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Many people are underestimating the fundamental danger to our country the Republican extortion represents. Michael Cohen from the guardian nails it in his article, Dear President Obama: Don't cave to the GOP extortion politics.

In reality, the psychodrama playing out in Washington is about the future of democracy in America.

And no, I'm not exaggerating. Unless the GOP's brand of extortion politics is thwarted, America's democratic institutions will be so badly subverted that the nation will simply find itself in the position of staggering from one manufactured crisis to another with potentially both political parties threatening economic and political Armageddon if they don't get their way. That is, quite simply, no way to run a democracy and it's why the only option facing President Obama and the Democratic party is to win this showdown and force the GOP to concede defeat.

The only thing I would disagree with here is the part about both parties.  The Democrats are simply not the economic suicide bombers that the Republicans are.  Democrats believe in the power of government to provide equal opportunity to it's citizens, to help those who have fallen through the economic cracks, and to prevent economic predators from preying on all Americans.  The Republicans see the Government as an obstacle to their gilded age dog eat dog world where American citizens are simply conduits to funnel wealth and power to those born into a world of privilege  .  To Republicans, Americans are annoyances to be used and disguarded, and they should know their place and be excluded from any say on how the government works.

More from Mr. Cohens excellent article below the fold.

It's not that compromise was always achievable in the past (the failure to break the Southern block on civil rights legislation is an obvious example), it's that the search for common ground has simply been thrown asunder, replaced instead by extortion politics.
But the GOP brinkmanship over Obamacare is nothing compared to what they are asking for this year in return for raising the debt limit. Unlike 2011, when they were demanding a dramatic reduction in government spending, they are now insisting on the full implementation of their policy agenda.

No, I'm not exaggerating.

I've never believed that this was about Obamacare, and was always about crippling the governments ability to watch and regulate the Oligarchs.  In the last few days, the Republicans seldom mention Obamacare.  Instead they've come up with a ransom note that demands almost everything they've ever wanted that would cripple the government and directly benefit their Oligarch masters.
As Jonathan Chait points out, this is basically Mitt Romney's economic agenda. If that name doesn't ring a bell, Romney is the Republican presidential candidate who lost last year's presidential election by around 5 million votes. What Republicans are doing here is basically saying to the president (the guy who won by 5 million votes) "implement our policy agenda or we will cause a catastrophic debt default".

That isn't governing. It isn't democracy. It's a shakedown.

This debate is not your garden-variety political crisis. It's the battle for the long-term viability of American democracy, and it's a battle that the Democrats simply must win even if it means risking default.

And no, I'm not exaggerating.

We are at this crises point because President Obama and the Democrats gave in to the hostage takers back in 2011.

I'll repeat what I wrote in July 2011 in a diary entitled Dems, WAKE UP! They are Economic Terrorists!

The economic terrorists have led the United States to only 2 possible outcomes.  An economic depression now, or a 3rd world country later.  The Democrats have to understand they need a completely new strategy for dealing with these economic terrorists.  They have to STOP believing that if they just capitulate one more time the economic terrorists will be satisfied.
Think about what happens if the President and the Democrats cave again.  The Republicans won't have to win the Senate or the Presidency, they can simply get their entire agenda, piece by piece, by simply keeping the house Gerrymandered and passing more voter suppression laws.  All future Democratic presidencies will have their powers nullified as the Republicans continue to take America hostage.

But the good news is, I think President Obama and "most" of the Democrats realize how serious this is and they have to break the cycle of hostage taking.  There will be times in the coming weeks where their knees will shake and be ready to buckle, and those are the times where WE need to get on the phones and tell them we have their backs if they stand their ground.

I leave you with this altered movie nonquote;

Listen, and understand. That Republicans are out there. They can't be bargained with. They can't be reasoned with. They don't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And they absolutely will not stop, ever!
UPDATE: and so it begins.  Sen Collins from the great state of Maine just announced she has the perfect "compromise" to settle the shutdown.  This BS "compromise"is going to put a lot of DEMS on the defensive, so get on the phone and tell your Rep. not to cave!  Franken from Minn. and Warren from MA are going to be under a lot pressure because of her medical device tax repeal.
However, her newest proposal seems to take a different track - the central tenant of the proposal calls for a repeal of the medical device tax imposed by Obamacare. The 2.3% excise tax she refers to helps to fund Obamacare and went into effect at the beginning of 2013. The tax will raise about $30 billion in revenues over 10 years.

In order to offset this loss in revenue, Collins proposed “smoothing out” the size of payments into pension plans. She explained that this strategy would allow private businesses to lower their pension contributions in the near future, in exchange for higher payments down the line. Collins says this would result in lower deductions for companies and more tax revenue for the government.

If I read this right, she wants to short change pensions, and let Corporations "promise" to make up the difference later!  This is complete BS!  Many of the pensions are already under funded.  Get on the phone, this would be a cave for the Dems.  Their knees are shaking, help hold them up.
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