The Big Deal

Grab onto something, folks. I’m going to agree with Mark Thiessen (H/T: Harley):

Quick: What do Republicans want in exchange for ending the government shutdown? If you know the answer, congratulations — because Republicans sure don’t.

we’ve gone from defunding Obamacare . . . to delaying Obamacare . . . to delaying parts of Obamacare . . . to funding the government piecemeal without touching Obamacare at all. If Republicans have already conceded the defunding of Obamacare, what’s the point of keeping the government closed? Why on earth would the GOP pass “clean” bills to fund individual parts of the government but not the whole government?

This business of passing funding bills for little piece of the government has been driving me a bit crazy. In a rational budget process — even in a shutdown — you would carefully pick which parts of the government to fund. But it’s clear that the strategy has been to identify whatever parts of the government are getting the most complaints (NIH, park service, etc.), pass a tiny bill to fund them and then go on television to bash the Democrats for not assenting to it.

That wins the media cycle but it’s no way to run a government. It’s completely arbitrary. It means that we try to divert funds to highly visible things like the Park Service, which would be one of the last things I would fund right now. More, it encourages partially shutdown services to deliberately make things worse to get their funding restored. Gain Nortion, Bush’s former Interior Secretary, describes how the Park Service has a long history of deliberately inconveniencing people whenever their budget is threatened (this weekend, they have “closed” the Vietnam Memorial — which is a wall that anyone can visit 24/7). No doubt, the Administration doesn’t mind this sort of visibility. But by putting forward little bills to fund whichever government agency is making the loudest noise, the GOP is encouraging this sort of behavior.

Back to Thiessen:

It calls to mind the episode of “Seinfeld” where Jerry and George are coming up with an idea for a show to pitch to NBC — and decide it will be “a show about nothing.” That’s what this standoff has become — the Seinfeld Shutdown, a shutdown about nothing.

Thiessen, however, is not just throwing bricks. He has an alternative proposal: that instead of using the shutdown or the debt ceiling for leverage, the Republicans use the Budget Control Act (aka the sequester). Grover Norquist is on the same page:

I think the original plan for the Republicans was to move the continuing resolution past the debt ceiling and then to sit down with Obama and decide whether he would be willing to trade some relaxation of the sequester for significant reforms of entitlements. That was something Obama might well do. Democrats in the House and the Senate are very concerned about caps and limits in sequestration. Republicans could get significant long-term entitlement reform — all on the spending side, I’m assured by leadership — for some relaxation of sequester.

See, this is what an actual compromise would look like. The Republicans are running around saying Obama won’t compromise because he won’t delay or change Obamacare. But they are not offering anything in exchange other than not blowing up the government. A sequestration-for-entitlements exchange would be a real compromise, giving Democrats something they want. But it would still be a huge win for Republicans — a few billion in spending now for statutory changes in entitlements (e.g., chained CPI) that could save trillions down the road. Statutory changes in entitlements are an especially good thing because, unlike sequestration, they would be very hard for future Congresses to undo.

The thing is, our budget situation is a bit tricky right now. The FY 2013 deficit is below $700 billion and projected to fall more in the next few years. But starting around FY 2018, it starts ramping up again. The reason is entitlements — the wave of retiring Baby Boomers putting a strain on Social Security and Medicare spending.

(This long-term situation has, over the last few years, gotten a lot less horrifying by trillions of dollars. The reason is that healthcare spending has leveled off. Obama is trying to claim credit for this but he’s a bit hoist by his own petard. He delayed Obamacare until after the election both to avoid the political hit and to force the CBO to claim that it decreased the deficit. But those delays also mean the cost curve bent before he did anything. The reasons the cost curve has come down are mainly the down economy and the natural saturation of the healthcare market. I said years ago, when people were projecting that healthcare would eventually consume 2,634% of our GDP, that if something can’t be sustained, it won’t be. It couldn’t and it wasn’t.)

The time to strike on entitlements is now. The longer we wait, the harder it will be and the more dramatic the changes required. You reform entitlements and keep discretionary spending level and you will basically balance the budget within the decade without any further action. Cutting spending further will make the situation even better, but … further cuts will entail either cutting defense spending (which the Republicans oppose) or more discretionary/entitlement spending (which will not happen until the GOP wins an election; which will not happen until they show they can govern).

There are whispers that this deal may happen but it seems to be focusing more on yet another budget committee. But we’ve had eight — count ‘em — eight budget committees. We don’t need another one to tell us what we need. What we need is a deal.

  1. I should add here that I’m getting into it on some of the boards with a bunch of liberals who are insisting that closing the open-air monuments it the right thing to do. Their excuse is “liability”. They seem to not know about sovereign immunity. Amazing.

