A crazy thing is happening in shuttered, dysfunctional Washington: Democrats are pushing back.Jane Mansbridge at The Los Angeles Times:
This phenomenon is so novel and disorienting that many Republicans in Congress, especially the tea party bullies, seem unable to grasp what’s going on. They keep expecting President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to fold like a cheap suit because, well, such a thing has happened before. I guess it’s understandable that the GOP might have forgotten the difference between bluffing and actually holding a winning hand. [...]
The fact that the GOP controls the House means that its views cannot be ignored. But the fact that Democrats control the Senate and the White House means that Republicans have no right to expect that they will always get their way. This concept of basic fairness is the sort of thing most of us learned in second grade. Apparently, Sen. Ted Cruz was not paying attention.
[T]here's a part of the story that seemingly has been lost in history: Democrats have already compromised on healthcare reform by adopting Obama/RomneyCare in the first place.Timothy B. Lee at The Washington Post:
Fundamentally — and infuriatingly for the Democratic base — Obamacare is inherently a compromise because it is a health insurance reform law rather than an overhaul of the structure of our nation's healthcare system. A significant contingent of Democratic voters and activists has always supported a single-payer healthcare system, in which the government, not private insurance companies, covers healthcare costs for all Americans (think Medicare for all). [...] For many Democrats, these compromises have been hard to swallow. Frustration still lingers among liberals over the abandonment of the single-payer system. In surveys on healthcare, 11% of Americans oppose the administration's health plan because it does not go far enough. Among Democratic activists, that percentage is far higher.[...]
Despite all these compromises and concessions, House Republicans still forced a government shutdown. Having coerced the Democrats into adopting a Republican health insurance reform plan, they then accused the administration of refusing to compromise. What kind of shell game is this?
The Democrats have compromised over and over again. Now it's the Republicans' turn to play fair.
Our system of divided powers often requires negotiation. And negotiation works best when all parties don't just think about the present, but also the future. Good negotiators want to get the best deal they can today, but they also try to build a relationship that will make it easier to reach the next deal. That means being willing to meet the other party halfway and looking for deals that are good for both sides.The New York Times:
But what do you do when you offer concessions and the other party doesn't reciprocate? For the past two and a half years, Barack Obama has faced this dilemma. He has offered concessions to help reach agreement with Republican leaders, but they haven't reciprocated. To the contrary, each time Democrats have agreed to cut spending, House Republicans have used the new figure as a new baseline for the next round of negotiation. [...]
Meanwhile, Republicans have not given an inch on Democrats' desires for higher tax revenue. Taxes did go up for high earners at the start of 2013, but that increase was scheduled by Congress more than a decade ago. Republicans have steadfastly opposed any other proposals to increase tax revenue. And despite Democrats' flexibility, there seems to be no end in sight for the Republicans' strategy of perpetual brinksmanship. [...]
In short, Obama is negotiating with a party that always demands further concessions and is never willing to reciprocate. After a certain number of rounds of this, any rational negotiator is going to dig in his heels and refuse to give more ground.
The Senate, forced to extinguish the wildfire set by the House, is nearing a deal to reopen the government and end the imminent threat of default by the United States government. Some of the provisions in the deal are troubling, and senators need to ensure that it doesn’t in any way give in to Republican blackmail. If they can do so, the agreement may finally represent a way to end the crisis without encouraging blackmail when the debt ceiling comes up again.More on the day's top stories below the fold.
Betsy Nabel at The Boston Globe:
OF ALL the hardships imposed by the federal shutdown, none may be more tragic than its impact on a field that had already sustained devastating budget cuts: biomedical research. That is an impact measured in human terms. The National Institutes of Health, for example, is turning away patients seeking to enroll in clinical trials. The impact will ripple outward from them to other patients who might have benefited from what researchers would have learned from those studies.Joseph J. Ellis at The Los Angeles Times:
They are not alone. Even as 35 million new patients stand to be enrolled in health exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act, policy makers have been unwittingly but systematically undermining the quality of the next generation of care that awaits them by gutting biomedical research.
Radical Republicans of the tea party persuasion object to all federal programs that have an impact on our daily lives, including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the Federal Reserve Board. Even though tea partiers, like all the rest of us, are beneficiaries of these federal programs, especially Medicare and Social Security, ideology trumps self-interest in their worldview, though one wonders how they would respond if they had their way and their Social Security checks stopped coming.The Mercury News editorial board:
Now, I believe these radicals want to go even further back in time. Though it wouldn't be fair to pin a defense of slavery on them, they agree with the states' rights agenda of the Confederacy and resist the right of the federal government to make domestic policy, which is their visceral reason for loathing Obamacare.
But their ultimate destination, I believe, is the 1780s and our dysfunctional government under the Articles of Confederation. The states were sovereign in that post-revolutionary arrangement, and the federal government was virtually powerless. That is political paradise for the tea partiers, who might take comfort in the fact that their 18th century counterparts also refused to fund the national debt. Their core convictions are pre-Great Society, pre-New Deal, pre-Keynes, pre-Freud, pre-Darwin and pre-Constitution.
Reasonable Republicans are, at last, beginning to see just how damaging the reactionary tea party wing has become, to both their party and the nation. Several news outlets reported last week that moderate GOP members -- or apostates, depending on your point of view -- are considering primary challenges to tea party lawmakers. That's a welcome development.
It signals what might be the lone bright spot in the completely unnecessary disaster the GOP has brought on the nation: what President Barack Obama has often called "breaking the fever" of the hard right.