including the Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs: Reps. Keith Ellison (MN) and Raul Grijalva (AZ).

Who: Reps. Keith Ellison (MN); Raul Grijalva (AZ); Mike Honda (CA); Jim McDermott (WA); Steven Horsford (NV); Sheila Jackson Lee (TX); Barbara Lee (CA); John Conyers (MI); Elijah Cummings (MD); Gwen Moore (WI); David Cicilline (RI); Mark Pocan (WI); Louise Slaughter (NY); Cheri Bustos (IL); Jan Schakowsky (IL); Jerrold Nadler (NY); Lois Frankel (FL); Janice Hahn (CA); Paul Tonko (NY); Yvette Clarke (NY); and Judy Chu (CA); Social Security Works, and Members of the Alliance for Retired Americans

When: Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Where: House Triangle, U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC

Keep in mind that the president has been saying all along that he's "eager" for more deficit reduction. And Paul Ryan, who's the prime mover at this point behind the debt ceiling showdown, knows it:

I asked Ryan if he believes President Obama’s steadfast vows that he won’t negotiate over the debt ceiling. His reaction? You’ve got to be kidding me.

“Oh, nobody believes that. Nobody believes that. He himself negotiated Bowles Simpson on the debt limit with Democrats. That was Kent Conrad’s requirement. He himself negotiated the Budget Control Act with the debt limit.

Paul Ryan knows Obamacare isn't going to be repealed or delayed. They've already agreed to use his miserly budget numbers. So, what does he want now?

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