As Greg Sargent points out, there is a fundamental lack of symmetry in what the two parties in DC are saying needs to be done in order to end the government shutdown. The Republicans have passed a list of demands of concessions they want from the Democrats before they are willing tot let the government continue to exist on regular terms. The Democrats have not presented a similar list of demands. They have simply put forward the proposition that the Republicans must stop acting like children and/or terrorists.
It's time for Progressives to fight back with a list of our own. More after the jump.
The common pattern of the past few years has been for the Republicans to make grandiose demands, followed by the President telling everybody that he won't give in to their demands, which is then followed by actually caving. This is what he's done with the sequester, judicial nominations, etc. That is the path we are on right now, because Obama seems to always feel the desire to "appear reasonable". Already we are hearing from sources (via Digby) that Obama is currently trying to figure out how to resolve this crisis by negotiating a "Grand Bargain" Per Sargent, "Republicans won’t allow a House vote on a “clean CR” temporarily funding the government (without Obamacare defunding) at sequester levels even though that funding level would be a victory for Republicans, and even though (or perhaps because) enough Dems would support it to enable it to pass the House."
Ryan Lizza tweets:
"Per administration source, the trick for Obama is to be able to negotiate something while maintaining he didn't negotiate. Not so easy."The wide consensus among partisan Democrats is that Obama should not negotatiate at all with the Republicans. Even Andrew Sullivan is telling him that he should treat the House Republicans as "vandals":
The president must therefore hold absolutely firm. This time, there can be no compromise because the GOP isn’t offering any. They’re offering the kind of constitutional surrender that would effectively end any routine operation of the American government. If we cave to their madness, we may unravel our system of government, something one might have thought conservatives would have opposed. Except these people are not conservatives. They’re vandals.But simply refusing to negotiate at all would be boring, and would likely lead to an increase in pressure by self-declared "centrists" to find a "compromise" by, perhaps, adopting half of the demands that the Tea Party Republicans are making.
My reading of Obama is that he'll find this path irresistible. He's a media creature and he bases his judgments about what the actual situation is by reading and watching what the MSM has to say. Or so it seems.
But what he really should is present a list of left-wing demands equivalent to what the Republicans are demanding. Why, after all, should the Democrats be the only ones to make concessions? After all, the Democrats control both the Presidency and a majority in the Senate. Letting the House Republicans set the terms could only be viewed as weakness. He would have refused to use the leverage that the Presidency has and "emboldened" the "vandals" using terror tactics. And there's no reason to go down that path. Instead, he should counter-attack. Present a list of demands generated by, perhaps, the House Progressive Caucus.
For example, we could demand
- Cancellation of the sequester, restoring budgets to pre-sequester levels. At least.
- Increase funding for scientific research, esp. NSF and NIH.
- Increase funding for SNAP and a cessation of the practice of villification of SNAP recipients
- A change in the conditions of Obamacare, no longer allowing states to opt out
- Cessation of voter suppression tactics under the guise of fighting "voter fraud", a non-existent problem.
- Creation of non-partisan redistricting boards in any and all states to undo the gerrymandering of 2010
- A permanent end to "debt limit" legislation. The "debt limit" is unnecessary and in direct conflict with the legislation that incurs various debts. It's not even clear that a debt limit is Constitutional. It should simply be done away with.
- A Civil Service Protection Act, which reverses any salary cuts of the sequester, and indeed ensures that no employees of the various executive branches be forced to be placed on furlough unless the legislative branch is also placed in the similar situation.
- Texas is given back to Mexico.
- Puerto Rico is added as the new 50th state.
Are these demands over-the-top? Of course. That's the point. It doesn't matter exactly what is on the list. It's just important that there be some kind of counter-punch. The current scenario isn't putting any pressure on the Republicans. They have all the power. They have already won concessions from the Democrats. They are simply looking to see how many more concessions Obama will make.
The only way to deal with this kind of harassment is to counter-attack.
I don't think Obama understands the House Republicans at all. He thinks that they are implacable and will never yield. He is wrong. They are simply more determined to stay in place than he is.
I wrap this up with some quotes from Sun Tzu:
“To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.”
"Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.”
“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.”