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  2. The time to strike on entitlements is now. The longer we wait, the harder it will be and the more dramatic the changes required. You reform entitlements and keep discretionary spending level and you will basically balance the budget within the decade without any further action.

    Yes because if this were to happen you’d back it all the way I’m sure. I mean I couldn’t imagine some new spin at some point about how the GOP should just take the “promise” of reform in exchange for tax hikes which no doubt would be the offer. You’ve blasted the GOP at every turn for any resistance to this new entitlement that isn’t even deeply rooted. The idea that you’d tolerate any fight required to reform entitlements with the Dems in charge is quite a stretch for any long time reader here. In the meantime keep secretly hoping the Dems win just enough so that this never ending narrative you have can continue.

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  3. False promises are precisely what democraps do. Several examples just in my life time have happened to Eisenhauer, Romney and Bush 41.

    Hal, do you ever, ever look back in recent history to see these instances or has being a Lenin/Stalin era “useful idiot” become an integral part of your DNA?

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  4. This is getting ridiculous – http://siouxfallsbusinessjournal.argusleader.com/article/20131004/UPDATES/310040047/S-D-officials-object-feds-barring-visitors-from-highway-viewing-areas-near-Mount-Rushmore

    Meanwhile, the Amber Alert website was taken offline due to a “lapse in federal funding”, but Michelle Obama’s “let’s move” site stayed up. http://therightscoop.com/obama-plays-politics-with-your-lost-children-shuts-down-amber-alert-website/

    I want to put everyone in Washington in time out. Act like five year olds, get treated like five year olds.

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  5. If it’s a shutdown, perhaps the first people to go home without pay is the Park Service.

    And then institute a complete makeover, shitcan most of the executives, and start up with a new outlook on just what their “job” is….

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  6. “If it’s a shutdown, perhaps the first people to go home without pay is the Park Service”

    I have a hard time not believing that this is all just a Valerie Jarrett test, a dry run if you will, to see how much of this shit sandwich the American people will swallow. Except for some WWII vets that answer is almost everyone.

    The Regime® is watching very closely. And in their scenario the NPS and how they hold the line are giving them some indication as to how the chips will fall if and when larger quasi- military forces are needed to quell any minor uprisings. From the looks of things at this point MINOR uprisings are all the tired and disheartened masses are willing to offer in resistance.

    Oh and Hal, please show us how and when a republican congress has promised tax cuts down the road for “temporary” tax hikes today as your party of choice has done time and time again.

    “False promises are precisely what democraps do. Several examples just in my life time have happened to Eisenhauer, Reagan and Bush 41″

    This was in reference to 3 specific cases. But your hackneyed retort of ‘well republicans do it toooo’ still hasn’t lost it’s sting for you.

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  7. If it’s a shutdown, perhaps the first people to go home without pay is the Park Service.

    They aren’t being paid. They’re taking IOU’s.

    The Amber Alert system was active. The only thing down was the DOJ’s link to it. It’s a state system.

    Oh and Hal, please show us how and when a republican congress has promised tax cuts down the road for “temporary” tax hikes today as your party of choice has done time and time again.

    What are you babbling about? No one has ever promised tax increases were “temporary”. I certainly don’t think they are. And the deal I’m hoping will emerge doesn’t raise taxes at all. I think you turned to the wrong page in your Republican Talking Points book.

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  8. See, this is what an actual compromise would look like. The Republicans are running around saying Obama won’t compromise because he won’t delay or change Obamacare. But they are not offering anything in exchange other than not blowing up the government.

    Aren’t Republicans offering to fully fund other areas of the government, without fighting over the increases in spending in these other areas, in return for defunding or delay of Obamacare? Not fighting over increased spending is in fact a big compromise whether you choose to recognize it or not.

    Glad to see you focusing on Republicans instead of Obama as the ones “blowing up the government”. You see Hal, constitutionally, Congress has the power of the purse. When a monstrous piece of shit like Obamacare is passed, a Republican controlled House has every right and obligation to fight it tooth and nail.. whereas you seem content to compromise and make modest changes around the edges rather than acknowledge it as the monstrosity that it is.

    You don’t like Republican strategy? fine, but it’s where we are, and it’s the ONLY thing standing in the way of Obamacare. You have a better idea other than slamming Republicans?

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  9. See, this is what an actual compromise would look like. The Republicans are running around saying Obama won’t compromise because he won’t delay or change Obamacare. But they are not offering anything in exchange other than not blowing up the government.

