Nine Days in September

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The TanMan, Weeper of the House John Boehner, and his Tea-Publican
controled 112th Congress was "a very bad, no good, terrible Congress." 14 reasons why this is the worst Congress ever – Washington Post. The current 113th Congress is on pace to become the least productive Congress in history, having passed just 22 bills sent to President Obama before going home on August recess  — the fewest number in history.

The current 113th Congress is also the "hardly working" Congress. I have posted the House calendar before, but check out where things stand right now: Congress is taking a five week August recess and has scheduled only nine days in September before the fiscal year ends on September 30. Nine "working" days to avoid a government shutdown and the GOP hostage taking threat to default on the debt ceiling unless Democrats agree to their extortionary hostage demand to defund or repeal "ObamaCare." Does anyone seriously believe that this failed Congress is up to the task? We are headed for a trainwreck folks.

Screenshot from 2013-08-05 07:22:39

The TanMan, Weeper of the House John Boehner, is without doubt the "Worst. Speaker. Ever." As utterly incompetent as he is, Boehner's second in command, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), is his equal for incompetence. Cantor appeared on "Fox News Sunday" yesterday, and the host Chris Wallace was frustrated by Cantor's facile lies, distortions and misrepresentations, and his detachment from reality. Fox Host Confronts House Republicans For Running A Do-Nothing Congress:

Fox News’s Chris Wallace challenged House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
(R-VA) and the GOP-controlled House for failing to pass key
appropriations before the government runs out of money in September,
demanding to know why the party is wasting time holding its 40 Obamacare
repeal vote and pursuing other highly partisan partisan measures.

“Rightly or wrongly, none of the bills you passed is going to become
law,” Wallace told Cantor on Fox News Sunday. “You have only passed four
of 12 appropriations bills you are supposed to pass
. We face a
government shut down in the fall. Is this the best time to spend your
time, passing bills that won’t become law?”

Cantor responded by accusing President Obama of delivering campaign
speeches and failing to consider measures the House has already voted
on. But Wallace wouldn’t hear it, reminding Cantor that the GOP couldn’t
advance a comprehensive Farm Bill and had to pull a transportation
funding measure after moderate House Republicans balked at its deep cuts.
“Why not do what the House is supposed to do?” he pressed.

Watch it:

Steve Benen writes today, Cantor confounded on compromise:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appeared on "Fox News
Sunday" yesterday, where he was asked about the possibility of budget
crises in the fall. The Republican leader replied that lawmakers should
be "focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this
growing deficit."

The comment was a striking reminder that Cantor
is too often confused about the basics of current events. The deficit,
in reality, isn't "growing"; it's shrinking.
In fact, it's shrinking with remarkable speed — in the Obama era,
we're seeing the fastest deficit reduction than at any point since World
War II
. How exactly are policymakers going to have a budget debate if
the House Majority Leader doesn't even understand this simple detail?

What's more, host Chris Wallace asked Cantor about the brutal
automatic spending cuts known as the sequester. Some of the media
coverage yesterday said the GOP leader "hinted" at a possible "compromise," but take a look at the exchange.

CANTOR: Here is the problem. What we need to have happen is
leadership on the part of this president and White House to come to the
table finally and say, we're going to fix the underlying problem that's
driving our deficit. We know that is the entitlement programs and
unfunded liability that they are leaving on this generation and the
next.

WALLACE: So, are you're saying you are willing to get — you're
willing, if you could get a compromise on entitlements, then you would
give up on the sequestration?

CANTOR: What we have said in the House as Republicans, leadership and
members alike, is that we want to fix the real problem. The real
problem is entitlements.
We've also said sequester is not the best way
to go about spending reductions. It was, as you know, a default
mechanism because Congress couldn't do the job it was supposed to a
couple of years ago. We've always said that. But, in fact —

WALLACE: You're willing to give up on sequestration?

CANTOR: But, in fact, Chris, we've always said, president, come join us.

In the larger context, this was a pretty important exchange, so let's not brush past it too quickly.

Sequestration cuts have been condemned by House Republicans. They've been condemned by Senate Republicans. The cuts are hurting the economy, and by some accounts, they're hurting our national security.

