Shutdown Ends, Debt Ceiling Raised, For Now
After wasting everyone’s time and money for 16 days, Speaker Boehner and the House Republicans caved in and reopened the government and raised the debt ceiling. Now we return to the brutal austerity of the Budget Control Act of 2010, in losing the Republicans have won. Although part of the deal to reopen the government included allowing special interests to tailor the sequester cuts to the poor and powerless as part of a joint committee between the House and Senate. So things are actually going to get worse for most people.
And, in case you thought this was over, we get to do this again in 90 days.
Before the ink was even dry on the plan to end the government shutdown and avoid busting the nation’s debt limit, there were growing doubts that Congress could avoid another fiscal showdown in only 90 days.
The package to reopen the government runs only through mid-January, and lawmakers have pinned hopes to avert a repeat performance on a new bipartisan, bicameral conference committee. The last similar panel, the so-called super committee of 2011, deadlocked and adjourned in disagreement.
Ah, the Super-Committee. Anyone remember that? It was interesting PR and not much else. This current iteration will likely redirect the current budget cuts to the less powerful and then start fighting over further spending cuts. Social Security and Medicare – watch your back.
And while Speaker Boehner may have destroyed himself in this standoff, the future of the Republican Party is happy to take the lead in the next showdown on a shutdown.
The new panel, to be led by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., will begin its talks amid a poisonous and partisan atmosphere after the first government shutdown in 17 years.
If the policy gulf between the two parties was not challenging enough, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are questioning whether anyone—even Ryan, the most respected voice on fiscal matters among House Republicans—can truly represent a fractious conference that pushed a government shutdown against its leadership’s wishes and then rejected its own speaker’s proposal to reopen the government.
For the record, Paul Ryan voted no yesterday on reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling. Whether he did this for credibility with the Tea Party faction of the House GOP or because he is genuinely that irresponsible is unknown.
There’s really nothing to celebrate here.