    Utter bullshit. Contrary to the talking points by the DNC propaganda arm better known as the LSM, republicans put forth a different healthcare reform plan when Obamacare was under consideration. Let me point out that I thought it was a shitty plan who’s only redeeming quality was that it wasn’t as fucking evil and destructive as Obamacare in its reach and scope. The democrats, whom controlled both houses and the WH at the time, didn’t even give it the time of day, all so they could keep using this idiotic meme that republicans are not offering any solutions or alternatives. Especially since they didn’t want anyone to make them take the time of explaining how horrible Obamacare was going to be before they had it passed.

    It is SOP with these lying fucks to pretend that republicans don’t have a plan, and it is a lie. The plans the republicans offer might suck ass, albeit never as badly as the shit the democrats straddle us with, but lets stop propagating the lie that they have none. The plan now is to kill Obamacare and stop out of control government entitlement spending growth. That’s an awesome plan. We need to roll back the Leviathan first. We can then discuss fixing the things it wrecked so it could them pretend to be the only one that could fix it.

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  10. Aren’t Republicans offering to fully fund other areas of the government, without fighting over the increases in spending in these other areas, in return for defunding or delay of Obamacare? Not fighting over increased spending is in fact a big compromise whether you choose to recognize it or not.

    No. The current Democrat proposal is to accept sequestration levels in any CR. The CR is slated at $200 billion less than the President’s request. They have compromised.

    And Mook, you continue contradict yourself in your effort to be a Republican cipher. “The face-off is all Obama’s fault” and “Republicans are using the power of the purse” are contradictory statements. Either the GOP is boldly standing up or they’re not. Make up your mind.

    The GOP does have the right to try to stop Obamacare through the power of the purse. And the Senate and the President have the power to say no. The Republicans have offered nothing in exchange or an alternative avenue of compromise. “Change Obamacare or we’ll hold our breath until we pass out” is not a compromise.

    You don’t like Republican strategy? fine, but it’s where we are, and it’s the ONLY thing standing in the way of Obamacare. You have a better idea other than slamming Republicans?

    But they aren’t standing in the way of Obamacare. Obamacare is going forward right now. All they are all standing in the way of is preventing an economic catastrophe with a debt ceiling hit.

    You don’t like Obamacare? Fine. Maybe the GOP should try using the repeal of Obamacare to run for election. Oh, wait. They did that. And they lost. Oh, but I forget. The desires of non-Republican voters don’t mean anything. Elections are only a mandate when it’s a Republican.

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  11. No. The current Democrat proposal is to accept sequestration levels in any CR. The CR is slated at $200 billion less than the President’s request. They have compromised.

    I do not want to get bogged down in a battle of semantics, but considering how much more Obama’s budget is spending compared to what government is already fleecing us for, I say a $200 billion reduction isn’t a big compromise, especially for those of us paying up. We need cuts that lower our spending below what government takes in right now so they can start paying off the debt. Not just grow it at a little bit of less reckless and insane pace, Hal.

    This argument is like saying that since you have agreed to suck your cellmate Bubba’s dick rather than have him kick the shit out of you, then ass rape you, and finally sell you around the cellblock for a pack of smokes and a candy bar, he has compromised with you. I, and I think most Americans, can do without deals like that.

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  12. “No. The current Democrat proposal is to accept sequestration levels in any CR. The CR is slated at $200 billion less than the President’s request. They have compromised.”

    How is this a compromise?

    Especially since the TARP funding was “temporary” and rolled into the budget and is now a permanent part of it cash lvl wise.

    Please explain how shutting down private businesses and privately owned houses is warranted or necessary.

    Please explain how the congressional Gym is still open but they close OPEN AIR MONUMENTS.

    Stop sucking obama’s dick for once, Hal, and look at EXACTLY what that fucking tool is doing.

    Not once during any other shutdown has shit like this been done.

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  13. This argument is like saying that since you have agreed to suck your cellmate Bubba’s dick rather than have him kick the shit out of you, then ass rape you, and finally sell you around the cellblock for a pack of smokes and a candy bar, he has compromised with you. I, and I think most Americans, can do without deals like that.

    No, this is what the Republicans are doing. “Cancel Obamacare!” In exchange for what? “Nothing1″ No. “Well, then delay it!” In exchange for what? “Nothing! Why won’t you compromise?!”

    balthazar, TARP funding has not been rolled into the permanent budget. Stimulus spending has. What private businesses and private houses are being shut down? And I’ve opposed the closing of open air monuments. Whenever i criticize Obama, you guy have a memory span of about 10 seconds.

