Republicans Win Standoff, Shoot Hostages Anyway

Republicans Shut Down GovernmentThe Shutdown: Republicans Win Standoff, Shoot Hostages Anyway

In the end the Republicans won. A majority in Congress, made up of Republicans who understood they’d won and Democrats who feared a government shutdown, would have voted for a bill that included all of the Republicans’ wrong-headed fiscal demands.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi couldn’t have stated it more plainly: “We’ll take your number to keep government open. Give us a chance to vote for it.”

It didn’t matter. John Boehner wouldn’t let Democrats – the party which won the Senate and the White House, and which won 1.4 million more votes for the House than his own – give him the budget-slashing bill he’d demanded. He wouldn’t let them vote to accept his own draconian austerity budget, a budget which voters had rejected only last year. Some might say that he chose shutdown over surrender.

Remember that: It isn’t the “Tea Party fringe” or Ted Cruz who’s doing this. This shutdown has been orchestrated by John Boehner and the leadership of the mainstream Republican Party.

Boehner would only allow Congress to vote on a continuing resolution which delayed parts of the Affordable Care Act, a bill which he knew the Senate would reject the following day. He doesn’t even seem to care much about Obamacare anymore, but he forced a vote on it anyway – despite being offered the spending cuts he’s been pushing for a long time.

In their high-stakes standoff, the Republican leadership got everything they’d originally wanted. Then they started shooting hostages anyway.

Even some other Republicans were appalled. One House member, mixing metaphors as effortlessly as his peers mix martinis, described his fellow Republicans as “lemmings with suicide vests.”

What are they thinking? It’s hard to tell, since the GOP itself appears to be in complete chaos. But make no mistake about it: That is a hostage crisis, and however long or short the government shutdown turns out to be, the hostages – the American people – are already paying the price.

The economy has begun shrinking. Morgan Stanley analysts estimate that the Republican shutdown will “trim annual GDP growth by approximately 15 basis points per week of closing.”

With stocks down in seven out of the last eight sessions, the GOP’s wealthy patrons are already paying for its antics. Now it gets worse: Investors won’t receive the government reports they depend on. Twitter and other companies may not even be able to conduct their much-awaited, and supposedly wealth-producing, IPOs.

The nation’s indebtedness, about which Republicans profess to care so much, is also being sacrificed. Investors, seeing the extreme lengths to which Congressional Republicans are prepared to go, are losing confidence in the nation’s willingness to honor its debts. That could have severe long-term consequences for the country’s fiscal health.

So could the reaction of the ratings agencies which, however discredited by recent events, still have an enormous impact on the government’s borrowing costs. “This sort of political brinkmanship is the dominant reason the rating is no longer AAA,” said an S&P official. The agency warned that an extended shutdown could drive ratings even lower, which would increase borrowing costs.

Starting Tuesday, individual Americans will join the ranks of hostages. 800,000 households will suffer immediately, as their paychecks stop arriving. Soon others will share their suffering, as the businesses which depend on those families lose revenue and are forced to lay people off. The elderly and disabled will soon be forced to sacrifice as their checks fail to arrive.

Not that it’s fiscal doom and gloom everywhere. On Tuesday, the first day of the shutdown, the political fundraisers are still scheduled to take place as planned.

Americans’ understanding of the crisis wasn’t helped by reports like this one from the Associated Press, which asked “Who’ll blink?” without providing proper context. But the “he said/she said” reporting described by Joshua Holland hasn’t protected the Republicans from public wrath, at least not entirely. Polls show that more Americans will blame them for a government shutdown, and that more than two-thirds of Americans believe that even a brief shutdown will be bad for the country. (They’re right.)

So why are they doing it?

Jonathan Chait points to a legislative meeting which Republicans held after losing the 2012 election, and to an agreement called “the Williamsburg Accord” in which they swore to accept no further compromises. And even though there are no compromises on the budget itself – Democrats have agreed to accept the Republicans’ spending levels with no changes – the Right appears to have pumped itself up into something approaching a frenzy.

Even the “Williamsburg Accord” permits Republicans to accept their opponents’ surrender – but not, apparently, if the Right has raised its demands in the meantime. Today, at the last minute, Republicans proposed a “conference committee” to press for even more. Rewarding them in that way would have ensured an endless parade of future crises.  Apparently some Democrats understand that, since Harry Reid replied by saying his party would not “go to conference with a gun to our head.”

A majority of the public believes that Republicans are behaving like “spoiled children,” according to one poll, although a better analogy might be drunk drivers. Don’t get us wrong: We don’t mind the boozing, but even lawmakers don’t usually drink until the job is finished. They certainly don’t treat a government shutdown, which is tragic in both human and economic terms, as a reason to have a party.

rj eskowA party which has been cynical and greedy for a long time has now become something even more disturbing: It has become irrational.

This is no longer a hostage negotiation. It has become something far more unpredictable, and therefore much more frightening. Republicans have come full circle from the days when Ronald Reagan proclaimed that “it’s morning in America.” It’s midnight in John Boehner’s America as we write these words, and the shutdown has officially begun.

Richard “RJ” Eskow
Huffington Post

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


  1. Blahblahblah Noah says

    Too bad the first 3 hostages weren’t Reid, Pelosi and the Boy King.

    It’s an old but true saying…if you cut off the head, the body will die.

  2. Alaskan Hunter says

    Richard you may have your opinion but you are a DAM@ liar along with being a Socialist Pig.You and all that agree with you and Husain Barack Obama should be run out of Dodge. Traitor , and treasonist, the whole group of you especially Obama, giving weapons to our enemy’s, that in itself is an impeachable offence.

      • Blahblahblah Noah says

        Tea is preferable to the Blotter Acid that’s served to Democrats in the House Cafeteria every morning.

        Psychotropics and the legislative process don’t mix. Unless of course you’re digging deeper into your pocket to pay off the 17 Trillion in debt that Dear Leader has racked up. Tell us, when you max out 398 credit cards…does your bank give you another one? Is that some financial secret that Democrats are tuned in to? Write a book about it “Barak Potter and the Magical Money Pot”.

        I personally favor the Chinese method of dealing with incompetent leadership…a cigarette, a blindfold and their backs against the wall. It’s not pretty, but neither is drowning in a sea of liberal debt.

        But hey, you can always shut your eyes and blame Republicans for your ineptitude…it’s worked for you so far but that dog won’t always hunt . (especially now that the truth about Dear Leader Care is coming to light).

        Ouch, eh?

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