Cantor's
comments yesterday suggest he's willing to replace the policy that's
deliberately harming the United States, but only if President Obama cuts
Social Security and Medicare
.

In other words, we're once again
looking at extortion politics at its most ridiculous
— either the White
House cuts social-insurance programs to Republicans' satisfaction, or
Republicans will continue to embrace a policy that hurts Americans on
purpose.

And Cantor sees this as responsible because, in his mind,
the deficit is "growing," despite reality that tells us the exact
opposite is true.

Do you ever get the feeling Eric Cantor isn't quite cut out for a leadership role in Congress?

* * *

So where does that leave us? Right back where we started: with a
Republican sequestration policy that's causing deliberate harm to the
country, a budget fight in which the GOP will not compromise, ridiculous
demands that Obama cut Social Security and Medicare because Republicans
say so, and looming GOP-imposed disasters on the horizon, including a
possible government shutdown and a debt-ceiling crisis.

Greg Sargent adds today in The
Morning Plum: Be very afraid of a government shutdown
:

Eric Cantor’s lengthy interview yesterday on Fox News Sunday
is really worth reading in full and pondering at some length. It
perfectly captures why it’s looking more and more likely that we are
genuinely headed for a government shutdown this fall.

In the interview, Fox host Chris Wallace practically begs Cantor to
have a reality-based conversation about the coming shutdown fight
, the
sequester, and Obamacare. Again and again, Cantor steers the
conversation back into pure fantasy.
As I noted here last week,
it’s laughable that Republican leaders are surprised at the ferocity of
the right’s demand for debt limit and government shutdown/defund
Obamacare confrontations, since they have been feeding the base
fantasies about Obamacare repeal and government spending for literally
years now. Cantor’s interview offers no effort whatsoever to disabuse
folks of the lies, distortions and misdirection that continue making
sane discussion of any of this impossible:

1) Cantor claims the deficit is “growing” ( it isn’t), and asserts the coming debt limit fight is our chance to do something about it. But GOP leaders have already conceded
the debt limit will be raised in the end, because not doing so will
cause widespread damage to the economy. They need to stop deceiving
their voters into believing the debt limit gives them leverage.

2) Cantor claims the House GOP is the “only one who has consistently
engaged in trying to address the spending problem.” In fact, Dems agreed
to $1.5 trillion in spending cuts in 2011. But Republicans refuse to
level with the base about the concessions Dems have made and continue to
offer — making any kind of discussion based on the same reality
impossible.

3) Asked if Republicans are open to replacing the sequester, Cantor
says they are, but floats the idea of replacing it only with entitlement
cuts. Needless to say, a deal that includes concessions made only by
one side is not a compromise and is a non starter. The failure to
acknowledge this also makes this harder.

4) Asked by Wallace if Republicans are demanding complete “surrender” from Dems, Cantor, amazingly, claims there is
some common ground: Obama has delayed the employer mandate, showing he
admits Obaamcare is “flawed’; Republicans agree; so both sides should
join in repealing the individual mandate!

Now, one has to hope that this is mostly bluster and posturing.
Indeed, it’s possible Republican leaders will quietly edge towards
avoiding a government shutdown to defund Obamacare even as they continue
to rail about the need to repeal the law, to avoid looking like
squishes and Obama enablers. Indeed, Cantor kept steering the
conversation back to Obamacare’s evils, even as he gingerly suggested
conservatives and Republicans alike agree “we shouldn’t be for a
government shutdown.” And Paul Ryan also talked down the idea of a shutdown confrontation yesterday.

But the tentativeness with which leaders continue to hint that a
shutdown may not be the best idea — combined with the continued refusal
to level with the base about the very things that are pushing us towards
the abyss — doesn’t bode well.

* * *

Republican Governors are warning
their GOP counterparts in Washington that a shutdown confrontation to
force the defunding of Obamacare could disrupt services to their
constituents and damage their states’ economies
. This, from Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, is noteworthy:

“The worst part is the uncertainty. My great fear would
be anything that provides great uncertainty for the employers of our
country.”

“Uncertainty,” of course, has been the catchword for Washington Republicans arguing against government regulations, but a real cause of “uncertainty” that could damage the economy is GOP sabotage governing.

We are headed for a trainwreck at the end of September.

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