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  14. Oh and as to your “Criticizing” of BO, its more along the lines of, Obamas doing this bad thing, but either

    A: The Reps are forcing him to do it.
    B: The Reps did it too back when (who cares, I hated most of Bush’s policies as well)
    C: ITs minor so who cares.

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  15. Whenever i criticize Obama, you guy have a memory span of about 10 seconds.

    Yep you do criticize, and some great posts too, only that when anyone stands up you flip flop. So the credibility gets lost eventually. That is the reason. If anyone who is confronting Hal on this issue in this thread believes there is a different reason, feel free to post it, but I’m guessing I’m right on this.

    You don’t like Obamacare? Fine. Maybe the GOP should try using the repeal of Obamacare to run for election. Oh, wait. They did that. And they lost. Oh, but I forget. The desires of non-Republican voters don’t mean anything. Elections are only a mandate when it’s a Republican.

    Cool, we’re a direct democracy now. Anyhow, weren’t you hoping the Democrats would win the WH? Yeah I think you were, but you hate Obamacare right? So I guess the GOP running on the repeal Obamacare really didn’t appeal to you all that much. See my first paragraph for explanation.

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  16. You don’t like Republican strategy? fine, but it’s where we are, and it’s the ONLY thing standing in the way of Obamacare. You have a better idea other than slamming Republicans?

    Eh… hate to offer you an outside perspective, but stopping Obamacare isn’t an option. It’s his signature legislation. Maybe you guys can start rolling it all back in 2016? Should be good enough, right? After all, that will be the most important election ever. It’ll be then or never etc.

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  17. Yep you do criticize, and some great posts too, only that when anyone stands up you flip flop.

    I’m not sure what you mean by this, but I’m going to take it as that I don’t support the Republicans “standing up” to Obama with a series of fiscal crises. My opinion is that you have to acknowledge that Obama has been elected President twice and that Democrats control the Senate. You have to take what you can get and “stand up” when it can make a difference rather than “stand up” for things that are never going to happen and threaten the economic health of the country while you’re at it.

    What would you have thought if, in 2007, the Democrats had breached the debt ceiling or shut down the government because they wanted Bush to agree to repeal his tax cuts? Or Medicare Part D. Or end the Iraq War?

    Consider: in 2009, the Republicans stood up to Obamacare, Dodd-Frank and the stimulus. Result? Fuck all. They got passed anyway.

    Maybe you can credit that with winning the election in 2010 (although I don’t count electoral victories as an end in an of themselves). But since then, the GOP’s accomplishment have come from compromise — the sequester deal, the fiscal cliff deal, the FY2011 budget deal, the rescissions. The most important thing right now, IMHO, is entitlements. These are the biggest longterm threat to our fiscal stability, even more than Obamacare itself (which is an entitlement, but a much smaller one) and one which Obama has indicate support. Why not channel all this energy and standupitude into something that could actually happen?

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  18. Let me add to that. My model for the ideal Republican remains Reagan. Reagan made dramatic changes in this country and did it through a Democratic Congress. The reason was because he compromised and also because Reagan was an amazing negotiator who could get the maximum out of the Democrats while giving them the minimum in return (in D’Souza’s biography, he interviews a Hollywood exec who says that Reagan was the best negotiator the actors guild ever had). Reagan also compromised with the Soviets (and was flayed by his own party for it) but got huge reductions in nuclear stockpiles and set the stage for the collapse of communism.

    The current enthusiasm for “standing up” would be fine if it allowed for the necessary flip side of standing up — making a deal when you have to. There’s a huge enthusiasm for Ted Cruz and a hatred for Boehner. But Boehner’s deals have sliced hundreds of billions of our deficit while Cruz’s standing has, so far, accomplished nothing. Even Rand Paul’s filibuster got the Administration to state, on the record, that they didn’t have the authority to kill American citizens not at war with them.

    If the Republicans were to propose a deal that eased the sequester a little in exchange for statutory reform for entitlements, it would be the biggest accomplishment in Washington in the last decade. If they put that forward, I’ll be happy to stand with them.

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  19. What would you have thought if, in 2007, the Democrats had breached the debt ceiling or shut down the government because they wanted Bush to agree to repeal his tax cuts? Or Medicare Part D. Or end the Iraq War?

    I was pretty fed up with the GOP in 2007. Wasn’t a fan of Medicare part D, and by then I was fine with pulling our troops out from pretty much everywhere. I still am. I didn’t think we should have been in Iraq to begin with. I didn’t care however for the way the propaganda was spun by the left. I think that ultimately delayed moves necessary to get the damn thing over with. As far as the tax cuts I think you didn’t want those anymore anyhow correct? Would you have blasted the Dems, or just say they have a point. I really wonder.

    These are the biggest longterm threat to our fiscal stability, even more than Obamacare itself (which is an entitlement, but a much smaller one) and one which Obama has indicate support. Why not channel all this energy and standupitude into something that could actually happen?

    Obamacare will explode in a few short years once employers drop coverage. It’s not going to be small for long, and then it will just be another permanent an unmovable entitlement regardless of how financially unstable it is or inefficient, just like all the rest of these programs. And if no one cares about stopping that, good luck on the other programs.

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  20. Kimpost, Obamacare isn’t our house, it is our grave. And Obama doesn’t think of it as his house: he thinks of it as the final dagger he drove into the heart of that America he was thought to hate by his communist handlers.

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  21. Eh… hate to offer you an outside perspective, but stopping Obamacare isn’t an option. It’s his signature legislation.

    I’m SURE you felt the same about legislation passed under GW Boooosh, right KP? Especially legislation like Obamacare in which Obama told lie on top of lie on top of lie to sell it. “You can keep your plan and your doctor if you like it”, “health insurance costs will go down”, “you will pay less”, etc.

    And as an outsider, let me be the first to inform you that any passed legislation, “signature” or otherwise, needs to be funded and that funding is controlled by Congress. You can thank me later for the lesson in US Government.

    Speaking of “imperial” Presidential behavior, has MSNBC, ABC, CBS, CNN or the NY Times done even one story on the fact that Obama cancelled military death benefits because of the “shutdown” while continuing to send out welfare and food stamp payments uninterrupted? Priorities, priorities…

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  22. Speaking of “imperial” Presidential behavior, has MSNBC, ABC, CBS, CNN or the NY Times done even one story on the fact that Obama cancelled military death benefits because of the “shutdown” while continuing to send out welfare and food stamp payments uninterrupted? Priorities, priorities…

    Yes. http://lmgtfy.com/?q=shutdown+military+death+benefits

    And TANF is cut off right now; states are picking up the tab on that one if they choose to.

    Didn’t ask him any questions about Obamacare during his press conference yesterday, though.

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  23. And Obama doesn’t think of it as his house: he thinks of it as the final dagger he drove into the heart of that America he was thought to hate by his communist handlers.

    See this^^? You really do need to stop this Obama = Satan shit. It’s not just that it’s ridiculous and old, but what next? What kind of “murdering lying bitch” will you portray Hillary as in 2016? Christ…

    Allow reasonable establishment republicans to do their job. Stop pressuring them to stand firm. Obamacare isn’t the end of the republic. You have even bigger problems. Address those. Get back to Obamacare when you actually can. Read Ryans op-ed above. Reasonable, right? Chances are you’ll win the presidency in 2016. Perhaps even the senate in 2014. Try having a functioning government until then.

    I’m SURE you felt the same about legislation passed under GW Boooosh, right KP?

    I hope I did. Then again, I’m not as emotionally vested into this as some of you guys (it’s your home) I primarily want things to work, and my impression is that you kind of go from one political crisis to the next. I was very critical towards Bush, sometimes perhaps a bit too critical, but I never wanted your government to shut down.

    And as an outsider, let me be the first to inform you that any passed legislation, “signature” or otherwise, needs to be funded and that funding is controlled by Congress. You can thank me later for the lesson in US Government.

    It is funded, it’s just that some people wants to have it defunded or “delayed” (= scrapped later on). Neither is realistic. Fortunately for the loudmouths, the debt ceiling offer both sides reasonable ways out of this mess. Both parties will be able to claim victory, eventually. And Obamacare stays for a while.

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  24. ” Fortunately for the loudmouths, the debt ceiling offer both sides reasonable ways out of this mess. ”

    Kim, would that be foreign “loudmouths”,such as yourself ,who might like to see the US brought down another peg or two on the World stage? (btw, did Putin give you a chubby last month?)

    Or is your quip about us domestic “loudmouths” wanting to return America to a more constitutional footing?

    And for the record, you were much more critical of the evil Boosh than the present Liar-in-Chief.

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  25. “P.S. Where did the buttons go? And the edit?”

    The blog broke and it doesn’t appear that anyone has bothered to tell JimK. I’d do it, but I’m tired.

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  26. “P.S. Where did the buttons go? And the edit?”

    By mentioning Obamacare in this blog it came under scrutiny under section 394 of the Affordable Care Acts data sharing and law enforcement provision. The block quote function breaks up the text which makes it more difficult for NSA/HHS joint task forces to automatically scan for “suspicious activity” and, (under health care) psychiatric problems indicated by disagreement with the regime. I think the guys in the White coats have already administered their first does of thorazine to Alex . . . . for his own good, of course.

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